Monday, February 23, 2015
Fantasy Fiction For Young Readers-Guest Post (Ad)
Fantasy and science fiction have seen a massive upswing in popularity in the last few years. People are eating up television shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander, both of which are based on best-selling book series. Before Game of Thrones premiered and the Marvel Universe became an empire, fantasy had not been a hit in the mainstream for about ten years. At that time, the adult fantasy genre was defined by the show Lost, which reliably and disappointingly saw its ratings drop as its deep roots in science fiction became more apparent. It seemed that mainstream audiences were embarrassed to be watching something that aligned with an uncool genre.
This flip-flopping in regards to fantasy has always been prevalent in popular culture. Long-running franchises like Star Trek are not regarded as peers to juggernauts like Law & Order and its spin-offs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files made momentary marks on the landscape, but they too saw dwindling audiences as their self-contained mythologies grew more complex. It is an absolute anomaly that geek culture is considered to be outright cool at this particular moment.
This is not the case when it comes to literature for children and young adults. The Harry Potter and Narnia books are unqualified classics, and no one attempts to chip away at their greatness by slapping genre labels on them. Likewise, the A Series of Unfortunate Events books by Daniel Handler have been fully embraced by younger readers, who like the Handler even more for using the ridiculous pen name Lemony Snicket.
Young readers are not bogged down by notions of what a classic work is supposed to be like or how serious it is or is not. They judge a book purely on the basis of its quality. For this reason, many authors who want to include sci-fi trappings in their books are deliberately writing for younger audiences. Alternately, books for adults are often miscategorized as being YA, or young adult, simply for having a few fantastical elements.
Somewhere along the line, children lose their easy acceptance of whimsy and fantasy in literature, even as adults claim to want more creativity in their fiction. When people who do not typically like fantasy in their media embrace science fiction, it speaks to a desire to be exposed to new ideas. Children read these books as a matter of course, and hopefully they will no longer be expected to outgrow fantasy.