Building a SciFi/Fantasy Library discussion

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Wright (wrightales) | 3 comments I have wondered for many years why fantasy and fairy tales are so often marketed as Young Adult when they are read at least as much by adults as by teens. As a bookseller (and writer) I have noticed that Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Fairy tale readers are more willing to browse the YA shelves than readers of other genres. Is it just because they know some of the best stuff is being marketed for teens or are they just more broadminded?


message 2: by Carl (new)

Carl | 38 comments That always bugged me too-- especially since when I started reading the genres as a kid I thought they were "grown-up" books! Well, I still think they are, but I do think that there is a larger amount of overlap in interest when it comes to fantasy/scifi than with other genres, or "mainstream". Also, there is the fact that since the Victorian era (or so? I study folklore, but not really literary adaptations of folklore) fairy tales have been thought of as children's literature, and the fantastic in general, or anything that smacks of more blatant wish-fulfillment, is general considered unserious and therefore childish. My impression when I'm in Sweden is that Fantasy is almost solely considered juvenile, while science fiction doesn't seem to show up as its own genre so often, but somehow creeps into "high literature"-- for example, Karin Boye's Kallocain, Harry Martinson's Aniara (an epic poem about a doom space migration-- and by a nobel prize winner!), or Lars Gustafsson's Det sällsamma djuret från norr (=the strange creature from the north-- though I'm only guessing that this is by the same Lars Gustaffsson who is talked about all the time at the annual scandinavian studies conference). But I'm not as familiar with current Swedish lit as I'd like to be, so it could be the situation is a bit different
As for why readers of these genres are more willing to browse the YA sections, I think it's just because they know that the boundary in this area is a bit permeable-- there is plenty of "adult" fantasy/scifi which is at the same level as YA fiction, and vice-versa, and the importance of genre outweighs that of "reading level".
It's been ages since I've read YA fantasy/scifi-- there seems to be so much coming out now, I hope I can find some time to dig into it.


message 3: by Chrystal714 (new)

Chrystal714 | 24 comments I began reading YA fantasy because it is what my daughter is reading. A great way to keep communication open with a teenager. A nice nutreal subject to talk, laugh, and interact over with out arguing. I didn't even know I liked fantasy until she started reading it. I love it and am now reading stuff and suggesting it to her.

Also I love audio books. I have found my local library carries a ton of YA fantasy in audio and none at all in adult.


message 4: by Allison (new)

Allison | 15 comments Honestly, I rarely wander into the YA sections of bookstores - and when I have read SciFi/Fantasy that was marketed for Young Adults (even when I was young enough to have qualified as being a Young Adult), I often found myself wanting more.

Allow me to clarify "more" ... yes, I want the harder edged stories. I want sex and death and scientific concepts and fear and big multi-syllable words and deep depression and anger and and the-world-as-we-know-it-might-actually-end plotlines. Much of this is filtered out of the YA shelves, because adults (possibly erroneously) believe that those readers who are still in their more formative years aren't ready for it. But, for me, "more" also means more pages. The books in the Young Adult sections typically are under 200 pages or so. I generally seek out longer books because, if the story is good enough, I know I won't want it to end.


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen | 2 comments This discussion reminds me of a quote I love by Philip Pullman, who wrote The Golden Compass:

"There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children's book."


message 6: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra | 12 comments I've found even adult-geared sci-fi and fantasy is often misshelved in bookstores in the Young Adult section.

I assume due to ignorance of bookstore employees. I learned long ago if I didn't find a book (or author) I was looking for to check the YA section.


message 7: by J-Lynn (new)

J-Lynn (JVanPelt) | 19 comments Usually books are classified YA based solely on the age of the protagonist(s).


message 8: by Celeste (new)

Celeste (CelesteLueck) | 4 comments Hi Jen, I loved your quote from Philip Pullman. I've been reading a lot of his stuff lately. I love his Dark Materials, but he has some great mysteries(yes, I know that's another group) out there

J-Lynn, you're right about how the books get classified YA. It has nothing to do with the quility of the writing, that's for sure.


message 9: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy (jesterj) I have noticed a pattern in two multiple volume stores. The Harry Potter books and the Pendragon series both begin with one or two volumes that I would consider juvenile in style, but later volumes become darker and more complex. . . to me more adult. Is this an effort to have the stories grow with their audience or do the writers just tire of diluting their stories.


message 10: by Rindis (new)

Rindis | 80 comments For Harry Potter, it is very definitely a case of the series growing up with the audience/protagonist. It's very explicitly predicated on each volume being a 'year', and the intended audience is pretty much Harry's current age.

Don't know the Pendragon series (or which one!), so can't say there.


message 11: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy (jesterj) Sorry Rindis,

I was referring to D. J. MacHale's Pendragon series. It is worth a look. These books remind me of the book Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L Engle. At least the first couple anyway.


message 12: by Rosemary (last edited May 31, 2008 08:51AM) (new)

Rosemary | 7 comments As everyone has observed, YA is a fuzzy category based more on the publisher's perception of the probable audience than anything else. You will find books published for the adult market shifted into the YA market and vice versa just depending on the publisher -- Andre Norton's Witch World and other science fiction series are a prime example. Her early books were published as Ace paperbacks for adults in the 1960s. Later hardbacks were always shelved in the YA section (Viking in the 1970s). Then, again, back into hardback for the adult market (Tor in the 1980s and beyoned).

I just finished the proofing the final layout for ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COLLECTIBLE CHILDREN'S BOOKS (out sometime in the Fall from Collector Books). My co-author and I had many, many discussions of what to include. We usually decided to add YA and even some titles/series originally published for adults that appealed to collectors of children's fiction.


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