SF as the only significant literature

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Jan 20 18:49:42 EST 2005

Katie asked:

>My brother is supposed to do a Science Fiction Book Report for school.
>He is 10 years old.  He was asking me if there was any sci-fi DWJ he
>could read.  The report really calls for a book with very typical
>sci-fi elements, because his class is  learning how to know what genre
>a book is.  Of course, DWJ is not quite right for this, because her
>books are so unique and harder to categorize.  But I was wondering
>which book you all think has the most science-fiction to it?  Or, if
>you have any other clearly sci-fi recommendations for my brother.  He
>doesn't like scary books.

The only DWJs that can be slid in as SF are probably too adult for the
teacher to cope with his having read, I fear.  And I'd say that both *A
Tale of Time City* and *The Homeward Bounders*, which are probably closest
to SF, are rather dark and a bit scary.

Thinking about the assignment as well as the possible pleasure for the chap
doing it.... How about one of the classic Juvenile SF Books?  Robert A.
Heinlein was definitely given the ok by librarians in the fifties, so it
ought not to raise any eyebrows with teachers these days (unless they are
preconceivedly sure RAH was a fascist sexist militarist whatever, of
course). Into "not too scary" I'd put *Have Space Suit Will Travel* or *The
Star Beast* or *Space Cadet* or *Starman Jones* (which Puffin reckoned was
"for all readers of 11 up who are interested in the world of the future").
That last has several genre tropes: amazing fast travel on Earth,
spaceships, aliens and on-another-planet-derring-do, as well as a hero who
is a memory-man in a big way.  Oh, and an "own up and take your lumps"
moral that ought to make teachers *purr*.  I don't suppose *one* Heinlein
will scar him for life.

I don't think SF juveniles come much more SF-tropic than RAH, really.  They
have the added advantage that on the whole kids rather enjoy them.  And one
might as well play along with the expectations rather than trying to force
favourite books to fit a category they wouldn't be comfortable in.


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