Friday, February 18, 2011

Girls & Gals Love SF—So Give It To Them Already!

Rocket GirlsRemember when blogger Natalie Hatch blogged about YA SF aboard The Galaxy Express back in ’09 (Future Trend: YA Science Fiction)? The reason I mention her post is that Tansy Rayner Roberts started a conversation today along the same lines as Natalie’s piece.

In Girls in Spaceships, with a side order of robots, please, Ms. Roberts laments that

But… there just haven’t been enough spaceships. To be precise, not enough girls on spaceships. With robots….

…There’s a myth that girls aren’t interested in science fiction. It’s far more likely that this idea has come about because, in fact, science fiction has not always been that interested in girls. This post about “hard SF now with girl cooties” was very nicely timed, and those books have gone straight on to my To Read list.

Science fiction has been around a really long time. It needs new ideas, new blood and new waves in order to revitalise itself on a regular basis. The thing that still hasn’t been done to death, in fact has hardly really got started (yet) is the science fiction for and about teenage girls.

Now there’s an idea that bears repeating! How many times have we had that conversation here, both in terms of YA and science fiction romance? I suspect we’ll need to have it many more times as well, at least until the powers-that-be Get It (agents, editors, publishers, and booksellers, I’m looking at you).

Many, many girls, teens, and women of all ages enjoy science fiction and blends like SFR. Given all of the technological advances of the past century (not to mention the past five years), there will potentially be even more female fans of SF than in the past. Shouldn’t we be starting to think about the needs of these readers now?

YA science fiction offers so much for young readers. Entertainment, definitely, but the type that also engages them with social commentary about gender roles, technology, culture, ethnicity, and environmental issues. Then there’s the “sensawonder” it can inspire, especially in youth. We alienate young readers, especially girls, at our peril.

YA SF and science fiction romance—talk about a one-two punch to invigorate science fiction as a whole.

I leave you with this lovely bit from Hard SF, now WITH girl cooties! at Haikasoru, “the first imprint dedicated to bringing Japanese science fiction to America and beyond.”:

Science is for everyone, after all, as it increases our understanding of the universe in which we live, and as it can potentially be used to improve all our lives. Indeed, if we want science to improve our lives rather than destroy them, we’d all better have an interest in the field and its implications for policy, health, and the environment. That’s why hard SF needs to be written for a wide variety of readers, not just for the nerdcore hardcore of those men who are afraid of “girl cooties.” Publishing hard SF titles that can be reviewed and championed by Romantic Times is one reason why I love my job.

Joyfully yours,