Where have all the Juveniles gone? To Galaxies, far, far away.
Given that a goodly part of my book will be saying "they don't write juveniles the way they did in my day", it seemed incumbent on me to consider where Juvenile sf might have gone to?: its values, concerns, and also the market. I know that many people go straight to adult sf at the age of thirteen, but is there still an "introductory" market?
The obvious place to look, is tie ins. Tie ins aren't what they once were. Novelisations of movies/tv are now something separate, and tie ins, though set in the same world, often aren't even about the original characters. More and more, tie ins are recogniseably independent contributions to Shared Universes, a concept with a long and respectable tradition in sf.
So for the rest of this week I'll be reading a random selection of tie ins (random as in, bought on a quick trip to Forbidden Planet in London.
Republic Commando: Triple Zero by Karen Traviss. Karen is one of my favourite sf writers so it seemed to be a good place to start.
Traviss is a working class lass from a naval town, and when she took on the franchise she deployed a lot of that basic experience of the grunt's eye view to take a long, hard look at the Jedi and their clone warriors. What's it really like to be one of a thousand clones? How do you create morale? Through fear, or through culture? Are you still human? In what ways do you recognise your brothers? How do you grow up to be a man when you know you are going to die soon? And how the hell do Jedi get off producing a bunch of slaves in their nice, ethical galaxy?
Small questions? Well, obviously not. But they are thrown out casually, tiny but integral elements in a frenetic tale of search and destroy, spy hunting, and counter-terrorism, all embedded in a set of coming of age tales.
Is this an entry level text? I think so: for all the hand-waving, hard sf, the real interest is in tactics, politics and some of the issues above. There is nothing a teen couldn't cope with--and frankly, I suspect a teen would find the complexity far less daunting than I did--and what little romance there is, is handled tactfully; I especially liked it because it was set within friendship-turning-to-love (and not lurve) and because there were Consequences.
Last thought: what's that new prize for class and sf? This book ought to be considered.