The Fantasy and Science Fiction Stigma

 Newbery awards are given to authors based on their “distinguished contribution to American literature for children” . There is a 23 year gap between this year’s fantasy winner “The Girl Who Drank The Moon” (2017) and science fiction winner “The Giver” (1994). Kharissa and I believe it has to do with the stigmas associated with the science fiction and fantasy genres and the ideologies of parents; especially when dealing with young readers. However, fantasy and science fiction has survived the times, and even flourished in the young adult market. With the return of Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast and the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, science fiction and fantasy are as popular as ever. The idea of having superpowers, fighting as a warrior to save Earth or wishing you lived in a world where beasts and creatures walked allows for escapism, but that doesn’t mean readers aren’t learning. Among children, it’s celebrated but Vardell (2014) explains how some adults discourage science fiction and fantasy books because they promote the idea of magic and may distort a reader’s sense of reality (p. 213).
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2 thoughts on “The Fantasy and Science Fiction Stigma

  1. Good use of Vardell to frame your answer. How would the two of you respond to someone who qualifies fantasy or science fiction as fluff? What are the elements that makes them worth of be considered for awards? Why should they be as important as realistic works?

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    1. I would say that science fiction and fantasy, while having fictional settings and plot lines, focus on deeper issues just as much, if not more, than other genres. By deeper issues I mean, for example, how Harry Potter is about love and the inevitability of death. Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is set in a world dominated by theocracy and deals with religion. The Hunger Games is a commentary on political oppression. I believe they’re as important as realistic works because they can still teach us about these topics, as well as empathy. Fantasy and science fiction can educate us and help us learn to empathize just as well as realistic works. However, they can do something else. They can encourage imagination in a very special way that no other genres can. That’s why I believe they qualify for awards. I think my long response is a testament to how strongly I feel about this subject. Fantasy is my favorite genre!

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