Home / The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens

The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens

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For a superb collection of science fiction and fantasy suitable especially, but by no means exclusively, for teens, you need look no further than this wonderful new anthology. The first in what I hope will be an annual series, the book was compiled by veteran anthologist Patrick Nielsen Hayden and noted children’s and fantasy author Jane Yolen. If it’s truly representative of the best current fiction in the category, then there’s a lot more good writing and storytelling being done in it than I&#8212admittedly no longer a regular reader of these genres&#8212ever would have supposed.

It’s hard to imagine any young reader who likes the Harry Potter books not taking to the stories in this collection. There’s not a dud in the lot. Stories like Kelly Link’s “The Faery Handbag” and Lynette Aspey’s “Sleeping Dragons” excel at smoothly mixing fantastic and legendary elements into the lives of recognizably modern kids. “CATNYP,” by Delia Sherman, and David Gerrold’s “Dancer in the Dark” are good parallel-world stories, the former light and humorous, the latter dark and perhaps a bit too obscure. Two miniatures&#8212Garth Nix’s “Endings,” which takes a page (and literally not much more) from vampire lore and will entrance Buffy and Lestat fans, and “Displaced Persons,” Leah Bobet’s even shorter Wizard of Oz redaction&#8212strike home powerfully in very different ways. The inclusion of Rudyard Kipling’s “They,” first published a century ago, may even point the Hogwarts Generation towards the great literature of the past, where it will discover the aesthetic joys and intellectual rewards of prose more flowery and elegant than even the most erudite contemporary writing.

Moving from times past to times to come, the anthologists save the best for last, presenting Bradley Denton’s longish story “Sergeant Chip.” This near-future tale of war and betrayal, narrated by a most unexpected type of soldier, works on many levels and should become a classic. It alone makes the anthology worth the (very reasonable) price.

The editors provide for each story a mini-introduction in which they point out its literary devices or traditions and recommend other books and authors to readers who may find they want more of the sort. The book may be aimed at younger readers, but adults too, if they have even a small capacity for wonder, will find in these stories a variety of compelling visions, much good writing, and very possibly something to love and remember.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is a Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • Bennett

    Excellent John, I’ll order this for my “boy”, an 18 year old who has burned through ALL of my SF paperbacks (loves the Man/Kzin Wars series). The big surprise to me was when he brought home a book and told me it was one of the best SF books he had ever read. I looked at it with disdain, after all it wasn’t from one of the Masters that I knew so well.

    I’m telling you, “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card IS one of the best SF books that I have ever read. My respect for the boy’s judgement went way up at that point.

    This plays well into the books I’ve been getting through BC. I’m very open now to finding authors that totally stun me with the quality of their writing. (The Book Of Ralph)

    Thanks for this review.


  • The Theory

    agreed. Ender’s Game is excellent.


    Thanks for the review, my daughter is not yet a teen, but she is an avid reader, I’ll be adding a few of these to her future reading list.

    I remember some great fiction and SF for young adults, the themes if not the titles, and it helped increase my appetite for reading.

  • gonzo marx

    Ski try “Podkayne of Mars” by Heinlein..the protagonist is a young girl, careful with the Ending tho…the original one will make her cry, but is a much richer Experience…there is another version the Librarians demanded…

    a good Review over all from the Poster…but call me silly..i tend to get a bit peeved when the lines between Science Fiction and Fantasy and Speculative Fiction get blurred…

    for a more modern author’s Work that would be suitable for teens…try Snowcrash and Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

    a huge Work…bigger than the Lord of the Rings…that is Sci-Fi instead of Fantasy…the Pleioscene Saga by Julian May…the book are..
    the Many Colored Land
    the Golden Torc
    the Adversary
    the NonBorn King

    the next two take place five minutes from now..
    the Surveilance
    the Metaconcert

    and the final Trilogy in the Epic
    Jack the Bodiless
    Diamond Mask

    suitable for teens and up…this Epic stands with the best, yes.. even the Ender saga or the Foundation books

    nuff said?


  • Orson Scott Card is a superb ethicist. I’ve enjoyed the entire ‘Ender’ universe, which extends far beyond the battle school and gets into inter-special conflicts and other ethical issues. He’s the only one that I can think of that can pull of a ‘moral thriller.’

    The ‘Bean’ series continues the kids-fighting-each-other thread, and that’s enjoyable as well.

    I also would recommend ‘Tales of Alvin Maker,’ which is very allegorical, kind of similar to Pilgrim’s Progress.

  • May’s epic might be a bit adult for teen tastes – I suggest you read The Many-Coloured Land yourself before giving it to an impressionable youngster to read.

    I’ll be looking for this book in mass paperback, Jon – thanks for the tip!

  • As a teen myself, I have enjoyed Julian may’s novels, and I believe that other teenagers can enjoy them also. However, as Drpat stated, there are some adult themes in these novels. Julian May’s writing can be taken on numerous levels, and her research is incredible.

  • Thanks for pointing this book out. It’s sometimes difficult to get through the maze of books published every year. I’m always looking for good books for teens–and you can’t beat the editors for this collection. I’m looking forward to reading through the stories and the comments myself.