SF Signal, following up on the various discussions on Young Adult SF/F, asks various members of the sf/f community to suggest YA books for adult readers. Interestingly, I and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor at Tor, offered up the same suggestion, for largely the same reasons. It’s like we have similar tastes in books! And now we know why he bought my book.
In the thread for the entry, there’s this cranky comment, from Jonathan McCalmont:
Yet another part of YA’s Glorious Five Year Plan to convince all adult SFF readers to buy books marketed at kids.
I’m starting to feel man-handled. Every morning I check my feed reader and the night has born the fruit of some corner of the SFF blogosphere wondering why I’m not reading YA, why I’m not respecting YA and why I’m not reading YA right NOW instead of writing this comment.
If ever a blogosphere hobby horse was in need of a backlash it’s this one.
Mr. McCalmont misapprehends the situation here, I think. YA doesn’t need adult SF readers (it’s got more than enough readers as it is) and I don’t actually suspect most YA editors and publishers care whether adult SF/F readers pick up their books; it’s a bonus if they do, but otherwise, eh. The reason people are talking about YA is not a top-down master plan by publishers, but a bottom-up discussion among the sf/f community about whether it is missing vital sf/f work simply because it’s shelved somewhere else in a bookstore than where adult sf/f readers usually go.
YA is literally the dark matter of the sf/f reader universe, an analogy that is especially apt since, just as there is more dark matter than “regular” matter in our universe, so too do the sales of YA sf/f dwarf the sales of adult sf/f. I don’t think it’s a horrible thing to shine a light on what we might be missing, and possibly to our own detriment, both as individual readers and as a community.