Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bookmonkey's top 5 SF books for Kids

I got hooked on Science Fiction (SF) as a kid back in the '80s, so the majority of this list will reflect the fact that MY SF is better than YOUR SF, and now that we have established my obvious bias, let's go:

My 5 sure-fire books that will get your kids hooked on SF are:

First published in 1895, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells introduces kids to time travel, giant lobsters, Morlocks, Eloi, and most importantly a really wonderful sense of "What if..." Also the book is very short - so reluctant readers are more likely to give it a shot.

This series of books is almost identical to the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series, with one big difference - not only did you travel back in time and fight dinosaurs, samurai, knights and cowboys, but you also went into the future and kicked alien butt. One of my favourite parts of this series was reading all the ways you (the reader) could die by flipping through the book - and trust me, lots of them were pretty darn disgusting.

The only book in this list I did not read as a child, Interworld, by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves was originally a TV show concept that ended up as a Young Adult book. Imaging a war straddling across dimensions, where all of the heroes and villains fight for the sides of Chaos or Order and every single one of them is an alternate version of you. Simply an incredible book.

Before I read this book I had seen the 1981 Television series, so I thought I knew what I was getting into, but nothing could have prepared me for this incredible story - starting at the end (literally - the world is destroyed right at the beginning of the book), we follow a main character who is probably the least prepared traveller in existence as he makes his way through the galaxy with a friend, an extremely helpful book, and a towel. This book also receives massive kudos due to the fact that it is the first book I ever read out loud from cover to cover.

I read this book in Junior High - probably grade seven, so that puts it somewhere between 1988 and '89. Even though this book isn't meant for kids, and looks kind of like a Fantasy-Western, it has dimensional travel, robots, mutants, Hey Jude by the Beatles, and mention of a company called North Central Positronics. The book is terrifying, brutally violent, and told in a reverse narrative (it starts at the end and moves backwards). This book started me on all sorts of freaky stuff, perfectly mixing all three of my favourite Genres (Fantasy, Horror, and SF), and started with possibly the coolest first line of a novel I have ever had the pleasure to have read.

So there you have it, my picks for the books most likely to get kids hooked on SF; I know my list is different than my wife's, my friend Mike's, or even my kids - but the list of best SF I want to know about is your - so tell me, what do you think the best SF books for kids are?

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