Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Speculative Fiction in High School

Ah, where were these suggestions back when I was homeschooling? SFSignal (explanations for the answers below are given at that link) asks:
Q: If you were teaching a high school literature class, which science fiction or fantasy books first published within the past 10 years would you include on your syllabus?

Suggestions (from various authors) include the following, some of which are over 10 years old:

Nalo Hopkinson's The Salt Roads;
Ted Chiang's Stories Of Your Life And Others;
Justine Larbalestier's Liar;
Cory Doctorow's Little Brother;
Christopher Barzak's One For Sorrow.

Robert Sawyer's WWW: Wake;
Michael Swanwick's Bones of the Earth;
Joe Haldeman's The Accidental Time Machine;
Fast Forward II (edited by Lou Anders);
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles;

Scott Westerfield's Uglies;
Patricia Wrede's Thirteenth Child;
Robin McKinley's Sunshine;
Elizabeth Bear's Dust;
Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind;
Kristin Cashore's Graceling;
Neil Gaiman's Coraline;
S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire;
Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana;
Elizabeth Moon's Once a Hero;
Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring.

Red Moon. First published as written by David Michaels, 2000; re-issued as written by David Michaels & Daniel Brenton;
Edward Maret by Robert I. Katz;
The Unincorporated Man by Dani & Eytan Kollin;
Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer;
Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt;
The complete Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids;
John Cristopher's The Death of Grass;
Nevil Shute's On the Beach;
M John Harrison's Light;
Ken McLeod's Learning the World;
Matthew de Abaitua's The Red Men;
Terry Pratchett's Night Watch.

Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold;
Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Mercy;
Sherri Tepper's The Margarets;
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas;
Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood;
Kim Stanley Robinson's Years of Rice and Salt;
The Brief Wondrous Life of Dr. Wao by Junot Díaz.

Animal Farm by George Orwell;
River Of Gods, The Gone Away World, Anathem, The Baroque Cycle are mentioned as probably too long (not an issue for homeschoolers);
The Road by Cormac McCarthy;
Air by Geoff Ryman.

Ian McDonald's Cyberabad Days;
Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age;
Hal Duncan's Vellum;
Greg Egan's Incandescence;
Jay Lake's Mainspring.

Gossamer by Lois Lowry;
I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block;
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang;
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami;
After Dachau by Daniel Quinn;
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley;
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist;
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk;
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke;
City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer;
Fray by Joss Whedon.

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies;
Ian McDonald's Brasyl;
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville;
The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Cat Valente.

I did assign science fiction and fantasy books, but mostly I just kept sff books generally suitable for their ages and interests in the stacks of books I had for them to choose from and noted when they'd read them so we could talk about them. There are a lot of the books in the lists above that I've never heard of, much less read.


  1. I could name quite a few if not limited to the past 10 years.

    Starting out: The Man Who Folded Himself.

  2. I love some of the choices, but also realize that books like Barzak's One For Sorrow, while amazingly good, would never be adopted in a high school classroom. It's content is too "naughty" for most folks. I would teach it to high schoolers, but I don't get that luxury yet...

  3. I think SF makes for good H.S. curriculum. The hypothetical questions that can be raised make for good discussion