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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest Post: Science Fiction Trends in Young Adult by Catherine Stine, Author of Fireseed One

I am so excited to be part of Catherine Stine's Blog Tour for her YA science fiction novel, Fireseed One!  You can check out the other stops on the tour (including interviews, reviews and giveaways) and Catherine is giving away two ecopies of her book, but first... a bit about Fireseed One!

What if only your worst enemy could help you save the world?

Fireseed One opens onto a near-future earth of floating island farms, people zipping around in amphibious boats, and 18 year-old Varik hanging out with his dolphin, Juko by the water’s edge. In a hot minute, things turn treacherous, when a beautiful and shrewd terrorist named Marisa, breaks into Varik’s father’s secret underwater vault that stores the world’s food supply.

Varik must take Marisa, who knows way, way too much about things that are none of her business, to scorching desert lands in search of a magical hybrid to try to save the food source. Problem is, the Fireseed plant Varik’s father envisioned may not have ever existed off the drawing board! Things get truly daunting, when Varik and Maria are captured by a cowled Fireseed cult who worships Varik’s drowned father. Will the cult chop up Varik, the founder’s son and eat him to gain magical Fireseed powers? Will Varik and Marisa ever get back to Ocean Dominion? Fans of Divergent and Feed will likely enjoy this thriller, as well as those who like a dash of romance with their page-turners.

Fireseed One is available for $2.99 in ebook on AmazonBarnes&Noble, iTunes, and Sony, and $7.99 for the Collectible Illustrated paperback.
Catherine Stine’s YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One launched in December, with original drawings by the author. Her first YA, Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book and a featured review and interview in Booklist. Middle grade novels include The End of the Race in the Wild at Heart series and A Girl’s Best Friend in the Innerstar University series. More and more, she’s enjoying writing page-turning suspense. She is also a published illustrator. Stine does manuscript evaluations and teaches creative writing. She loves to travel with her sons and hubby, and also loves visitors to her blog and Fireseed One Facebook page, so come say hello!
You can find Catherine on Goodreads, her blog or website, Facebook, or on Twitter.

I asked Catherine if she would guest post on YA SF, a subject just a little close to my heart. Not only do I write it, but I fangirl over it (see my Beth Revis meltdown), and I love that we're seeing more and more of it!

Science Fiction Trends in Young Adult
by Catherine Stine

What is science fiction, and how does it differ from fantasy? It’s defined as writing rationally about an imagined future that could be—our imagined hopes and fears. Fantasy deals with magical elements, such as demons and spells, and paranormal is a genre within fantasy, although paranormal abilities can be part of a plausible sci-fi narrative.

In YA sci-fi, the protagonist is a teen on a quest or immersed in a dangerous adventure with realistic future world building. Add a close friend and a bit of romance to the mix. These days, one the most popular types of YA sci-fi is dystopia, with novels such as Divergent, and The Hunger Games, where teens are trapped in a malignant society, from which they can’t, but must escape.

Word is, that the dystopian market is saturated, though I don’t subscribe to that theory. But, seriously, what other types of YA sci-fi exist? And why do publishers rarely refer to it as sci-fi? Why is there so much fantasy and paranormal out there? According to “market studies”, teen girls buy and read many more books than guys. Guys, protest this fallacy! Another prejudice is that girls will not understand sci-fi. Marketers are mostly referring to the old style “hard-sci-fi” involving tech gadgets and robots. Doesn’t that burn you up, ladies? We want our new YA sci-fi!

How about a good YA medical sci-fi, such as Mary Pearson’s Adoration of Jenna Fox? Jenna wakes up from a coma and can’t remember who she is. Gradually, her body and mind are restored in unexpected ways—mysterious scientific ways that raise questions of identity and medical ethics.

What about an intense YA sci-fi space opera, like Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow (In her Sky Chasers series) and Beth Revis’ Across the Universe? There is also psychological sci-fi, such as Susan Kaye Quinn’s Open Minds, where a girl can’t read minds in a sea of kids who can, and how that feels. Then, a new twist forces Kira, a quiet, unassuming girl, to deal with the ultimate power to control others. It’s not about the gadgetry; it’s about dealing with psychological bullets.

I recently attended the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC, and heard very encouraging buzz. A top agent said that vamps and paranormal and even dystopian as pure forms were getting played out. BUT, and this is a good but, trending is toward blends, and very inclusive of YA sci-fi! Mix and match to your heart’s content: YA military sci-fi, YA sci-fi romance, historical fantasy, comedic paranormal, historical horror, sci-fi fantasy, sci-fi thriller and sci-fi romance. These last few are particularly beautiful music to my ears as my new YA, Fireseed One is a sci-fi thriller, with a fire and ice romance.

Thanks for letting me guest host, Susan, I had fun!  Catherine
Thanks so much for guest posting! I love the idea of blends - I think people enjoy the fresh twists that brings! And for your kind words about Open Minds!! (Catherine totally surprised me with that, people, and psychological bullets is SO my new favorite phrase!) (p.s. I'm guest posting on The Book Pixie on Inventing the Future: Mindreading, if you'd like to know more about those psychological bullets. Yes, I'm going to try to use it in every sentence.)

Back to business...
Catherine is giving away TWO ecopies of Fireseed One!
Giveaway runs through Sunday, March 4th - winner announced Monday.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Marketing gurus are idiots. Sci-Fi FTW!

  2. Its great to meet Catherine! Good luck with Fireseed One. I agree there can be other elements incorporated into sci fi if they are plausible. I think I accomplished that. This post is worthy of a Tweet.

  3. Yay, Stephan, and yes, Matthew, marketing "gurus" sometimes get it as wrong as weathermen.

  4. TOTALLY awesome post! I'm bookmarking this one to share with my students. Thanks Susan AND Catherine!

    I can't seem to open the rafflecopter, but I'd love to be entered for an ebook.

  5. Thanks, Shannon! A downloadable study guide is in the works for Fireseed One, as it touches on many topical subjects.

  6. Dystopia just got here!

    I'd throw Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me into that blend mix - sort of a dystopian YA Sci-fi paranormal romance. Luckily you can just call it YA.

  7. Bryan, good one, that gave me a chuckle. Put it in the blender and mix.

  8. Thanks, Catherine, for helping me understand the differences in these categories. I never was quite sure. I loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox and have the sequel to read when time permits.

    Have a great tour.

  9. Like always, great write-up by Catherine. To be honest, like Beverly here, I also don't have much idea about these genres, confuse me a lot. Thanks for the article.

  10. Wow, a great post, Catherine. I hadn't really thought about Sci-fi as you categorised it. I think I was in the sci-fi gadget,,,heheh. It's good to know one can go different ways with that. Thanks for sharing. :)

  11. Oh wow, all I could think for the rest of the post was, "I hope they don't chop up poor Varik!!!" So yeah, my interest is certainly piqued.

  12. I think every time I look there's a new trend of something that someone is looking for. I don't see how anyone can keep up with that. And someone is always saying "vamps" or something else is out. And then someone immediately gets a huge book deal with seven figures for writing said "out" material.

  13. Thanks for this, Catherine and Susan :)

  14. Great insight to the YA SciFi and Fantasy market. Thanks for sharing it with us. Huge Congrats on your book getting published.

  15. Yes, Michael, I'm sure a totally fresh, inventive vamp would still get snapped up! And, yes, Angela, Varik IS in danger of being "consumed" by the cult... (at least in some fashion). Cecelia, I'm glad I could update your concept of sci-fi. That techie five--page rocket rant/hard sci-fi is old-school. Thankfully many recent authors have blown that crusty, outdated sub out of the water. There are also many well-respected women authors who helped push sci-fi out of the "hard" style and into the more personal/psychological/ inventive, "soft sci-fi" genre, such as Nancy Kress, Octavia Butler, Connie Willis, and the younger, quirkier Kelly Link, who blends genres as well-horror, fantasy, sci-fi.

  16. I'm glad to hear that the idea of "science fantasy" is catching on, since that's the genre I publish in! Thanks for your insight - great post.

  17. That's great that sci fi is up and coming. I'll read anything with a great story and great writing. Best of luck to Catherine.

  18. Catherine - thanks for stopping my blog earlier, and good to see you here on Susan's wonderful blog. I loved reading your take on YA SF. I just recently complied a survey of YA SF to see what all was out there. Came up with over 170 books (not including sequels!) and just added Fireseed One to the list. I used slightly different categories than yours to group my list, and broke dystopia into several different subcategories. But I wasn't sure which of my categories to put yours in - maybe I need to revamp my categories? Also found it interesting you include magic in a SF book. There's a few other SF/fantasy-with-magic hybrids out there - a fascinating mix!

    1. Margo, check out my comment on your survey post. First of all... AMAZING!!!!!
      Fireseed is only seemingly magical-there's actually a scientific explanation for why it is the way it is... but no spoilers here. So, as a category--sci-fi fantasy-sci-fi thriller...

  19. What can I say except I love sci-fi? And Open Minds was a great read, btw. :)

  20. I love science fiction :) I recently read the YA novel 'Cinder' which I guess is sci-fi romance, and loved it. I think that's sci-fi, anyway. It's so hard to put things in a genre because everything blurs into everything else!

    1. Miriam! Thanks for stopping by! I need to read Cinder ... that cover is just so cool! And I love that SciFi seems to be permeating so many other genres - a good reflection of our increasingly technological world. :)

  21. I've always loved sci-fi and it's very exciting to see it building in popularity again! Great stories :)

  22. Margo, thanks so much for including Fireseed One on your list! As far as trying to categorize it... um, sci-fi thriller. And Miriam, sci-fi romance is a cool blend. In the adult market, it is already a thriving category.

  23. Fireseed One sounds wildly original and exciting. I love reading and writing Sci Fi. I'm jazzed that it's getting attention.

  24. Thanks, everyone, who made my guest post buzz with great comments, and a big shout out to Susan for hosting me. Thanks, Susan!

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