The Difficulty in Writing Science Fiction for a Younger Age Group
I’ve always been a story teller, a writer. Right from the early age of three. Maybe even as far back as when I learned to talk. My stories usually have a stream of science mixed into them, along with history – another passion of mine. I learned, raising my own family, homeschooling them many years, kids learn better if you embed the facts into a tale, weave them through a saga or sing those facts into a catchy song.
Kids are quick to pick up on errors. That’s good. For them. But it means their storyteller must be accurate, have her facts in order, and not scrimp on reality. Science fiction is science written within a fictional story. Real science with bits of imagination, those what if moments.
Therein lies the difficulty.
As the writer, I am forever researching, reading fantastic theories by real scientists. Extrapolating from these scientific proofs a new realism of ‘it might be possible’ and writing an interpretative scenario interesting enough for a younger age to not only understand, but to identify with and see possibilities of; to dream of ways to make their world different, maybe better as they invent new ways of doing everything.
Kids are so imaginative, so willing to dream of fantastic possibilities, even at an early age, new ideas, long before they come up against the ‘it can’t be done’ mentality of society.
As I see it, my job, as a science fiction writer for middle graders, is to interpret this adult-written science into smaller bits, more easily consumed by the younger reader, adding enough pizzazz to catch their imagination without losing the ‘real’ facts.
In Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon – Part One, I imagined a race of aliens who developed their technology using fewer mechanically built aids, more biological constructs systems, a more ecologically aware race than us. I did this because middle graders are very aware of the effects of pollution and dwindling non-renewable resources these days. Far more than I was at their age. They care about the health of their world. And its future.
I wrote a scene taking place in a kitchen where Marnie is looking at these Euskadaz ovens that don’t have any discernible power source but do have lights. That idea came from a study I read where plant cells in leaves share their energy with other cells, all over the plant, enabling the plant to thrive on little sunlight. As long as some leaves are in sunshine, the whole plant functions fine. The article was about developing this cellular energy sharing into some form of exterior building material, to heat our buildings in a brand new way – a new kind of solar power. Seemed like a perfect way for the Euskadaz to cook. So I imagined those ovens.
In another scene, Marnie enjoys the crunch of the juice container which sucks up through the straw as she finishes her drink. The Euskadaz do not waste anything. In space, where do you get raw materials? Why not use part of the edible plant to bottle the juice, and eat it too? Her jam container melts, spreading exactly enough jam for one piece of toast – again no waste.
And of course we cannot forget, the Euskadaz Euri. That Thanksgiving-like celebration all the Euskadaz look forward to. I watched a science movie about coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef. I listened to scientists talk about the cells of algae buried deep within the developing coral polyp, their fuel source. I watched the sea feeding frenzy during the eruption of billions and billions of coral eggs and sperm, saw the colors, the murkiness of that ocean spot during this four day event. The narrator talked about the necessity of viable new coral reefs to Earth’s oxygen formation, how these ocean areas were becoming polluted and what might happen if we kill all the coral. Thinking about that film’s message scared me.
I decided the Euskadaz would harvest these coral polyps to renew the failing worlds of theirs, but mainly to start the process of oxygenation for worlds they found intriguing, worlds they might, one day in the far future, want to settle. So this Euri harvest will be used to start the terra forming process of brand new worlds.
Maybe, in writing Moustache on the Moon, I have opened some children’s eyes to brand new possibilities for saving this world. Or at least encouraged some kids to look into science more deeply.
Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon – Part One by d.k.snape
We believe in life on other planets. We believe they visit us from time to time. What if life also evolves in the vast empty space between galaxies, among the very stars themselves? What would it look like? What would you do if it showed up in our skies?
Marnie is your average teenager. She goes to school every day, hangs out with her friends, and tries to stay out of trouble. One morning, while suffering through another boring class, her world is turned upside down when two intergalactic strangers come to collect her.
And it’s not just Marnie’s world, but her whole family’s too. It seems that random kids and their moms and dads have also been scooped up and taken to the hidden mountain valley far from their homes. No one knows why they’ve been selected or what’s really going on…
I grew up in a small town just north of Toronto. I always had a vivid imagination. Ask my mother. It’s not that I don’t like to tell the truth. But isn’t the world a brighter place when fairies and aliens populate the local neighborhood? Being an intelligent, non-girlie girl, I didn’t fit in well with my peers. Instead I found books! I read everything I got my hands on. And I mean everything. I contracted some ugly balance-affecting disease at twelve. Stuck in bed for months, my family and neighbours rallied, bringing me books of all kinds once I finished the encyclopedia and dictionary, cover to cover. They just wanted me happy. And quiet. But boredom struck. You can’t just read all the time, I tried copying some of my favorite stories, embellishing them as I saw fit. And one day, I wrote one of my own, all by myself. Personally thought I’d done a good job. When it didn’t receive rave reviews from my family, I decided to try harder, not give up and leave it to the experts like my parents wanted. I’m finally ready for the world to decide.