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Back in the Spaceship Again: Juvenile Science Fiction Series Since 1945 (Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction & Fantasy) [Hardcover]

Karen Sands , Marietta Frank

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Book Description

30 Aug 1999 0313301921 978-0313301926
Much literature for children appears in the form of series, in which familiar characters appear in book after book. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, authors began to write science fiction series for children. These early series generally had plots that revolved around inventions developed by the protagonist. But it was the development and use of rocket and atomic science during World War II that paved the way for interesting and exciting new themes, conflicts, and plots. While much has been written about the early juvenile science fiction series, particularly the Tom Swift books, comparatively little has been written about children's science fiction series published since 1945. This book provides a broad overview of this previously neglected topic. The volume offers a critical look at the history, themes, characters, settings, and construction of post-1945 juvenile science fiction series, including the A.I. Gang, the Animorphs, Commander Toad, Danny Dunn, Dragonfall Five, the Magic School Bus, and Space Cat. The book begins with an introductory history of juvenile science fiction since 1945, with chapters then devoted to particular topics. Some of these topics include the role of aliens and animals, attitudes toward humor, the absence and presence of science, and the characterization of women. A special feature is an appendix listing the various series. In addition, the volume provides extensive bibliographical information.

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?The authors contribute to the possible creation of a canon of accepted YA texts with their by identifying other important critics of series and citing specific, well-known authors. They also have presented us with an introduction that goes into the history of series publishing and its relationship to science fiction which can be explaned with readings of F.J Molson's articles on the subject....The work is eminently readable as thumbnail sketches of the series under consideration.?-The Midwest Book Review

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable young adult library genre reference. 8 Sep 2000
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Sands and Frank's Back In The Spaceship Again attempts to focus specifically on a sub sub genre within SF for young adults, which is fictional works within a series (more than three books in the same setting with a recognizable group of the same characters). They contribute to the possible creation of a canon of accepted YA texts with their by identifying other important critics of series and citing specific, well-known authors. They also have presented us with an introduction that goes into the history of series publishing and its relationship to science fiction which can be expanded with readings of F.J. Molson's articles on the subject.
The hopefully exhaustive "Annotated Bibliography of Juvenile Science Fiction Series," is extremely useful whether one wants to get an overview of this publishing phenomenon or simply know the titles of all books in one or more series in order to complete a collection. They should also be applauded for linking more overtly science fictional series produced by authors such as Asimov, Heinlein, Engdahl, Hamilton, Hoover and Heinlein, to earlier 'science' series such as Tom Swift and less science-fictional series such as Danny Dunn. They do not neglect lesser know or specifically children's series such as The Magic School Bus and the Miss Pickerell books (childhood favorites of mine) and they focus on the series fiction since 1945, creating a supplement or update to Francis J. Molson's many essays on the earlier history of series fiction.
The secondary bibliography provides a range of scholarly and non-scholarly suggestions for further reading on series fiction and individual series titles, including the central works on the influential Stratemeyer Syndicate, which largely predate the historical range of this book. The starting point for their demarcation of modern YA SF is Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo ( 1947), and its initiation of hardcover SF published for the school- and public-library market, but they are careful to create the historical context for Heinlein and other writers' post-war success in the introductory chapter. Within this framework, they also take a thematic approach to explain the inclusion of featured author such as Christopher (English), Asimov and Norton (American), L'Engle and Engdahl (American) Joanna Cole and her magic school bus (American), Williams and Abrashkin (American-Danny Dunn), and a host of more obscure writers such as Ruthven Todd (Star Cat series).
This thematic approach, robots, aliens and alien planets, women, humor, science, utopias and dystopias, and aliens and racial alienation are not always critically stimulating. The essays are usually quite short and stick to outlines of similarities in plot elements and settings as a way of describing the stories themselves. The work is eminently readable as thumbnail sketches of the series under consideration.
Jan Bogstad, Reviewer
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