Vector #140

Why devote an issue of Vector to something many BSFA members said goodbye to years ago? Why should adults read something written for 10 year olds? Who is children’s SF actually written for? And why? Why should children read it? Does it have any value? Why should there be such a thing?

David V. Barrett

In writing SF, you try to achieve the shock of the new by inventing or distorting the world of your fiction. Children’s writers do not have to try with the externals, the readers’ inexperience is enough. The journey they must make is into their own past. But the technique is the same: a kind of cleaning of the needle — re-cognition of a world that is strange but also your own.

Gwyneth Jones

But the main thing I set out to do, at the start, was to break the two really restrictive old taboos. Taboo One stated that all adults, particularly parents, must be shown as wise, powerful, kind, understanding — in fact, faultless. Adults with faults were Baddies and had to be killed or reformed on the last page. Taboo Two permitted one child in each book to have one fault in order that he or she could be punished horribly, thus making the book Moral.

Diana Wynne Jones

So I decided to recognise this and treat every character of whatever age as a real person. The resulting freedom astonished me. The battle-line stopped seeming grim. I saw it as just a set of people with fears and foibles like anyone else. And there was no need to wonder what children wanted. I knew, since children are people too. I could write about the whole human race (ad any non-humans I cared to devise) and the only limit turned out to be that anyone reading the book has to be able to say, “Oh yes, we would react just like that!”

Diana Wynne Jones

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