Author Topic: Suggestions needed--Mutant books  (Read 6608 times)

stacer

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Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« on: April 29, 2003, 02:55:48 AM »
I'm trying to flesh out my SF side of my rewritten syllabus for this class that's ending next week. I know, I know, most of you have better things to do than help me with my homework. But if any of you have suggestions on books about mutants and/or gene-manipulation, please let me know.

The only one I've found so far is a collection of short stories edited by Asimov called Young Mutants. It seems that we have a lot more TV shows/movies/comic books about them (the obvious example being X-Men, of course).

Also, does anyone know when Starship Troopers was originally published, and if it was originally written for children? I found a copy of it in the children's section of the library, but I didn't think it was really children's or YA. Maybe it is considered YA now--if it was written before 1970 or so, there was no YA genre for it to fit into. Anyway, the computer catalog entry for the copy I have says this is "highly abridged" but I can't find anywhere in the book that says that.

Aha--just found it on the copyright page: "A much abridged version of this book was published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine under the title 'Starship Soldier.'"

The copyright on my version says 1959.
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Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2003, 10:33:34 AM »
The Wild Cards series is well written and insightful (especially the first 3 books)

As for Starship Troopers it was written in 1959.  Heinlein always did write on a level that young adults could read, but not one that they always understood.
Troopers is a very complex book about politics war and fighting for what is right. He has been called a fascist, a communist and an elitist by experts so its possible that young adults might find some of the concepts challenging. The book is totally different from the movie so don't judge it on that basis. Suffice it to say that there is no sex, intellectualized violence and a lot of moral ambiguity. Its probably one of my favorite books because each time I read it I take a away another layer.
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stacer

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2003, 11:14:42 AM »
Glad to hear that--I never saw the movie, though it looked interesting, because I heard it was pretty stupid. But I had heard that the book was a pretty seminal SF book, so it's worth reading.
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Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2003, 11:58:42 AM »
Oh definately, It'd have to be among the top ten of Sci-Fi along with Asimov's Foundation, David Brins Startide Rising, Arthur C Clarks 2001 and Rendevous with RAMA and Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy those are seminal books in Sci-fi indeed.
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Fellfrosch

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2003, 01:06:48 PM »
I would definitely classify Starship Troopers as YA, more so than almost any of Heinlein's other books. It has nothing to do with mutants, though, as far as I remember.

As for books about mutants, I have no idea. Would you object to putting actual comicbooks on your syllabus?
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The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2003, 03:57:37 PM »
Are we talking about "seminal" or "good?" Rama doesn't have a whole lot of depth to it.

And as for mutants, I'd have to say that X-Men really is the definitive mutant set of characters in speculative fiction. However, if you're looking for mutation/genetic manipulation, you probably should also check out Gattica (yes, it's a movie, not a book).

And it's not really mutant, but Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land is about "evolved" beings and their reaction to society, as well as the reverse relationship. This is also not what I'd call necessarily "young adult." It too is one of those "seminal" novels that isn't necessarily that great, though this time mostly because I think Heinlein was too enthusiastic about a new philosophy he hadn't fully considered. That or drugs, I dunno.

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2003, 04:09:50 AM »
Sorry, didn't clarify--that was two different things I was talking about, mutant/genetic evolution/gene manipulation-ish books--not too picky on the specifics, just that sort of thing (one) and Starship Troopers (two).

Actually, I don't know why I couldn't include comic books, since I'm defining the material and the audience for the fictional course I'm creating, and X-Men is really what I had in mind, but how accessible are copies of comic books and graphic novels in libraries?

One part of my rewriting of the syllabus is to expand the SF part of the course, which is all of one week right now, so I'm going for both breadth and depth--history of science fiction for children, and well-written SF for children. I'm much stronger on fantasy than I am on SF, because that just interests me more, especially high fantasy.

I've got books like A Wrinkle in Time, The Giver, Among the Hidden (Margaret Petersen Haddix), The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm (Nancy Farmer), Ender's Game, Dune, and Feed, for starters. (Feed just came out last year, by M.T. Anderson--good book, but it's yet another dystopic view of the future, which seems to be the trend in serious SF for children for the last 10 or 15 years.) I have several stacks of other books I've pulled off library shelves randomly that I'll be trying to skim-read this week (Starship Troopers is one of those).

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. More are welcome if you have them--but I can't use suggestions for movies. That's my problem--I can think of plenty of movie examples, but this is a literature course, so I have to stick to books, or at least to print.

Oh, and if any of you might be familiar with high fantasy books (for children YA and younger) that are based on something other than the regular British tradition, I'd appreciate those suggestions, too. (An example is Little Sister, by Kara Dalkey, which uses Japanese mythology, culture, and ideas of rank, a nice difference from the regular Western feudal stuff you usually see in children's lit, at least.)
« Last Edit: April 30, 2003, 04:16:53 AM by norroway »
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Entsuropi

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2003, 08:45:56 AM »
Dune, with the whole Messianic plot, is rather heavy going for kids isnt it?

Mind you, i did read it at 12. But i watched Terminator 2 at 9 so...  :-/
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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2003, 09:27:45 AM »
David Brin's Startide Rising and the Uplift War are about a war caused by Humans geneticly uplifting Dolphins and Chimps to sentient races. The other aliens in the universe dont like it.
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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2003, 09:33:39 AM »
oo! oo! Shelly's Frankenstein. It's not *genetic* manipulation, but it's the same idea.

And for the alternate tradition, try Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts "Servant of the Empire" series. It has a character from the world of Feist's "Riftwar Saga" which is mostly Euro-tradition, but it takes place on the other side of the rift, which has a more eastern based world. Feist isn't the best writer, and his works tend to smack of influence from whatever fantasy RPG he's playing. However, he's all right, and when he gets away from the same set of characters (as he does in the "Empire" series) his work is much more interesting.

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Re: Dune
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2003, 01:09:25 PM »
With Dune, I would call that upper YA, 15 and above? Still falls under "children" because YA is officially children's literature. Heavy, but no more heavy than Feed, which posits a completely consumerist culture, to the point that people have had an internet feed implanted in their heads so they can buy more quickly. It's also made people really stupid, because they don't have to read and don't have to remember anything because they can look it up immediately. Their vocabulary has disintegrated to the lowest common denominator of teenspeak, as well. It's a good read, but has a lot of language, so it's something I'd place beside Dune as far as age group goes.

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Fellfrosch

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2003, 01:10:14 PM »
I've only read one of them, so I can't comment on quality, but Card's Alvin Maker series is colonial American fantasy, set at about 1815. I suppose you could consider it alternate history rather than high fantasy, but it IS a non-medieval fantasy so I thought I'd mention it.

The thing with X-Men is that you'd have to find a specific storyline or graphic novel that deals with the issues you want to bring out. Just telling the kids to go out and read some X-Men would probably be counter-productive, since they're more likely to end up with an action story than a discussion of mutants and human evolution. It would be a lot of fun to do the research, though.

One thing you might want to do is use the dotcomics available on Marvel.com. They've got several issues of Ultimate X-Men, which may or may not be what you're looking for (I haven't read them).
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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2003, 01:23:47 PM »
Finding graphic novels/comics in the library might be tough, yes. But you could get a copy from a store and put it on reserve. Depends on how much money you can convince the school to spend for you.

Or you could show the class the movie while at school and talk about it from there.

Gen-13 is another comic that talks about gene manipulation. It's a little bit racier and a little more in your face about issues too.

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2003, 01:35:20 PM »
As linguist I have to point out that language cannot, by nature, disintigrate. Language can change (in fact it has to change) but to call that change a disintegration is inaccurate.

Sorry, but that's one of my pet subjects. I'm also a descriptive grammarian. Feel free to ignore these comments at your leisure.
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Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Suggestions needed--Mutant books
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2003, 02:53:46 PM »
We are turning into our parents...
For them it was Boss and neat-o Daddy-o, for us radical and Bitch'en or Dope and Mac Daddy and now our kids have come up with a dialect that should be making us proud. But its just making us realize how our parents felt ,and theirs before them.

The fact is language evolves and changes especially in areas where cultures overlap. Give the kids a little credit though. In most cases they know how to speak properly. They cant spell as well as a lot adults, but thats because they no longer have to use their brain to write, what with Spell checkers and Grammar checkers.

But if they read Young Adult books because they are easy and not because they have some intrinsic value (plot, structure, theme) then they might as well be getting an internet or TV feed right to their head.  Labels of Young Adult and Teen on books do a lot of harm to readers.

Look at the Narnia Chronicles for example, they are often shelved away in the Young Adult section when they are perfectly good books for adults to be reading. Many older teens may not even want to read the Narnia Chronicles because its baby stuff (after all you can find it by the Sweet Valley High Series). Other young adults get turned off to reading because they never flex their mental muscles and tackle anything harder than Bunnicula. Do I think Junior high kids can read all of the books listed above. Yes, with very little effort anything they dont understand can be explored in greater detail in class. You know learning.

Sorry, I dont mean to rave, but one thing my parents never did was tell me what I could read because of my age.

PS. Because of some slight sexual content you may want to avoid the wildcards books.
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