Monday, May 13, 2013
On the Portrayal of Science in YA
This is how it seems a lot of scientific concepts are portrayed in young adult literature - at least to me - and I don't understand why. If you can have such complex fantasy worlds, why can we not create a complex world built on scientific concepts? Concepts which are not explained in these all-encompassing ways and/or which do not fit within "light" science fiction. (Are you really explaining then or just throwing out a general explanation?) Nowadays I tend to avoid most science fiction novels because it offends me as a neuroscientist to read a lot of these descriptions of how things work. (Mostly when people imply that you can control the brain when there is so much complex circuitry left to be explored. And it's just "hey, stimulate X and X region! That only does this!")
Of course, I'm making a HUGE generalization, and you have every right to call me out on that. It seems like most of the science you tend to read about in young adult literature are what's included in dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels. Which is almost nothing at all, if you think about it; The Hunger Games (the first book) is considered science fiction, I believe, even though the few tidbits there are about science generally tend to be in regard to the medicine. And generalizations, like Peeta getting his new limb and people getting all sorts of things done to their bodies. (Am I remembering incorrectly, or is there more?)
Then... of course... there's the mad scientist stereotype.I'm tired of reading about the evil, ambitious scientist who ruins life for everyone or the scientist who tests his theories on himself or the protagonist because clearly we are all amoral people. It's weird that this frequently pops up in literature (to me at least) when writers and the publishing industry seems very similar to the scientific community. Is it supposed to be some extension of that? I have no idea, but I would like for the stereotype to die out please.
Phew. Any more and I'll really start to rant. What do you all think? How would you like to see science portrayed? How do you see it portrayed? Do you read science fiction novels? Are there particular trends re: science (fiction) that bother you?