Scholastic Experts Issue List of ‘Ten Trends in Children’s Books from 2010’

via PR News Wire
Scholastic, the largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, today released a list of 10 Trends in Children’s Books from 2010. The list was compiled by editors from Scholastic, including children’s literature experts from Scholastic Book Clubs and Scholastic Book Fairs, divisions of Scholastic that distribute books from all publishers through schools nationwide.

“We’ve seen some exciting innovation in children’s publishing in 2010, including new formats and platforms for storytelling that are helping more and more kids become book lovers,” said Judy Newman, President of Scholastic Book Clubs.

  1. The expanding Young Adult (YA) audience: More and more adults are reading YA books, as the audience for these stories expands.
  2. The year of dystopian fiction:  With best-selling series like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, readers can’t seem to get enough of fiction that suggests the future may be worse than the present.
  3. Mythology-based fantasy: Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series set the trend – and now series like The Kane Chronicles, Lost Heroes of Olympus and Goddess Girls are capitalizing.

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Vampire Academy Is Not Twilight

By Janell for ReelzChannel
While Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series continues to rage on through fandom, another book-to-movie franchise is gaining momentum as a cultural force of its own and — surprise — it’s also about vampires and adolescence. The first Vampire Academy movie from Richelle Mead’s series is now in pre-production, which has fans speculating about casting choices and even creating their own posters and trailers. And while the two franchises will draw the inevitable comparisons (and perhaps even some rivalry), one thing is for certain: The reign of the vampire is far from over.

We asked Janell from Vampire Academy on LiveJournal to give us the rundown on the two series. Her opinion? When it comes to Twilight and Vampire Academy, the V-word seems to be the only thing they have in common.

Twilight is an extremely character-centric story. When action lulls, Bella and Edward are left to dazzle us with their chemistry. In Vampire Academy, we are instantly pulled into action, with an escape from half-vampire guardians and a true show of Rose’s quick wit and irrational behavior. In Twilight, we get to slowly enter into the situation and watch the events leading up to the conflict with ease. In Vampire Academy, we are in the middle of the conflict and playing catch up in a fast-paced and exciting way.

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Epic Holiday Loot from Orbit!

via Orbit
It’s that time of the year — good cheer, decorations, warm fires, and of course: Loot! We’ve traveled deep into the Orbit HQ dungeon and returned with a chest of magnificent offerings that we’ll be giving away  over the next few weeks.  So check back here (or follow us on twitter or facebook) for updates, and chances to win.

Epic Loot 1: Win The Griffin Mage Trilogy!

Rachel Neumeier’s debut fantasy brings us the story of the war between men and griffins — and the young girl, torn between two worlds, who will decide the fate of all.

Contest Details here

Bujold’s Miles Vokosigan Novels Exemplify Why I Prefer Science in My Fiction

via Popmatters
I read just about every genre, except I guess romance novels, and my reading is split about even between fiction and non-fiction. For me, fiction is more about the escape and getting lost in the story than it is about literary flares or particularly stunning prose. Those things are great and all, but I’m first and foremost a story guy. Sometimes they go together… but it’s rare to find an author who sparkles with both plot and prose-style. As long as the writing’s solid, I’ll choose the latter over the former nine times out of ten.

As a result, I usually end up reading a lot of science fiction. It’s not that science fiction has some sort of monopoly on good plots (it doesn’t), but rather that it seems to have an distinct advantage when it comes to having plots where character’s make smart decisions. Neal Stephenson discussed how sci-fi tends to have more intelligent-acting characters… He used the example of Aliens, where the heroes decide on the plan, “escape this death trap and nuke the planet from orbit,” and the plot evolves from there, with characters making the smart decisions most of the time, but still having to overcome plenty of obstacles and monsters. The opposite kind of fiction…often relies on characters make dumb decisions whose only virtue is that they drive the plot forward rather than do anything we would do in similar circumstances.

Of course there are counter-examples and sci-fi isn’t alone in having smart characters doing the logical thing, but sci-fi might be unique in that it emphasizes this kind of behavior. When you’ve got settings full of inherent challenges like aliens and other worlds, there’s plenty of material to drive the plot forward with having to have your characters act like idiots. In truth, a lot of science-fiction really is just other genres re-packaged in space or the future in order to set the stage as the author sees fit rather than conforming to the world we all know and live in. But even when they’re just variations on mysteries or war stories or political thrillers or whatever else, I find that most science-fiction keeps this inner core of logical characters doing smart things as part of their story-telling DNA.

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An Interview With Anitra Lynn McLeod, Author of THIEF

by Heather Massey at The Galaxy Express
The Wild West meets space adventure–Anitra Lynn McLeod’s Thief is rip-roaring, sexy fun! —Susan Grant, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Warrior

Count me in! Anitra Lynn McLeod’s THIEF (Samhain Publishing) released in November, so I invited the author aboard to tell us more about her rip-roaring, sexy science fiction romance tale. In this book, you’ll find thieves and pleasure robots and salvage vessels, oh my!

The Galaxy Express: Of all the niche subgenres in the universe, you chose to write THIEF, a science fiction romance. Tell us what inspired you to take such a risk.

Anitra Lynn McLeod: I was high on paint fumes, I think. 🙂 Actually, I’ve always loved Susan Grant’s work. She incorporates romance, aviation, and space but I know very little about aviation; however, I do know a lot about space and the west. I am also a huge fan of Firefly, by Joss Whedon. Many reviewers are comparing Thief to that TV show, which is wonderful.

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World SF Blog Reports on a New SF/Fantasy Translation Award

by Jeff VanderMeer at Omnivoracious
Lavie Tidhar at the World SF Blog has the scoop on a fundraiser for a new SF/Fantasy translation award masterminded by Cheryl Morgan, who is also the brains behind the new site Salon Futura.

Next year we will be giving out our very first awards. We would very much like our winners to receive not only glory, but a nice check as well. Translation is not very well paid, despite being a highly skilled task, and many of the authors whose works are eligible would be very grateful for a cash prize as well. So we are going to do some fund raising.

In order to make the process of giving a little more interesting, a number of people have kindly donated some prizes to be given to donors selected at random. We’ll be ending the fund raising campaign at midnight on January 14th, 2011.

In related news, Salon Futura has just interviewed Lavie Tidhar, author of The Bookman and An Occupation of Angels, Karin Lowachee, author of The Gaslight Dogs, and myself (Steampunk Reloaded) about Steampunk, but the conversation ranged far and wide, including international influences on Steampunk.

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N.K. Jemisin’s newest saga: deadly corruption among the magicians of sleep

By Charlie Jane Anders at io9
N.K. Jemisin’s telling us a grand saga of gods and godlings in her Kingdoms trilogy, and now she’s sold a new duology about sleep magic in a society based on bronze-age Egypt.

Here’s the first blurb for Jemisin’s novels Reaper and Conqueror, coming in July and August of 2012 from Orbit Books:

In the city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, where time is marked by the river’s floods, there is no crime or violence. Within the city’s colored shadows, priests of the dream-goddess harvest the wild power of the sleeping mind as magic, using it to heal, soothe… and kill.

But when corruption blooms at the heart of Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – most famous of the city’s Gatherers – cannot defeat it alone. With the aid of his cold-eyed apprentice and a beautiful foreign spy, he must thwart a conspiracy whose roots lie in his own past. And to prevent the unleashing of deadly forbidden magic, he must somehow defeat a Gatherer’s most terrifying nemesis: the Reaper.

Jemisin talks about the sources she’s drawn on for this new story:

It’s hard work, creating an epic fantasy. You’ve got to think about so many things we all tend to take for granted about our own world: terrain, climate, language, constellations. You have to design from the ground up characters and cultures who feel at home in this newly-created place, as if they’ve lived there forever.

Read More here

I’m glad people have realized that everyone is reading the really good YA books. And I’m glad to see more mythology based books, because I love those. I haven’t read the Vampire Academy books, but I’ve only heard good things about them, so I’ll probably go see the movie. And I liked the argument about characters in Sci Fi acting intelligently. Nothing ruins a movie or book faster for me than thinking “what are you doing?!” or seeing a truly idiotic character. On of the writers of Friends said that “the audience loves a slow thinker”, but that really only applies to sitcoms, and even then I can only take that kind of writing sparingly. Characters that act intelligently are much more realistic anyway; if the reader can’t figure out why a character is acting like an idiot, then what’s the point?

What did you think of the trends list? Do you agree that Vampire Academy and Twilight are really different? What did you think of the rest of the news?