This week Geek Speaks…Fiction! welcomes Corie Weaver, the editor of the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, an anthology for younger readers that focuses on science fiction, diversity, and representation. The campaign was recently selected as a SFWA Star Project.
I have the best job ever.
Really I do.
Going through the submissions pile for our yearly anthology of science fiction short stories for middle-grade readers is like my birthday, every day.
Sure, there are plenty of stories that don’t make the cut–ones where I have to wonder if they’ve ever talked with a kid, or bothered to look at the guidelines.
But there are gems just waiting to be discovered. Stories that take my breath away. The very first year when Mike Barretta’s “The Rocket Maker” knocked my socks off so hard I decided on the spot to include it. The secret recipe in Cory Cone’s “The Best Cheesecake in the Universe” made me cry. Deborah Walker’s “Three Brother Cities” is about intelligent seed cities waiting for colonists who never come. But it’s also about loneliness, and family, and a story I still can’t quite describe.
We’ve had clever stories and heartbreaking ones. With every anthology, we pick a wide selection of sub-genres, from post-apocalyptic to steampunk to hard SF and everything in between. Space pirates, first contact, techno-thriller. Lead characters who are girls, boys, robots. Everyone is welcome here.
But the moment that my inner fan girl squeed the hardest was six months before we went live with the first collection, and my inbox blinked with a letter from Nancy Kress.
Nancy Kress, whose 1990s novella Beggars in Spain broke my head in so many ways as I devoured that month’s copy of Asimov’s on my parent’s back porch.
Nancy Kress, who I’d written a week earlier, in a bundle of nerves, knowing that she was likely too busy, but I couldn’t not invite her.
It took me at least five minutes to open it.
Dear Corie Weaver,
I have been thinking about your email.
She sent a story. Not a surprise, she sent a good story. A great one. And she’s sent a story for the anthology every year since.
I asked her why she supported the project, and this is what she wrote.
“When I was a child, the school library had a Girls’ Section, which included fairy tales, and a Boys’ Section, which included all the science fiction. Things have changed, of course, but not enough. There is a strong need for science fiction, as opposed to fantasy, aimed at girls, especially in the middle grades. This anthology is an important contribution to the effort to fill that need, and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”
~ Nancy Kress, winner of six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award
Obviously, things are better than they were when she was a child. We know we’re not the only women and girls who want to read science fiction. Now we speak up when female roles are written out of the marketing and the toy aisle. Online forums like GeekMom give us a place to unite our voices. We want strong role models in our genre for our kids, and we’re willing to fight to keep them.
And my job? Not only do I get first peek at some fabulous stories, meet (at least virtually!) a long time hero, but I get letters like this from kids and their grownups:
“There are not very many action, adventure, superhero, or sci-fi stories that feature girls, but there needs to be. I have read this whole book and now I have become even more interested in space and robots and things like that.” ~ Lily F. (10 years old)
“My daughter is on the couch presently, reading her copy, which I handed to her approximately 3 minutes ago. She is engrossed. Thank you.” ~ Matthew M.
“Entertaining, varied and enrapturing – my young wards for the weekend have positively devoured the book and I’ll admit enjoying it myself once they very reluctantly set it down.” ~ Andro B.
“While I was funding you last night, my 8-yr old daughter came by and asked what I was doing. When I explained that I was funding the second volume of this, she said that she liked the first volume so much that she wanted to give you $5 of her own money, so she went and got her bank, and I upped my donation by $5. :-)” ~ Warren B.
“I backed the book for my 6-year-old daughter. I had to pry it out of her hands to get her to go to bed. She has declared it her favorite book.” ~ Gary D.
Like I said. Best job ever.
Corie Weaver is co-editor of the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, currently available on Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/815743020/2017-young-explorers-adventure-guide