The Detcon1 Awards for Young Adult and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

tl:dr: Read some good YA fantasy, SF, horror or dystopian fiction this year?  Nominate them here! Yes, that means you!

This is the commissioned statue for the award, aka the Reading Robot, created by Detroit artist Jeremy Haney.  There are only two of these in existence, and I got to snuggle one.

I think I've read more young adult and kids' science fiction and fantasy since I became an adult than I did when I was a kid, and that's saying something.  Yes, you might assume that because I'm a children's librarian that I have to read a lot of kids' books, but I think the primary reason is because there is so much good speculative fiction being published right now.  Children's fantasy is still enjoying the post-Harry Potter renaissance; YA publishing is at an all-time high.  Genre fiction for adults has an unfair reputation for shoddy writing -- but there's nothing more literary than the science fiction and fantasy literature written for youth today.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of it is overlooked by the audience who might enjoy it most: adult SF/F readers.  SF/F conventions provided me with a safe haven when I was a teenager; I've been attending them for over twenty years.  My fannish peers read piles of books every year, but I'm sad to say I believe there are still a large number of adult SF/F readers who just don't read books published for kids.  

Detcon1 (July 17-20, 2014 in Detroit, MI), the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention, is betting I'm wrong.  They're promoting a new member's choice award for young adult and kids' SF/F, titled the Detcon1 Award for Young Adult and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction.  (That's a mouthful.  I'm going to call it the Detcon1 YSF Award for short.)

There are other awards for speculative fiction.  The Hugo Awards are also member choice awards.  Some winners have been middle grade and YA (traditionally defined by publishers as ages 8-12 and 12+ respectively); Gaiman's Graveyard Book won in 2009.  Arguments have been made for and against including a special category in the Hugos for YA books, but so far, nominations are inclusive for all kinds of speculative fiction, written for all ages.

There's also the Golden Duck, a juried award specifically for science fiction written for children and young adults.  A panel of distinguished readers choose these awards from the pool of potential candidates, rather than relying on popular vote.  The 2014 Golden Duck winners will be awarded at Detcon1, too.

The Detcon YSF Award nominations are open to the public, at or by mail ballot.  Anyone can name up to five speculative fiction books published in 2013 for young people.  Nominees don't have to attend Detcon1 in order to participate, but if they want to vote on the winners, they'll have to buy a membership.  Works published in a language other than English are also eligible if their first year of publication in English was 2013.

You might not have heard the term speculative fiction before.  It includes lots of genre, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, dystopian fiction and superheros.  Graphic novel compilations of comic books or webcomics are included, too -- they're welcome to be nominated if they were published in novel form for the first time in 2013.  If you're not sure if a book is YA or middle grade, don't worry about it; the awards committee will sort those details out when we tally the nominations.

What do we need from you?  Your opinion!  Visit and tell us what books you loved this year, before the deadline on February 28, 2014.  If you haven't read any YA or children's SF or fantasy, read some!  There's so much good stuff out there.  Of course, I'm going to tell you to go to your public library and asking your children's librarian for suggestions.  Check out the nominees for the Cybils in the YA Speculative Fiction and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction categories.  

Once you've submitted your nominations, spread the word.  And then, invite people to attend Detcon1 -- young, old and in between.  Fandom needs people of all ages to thrive.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Maggi Idzikowski, Detcon1 YSF Award Administrator