Science Fiction, Children's Literature, and Popular Culture

Coming of Age in Fantasyland

by Gary Westfahl


Examines representative works of science fiction, children's literature, and popular culture to explore the experience of growing up in contemporary society.

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Cover image for Science Fiction, Children's Literature, and Popular Culture

April 2000


Pages 176
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/General

In a constantly changing world, individuals are forever growing to meet the challenges and developments that emerge around them. In contemporary society, technology is at the heart of change. Literature, too, reflects the evolution of culture and increasingly represents and considers technology. And as children become young adults, their reading helps shape their understanding of the world. This book examines representative works of science fiction, children's literature, and popular culture to show how these works reflect the process of growing up in a technological world.

The volume looks at the simple picture books and comic books that appeal to small children; the formulaic adventures that fascinate older children; the films and television programs that are watched by children and young adolescents; the music videos and programming that appeal to young adults; and the popular novels that interest older readers. Included are discussions of Superman, the Hardy Boys, Star Trek, science fiction films, and music videos. The book points to similarities among popular culture, science fiction, and children's literature and demonstrates the relevance of these works to contemporary society.

Table of Contents

IntroductionHow Charlie Made Children Hate Him: Fantasy and Reality in Stories for Small ChildrenThe Three Lives of Superman--and Everybody ElseMystery of the Amateur Detectives: The Early Days of the Hardy BoysGiving Horatio Alger Goosebumps, or, from Hardy Boys to Hapless Boys: The Changing Ethos of Juvenile Series FictionFrom the Back of the Head to Beyond the Moon: The Novel and Film This Island EarthOpposing War, Exploiting War: The Troubled Pacifism of Star TrekEven Better than the Real Think: Advertising, Music Videos, Postmodernism, and (Eventually) Science FictionLegends of the Fall: Going Not Particularly Far Behind the MusicHollywood Strikes a Pose: Seven Tales of Triumph, Treachery, and Travail in Old TinseltownIn Defense of Stone Tablets: Isaac Asimov Explains Why Science Fiction is Skeptical about "New Information Technologies"Partial Derivatives: Popular Misinterpretations of H. G. Well's The Time MachineBibliographyIndex



This title presents some interesting insights into an important area of children's culture. Undergraduates, in particular, will find this book a useful introduction to the subject.—Choice

Westfahl succeeds in his aim of showing that children's literature and pop culture have generally become more imaginative due to science fiction. The aroma of muckraking is what makes these studies so delightful and compulsively readable. Suitable to college-level readers and up, the book is one I heartily recommend to everybody.—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

Westfahl's playfulness gives rise to many intriguing speculations, conncecting popular culture phenomena in convincing but previously unarticulated ways.—The Midwest Book Review

[G]ood reading. If science fiction fascinates you as a genre, then Gary Westfahl's books are a good place to look for interesting criticism. Westfahl's prose is clear and concise and, although this is definitely a scholarly book, it's easy to read and understand....I do recommend this book quite highly.—Entertainment Tomorrow

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