Back in the Spaceship Again

Juvenile Science Fiction Series Since 1945

by Karen Sands, Marietta Frank


Explores themes and motifs in post-1945 science fiction series for children.

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Cover image for Back in the Spaceship Again

August 1999


Pages 166
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/General
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Much literature for children appears in the form of series, in which familiar characters appear in book after book. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, authors began to write science fiction series for children. These early series generally had plots that revolved around inventions developed by the protagonist. But it was the development and use of rocket and atomic science during World War II that paved the way for interesting and exciting new themes, conflicts, and plots. While much has been written about the early juvenile science fiction series, particularly the Tom Swift books, comparatively little has been written about children's science fiction series published since 1945. This book provides a broad overview of this previously neglected topic.

The volume offers a critical look at the history, themes, characters, settings, and construction of post-1945 juvenile science fiction series, including the A.I. Gang, the Animorphs, Commander Toad, Danny Dunn, Dragonfall Five, the Magic School Bus, and Space Cat. The book begins with an introductory history of juvenile science fiction since 1945, with chapters then devoted to particular topics. Some of these topics include the role of aliens and animals, attitudes toward humor, the absence and presence of science, and the characterization of women. A special feature is an appendix listing the various series. In addition, the volume provides extensive bibliographical information.

Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionThat Spark of Subversion: Robots, Androids, and Artificial IntelligenceThe Celestial Barnyard: The Familiar and the StrangeNo Business in Space?: The Female PresenceScience Is Serious Business: The Role of HumorBut What Is a Superconductor, Anyway?: The Absence and Presence of ScienceThe City of Gold and the City of Lead: Utopias and DystopiasWe Must Learn to Get Along: Aliens and OthersJuvenile Science Fiction Series and the Coming of AgeAppendix: Annotated Bibliography of Juvenile Science Fiction SeriesBibliographyIndex



Libraires that have science fiction clubs or readerships may want to invest in it.—School Library Journal

This survey of juvenile science fiction series since 1945 is recommended for scholary collections with a focus on young adult science fiction. Such collections will find this an important survey which fills in many gaps in literature, providing a broad review of the history, themes, characters and settings of post-1945 series titles from ^ISpace Cat^R to the ^IMagic School Bus^R of modern times.—The Bookwatch

The authors contribute to the possible creation of a canon of accepted YA texts with their by identifying other important critics of series and citing specific, well-known authors. They also have presented us with an introduction that goes into the history of series publishing and its relationship to science fiction which can be explaned with readings of F.J Molson's articles on the subject....The work is eminently readable as thumbnail sketches of the series under consideration.—The Midwest Book Review

Sands and Frank's book provides a useful list of works and some interesting comparisons.—SFRA Review

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