Animals in Children’s Science Fiction

Children love animal stories. And children love science fiction. So why are there so few novels that put those two – animals and science fiction – together?

Frankly, I find it puzzling, especially when you consider that in sci-fi movies or TV shows, animals or animal-like beings are relatively common features: There’s Falcor, the luck dragon, in “Never Ending Story.” There are the Tribbles, the cutest fur balls ever seen on screen, in “Star Trek.” There’s Wookie of “Star Wars” (no description required – who doesn’t know Wookie anyway?). In some blockbuster scifi movies, animals even take top billing, such as in “King Kong,” “Godzilla,” and “Jurassic Park.”

But think of the top children’s sci-fi novels of all time – “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle – and you will notice that very few science fiction books devote more than ten sentences to a non-human being.

This, I feel, is a sad oversight. I think animals would make great characters in a sci-fi book. Animals add interest, emotion, and – ironically – humanity to a story that could very easily become too removed from the real world. A few excellent novels prove this – “The Star Beast” by Robert Heinlein and the “Doctor Who” series by Malcolm Hulke are some of the best examples. It would be nice, though, if there were a few more.

Then, like an answer to my un-uttered prayers, Ms. Leonie Rogers comes along with her children’s science fiction book, “Frontier Incursion.” The story is about young people who have been charged to explore and study a new colony, a planet called Frontier. The story’s heroine, a new Scout Corps member named Shanna, finds herself at the frontline of an extraterrestrial war where she and her comrades are forced to defend a world that they are just beginning to fully discover. But in the midst of all the adventure and drama, what do I find? Starcats, a pair of intriguing exotic creatures that subtly find their way into the reader’s heart.

Will Ms. Rogers’ book someday make it into that list of top children’s science fiction novels that feature unforgettable animals? To be honest, it’s too early to tell – but when that fateful day comes, wouldn’t you like to be able to say that you were one of the first to read and love “Frontier Incursion” and the starcats?

Leonie Rogers’ “Frontier Incursion” is available right now at Amazon.com. To learn more about the book, get a preview, or buy your own copy of this top-rated kids’ science fiction, click here.

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