The past few years have brought some great science fiction adventures that will thrill kids who dream about adventures among the stars! Here are some great new and recent series that will captivate kids.
Daniel Coldstar: the Relic War, by Stel Pavlou
This one kicks off a new series that’s perfect for young Star Wars fans! It has the familiar feel of space opera, with a young hero kids can relate to. Daniel’s memory has just been wiped clean, so he has to relearn what it means to be enslaved in a hellish mine on a planet far from earth, searching for ancient relics alongside hundreds of other kids. But because he can’t remember despair, he can hope for escape. So when he finds a strange artifact that is both a weapon and a shield, he keeps it, and runs. Luck is on his side, and he makes it onto a merchant vessel, and from there to the stronghold of the Truth Seekers, men and women who seek to maintain justice and peace amongst the many galaxies colonized by humans in their long ago great expansion. Daniel’s eager for the Truth Seekers to charge in to rescue all the enslaved kids, but the Truth Seekers seek to take down the whole evil organization that is using the ancient technology to ensnare all of humanity with their toxic lies. And Daniel has just become a major player in this contest between good and evil…Here’s hoping for many more books to come!
Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, by Patrick Samphire
Here’s a fun series for kids who like their science fiction to come with flavored with historical steampunk and a dash of dragon! Long ago, Martian dragons created slip-ways connecting Earth to Mars. When these were discovered, settlers from Earth started colonizing Mars. Now, in 1816, the Napoleonic wars are raging on earth, and a boy named Edward, living a comfortable life on Mars, is about to begin a great adventure, hunting for lost Martian technology. Always just one step ahead of a disgraced ex-explorer who wants the tech for his own selfish reason, Edward, his sisters, and cousin Freddy (who, though he might act like a fashionable idiot, is a lot more competent than he seems), journey across an alien landscape of strange flora and fauna, full of steampunkish technology and mechanicals (both helpful and hostile).
The adventures continue in the second book, The Emperor of Mars, in which Edward gets caught up in new dangers totally beyond his control, and once again, instead of being the hero, he ends up battered and bruised and lucky to be alive (mechanical monsters and attacking Martian sea serpents will do that to a person) with the somewhat justified feeling that he has made a mess of things. But the fault of course lies not with Edward, but with the self-styled Emperor of Mars, who has reclaimed ancient Martian technology to fuel his own ambitions. This will appeal lots to kids who enjoy heist stories, with the characters rushing to figure out mysteries and recover a stolen item from a truly formidable enemy who commands lots of mechanical monstrosities.
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Last Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson
This new series is a great introduction to classic science fiction! Sabotage, robots, space travel and a bit of time travel combine for a nail-biting adventure, when our sun starts to go supernova, long before it should. Humanity has been forced to leave Earth, settling on Mars, but with Mars about to be engulfed by the sun, colony ships are setting off for a new solar system. Liam and his friend Phoebe are supposed to be on the last ship leaving Mars. Their parents are desperately working to finish the terraforming project that will make their new planet habitable, but they have only a few hours left before their ship must leave. And things are going wrong. The supernova is not a random happenstance, but deliberate sabotage not just of our sun but of other stars. An alien scientist had come to Mars before humanity left earth, and was killed there, leaving behind a strange device that allows its user to see future possibilities. Liam and Phoebe find it, and Liam sees disasters ahead. Can he and Phoebe save their parents after the terraforming project’s headquarters is sabotaged, and get off Mars safely? And in future books, will humanity be able to foil the evil star destroying masterminds? The sequel, The Oceans Between Stars, comes out in February 2018, and I can’t wait!
Mars Evacuees, by Sophia McDougall
Here’s a really cool, utterly engrossing exoplanet adventure set on Mars, where children from Earth are being sheltered from an alien attack on Earth. On Mars the kids are supposed to be trained to be the next generation of soldiers in the war…but things go very wrong very fast. Hostile aliens, cliff hanger adventures, malfunctioning robots, and a distinct lack of helpful adults make for fun reading, but it’s the characters here I loved the most—Alice, the central protagonist, who’s not particularly smart or gifted, but who manages to keep (more or less) calm, helping everyone carry on, her brilliant friend Josephine who plans to be an exo-archaeologist, and even one of the robotic instructors—a giant flying goldfish, who provides lovely comic relief!
The adventures of the “plucky kids” of Mars (as the media calls them) continue in Space Hostages, when they set off for what is supposed to be a peaceful outing of interspecies goodwill. But this isn’t what happens. A hostile alien race captures the Earth spaceship, and holds its occupants hostage. The kids, however, turn out to be bad hostages. Two get thrown out of an airlock, and one leaps out to save them (along with the robot goldfish teacher of the first book); the other two engage in a desperate effort to reach their own almost sentient space ship, free all the other humans, and escape. As well as cool technology, interesting alien cultures, and a strange planet to explore, there’s the great characterization that made me such a fan of the first book, and a plot that’s thought-provoking in the way that great science fiction does so well!
Space Case, by Stuart Gibbs
The Official Residents’ Guide to Moon Base Alpha reassures the “lunernauts” who will make it their temporary home that everything will be just peachy keen and full of “pleasant surprises!” It says nothing about murder…12-year old Dash was unenthusiastic from the get-go about his family leaving Hawai’i for the moon, and nothing about the cramped and uncomfortable living conditions have made him change his mind. And then murder is added to the mix! The grown-ups don’t believe Dr. Holz was murdered, so Dash and a new girl who’s just arrived on the moon must rely on their own wits to crack this closed-room case, without becoming the killer’s next victims.
In the second book, Spaced Out, life at Moon Base Alpha continues to be horribly uncomfortable…and then the commander of the Base disappears! It’s not possible for her to have gone far away, and the base seems free of any suitable hiding spaces, so Dash once again puts his detective skills to the test, and put his life at risk again as well! A third book, Waste of Space, will be out in 2018 with a new mystery for Dash to solve. My own member of the target audience and I are both looking forward to it lots! It is a really satisfying realistic science fiction series, with excellent lunar base world-building, and good mysteries too, and I can’t think of a better series to offer young readers ready to launch into these two genres!
Bounders, by Monica Tesler
In this future version of Earth, certain kids have been chosen to be the first class sent to space to train as Bounders (able to travel vast distances through quantum particle manipulation). These kids are special—they have traits of the Autism spectrum, ADDHD, Executive Functioning Disorder, and OCD, which are now rare in the human gene pool but which are essential for bounding through space. 12 year old Jasper (who has attention deficit disorder) and the other kids quickly realize that there are secrets they haven’t been told. They are part of a breeding program (one with serious ethical issues), and reasons why there’s a military aspect to the whole operation—finding an imprisoned alien from a strange species is a bit of a giveaway. And then there are the gloves that let the kids manipulate their Bounding abilities, technology that is very different from anything developed on Earth…
The Tundra Trials, and The Forgotten Shrine (coming out this December) continue the adventures, taking the kids to alien planets, introducing new tech, and testing Jasper’s loyalties. Kids who enjoy speculative fiction school/training mission stories, in which kids are forced to become loyal comrades to each other, while outwitting the schemes of untrustworthy adults, will love these books!
Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra, by Jason Fry
Sell this series to your middle grade readers with the line “kid pirates in space” and send them off on a wild ride around the moons of Jupiter! Centuries from now humanity has sprawled through the solar system, but not amicabl—the Jovian Union and Earth have a history of war. The Hashoone family are privateers of the Jovian Union, capturing Earth ships in true 18th-century piratic fashion. Young Tycho and his siblings have spent most of their lives on board the Shadow Comet, learning the family business and competing with each other (only one of them can inherit the captaincy). But when they try to seize an old earth freighter that claims diplomatic immunity from the privateers, Tycho finds himself faced with a problem that’s much bigger. And quickly things escalate into an inter-planetary adventure of great danger and excitement as mystery is added to mystery and then solved with space battling.
Great characters and extravagant adventures in space make this a gripping series that continues with Curse of the Iris, The Rise of Earth, and a planned fourth book coming out next year.
What series would you introduce to young science fiction fans?