In what could be good news for science fiction writers / YA authors with a specialty in science fiction, Republican politician Ray Canterbury is pushing for a bill that would require the West Virginia board of education to include science fiction on middle and high school reading lists. “In Southern West Virginia, there’s a bit of a Calvinistic attitude toward life – this is how things are and they’ll never be any different,” Canterbury said, according to The Guardian. “[Science fiction] serves as a kind of antidote to that fatalistic kind of thinking.”
Science fiction author and enthusiast James Gunn concurred, “Science fiction has the capability, at its best, of exercising the rational portions of the brain. You have to think to read it. And what the world needs now is people who can think better and more clearly and make good choices.”
The Guardian article does not indicate which way the West Virginia legislature will swing on this issue, however, Canterbury’s positioning of science fiction as anti-Calvinistic suggests he may hold views that oppose intelligent design, an ongoing debate in WVa.
In February 2000, a teacher inquired of the Kanawha County Board of Education what his protections would be if he taught a lesson critical of evolution. In February 2001, a parent asserted that the use of certain science textbooks violated state law because they contain “false and fraudulent” information about evolution. The Kanawha County Board rejected the claim. In the same month and year, a bill calling for “the teaching of creation science and evolution science on an equal basis in the public schools” was introduced in the state legislature, but ultimately died.
If Canterbury’s bill is passed, publishers will not only be filling orders for backlist sci-fi books, but undoubtedly be hunting for fresh titles. If sci-fi’s your thing, start polishing off your manuscripts.