Did you know that it's Banned Books Week (September 26-October 3, 2009)? The banning of books is a topic that really makes me angry. In my opinion, anything worth reading is on the challenged and banned books list.
Challenged and banned books
Lauren Davis wrote an article last year for io9 entitled, Scifi Books that Have Been Banned in the Twenty-First Century; from the titles, it looks more like a required reading list than a banned books list:
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s Slaughterhouse-Five
- Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants and The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby
- Lois Lowry's The Giver
- Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials
- Aldous Huxley's Brave New World
- Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451
- Garth Nix's Shade's Children
One of the banned books in her article that should be of particular interest to science-fiction fans is Fahrenheit 451. I feel that it's ironic and somewhat recursive to ban a book about banning books. I would also like to note that I've read the books by Bradbury, Huxley, Vonnegut, and Pilkey. Yes, reading Captain Underpants doesn't make me a bad person.
This year's list of banned and challenged books features some rather interesting titles:
- T.A. Barron's The Great Tree of Avalon 1: Child of Dark Prophecy
- Eoin Colfer's The Supernaturalist
- Robert A. Heinlein's The Day After Tomorrow (Sixth Column)
- Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones
- Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
- Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Series
- Joan Lowery Nixon's Whispers from the Dead
- Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass
Some of the themes in the new additions include the following topics:
- Supernatural (Barron, Colfer, Sebold, Maguire, Meyers, Nixon, and Pullman).
- America is involved in a war that isn't going well (Heinlein).
- Disagrees with a fictional religion (Pullman).
- The book is being made or has been made into a motion picture (Sebold, Meyers, and Pullman).
Taking a stand
It is an illusion that science fiction and fantasy authors are able to make social commentary without being noticed by those who don't value any opinion beyond their own. To some, the limitations to free speech extend beyond "shouting fire in a crowded theater " to expressing any concept that conflicts with their beliefs.