For too long, science fiction and fantasy have been relegated to the sidelines of literature. I remember, at age 13, reading Fahrenheit 451 at my high school in Fulton County, Georgia, and learning from my teacher that I was the first and only girl in her class to ever do a book report on science fiction. It’s a book that changed my life and is so eerily descriptive of today’s alienated, book-banning, and social-media-drugged society that it should be required reading (along with Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984). 

That’s why my co-editor and I were thrilled to receive three submissions about science fiction and its importance from the young writers of Youthcast Media Group, a frequent collaborator with MindSite News, which trains high school students in journalism skills.

Science fiction and fantasy books don’t just warn us of the dangers of being drugged by screens, violence, and lying, authoritarian politicians, and they don’t just offer fanciful tales of dragons or space travel. In the words of an English professor writing in the online magazine The Conversation, science fiction and fantasy builds mental resilience in young readers and offers them “a way to rethink social dilemmas.” It also offers a path toward hope and self-acceptance.  

“Fantasy provided me with the representation I so desperately craved,” wrote Kendall Covington, one of the YouthCast writers who spent endless hours devouring fantasy fiction as a child and teen.

Young people can see examples of other teens and young adults grappling with serious social issues in sci-fi and fantasy books from the Harry Potter series to The Hunger Games and Parable of the Sower, Clark University professor Esther Jones wrote in The Conversation, “but in settings or times that offer critical distance.”

In three essays, the two young Youthcast Media writers chart fantasy fiction’s soaring popularity during and after the pandemic and explore its importance to their own mental health. We’re excited to feature their work:

Young Readers Struggling with ‘Reality Overload’ Drive Surging Sales of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books, Experts Say 
By Hermes Falcon and Kendall Covington, Youthcast Media Group

No Illusion: Fantasy Fiction is My Safe Space 
By Hermes Falcon, Youthcast Media Group

“Hope Was Still Waiting for Me”: Finding a Sanctuary in Fantasy Fiction
By Kendall Covington, Youthcast Media Group

Type of work:

Diana Hembree, MS, is MindSite News co-founding editor. She is a health and science journalist who served as a senior editor at Time Inc. Health and its physician’s magazine, Hippocrates, for four years,...