Our latest Science Fiction and Fantasy showcase of newly acquired books.

“Well, all information looks like noise until you break the code.”
– Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

With the 2019 Hugo award nominees recently announced and it now being just under a year until the Hugo awards ceremony here in Wellington at CoNZealand, it is great to see two newly acquired science fiction and fantasy books that have connections to the Hugos. The first is Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik which is on the 2019 Hugo long list. The second is Mercedes Lackey’s Eye Spy. Mercedes Lackey is one of the guests of honour at CoNZealand next year.

There were lots of other new titles that caught our attention including the continuing rise of the awesome Afro Futurism genre as represented in this month’s list by Tade Thompson’s The Rosewater Insurrection. There is also Neal Stephenson’s latest magnum opus Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, described by the New York Times no less as “a staggering work of imagination”. And as if that wasn’t enough two new books from acknowledged fantasy masters Stephen Donaldson and Tad Williams as well as a whole plethora of other science fiction and fantasy goodies to enjoy.

Overdrive cover Spinning Silver / Novik, Naomi (print) (eBook)
“Miryem was brought up in a snowbound village, on the edge of a charmed forest. She comes from a family of moneylenders, but her kind father shirks his work. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, his family faces poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what’s owed, and her neighbours soon whisper that she can turn silver into gold. Then an ill-advised boast attracts the cold creatures that haunt the wood. Nothing will be the same again, for words have power.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Eye spy / Lackey, Mercedes
“In this second installment of the Family Spies series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, the children of Heralds Mags and Amily must follow in their parents’ footsteps to protect the realm. When Abi senses the imminent collapse of a bridge only moments before it happens, she saves countless lives, including that of her best friend, Princess Katiana. The experience, though harrowing, uncovers her unique Gift–an ability to sense the physical strains in objects.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Rosewater insurrection / Thompson, Tade
“All is quiet in the city of Rosewater as it expands on the back of the gargantuan alien Wormwood. Those who know the truth of the invasion keep the secret. The government agent Aminat, the lover of the retired sensitive Kaaro, is at the forefront of the cold, silent conflict. She must capture a woman who is the key to the survival of the human race. But Aminat is stymied by the machinations of the Mayor of Rosewater and the emergence of an old enemy of Wormwood…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fall, or, Dodge in hell : a novel / Stephenson, Neal
Fall, or Dodge in Hell is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The war within / Donaldson, Stephen R
“It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository’s magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. But an ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Empire of grass / Williams, Tad
“The kingdoms of Osten Ard have been at peace for decades, but now, the threat of a new war grows to nightmarish proportions. Their allies in Hernystir have made a pact with the dreadful Queen of the Norns to allow her armies to cross into mortal lands. The ancient, powerful nation of Nabban is on the verge of bloody civil war, and the fierce nomads of the Thrithings grasslands have begun to mobilize, united by superstitious fervor and their age-old hatred of the city-dwellers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Exhalation / Stories / Chiang, Ted (print) (eBook)
“This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Triumphant / Campbell, Jack (print) (eBook)
“The recently colonized world of Glenlyon has learned that they’re stronger when they stand with other star systems than they are on their own. But after helping their neighbor Kosatka against an invasion, Glenlyon has become a target. An attack is launched against Glenlyon’s orbital facility with forces too powerful for fleet officer Rob Geary to counter using their sole remaining destroyer, Saber. Mele Darcy’s Marines must repel repeated assaults while their hacker tries to get into the enemy systems to give Saber a fighting chance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Agatha Christie meets the Tour de France in our latest fiction mysteries showcase

“It’s incredible… Many Colombians have tried before, we’ve had great cyclists in the past. But I’m the first one to win the Tour! Colombia deserves it.” – Egan Bernal 2019 Tour de France winner.

With the 2019 Tour de France over and the first ever Colombian rider Egan Bernal winning the race, it is very timely that Mexican author Jorge Zepeda Patterson has just released an Agatha Christiesque murder mystery, where riding for the coveted yellow jersey takes a deadly turn. Other intriguing new acquisitions in this month’s showcase include The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes – a compendium of tales of fictional detectives that were written during the same era as the deer stalker-topped sleuth. We also have a new novel by top Scottish crime writer Alex Grey as well as new works by R.J. Ellory and Katherine Hall Page.

The black jersey : a novel / Zepeda Patterson, Jorge
“Marc Moreau, a professional cyclist with a military past, is part of a top Tour de France team led by his best friend, an American star favored to win this year’s Tour. But the competition takes a dark turn when racers begin to drop out in a series of violent accidents: But as the victim count rises, the number of potential murderers–and potential champions–dwindles.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The rivals of Sherlock Holmes : the greatest detective stories: 1837-1914
“If “Rue Morgue” was the first true detective story in English, the title of the first full-length detective novel is more hotly contested. Two books by Wilkie Collins–The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868)–are often given that honor, with the latter showing many of the features that came to identify the genre: a locked-room murder in an English country house; bungling local detectives outmatched by a brilliant amateur detective; a large cast of suspects and a plethora of red herrings; and a final twist before the truth is revealed.” (Catalogue)

The darkest goodbye / Gray, Alex
“When newly fledged DC Kirsty Wilson is called to the house of an elderly woman, what appears to be a death by natural causes soon takes a sinister turn when it is revealed that the woman had a mysterious visitor in the early hours of that morning – someone dressed as a community nurse, but with much darker intentions. As Kirsty is called to another murder she finds herself pulled into a complex case involving vulnerable people and a sinister service that offers them and their loved ones a ‘release’.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Three bullets / Ellory, Roger Jon
“It was the shot heard around the world. On 22nd November 1963, John F. Kennedy’s presidential motorcade rode through Dealey Plaza. But what if it missed? Mitch Newman is a photojournalist based out of Washington, D.C. His phone never rings. When it does, a voice he hasn’t heard in years will tell him his former fiancée Jean has taken her own life. Jean was an investigative reporter working the case of a lifetime. Somewhere in the shreds of her investigation is the truth behind her murder.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The body in the wake / Page, Katherine Hall (print) (eBook)
“For the first time in years, Faith Fairchild has time for herself. Her friend Sophie Maxwell is also spending the summer on Sanpere Island, hoping for distractions from her worries that she isn’t yet pregnant.  Faith has her hands full. And that’s before a body with a mysterious tattoo and connections far away from small Sanpere Island appears in the Lily Pond. Once again, Faith will get to the bottom of this strange case–and whip up a delicious blueberry buckle on the side.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Girls like us / Alger, Cristina
“FBI Agent Nell Flynn hasn’t been home in ten years. When Martin Flynn dies in a motorcycle accident, Nell returns to the house she grew up to spread her father’s ashes and close his estate. At the behest of her father’s partner, Detective Lee Davis, Nell becomes involved in an investigation into the murders of two young Latina women in Suffolk County. The further Nell digs, the more likely it seems to her that her father should be the prime suspect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A summer of murder / Bottini, Oliver
“When the local fire brigade is called to a burning farm shed, a volunteer is killed as a weapons cache beneath it explodes. Louise Bonì, back with Freiburg Kripo after a period of withdrawal, is assigned to the task force dealing with the case. The meagre evidence they gather points to a possible connection with German neo-Nazis or illegal arms dealers from the former Yugoslavia, but the appearance of secret service agents marking out the forest suggests more is at stake.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The roadhouse / McGinnis, Kerry
“When aspiring actress Charlie Carver learns that her cousin Annabelle has died, she immediately leaves Melbourne to fly home. The reunion, however, is interrupted when Molly suffers a heart attack. With her mother airlifted out for life-saving surgery, Charlie is left to take the reins of the struggling family business. The authorities declare Annabelle to have taken her own life, but when a woman’s body turns up at an abandoned mine site, Charlie begins to wonder what else is being covered up, and why.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Toni Morrison: a Personal Reflection

After the recent death of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, our fiction selector Neil reflects on his memorable meeting with the literary great.

Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88. Many years ago I had the great privilege of running a book signing event for one of her novels. What I best remember is the way she could communicate to her audience even the darkest of events with great humanity and compassion. Though it was a long time ago, I can still recall how her presence lit up the room and how the audience hung rapt on every word she said.

Born in 1931, she said to biographers “Storytelling was part of family life.” After gaining a master’s degree at Cornell University she started a teaching and editing career before publishing her first novel, The Bluest Eye in 1970. What followed was a remarkable stream of stunning works, with razor sharp dissections of slavery and racism and their consequences for individuals and society. She was awarded just about every literary award available, including the Nobel Prize, the French Legion of Honour and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In our ever more divided world, her messages about the corrosive power of racism and slavery are as powerful and important as they ever were. For more reflections on Toni Morrison, visit The Guardian tribute page.

No Moore! Alan Moore announces his retirement from the graphic novel world

None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with YOU. You’re locked up in here with ME. ― Alan Moore, Watchmen

Legendary, iconic, genre-breaking and redefining graphic novelist Alan Moore has just announced he will do one last graphic novel before he retires – the final installment of his The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series.

His works have attracted in turn rapturous praise and acclaim, as well as controversy and outrage. Works such as his Swamp Man series, V for Vendetta, Watchman and arguably his masterwork The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have no doubt revolutionised the graphic novel genre elevating it to the lofty position of high serious art.

His uncompromisingly brutal, honest and occasionally explicit approach to his work has gained him a huge legion of fans but has often put his works in conflict with more conservative reviewers and authorities. A self-confessed anarchist, his V for Vendetta masked protagonist has been widely adopted by activists in various protest movements.

He started his career writing Future Shocks for 2000AD before being head hunted by DC Comics where he chose to write for one of their lesser known characters Swamp Thing, turning it into a masterpiece about ecology and humanity way beyond the original confines of the character. What followed was a remarkable list of ground breaking works such as Batman: the Killing Joke, Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Providence, Neonomicon, From Hell and Promethea to name but a few.

It is beyond doubt that his influence on the graphic novel world and on culture and society beyond those confines has been substantial.


The complete Alan Moore Future shocks / Moore, Alan
“The entire run of short stories created for 2000 AD by the most celebrated author in comics history, Alan Moore. Each one is like a small episode of the Twilight Zone. For the Future Shocks series of short stories with a twist ending, Alan Moore created some of his most exciting, memorable and explicitly entertaining work. Also featured in this collection are his short Time Twister tales – including the famous and poignant story The Reversible Man where one man’s life is told in reverse.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Providence. Act 1 / Moore, Alan
“Alan Moore’s quintessential horror series has set the standard for a terrifying examination of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It is being universally hailed as one of Moore’s most realized works in which the master scribe has controlled every iota of the story, art, and presentation. The result has been a masterpiece like no other, unparalleled in tone and content, and a true must have addition to his essential works in the field.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore (ebook)
“This is the unforgettable work that forever changed Batman’s world, adding a new element of darkness with its unflinching portrayal of The Joker’s twisted psyche. Writer Alan Moore, acclaimed author of WATCHMEN and V FOR VENDETTA, offers his take on the disturbing relationship between The Dark Knight and his greatest foe. The Clown Prince of Crime has never been more ruthless than in this brutal tale.” (Overdrive description)

Watchmen / Moore, Alan
“Exceptional graphic artwork brings to life the story of the Watchmen as they race against time to find a killer, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.” (Catalogue)

Saga of the Swamp Thing. Book two / Moore, Alan
“Created out of the swamp by a freak accident, Swamp Thing is an elemental creature who uses the forces of nature and wisdom of the plant kingdom to fight the polluted world’s self-destruction. Alan Moore took the Swamp Thing to new heights in the 1980s with his unique narrative approach. His provocative and groundbreaking writing, combined with masterly artwork by some of the medium’s top artists, made SWAMP THING one of the great comics of the late twentieth century.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Volume I, 1898 / Moore, Alan
“The Victorian Era draws to a close and the twentieth century approaches. It is a time of great change and an age of stagnation, a period of chaste order and ignoble chaos. It is an era in need of champions. In this amazingly imaginative tale, literary figures from throughout time and various bodies of work are brought together to face any and all threats to Britain.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover V for Vendetta, Alan Moore (ebook)
“A powerful story about loss of freedom and individuality, V FOR VENDETTA takes place in a totalitarian England following a devastating war that changed the face of the planet. In a world without political freedom, personal freedom and precious little faith in anything, comes a mysterious man in a white porcelain mask who fights political oppressors through terrorism and seemingly absurd acts in this gripping tale of the blurred lines between ideological good and evil.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Chain Reaction: Complete Series 5, BBC (Audiobook)
Chain Reaction is the entertaining BBC Radio 4 tag talk show where this week’s guest is next week’s interviewer. Famous names from the world of show business choose who they would like to chat to, and must submit to being questioned in their turn the week after. In this fifth series, guests (and hosts) include Jenny Éclair, Jimmy Carr, Matt Lucas, Johnny Vegas, Stewart Lee, Alan Moore and Brian Eno.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Infinite Monkey Cage, Series 2, Brian Cox (Audiobook)
“The second series of the Sony Radio Academy Gold Award-winning BBC Radio 4 show in which physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince take a witty, irreverent and unashamedly rational look at the world according to science. Episode 3 sees special guests Jonathan Ross, graphic novelist Alan Moore and string theorist Brian Greene joining Brian Cox and Robin Ince for a special science-fiction-themed edition of the show.” (Overdrive description)

Wellington City Libraries’ Alternative Booker Longlist!

I do not share the pessimism of the age about the novel. They are one of our greatest spiritual, aesthetic and intellectual inventions.”

— Richard Flanagan, Man Booker acceptance speech

It’s arrived: the longlist for the literary world’s most prestigious prize! But did the judges get it right? Were the best books really selected? Well, in a slightly mischievous vein we’ve examined the best titles of recent months and selected the ones that, in our opinion, should have, could have, might have been on the 2019 Booker longlist.

To start off with we’ve got our very own This Mortal Boy from Fiona Kidman, as well as the fabulous Tina Makereti’s The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke. Then of course there’s Ali Smith’s Spring and Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me. Books from a clutch of less famous authors also thoroughly impressed us, including Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and The Chain by Adrian McKinty. So, for your consideration, here is Wellington City Libraries’ alternative Booker longlist!

Is there anything we missed out? Is there a novel you think should have made the cut? Then please, let us know.

This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona  (print) (eBook)
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only 20 when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders?”  (Adapted from catalogue)

The imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Makereti, Tina (print) (eBook)
The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But first I must finish my story for you. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen? So begins the tale of James Poneke–orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you?re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The porpoise / Haddon, Mark
“A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash. She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world. When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail… So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Machines like me and people like you / McEwan, Ian
“Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding. Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Ian McEwan’s subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions–what makes us human? Our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart?” (Adapted from catalogue)

Spring : a novel / Smith, Ali (print) (eBook)
“From the Man Booker-short-listed author of Autumn and Winter comes the highly anticipated third novel in the acclaimed Seasonal Quartet. On the heels of Autumn and Winter comes Spring, the continuation of Ali Smith’s celebrated Seasonal Quartet, a series of stand-alone novels, separate but interconnected (as the seasons are), wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The chain / McKinty, Adrian
“You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped. The stranger then explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child–within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child. And most importantly, if you don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Big sky / Atkinson, Kate
“Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son Nathan and ageing Labrador Dido. It’s a picturesque setting, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes. Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, seems straightforward, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network–and back into the path of his old friend Reggie.” (Adapted from catalogue)

On earth we’re briefly gorgeous : a novel / Vuong, Ocean
“A young man named Little Dog writes a letter to his mother, who cannot read, investigating a family history begun in Vietnam. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The old drift : a novel / Serpell, Namwali (print) (eBook)
“Namwali Serpell’s ground-shaking debut novel is an epic story of three generations of three Zambian families–one black, one brown and one white. Unfolding over 200 years, but set mainly in the twentieth century, one family begins in Italy, another in England and the third in Zambia. The three families’ lives become entwined as each is plagued by a curse passed on down the generations.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Neil Gaiman, Author

The fabulous, ubiquitous, library-loving Neil Gaiman has just announced that his beloved Sandman series of graphic novels has been green-lit as an eleven-part Netflix series.

Described by Warner Brothers as a massive deal, Sandman will be one of the most expensive TV series ever made. Fans will be mega-excited by the news and desperate to see the final product–alas, still a long way off. Several previous attempts to film Sandman have fallen by the wayside with one potential director describing the series as “unfilmable”.

Neil Gaiman is of course no stranger to film and TV adaptations of his work or indeed writing directly for either medium. Just a brief overview of his writing credits brings such notable films and programmes as Good Omens, American Gods, Coraline, Stardust and Mirrormask as well as several Doctor Who episodes and one episode of Babylon 5!

Sandman was originally–and famously–pitched as a Wild Cards story to George R. R. Martin, but was turned down due to Neil Gaiman’s relatively unknown status at the time. Undeterred, Gaiman went on to write the graphic novels that would become the legends that they are. Here for your delight and entertainment is just a small sample of the numerous, wonderful Neil Gaiman titles we have for you in our libraries. Enjoy!


Syndetics book coverThe Sandman. Vol. 1, Preludes & nocturnes / Neil Gaiman, writer; Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, artists.
Also available as an Ebook “In Preludes and Nocturnes, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverAmerican gods [1]: shadows / story and words by Neil Gaiman; script and layouts by P. Craig Russell; art by Scott Hampton.
“This supernatural American road trip fantasy tells the story of a war between the ancient and modern gods. Shadow Moon gets out of jail only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated and broke, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard–thrusting Shadow into a deadly world where a god war is imminent.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Also available: American Gods the television series. Click here for availability of Season One.

Syndetics book coverStardust / Neil Gaiman; original frontispiece and chapter-opening art by Charles Vess.
Also available as an eAudiobookAmong the wondrous, beautiful, and strange literary offspring conceived by Neil Gaiman is his magical 1997 fantasy novel, Stardust, remains a top favorite. An enchanting adult fairy tale about a young man who travels beyond the boundaries of his small village to find a fallen star and win the heart of the woman he loves–the basis for the hit motion picture.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Also available: Stardust the film. Click here for availability.

Syndetics book coverGood omens / Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
Also available as an eAudiobook “There is a hint of Armageddon in the air. According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. So if they going to stop it from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the AntiChrist. There’s just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverCoraline / Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Chris Riddell.
Also available as an eBook “There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Also available: Coraline the film. Click here for availability.

Syndetics book coverFragile things: short fictions and wonders / Neil Gaiman.
“Fragile Things is a sterling collection of exceptional tales from Neil Gaiman, multiple award-winning author. A uniquely imaginative creator of wonders whose unique storytelling genius has been acclaimed by a host of literary luminaries from Norman Mailer to Stephen King, Gaiman’s astonishing powers are on glorious displays in Fragile Things. Enter and be amazed!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverNorse mythology / Neil Gaiman.
Also available as an eAudiobook “Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

“To a new World of Gods and Monsters”. Our latest science fiction and fantasy showcase


To a new World of Gods and Monsters. Ha, ha. The creation of life is enthralling, distinctly enthralling, is it not?”
Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

In this month’s science fiction and fantasy showcase we have a fantastically varied selection of newly acquired titles, including New Zealander David Hair’s third book in his epic fantasy series The Sunsurge Quartet called Hearts of Ice; Alastair Reynolds’ Permafrost; Neil Asher’s latest called The Warship; Anne Bishop’s Wild Country and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Ruin.  Amongst these literary riches we have another in a long line of books inspired by Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus first published in 1818 by the nineteen year old Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The latest literary luminary to be inspired by the work is Jeanette Winterson whose Frankissstein: A Love Story takes a  look specifically at gender fluidity, the meaning of love and desire, transformation and artificial intelligence in the light of this legend.

Syndetics book coverFrankissstein : a love story / Jeanette Winterson.
“In Brexit Britain, a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love  – with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. Across the Atlantic, in Phoenix, Arizona, a cryonics facility houses dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead… but waiting to return to life. But the scene is set in 1816, when nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley writes a story about creating a non-biological life-form. What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHearts of ice / David Hair.
“Summer is gone, and the world is turning to ice.  The Rondian Empress Lyra has lost her husband, her army is defeated and the deadly Masked Cabal have seized the Holy City. Lyra and her fellow dwymancers must master their deadly magic, whatever the cost. Even those who believe themselves to be fighting for good must grasp the reins of power with cold-hearted determination, and use even the most terrible weapon, if they are to stop the world from falling apart… for ever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPermafrost / Alastair Reynolds. (print) (ebook)
“Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. 2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChildren of ruin / Adrian Tchaikovsky. (print) (ebook)
“Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time. Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth. But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe warship / Neal Asher. (print) (ebook)
“Their nemesis lies in wait . . . Orlandine has destroyed the alien Jain super-soldier by deploying an actual black hole. And now that same weapon hoovers up clouds of lethal Jain technology, swarming within the deadly accretion disc’s event horizon. Yet behind her back, forces incite rebellion on her home world, planning her assassination. Earth Central, humanity’s ruling intelligence, knows Orlandine was tricked into releasing her weapon, and fears the Jain are behind it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWild country / Anne Bishop. (print) (ebook)
“There are ghost towns in the world – places where humans were annihilated in retaliation for the slaughter of the Others. One of those places is Bennett, a town surrounded by wild country. Now efforts are being made to resettle Bennett as a community where humans and Others live together. A young female police officer has been hired as the deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff. A deadly type of Other wants to run a human-style saloon. And a couple with four foster children – one of whom is a blood prophet – hope to find acceptance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Overdrive coverExhalation / Ted Chiang. (print) (ebook)
“This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In ‘The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,’ a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary ‘Exhalation,’ an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. In Exhalation, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth – What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA brightness long ago / Guy Gavriel Kay.
“In a chamber overlooking the nighttime waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra’s intelligence won him entry to a renowned school, though he was only the son of a tailor. He took service at the court of a ruling count – and soon learned why that man was known as The Beast. Danio’s fate changed the moment he recognized Adria Ripoli as she entered the count’s chambers one night – intending to kill. Born to power, Adria had chosen a life of danger – and freedom – instead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The end of the world as we know it: the best post-apocalyptic fiction!

The trouble with you people is that you’ve been here for thirty million years and your perspectives are all wrong. You miss so much of the transitory beauty of life.”

― J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World

Civilisation as we know it has ended. Some sort of disaster–natural or man-made–has brought it to a shuddering stop. So now what happens? We have a fascination with destruction and catastrophe, and some of our finest writers and most famous novels explore worlds where the normal functioning of society has come to an end. This is our small selection of the best disaster novels from authors including Kurt Vonnegut, P.D. James, Cormac McCarthy and more. Enjoy!

The children of men / James, P. D.
“The year is 2021. No child has been born for twenty-five years. The human race faces extinction. Under the despotic rule of Xan Lyppiat, the Warden of England, the old are despairing and the young cruel. Theo Faren, a cousin of the Warden, lives a solitary life in this ominous atmosphere. That is, until a chance encounter with a young woman leads him into contact with a group of dissenters. Suddenly his life is changed irrevocably.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

For the DVD availability of The Children of Men click here.

The road / McCarthy, Cormac
“A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against lawless bands, the clothes they are wearing–and each other.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Syndetics book coverPlanet of the Apes: the devil’s pawn / [writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Carlos Magno]
“A brand new story in classic movie continuity! The ferociousness of the apes’ plans against humans is revealed. As humans face oppressive tactics not seen in centuries, they choose to fight with newfound viciousness, leading them to commit an act of revolution so severe it will have reverberations for years to come.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

For the DVD availability of Planet of the Apes click here.

Overdrive cover The Day of the Triffids / John Wyndham (ebook)
“Triffids are odd, interesting little plants. What seems to be a spectacular meteor shower turns into a bizarre, green inferno that blinds everyone and renders humankind helpless. What follows is even stranger: spores from the inferno cause the triffids to take on a life of their own. William Masen somehow managed to escape being blinded in the inferno, and now after leaving the hospital, he may be the only one who can save his species from chaos and eventual extinction.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

For the DVD availability of The Day of the Triffids click here.

Overdrive cover Station Eleven / Emily St John Mandel (ebook)
“DAY ONE: The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. WEEK TWO: Civilization has crumbled. YEAR TWENTY: A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Cat’s Cradle / Kurt Vonnegut (ebook)
“Written contemporaneously with the Cuban missile crisis and countenancing a version of a world in the grasp of magnified human stupidity, the novel is centered on Felix Hoenikker, a chemical scientist reminiscent of Robert Oppenheimer… except that Oppenheimer was destroyed by his conscience and Hoenikker, delighting in the disastrous chemicals he has invented, has no conscience at all.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Syndetics book coverDrowned worlds: tales from the Anthropocene and beyond / edited by Jonathan Strahan
“A new anthology, featuring stories set in futures wracked by the deluge, from some the best writers in SF, including Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken Liu, Paul McAuley, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Charlie Jane Anders, Lavie Tidhar and James Morrow. We stand at the beginning of one of the greatest ecological disasters in the time of Man. The world is warming and seas are rising. We may deny it, but we can’t hide when the water comes.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girl with all the gifts / M. R. Carey
“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh. Melanie is a very special girl.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)
For the DVD availability of The Girl with All the Gifts click here.

Syndetics book coverI am legend / Richard Matheson
“Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth … but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville’s blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive like this?” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

The Expanse: the best sci-fi around?!

Leviathan Wakes cover

Stars are better off without us.”
― James S.A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes

Written by James S. A. Corey (the pen name used by collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), the Expanse series has gained wide-ranging critical and popular success. The Expanse is set in the near future where humankind has colonized the solar system. One of the core themes is the vastness of the universe and the difficulties humans have in relating to its scale and alienness.

The eighth book in the series, Tiamat’s Wrath, was released last month, while the fourth series of the television adaptation is due to air later this year. With a total of four Hugo and three Saturn Award nominations between them, both the books and television series are definitely worth getting your teeth into. Enjoy!


Syndetics book coverLeviathan wakes / James S.A. Corey.
“Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship’s captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war, and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
For The Expanse Season One DVD availability click here.

Syndetics book coverCaliban’s war / James S.A. Corey.
“For someone who didn’t intend to wreck the solar system’s balance of power, Jim Holden did a pretty good job of it. While Earth and Mars have stopped shooting each other, the core alliance is shattered. Then, on one of Jupiter’s moons, a single super-soldier attacks, slaughtering soldiers indiscriminately. The race is on to discover whether this is the vanguard of an alien army, or if the danger lies closer to home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an eAudiobook. For The Expanse Season Two DVD availability click here.

Syndetics book coverAbaddon’s Gate / James S. A. Corey.
“For generations, the solar system was humanity’s great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure: a gate that leads into a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding. The greatest danger is the one they brought with them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTiamat’s wrath / James S.A. Corey.
“Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper. Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

What to read now Game of Thrones has ended!

Broken Kingdoms cover

Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Are you one of the hordes of people suffering from Game of Thrones withdrawal symptoms? Are you missing the dragons? The action? The intrigue? Are you wondering where to go for fantastic new fantasy–or perhaps you even want a story that explores different concepts and ideas?

Then fear not, help is at hand! We’ve selected a sample of the best fantasy epics around–and all of them are available from your friendly neighbourhood library branch or as part of our eLibrary. Enjoy!

(For our more extensive Overdrive list of recommendations click here.)


Syndetics book coverThe broken kingdoms / N.K. Jemisin.
“In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a strange homeless man on an impulse. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. And Oree’s guest is at the heart of it. . . ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFool’s assassin / Robin Hobb.
“FitzChivalry–royal bastard and former king’s assassin–has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart and leading the quiet life of a country squire. At least he is, until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers. Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one . . .” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an eBook.

Syndetics book coverThe sorcerer’s daughter: the defenders of Shannara / Terry Brooks.
“The mysterious, magic-wielding Druid order has existed for long ages, battling any evil that threatens the Four Lands–and struggling to be understood and accepted by outsiders. But their hopes of building goodwill are dashed when a demon’s murderous rampage at a peace summit leaves their political opponents dead–casting new suspicions upon the Druids and forcing them to flee from enemies both mortal and monstrous.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Also available: The Shannara Chronicles television series. Click here for availability of Season One and here for availability of Season Two.

Syndetics book coverLeague of dragons / Naomi Novik.
“Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all–if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an eBook.

Syndetics book coverHeir to Sevenwaters / Juliet Marillier.
“Lady Aisling of Sevenwaters has given birth to another child–a new heir. But the family’s joy turns to despair when the baby is taken from his room and something unnatural is left in his place. Clodagh must enter the showy Otherworld and confront the powerful prince who rules there.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVoyager: Outlander Book 3 / Diana Gabaldon.
“Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had travelled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her–and her body still cries out for him in her dreams. Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived . . .” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Also available: the Outlander television series. Click here for availability.

Overdrive cover “Savage Sword of Conan, Volume 1, Roy Thomas (ebook)
In the mid 1970s following the colossal success of Conan the Barbarian, Roy Thomas helped expand the universe of Conan to showcase further stories and the talents of some of the comics industry’s best with the equally popular Savage Sword of Conan magazine. Now, for the first time in over thirty years, these primal tales, featuring Robert E. Howard’s most popular character, are available, collecting all Savage Sword Conan stories beginning with issue one.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Pawn of Prophecy / David Eddings (ebook)
Myths tell of the ancient wars of Gods and men, and a powerful object–the Orb–that ended the bloodshed. As long as it was held by the line of Riva, it would assure the peace. But a dark force has stolen the Orb, and the prophecies tell of war. Young farm boy Garion knows nothing of myth or fate. But then the mysterious Old Storyteller visits his aunt, and they embark on a sudden journey.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Syndetics book coverThe priory of the orange tree / Samantha Shannon.
“The House of Berethnet has ruled for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction–but assassins are getting closer. Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, protecting her with forbidden magic. Across the dark sea, Tane is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an eBook.