Fiction showcase: The origins of the Ripping Yarn novel

Ripping Yarns map graphic

Our featured fiction showcase of books for September is called Ripping Yarns in which we have selected novels that share the common thread of being rip-roaring, adrenaline pumping tales of action and adventure, and are usually tales of daring and heroism. Today we have interpreted the term to cover a wide selection of authors, genres and writing styles.

The genre originated in the Victorian times with authors like Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle and was subsequently continued by writers like H. G. Wells, Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Buchan. Now the term is so wide it covers everything from science fiction to crime and general fiction and a whole host of sub-genres. The only linking factor is the author’s commitment to tell a rattling good adventure story. So with all that in mind, we thought we would feature a selection of the classic authors in this selection. These selections can also be found on Overdrive and in the physical library collections in the fiction section.

Syndetics book coverThe mysterious island / Jules Verne ; with an introduction by R.G.A. Dolby.
Jules Verne (1828-1905) is internationally famous as the author of a distinctive series of adventure stories describing new travel technologies which opened up the world and provided means to escape from it. The collective enthusiasm of generations of readers of his ‘extraordinary voyages’ was a key factor in the rise of modern science fiction.
“In The Mysterious Island a group of men escape imprisonment during the American Civil War by stealing a balloon. Blown across the world, they are air-wrecked on a remote desert island. In a manner reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe, the men apply their scientific knowledge and technical skill to exploit the island’s bountiful resources, eventually constructing a sophisticated society in miniature. The book is also an intriguing mystery story, for the island has a secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bottle imp : in English and Samoan / Robert Louis Stevenson ; introduced by Roger G. Swearingen ; edited by Robert Hoskins.
“Robert Louis Stevenson considered his supernatural short story ‘The Bottle Imp’ one of his best. A Faustian folktale transplanted to the Pacific, ‘The Bottle Imp’ was the only one of Stevenson’s works to be translated into a Polynesian language in his lifetime, as the Samoan O le Fagu Aitu. Featuring an extensive introduction by Stevenson scholar Roger G Swearingen, and accompanied by the original illustrations, this edition is the first to publish the English and Samoan versions together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe return of Sherlock Holmes ; & His last bow / Arthur Conan Doyle ; with an afterword by David Stuart Davies.
“Three years after his supposed death at the Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock Holmes returns to 221B Baker Street, to the astonishment of Dr Watson and the delight of readers worldwide. From kidnapped heirs to murder by harpoon, Holmes and Watson have their work cut out for them in these brilliant later tales. This collection also includes His Last Bow, a series of recollections from an older Sherlock Holmes of further adventures from his life. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe thirty-nine steps / John Buchan ; with and introduction and notes by Sir John Keegan.
“Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot which could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTarzan of the apes / Edgar Rice Burroughs ; edited with an introduction and notes by Jason Haslam.
“Tarzan first came swinging through the jungle in the pages of a pulp-fiction magazine in 1912, and subsequently in the novel that went on to spawn numerous film and other adaptations. In its pages we find Tarzan’s origins: how he is orphaned after his parents are marooned and killed on the coast of West Africa, and is adopted by an ape-mother. He grows up to become a model of physical strength and natural prowess, and eventually leader of his tribe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe time machine / H.G. Wells.
“Late in the nineteenth century, a Victorian scientist shows his disbelieving dinner guests a device he claims is a Time Machine. Respectable London scarcely has the imagination to cope with him. A week later they reconvene to find him ragged, exhausted and garrolous. The tale he tells is of the year 802,701 – of life as it is lived in exactly the same spot in what once had been London. He has visited the future of the human race and encountered beings that are elfin, beautiful, vegetarian, and leading a life of splendid idleness. But this is not the only lifeform that exists in Eden – in the tunnels beneath paradise lurks man’s darker side.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ripping Yarns promo iamge

Literature as inspiration for graphic novels

There are many great original characters and stories and worlds built in the medium of graphic novels, and there are also some great adaptions that give literary explorers another dimension to classic works.  Inspired by the recent graphic novel Sabrina being longlisted for the Man Booker, we have a list of some ‘literary’ titles for you.

Beginning with The Graphic Canon 1 and 2:

The graphic canon. Volume 1, From the epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous liaisons 

The graphic canon. Volume 2, From “Kubla Khan” to the Brontë Sisters to The picture of Dorian Gray

These volumes have a wealth of content and contributors.  From folk tales to classic novels; contemporary artists to historical visionaries. Volume 2 includes William Blake with his own images and words. Such an incredible overview!

Don Quixote. Volume1 / Davis, Rob
“A mixture of reality and illusion, this is the story of the besotted Don Quixote and his down-to-earth companion, the faithful Sancho Panza, who set out to right the world’s wrongs in knightly combat. The narrative moves from philosophical speculation to broad comedy.” (Catalogue)

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick / Chabouté
“In striking black-and-white illustrations, Chaboute retells the story of the Great American Novel. Captain Ahab strikes out on a voyage, obsessively seeking revenge on the great white whale that took his leg.” (Catalogue)

The rime of the modern mariner / Hayes, Nick
“This graphic novel recasts the shimmering horror of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous story into a contemporary context. A mariner appears on a park bench and begins his tale. Cursed by an albatross he slew whilst hunting whales, the mariner and his crew find themselves stranded within the North Pacific Garbage Patch: a vast, hypoxic, slow-whirling maelstrom of plastic waste; a hidden repository for the world’s litter. Along the way, he meets various characters of our current environmental tragedy: a lady made of oil, a deserted ghost-ship drilling barge, a 2-inch salp (the human race’s oceanic ancestor), a blue whale and a hermit. (Catalogue)

The Canterbury tales / Chwast, Seymour
“Accompany a band of merry medieval pilgrims as they make their way-on motorcycles, of course-to Canterbury. Meeting at the Tabard Inn, the travelers, including a battle-worn knight, a sweetly pretentious prioress, the bawdy Wife of Bath, and an emaciated scholar-clerk, come up with a plan to pass time on the journey to Thomas a Becket’s shrine by telling stories.  Chwast’s illustrations relate tales of trust and treachery, of piety and bawdiness, in an engaging style that will appeal to those who have enjoyed The Canterbury Tales for years, and those for whom this is a first, delectable introduction.” (Catalogue)

The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman / Rowson, Martin
“A novel about writing a novel is the subject of this complex classic which has been described as the greatest shaggy dog story in the English language.” (Catalogue)

Howl : a graphic novel / Ginsberg, Allen
The original by Allen Ginsberg caused such a ruckus, there were arrests, an obscenity trial, censorship trials and seizure of material.  Now you can decide for yourself, in colour!

Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and loathing in Las Vegas : a savage journey to the heart of the American dream / Little, Troy
“Records the experiences of a free-lance writer who embarked on a zany journey into the drug culture.” (Catalogue)

…and we finish up with an author from Aotearoa New Zealand: Sarah Laing’s memoir Mansfield and Me looks at the way literature can affect and influence our lives

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one… She was as famous for her letters and diaries as for her short stories. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes. Sarah Laing’s gorgeous, playful drawings and self-deprecating humour lightly mask a complex meditation on writing, celebrity and the conscious construction of self. A very New Zealand coming-of-age story.” (adapted from catalogue)