“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” – Stephen King – our latest fiction showcase

This month’s fiction showcase shows a broad and diverse range and depth of writing styles and topics. However the darker dystopian trends in our society today and in the recent past seem to be a recurring theme with both The Divers’ Game by Jesse Ball and Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s Human Matter which stare deeply into our collective dark heart. Carrying on the dark theme is Stephen King’s acclaimed return with The Institute. Once again King uses a group of children as his main protagonists but this time the horror has its roots in modern American society. We also have international bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s moving account of a woman crafting and creating her own life anew at the dawn of the Second World War, along with new works by Emma Donoghue and Ruth Ware. Enjoy!


The divers’ game : a novel / Ball, Jesse
“The old-fashioned struggle for fairness has finally been abandoned. It was a misguided endeavor. The world is divided into two groups, pats and quads. The pats may kill the quads as they like, and do. The quads have no recourse but to continue with their lives. The Divers’ Game is a thinly veiled description of our society, an extreme case that demonstrates a truth: we must change or our world will collapse.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Night boat to Tangier : a novel / Barry, Kevin
“In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen — Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs — sit at night, none too patiently. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice’s estranged daughter (or is she?), Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A single thread / Chevalier, Tracy
“It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt. Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone. A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity…” (Catalogue)  Also available as an eBook.

Akin : a novel / Donoghue, Emma
“Noah Selvaggio is days away from his first visit back to Nice since he was a child, bringing with him a handful of puzzling photos he’s discovered from his mother’s wartime years. But he receives a call from social services: Noah is the closest available relative of an eleven-year-old great-nephew he’s never met, who urgently needs someone to look after him.  The unlikely duo, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, bicker about everything from steak frites to screen time. Both come to grasp the risks people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A single source / Hanington, Peter
“Veteran BBC reporter William Carver is in Cairo, bang in the middle of the Arab Spring. ‘The only story in the world’ according to his editor. But it isn’t. There’s another story, more significant and potentially more dangerous, and if no one else is willing to tell it, then Carver will – whatever the consequences. A Single Source tells two stories, which over a few tumultuous months come together to prove inextricably linked.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The institute : a novel / King, Stephen
“In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window.  In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Human matter : a fiction / Rey Rosa, Rodrigo
“More than a decade ago, novelist Rodrigo Rey Rosa made his first visit to the Historical Archive of the Guatemala National Police, where millions of previously hidden records were being cataloged, scanned, and eventually published online. Bringing to light detailed evidence of crimes against humanity, the Archive Recovery Project inspired Rey Rosa to craft a meta-novel that weaves the language of arrest records and surveillance reports with the contemporary journal entries of a novelist (named Rodrigo) who is attempting to synthesize the stories of political activists, indigenous people, and other women and men who became ensnared in a deadly web of state-sponsored terrorism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe turn of the key / Ruth Ware.
“When Rowan stumbles across the advert, it seems like too good an opportunity to miss – a live-in nanny position, with a very generous salary. And when she arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences by a picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder. She knows she’s made mistakes. But she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Our latest selection of New Zealand fiction titles

Books can be the people we never get to meet, ancestors or far neighbours.”
― Elizabeth Knox, The Vintner’s Luck

Throughout the year in a series of occasional blogs we in Wellington City Libraries aim to cover as many home grown New Zealand books as possible. And in this blog we have an absolutely bumper crop of new Aotearoa fiction. One of the many highlights in this latest selection of books is Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute book in which we find Elizabeth Knox’s in scintillating masterful form dealing with huge issues within the context of Fantasy. This book lingers long in the mind and we would be surprised if it doesn’t feature heavily in many people’s best books of 2019 lists.

Amongst the many other books of note are Jeff Murray’s climate change narrative Melt, one of 2019’s many novels dealing with environmental collapse. Expect to see more era defining books on this topic released over the next few months too. Enjoy!

The absolute book / Knox, Elizabeth
“Taryn Cornick believes that the past is behind her – her sister’s death by violence, and her own ill-concieved revenge. She has chosen to live a life more professional than personal. She has written a book about the things that threaten libraries – insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring. The book is a success, but not all of the attention it brings her is good. There are questions about a fire in the library at Princes Gate, her grandparents’ house, and about an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Gone to Pegasus / Redgrave, Tess
“Its Dunedin 1892, and the women’s suffrage movement is gaining momentum. Left to fend herself when her husband’s commited to the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, 23-years old Eva meets Grace, an outspoken suffragette wiht an exotic and mysterious past. As the friendship between the two women grows through shared love of music, Eva begins questioning the meaning of her marriage and her role as a woman. But Grace has a bullying husband and secrets she’s been keeping from Eva, which could threaten the freedom both woman find themselves fighting for.” (Catalogue)

Moonlight sonata / Merriman, Eileen
“It’s the annual New Year family get-together. Molly is dreading having to spend time with her mother, but she is pleased her son will see his cousins and is looking forward to catching up with her brothers . . . Joe in particular. Under the summer sun, family tensions intensify, relationships become heightened and Molly and Joe will not be the only ones with secrets that must be kept hidden.
‘No one must ever know.’” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Melt / Murray, Jeff
“This novel is an urgent, crushing observation of adaptation and exclusion amidst preparation to settle Antarctica as climate destruction starts to bite. New Zealand in 2048, gateway to the melting continent, is thrust into the centre of the climate crises. Vai Shuster, the Advocate of a tiny, broken island, must find a place for her community in a world that’s not sure it needs the poor.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Julian calendar / Henry, William
“A bright young photojournalist returns to London with the aim of releasing himself from a profound love affair that has stalled without explanation. Instead, he is derailed by memories of the secretive nurse who broke his heart, and rejuvenated by a man whose unexpected and intense friendship challenges the fundamental notion of love itself. The Julian Calendar is Simon’s debut novel under the pseudonym William Henry.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Rigel affair / L M Hedrick.
“Based on a true story. Charlie and Mattie meet after the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. She’s the girl of his dreams. But when he embarks for the Pacific war zones his letters are sporadic. Mattie is tormented by doubts. Did he truly love her, or was it only a dream?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverNailing down the saint / Craig Cliff.
“Duncan Blake is a Kiwi filmmaker whose move to LA has not gone to plan. After a series of setbacks, he’s working at a chain restaurant, his marriage is on shaky ground after a porn-related faux pas and his son won’t stop watching Aladdin .When Duncan gets the chance to scout locations for a fated director’s biopic of Saint Joseph of Copertino, it’s the lifeline he’s been searching for. But in Italy, in the footsteps of the seventeenth-century levitator, he must confront miracles, madness and the realities of modern movie making. A novel about the pursuit of dreams, the moral calculus this entails, and the possibility that the rational, materialist worldview isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Touching the universe / Romeo, Tom
“Ten years after his father’s disappearance, Gordo Jenkins is on the brink of turning his life around. He’s about to finish university and pursue his filmmaking dream, and he’s fallen in love with Eleanor after a chance encounter in a Manhattan clinic. But then he’s confronted with news of his father’s whereabouts and must decide if he wants to put his life on hold again to see him. A few days later, Gordo and Eleanor begin a cross-country drive to Mexico to unravel the mystery of his father’s disappearance – and confront the mystery of their own lives along the way”–cover.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

October’s Science Fiction and Fantasy showcase

I like the truth, even when it does trouble me.
― Juliet Marillier, Wildwood Dancing

Our latest crop of newly acquired science fiction and fantasy books  feature a wide variety of novels that can loosely be described as epic space operas, fantasy novels with vast sweeping kingdoms steeped in ancient magic, steam punk and urban fantasy. And also feature a child Empress and an exciting fantasy fiction debut “The tigers daughter” .  And to top it all we have bestselling New Zealand author Juliet Marillier’s latest highly anticipated historical fantasy outing The harp of kings.  In which a young woman warrior bard goes on a for dangerous mission to recover a missing ancient harp. Enjoy!

The harp of kings / Marillier, Juliet
“Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies. Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone missing. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The cruel stars / Birmingham, John
” The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of “species purists” intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. Fashioning themselves as the one true “Human Republic,” the Sturm cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing billions before finally being defeated and driven into the far reaches of Dark Space. Centuries of peace bred complacency. Everyone believed the Sturm had died out in the Dark. They were wrong. The enemy has returned and five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Reticence / Carriger, Gail
” Percival Tunstell loves that his sister and her best friend are building themselves a family of misfits aboard their airship, the Spotted Custard. Of course, he’d never admit that he belongs among them. He’s always been on the outside – dispassionate, aloof, and hatless. But accidental spies, a trip to Japan, and one smart and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life. Except hats. He’s done with hats. Thank you very much.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The first girl child / Harmon, Amy
”  Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok. Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk. Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ten thousand doors of January / Harrow, Alix E
“In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world and the mystery behind a magical door in this captivating debut. In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe sword saint / C. F. Iggulden.
“Cities have been broken before. Empires have fallen. But this is the end of an age.
The city of Darien’s power has grown, but not without a price. Victory has drawn the gaze of a fierce enemy from the North. The Feal Empire is determined to claim Darien’s magic and use it to take the throne. With nowhere else to turn, the twelve families enlist the help of the Sword Saint. Alongside five outcasts – a gambler, a hunter, a young thief, a sorceress and a battle-scarred warrior – the sword saint must travel into the very heart of the invading army. Darien was once the Empire of Salt’s greatest stronghold – now it will be the final battleground. And the Sword Saint their last hope.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The Phoenix Empress / Rivera, K. Arsenault
“Since she was a child, the divine empress O Shizuka has believed she was an untouchable god. When her uncle, ruler of the Hokkaran Empire, sends her on a suicide mission as a leader of the Imperial Army, the horrors of war cause her to question everything she knows. Thousands of miles away, the exiled and cursed warrior Barsalyya Shefali undergoes trials the most superstitious would not believe in order to return to Hokkaran court and claim her rightful place next to O Shizuka.  As the distance between disgraced empress and blighted warrior narrows, a familiar demonic force grows closer to the heart of the empire. Will the two fallen warriors be able to protect their home?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The tiger’s daughter / Rivera, K. Arsenault
“The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach–but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests. Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Miss Marple to Mma Ramotswe: Books to Read after Agatha Christie

Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.
– Agatha Christie

Ever since she was first published, Agatha Christie has been one of the most heavily borrowed authors in the world. But what do you do when you run out of Agatha’s to read? Which authors can you turn to to fill the gap? Don’t fret–help is at hand! Below is our selection of authors who we feel in some aspect fill the Christie gap. And as you can see, some are old, some are new, some are well known and some less so–but all we think are marvelous! Enjoy.

Gunpowder plot : a Daisy Dalrymple mystery / Dunn, Carola
“A magazine assignment takes a murderous turn for intrepid sleuth, the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, in this delightful new addition to Dunn’s mystery series, set in 1920s England. Martins Press. In 1924 Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher travels to a friend’s home to witness the estate’s famous Guy Fawkes celebration. However, she gets more than she bargained for – family tensions, murder and an apparent suicide.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Malice at the palace / Bowen, Rhys
“The King’s youngest son, George, is to wed Princess Marina of Greece, and the Queen wants Georgie to be her companion: showing her the best of London and dispelling any rumors about George’s libertine history. The prince is known for his many affairs with women as well as men including the great songwriter Noel Coward. But things truly get complicated when one of his supposed mistresses is murdered. The Queen wants the whole matter hushed.” (Catalogue)

Swing, brother, swing / Marsh, Ngaio
“Lord Pastern and Baggot is a classic English eccentric, given to passionate, peculiar enthusiasms. His latest? Drumming in a jazz band. His wife is not amused, and even less so when her daughter falls hard for Carlos Rivera, the band’s sleazy piano player. Aside from the young woman, nobody likes Rivera very much, so there’s a wealth of suspects when he is shot during a performance. Happily, Inspector Alleyn is in the audience.” (Catalogue)

The seagull / Cleeves, Ann
“A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a part in his downfall. Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Saturday big tent wedding party / McCall Smith, Alexander
“As the countdown to Mma Makutsi’s wedding begins, all is not as it should be at the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. While investigating unpleasant occurrences on a southern cattle-post, Mma Ramotswe has reason to reflect on Rule No.3 of The Principles of Private Detection: never lie to the client. But as friends and family gather under starry African night skies, it turns out that even the most perplexing of apparitions – and the most shocking of crimes – may yield to rational explanation.” (Catalogue)

The monogram murders / Hannah, Sophie
“Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman?” (Adaptede from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The unexpected inheritance of Inspector Chopra / Khan, Vaseem
“On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries. The first is the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want solved. And the second is a baby elephant. As his search for clues takes him across the teeming city of Mumbai, from its grand high rises to its sprawling slums and deep into its murky underworld, Chopra begins to suspect that there may be a great deal more to both his last case and his new ward than he thought.” (Catalogue)

Talent for murder / Wilson, Andrew
“The details of Agatha Christie’s sudden disapperance in the winter of 1926 remain unknown. What actually happened to her in those ten days? In his new novel Andrew Wilson tells a compelling story about what may have happened.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A superb cornucopia of Scandi Noir, cosy crime and other mystery gems in this month’ s mystery fiction showcase

Everything you do leaves traces, doesn’t it. The life you’ve lived is written all over you, for those who can read.”
― Jo Nesbø, Flaggermusmannen

The ever popular crime genre of Scandi Noir is well represented in this month’s recently acquired mystery fiction showcase with newly acquired books by Scandi Noir luminaries Anne Holt and Jo Nesbo. There are also some new delicious Cosy crime novels by Rebecca Tope and Susan Wittig Albert. And to round up this month’s acquisitions we also have the remarkable critically lauded masterpiece of modern writing Drive your plow over the bones of the dead by Man Booker Prize winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk. Enjoy


Knife / Nesbø, Jo
” KNIFE sees Harry Hole waking up with a ferocious hangover, his hands and clothes covered in blood. Not only is Harry about to come face to face with an old, deadly foe, but with his darkest personal challenge yet. The twelfth instalment in Jo Nesbo?s internationally bestselling crime fiction series.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive coverA grave for two / Holt, Anne
“Selma Falck’s personal life and career as a lawyer have hit rock bottom. That is until Hege Chin Morell – Norway’s best female skier – approaches her desperate to overturn a doping charge. With two months to the Winter Olympics, Selma faces the seemingly almost impossible task of clearing Morell’s name. However, when a male skier is found dead after a training accident, it becomes clear to Selma that there is something more serious at risk.  As Selma’s race against time begins, she realizes that more lives are at stake.” (Adapted from Catalogue)Also available as an eBook.

Syndetics book coverSecrets in the Cotswolds / Rebecca Tope.
“Thea Slocombe is struggling to entertain her stepchildren through the long summer holiday while her husband Drew works, so she keenly accepts a new job house-sitting in Barnsley. However, her commission proves to be far from relaxing when she stumbles across a woman hiding among some bushes. The woman’s story is thin and incoherent, but Thea agrees to offer her sanctuary for the night.When her guest is found dead the next morning Thea turns to the police for help. As she digs deeper into the deceased’s background, she discovers a tangled web of lies, secrets and at least three very likely suspects …” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A plain vanilla murder / Albert, Susan Wittig
“​China and Ruby Wilcox are presenting their annual “Not Just Plain Vanilla Workshop,” always a huge hit with customers at Thyme & Seasons Herb Shop. But someone involved with the workshop is driven by a deadly motive, and China soon finds herself teaming up with the very pregnant Pecan Springs police chief Sheila Dawson to solve a vanilla-flavored murder. There’s no shortage of other suspects: a betrayed lover, a disgruntled graduate student, jealous colleagues, and a gang of orchid smugglers. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Drive your plow over the bones of the dead / Tokarczuk, Olga
” Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead takes place in a remote Polish village, where Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, she becomes involved in the investigation. Duszejko is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars, and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. ” (Catalogue)  Also available as an eBook.

Syndetics book coverThe shameless / Ace Atkins.The Shameless
” Twenty years ago, teenager Brandon Taylor walked into the Big Woods north of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, and never returned. For former Army Ranger-turned-sheriff Quinn Colson, the Taylor case has particular meaning. As a ten-year-old, Colson had been lost in those same woods, and came back from them alive and a local legend. Years later, bones of a child are found in the woods, confirming for many the end to the Taylor story.  Quinn’s search for answers will upset the corruption that’s plagued his home since before he came back from Afghanistan. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Love and death among the cheetahs / Bowen, Rhys
“Georgie is excited when Darcy announces out of the blue that they are flying to Kenya for their extended honeymoon. It is only after they arrive that she suspects he has actually been sent there on an assignment. Shocked at the completely decadent lifestyle that involves wild parties and rampant infidelity. One of the leading lights in the community, Lord Cheriton, is found dead along a lonely stretch of road.  It seems the Happy Valley community wants to close the case, but as Georgie and Darcy investigate, almost everyone has a motive to want Lord Cheriton dead.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Palm Beach, Finland / Tuomainen, Antti
“Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village–the “hottest beach in Finland.” The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Afrofuturism – the future won’t write itself

There are many definitions of Afrofuturism; the one I gravitate towards refers to media that explores futures for black individuals and the black community. This is where it intersects with science fiction and fantasy—writers and artists often use technology and the fantastical as elements in these explorations.

(From Book Riot)

Afrofuturism has expression in other mediums – a small nod here to musical artists ranging from Sun Ra to Janelle Monae and Missy Elliott, not just for their musical talents, but for their visual representation of Afrofuturism, using music videos or personal style to tell of celebrated identity reaching beyond the present. This year the Hugo awards has Monae’s Dirty Computer in the lineup for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. The movie Black Panther pulled in accolades and attention beyond the usual Marvel film viewers. Nnedi Okorafor of Binti fame is the voice behind the Blank Panther Shuri series.

Our selection below showcases a few key library titles in a variety of formats (print, eBooks etc.).  Enjoy!


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.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover The City Born Great, N. K. Jemisin (eBook)
“In this standalone short story by N. K. Jemisin, author of The Fifth Season, the winner of this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel, New York City is about to go through a few changes. Like all great metropolises before it, when a city gets big enough, old enough, it must be born; but there are ancient enemies who cannot tolerate new life. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts of a reluctant midwife…and how well he can learn to sing the city’s mighty song.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden (eAudiobook)
“A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country. An emerging AI uprising. And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat of every human she encounters. It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.” (Overdrive description)

BTTM FDRS / Daniels, Ezra Claytan
“Once a thriving working-class Chicago neighbourhood, the ‘Bottomyards’ is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighbourhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home. At turns funny, scary, and thought provoking, BTTM FDRS unflinchingly confronts the monsters – both metaphorical and real – that are displacing cultures in urban neighbourhoods today.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe rage of dragons / Evan Winter.
“The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.” (Syndetics summary)

Overdrive cover An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon (ebook), (eAudiobook)
“Welcome to the Tarlands aboard the space vessel HSS Matilda. The Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human. When the autopsy of Matilda‘s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps.” (Overdrive description)

Do you dream of Terra-Two? / Oh, Temi (print) (eBook)
“A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.” (Catalogue)

Home / Okorafor, Nnedi
“It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places. And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders. But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace. After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?” (Catalogue)

Parable of the sower / Butler, Octavia E
“The time is 2025. The place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. When one small community is overrun, Lauren Olamina, an 18 year old black woman with the hereditary train of “hyperempathy” which causes her to feel others’ pain as her own–sets off on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown.” (Catalogue)

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 Booker Longlist is Here!

Booklists–who doesn’t love a booklist? Especially when it’s the just-released Booker longlist! This year’s selection includes The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her celebrated 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. With The Testaments not due for publication until September, it’s being kept thoroughly under wraps by the Booker judges, so the rest of us will have to wait to draw our own conclusions. Deborah Levy’s The Man Who Saw Everything is also yet to be released, and will be her third entry in the Booker listings. September will also bring us the menace and banter of Kevin Barry’s Night Boat to Tangier.

Check out the full ‘Booker’s dozen’ below!

Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
John Lanchester (UK), The Wall (Faber & Faber)
Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
Max Porter (UK), Lanny (Faber & Faber)
Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)

The Testaments / Atwood, Margaret
“In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalized readers for decades: what happens to Offred? When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story fifteen years later, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

 My sister, the serial killer : a novel / Braithwaite, Oyinkan  (print) (eBook)
“Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works is the bright spot in her life. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Girl, woman, other / Evaristo, Bernardine
“Teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.” (Catalogue)

The wall / Lanchester, John (print) (eBook)
“Kavanagh begins his life patrolling the Wall. If he’s lucky, he only has two years of this, 729 more nights. The best thing that can happen is that he survives and gets off the Wall and never has to spend another day of his life anywhere near it. He longs for this to be over; longs to be somewhere else. He will soon find out what Defenders do and who the Others are. But somewhere, in the dark cave of his mind, he thinks: wouldn’t it be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if you had to fight for your life?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The man who saw everything / Levy, Deborah
“It is 1988 and Saul Adler, a narcissistic young historian, has been invited to Communist East Berlin to do research. As a gift for his translator’s sister, a Beatles fanatic who will be his host, Saul’s girlfriend will shoot a photograph of him standing in the crosswalk on Abbey Road. As he waits for her to arrive, he is grazed by an oncoming car, which changes the trajectory of his life . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLost children archive / Valeria Luiselli (print) (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. They head south west, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. They have been met by a coyote: a man who speaks to them roughly. They cross a river on rubber tubing and walk for days. Then they climb to the top of a train and travel precariously in the open container on top.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

An orchestra of minorities : a novel / Obioma, Chigozie
“Umuahia, Nigeria. Chinonso, a young poultry farmer, sees a woman attempting to jump to her death. Horrified, Chinonso hurls two of his most prized chickens into the water below to demonstrate the severity of the fall. The woman, Ndali, is moved by his sacrifice. Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family, and when they officially object to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But once there, he discovers that all is not what it seems.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLanny / Max Porter (print) (eBook)
“Not far from London, there is a village. This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. It belongs to Mad Pete, the grizzled artist. To ancient Peggy, gossiping at her gate. To families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here. But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort, who is listening to them all.” (Syndetics summary)

Quichotte / Rushdie, Salman
“Quichotte, an ageing travelling salesman obsessed with TV, is on a quest for love. Unfortunately, his daily diet of reality TV, sitcoms, films, soaps, comedies and dramas has distorted his ability to separate fantasy from reality. He wishes an imaginary son, Sancho, into existence, while obsessively writing love letters to a celebrity he knows only through his screen. Together the two innocents set off across America in Quichotte’s trusty Chevy Cruze to find her and convince her of his love.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Frankissstein : a love story / Winterson, Jeanette
“Funny and furious, bold and clear-sighted, Frankissstein sees Jeanette Winterson take on identity, technology and sexuality to breathe new life into Mary Shelley’s classic story. Told in part through Shelley’s eyes as she dreams up her monstrous creation, Winterson launches us into a modern-day nightmare where consumerism and politics are set to bring humanity to breaking point. Spanning three centuries and multiple narratives, Frankisssteinis at once a moving love story and a feminist rallying cry for our times.” (Adapted from the 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)