The smallest of whispers: New science fiction and fantasy

Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people building it up to a roar.”

― T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

We at Wellington City Libraries are huge fans of the work of T.J. Klune (see our 2021 interview with him at the end of this blog). So, we were thrilled to see his latest book In the Lives of Puppets in this month’s list of newly acquired science fiction and fantasy titles.

In the Lives of Puppets is a fabulous, heart-warming queer re-imagining of the Pinocchio story. That said, whilst some of the core elements are similar to the classic novel, this book is very much T.J Klune’s and demonstrates his incredible imagination that has made him such a successful and popular writer. If anything, the tale is closer to the Pinocchio inspired short story by Brian Aldiss  called A.I., which was made into a visionary and much underrated film by Steven Spielberg, or his own unmissable  New York Times bestseller  The House in the Cerulean Sea. Instead of puppets, many of the main characters In the Lives of Puppets are robots. There is even a small robot vacuum cleaner desperately looking for love.

The original Pinocchio story The Adventures of Pinocchio was written in 1883 by Italian writer Carlo Collodi . And has since then has been the inspiration for a myriad of adaptations and reimagining’s including the classic 1940 Disney animated version that to this day features on many best animated films of all time lists.

We were also very excited to see the debut short story collection of B.G. Rogers Kaleidoscopes in the Dark on the list. You can find our interview with B.G. Rogers talking about the creation of Kaleidoscopes in the Dark here.

In the lives of puppets / Klune, TJ
“In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe. The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio–a past spent hunting humans. When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming. Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Kaleidoscopes in the Dark / Rogers, B. G
“Bethany G. Rogers debut short story collection Kaleidoscopes in the Dark is a collection of twisted fairy tales and more modern dark themed tales that primarily draw on the  English gothic tradition. Full of black humour,  macabre events and radical reimagining’s of  traditional folktales. Her work has been compared to the writing of Angela Carter,  the adult work of Roald Dhal’s (especially his Tales of the unexpected series)  and even the darker elements of Dickens,  many of the more modern stories will also enchant fans of  the Black Mirror TV show.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Brightest star / Southall, Andy
“Stars don’t twinkle. They burn like a billion bombs. The spaceship Domina Penelope crosses interstellar space in search of a new Earth. As it approaches the star system Norse the mission leader, Father Chadwick, struggles to control his crew. Worse, after decades of constant light-sail acceleration, they may never be able to stop. Five hundred brothers and sisters had sailed from a dying Earth in hope. Yet despite voting to leave, none of them could have foreseen the dangers that lay on their path – until it was too late to turn back. Brightest Star is the first book in a space trilogy in which a powerful yet enigmatic missionary group, the Assumptors, exit Earth for the stars.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Time shelter : a novel / Gospodinov, Georgi
“At one point they tried to calculate when time began, when exactly the earth had been created,” begins Time Shelter’s enigmatic narrator, who will go unnamed. “In the mid-seventeenth century, the Irish bishop Ussher calculated not only the exact year, but also a starting date: October 22, 4,004 years before Christ.” But for our narrator, time as he knows it begins when he meets Gaustine, a “vagrant in time” who has distanced his life from contemporary reality by reading old news, wearing tattered old clothes, and haunting the lost avenues of the twentieth century…”(Adapted from Catalogue)

For the first time, again / Neuvel, Sylvain
” When you don’t know The Rules it’s hard to stay safe. After a traumatic incident, Aster finds that her blood work comes back with some unusual readings. Unsurprising, as she’s the last of an alien race called the Kibsu, though she doesn’t know it. She becomes the focus of a hunt, with her mortal enemies, the Trackers, on one side, and the American government on the other. But help has come from a most unexpected quarter. Whoever finds her first, it won’t be good news for Aster. Or for the world!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ithaca bound / McKenzie, Kirsten
“When ancient ruins are discovered on a farm just south of Hadrian’s Wall, emotions boil over as treasure seekers and the government descend like locusts. But ancient altars aren’t the only riches beneath the soil of Ithaca Farm. Can one woman slip back through time to avert a slaughter and save the man she loves?” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Titanium noir / Harkaway, Nick
“Titanium Noir imagines a world in which there is a medical process which changes people into stronger, smarter, bigger humans, with a much longer lifespan, known as Titans. But the procedure is incredibly expensive, so only a very small number of people in the world are able to afford it. The rest of the world both envy and hate them. When Cal Sounder takes on a specialist role of being the go-to detective whenever a crime is committed involving a Titan, he finds it relatively easy to keep the peace, most of the time. But then along comes a case which threatens to expose all the carefully managed tensions of society at large.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The hammer of God / Clarke, Arthur C.
“A century into the future, technology has solved most of the problems that have plagued our time. However, a new problem is on the horizon-one greater than humanity has ever faced. A massive asteroid is racing toward the earth, and its impact could destroy all life on the planet. Immediately after the asteroid-named “Kali” after the Hindu goddess of chaos and destruction-is discovered, the world’s greatest scientists begin their search for a way to prevent disaster. In the meantime, Captain Robert Singh, aboard the starship Goliath, may be the only person who can stop the asteroid. But this heroic role may demand the ultimate sacrifice.” (Adapted from Catalogue)