The 1945 Retro Hugo awarded to Science Fiction legend Leigh Douglass Brackett

No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
― Leigh Brackett, The Empire strikes back. 

The 2020 Hugo’s have just been announced and one of the strands awarded is the retrospective Hugo given to writers writing exceptional Science Fiction before the Hugo’s started. The winner of this year’s retrospective Hugo is one of the most remarkable and versatile writers from that time and a legend in both science fiction and film noir circles. Leigh Douglass Brackett was born in 1915, she published her first science fiction story in her mid 20’s and contributed to the to Pogo’s STF-ETTE, probably the first ever all-female science fiction fanzine.

Proving her versatility and talent her first novel was not a science fiction work but was instead a hard boiled mystery called No good from a corpse. Which led to Leigh being approached by Hollywood director Howard Hawks to help write the script for 1946’s The Big sleep, staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, the film is now commonly regarded as one of the finest Hollywood film noir movies. Leigh went on to work on a whole host of films such as Rio Bravo and famously The Empire strikes back writing some of Yoda’s most memorable lines. But her interest in science fiction remained constant throughout her career writing many science fiction novels and short stories earning Leigh the affectionate title “Queen of Space Opera”. Her most celebrated science fiction novel was her 1955 book The long tomorrow set after a nuclear war, and portraying a world where scientific knowledge is restricted and feared. The book was nominated for a Hugo the following year 1956.


The long tomorrow / Brackett, Leigh
“Two generations after the nuclear holocaust, rumours persisted about a secret desert hideaway where scientists worked with dangerous machines and where men plotted to revive the cities. Almost a continent away, Len Coulter heard whisperings that fired his imagination. Then one day he found a strange wooden box.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The big sleep ; Farewell, my lovely ; The high window / Chandler, Raymond
” The Big Sleep, Chandler’s first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralyzed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail, and murder. In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women. In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself deep in the tangled affairs of a dead coin collector.”(Adapted from Catalogue). For the availability of The Howard Hawk’s version of Big sleep film click here. 

William Shakespeare’s The Empire striketh back : Star Wars part the fifth / Doescher, Ian
“Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare’s The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Illustrated with beautiful black-and-white Elizabethan-style artwork, these two plays offer essential reading for all ages.” (Catalogue) For the availability of the Empire strikes back film click here. 

    Hugo nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

    In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the slayer. ― Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Whilst the Hugo’s have long recognised dramatic presentations–indeed an award has been given since 1958–it was only in 2003 that the category was split into short form (less than 90 minutes) and long form (longer than 90 minutes) presentations. The first short form winner in 2003 was an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Conversations with Dead People”.

    Since its introduction, the short form presentation has attracted loads of attention as it often features some of the best TV and online series out there, as well as other forms. This year’s shortlist is no exception, with a range of exceptional series that highlight the rich diversity in this field. Many of the shortlisted presentations also originate from literary backgrounds. Below we list the nominees and related items in our collection. Enjoy!


    Doctor Who: “Resolution”

    Season: Eight
    Director: Nathaniel Wayne

    Doctor Who has won more short form awards (six) than any other science fiction series. We have a wide selection of Doctor Who material in our libraries, in fact over 500 items. Click here for availability!

    Discover More:

    Overdrive: Did you know Doctor Who has her own short story collection? It’s called Star Tales, and it’s available here!


    The Expanse: “Cibola Burn”

    Season: Four
    Director: Breck Eisner

    This series is based on the exceptional books by James S. A. Corey. James S. A. Corey is in turn the pen name used by collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Click here for the availability of Season One!

    Discover More:

    Catalogue: We also have all the books currently in print in The Expanse series.


    The Good Place: “The Answer”

    Season: Four
    Director: Valeria Migliassi Collins

    “The Answer” is one of the episodes from the fourth series of the fantasy comedy series. Click here to check the availability of the fourth season of The Good Place

    Discover More:

    RBdigital: Did you know that RBdigital has several great film and television magazines, including Empire and Total Film? Download them for free–and keep them forever!


    The Mandalorian: “Redemption”

    Season: One
    Director: Taika Waititi

    One of the fabulous episodes from the Star Wars spin off series, this particular episode is directed by New Zealander Taika Waititi. Again we have a vast range of Star Wars-related items available to borrow from our branches, as well as Taika Waititi’s other films such as Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Thor: Ragnarok

    Ultimate Star Wars / Barr, Patricia
    “This comprehensive and wonderfully-detailed encyclopedia explores the characters, creatures, locations, vehicles, technology, and more found throughout the entire Star Wars galaxy. Ultimate Star Wars is an in-depth visual guide that details storylines and players from the complete Star Wars galaxy, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

     


    Watchmen: “A God Walks into a Bar” and “This Extraordinary Being”

    Season: One
    Directors: Nicole Kassell and Stephen Williams

    These two nominations are from the same series which is loosely based on graphic novel legend Alan Moore’s work of the same name. Watchmen is often cited as one of the finest literary works published in the last 100 years. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber described it as “the moment comic books grew up”. The TV Mini series of Watchmen is on order and will be available soon.

    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)

    The Hugo nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

    “You’re Hell’s Angels, then? What chapter are you from?’ ‘REVELATIONS. CHAPTER SIX.”
    ― Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

    The Hugo’s have a long and noble history of recognising dramatic presentations (the first award being made in 1958). It is probably true to say that at that time Science Fiction was more the domain of a smaller, exclusive, forward thinking circle of fans. Nowadays however and thanks in large part to the efforts of these dedicated fans and others, Science fiction is now very much a major element of the mainstream media World and big, big money. And nowhere is this more evident than in the Hugo nominees for this year’s dramatic long form award. To illustrate this point this year’s nominees features not only the largest grossing movie of all time and two of the biggest movie franchises ever, but it is not the success or the money that attracts these fans it’s the wealth of clever, engaging and compelling ideas, characters and worlds that attracts the fans. And this richness of content is really evident in this year’s longlist featuring as it does an Apocalyptical comedy, The final conclusion of the Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker story arcs and ground breaking super hero movies to name but a few. And most are available from our library network as well as a plethora or related items. Enjoy.

    Below we list the Hugo nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and some items currently available within our libraries that directly relate to them.

    Avengers: Endgame.

    Click here to check the availability of the Avengers: Endgame movie.

    Marvel Avengers endgame : the official movie special
    A deluxe collector’s edition detailing the follow-up film to the epic cinematic phenomenon Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame. Go behind the scenes on the highly aniticipated Marvel film.” (Catalogue)

    Captain Marvel

    Click here to check the availability of the Captain Marvel movie.

    We also have a fabulous range of Captain Marvel graphic novels. Such as….

    Captain Marvel : prelude / Pilgrim, Will Corona
    “Follow another adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Meet the Marvel Universe’s mightiest hero Carol Danvers, NASA’s youngest head of security – but when an encounter with the Kree soldier Mar-Vell gives her amazing powers, she begins a costumed career…as Ms. Marvel Determined to prove herself the best of the best in a world full of fearsome foes, Carol soon takes on the mantle of Captain Marvel – and the responsibility of protecting the entire planet But what happens when she comes face-to-face with Mar-Vell…who died years before? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Good Omens.

    Click here to check the availability of the Good Omens series.

    Good omens : the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch / Pratchett, Terry
    ” 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. They’ve lived amongst Humanity for millennia, and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle. So if Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the AntiChrist (which is a shame, really, as he’s a nice kid). There’s just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Russian Doll (Season One)

    Currently Russian Doll is only available to stream.

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

    Click here to check the availability of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

    We also have a vast wide range of Star Wars titles and films available to borrow.
    Star Wars, the rise of Skywalker : the visual dictionary / Hidalgo, Pablo
    Star Wars- The Rise of Skywalker- The Visual Dictionary is a 200 page definitive guide to Star Wars- The Rise of Skywalker, revealing the characters, creatures, droids, locations, and technology from the new film. Packed with information and 500+ images, plus cross-sections of new vehicles, as penned by Star Wars scribe Pablo Hidalgo, it’s a must-have for all fans who want to go beyond the movie experience.” (Catalogue)

    Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele .

    Click here to check the availability of Us the movie. .

    Hugo Awards: Best Novel Shortlist

    Like many major cultural events across the globe, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention (aka CoNZealand) has decided to go virtual. The convention was due to be held in Wellington, but this change hasn’t dampened the excitement and buzz around it–or its associated awards, the Hugos. To get you ready for this science fiction bonanza we are doing a series of blogs looking at shortlists from some of the various Hugo Award categories.

    For this particular blog we are going to look at the shortlist for this year’s Best Novel category, which excitingly includes New Zealand writer Tamsyn Muir. Enjoy!

    Best Novel Award Shortlist:

    The city in the middle of the night / Anders, Charlie
    “January is a dying planet–divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. And living inside the cities, one flush with anarchy and the other buckling under the stricture of the ruling body, is increasingly just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    Gideon the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn
    “Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cutthroat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    The light brigade / Hurley, Kameron
    The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief–no matter what actually happens during combat.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    A memory called empire / Martine, Arkady
    “Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire’s interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn’t accidental – and she might be next. Now Mahit must navigate the capital’s enticing yet deadly halls of power, to discover dangerous truths.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    Middlegame / McGuire, Seanan
    “Meet Roger. Skilled with words, he instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet. Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

    The ten thousand doors of January / Harrow, Alix E
    “In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book. 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.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Discover More:

    New to the Hugos–or indeed the wondrous delights of science fiction? Never fear, we have the perfect introduction for you on our free film streaming service, Kanopy. How Great Science Fiction Works is a 24 episode series by twice Hugo-nominated Dr Gary K. Wolfe. This exhaustive overview is both rigorous and deeply informative and covers every aspect of science fiction, from cyberpunk to Mary Shelley and all points in between. And as an added bonus it doesn’t count as one of your monthly borrows!

    New Zealand music month a selection of recommended books

    The first thing that people say is where do these sounds come from, where would they think of these sounds? Well of course the teacher [says], it’s ‘te reo o te whenua’, it’s the voice of the land. We’ve always said that it’s the voice of Tangaroa, it’s the voice of Tāne, it’s the voice of Hine-nui-te-pō. It’s a multitude of voices that are there. They’re the carriers of those voices. The manu, the insects … Tāne and so on. Your ears are attuned … they replicate those sounds.
    – Richard Nunns

    Continuing our celebration of New Zealand music month, we made a selection with some of the many books we have in our various libraries that cover the rich diversity of New Zealand’s music and musicians.

    We start with with Nick Bollinger’s 100 essential New Zealand albums,  and continue with Ian Chapman’s The Dunedin sound: some disenchanted evening an overview of the now world-famous Dunedin sound.

    Taonga Pūoro Singing treasures: the musical instruments of the Māori by Brian Flintoff is a superb introduction to the rebirth of the now vibrant world of Taonga Pūoro and includes a great sampler CD.

    New Zealand also has many talented classical composers like Gillian Karawe Whitehead and Douglas Lilburn and we have selected a few titles to illustrate this.

    100 essential New Zealand albums / Bollinger, Nick
    “Compiled by one of New Zealand s most popular music columnists, this listing will delight pop music fans everywhere. The choices included cover a broad range and present an eclectic taste. Eachentry is accompanied by some of the most entertaining writing about music and musicians, ranging from personal accounts of youthful encounters with music legends as well as passionate responses to renowned albums. Guaranteed to surprise and intrigue, thisreference is a must-have for all music lovers.” (Catalogue)

    The Dunedin sound : some disenchanted evening / Chapman, Ian
    “There are very few geographical locations in the world that are privileged enough to have an internationally acknowledged ‘sound’ attributed to them. Remarkably, New Zealand has just such a location in Dunedin. For more than three and a half decades now, the cultural identity of this modestly-sized southern university city has been bound to music, and it surely will be ad infinitum. Within the ever-evolving history of popular music, the Dunedin Sound continues to sit proudly alongside the the likes of Liverpool’s Mersey Sound, the Nashville Sound, and the Seattle Sound.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Taonga pūoro = Singing treasures : the musical instruments of the Māori / Flintoff, Brian
    “Comprehensively covers the world of Maori musical instruments, a fascinating and little-known area of traditional Maori culture. Illustrated throughout with colour photographs of exquisite contemporary instruments as well as ancient taonga held in museums around the world. It comes with a CD sampler, compiled from recent releases of contemporary Maori music and the natural sounds which inspires it. And to further breathe life into this book, the technical information about each instrument is interwoven with the stories and myths that belong to each instrument. In addition, instructions are given for making and playing these singing treasures, and there is an explanation of the art forms used in Maori carving.” (Catalogue)

    Moon, tides & shoreline : Gillian Karawe Whitehead, a life in music / Sanders, Noel
    “One of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most distinguished classical composers, Gillian Whitehead has produced a substantial and lasting body of work that includes operas, orchestral and choral pieces, vocal and instrumental chamber compositions and solo works. They are often in collaboration with poets and other artists, and many incorporate traditional Ma-ori musical instruments and themes.” (Catalogue)

    I’m with the band : how to make a career in popular music in New Zealand / Chunn, Mike
    “Whether you want to make a living from music or play for fun, this is the essential guide to the New Zealand music industry. I’M WITH THE BAND explains everything you need to know from recording demos to signing contracts, from hiring a manager to protecting your music. Key figures in the New Zealand industry share their inside knowledge and experiences to help everyone from the hobby band to the performer on the brink of discovery.” (Catalogue)

    Backstage passes : the untold story of New Zealand’s live music venues, 1960-1990 / Mathers, Joanna
    “New Zealand music was made on beer-stained stages, in grimy toilets and smoky back rooms. Venues like Dunedin’s Empire Tavern and the Gladstone Hotel in Christchuch were the cradle for scenes that won worldwide acclaim, where idiosyncratic styles were forged and local legends made. From the late 1950s until the early 1990s, live music ruled the night. Backstage Passes charts the stories of the country’s most celebrated live music venues. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Dead people I have known / Carter, Shayne
    ” In Dead People I Have Known, the legendary New Zealand musician Shayne Carter tells the story of a life in music, taking us deep behind the scenes and songs of his riotous teenage bands Bored Games and the Doublehappys and his best-known bands Straitjacket Fits and Dimmer. He traces an intimate history of the Dunedin Sound–that distinctive jangly indie sound that emerged in the seventies, heavily influenced by punk–and the record label Flying Nun.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Blue smoke : the lost dawn of New Zealand popular music, 1918-1964 / Bourke, Chris
    “Bringing to life the musical worlds of New Zealanders both at home and out on the town, this history chronicles the evolution of popular music in New Zealand during the 20th century. From the kiwi concert parties during World War I and the arrival of jazz to the rise of swing, country, the Hawaiian sound, and then rock’n’roll, this musical investigation brings to life the people, places, and sounds of a world that has disappeared and uncovers how music from the rest of the world was shaped by Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders into a melody, rhythm, and voice that made sense on these islands. “(Adapted from Catalogue)

    New Zealand Music Month: Quarantunes Part Two

    During lockdown several of our hugely talented librarians have been creating and sharing music via the Johnsonville Library Facebook page to provide a pleasant distraction from the rigours of lockdown. The music is as diverse as you can imagine, covering numerous genres and worlds. So we thought New Zealand Music Month is a perfect time to revisit just a few of these musical creations and take the opportunity to ask their creators to pick a favourite New Zealand album and tell us why they love that particular piece of music.

    (This is Part Two of our New Zealand Music Month Quarantunes blog–for Part One click here!)


    Sue: performing Prelude In C Major by Johann Sebastian Bach

    QUARANTUNES with Sue #2

    This evening's beautiful and reflective QUARANTUNE comes to you from the talented fingers of Brooklyn Library's own one-woman orchestra, Sue, and from the pen of Gabriel Fauré. We hope you enjoy.#quarantunes

    Posted by Johnsonville Library on Tuesday, 7 April 2020

    Gosh, where do I start re: fav NZ album? That’s like asking what your fav book or movie is… different sounds and genres are snapshots and reminders of different experiences. BUT there are a few NZ artists that jump out – I love Listening to Bic Runga and Anika Moa. I know Beautiful Collision (Bic) and In Swings the Tide (Anika) got a fair hammering in my old car’s CD player! I think the combo of awesome melodies, poetic lyrics and crystal clear voices are the clincher for me. But then we’ve also got so many amazing classical artists – Ross Harris’ Requiem for the Fallen in memory of  soldiers who died in the First World War, is pretty humbling and awe-inspiring too.


    Justin: performing his own music (Mow the Lawn)

    QUARANTUNES 17 April 2020

    Welcome back to Quarantunes, where tonight we are joined by Justin, Team Leader for Northern Libraries & Community Spaces. He’ll be singing an original song called “Mow The Lawn”. Have a nice weekend. Stay safe and stay home! #quarantunes

    Posted by Johnsonville Library on Friday, 17 April 2020

    I have to be very honest… as an American and having spent most of my life in America we are not very well versed in New Zealand music past Crowded House! But that band definitely made an impact on me because they have such great songs. It’s all about the great songs for me! I did some digging once I learned about Crowded House and I really just fell in love with this album. It brings me a sense of peace, calm, and hope. “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” is the song that does it for me. It has everything I want in a good song: amazing melodies, great rhythm, and a wonderful and soaring blippy synthesizer.


    Reece: performing his own music

    apologies to my new flatmates who have only known me for like two weeks but will shortly be very familiar with every single riff I have left to record on the Glassblower album

    Posted by Reece Davies on Monday, 23 March 2020

    Wellington’s post-rock/metal scene has been one of the more active areas in the city over the past decade, and People Used to Live Here by Spook the Horses is the pinnacle of what the genre attempts to achieve in its quieter moments. Haunting and lonely, the album takes you on a journey through abandoned places courtesy of restrained instrumentation, occasional vocals and rich textures. The accompanying videos, available on YouTube, showcase the group’s dedication to the atmosphere of the album and are all vital viewing, especially the final track “Following Trails”.


    Discover More:

    Wellington Music at WCL: Want to keep up with the latest gigs and releases throughout Wellington? Then look no further than the Wellington Music at WCL Facebook page, run by our very own music specialist Mark!

    Wellington Music Past and Present: This site is a tribute to the decades of music that have contributed to Wellington’s sound, as well as a browsable portal to our physical CD collection.

    Music eResources: With half a million tracks between them, Naxos Music Library and Naxos Jazz Library will have your lockdown listening covered. Discover them via our Digital Library.

    NZ Music Month: Quarantunes Part One

    During lockdown several of our hugely talented librarians have been creating and sharing music via the Johnsonville Library Facebook page to provide a pleasant distraction from the rigours of lockdown. The music is as diverse as you can imagine, covering numerous genres and worlds. So we thought New Zealand Music Month would be the perfect time to revisit just a few of these musical creations and take the opportunity to ask their creators to pick a favourite New Zealand album and tell us why they love that particular piece of music.


    Claire: performing The Cuckoo Waltz by Emanuel Jonasson

    QUARANTUNES 23 April 2020

    Good evening and welcome back to QUARANTUNES! Tonight we've got the wonderful Cuckoo Waltz peformed by not one, not two, but THREE of the wonderful Claire from the Johnsonville Library. Enjoy! Stay home and stay safe!#quarantunes

    Posted by Johnsonville Library on Wednesday, 22 April 2020

     

    My favourite NZ album is Love and Disrespect by Elemeno P – it reminds me of O-Weeks at university, where I must have seen them live at least half a dozen times (which might not seem a lot, but I am not a huge concert-goer… shockingly for a librarian – I’m not a huge fan of big crowds of people!). I would certainly class it as the soundtrack of my Vic Uni experience in the early 2000s frequenting house parties and road trips along the way.


    Stephen: performing Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (And the moon descends on the temple that was) by Debussy

    Welcome back to Quarantunes! We’re back right where we started with Stephen and his lovely piano. Tonight he’ll be performing a piece by Debussy. Stay home and stay safe please!#quarantunes

    Posted by Johnsonville Library on Friday, 24 April 2020

     

    My favourite NZ album – difficult to choose. I did recently write essentially an essay on Facebook about how much I love Solace by Jakob, so I guess it’s that. Jakob’s 2007 offering Solace is utterly consuming, from start to finish. It’s very difficult to describe the sound of this album and the emotional resonances it has for me. The dense layering of opener “Malachite” is sitting on the roof of the Wright’s Hill bunker and looking out over the darkening city as the first spots of rain stain the concrete. The crunching, subterranean bass of “Pneumonic” weaves a cocoon of sound so dense it feels as though you’re physically enveloped, untouchable. “Oran Mor” and “Everything All Of The Time” are the sweep of waves and the crash on the shoreline all at once. “Saint” breathes us through the quiet.

    Ultimately I think that while Solace, like all of Jakob’s albums, is undeniably beautiful to listen to, it is music that suddenly ‘clicks’ when you have a memory or an experience to pin it to. Everything slots into place, and suddenly the music becomes part of your DNA, and you cannot ever listen to it in the same way again.


    Sam: performing his own and Neil Johnstone’s (another of our librarians) music

    QUARANTUNES 9 April 2020

    Tonight's QUARANTUNES is here and we're happy to introduce you to Sam, one of our librarians from the Johnsonville and Tawa Libraries. He's joined by Neil, another one of our librarians from the Wellington City Libraries, who has prepared a backing drone synthesizer part to accompany Sam's guitar. We hope you enjoy this beautiful soundscape and we'll see you on Saturday with our next installment of QUARANTUNES. Stay home and be safe! #quarantunes

    Posted by Johnsonville Library on Wednesday, 8 April 2020

     

    Hollywoodfun Downstairs’ debut album The Mancunian Swing from 2013 remains my personal favourite. The sound is highly distinctive, utilising dissonant noise guitar, deranged vocals and pummeling rhythms, with strangely infectious hooks to create a punk rock maelstrom. Whilst there is an overarching sense of venom across the record, there are also moments of quiet fragility as well as a strong pop sensibility, which helps to give it real dynamic weight.

    Songs like “216” and “Fuzzy” have an almost classic ’60s Brit-rock vibe to them, whereas the one-two punch of “This Circus Believes” and “Crackhouse” close the album in a relentlessly intense fashion. Whilst it may sound somewhat tame compared to some of their later work, to me The Mancunian Swing truly shows Hollywoodfun Downstairs at their most creatively nuanced and interesting.


    Jamie: performing his own music

    QUARANTUNES 19 April 2020

    Sunday QUARANTUNES are always a nice time to sit back and enjoy the ambient guitar stylings of Makerspace Specialist Jamie. We hope you had a nice week and that your evening is full of happiness. Be well, stay safe, and stay home! #quarantunes

    Posted by Johnsonville Library on Wednesday, 15 April 2020

     

    I have fond memories of this album, lying on the floor of our house in England when I was about 6 or 7, listening to it. It was the first time I had ever heard of New Zealand, now I live here!! The intro/jangly guitar part to “Weather With You” and the progression of “Four Seasons in One Day” are just two of the songs that made me pick up a guitar. It is up there in my top ten of all time!


    Discover More:

    Wellington Music at WCL: Want to keep up with the latest gigs and releases throughout Wellington? Then look no further than the Wellington Music at WCL Facebook page, run by our very own music specialist Mark!

    Wellington Music Past and Present: This site is a tribute to the decades of music that have contributed to Wellington’s sound, as well as a browsable portal to our physical CD collection.

    Music eResources: With almost half a million tracks between them, Naxos Music Library and Naxos Jazz Library will have your lockdown listening covered. Discover them via our Digital Library.

    Fiction Highlights for 2020!

    The future is there… looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become.
    ― William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

    With 2020 well under way and publishers and authors already clambering to hype up their next big book, what better time to look at just a few of the fiction titles we’re excited about reading in 2020.

    January

    First up in January, the sci-fi prophet William Gibson gives us Agency, a tale of an alternative future in which Hillary Clinton is in the White House and Brexit never occurred. His previous works include the seminal Neuromancer, the 1984 book that popularised the idea of cyberspace:


    Agency / Gibson, William
    “Verity Jane takes a job as the beta tester for a new product: a digital assistant, accessed through a pair of ordinary-looking glasses. “Eunice,” the disarmingly human AI in the glasses, manifests a face and a canny grasp of combat strategy. Realizing that her employers don’t know how powerful Eunice is, Verity decides that it’s best they don’t. Meanwhile, a century ahead in London, in a different time line entirely, Wilf Netherton works amid survivors of the slow and steady apocalypse known as the jackpot.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Neuromancer / Gibson, William
    “The pioneering cyberpunk novel that predicted our obsession with the Internet. Henry Dorsett Case was the sharpest data-thief in the Matrix, until an ex-employer crippled his nervous system. Now a new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run against an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a mirror-eyed girl street-samurai riding shotgun, he’s ready for a silicon-quick, bleakly prophetic adventure.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Also in January there is a new novella from the master of spy thrillers Mick Herron titled The Catch. Previous works also include:

    Spook street / Herron, Mick
    “Twenty years retired, David Cartwright can still spot when the stoats are on his trail. Jackson Lamb worked with Cartwright back in the day. He knows better than most that this is no vulnerable old man. ‘The old bastard’ has raised his grandson with a head full of guts and glory. But far from joining the myths and legends of Spook Street, River Cartwright is consigned to Lamb’s team of pen-pushing no-hopers. So it’s Lamb they call to identify the body when Cartwright’s panic button raises the alarm at Service HQ.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    March

    March sees the release of Hilary Mantel’s conclusion to her trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, and the book we think will be the biggest title of 2020: The Mirror and the Light. Will she win the Booker for a record breaking third time? We’ll need to wait and see. Previous books include the award-winning:

    Bring up the bodies / Mantel, Hilary
    “Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Also in March we have Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, in which O’Farrell imagines the story behind Shakespeare’s most famous play. Previous books include:

    The vanishing act of Esme Lennox / O’Farrell, Maggie
    “In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years. Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face.” (Catalogue)

    And rounding off March is Hugo Award-winning N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, a story about an ancient evil threatening New York. We’re huge fans of her previous books and are really excited about her latest offering. One of  Jemisin’s previous Hugo winning works is:

    The stone sky / Jemisin, N. K
    “The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.  Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.  For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    April

    April sees the release of perennial favourite Anne Tyler’s latest work, called Redhead by the Side of the Road. Previous favourites by Anne Tyler include:

    A spool of blue thread : a novel / Tyler, Anne
    “‘It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon.’ This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole family is on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red’s father.” (Catalogue)

    May

    In May 2020 Roddy Doyle has a new novel released called Simply Love, in which some old friends consider youthful love and life during a Dublin pub crawl. Previous works include:

    The guts / Doyle, Roddy
    “You bet Jimmy Rabbitte has guts. In the 1980s, he aspired to bringing soul music to Dublin by forming a band called the Commitments, a rough-and-ready bunch whose escapades figured in Doyle’s eponymous debut novel. Decades later, undone by a cancer diagnosis, Jimmy journeys to the past to reunite with Commitments guitarist Liam “Outspan” Foster and eye-catching backup vocalist Imelda Quirk, as well as a long-lost brother. And he learns to love being a father again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    There is also Scottish crime writer Denise Mina’s latest dark and powerful crime novel The Less Dead which centres around real life murders of sex workers in Glasgow in the 1980s. Previous books include:

    The red road / Mina, Denise
    “Police detective Alex Morrow has met plenty of unsavory characters in her line of work, but arms dealer Mark Lynch ranks among the most brutal and damaged. Morrow is serving as a witness in Lynch’s trial, where the case hinges on his fingerprints found on the guns he sells. But when the investigation leads to a privileged Scottish lawyer who’s expecting to be assassinated after a money laundering scheme goes bad, Morrow has her hands full.” (Catalogue)

    September

    It has been 16 years since the release of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, however in September Susanna Clarke releases Piranesi. Expect another beautifully written otherworldly fantasy.

    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell / Clarke, Susanna
    “Centuries ago, when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    September also sees the very welcome return of  John Irving. His latest novel is billed as a ghost story about a mother and son called Darkness as a Bride. Previous John Irving books include:

    Avenue of mysteries / Irving, John
    “An older man named Juan Diego takes a trip to the Philippines, but he’s really thinking about his early years in Mexico, the dreams that pushed his life forward, and the memories that define his life now. Were the events he recalls inevitable? Says the author, “An aura of fate had marked him. The chain of events, the links in our lives–what leads us where we’re going, the courses we follow to our ends, what we don’t see coming, and what we do–all this can be mysterious, or simply unseen, or even obvious.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    There are also new novels out by Anne Enright, Graham Swift, Rose Tremain, Richard Ford, David Peace, Sebastian Barry, Elena Ferrante, Matthew Kneale and David Mitchell in 2020 to name but a few, but our final pick of new titles for this selection is Nick Hornby’s latest bittersweet novel about opposites attracting called Just Like You due out in September. Previous Nick Hornby novels include:

    Funny girl / Hornby, Nick
    “It’s the swinging 60s and the nation is mesmerized by unlikely comedy star Sophie Straw, the former Blackpool beauty queen. But when the script begins to get a bit too close to home, and life starts imitating art, they all face a choice. The writers, Tony and Bill, comedy obsessives, each harbour a secret. The male star Clive feels he’s destined for better things. And Sophie Straw, who’s changed her name and abandoned her old life, must decide whether to keep going, or change the channel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    “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)