A True Alternative History of 2020: Part One

It’s December, and that means end-of-year book lists! But as you’ve probably realised, 2020 isn’t an easy year to summarise: there’s been COVID-19 and multiple lockdowns; the growth of Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism; political and environmental challenges across the world; and much, much more.

Over the next few weeks we’ll have posts on a range of these topics, but first, something a little different. This blog draws attention to the lesser known happenings of 2020, the forgotten or overlooked events that disappeared from view. From Neanderthals to mysterious planets, naming disputes to volcanic eruptions, there’s something for everyone. And keep an eye out for Part Two, coming soon!

Read this post in Te Reo


JANUARY

17-year-old Wolf Cukier had an interesting start to his year when he discovered a rare circumbinary planet 1,300 light-years from Earth. A circumbinary planet is a planet that orbits two stars instead of the usual one–and they’re very difficult to spot. Well done, Wolf!

Our universe : an astronomer’s guide / Dunkley, Jo
“Jo Dunkley combines her expertise as an astrophysicist with her talents as a writer and teacher to present an elegant introduction to the structure, history, and enduring mysteries of the universe. Among the cutting-edge phenomena discussed are the accelerating expansion of the universe and the possibility that our universe is only one of many.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


FEBRUARY

On 29 Feburary, Luxembourg became the very first country to make all public transport free! If you still want to pay for your train trip you can (a first class ticket will set you back 660 Euros a year) but otherwise you can ride at no charge whatsoever.

I wouldn’t start from here : a misguided tour of the early 21st century / Mueller, Andrew
“Andrew Mueller doesn’t consider himself a “proper” journalist, and yet he’s travelled from Afghanistan to Abkhazia, from Belfast to Belgrade and from Tirana to Tripoli in search of a good story. I Wouldn’t Start From Here is his random history of the 21st century so far, and all its attendant absurdities, intermittent horrors and occasional glimmers of hope. It features gunfights, car chases and gaol cells (and Luxembourg!).” (Catalogue)


MARCH

March was a busy month: among the happenings was North Macedonia joining NATO. North Macedonia is the 30th country to join, but its entry was held up for decades due to the Macedonia naming dispute. Long story short, Macedonia is now North Macedonia.

To the lake : a Balkan journey of war and peace / Kassabova, Kapka
“From the celebrated author of Border comes a portrait of an ancient but little-understood corner of Balkans, and a personal reckoning with the past.” (Catalogue)


APRIL

At 9:58pm on 10 April, residents in Jakarta were woken by the distant sounds of an eruption. The culprit? Anak Krakatoa. “Please stop making that booming noise and go to bed, Anak Krakatau. It’s late and we’ve already got plenty of other things to worry about,” wrote one Twitter user.

Volcanoes : encounters through the ages / Pyle, D. M.
“Volcanoes have intrigued many people, who have left records of their encounters in letters, reports and diaries and through sketches and illustrations. This book tells the stories of volcanic eruptions around the world, using original illustrations and first-hand accounts to explore how our understanding of volcanoes has evolved through time.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


MAY

In May of this year, scientists discovered that 47,000 years ago, the latest fashion in jewellery was the teeth of cave bears. In fact cave bear tooth earrings were so popular they were later adopted by Neanderthals! (There were other important discoveries, but this was our favourite!)

The Neanderthals rediscovered : how modern science is rewriting their history / Papagianni, Dimitra
“For hundreds of thousands of years, Neanderthals evolved in Europe very much in parallel to the Homo sapiens line evolving in Africa, and, when both species made their first forays into Asia, the Neanderthals may even have had the upper hand. Here, Dimitra Papagianni and Michael A. Morse look at the Neanderthals through the full dramatic arc of their existence–from their evolution in Europe to their subsequent extinction.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


JUNE

Almost 20 years after it was first released, June saw the end of the Segway personal transporter. Despite hopes that it would revolutionise the pedestrian world, life was never easy for the humble Segway, as a brief hunt through giphy.com will quickly reveal.

Idea to invention : what you need to know to cash in on your inspiration / Nolan-Brown, Patricia
“You don’t have to be a mechanical genius to be an inventor. Anyone can invent – a parent wrestling with a baby sling, a coach frustrated with slick-soled running shoes, an office worker determined to keep the computer cords untangled. Inventing is simply finding clever solutions to everyday challenges.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

He Hītōria Pono Kē o te 2020: Wāhanga Tahi

Kua Hakihea, ā, kua eke ki te rārangi pukapuka mutunga tau!  Engari kua pūrangiaho pea, ehara a 2020 i te tau māmā ki te whakarāpopoto:  ko te KOWHEORI-19 me ngā rāhuitanga huhua tērā; te tiputanga o Black Lives Matter me te #GiveNothingToRacism; ngā wero tōrangapū me te taiao puta noa i te ao; me te huhua noa atu.

I ngā wiki ruarua e takatū ana ka whānui tonu ngā momo whakairinga i runga i ēnei take, engari i te tuatahi, he mea rerekē.  Ka mau te aro i tēnei whakairinga rangitaki ki ngā āhuatanga tē tino rangona i te tau 2020, ngā taiopenga i warewaretia, i nunumi atu rānei mai i te kitenga kanohi.  Mai i ngā Neanderthal ki ngā aorangi rehurehu, te whakaingoa tohe ki ngā hūnga ahi tipua, he āhuatanga mā te katoa.  Kia mataara mō te Wāhanga Tuarua, e whanga mai ana!

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KOHITĀTEA

I mīharo te tīmatanga tau o Wolf Cukier, 17 ōna tau, i te wā i tūhuratia e ia tētahi aorangi huriwhenua tāhūrua e 1,300 tau aho te tawhiti i Te Ao.  ko te aorangi huriwhenua tāhūrua, he aorangi e huri ana i ngā whetū e rua, kaua i te mea kotahi –ā, he tino uaua te kitea.  Koia kei a koe, Wolf!

Our universe: an astronomer’s guide / Dunkley, Jo
“E whakatōpū ana a Jo Dunkley i ōna pūkenga mātanga ao tukupū me ōna pūmanawa hei kaituhi, kaiako hoki, ki te whakaatu i tētahi whakatakinga tōrire ki te hanganga, te hītōria, me ngā rehurehu mauroa i te ao tukupū.  Tuia ki ngā matapakinga tītohu matakoi, ko te whakaterenga o te whānuitanga o te ao tukupū me te whakaaro ake ko tō tātou ao tukupū tētahi ao kotahi o te maha.” (i urutautia mai i te rārangi)


HUITANGURU

I te 29 o Huitanguru, ko Luxembourg te whenua tuatahi ki te whakatau kia utu kore ngā waka kawe tūmatanui!  Ki te hiahia tonu koe ki te utu ka taea (ka eke ki te 660 iuro i te tau te utu tīkiti kahurangi) engari ka taea e koe te hautū mo te kore utu.

I wouldn’t start from here / Mueller, Andrew
“Kāore a Andrew Mueller e whakaaro iho he kairīpoata “tūturu” ia, engari kua takahia e ia te whenua mai i Afghanistan ki Abkhazia, mai i Belfast ki Belgrade, ā, mai i Tirana ki Tripoli ki te rapu i tētahi kōrero pai.  Ko E kore au e tīmata i konei tana hītōria matapōkere o te rautau 21 i tēnei wā, me ōna tatūtanga heahea, ōna mōkinokino taratahi me tūmanakohanga tāmutumutu.  Kei roto ko ngā pakanga ā-pū, ngā whaiwhai motukā me ngā taiwhanga herehere (me Luxembourg!) hoki.” (Rārangi)


POUTŪTERANGI

He marama ahunui a Poutūterangi: ko ētahi o ngā tatūtanga ko te piringa o Macedonia ki te Raki ki a NATO.  Ko Macedonia ki te Rai te whenua 30 kia piri atu, engari i takaroatia tana urunga mō te hia nei tau, nā te tohenga o te ingoa o Macedonia.  Hei whakarāpopoto ake, ko North Macedonia te ingoa o Macedonia ināianei.

To the lake: a Balkan journey of war and peace / Kassabova, Kapka
“Mai i te kaituhi rongonui o Border ka ahu mai tēnei whakaahuatanga o tētahi koko tawhito o ngā Balkan tē tino māramatia, ā, me tētahi tātai whaiaro o te wā o mua.” (Rārangi)


PAENGAWHĀWHĀ

I te 9:58pm i te 10 o Paengawhāwhā, i whakaohotia ngā kainoho o Jakarta ki ngā oro tawhiti o tētahi pahūtanga.  Ko te aha rā?  Anak Krakatoa. “Whakamutua tō tangi haruru, e hoki ki te moe, Anak Krakatau.  Kua pō rawa, ā, he nui kē hoki ngā māharaharatanga,” te tuhi mai a tētahi apataki Tīhau.

Volcanoes: encounters through the ages / Pyle, D. M.
“He nui te hunga e noho kara i ngā puia, i waiho kōrero mai o ngā tatūtanga i roto i ngā reta, rīpoata, rātaka, ā, mā roto hoki i ngā waituhi me ngā tānga.  E kōrero ana tēnei pukapuka i ngā kōrero o ngā  hūnga puia puta noa i te ao,  mā te whakamahi i ngā tānga tūturu, me ngā kōrero tuatahi, ki te toro i te whanaketanga mai o ō tātou māramatanga ki ngā puia i roto i ngā tau.”  (I urutautia i te Rārangi)


HARATUA

I te Haratua o tēnei tau, i tūhuratia e ngā kaipūtaiao e 47,000 tau ki muri, ko te whakakai auaha o te wā ko ngā niho pea noho anga.  Tūturu ake nā te rorotu o ngā mau taringa niho pea, i hāpaitia hoki e ngā Neanderthal!  (Arā atu ngā tūhuratanga whaitake engari koinei te pea mai ki a mātou!)

The Neanderthals rediscovered: how modern science is rewriting their history / Papagianni, Dimitra
“Mō te hia rau mano tau, i kuneroa ake ngā Neanderthal i Ūropi, i te wā whakarara tonu o te kuneroatanga o te Homo Sapeian i Awherika, ā, nō te kōkiritanga tuatahi o ngā momo e rua ki roto o Āhia, ko te painga pea i taka ki ngā Neanderthal.  I konei, ka tirohia e Dimitra Papagianni rāua ko Michael A. Morse ngā Neanderthal te kopere oranga whānui –mai i te kukunetanga i Ūropi ki tō rātou korehāhātanga.” (I urutautia i te Rārangi)


PIPIRI

Tata ki te 20 tau mai i tōna putanga tuatahi, Ko Pipiri te marama i mutu ai te waka kawe whaiaro a Segway.  Ahakoa te manako ka pāhorotia te ao hāeereere, ehara i te oranga māmā mā te Segway māhaki (ka huraina mā te tiro paku noa ki a giphy.com!!)

Idea to invention : what you need to know to cash in on your inspiration / Nolan-Brown, Patricia
“Ehara i te mea me tohunga pūrere koe ki te tū hei kaihoahoa.  Ka taea e te katoa te hoahoa – he mātua e tohe ana ki te oko pēpi, he kaiako e pōnānā ana i ngā hū oma pararahi, he kaimahi tari e pūkeke ana kia kore ngā waea rorohiko e whīwhiwhi.  Ko te hoahoa he rapu i ngā whakataunga atamai ki ngā wero o ia rā.” (I urutautia i te Rārangi)

Visit our Central Library collection at Te Pātaka: One Night Only!

The Te Pātaka Collection and Distribution Centre houses Wellington Central Library’s collection, and for one night only you can visit, browse and borrow!

Looking for some special summertime reading? On the hunt for that perfect picture book? Or maybe you’re missing all those classic graphic novels?

We’ll be opening part of our Te Pātaka Collection Centre to the public for a pre-holiday exploration. You’ll be able to browse and borrow books from select parts of our off-site storage collection, including:

  • Fiction
  • Large print
  • Graphic novels
  • Teen fiction and graphic novels
  • Children’s fiction and comics
  • Picture books

Spots are limited and visits are restricted to one hour, so bookings will be essentialreserve yourself a spot now (choose one of the four slots). We can’t wait to see you!

Details:

What? Te Pātaka Open Night
Date: 17 December
Time: 4pm-7pm (limited to one hour slots)
Location: Johnsonville (details on registration)

Book your spot

Heritage Talk: The History of the Wellington Urban Motorway

The main motorway trench being excavated through the former Bolton Street Cemetery, photographed in the late-afternoon during the summer of 1972. Image from Recollect

The relationship between a city and its motorways can be a complex one — and Wellington is no exception!

The same was true in 1965, when the imminent construction of the Wellington Urban Motorway was the defining issue of the local election. And for good reason: the motorway was — and still is — one of the largest and most complex works of infrastructure development in Wellington’s history, with hundreds of houses demolished and over 3600 graves disinterred from the Bolton Street Cemetery to make way for it.

The northern portal of the Terrace Tunnel under construction, 1975. Image from Recollect

Decades later, transport through Wellington is still a vitally important issue. But what can be learnt from this earlier attempt to ease congestion?

Join Wellington City Libraries’ Local and New Zealand History Specialist Gábor Tóth at 12pm on Thursday 29 October at Te Awe Library for a special talk on the history of the Wellington Urban Motorway project — including a powerful set of images taken at the time.

Heritage Talk on Facebook  

We look forward to seeing you there!

Election 2020: Voting with She-Ra!

Elections are amazing things, but they can also be a bit tricky to get your head around–especially in a year like this! Luckily, the Electoral Commission has put together a fantastic website that covers everything from enrolment and voting to referendums and results, so for this blog we thought we’d enlist the help of some special guests to guide us through the process. Introducing She-Ra and the Princesses of Power! (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

Enrolment:

During the first season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, our heroes Adora, Glimmer and Bow spend much of their time travelling to different kingdoms to enlist Princesses in the struggle against the Horde empire. It’s not always easy to convince them (Princesses have their own worries, after all!), but by the end of Season One Perfuma, Mermista, Sea Hawk and even the skeptical Frosta have committed themselves to the Princess Alliance.

While members of the Electoral Commission may not be able to teleport or draw power from giant crystals, the work they do is not dissimilar: they travel Aotearoa — and the internet — helping in the struggle against non-enrolment (just like She-Ra travels the Whispering Woods fighting the Horde). And thankfully, they’ve made enrolling really easy: you can do it right now (or check if you’ve enrolled already) by clicking here, and learn the difference between the General Roll and Māori Roll here!

Need some help? We’ll have Electoral Commission advocates in our libraries at these times:

Thursday 1 October at Kilbirnie Library: 3–5pm
Saturday 3 October at Johnsonville Library: 11am-1pm
Thursday 8 October at Newtown Library: 10am–12pm
Saturday 10 October at Te Awe Library: 11am–1pm
Thursday 15 October at Karori Library: 3–5pm

Voting:

In the episode “The Battle of Bright Moon”, the Kingdom of Bright Moon is threatened by a resurgent Horde army. She-Ra tries to hold the army at bay single-handedly, but despite her strength she’s unable to protect the castle or the Kingdom’s Moonstone. It’s only when reinforcements arrive that She-Ra discovers her true strength as part of a team and turns the army back.

Voting in an election is pretty much the same: while your individual vote might not be able to defeat a Horde tank, you can lend it to a candidate and party of your choice, giving them more strength to promote the ideas and causes they’re standing for.

Also important to note: you can vote on Election Day itself, or beforehand. Check out the Electoral Commission’s website for more–including info on the referendums!

Want to find your closest voting booth? Have a look on the map!

Election Night:

The evening of the election can be exciting, stressful and mysterious–and is usually all three of these things! You might want to watch the results come in by yourself, or be with friends and family (and lots of snacks!). The most important thing to remember is that the whole democratic process is kind of like the Princess Prom, in that it’s an event that everyone is invited to. Sure, maybe some of the guests want to sting you with their scorpion tails, or kidnap you, but that’s just how it goes.

There are quite a few places you can follow election results on the night, including TVNZ and Newshub as well as RNZ, The Spinoff, Stuff and more. And remember, the election is on Saturday, 17 October–not long to go!

The Great Kererū Count is here!

Of all the birds native to Aotearoa, there are none quite like the “gluttonous and glamorous” kererū. Famous for their drunken antics–as well as their appearance in numerous works of art–the kererū is a particularly popular bird, frequently gracing parks, forests and back gardens across the country.

However the life of a kererū is not all fame and fortune: they also play a vital role in New Zealand’s forests. Kererū are the only remaining species that can successfully disperse the seeds from some of our largest native trees, including tawa, taraire, pūriri and matai. Without kererū our forests would be in serious trouble.

Hence the importance of the Great Kererū Count! The Great Kererū Count is the largest citizen science project in the country, and has been running for the last four years. One of the great things about it is its simplicity: all you have to do is wait for the week of the count (this year it runs from 18-27 September), then count any kererū you see as part of timed surveys or chance encounters. From here you send your observations through to the people at Kererū Discovery and the Urban Wildlife Trust (options here) and you’re done!

Want more kererū fun in your life? Head along to the official Great Kererū Count website for a range of resources, and don’t forget to share and tag your kererū photos to go in to win some great prizes!

Related Resources:

Native birds of New Zealand / Hallett, David
Native Birds of New Zealand is a photographic book of New Zealand native birds that will appeal to the casual bird-watcher as well as the ornithologist. The photographs in this book have been taken by David Hallett, one of New Zealand’s leading wildlife photographers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Which New Zealand bird? : a simple step-by-step guide to the identification of New Zealand’s native & introduced birds / Crowe, Andrew
“This book covers 98 endemic, native, introduced, or migrant bird species from all of the main habitats in New Zealand. Nine identification habitats feature four similar-looking birds with simple tips for telling them apart. Each bird receives a code, from 1-100, indicating how easy the bird is to find. There are also distribution maps for each bird.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Zealand birds in pictures / Chen, Kimball
“From the barely-visible wings of the flightless kiwi to the immense wingspan of the wandering albatross, New Zealand’s fragile island ecosystem is home to a diverse array of spectacular birds. Delve into the fascinating world of our feathered friends with author and wildlife photographer Kimball Chen.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Zealand bird calls / Moon, Lynnette
“Lynnette Moon gives 60 concise accounts of the country’s best-loved birds, covering their habitat, appearance and behaviour. A description of their calls, along with photographs from the magnificent collection of her late husband Geoff Moon completes an attractive, fact-filled and useful guide. 60 links to birds’ songs and calls, recorded in the wild by renowned wildlife sound recordist John Kendrick and prepared for this collection by Karen Baird of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Birds of New Zealand : a photographic guide / Scofield, R. Paul
“From the Kermadecs to Campbell Island, beloved endemics to passing vagrants, albatrosses and shearwaters to kiwi and kaka, Birds of New Zealand is the ultimate guide to this country’s extraordinary avian life. It is illustrated with almost 1000 new photographs and uses the latest information from birders and biologists to draw a definitive introduction to bird identification and behaviour.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Birdstories : a history of the birds of New Zealand / Norman, Geoff
“A fascinating, in-depth account of New Zealand’s birds, which spans their discovery, their place in both Pākehā and Māori worlds, their survival and conservation, and the illustrations and art they have inspired. Geoff Norman covers a range of our bird families and individual species, and provides an up-to-date picture of how these birds are regarded by both Māori and Pākehā, the backstory of their discovery, and their current conservation status.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

e-Resources:

New Zealand Geographic: NZ Geographic has been celebrating our people, places, wildlife and environment for two decades. Its archives hold more than 600 in-depth features about our country, natural history and culture.

Environmental Studies in Context: Environmental Studies In Context -The Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources focuses on the physical, social, and economic aspects of environmental issues.

Home with Ghosts: Scary Stories Online (Part One)

How do you tell a ghost story in the age of lockdown?

In a world of pandemics, it can be easy to think that ghost stories aren’t really needed. After all, isn’t reality scary enough? But it’s precisely this fear that ghost stories are designed for: as anthropology professor Tok Thompson explains, “ghost stories deal with a lot of issues — not just whether or not one believes in ghosts, but also questions of the past that haunt us, perhaps past injustices that haven’t been taken care of.”

They’re also remarkably adaptable, making the transition from oral storytelling to novels and periodicals, then to cinema, television and the internet. And in a world where so many people are physically isolated, ghost stories have the benefit of “bringing their listeners closer to each other” — even if it is via Zoom or YouTube.

That brings us to Home with Ghosts! Below you’ll find four fantastic ghost stories from a range of authors — each one designed to scare, disturb, puzzle or haunt. For more, follow Home with Ghosts: Scary Stories Online on Facebook, and stay tuned for the latest installment!


Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts

Book: Blood of the Sun
Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press

If the beautiful and haunting cover of Blood of the Sun looks familiar, there’s a reason: it’s the third book in the excellent Path of Ra series. Blood of the Sun is due to be released later in 2020, and re-joins Penny and Matiu Yee as they fight to hold back chaos across Auckland’s volcanic skyline. The series has been described as a blend of “near-future noir and horror” and will thrill and scare you in equal measure.

Authors Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts have several other titles available, including Murray’s Taine McKenna Adventures and Rabarts’ Children of Bane series. The pair have also worked together on several excellent anthologies, including At the Edge and Baby Teeth: Bite Sized Tales of Terror.

Hounds of the Underworld (Path of Ra Book One) / Rabarts, Dan
“On the verge of losing her laboratory, Pandora Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. And with 17 murder cases on the go, the inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving. But something about the case spooks Matiu…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 


Andi C. Buchanan

Book: From a Shadow Grave
Publisher: Paper Road Press

It’s been over 10 years since Andi C. Buchanan’s first short story was published in Antipodean SF, and since that time they’ve gone on to produce not only a powerful collection of short fiction (including “Girls Who Do Not Drown”) but also the novella From a Shadow Grave.

From a Shadow Grave begins with the 1931 murder of Phyllis Symons, branching out to describe three alternative scenarios for Phyllis’ life. It’s this emotional and structural bravery that led to Buchanan’s recent success at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, where they received the award for Best Novella/Novelette!

From a shadow grave / Buchanan, A. C.
“Wellington, 1931. Seventeen-year-old Phyllis Symons’ body is discovered in the Mt Victoria tunnel construction site. Eighty years later, Aroha Brooke is determined to save her life. Urban legend meets urban fantasy in this compelling alternate history by award-winning author Andi C. Buchanan.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 


Madison Hamill

Book: Specimen: Personal Essays
Publisher: Victoria University Press

Author and editor Madison Hamill’s debut collection Specimen was launched in March 2020, making it one of the first books to find itself released amid COVID-related lockdown. Despite this setback, Hamill’s work has been consistently popular at Wellington City Libraries–and no wonder: reviews of Specimen have described it as brave, precise and hilarious.

While Specimen is Hamill’s debut collection, her work can also be found at The Pantograph Punch, Scum, The Spinoff and more.

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
“A father rollerblading to church in his ministerial robes, a university student in a leotard sprinting through fog, a trespass notice from Pak’nSave, a beautiful unborn goat in a jar … In scenarios ranging from the mundane to the surreal, Madison Hamill looks back at her younger selves with a sharp eye. Was she good or evil? Ignorant or enlightened? What parts of herself did she give up in order to forge ahead in school, church, work, and relationships, with a self that made sense to others?” (Catalogue)


Anna Kirtlan

Book: Ghost Bus: Tales from Wellington’s Dark Side
Publisher: Anna Kirtlan

You know that you’re onto something when your work is described as “a creepy love letter to Wellington”, and that’s just how Writers Plot summarised the spooky (and often hilarious) Ghost Bus: Tales from Wellington’s Dark Side. The title short story features not only the recent bus-pocalypse, but also the very real experience of riding on crowded public transport at the end of a long day.

Kirtlan’s previous work has also included Which Way is Starboard Again?, a book about learning to sail and overcoming anxiety and panic attacks in the midst of the South Pacific. Check it out below!

Which way is starboard again? : overcoming fears & facing challenges sailing the South Pacific / Kirtlan, Anna
“Many New Zealanders sail the South Pacific but not many do it with as little boating experience as uncoordinated, impractical, directionally challenged, desk-bound type Anna Kirtlan. Not only does she have to learn to sail, and navigate, from scratch, she also has to overcome recurrences of the anxiety and panic attacks that plagued her teen and early adult years.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Booker Dozen is Announced!

It is an unusually high proportion, and especially surprising to the judges themselves…

The above quote is from Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, and relates to the number of debut novelists whose work has been included in this year’s Booker longlist. The eight debutantes include Kiley Reid with Such a Fun Age (included in Wellington City Libraries’ #StayAtHome Fest) as well as C Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills is Gold.

Despite this, the majority of the Booker publicity has focused on two-time winner Hilary Mantel and the third book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. The Guardian called the work a “masterpiece” and a “shoo-in” for the Booker, while Mantel herself has said that if she fails to win “it will be cast in terms of a disaster”. So who will make it through to the next round? The shortlist will be announced on 15 September!

The new wilderness / Cook, Diane
“Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away. The smog and pollution of the overdeveloped, overpopulated metropolis they call home is ravaging her lungs. Bea knows she cannot stay in the City, but there is only one alternative: The Wilderness State. Mankind has never been allowed to venture into this vast expanse of untamed land. Until now.” (Publisher)

This mournable body : a novel / Dangarembga, Tsitsi
“Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job, Tambudzai finds herself living in a youth hostel in downtown Harare. She moves to a widow’s boarding house and eventually finds work as a biology teacher. But at every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Who They Was / Krauze, Gabriel
Who They Was is an electrifying autobiographical British novel: a debut that truly breaks new ground and shines a light on lives that run on parallel, but wildly different tracks.” (Catalogue)

The mirror & the light / Mantel, Hilary
“England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Apeirogon : a novel / McCann, Colum
“Rami is Israeli. Bassam is Palestinian. Rami’s license plate is yellow. Bassam’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam takes an hour and a half. Both men have lost their daughters. Rami’s thirteen-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed by a member of the border police outside her school. The men become the best of friends.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shadow king / Mengiste, Maaza
“With Mussolini preparing to invade Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie heads into exile, and orphaned servant Hirut helps disguise a peasant as the emperor to bring people hope. Soon Hirut becomes his guard, as Mengiste shows us the brutal reality of ordinary people fighting a better-armed foe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Such a fun age / Reid, Kiley
“Alix is a woman who gets what she wants. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler in their local supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping. Alix resolves to make things right, but both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about each other.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Real life / Taylor, Brandon
“Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends, but a series of confrontations conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Redhead by the side of the road / Tyler, Anne
“Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person you’ll ever meet. His numerous sisters and in-laws regard him oddly but very fondly, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world. But then the order of things starts to tilt. When a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son, Micah is confronted with a surprise he seems poorly equipped to handle…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Shuggie Bain / Stuart, Douglas
“It is 1981. Glasgow is dying. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things. But when she’s abandoned by her philandering husband, she finds herself trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, her three children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Love and other thought experiments / Ward, Sophie
Rachel and Eliza are hoping to have a baby. The couple spend many happy evenings together planning for the future. One night Rachel wakes up screaming and tells Eliza that an ant has crawled into her eye. She knows it sounds mad – but she also knows it’s true. Eliza won’t take Rachel’s fear seriously and they have a bitter fight. Suddenly their entire relationship is called into question. Told in ten interconnecting but self-contained chapters, Love and Other Thought Experiments is a story of love lost and found across the universe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How Much Of These Hills Is Gold / Zhang, C Pam
“Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mistry Law and More: New Mystery Fiction

This month’s new mystery titles include the latest novel from author Sujata Massey, best known for her Agatha Award-winning Rei Shimura series. Massey’s most recent work is A Murder at Malabar Hill, described by The Spinoff as “a sumptuous crime story starring a rule-breaking badass in a sari”.

We’ve also got great new work from Berlin and London-based writer Jessica Moor. Moor’s debut novel The Keeper centres on a women’s refuge, and is based on Moor’s own experiences. For more on her time writing The Keeper, have a read of this interview at Crimespree Magazine.

A murder at Malabar Hill / Massey, Sujata
“1920s Bombay: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Temple House vanishing / Donohue, Rachel
“In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school, the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere, two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, who encourages their flirtation. Then, he and Louisa vanish. Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The guest list / Foley, Lucy
“On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive. One guest won’t leave this wedding alive…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The keeper / Moor, Jessica
“When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police are ready to write it off as a standard-issue suicide. But the residents of the domestic violence shelter where Katie worked disagree. These women have spent weeks or even years waiting for the men they’re running from to catch up with them. They know immediately: this was murder. Still, Detective Dan Whitworth expects an open-and-shut case–until they discover evidence that suggests Katie wasn’t who she appeared.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The recovery of Rose Gold / Wrobel, Stephanie
“For the first 18 years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold. Turns out her mom, Patty, was just a really good liar. After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We begin at the end / Whitaker, Chris
“30 years ago, Vincent King became a killer. Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed. Duchess Radley, Star’s 13-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The lizard / Bruce-Lockhart, Dugald
“Obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Alistair Haston heads off to Greece, where she is on holiday, to try and rekindle their relationship. On the ferry from Athens he is offered a lucrative job, recruiting tourists to pose for and, he later discovers, to sleep with, Heinrich a wealthy and charismatic, German artist. Swept away on a tide of wild parties, wild sex, fine food and drugs Haston sheds his reserve and throws himself headlong into the pursuit of pleasure. Until, a body is found and the finger of blame points to Haston.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Little disasters / Vaughan, Sarah
When Jess arrives at hospital with a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call. Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is holding so many secrets. As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The clutter corpse / Brett, Simon
“Ellen Curtis runs her own business as a declutterer, helping people who are running out of space. When Ellen stumbles across the body of a woman in an over-cluttered flat, suspicion immediately falls on the deceased homeowner’s son, who has recently absconded from prison. No doubt Nate Ogden is guilty of many things – but is he really the killer?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

CoNZealand is Here!

Almost two years after it was first announced, and despite the significant impact of COVID-19, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention is about to arrive on the (digital) shores of Wellington! The virtual convention will include special guests Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, Greg Broadmore and toastmaster George R.R. Martin, and will be hosting a range of fantastic sci-fi related events — including the Hugo Awards! To get you in the CoNZealand spirit, we’ve selected titles covering everything from fandom and cosplay to cooking and short stories. Enjoy!

The fangirl’s guide to the galaxy : a handbook for geek girls / Maggs, Sam
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With a love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fandom : fic writers, vidders, gamers, artists, and cosplayers / DiPiazza, Francesca
“Have you ever finished a book or TV series and wished for more? Created stories, art, or videos based on a game? If so, you’ve entered fandom. Fan writers expand and mix up stories, sending the Star Trek crew to Hogwarts. They also enrich invented worlds with greater diversity, creating female and multiracial avatars for games peopled only with white male characters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kindred : a graphic novel adaptation / Duffy, Damian
More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Stolen sharpie revolution / Wrekk, Alex
“Since 2002, Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture has been the go-to guide for all things zine-related. This little red book is stuffed with information about zines. Things you may know, stuff you don’t know and even stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know! Stolen Sharpie Revolution contains a cornucopia of information about zines and zine culture for everyone from the zine newbie to the experienced zinester to the academic researcher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How long ’til black future month? / Jemisin, N. K
“Hugo-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Jemisin sharply examines modern society in her first short story collection.” (Catalogue)

Cosplay crash course : a complete guide to designing cosplay wigs, makeup and accessories / Petrović, Mina
“True to the cosplay spirit of collaboration, Cosplay Crash Course shares favorite techniques from some of the community’s most imaginative artists. Step by step, you’ll learn how to turn ordinary fabrics, toys, thermoplastics, wigs and other humble materials into original costumes. Whether you’re making fabulous feathers, metallic armor, wicked horns, lifelike claws or form-fitting boots, this book puts it all within your reach.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The feast of fiction kitchen : recipes inspired by TV, movies, games & books / Wong, Jimmy
Recipes from Feast of Fiction, the innovative YouTube show featuring fantastical and fictional recipes inspired by books, movies, comics, video games, and more. With 55 unique and awesome dishes, this long-awaited cookbook will help inspire a pop culture dinner party, a fun night at home with family and friends, or an evening on the couch thinking about what you could be cooking.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger (ebook)
“Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and reading lists will introduce you to more than 100 authors and over 200 of their mysterious and spooky works!” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

I find your lack of faith disturbing : Star Wars and the triumph of geek culture / Jameson, A. D.
“A. D. Jameson takes geeks and non-geeks alike on a surprising and insightful journey through the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero franchises that now dominate pop culture. A lifelong geek, Jameson shines a new light on beloved classics, explaining the enormous love (and hate) they are capable of inspiring in fan and non-fan alike, while exploding misconceptions as to how and why they were made.” (Adapted from Catalogue)