Ngaio Marsh Award 2020 longlist announced

You must be able to write. You must have a sense of form, of pattern, of design. You must have a respect for and a mastery over words.

— Ngaio Marsh

Christchurch-born Ngaio Marsh — along with Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Margery Allingham — is regarded as one of the “Queens of Crime”. She wrote 32 detective novels between 1934 and 1982, and the early part of her career fell in what is regarded as the ‘golden age of detective fiction’. All of her books feature gentleman detective DCI Roderick Alleyn and often revolve around what were her two other passions — art and theatre. The modern award  bearing her name aims to “recognise excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery and thriller writing”.

This year’s longlist includes some of New Zealand’s best known writers — such as Paul Cleave and Renée — as well as a number of rising stars. The range of styles, approaches and subjects is broad in the extreme, but what unites all of the books chosen is the quality and sheer scope of the writing. Have a browse of the longlist and enjoy!

The longlisted titles are:


Whatever It Takes / Cleave, Paul
“When seven-year-old Alyssa is kidnapped, Deputy Noah Harper decides he will do what it takes to find her — but that means crossing lines he can never come back from. Finding the girl safe isn’t enough to stop Noah from losing his job, his wife, and from being kicked out of Acacia Pines. He’s told if he ever returns, he’ll be put in jail and left there to rot. Now, 12 years later, comes a phone call. Alyssa is missing again and her father wants him to honor the promise he made to her all those years earlier — that he would never let anything bad happen to her again. To find her, Noah is going to have to head back to the pines, and come face to face with the past.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Auē / Manawatu, Becky
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nancys / McDonald, R. W. R.
“Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club. But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

In the clearing / Pomare, J. P.
“Amy has only ever known what life is like in the Clearing. . That is, until a new young girl joins the group. She isn’t fitting in; she doesn’t want to stay. What happens next will turn life as Amy knows it on its head. Freya has gone to great lengths to feel like a ‘normal person’. In fact, if you saw her go about her day with her young son, you’d think she was an everyday mum. That is, until a young girl goes missing and someone from her past, someone she hasn’t seen for a very long time, arrives in town. As Amy and Freya’s story intertwines the secrets of the past bubble up to the surface. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered, her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A madness of sunshine / Singh, Nalini
“Golden Cove is a peaceful town. That is until one fateful summer, when tragedy shatters the trust holding the community together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships and a silent agreement to never look back. But they can’t run from the past forever. Eight years later, a young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape. The town’s dark past and haunted present are about to collide.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Other longlisted titles are Shadow of Doubt by S. L. Beaumont, Trust me; I’m Dead by Sherryl Clark, One Single Thing by Tina Clough, Girl from the Tree House by Gudrun Frerichs, Hide by S. J. Morgan and The Great Divide by L. J. M. Owen.

The shortlist will be announced later this year.

Image Comics: The Best of a Decade of Creator-Owned Books

Unique among publishers for allowing writers and artists to keep the rights to their work, Image Comics has been a haven for teams of comic writers and artists to do their boldest, strangest and most experimental comics, working in genres outside of the usual superhero fare like horror, crime, western, urban fantasy, and science-fiction.

The works recommended below have met commercial and critical acclaim; the biggest hits for the company being the massive multimedia hit The Walking Dead and the populist sci-fi epic Saga, while others are beloved by their own dedicated fandoms, like The Wicked + The Divine. A number of long-running Image Comics series wrapped up in 2019, and with the opening of Te Awe and our off-site collections, it’s never been a better time to catch up on some of the best comics of the past ten years.

The Walking Dead
The walking dead : compendium one / Kirkman, Robert
Though it began in 2003, the post-apocalyptic zombie comic by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard continued to be a hit all through the last decade, and was one of Image Comics longest running series, eventually spawning a hit television series in 2010. The comic unexpectedly wrapped up at issue #193 in July 2019, a rare shock in the modern comic industry where each issue is planned and advertised months in advance. Pick up the compendium collecting the first 48 issues at the link above or grab the first volume here.

If you liked The Walking Dead, check out this: Invincible, Robert Kirkman’s other long-spanning superhero series for Image, also wrapped up in 2018. You begin the whole series with the first Ultimate Collection here.

Saga
Saga. Compendium one / Vaughan, Brian K
Frequently cited as the comic book that got people into comics, Saga follows Alana and Marko, two soldiers on the opposing sides of a space war who decide to marry and raise a child together. They hop from planet to planet, trying to find a spot of peace while dodging bounty hunters, sentient planets, and their own in-laws. Written by Brian K Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, Saga went on a hiatus in 2018 after hitting the midpoint of its story in issue #54, so now is the perfect time to catch up. Pick up the compendium with the whole series to date at the link above, or grab the first volume here.

If you liked Saga, check out this: Image Comics has become a haven for science fiction comics in the 2010s, including the Hugo-nominated Bitch Planet, Invisible Kingdom by the creator of Ms Marvel, gender-flipped mythological space epic ODY-C, the watercolour-painted robot adventure Descender, and the dimension-hopping Black Science, to name a few.

Other Image books by Brian K. Vaughan include the Hugo-nominated Paper Girls with Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson, about a quartet of paper girls from the 1980s who travel through time, and We Stand on Guard with Steve Scroce and Matt Hollingsworth, which depicts a war in the future between Canada and the USA.

The Wicked + The Divine
The wicked + the divine. Vol. 1, The Faust act / Gillen, Kieron
Every 90 years, twelve gods return to Earth to inspire humankind and gain followers, only to die after two years. In 2014, this ‘Pantheon’ of gods return as popstars. The Wicked + The Divine (or WicDiv to its fans) follows Pantheon super-fan Laura as she becomes embroiled in the god’s inner conflicts and tries to attain godhood for herself. Coming to a close with issue #45 in September 2019, The Wicked + The Divine has been praised for its nuanced portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters and its themes on fame, death, history, religion, and the purpose of artists.

If you liked WicDiv, check out this: Gillen and McKelvie’s foray at Image Comics begins with Phonogram, set in a world where ‘music is magic’ that explores similar themes to The Wicked + The Divine. You can read the complete collection here.

Gillen has recently started a new series, DIE, with artist Stephanie Hans, about a group of adult tabletop RPG fans being forced to return to the game they were trapped in as teenagers, Jumanji-style. Reserve the first volume here.

East of West
East of West [1] / Hickman, Jonathan
Written by Johnathan Hickman and drawn by Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin, East of West is an alternate history that marries the political intrigue of Game of Thrones with the “slap leather” cowboy action of the Dollars trilogy, set in a futuristic United States of America. In this world, there are only seven states existing in an uneasy peace. Unbeknownst to their citizens, the leaders from each state secretly meet in neutral territory to try and bring about the end of the world. Meanwhile, three horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the land, seeking the son of their missing horseman, Death.

If you liked East of West, check out this: For another Hickman-penned alternate history, there’s the The Manhattan Projects, which reimagines the real scientists who helped build the atomic bomb as amoral dimension-travelling jerks in the vein of Rick Sanchez. Start with the first volume here.

Fatale
Fatale. Book one, Death chases me / Brubaker, Ed
Writer and artist team Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips have been doing crime comics together for years, transferring dime store pulp stories to the world of comics, while also updating, humanising and deconstructing the character archetypes and tropes for a modern genre-savvy audience. After the success of their Icon Comics series Criminal, Brubaker and Phillips began their first Image Comics series Fatale in 2012, featuring a supernatural take on the ‘femme fatale’ archetype. Lasting 24 issues, the series was collected in five volumes, the first of which you can read at the link above.

If you liked Fatale, check out this: Criminal is the series that really put Brubaker and Phillips on the map; each volume is a self-contained crime story from the perspective of different characters within one city, making it incredibly accessible. My particular favourite is Last of the Innocent, which puts the classic Archie Comics characters into a lurid murder mystery, six years before Riverdale did it on television.

Chew
Chew : the omnivore edition. Vol. I / Layman, John
In a world where the FDA is granted greater judicial powers following a deadly bird flu, detective Tony Chu is brought in to crack down on illegal chicken dealers. Fortunately, he has one advantage that his fellow investigators lack; he’s a cibopath, a kind of food psychic who can gain mental impressions from anything that he eats. Written by John Layman and drawn with cartoony panache by Rob Guillory, you can take a big bite out of Chew with the first ‘Omnivore Edition’ (collecting the first ten issues) at the link above.

If you liked Chew, check out this: Chew’s artist Rob Guillory recently started a new comedy-horror series called Farmhand, which follows a family who grows replacement human body parts on their farm.

We also have the first two volumes of writer John Layman’s newest haunted space adventure series Outer Darkness with artist Afu Chan.

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. 

    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)

    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 2020 Hugo nominees for Best Graphic Story

    Since 2009, the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story has been given to comics, graphic novels and other illustrated works that best exemplify the possibilities of speculative fiction and the comics medium, and we have all six of the 2020 nominees available for you to catch up with!

    The nominations are a stacked field this year. The final volumes of two beloved long-running Image Comics series, The Wicked + The Divine and Paper Girls, were nominated this year, the last chance for either creative team to get the award (Paper Girls having been nominated a previous four times!). Three-time Best Graphic Story Hugo winner Monstress has also been nominated for its fourth volume. But those three veteran series face some strong contenders in new books like the fantasy deconstruction DIE, witchy love story Mooncakes, and the sci-fi immigration tale LaGuardia by previous Hugo winner Nnedi Okorafor.

    Who will win the Hugo? We won’t know until the award ceremony on August 1st, but till then, you can catch up on the nominated books below!

    Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

    Die. Volume 1, Fantasy heartbreaker / Gillen, Kieron
    Pitched as “Jumanji meets Stephen King’s IT”, DIE follows five embittered adults returning the fantasy world they were trapped in as teenagers to rescue their friend who stayed there, only to find he’s gone native and is subjecting them to a deadly adventure campaign. Gillen, a former game journalist, wrote DIE to both critique and celebrate tabletop games and the fantasy genre overall, while Stephanie Hans renders the imaginary worlds of DIE with lush, dream-like detail. This is Hans’ first Hugo nomination, and Gillen is also nominated against himself this year for The Wicked + The Divine. Will DIE roll a nat 20 for the critical win?

    Related Reading

    DIE Volume 2. Split The Party — If you’re hooked on DIE after the first volume, check out the second volume ‘Split the Party’.

    The Wicked + The Divine Volume 3. Commercial Suicide —  Stephanie Hans has also worked with Kieron Gillen on a issue of his series The Wicked + The Divine, collected in this volume.

    The Adventure Zone Volume 1. Here there be gerblins — If you’re after more comics about Dungeons and Dragons, check out the first comic adaptation of the beloved roleplaying podcast ‘The Adventure Zone’.

    LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)

    LaGuardia : a very modern story of immigration / Okorafor, Nnedi
    In a world where extraterrestrials regularly emigrate to Earth, a controversial travel ban goes into effect in America and separates a Nigerian-American couple who are expecting their first child. LaGuardia is a refreshingly sensitive science-fiction take on immigration and citizenship; Nnedi Okorafor has thought out every aspect of this all-too-familar sci-fi Earth, and Ford and Devlin depict the world and characters in lovingly dense detail, particularly with the alien designs. This is Ford and Devlin’s first nomination, while Okorafor has already won a Hugo for her novella Binti. Can LaGuardia net Okorafor her second Hugo win?

    Related Reading

    Black Panther: Long Live the King — Okorafor and Ford also worked together on this Black Panther series for Marvel Comics.

    Binti — Check out Okorafor’s Hugo-winning series Binti here or on Overdrive.

    The Green Lantern Vol 1. Intergalactic Lawman — This sharp new take on the Green Lantern character sees him as an intergalactic beat cop, where even ordinary crimes happen on intergalactic scales.

    Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image)

    Monstress. Volume four, The chosen / Liu, Marjorie M
    A fusion of a war diary, a horror manga, and young adult fantasy, Monstress has been a critical and fan-favourite since it began in 2016. Set in a war-torn land inspired by 20th century Asia, Monstress follows the adventures of Maika Halfwolf, a magical ‘Arcanic’ who is hunted by an order of sorceresses who use her species as magical fuel for their spells. Every volume of Monstress has won the Hugo for Best Graphic Story for the past three years running. Will Volume 4 continue Liu and Takeda’s winning streak?

    Related Reading

    Monstress Volume 1. Awakening — Start reading Monstress from the beginning with the first volume here, or for download it on Overdrive.

    The iron hunt — The first book in Marjorie Liu’s urban fantasy series Hunter Kiss, which follows a demon hunter trying to rescue her beloved from a bloodthirsty army.

    Calamity Kate — In an urban fantasy world, a monster hunter moves to LA to find the ultimate bounty: the Seven Fabled Beasts of Yore.

    Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil (Oni Press; Lion Forge)

    Mooncakes / Walker, Suzanne
    Young witch Nova and her werewolf friend Tam have reunited after ten years apart, but their reunion brings forth struggles both mundane and magical, including family conflicts, maturing to face new responsibilities, and battling weird horse demons. Originally a webcomic, Mooncakes was published as a a graphic novel by Lion Forge in 2019, earning praise for centering on the romance of its queer Chinese-American protagonists. This is Walker, Gil and Xu’s first Hugo nomination; could Mooncakes cast a spell on the Hugo judges?

    Related Reading

    For more young adult comics about witches, check out:

    The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

    SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

    Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth and Megan Levens.

    Paper Girls, Volume 6, written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image)

    Paper Girls. 6 / Vaughan, Brian K
    Four paper girls in the 1980s get embroiled in a war between rival factions of time travellers, facing cavemen, mutants, pterodactyls, robots, and their own future selves as they attempts to find a way home. Recently concluding after 30 issues and this sixth collection, Paper Girls has been nominated four times for the Graphic Story Hugo. Will the last volume finally deliver a win for its creative team?

     

    Related Reading

    Paper Girls Volume 1  — Start Paper Girls from the beginning here or for download on Overdrive

    Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood — Check out the Paper Girls art team’s (Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson) recent work on Wonder Woman here, or download it on Overdrive.

    Saga Volume 1 — Writer Brian K Vaughan won the Best Graphic Story Hugo for Saga‘s first volume in 2013.

    The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

    The wicked + the divine. Vol. 9, “Okay” / Gillen, Kieron
    Every 90 years, twelve gods return to Earth in the form of teenagers to inspire humankind and gain followers, only to die after two years. In 2014, this ‘Pantheon’ of gods return as popstars. The Wicked + The Divine (or WicDiv to its fans) follows Pantheon super-fan Laura as she becomes embroiled in the god’s inner conflicts and tries to attain godhood for herself. Long-time comic collaborators Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, and Cowles conclude the long-running series in this final volume, which has been a commercial and critical hit for its resonant themes on fame, death, religion, art, and artists. Volume 9 of the Wicked + The Divine is Jamie McKelvie’s first Hugo nomination and Gillen’s second with DIE, also nominated this year. Will this final offering be enough to sway the Hugos in their favour?

    Related Reading

    The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1. The Faust Act Start WicDiv from the beginning here or for download the first volume on Overdrive.

    Young Avengers Volume 1. Style > substance  See how the WicDiv team first got together on the second iteration of Marvel’s teen superteam, the Young Avengers.

    God complex: Dogma. Volume one — Another modern comic book take on the gods of antiquity, this cyberpunk thriller sees a forensic investigator meeting the god-like beings that secretly run the world.

    Understanding Racial Politics In Aotearoa

    As the world becomes increasingly galvinised by the Black Lives Matter and Anti-Racist movements we must remember that New Zealand is not immune to racism. Our history of colonisation and immigration has given us our own struggles that need to be understood and overcome. The books listed below offer a starting point for understanding racial politics in New Zealand from a Māori perspective.

    Hīkoi: forty years of Māori protest / Harris, Aroha
    Hīkoi provides an overview of the contemporary Māori protest movement, a summary of the rationale behind the actions, and photographs of protests, marches, and the mahi behind the scenes. Results of protest are also discussed including the Waitangi Tribunal; Māori becoming an official language; Māori-medium education; and Māori television.

    Imagining decolonisation.
    What is decolonisation and why do we need it in New Zealand? This book discusses why it is needed if we are going to build a country that is fair and equal for all who live here, as well as what it could look and feel like.

    Ka whawhai tonu mātou: Struggle without end / Walker, Ranginui
    A revised edition of this best-selling history of New Zealand from a Māori perspective. Dr Walker discusses the fact that Māori have been involved in an endless struggle for justice, equality and self-determination for the last two centuries. A challenging must-read for all New Zealanders.

    Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples / Smith, Linda Tuhiwai
    This is a revised and updated edition of a landmark work. It explores how imperialism and research interact and how this has had an impact on ‘knowledge’ and ‘tradition’. Social justice and concepts such as ‘discovery’ and ‘claiming’ are discussed and it is argued that it is necessary to decolonise research methods in order to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.

    Journey towards justice / Workman, Kim
    Kim Workman is a central figure in the ongoing discussion of justice and prison policy in New Zealand. This is a powerful first-hand account of struggle, spirituality and questions of cultural identity as well as the state and social forces that have helped shape contemporary New Zealand.

    Colonising myths–Māori realities: he rukuruku whakaaro / Mikaere, Annabel
    A collection of a series of papers that reflects on the effect of Pākehā law, legal processes, and teaching on Māori legal thought and practice.

    Online resources

    Bridget William Book Treaty of Waitangi Collection
    This amazing collection of ebooks is available on our Wellington City Libraries Online Resources page. You will need your library card and pin number to access these full-text scholarly works.

    Bridget Williams Books The NZ History Collection
    Provides online access to over thirty years of award-winning history and biography publishing from Bridget Williams Books – includes over 90 New Zealand history titles. You will need your library card and pin number to access these full-text scholarly works.

    Te Ara — The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
    Te Ara has great information about the history of Anti-racism and Treaty of Waitangi activism, Māori protest movements and the Human Rights Commission.

    The Waitangi Collection: NZ On Screen
    Includes films about Treaty and activist groups such as Ngā Tamatoa (see below).



    Te Tiriti Based Futures And Anti-racism 2020
    An online conference, 21-30 March, 2020. Includes Jen Margaret and  Julia Whaipooti.

    You can also learn about how other ethnic groups have experienced racism in Aotearoa through the resources below:

    Polynesian Panthers : Pacific protest and affirmative action in Aotearoa New Zealand 1971-1981
    The Polynesian Panthers sought to raise consciousness and take action in response to the racism and discrimination Pacific peoples faced in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s. Interviews, memoirs, poetry, newspaper articles, and critical analysis help create a thought-provoking account of this period in New Zealand history.

    Old Asian, new Asian / Ng, K. Emma
    Did you know that a 2010 Human Rights Commission report found that Asian people reported higher levels of discrimination than any other minority in New Zealand?  This anecdotal account is based on Ng’s personal experience as a second-generation young Chinese-New Zealand woman and explores the persistence of racism against Asians in New Zealand.

    Justice and race: campaigns against racism and abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand / Sutherland, O. R. W.
    “This is the story of ACORD – the Auckland Committee on Racism And Discrimination. For 15 years ACORD exposed and campaigned against the institutional racism of police, justice and social welfare systems. It laid the groundwork for a national duty solicitor scheme and gained protections for children incarcerated by the state.” (From our catalogue)

    Black Lives Matter: Fiction & Film Resources

    Omaha, Nebraska, 1915. A young postal worker named George Johnson quits his job to found the Lincoln Motion Picture Company with his brother Noble. Just over a year later the brothers have moved to L.A., where they go on to make six films before winding down in 1923. Today, the Lincoln Motion Picture Company is recognised as not only America’s first all-black movie production unit, but the first to “showcase African-American talent in the full sphere of cinema.

    Two years after the closure of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, another series of stories exploring the black experience in America is being assembled, this time in print. They emerge not from the Midwest but New York, in the pages of The New Negro: An Interpretation, under the editorship of Howard University professor Alain Locke. The New Negro will go on to become the key text of the Harlem Renaissance.

    Film and fiction have been two particularly powerful mediums for exploring the black experience in America since the work of the Johnson brothers over one hundred years ago. Below you’ll find a selection of contemporary films and novels that continue this exploration, including the award-winning works of Spike Lee, the genre-expanding novels of N.K. Jemisin and the experimental movie-making of Cheryl Dunye. For equally powerful non-fiction examples, visit our Black Lives Matter: Non-Fiction Resources blog.


    FICTION

    Sing, unburied, sing : a novel / Ward, Jesmyn
    “Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The Nickel boys : a novel / Whitehead, Colson
    “Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. But one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King’s assertion, ‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.’ But fellow inmate Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse.” (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)

    The fifth season / Jemisin, N. K
    “This is the way the world ends…for the last time. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Red at the bone / Woodson, Jacqueline
    Red at the Bone opens with Melody celebrating her 16th birthday at her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Melody’s mother never did get her own 16th birthday party, and therein lies a tale of two families separated by class, ambition, gentrification, sexual desire, and unexpected parenthood.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

     


    FILMS

    The Watermelon Woman
    Year: 1996
    Director: Cheryl Dunye

    Watch the full film here.

    “Cheryl Dunye plays a version of herself in this witty, nimble landmark of New Queer Cinema. A video store clerk and fledgling filmmaker, Cheryl becomes obsessed with the “most beautiful mammy,” a character she sees in a 1930s movie. Determined to find out who the actress she knows only as the “Watermelon Woman” was and make her the subject of a documentary, she starts researching and is bowled over to discover that not only was Fae Richards (Lisa Marie Bronson) a fellow Philadelphian but also a lesbian.” (Kanopy)

    Fig
    Year: 2010
    Director: Ryan Coogler

    Watch the full film here.

    “Directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther), Fig is a this sympathetic look at the life of a working class mother, a prostitute named Candice wants nothing more than to provide a good life for her daughter Kyla. One night that she is unable to find a babysitter for Kyla, Candice takes her to the corner where she picks up johns and leaves her in the car. When Candice is with a john, Kyla is found alone by the police and is taken into emergency foster care. When she finds out, Candice does everything in her power to convince the social worker in charge of Kyla’s case that she really does love her daughter very much.” (Kanopy)

    Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
    Year: 2014
    Director: Spike Lee

    Watch the full film here.

    “Spike Lee’s stylized thriller Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is a new kind of love story. Dr. Hess Green becomes cursed by a mysterious ancient African artifact and is overwhelmed with a newfound thirst for blood. He, however, is not a vampire. Soon after his transformation he enters into a dangerous romance with Ganja Hightower that questions the very nature of love, addiction, sex, and status in our seemingly sophisticated society.” (Kanopy)

    Black Lives Matter: Non-Fiction Resources

    Libraries are places where we can find resources to help us learn about the experiences of others. We can then take what we have learnt and use our understanding of people and situations to make the world a better place. It might sound cliched, but knowledge and truth do educate and empower us.

    We have many excellent non-fiction resources at Wellington City Libraries that can give an insight into the Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism movements and the current racial and political situation in the United States of America.

    Step outside of your comfort zone and confront some harsh realities with the resources listed below.

    How to be an antiracist / Kendi, Ibram X
    Following on from his National Book Award-winning and New York Times best-selling Stamped from the Beginning Kendi considers here what an antiracist society might look like. Founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, Kendi shows that neutrality on racism is not an option and that until we become part of the solution, we will only be part of the problem. He helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not and shows us how instead to be a force for good. Ebook but also available as an audiobook.

    Between the world and me / Coates, Ta-Nehisi
    Ta-Nehisi Coates examines the USA’s ‘long war on black people’ not only to understand himself but to also clarify the continuing role race plays in the US today. Toni Morrison called this book ‘required reading’ and it is a strong, and perceptive examination of race relations in the United States. Also available as an ebook. You can also check out Coates’ other powerful works about race in the USA:  The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir, and We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

    I’m still here: black dignity in a world made for whiteness / Brown, Austin Channing
    Growing up in majority-white schools, organisations, and churches, Brown had to learn ‘what it means to love blackness’ and how to navigate the racial divide in the USA as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organisations practice inclusion. This is a powerful account of how and why our actions often fall short of our words and a look at how white, middle-class, evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility. Also available as an audiobook.

    Eloquent rage: a black feminist discovers her superpower/Cooper, Brittney C.
    Black feminist Brittney Cooper explores the theory that that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting. Rather than seeing black women’s anger as a destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of the USA, Cooper shows us that black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams a powerful tennis player, what makes Beyoncé’s anthems resonate, and what makes Michelle Obama an icon. Eloquent rage reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. A positive, uplifting exploration of black feminism. Ebook, but also available as an audiobook.

    The new Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness / Alexander, Michelle
    Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, has called this book a ‘call to action’, as it challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signaled a new era of colorblindness. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that ‘we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it’. She further asserts that by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. Also available as an ebook, and an audiobook.

    What doesn’t kill you makes you blacker: a memoir in essays / Young, Damon
    What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker explores Damon Young’s efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him as a black man. Provocative, humorous, poignant and challenging. (ebook)

     

     

    You can also find documentaries such as I Am Not Your Negro on our free movie streaming platform Beamafilm, or docos like Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement on YouTube.

    For teens, you can check out our curated Give Nothing to Racism ebook list here.

    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!