Audition: New science fiction and fantasy titles

What I know about structures of fiction comes from hairdressing. 

– Quote from Pip Adam’s The Spinoff interview.  

Our special featured title in this month’s selection of newly acquired science fiction and fantasy titles is Audition by Wellington’s very own Pip Adam. Pip Adam is the author of four novels: Audition, Nothing to See, which was shortlisted for the Acorn Prize for Fiction, The New Animals, which won the Acorn Foundation Prize for Fiction, and I’m Working on a Building. Her short story collection Everything We Hoped For won the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction.

Audition is the title of her latest novel, and it is also the name of the spaceship in the book.
Audition is hurtling through space towards the event horizon, and squashed immobile into its rooms are three giants. If they talk, the spaceship keeps moving; if they are silent, they resume growing. As they talk, they might be recovering their shared memory of what has been done to their incarcerated former selves, or are they constructing those selves from memory-scripts that have been implanted in them?

Audition confirms Pip Adam’s position as one of our finest contemporary world class writers. All of Pip’s work is bold, daring, unexpected, exceptional and sometimes challenging. Audition defies categorisation, it is part science fiction and part social realism, but there is a whole lot more going on in it. Continue reading “Audition: New science fiction and fantasy titles”

The Scarlet Pimpernel and the birth of the superhero?

3 new scif-fi and fantasy book covers, against a fantasy world landscape of blue mountains

They seek him here. They seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in Heaven? Or is he in Hell? That damned, illusive pimpernel.

Sir Peter Blackney in The Scarlet Pimpernel (by Baroness Orczy)

One of the books that caught our eye in this month’s recently acquired fantasy titles was Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman, a novel in which the character of the Scarlet Pimpernel is reimagined as a hero who rescues vampire aristocrats from the guillotine. This newest incarnation aside, The Scarlet Pimpernel has had a long and varied history.

The first time The Scarlet Pimpernel saw print was in 1908 in the novel of that name by Baroness Orczy. The novel was based on a highly successful play (also by Baroness Orczy) that took London by storm a few years earlier. The book would go on to spawn a host of sequels to wide acclaim, as well as numerous films including The Elusive Pimpernel (1950), starring David Niven and Margaret Leighton.

However, we think the major cultural impact this historical novel has had on our modern times, is its role in the birth of the superhero genre. The scarlet Pimpernel is a rich, camp aristocrat with a double life; a man with a secret identity, a master of disguise and weaponry, who has an alter ego that only a few of his closest friends know. This master fighter also wears a cape and a mask and is constantly outwitting villains and engaged in heroic deeds of daring-do. As his author described him, he is a “reckless daredevil”.

So far, so Superman, but the clincher we think is that Marvel co-creator Stan Lee was obsessed by the book as a boy and went on in this adult life to acknowledge the influence of the books and the Scarlet Pimpernel character in his work. He is even on record as saying that the the Scarlet Pimpernel was “the first character who could be called a superhero”. We rest our case!

Have a browse of this and other new science fiction and fantasy below:

Scarlet / Cogman, Genevieve
“It is 1793 and the French Revolution is in full swing. Vampires are a normal part of society across Europe — usually rich and aristocratic, they have slaked the guillotine’s thirst in large numbers. The mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, a disguised British noble, and his League are heroically rescuing dozens of aristocrats and helpless victims from France, both human and vampire. Eleanor Dalton is an English housemaid working for the vampiric Baroness of Basing. Eleanor’s highest aspiration is to one day become a modiste. But when the Scarlet Pimpernel and his wife come to visit, Eleanor discovers she resembles someone important. She is asked to impersonate a French aristocrat. Soon, she finds herself swept up in magic and intrigue beyond her wildest dreams.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Shanghai immortal / Chao, A. Y.
“Pawned by her mother to the King of Hell as a child, Lady Jing is half-vampire, half-hulijing fox-spirit, and all sasshole. As the King’s ward, she has spent the past ninety years running errands, dodging the taunts of the spiteful hulijing courtiers, and trying to control her explosive temper – with varying levels of success. So when Jing overhears the courtiers plotting to steal a priceless dragon pearl from the King, she seizes her chance to expose them, once and for all. With the help of a gentle mortal tasked with setting up the Central Bank of Hell, Jing embarks on a wild chase for intel, first through Hell and then mortal Shanghai.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

House of gold / Rwizi, C. T.
“A corporate aristocracy descended from Africa rules a colony on a distant planet. Life here is easy — for the rarified and privileged few. The aristocrats enjoy a powerful cybernetic technology that extends their life spans and ensures their prosperity. Those who serve them suffer under a heavy hand. But within this ruthless society are agents of hope and change. In a secret underwater laboratory, a separatist cult has created a threat to the aristocracy. The Primes are highly intelligent, manipulative products of genetic engineering, designed to lead a rebellion. Enabling their mission are the Proxies, the Primes’ bodyguards and lifelong companions bound to their service. When the cult’s hideout is attacked, Proxies Nandipa and Hondo rush to the rescue…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Winter’s gifts / Aaronovitch, Ben
“When retired FBI Agent Patrick Henderson calls in an ‘X-Ray Sierra India’ incident, the operator doesn’t understand. He tells them to pass it up the chain till someone does. That person is FBI Special Agent Kimberley Reynolds. Leaving Quantico for snowbound Northern Wisconsin, she finds that a tornado has flattened half the town – and there’s no sign of Henderson. Things soon go from weird to worse, as neighbours report unsettling sightings, key evidence goes missing, and the snow keeps rising – cutting off the town, with no way in or out… Something terrible is awakening. As the clues lead to the coldest of cold cases – a cursed expedition into the frozen wilderness – Reynolds follows a trail from the start of the American nightmare, to the horror that still lives on today…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Veniss underground / VanderMeer, Jeff
“In his debut novel, literary alchemist Jeff VanderMeer takes us on an unforgettable journey. First, Nicholas, a would-be Living Artist, seeks to escape his demons in the shadowy underground — but in doing so makes a deal with the devil himself. In her fevered search for him, his twin sister, Nicola, spins her own unusual and hypnotic tale as she discovers the hidden secrets of the city. And finally, haunted by Nicola’s sudden, mysterious disappearance and gripped by despair, Shadrach, Nicola’s lover, embarks on a mythic journey to the nightmarish levels deep beneath the surface of the city to bring his love back to light…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The battle drum : a novel / El-Arifi, Saara
“Anoor is the first blue-blooded ruler of the Wardens’ Empire. But when she is accused of a murder she didn’t commit, her reign is thrown into turmoil. She must solve the mystery and clear her name without the support of her beloved, Sylah. Sylah braves new lands to find a solution for the hurricane that threatens to destroy her home. But in finding answers, she must make a decision: should she sacrifice her old life in order to raise up her sword once more? Hassa’s web of secrets grows ever thicker as she finds herself on the trail of crimes in the city. Her search uncovers the extent of the atrocities of the empire’s past and present. Now she must guard both her heart and her land. The three women find their answers, but not the answers they wanted. The drumbeat of change thrums throughout the world. And it sings a song of war…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Cognomina codex / Maikranz, D. Eric
“Evan Michaels is back in a new life as a Syrian refugee. When strange memories of his former lives lead him back to Zurich, headquarters of his old family of fellow reincarnationists, the Cognomina, he must reacquire their trust to rejoin their ranks. On the last leg of this journey, he is intercepted by an excommunicated member of the Cognomina who holds some serious grudges. She’s on a mission to wipe out large portions of the world’s population to save the planet from destruction. She proposes a union of the Cognomina and her own group of reincarnationists, but her true goals are dark indeed, and her resources are vast. Evan finds himself at the start of a war between two factions of immortal beings, each with a radically different vision for life on earth.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Carnivale of Curiosities / Gibbs, Amiee
“In Victorian London, where traveling sideshows are the very pinnacle of entertainment, there is no more coveted ticket than Ashe and Pretorius’ Carnivale of Curiosities. Each performance is a limited engagement, and London’s elite boldly dare the dangerous streets of Southwark to witness the Carnivale’s astounding assemblage of marvels. For a select few, however, the real show begins behind the curtain. Rumors abound that the show’s proprietor, Aurelius Ashe, is more than an average magician. It’s said that for the right price, he can make any wish come true…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The smallest of whispers: New science fiction and fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading “The smallest of whispers: New science fiction and fantasy”

Dinosaur World: New science fiction and fantasy

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Dino GIF by Jurassic World

Dr. Ian Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.

Dr. Ellie Sattler: Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.

-Jurassic park film dialogue (1993)


In this month’s selection of newly acquired science fiction and fantasy titles, we have The meister of Decimen City by Brenna Raney in which genetically engineered dinosaurs are let loose on an unsuspecting town.

Dinosaurs and science fiction have always had a close affinity: The lost world (by Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle) , Journey to the center of the Earth by Jules Verne and The land that time forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs are all classic science fiction novels that boast dinosaurs galore or in some cases, to be scientifically precise, ancient creatures. These early science fiction writers were perhaps fascinated by the idea because, at the time, there was the vague possibility that dinosaurs still lived on remote, unexplored parts of the planet.

Of course in recent times Michael Crichton’s  Jurassic Park really caught the popular imagination, perhaps because the novel seemed indicative of what science might actually be able to achieve in the future, the tantalisingly idea that we might actually see these mighty creatures resurrected.

Other science fiction legends like Ray Bradbury and Anne McCaffery have  also written about dinosaurs, in their novels Dinosaur Tales and Dinosaur Planet respectively. These days there are a dizzying array of science fiction titles that feature dinosaurs, in fact it takes up a whole sub-genre of Science Fiction. Into   these illustrious ranks, we welcome Decimen City.

The meister of Decimen City / Raney, Brenna
“Supergenius and quasi-villain Rex normally can’t go a week without accidentally endangering Decimen City with her science shenanigans. It’s been two weeks since her genetically engineered dinosaurs rampaged through town–a good streak for her–but the peace is broken when actual villain Last Dance sets his sights on Decimen. And he wants Rex’s help. Before Rex can say “I didn’t do it,” superheroes who’ve dragged her to jail on her worst days are crowding her lab to conscript her into quasi-herodom. Rex would rather stay out of it and deal with the dinosaurs that keep calling her Mom, but she can’t ignore that she was somewhat responsible for Last Dance’s villainy…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Thirsty animals / Atalla, Rachelle
“With supply in the Scottish cities drying up, Aida is forced back home to live with her mum at their rural farm. For now, they are safe with just enough to get by. Yet at the border, tensions are close to breaking point as more and more southerners chase the delusion that Scotland is an eternal spring – while fewer and fewer are allowed through. The service station where Aida works grows emptier with every day. Then, when suspicious strangers arrive at the farm asking for help, Aida and her family face a terrible decision. How much water can they afford to share? And then the taps are turned off. Now they must survive long enough for the rain to come.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Orphia and Eurydicius / John, Elyse
” Their love transcends every boundary. Can it cheat death? Orphia dreams of something more than the warrior crafts she’s been forced to learn. Hidden away on a far-flung island, her blood sings with poetry and her words can move flowers to bloom and forests to grow … but her father, the sun god Apollo, has forbidden her this art. A chance meeting with a young shield-maker, Eurydicius, gives her the courage to use her voice. After wielding all her gifts to defeat one final champion, Orphia draws the scrutiny of the gods…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Engines of chaos / Ford, R. S.
“Torwyn burns as Sanctan Egelrath tightens his grip on power. The Draconate Ministry has gathered its forces, determined to eradicate the Guilds, but Rosomon Hawkspur still stands in their way. Her only hope could lay with Lancelin Jagdor, sent to gather allies in their struggle against the usurper. Can even the greatest warrior in Torwyn hope to succeed with so many adversaries determined to stop him? Tyreta returns home with newfound strength and mysterious sorcerous abilities, only to discover it is not the land she left behind. She will have to call upon her untested powers to survive when she embarks on a mission that could turn the tide of war…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Arca / Macallister, G. R
” The Drought of Girls has ended, but the rift it broke open between the Queendoms is not so easily healed. Political tensions roil the senate of Paxim, where Queen Heliane vows to make her son Paulus the nation’s first ruling King or die trying. Scorpican troops amass on the border of Arca, ready to attack. And within Arca itself, its young, unready queen finds her court a nest of vipers and her dreams besieged by a mysterious figure with unknown intentions. As iron and magic clash on the battlefield and powerful women scheme behind the scenes, danger and violence abound. Can anyone stop chaos from ripping the Queendoms apart?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Frontier / Curtis, Grace
“In the distant future most of the human race has fled a ravaged Earth to find new life on other planets. For those who stayed, a lawless society remains. What passes for justice is presided over by the High Sheriff, and carried out by his ruthless Deputy. Then a ship falls from the sky, bringing the Stranger, a crew member on the first ship in centuries to attempt a return to Earth and save what’s left. The Stranger finds herself adrift in a ravaged, unwelcoming landscape, full of people who hate and fear her space-born existence. Scared, alone, and armed, she embarks on a journey across the wasteland to return to her ship, her mission, and the woman she loves.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A tidy armageddon : a novel / Panhuyzen, Brian
“The world is utterly transformed: every product of human creation has been organized by an unknown hand into a vast grid of nine-story blocks, each comprised of a single item type: watering cans, lighthouses, fake Christmas trees, helicopters, plastic spoons, and everything else Earth’s culture and technology have ever produced, stacked in homogenous towers and separated by a maze of passageways. Navigating this depopulated environment, a small contingent of diverse soldiers tries to make sense of this enigmatic apocalypse while desperately searching for survivors…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The way home : two novellas from the world of The last unicorn / Beagle, Peter S
“One brand-new, long-awaited novella, and one Hugo and Nebula award winning novella, both featuring characters from the beloved classic The Last Unicorn, from renowned fantasy writer Peter S. Beagle. Beagle’s long-awaited return to the world of that novel came with “Two Hearts,” which garnered Hugo and Nebula awards in 2006, and continued the stories of the unicorn, Molly Grue, and Schmendrick the Magician from the point of view of a young girl named Sooz. In this volume, Peter S. Beagle also presents for the first time “Sooz,” a novella that sees the narrator of “Two Hearts,” all grown up and with a perilous journey ahead of her, in a tender meditation on love, loss, and finding your true self.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Many faces of Robin Hood. Recent science fiction and fantasy

Olivia De Havilland GIF by Turner Classic Movies
Image via Giphy

Lady Marian Fitzswalter: Why, you speak treason!   Robin Hood : Fluently. – The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938

We recently had the great pleasure of doing a launch event with the fabulous H.G. Parry for her new book The Magician’s Daughter. You can view a recording of that event at the end of this piece.

During that conversation, the subject of the Robin Hood legend came up as a continuing inspiration for writers, especially film and television directors. So, we thought what better excuse do we need to look at some of the versions, some of which are available to borrow.

Since the birth of film each age has created its own celluloid version of the Robin Hood myth. The idea of robbing from the rich to give to the poor has had universal appeal for a very long time. The first version we are going to look at is the The Adventures of Robin Hood  from 1938. This swaggering swashbuckling version which some people regard as the best Robin Hood movie of them all starred Errol Flynn as Robin Hood in his most acclaimed role. The supporting cast is pretty stellar too, featuring superstars of the era like Olivia De Havilland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains.

The 1973 Animated Walt Disney version featured characters recycled from The Jungle Book, the songs are fabulous and the whole venture is great family fun.

The definitive 1980’s version of the myth was the British television series called Robin of Sherwood, starring Michael Praed and later Jason Connery as Robin. Robin Hood was obviously a family affair in the Connery household, as Jason’s  father Sean played several different roles in several adaptations of the myth. The series looks fabulous despite being filmed on a shoestring budget, allegedly the Sherriff of Nottingham’s gold regalia was made from spray painted biscuits! The series was hugely popular at the time and became the template for many of the later adaptations.

In the 90’s, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner and another stellar cast of the time: including Alan Rickman, Mike McShane and Sean Connery. The single from the soundtrack, (Everything I Do) I Do It for You by Bryan Adams, hit the number one slot globally, was the best-selling single of that year, and one of the best-selling singles of all time.

The 2010 Ridley Scott directed Robin Hood, film starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, is a much grittier and more visceral affair.

Other recently acquired Fantasy and Science fiction titles that caught our attention are listed below.
The magician’s daughter / Parry, H. G.
“It is 1912, and for the last seventy years magic has all but disappeared from the world. Yet magic is all Biddy has ever known. Orphaned as a baby, Biddy grew up on Hy-Brasil, a legendary island off the coast of Ireland hidden by magic and glimpsed by rare travelers who return with stories of wild black rabbits and a lone magician in a castle. To Biddy, the island is her home, a place of ancient trees and sea-salt air and mysteries, and the magician, Rowan, is her guardian. She loves both, but as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she is stifled by her solitude and frustrated by Rowan’s refusal to let her leave…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The crane husband / Barnhill, Kelly Regan
” A fifteen-year-old teenager is the backbone of her small Midwestern family, budgeting the household finances and raising her younger brother while her mother, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries. For six years, it’s been just the three of them–her mother has brought home guests at times, but none have ever stayed. Yet when her mother brings home a six-foot tall crane with a menacing air, the girl is powerless to prevent her mom letting the intruder into her heart, and her children’s lives. Utterly enchanted and numb to his sharp edges, her mother abandons the world around her to weave the masterpiece the crane demands…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi : a novel / Chakraborty, S. A.
“Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural. But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our share of night : a novel / Enriquez, Mariana
“In 1981, a young father and son set out on a road trip across Argentina, devastated by the mysterious death of the wife and mother they both loved. United in grief, the pair travels to her family home near Iguazú Falls, where they must confront the horrific legacy she has bequeathed. For the woman they are grieving came from a family like no other–a centuries-old secret society called the Order that pursues eternal life through ghastly rituals. For Gaspar, the son, this cult is his destiny. As Gaspar grows up he must learn to harness his developing supernatural powers, while struggling to understand what kind of man his mother wanted him to be…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The foxglove king / Whitten, Hannah
“When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city. Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The scarlet circus / Yolen, Jane
“A rakish fairy meets the real Juliet behind Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. A jewelry artist travels to the past to meet a successful silver-smith. The addled crew of a ship at sea discovers a mysterious merman. More than one ignored princess finds her match in the most unlikely men. From ecstasy to tragedy, with love blossoming shyly, love at first sight, and even love borne of practical necessity–beloved fantasist Jane Yolen’s newest collection celebrates romance in all its glory.”–Publisher marketing” (Catalogue)

Godkiller / Kaner, Hannah
“You are not welcome here, godkiller. Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins. Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour. Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning — something is rotting at the heart of the kingdom, and only they can be the ones to stop it.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The destroyer of worlds : a return to Lovecraft country / Ruff, Matt
“Summer, 1957. Atticus Turner and his father, Montrose, travel to North Carolina, where they plan to mark the centennial of their ancestor’s escape from slavery by retracing the route he took into the Great Dismal Swamp. But an encounter with an old nemesis turns their historical reenactment into a real life-and-death pursuit.  Yet these troubles are soon eclipsed by the return of Caleb Braithwhite. Stripped of his magic and banished from Chicago at the end of Lovecraft Country, he’s found a way back into power and is ready to pick up where he left off. But first he has a score to settle…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“The swirling surf had covered his death”: new sci fi & fantasy

Image via pixabay.

“The swirling surf had covered his death, hidden deep in murky darkness his miserable end, as hell opened to receive him.”  – Beowulf (Anon)

One of the science fiction and fantasy titles that caught our eye this month was Sharon Emmerich’s Shield Maiden, a feminist reimagining of the famous Old English epic poem Beowulf, this time told from the perspective of a fierce young woman reclaiming her power .

The poem and legend has been inspiring  authors and artists for centuries.  The original Beowulf poem is a heroic epic legend set in the 6th century in pagan Scandinavia. Its creation date is a matter of fierce debate amongst scholars.  What is known  is that the oldest manuscript, known as the The Nowell Codex, (now housed in the British Library ) dates between 975 and 1025, and for many centuries the poem was handed down primarily, not through text, but through the oral tradition of storytelling.

In brief, the legend tells of three battles.  In the first battle, Beowulf battles Grendel, a troll-like monster.  In the second, Beowulf and his men track Grendel’s mother to her lair under a lake where, after a fierce battle, Beowulf eventually decapitates her.  And finally, many years later when Beowulf is king, a golden cup is stolen from the underground lair which leads in turn to Beowulf’s final battle with a dragon. The three battles are directly connected and interlocked in many ways and the poem is a vast richly nuanced tapestry of events, characters and detail that has filled whole libraries of scholarly works.

The poem continues to to be an inspiration for numerous books, films, plays, translations and adaptations. One of the most famous translations of recent times is the Seamus Heaney translation simply called Beowulf: A New Verse Translation ( highly recommended ). It’s fabulous to see another author take on this epic work and join their illustrious ranks.

Shield Maiden / Emmerichs, Sharon
“Having grown up hearing tales of her uncle, the great King Beowulf, Frida’s one desire is to become a shield maiden in her own right. Yet a terrible childhood accident has left Fryda disabled – thus, she believes, thwarting her dream of becoming a warrior-woman for good. But still, somewhow, she feels an uncontrollable power begin to rise within herself. Meanwhile, a great celebration of Beuwulf’s reign is underway, and Fryda’s house is soon overrun with foreign kings and chieftains. Amidst the drunken revelry, a discovery is made that threatens the safety of Fryda’s entire clan – and her own life…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pulling the wings off angels / Parker, K. J
“Long ago, a wealthy man stole an angel and hid her in a chapel, where she remains imprisoned to this day. That’s the legend, anyway. A clerical student who’s racked up gambling debts to a local gangster is given an ultimatum—deliver the angel his grandfather kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment. And so begins a whirlwind theological paradox—with the student at its center—in which the stakes are the necessity of God, the existence of destiny—and the nature of angels.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wormhole / Brooke, Keith
“A ship is sent to Mu Arae, earth-like planet discovered 10 years before. But only a few years into the trip, catastrophe strikes and the ship blows up en route, killing all aboard. 2190, eighty years after the starship set out. Gordon Kemp  a detective working in the cold case department in London. He has been assigned a murder investigation closed, unsolved, over eighty years ago what befell the ship 80 years ago and why  is  the past and the present are radically different to what everyone on Earth believes. We made the journey. Why has it been kept a secret?.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The terraformers / Newitz, Annalee
“Destry’s life is dedicated to terraforming Sask-E. As part of the Environmental Rescue Team, she cares for the planet and its burgeoning eco-systems as her parents and their parents did before her. But the bright, clean future they’re building comes under threat when Destry discovers a city full of people that shouldn’t exist, hidden inside a massive volcano. As she uncovers more about their past, Destry begins to question the mission she’s devoted her life to, and must make a choice that will reverberate through Sask-E’s future for generations to come.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
VenCo : a novel / Dimaline, Cherie
” Myrna works for VenCo, a front company fueled by vast resources of dark money. Lucky is familiar with the magic of her indigenous ancestors, but she has no idea that a spoon links her to VenCo’s network of witches throughout North America. Generations of witches have been waiting for centuries for the seven spoons to come together, igniting a new era, and restoring women to their rightful power. But as reckoning approaches, a very powerful adversary is stalking their every move. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Africa risen : a new era of speculative fiction
“From award-winning editorial team Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight comes an anthology of thirty-two original stories showcasing the breadth of fantasy and science fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora. A group of cabinet ministers query a supercomputer containing the minds of the country’s ancestors. A child robot on a dying planet uncovers signs of fragile new life. A descendent of a rain goddess inherits her grandmother’s ability to change her appearance–and perhaps the world. Created in the legacy of the seminal, award-winning anthology series Dark Matter, Africa Risen celebrates the vibrancy, diversity, and reach of African and Afro-Diasporic SFF and reaffirms that Africa is not rising–it’s already here.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The daughters of Izdihar / Elsbai, Hadeer
“In a novel set wholly in a new world, but inspired by modern Egyptian history, two young women–Nehal, a spoiled aristocrat used to getting what she wants, and Giorgina, a poor bookshop worker used to having nothing–find they have far more in common, particularly in their struggle for the rights of women and their ability to fight for it with forbidden elemental magic.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


The citadel of forgotten myths / Moorcock, Michael
“Elric and his constant companion Moonglum return in this new stand alone novel set within the early days of Elric’s wanderings. They ride again to investigate the history of their empire, Melnibone, and its dragons, known as the Phoorn, in this exciting new addition to the Elric Saga from World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Michael Moorcock. The estranged emperor of the Melnibonean empire, Elric is struggling with his nature and the constant thirst of his soul-sucking sword, Stormbringer. He wants his dying empire to thrive, but is he up to the task of renewing his failing people? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)