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Thursday, March 27, 2014


March 27, 2014
Science fiction and fantasy blog: Dystopias
 
Over the past five years many dystopia themed novels have been published making it one of the most popular speculative fiction subgenres with mainstream fiction readers.  This blog will provide a brief introduction to the dystopian novel for adults.
Thomas More’s book Utopia was published in 1516.  Now considered a foundational text in philosophy and political science, the novel added the word utopia to the English lexicon as well as a labeled literary genre.
The opposite of a utopian society is a dystopian society.  Dystopias are ruled by an elite group with a private agenda that is cloaked in euphemism and lies.  The controlling strata maintain rule thorough the use of coercion or conditioning and regulate almost all aspects of an individual’s existence including daily routine, career and family.  Crowd control and maintaining the status quo are the main concern of the power elite.  As long as the oppressors believe they are able to maintain social order by exercising their authority Individuals within the oppressed population are safe as long as they remain anonymous.
In dystopian works, dissension by an individual or group reveal a rift that exists within their repressive society as it is, and as it should or could be.  Divisive events give rise to an awakening by the oppressed of the injustice of their world, the lack of human rights therein and lead to a further flowering of the spirit of individualism by those being controlled.

Equally as significant in the dystopian novel is the implicit understanding that there is no guarantee of a happy ending for either the society or the individuals within it.  The message contained within the unfolding story arc is more important. 
What are the characteristics of a “good” dystopian novel for teens and adults?

1.            A setting that is vividly described and almost becomes a character in itself.
2.            Individuals or forces in charge with a legitimate reason for being as they are.
3.            Protagonists shaped by their environment and situations.
4.            A conclusion that reflects the dire circumstances.  While a feeling of hope and measured optimism is good, the protagonists may not escape unscathed and may face insurmountable obstacles. 
The Hunger Games has been a successful crossover novel, and an increasing number of dystopian works have been written for young adults but appeal to readers of all ages.  But while the “coming- of- age” subtext is a core characteristic of dystopian novels for teens, it may be absent in novels written for an adult audience.
    Below is a list of dystopian novels both new and old readers of this speculative fiction subgenre may enjoy.  All o f these works are in the Northfield Library.  There are many more dystopian titles and available through Interlibrary Loan.  Contact the Northfield Public Library Adult Services desk if you are interested in additional titles.

1.       Feed by M.T. Anderson.  Cambridge, MA:  Candlewick Press, 2002.  -  Northfield YA AND

2.       The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  NY: Everyman’s Library, 2006 – Northfield FIC

3.       MadAddam:  A Novel by Margaret Atwod.  NY: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2013 - Northfield FIC

4.       Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  NY: Nan A. Talese, 2003 – Northfield FIC

5.       Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood NY: Nan A. Talese, 2009 – Northfield FIC

6.       Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury NY: Simon & Schuster, 2003 - Northfield SCIFI

7.       The Postman by David Brin.  New York, Bantam, 1985. – Northfield SCIFI

8.       Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks.  NY: Del Ray, 2006 – Northfield SCIFI

9.       Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. Cambridge, MA: R. Bentley, c1968, 1979 – Northfield SCIFI

10.   Veracity by Laura Bynum. NY: Pocket Books, 2010 – Northfield SCIFI

11.   A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. NY:  Norton. 1962 – Northfield FIC

12.   The Passage: A Novel by Justin Cronin.  New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.  Northfield SCIFI

13.   The Twelve: A Novel by Justin Cronin.  New York, Ballatine Books, 2012.  Northfield SCIFI

14.   Neuromancer by William Gibson. NY:  Ace Books, 1984.  Northfield SCIFI

15.   The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway.  New York: Alfred Knopf, 2008.  Northfield SCIFI

16.   The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.  Translated by Marlaine Delargy.  NY:  Other Press, 2008.   Northfield FIC

17.   Wool by Hugh Howey. London, Century, 2013.  Northfield SCIFI

18.   Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. New York, London: Harper & Bros. 19- Northfield FIC

19.   Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  New York: Alfred Knopf, 2005.  Northfield FIC

20.   The Children of Men by P. D. James. NY: A.A. Knopf, 1992. Northfield FIC

21.   The Stand by Stephen King.  New York:  Doubleday, 1990 NOR FIC

22.   The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin.  New York: Harper & Row, 1974 NOR SCIFI

23.   Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell. NY: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004. NOR FIC

24.   Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell.  Fiftieth Anniversary Edition.  NY:  Signet Class, 1996.  NOR FIC

25.   1984 by George Orwell. NY: Signet Class, c1991.  NOR FIC

26.   Atlas Shrugged of Ayn Rand. NY: Random House, 1957 NOR FIC

27.   Blindness by Jose Sarmago.  Translated by Jose Pontiero.  NY: Harcourt, Brace & Company. 1997.  NOR FIC

28.   Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling.  NY:  New American Library, 2004. NOR SCIFI

29.   Battle Royale: The Novel by Koushun Takami.  Translated by Yuji Oniki.  San Francisco: Haikasoru, 2009.  NOR SCIFI
30.   The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. NY: Doubleday, 2005 NOR FIC

31.   The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Mahwah, NJ:  Watermill Classic, 1980.  NOR SCIFI

32.   Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson.  NY:  Tor Books, 2009. NOR SCIFI
 
Other dystopian themed titles may be found by consulting Ebsco Novelist.  Novelist is a fiction database that provides subject access, reviews, read-a-likes, book discussion guides, annotations and much more for over 125,000 fiction titles.  Book links within Novelist allow you to search the holdings of the Northfield and SELCO libraries.
Novelist is available through the Northfield Public Library website.  To locate it Click E-Library then NPL’s Electronic Resources.  Scroll down to Ebsco Novelist.  You will need to enter your Northfield Public Library card number to use this database.  The hyperlink below will also allow you access to the website http://web.b.ebscohost.com/novelist/search?sid=c661bc62-4e67-4051-9738-8b1c2cbc06ed%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=118
 
Jamie Stanley
March 2014

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FIND NEW BOOKS AND AUTHORS WITH NOVELIST

Are you looking for a new book for your book group?  Do you have a favorite author and want to find similar authors?  Or maybe you just read a great book and want to find similar books.  Novelist is a great resources for librarians and library patrons.    Check it out on our library website.    Go to
 E-Resources on the Northfield Public Library website and click on Ebsco Novelist.  In addition to author and book read alikes, Novelist has book discussion guides and lists of award winning books. Are you looking for titles in a series?    You can find the series titles on Novelist.  You can also search books by different categories, such as Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery,  Romance, Westerns, etc.   Novelist also  includes books for young children and young adults. 
We use Novelist often at the reference desk when patrons are looking for new books to read, and you can use Novelist while at home or at the libary.
Click here http://support.ebsco.com/novelist/training.php to watch some videos on how to use Novelist.
If you have questions, please ask at the reference desk or call us at 645-1802.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 MINNESOTA BOOK AWARDS FINALISTS


Preliminary judges met at the end of January to narrow down book submissions to four books in each category.  I have been both a prelimary and finalist judge.  Preliminary judges  read as many as 40 books or more in a category.  Judges have several months to read the books and then meet at the end of January to discuss their findings with other judges.  There are 3 judges per category.
The finalists for each of the adult categories are listed below;

General Nonfiction

 Evil Men by James Dawes (Harvard University Press)Harriman vs. Hill: Wall Street’s Great Railroad War by Larry Haeg (University of Minnesota Press)                                                                                                  The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII by Jack El-Hai (PublicAffairs Books/Perseus Books Group) Soda Shop Salvation: Recipes and Stories from the Sweeter Side of Prohibition by Rae Katherine Eighmey (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

 Genre Fiction
The Book of Killowen by Erin Hart (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
The Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman (Quercus)
Tamarack County by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster)
Wolves by Cary J. Griffith (Adventure Publications

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction
The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo: A Child, an Elder and the Light from an Ancient Sky by Kent Nerburn (New World Library)
Prairie Silence by Melanie Hoffert (Beacon Press)
Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner with Cheryl Reitan (University Press of Kentucky)
We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter by Rachael Hanel (University of Minnesota Press)

Minnesota
A Love Affair with Birds: The Life of Thomas Sadler Roberts by Sue Leaf (University of Minnesota Press)
Minneapolis Madams: The Lost History of Prostitution on the Riverfront by Penny A. Petersen (University of Minnesota Press)
Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison by W. Jackson Rushing III and Kristin Makholm (University of Oklahoma Press)
 Survival Schools: The American Indian Movement and Community Education in the Twin Cities by Julie L. Davis (University of Minnesota Press)

Novel & Short Story
Let the Dark Flower Blossom by Norah Labiner (Coffee House Press)
Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman (Soho Press)
The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories by Ethan Rutherford (Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers)
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich (University of Minnesota Press

 Poetry
Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen (Louisiana State University Press)
The First Flag by Sarah Fox (Coffee House Press)
It Becomes You by Dobby Gibson (Graywolf Press)
Slip by Cullen Bailey Burns (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

Finalist judges receive the four finalist books in their category at the beginning of February  and have one month to read the books.    This year I am a finalist judge for the Minnesota category.  As you can see  I am reading about birds, prostituion, art and Native American schools!  Quite a variety.  Final judges meet on March 8 and will determine the winners for each category.  The winners must be kept secret until they are announced at the Minnesota Book Award gala, Saturday, April 5. 
Read some of the above titles and let us know which books you think should win!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog
January 29, 2014 Introductions continued
 

My name is David Greenfield and I work as a Circulation Clerk at the Northfield Public Library.  I am also in charge of the library’s Science-fiction Book Club, which began in October of 2012 (more on the Book Club below). 

My expertise in this genre lies primarily in fantasy, to which I was introduced at a young age.  My dad got me started on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Then one day after a Dungeons & Dragons session, a friend of mine lent me his copy of R.A. Salvatore’s Homeland, and I was hooked. 

I want to echo a sentiment in Jamie’s earlier blog post that not only is the science fiction/fantasy genre HUGE; these days it seems like it is everywhere.  In just about every literary category you can name you can find a book which has elements of this genre in it.  Sometimes people read a science fiction or fantasy book and don’t even realize it, because it is not shelved in the sci-fi/fantasy section.  Paranormal romances, mysteries with an undead detective, and literary fiction with time-traveling protagonists are all examples of these “genre crossings.”  So, not only is there something for everyone in sci-fi/fantasy, as Jamie said, but it is popping up in other literary categories outside of its own as well. 

What I hope to share in this blog is my knowledge and passion for science fiction and fantasy literature.  If you are already an avid sci-fi/fantasy reader, I hope you will share your passion with us, too!  If you are new to the genre, give it a try and let us know what you think! 

In closing, I am going to put in a plug for the Science-fiction Book Club.  We meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 7:00 P.M. in the library meeting room.  Our next meeting is February 25 and we will be discussing Red Planet Blues by Robert Sawyer.  Books are selected on a month-by-month basis from suggestions proffered by those in attendance.  We currently have about half a dozen that come regularly and more than double that on the club mailing list.  If you want to add your name to the mailing list or have any questions, please send me an email at david.greenfield@ci.northfield.mn.us. 

Characteristics of Fantasy:

1.       It is framed by magic.  Detailed settings depict another world, often Earth, but out-of-time or invisible to most people.

2.       It is Good versus Evil.  Good triumphs in the end but often at a price.

3.       Like science fiction, it is frequently written as a series.

4.       It is written in a wide variety of moods, but in the end it is optimistic.

5.       It often emphasizes character development.  Protagonists evolve and grow through a series of challenges they must face.  Characters often include mythical or fantastic creatures, including dragons, elves, wizards, vampires and the like.

6.       It has a storyline that starts slow and picks up speed.  In the beginning the author builds the world and introduces the cast, but the narrative pace quickens as more adventure elements appear.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ALISON MCGHEE AUTHOR EVENT RESCHEDULED FOR THIS TUESDAY, JANUARY 21.

Come to the Northfield Public Library and meet New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer prize nominee , Alison McGhee on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM. The event was originally scheduled for January 7 but was rescheduled because of the extreme cold.  Alison McGhee is a Minnesota author, and won the Minnesota Book Award for her first novel, Rainlight, in 1999. Since her very successful beginning, she has written other adult novels: Shadow Baby and Was it Beautiful and Falling Boy. After writing several of her adult novels, she began writing picture books, young adult novels, and children’s chapter books. She has garnered awards in several categories of her writing. In addition to her first Minnesota Book Award, she won the Great Lakes College Association National Fiction Award for Rainlight. She won the 2003 Minnesota Book Award for her book Countdown to Kindergarten. In 2011, she won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award with co-author Kate DeCamillo for Bink and Gollie. She is an associate professor of creative writing at Metropolitan State University, where she coordinates the creative writing program. She will be speaking in Northfield as part of the Southeastern Libraries Cooperation Author Tour, and will speak at the Northfield Middle School in the morning. McGhee will focus on her adult work at the evening talk. The event is free and open to the public and is funded with funds from the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hot Reads for Cold Nights!!


Hot Reads for Cold Nights (a winter reading program for adults) begins Monday January 6, 2014 when the HIGH in Northfield, Minnesota will be 19 below zero!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Timing couldn't be better :)
If you are brave enough to venture out, come on in and sign up. The program runs between Jan. 6 and Feb. 28.  Fill out a slip for each book you read or listen to.  Three names will be drawn each week for $5 gift certificates for Northfield businesses.
Questions? Call the library at 507-645-6606.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

ALISON MCGHEE COMING THE THE NORTHFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY




Come to the Northfield Public Library and meet New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer prize nominee , Alison McGhee on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM.  Alison McGhee is a Minnesota author, and won the Minnesota Book Award for her first novel, Rainlight, in 1999.  Since her very successful beginning, she has written other adult novels:  Shadow Baby and Was it Beautiful and Falling Boy.  After writing several of her adult novels, she began writing picture books, young adult novels, and children’s chapter books.  She has garnered awards in several categories of her writing.  In addition to her first Minnesota Book Award, she won the Great Lakes College Association National Fiction Award for Rainlight.  She won the 2003 Minnesota Book Award for her book Countdown to Kindergarten.   In 2011, she won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award with co-author Kate DeCamillo for Bink and Gollie.  She is an associate professor of creative writing at Metropolitan State University, where she coordinates the creative writing program.   She will be speaking in Northfield as part of the Southeastern Libraries Cooperation Author Tour, and will speak at the Northfield Middle School in the morning.  McGhee will focus on her adult work at the evening talk.  The event is free and open to the public and is funded with funds from the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund