Saturday, August 25, 2007

Graphic Novel Reading Group - 25/08/07

'Sup G's, (as Michael would say)

Today's GN reading group subjects are the Marvel superhero teams and the every-so-slightly off-topic (but incredibly cool) Heroes tv show.

I must confess to being more than a little jaded by Marvel and the like of late, since I think that the almost constant character re-imagining that goes on these days (especially in the Marvel Multiverse) is pretty tiresome. I can sympathise with the need to update a character's backstory, especially where a superhero is a teenager in the 60s (like Spidey, for instance) and you want to maintain the teen storyline in the 21st century. I can almost accept the way that a lot of these narrative re-engineerings are done in order to correct perceived flaws in the original storylines; but a lot of the storylines merely utilise the iconography of a particular set of superheroes and mangle the characters beyong all recognition. Vast tracts of the GN universe have become little more glorified fanfiction and it's about time authors and artists came up with something different and fanboys and girls were less conservative in their tastes and accepted innovation a little more.

Rant over (although a blog's not a blog without a little rant now and again)!

Heroes on the other hand, is pure fried gold. I know it's a little Unbreakable meets The X-Men but it's upped the ante in terms of tv sci-fi and is almost (almost, mind) as good as the magisterial Battlestar Galactica. Michael's a Hiro fan: I quite like the idea of indestructible cheerleaders and she-Hulk internet artistes... but in a completely non-sleazy way, I hasten to add.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arbitrary reboot

I've just finished writing something for the Talis Library Platform Newsletter about... oh, you'll have to wait and see. Anyhoo, I wrote about this here blog and I thought I should attempt to restart it again. I like it when we were using it to discuss things.

I've given it *another* coat of paint (i.e. a new template), so we're good to go. Who, if anybody, is still reading this feed?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On graphic novels

It's bad form to quote an entire post, but here it is anyway:

Every library has at least one librarian who is a graphic novel enthusiast. This person will argue vehemently for a new graphic novel collection for your library. Give him a paltry budget to spend each year just to shut him up. It will be money well spent.

From the always-useful A librarian's guide to etiquette. We must have at least half a dozen graphic novel enthusiasts between us. Does that mean we should ask for six times the budget?

Friday, April 13, 2007

New look!

Since Signpost's days are numbered, and it's Friday afternoon, I thought I'd change the scheme of the blog to something that doesn't use those purple/lilac shades.

It's one of the standard Blogger templates, but I might see if I can tweak it a bit over the weekend. A change is as good as a rest, as they say.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Yes, they do let us out now and again...

Last Wednesday saw a first for Bolton Libraries' Graphic Novel Group: we had a trip out to the cinema to see the film adaptation of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's graphic novel 300. I think it's safe to say that everyone enjoyed the film, which is visually stunning throughout. The post film discussion was as diverse and insightful as one might expect from a group of comic book nerds dynamic afficianados of popular culture... I for one was glad of the opportunity to reminisce about the unsung classic tv series that was Starfleet .

With the approaching glut of Summer blockbusters based on comics and cartoons (Spider-man 3, Fantastic 4:Rise of the Silver Surfer and Transformers) this may well be something we'll be doing again.

Thanks to Lonewytch and Michael for their sterling efforts (and to all who turned up)!

Where's everyone gone?

I know I've been pretty slack at keeping in touch with everyone lately. Sorry. I've been absorbed by my day job, which I can't write about for fear of breaching my Non-Disclosure Agreement and being sued.

So, what's everybody up to? I'm this close [shows tiny gap betwixt thumb and forefinger to impassive computer monitor] to having a replacement for Signpost ready to use. Seriously, I'm very excited about this. It's going to be able to do all of the stuff Signpost does (which is, erm, not much really), plus a lot of the reader dev-type stuff we've touched on in this blog.

Add a comment to this post and let me know what's happening round your way!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Aerosmith, Sugababes and Girls Aloud: a Signpost Libraries Blog first!

I tagged Second Hand Songs on ages ago, but I've only just got around to having a proper go with it. It's really good.

The premise is pretty straightforward: search for a song by title, and artist as well if you feel like it, and Second Hand Songs tells you who recorded the original. It lists everyone who has covered the song and gives you details of the albums, release dates and images of the CD artwork.

It relies on user submissions so it's not bang up to date: the entry for Walk this way lists the brilliant Hayseed Dixie version, but tragically not the less-than-brilliant Sugababes Vs Girls Aloud cover, which is this year's Comic Relief song. Maybe I'm being pedantic - the song isn't out until March 12th - and the website is, on the whole, very informative and straightforward to use.

It has a permanent home in Signpost's Music section.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Normal service will now resume

Signpost is fixed! It was actually fixed ages ago, and I've been busily amending entries and such on a full-time basis. My Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V skills are finely honed as a result.

So, I've finally got around to adding the book reviews I've been posting here as an interim measure. Bolton's very own Bromley Cross Book Group sent me two reviews, which are here and here on the blog, and here and here in Signpost.

The Signpost reviews include links through to catalogue records for each of my three favourite public library services, which is nice. To find what will (hopefully) be a growing selection of reviews, put the word "review" in the "find subject" box under the "Search Signpost" heading on the right, and click on "find".

Hmm. Maybe I've got a little work to do on streamlining that process...

I've also got all of Wigan's community groups listed in Signpost. Search for a word from the group's name, or for a keyword description, in the appropriate boxes on the right. Again, there's streamlining to do!

My next plan is to copy the other reviews from the blog over to Signpost. Actually, it's not strictly my next plan: my next plan is to go home and enjoy the weekend. I suggest you do the same.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Where are all the women??

Having observed The Signpost blog for a while Michael has kindly sent me an invite. So hello and a belated Happy New Year to you all.

Yes, I know there are only 4 people posting but in a profession dominated by females you'd think you'd have got some more ladies. Or have they all disppeared since you moved over from the old blog?
So, does anyone know what proportion of blogs are run by men and how many by women? (and I suppose how many are run by children because they are the future after all) Answers on a postcard please.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Broadswords and Book Groups

I just thought I'd point out some sterling press coverage for Wigan Libraries in the latest issue of Update, the magazine of the organisation formerly known as the Library Association. There's a piece (page 7) on activities to attract young people into libraries (including DJing) and another article (page 16) with a picture of local hero Stuart Maconie reading to school children in a library-sponsored event. All round excellent publicity for reader development and outreach and a good sign of what libraries are doing locally. There's also an interesting feature (well for me anyway) on what our colleagues at Lancashire County are doing with electronic reference resources.

However supreme plaudits must go to Dunfermline Carnegie Library, whose event for St Andrew's Night involved a large sword. There are no library events that can't be improved by the presence of large swords, I think. I'm taking a Reading Group in two weeks' time and I'm going to try and work one into the evening's discussion. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

British Sci-Fi Awards Nominations

The BSFA has posted its shortlist for its annual awards. Alas I can't admit to having read any of the shortlisted authors, let alone the titles listed, but reading the online reviews for the shortlisted books, it sounds as if they have picked a very strong field.

I'm sure swlrir has a better idea of who's likely to win!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

That was painless!

I am sucessfully a NewBlogger!

Happy New Year to everyone ; there will be a bunch of reviews and new stuff posted fairly soon.

Once again the Bolton GN group fell on a working Saturday, so I missed it again.

I'm currently up to my neck in the Holocaust, The Words Festival, and a mini February Fiction Festival at Standish and Aspull Libraries, and relaxing by playing Morrowind on my new second hand X-Box, and chewing doggedly away at my Xmas-Enlarged to read pile. How are you all doing?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Brave new(ish) world?

As threatened promised, I've switched over to the "new" Blogger.

This is just a short post to see what happens. Blog members: please sign up so I'm not the only contributor!

I've moved the colour scheme across, but I opted for a slightly different layout. I'm not wildly enthusiastic about it, so I'd be thrilled to hear your suggestions.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Somnambulist review

This was my entry in the Gollancz/SFX reviewing Competition which ran recently. It didn't win, but got an honourable mention...

"The Somnambulist" is published in February.

“The Somnambulist” begins with a murder and continues apace as the book’s wry and bitter anonymous narrator introduces our hero: Edward Moon, stage magician, mystic, detective and fading doyen of society, and his friend and partner, The Somnambulist.

This is a Victorian London that is familiar but twisted. Populated by an extraordinary assemblage of grotesque, freakish, memorable characters, it is reminiscent of “Neverwhere” & “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

Despite Moon’s deductive ability and The Somnambulist’s apparent invulnerability they find themselves drawn into a dangerous secret conspiracy that threatens the very fabric and soul of London. Thwarted by an arsonist albino government agent and his fake Chinese henchmen, Moon is aided and baffled in equal measure by a man who claims to be living backwards from the future to the past, while his greatest enemy makes gnomic pronouncements from his prison cell.

The investigation becomes personal as Moon’s housekeeper is killed and his sister is entangled in the wiles of a religious cult that venerates the poet Coleridge.

As events come to a head, and a malefic Doctor prepares to unleash an army of murderous fanatics on the City of London, the Sleeper stirs beneath the capital, and the Prefects : a perfect and deadly blend of Mr. Croup & Mr. Vandemar and the “suits you, sir” tailors from the Fast Show, hunt and kill more and more indiscriminately.

The Somnambulist is trapped in the cult’s underground lair; Moon’s sister is brainwashed and deeply implicated; The Sleeper is awakened but highly unstable; and the streets of the City are awash with blood … How can Edward Moon save the day?

Jonathan Barnes has created a fast-paced and lurid penny ‘orrible which is full of references to period literature both obvious and obscure.

More Moon, soon, please?

Friday, January 12, 2007

New graphic novels at Bolton Central Library

Those graphic novels lonewytch ordered from Forbidden Planet have arrived.

They'll go out on the shelves for the GN Group tomorrow (Saturday Jan 13th, 3.30pm, Bolton Central Library). I've snagged a couple already, having received a hot tip in the staff room:

Origin / by Bill Jemas, Joe Queseda and Paul Jenkins
Which is about the early history of everyone's favourite fast-healing, adamantium-laced mutant.

100 bullets volume 1 : first shot, last call / created by Brian Azzarello
I'm really, really, really glad we've got a few 100 bullets books in. I've wanted to read these for a long time. I'm starting with the first one because I'm a librarian and that's the sort of thing we do.

There are quite literally lots more. You'll see them at the GN Group tomorrow. There isn't an easy way for me to list them here, so you'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New online resources

Today has been a bad day for the day job (still not working...), but it's been great for discovering new reference sources.

If you're interested in medical information, you'll know that PubMed Central is an excellent source. Coverage has always been broad, which is commendable when you consider the scope and location of online databases in general. Especially the free ones. PubMed is US-hosted and free to access.

There is now a UK mirror of the service. UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) went live yesterday according to the FT (paid subscription required for full article).

Use it. Enjoy it. Scare yourself with it by looking up the condition the doctor told you you've got this morning. But most importantly, do all of these things safe in the knowledge that it's good quality information.

The UK Statute Law Database (SLD) is a free, searchable database of most of the UK's standing legislation. This is A Good Thing, and it's been a long time coming. Its predecessor, Statutes in force, has been out of date since its last update in 1991.

Making our laws more accessible and available is a step forward. If only more of our standard reference texts could make the same step!

Bibliothecary is going to be thrilled about the second one!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bromley Cross Book Group: review

Once again, the Bromley Cross Book Group has come through for us, via Mel. This is another of their December reviews:

Philippa Gregory
The other Boleyn girl

Mary Boleyn is seduced by King Henry VIII, but her family want her sister Anne to become Queen and she is forced to help her sister for the advancement of the Boleyn family. She becomes ‘the other Boleyn girl’.

The novel is a wonderful and eye-opening account of the Tudor court. The group felt that it was based on fact and a well written story. It was a strong young woman’s viewpoint with a feminist thread running through it.

The whole group enjoyed the book and would read others in a similar style and based on historical fact.

Once again, thanks BX! And once again, it'll go on Signpost as soon as it's working... Meanwhile, members of the group (and anyone else who likes the book) might want to try some of Philippa Gregory's other Boleyn books.

What do you think?

Update Feb 22 2007: The nice folks at Talis have indeed fixed Signpost. See the review here

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy new year!

It's 2007 now.

Tradition has it that the new year is a time for change. Blogger has been nagging at me to change over to the new version of its own software for a couple of weeks now, so I should probably do it soon. I thought I should issue a notice here first though, and I'll email all of the contributors as well.

Basically, the only difference you'll need to worry about is the fact that you'll be using a different username to log in. The new Blogger uses Google accounts - what with Blogger being owned by Google, it makes a certain amount of sense.

You'll have a Google account if you use Gmail, Google Reader, Google Analytics, a personalised Google homepage or any of the circa six million other Google products. If you don't have one, it's pretty straightforward: you need to provide an email address and you'll use that to log in, rather than a username.

We'll also be able to tag all of our posts with keywords. While this isn't a great leap forward for blogging (most other blogging services have been doing this for yonks), it means we can do away with the clumsy tagging I set up ages ago and usually forget to use... It's also easier for people with admin access to fiddle with the look and feel of the blog and make other template changes and whatnot.

So watch out for the warning email if your name appears in the Contributors box on the right.