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.