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Victorians (and Americans) vs. Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, and Sea Serpents!

The 19th century has inspired a number of genres of literature. Two modern genres that revisit this time period are Steampunk and Paranormal. Last month we looked at Steampunk here, so now let’s explore the Paranormal.

In a world where supernatural beings are commonplace, sometimes we fight them:

Queen Victoria : demon hunter / A.E. Moorat





Abraham Lincoln : vampire hunter / Seth Grahame-Smith





The adventures of Tom Sawyer and the undead / Mark Twain and Don Borchert




Sometimes, it is much more complicated:

Sense and sensibility and Sea monsters / by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters ; illustrations by Eugene Smith




Pride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance — now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem! / by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith



Android Karenina / by Leo Tolstoy & Ben H. Winters ; illustrations by Eugene Smith ; translated by Constance Garnett




And sometimes, we live and work together:

Soulless : an Alexia Tarabotti novel / Gail Carriger





Changeless : an Alexia Tarabotti novel / Gail Carriger





Blameless : an Alexia Tarabotti novel / Gail Carriger





Heartless : an Alexia Tarabotti novel / Gail Carriger





Timeless : a Alexia Tarabotti novel / Gail Carriger





Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series above, will be coming to the library on June 23rd at 3pm. She will read from the novels above and be available for questions afterwards. No sign-ups required. Please come and meet her.


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Steampunk, or the Victorian History That Never Was!

Steampunk is a very popular genre right now — the mating of fictional science and history. The library has some of the stories:

Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon / by Mark Hodder

Investigators Burton and Swinburne return to Africa to seek the source of the Nile, a magic gem, and a way to fix history



The steampunk trilogy / by Paul DiFilippo





The Buntline special : a weird west tale / Mike Resnick




Some books about the phenomenon:

Steampunk : the art of Victorian futurism / Jay Strongman




The art of steampunk : extraordinary devices and ingenious contraptions from the leading artists of the steampunk movement / Art Donovan



And movies and TV:

Hugo [videorecording] / Paramount Pictures and GK Films

The golden compass [videorecording] / New Line Cinema

Wild wild West. The complete first season [videorecording]

The wild wild West. The second season [videorecording]



There is even the online comic, Girl Genius:

Girl Genius. Vol. 1

A gaslamp fantasy with adventure, romance & mad science. Collects three adventures of Agatha Clay, girl genius and descendent of the Heterodyne line of mad scientists.


And if you wish to explore more, there many ways to do so. You can attend an event with like-minded folks:

Or become a member of Legion Fantastique, where you may become involved with some pretty cool people!

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The Hunger Games Movie PosterThe Hunger Games

So, you may have heard about a little movie called The Hunger Games that’s coming out this weekend in theatres? The hype for this particular movie has been off the charts since it was announced over a year ago. Fans around the world guessed at which actors and actresses would play the main characters. This movie is based on the popular young adult novel of the same name, written by Suzanne Collins. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where North America once existed — the new country is called Panem. The Capitol dictates what all of the inhabitants in the 12 Districts do, and each year, the Capitol holds a televised battle called The Hunger Games, where one girl and one boy (12-18 years-old) from each of the 12 Districts must fight until only one person survives.

Battle RoyaleOf course, the movie wouldn’t exist if the book and the rest of the trilogy were not so successful. What is it about this book that is irresistible? For me, it’s the concept of what our society could potentially become in the future, as well as strong characters, great dialogue, and lots of imagination on the author’s part. Some observant people may notice that the story’s concept is fairly similar to that of Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami. Regardless, the story contains action-packed adventure, likeable characters, and enough plot to keep the reader interested.

This type of book, one that highlights an oppressed future society, often with political leanings and motives can be categorized as Dystopian Fiction, which is a subset of Science Fiction. While it seems like the genre is fairly new, due to the popularity of The Hunger Games, the genre has existed for awhile and includes many novels for children, teens, and adults. Most of the books in the following list are for teens and adults, but it was worth listing The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which was written primarily for children:


19841984, by George Orwell

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Children of Men, by PD James

Fahrenheit 451Ender’s Game (series), by Orson Scott Card

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Neuromancer, by William Gibson


The City of Ember (Books of Ember series), by Jeanne Du Prau

Delirium (trilogy), by Lauren Oliver

Divergent (trilogy), by Veronica Roth

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking series), by Patrick Ness

Matched (trilogy), by Ally Condie

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Uglies (series), by Scott Westerfield

Wither (Chemical Garden series), by Lauren DeStefano

If you would like help finding any of these books or their sequels, please ask a Sunnyvale Librarian. We’re also great at recommending what to read next! Do you have a favorite Dystopian novel?

[Edited to add: On Friday, Amazon published a list of the top 20 cities where people have purchased The Hunger Games. Which city is first on the list? Sunnyvale!]

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John Carter, Oldest New Hero

John Carter movie posterHappy Leap Day!  Speaking of leaping, if you’ve been to the movies recently or watched this year’s Super Bowl ads, you’ve probably seen the trailers featuring a guy in leather-and-loincloth getup, jumping sky high while battling giant multi-armed monsters in the desert.  That would be John Carter, hero of the upcoming Disney film of the same name.

If we learned anything from last week’s Oscars, it’s that the book-turned-movie is alive and well (The Help and Hugo, to name just two).  So it shouldn’t surprise you that John Carter is also born from books.  But it may surprise some to learn that the newest movie hero is actually 100 years old!

A Princess of Mars book cover imageIn 1912 (also a leap year, coincidentally), Edgar Rice Burroughs released his first works of fiction.  The very first was a pulp fiction serial called Under the Moons of Mars, which was later novelized and retitled A Princess of Mars.  In the story, Virginian John Carter is a captain in the recently-defeated Confederate Army who, while on a prospecting trip to the Arizona desert, finds himself transported to Mars.  Owing to the low gravity, he possesses superhuman strength and agility and with his military skill rises among the Martian warrior people that discover him.  Eventually he meets the princess Dejah Thoris and finds himself thrust in the middle of an ages-old conflict between rival Martian clans.  For today’s reader, it may be interesting to see how elements of modern science fiction and adventure stories still take cues from turn-of-the-century literature.  I personally like to think about how the readers of the time might have reacted to some of the fanciful, outlandish ideas that we have come to view as science fact (or fallacy).

A Princess of Mars is the first book in Burroughs’ Barsoom (the name of Mars in the Martian language) series.  Due to the movie release, it’s likely that you’ll soon see many copies for sale online and in bookstores.  But the book is old enough that it is now in the public domain, which means it can be copied and shared freely.  Why buy when you can get it for free (legally)?  If you search in the library catalog or click this link, you will find that we have connected to Project Gutenberg.  PG is a free website that makes public domain works available in as many digital formats as possible, or in other words, totally free eBooks that work on any computer or eReader, anytime.  A Princess of Mars is also included in our e-Discover the Classics collection.  This is a list of nearly 500 of the very best public domain titles, all available for free download.  Sara wrote about the e-Discover the Classics collection in her recent post here.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention Burroughs’ second work from that year.  It was Tarzan of the Apes, who just barely beat “older brother” John Carter to the silver screen by a little more than 90 years.  Supposedly there are plans to make two more books into movies, so perhaps 2012 will be the year Captain Carter makes his first leap to catch up.

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Shark Loves Inheritance

Local sports fans are getting to know new San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns pretty well. The all-star and fast fan favorite tweets prolifically under the Twitter name @burnzie88. Some of the things they’ve learned since he arrived in the Bay Area: he loves snakes, cycling, and… reading!

Inheritance coverYesterday, Burns tweeted about his latest read, Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, the newly-released fourth and final book in the wildly popular series that started with 2003′s Eragon (which was later made into a movie). Burns wrote: “started inheritance just before road trip, finished last night on flight to colorado, wow what a read, whole series is great!” His teammate, forward Ryane Clowe, tweeted a picture from the plane as proof.

If you’d like to take Burns’ advice and check out Inheritance or any of the books in the series (note: the whole series and Book 4 are both called Inheritance, Books 1-3 in order are Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr), you’ll be happy to know that today we added extra e-book copies of all four titles. You’ll find them by visiting our Northern California Digital Library; make sure you sign in with your library card first, then search for ‘inheritance’ so you see all available copies. Naturally, we also have the series in a variety of physical formats at the library.

If you’re into hockey player book recommendations, Burns also mentioned that his next reading targets are Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (available in print, audio, e-book, and e-audio) and No Angel by Jay Dobyns (available in print). Check them out!

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