… and the peasants rejoiced…*

Dancers in redAnyone who has anything to do with professional dancing knows that it requires extraordinary levels of physical fitness, control and dedication to make it as graceful and seemingly effortless as they do.

I’ve loved the ballet ever since my Mum took me to a Southern Ballet production of Stravinsky’s The Firebird as a six year old and pestered her into lessons. It still grabs me in a way that no other live performance does, surely a combination of the setting, music and movement, so I’m thrilled to be going along to the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream later this week.

I know the story well enough of course, it being based on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, but I am not at all familiar with the music by Felix Mendelssohn. According to liner notes for one recording found in the libraries’ Classical Music Library eResource (see below) the music was composed to be incidental music for a performance of the play in 1843.

Find out more about this production via their twitter feed.

More Ballet resources

Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear

* blog title is a bad ’90s TV show reference for which I apologise.

Spec’ Fic’ in Chch

Spec Fic… what‘s that? Spec Fic is short for Speculative Fiction and was first used by R.A Heinlein in 1953 in a Library Journal as an umbrella genre for fiction about “things that have not happened”: science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all the bits in between. Spec fic is alive and well and happening in Christchurch as last weekend’s Spec Fic meeting to celebrate local Sir Julius Vogel awardees testifies.

Cover of The Heir of Night by Helen LoweAbout fifty people gathered in the Fendalton Library boardroom to congratulate four Vogel award finalists, two of whom won in their category. Beaulah Pragg, herself a published author, introduced the session and multi-award winning Helen Lowe who spoke about the importance of the genres and the place of awards. Fantasy, she told us, is probably the oldest literary device for talking about reality, as the myths and folk tales of hundreds of human cultures attest. While writers write for the delight of storytelling and because the stories demand to be told awards can still be tremendously affirming to those who frequently work in some isolation. Moreover, events like this demonstrate the importance of the literary community supporting and celebrating one another.
Read Helen’s keynote on her blog.

The best of Twisty Christmas talesThe first finalist speaker was Shelley Chappell, who was short-listed for both best novella and for best new talent. Shelley has a PhD in Children’s and Young Adults’ Literature from Macquarie University in Sydney but writes for all age groups. Many of her YA titles are re-tellings of fairy stories, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstilkskin. Re-telling fairy tales, often with a twist, writing new ones, and exploring their development has become a fairly popular genre with several notable proponents such as J. R. R. Tolkien, Catherynne M. Valente and Jack Zipes.

Tim Stead has written a trilogy of book and seems well into the next trilogy. The ‘The Seventh Friend‘ was a finalist for Best Novel and have been warmly reviewed on Amazon. He was also a finalist for Best New Talent.

A.J. Fitzwater was the winner of the Best New Talent award, although she said that she’s been at it for five years so being called “new” was an odd thing to wrap her head around. She read us an excerpt from her latest story about to be published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Issue 61 – “Long’s Confandabulous Clockwork Circus and Carnival, and Cats of Many Persuasions” which seems to have a ‘carni-punk’ setting so look out for that one. A. J. also spoke about her experiences at the prestigious Clarion Writers workshop last year where she underwent an intensive six weeks of tutoring and writing with top writers such as Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, Nora Jemisin, and Catherynne Valente.

Spec Fic displayOur final winner was Rebecca Fisher who won the prize for Best Fan Writing. Fan writing isn’t the same as fan fiction, but rather is awarded for blogging, interviewing, reviewing and other forms of writing about speculative fiction. She has a popular blog They’re All Fictional, guest blogs at various sites and is a top reviewer on Amazon so if you’re into the genres she’s one to follow.

Connecting with New Zealand genre authors and their work isn’t always easy, so events like this are really important. If you want to find out more about these great authors follow the links above and keep an eye on the Sir Julius Vogel Awards and the SFFANZ (for science fiction and fantasy) or other NZ book sites.

The carnival of November fantasy

It’s fantasy newsletter time again and this time as well as the new titles there is a focus on carnivals and circuses.

Cover of Shifting Shadows Cover of The Beautiful Ashes Cover of The Hawley Book of the Dead Cover of Hang Wire Cover of The Shifting Price of Prey Cover of Carnival of Souls

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Fantasy – Kings and killers

Here are some picks from our Fantasy newsletter for October 2014. You can read it online or subscribe to get it delivered direct to your inbox.

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews Fool's Assasin by Robin Hobb  City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep Sleeping late on judgement day by Tad Williams The Death of King Arthur by Peter Ackroyd

Science fiction October – how to read what

This month’s Science Fiction newsletter includes new titles from John Scalzi, Harry Turtledove and Ben Bova, among others. The focus topic, though, is on essays, which may sound a little boring, until you check out the authors included. These are some top authors, not just of science fiction, but of fiction in general and I’m dying to read what they think about writing, fiction and other things (Bradbury on Dandelion Tea? Eco on Atlantis? Atwood on rabbits with superpowers?).

Cover of In other worlds Cover of Bradbury Speaks Cover of The wave in the mind Cover of the book of legendary lands over of Reading Like A Writer (eBook) Cover of What makes this book so great

Read the entire newsletter online to see the new titles and subscribe to get it delivered to your inbox every other month. If you’re after new science fiction titles you might also like to subscribe to the All New fiction newsletter which lists all the new titles we received over the previous month.

September Fantasy

This month’s fantasy fiction newsletter includes new titles from Lev Grossman and Terry Goodkind  plus a selection of titles for those who enjoy a bit of blood and gore.

Cover of The House of War and Witness Cover of Severed Souls Cover of The Magician's land Cover of The Shadow Throne Cover of The Book of Life Cover of The Crimson Campaign
read the newsletter online to see all the titles.

Read the latest editions of any of our newsletters or subscribe to get them delivered direct to your inbox by going to our newsletters page.

August Fantasy Newsletter

Here’s a selection of covers from our August Fantasy newsletter.

Cover of Joe Abercrombie's Half a King Cover of Sarah Beth Durst's The Lost  Cover of Charlie Fletcher's The Oversight Cover of Erika Johansen's The Queen of the Tearling Cover of Simon R. Green's Property of a Lady Faire Cover of The Given by Vicki Pettersson


As well as short stories this month’s newsletter features collections of short stories by the likes of Terry Pratchett, Patricia McKillip, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. You can read the whole newsletter one our website or subscribe and it will get delivered to your inbox every month.

Science fiction for August

Here’s a selection of the titles from our August science fiction newsletter. All of them have four+ stars in our catalogue so take your pick.

Cover of The Dark between the stars by Kevin J. Anderson Cover of Rescue mode by Ben Bova Cover of Cibola burn by James S.A. Corey Cover of Memory of water by Emma Itaranta Cover of Artemis Awakening by Jane M. Lindskold Cover of The forever watch by David Ramirez

You can read the whole thing online and subscribe if you want to get it emailed to you every other month.

Fantasy newsletter June 2014

Here are a selection of covers from our June 2014 fantasy newsletter. You can subscribe to our newsletters to receive them direct to your email address every month. As well as some new titles each fantasy newsletter has a theme – this month its librarians.

Cover of Night Broken Cover of Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear Cover of Queen of the dark things Cover of The Watchtower Cover of Libriomancer Cover of Black Halo


Science Fiction June 2014

More sci-fi goodness from our June science fiction newsletter.

Cover of Darl Eden Cover of The Burning Dark Cover of The Bees  Cover of Halo: Mortla Dictata Cover of The AdjacentCover of Limit Cover of Seeker Cover of Great North Road Cover of Osama

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