The Guardian has recently published an article about why American publishers sometimes change the titles of books. In fact they don’t only change titles, they will also change names, places and spelling. The writer from The Guardian doesn’t really have an answer to why this happens, but happen it does and can be confusing for library users – and librarians!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a good example. It was originally published as Cross Stitch. Then there is The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman which became The Golden Compass, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone became Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Looking at these titles, it is hard to understand why they were changed. It is a tricky business though, as often it can look like your favourite author has published a new book only to be met with disappointment when the story starts to feel very familiar!
When a new title is given to a book, our wonderful cataloguers always add an entry to the catalogue record that lets you know that the book has two titles.
Notes: Also published as: Cross stitch. London : Rowan, 1992.
Notes: Originally published as: Northern lights. London : Scholastic, 1995.
And whatever title you type in will take you to the correct book.
New Zealand Chinese Language Week Celebrations at Shirley and Hornby Libraries
Coincidentally, Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on 24 September and Confucius’ Birthday on 28 September fall during this year’s New Zealand Chinese Language Week. Christchurch City Libraries is collaborating with the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury to celebrate the two events.
Our activities include paper cutting, calligraphy, plate painting, Chinese games, Chinese folk dancing, and learning basic Chinese greeting and numbers. Free, no bookings required. Recommended for all ages. Caregiver required.
Come and celebrate Chinese Language Week with us at Hornby Library. Lead teacher, Fang Tian from the Confucius Institute will run a Chinese calligraphy taster and Cherry Blossom painting session. Suitable for all ages. FREE, no bookings required. Wednesday 26 September, 3.30pm to 4.30pm. Find out more.
Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival中秋节
Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is on the 15th day of the 8th month of a lunar calendar year when the moon is believed to the biggest and fullest. Chinese people believe that a full moon is a symbol of reunion, harmony and happiness so Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for family reunion. Mooncakes are the main characteristic food for this occasion. Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was derived from the ancient rite of offering sacrifices to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. Folklore about the origin of the festival is based on the ancient legend of Chang’e and her fateful ascent to the heavens after having swallowed an elixir pill.
Confucius, also known as Kong Qiu, is a great Chinese scholar, teacher and social philosopher. Confucius is believed to be born on 28 September, 551BC. He was living in a period regarded as a time of great moral decline. Working with his disciples, Confucius edited and wrote the classics and compiled Four Books and Five Classics 四书五经 to find solutions. In his life time, Confucius traveled throughout eastern China to persuade the official classes and rulers of Chinese states with the great moral teachings of the sages of the past. Although Confucius did not succeed in reviving the classics, his teachings formed as a dominant Chinese ideology, known as Confucianism, which values the concepts of benevolence仁, ritual仪, propriety礼. His teachings have had a profoundly influence on Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese thoughts and life for 2500 years.
Each year, Confucius’ birthday celebration ceremonies are held on the island of Qufu (Shangdong Province, Mainland China), the birthplace of Confucius. Outside Mainland China, Confucius’ birthday is also celebrated in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Japan. In Taiwan, Confucius’ birthday is set as a public holiday for teachers, known as Teachers’ Day, to memorise the first great teacher in the Chinese history.
American science fiction writer Ted Chiang has a very particular way of speaking. He pauses a lot to gather his thoughts, and the intonation, or melody, of his voice doesn’t vary much. This can have the effect of making it feel that he is taking a very long time to get to the point. Fortunately, Arrival is the third WORD Christchurch session of his that I’m attending so I’ve become somewhat accustomed to it. Because once you get past the quality of his voice, he actually does have some interesting things to say.
It also helps that Arrival (the only sci-fi movie I’ve every watched with a middle-aged female linguist as its hero – feel free to recommend others if you know of any) is a recent favourite of mine, and that I’m part way through reading The story of your life, the novella on which the movie is based.
Local sci-fi and fantasy author, Karen Healey happily lets Chiang talk about the things that interest him about the genre he writes in. You get the impression from Ted Chiang that he spends a lot of time thinking generally, and about science fiction especially, so his thoughts, when he does finally express them are fully-formed. His lines are not throwaway ones. He’s considered these things from a variety of angles.
For instance, he rejects the notion that his writing “transcends genre”, as, in his opinion, this is the kind of thing that people who don’t usually like science fiction say – the implication being that the rest of the genre isn’t very good, and that this thing that they somehow like is some kind of aberration.
Hollywood sci-fi vs literary sci-fi
I especially enjoy hearing about his views on the nature of science fiction storytelling in movies versus in fiction because, as a fan of sci-fi cinema, I recognise that his observations have the unerring ring of truth to them and I may never watch an MCU movie in the same way again.
In Hollywood sci-fi, he says, there’s very often a good vs. evil scenario in which the world is in a good/peaceful/stable state then something evil/monstrous/destructive comes along and there is a struggle to overcome this force of evil and return the world to a state of goodness, peace, and harmony. It’s a very conservative formula in that it’s looking to restore the status quo. This immediately makes me think of Make America Great Again (MAGA) and just how powerful narratives that resonate with people can be. Human beings love stories and we like to use the same patterns of story over and over again.
The kind of science fiction that Chiang is interested in is entirely different. In these kinds of stories the world is changed by some kind of disruption or discovery and the change is irrevocable. There is no going back to the way things were before. At the end of the story the world is a very different place from what it was at the beginning, and more than that it’s not necessarily a better place, just a different one. This is a much more progressive storyline and one that you don’t get much in Hollywood movies, if for no other reason than that they are not easy to make a sequel to.
For instance, all the Jurassic Park franchise (currently on its 5th film – a 6th is planned) needs for there to be another dinosaurs-cause-chaos story is for some scientists to make the same errors of judgement the first lot did and the “oh no, who could have foreseen this dinosaur-related catastrophe happening again?” scenario can and will happen again.
Compare this with Chiang’s favourite science fiction film, The Matrix. In many ways it looks like a battle between good vs. evil story but it’s not. The world is a radically different place at the end of the movie. “Neo’s monologue at the very end of the film,” says Chiang “has really stuck with me”. And just in case we didn’t believe him, he quotes it, word for word:
I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.
To Chiang this quote perfectly captures what it is to be a radical or a revolutionary. It is not the status quo and it is not comforting, which good vs. evil stories often are. Ted Chiang is not interested in writing “comforting” fiction.
Humanity, curiosity and evidence
What he is interested in is what it means to be human and for him a sense of curiosity, which Healey points out is often present in his characters, is essential.
To be fully human is to be actively engaged with the world around us…
Trying to learn more about the universe is a really noble pursuit and “profoundly meaningful”. And though a lot of his stories have a theoretical question or “though experiment” at their core he feels that science fiction, by tying these ideas to a character with an emotional storyline, can make them more accessible to people.
Philosophy doesn’t have to be so radically removed from our lived experience. I think it’s interesting because it does apply to our lived experience.
Chiang is an Atheist but has an interest in religion. In one of his stories he imagines a world in which there is irrefutable evidence of the existence of God and explores whether that would make it easier or harder to have faith. In some ways, he thinks it would be harder.
In response to a question from Healey about how you approach people from the past as a topic for science fiction, Chiang is magnanimous – people in the past had a different way of viewing the world. Given the observations they had at the time, their interpretations often make sense. Subsequent observations can change this view, of course. They were engaged in the same general practise as modern scientists are engaged in.
It was perhaps this train of conversation that prompted the first of the audience questions, as a very forthright arm shot up a couple of rows in front of me, and an older gentleman asked what Chiang’s thoughts were on the question of “settled science”, a phrase that he felt was being used to shut down debate in such areas as Climate Change (a topic, it should be noted, on which the vast majority of the scientific community is in agreement).
Chiang, as is his habit, takes a while to get to the point of his answer but to summarise it is basically this: Science is practised by human beings who have biases, but scientists are far more aware of their biases than other people (in particular, politicians, who are the worst at recognising their own vested interests). Science fiction in general aligns with scientists. And science by its nature doesn’t really get to an end point.
This is so successfully diplomatic a response that the questioner, judging by the nodding of his head, felt he was being agreed with. Sir, you were not being agreed with. You were being disagreed with in a slow, patient manner.
The only other audience question was, shockingly, about science fiction and picked up on Chiang’s earlier discussion of The Matrix, which the audience member wondering what he made of the sequels. Like most of us, he found them disappointing calling them “the prime example of the harmful effects” of Hollywood’s demand for sequels, when “commerce runs counter to artistic goals”.
Which led nicely into a discussion of how the film Arrival got made.
The movie’s genesis was rather different route than what’s usual, as the screenwriter Eric Heisserer had read Chiang’s story and wanted to adapt it, but then had to find someone to produce it. Chiang is at pains to point out that Heisserer deserves all the credit for making The Story of your life work as a movie, as Chiang himself considered it “unfilmable” due to its very “internal” nature. And Chiang himself offered a few comments on the screenplay but mostly stayed out of it.
The movie-making business is so, so weird and it’s not something I want to be closely involved in.
Diversity in science fiction
Chiang is happy about the shift in science fiction that has seen increasing diversity in its authors and writing, though this hasn’t been without its conflicts, Chiang describing sci-fi’s “own version of the Alt-Right” laying seige to the Hugo Awards for a number of years. These efforts, in his opinion, have ultimately proved unsuccessful. N. K. Jemisin, a queer, African-American woman winning the Hugo for best novel for an unprecedented three years running.
Chiang also points out that the popularity of The three body problem by Cixin Liu, a work translated into English from Chinese, is another example of a growning openness in science fiction.
I think it’s great because for a long time science fiction, despite it being very forward looking – in practice it’s been very conservative.
Not to mention the tropes. So. Many. Tropes. And conventions and little in-jokes. Science fiction, Chiang seems to be saying, in some quarters has become unchallenging and… comfortable.
I very much want [science fiction] to be filled with surprising reading experiences. I think science fiction should be about questioning your assumptions… It should make you wonder about things you took for granted, things you assumed to be true but actually are just a societal convention.
The more different science fiction writers there are, he says, the more likely it is that you get that experience.
And there he goes again, advocating against the status quo. Ted Chiang: the slow-spoken, thoughtful revolutionary.
The best part about spring is the end of winter and the days getting longer and warmer. It’s also a time to look after your health, and Christchurch City Libraries has some great health eResources for you to get information on everything from the common cold to yoga. Start with Consumer Health Complete and Health & Wellness Resource Center.
Some things to research may include:
The common cold
These always lurk around into spring – discover what scientists have found so far in their quest for a cure.
Thinking about joining the Paleo gang or doing the plant-based vegan thing? Explore some scientific facts first.
Flowers and grasses spring into life and release pollen, which won’t fill you with joy if you suffer from hay fever. Find out the latest information and remedies to help with your allergies.
If you’re starting up your exercise regime again after a winter break, be sure not to injure yourself – get some tips on getting fit.
When I was fourteen at my co-ed high school I was forced by limited subject choices to do Domestic Science (that’s what the girls got, only boys did Geography). I was miserable in Domestic Science, and lippy with it too. Finally I got thrown out of class. By the next day I became notorious as the only girl in the school permitted to study Geography. And that was one of my very early life-defining moments. Because maps have shaped my life.
And map books themselves have changed in ways I could not have foreseen all those years ago. Cartography has come a long way from colouring-in maps of the Natural Regions of the world.
For example: Plotted – A Literary Atlas by Andrew deGraff (his official title is Pop Cartographer, how cool is that?) provides us with beautiful maps, plans and landscapes for nineteen great books. (At last you can see what the literary insides of Jonah’s whale might have looked like!). I could kick myself that I never had this idea.
Other recently published map/site books include Unfathomable City (an Arty New Orleans Atlas) and the perfectly charming Spiritual Places by travel writer Sarah Baxter.
Move on to The Art of Map Illustration – in which four contemporary artists (called Visual Storytellers – another great job description that I regret I have missed) explain how they include maps in their art.
There’s also the beautiful children’s book City Atlas with a search-and-find game on every page and the weirdly compelling Atlas of Lost Cities which will make you want to travel to places that no longer exist.
And right here in a local Christchurch mall I spotted a novel I’d not heard of before: The Consolation of Maps. What a wonderful title. The library hadn’t purchased it, but I used the online form to Request an Item for our Collection and we now have five copies. It’s a wonderful story about the love of antique maps and the contrasts between life in Japan and the States. Okay, so the cover does make you feel that the only consolation one might gain from maps would be if a ton of them dropped on your head and put you out of your misery, but aside from that, it is a worthwhile read.
Back to my fourteen year old self: Geography is the reason I can talk at some boring length about Magnetic Declination. Why I have a good grasp of Adiabatic Lapse Rates and Great Circles. Why every home I have ever lived in has a globe of the world, several atlases and a box full of topographic maps. It is also responsible for my having only ever dated bearded men and why I always make good friends with ladies who bake delicious cupcakes!
The map of my life seemed to start from that point where I was thrown out of class. What a blessing that turned out to be!
For Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori we’ve been suggesting ways to help improve your te reo Māori skills.
Learning kupu (words) and wetereo (grammar) are obviously quite important if you’re trying to strengthen your reo. But phrases (idioms or colloquial sayings) can also be really helpful and add a bit of flourish to your conversations.
Try out some of the these:
Meaning: Flash, stylie, stylish, smart, with-it, outstanding, remarkable, inspired, creative, primo
– An idiom to express appreciation of attractiveness of something that has been created.
Damien: Tapatapahi ana! Those are mean sunglasses Kat, where did you get them?
kei runga noa atu [koe]
Meaning: [You’re] top-notch! [You’re] great! [You’re] too much! [You’re] outstanding! [You’re] on to it! [You’re] the bomb!
– An idiom praising someone for his/her outstanding work.
Denise: Man, I just cleaned up the worst mess in the public toilet!
Maatakiwi: auē, kei runga noa atu koe e hine! Far out that’s gross, but you’re really on to it Denise, awesome work!
me rawa ake
Meaning: Very soon, next minute
Rochelle: Left my scooter outside the Dairy, mea rawa ake, someone stole it!
Tania: Paia! Tūranga, the new central library opens on Friday 12th October, can’t wait!
Meaning: (Interjection) yes, yes indeed, just so! Yes it is! Yeah, agreed
– a supportive response to a statement or question.
Damien: Did you see the game on Saturday, man Joe Moody was on fire!
Kate: Āna! He was spectacular.
he raru kei te haere
Meaning: trouble is on the horizon / trouble is brewing
– an expression indicating a problem is about to occur.
Alan: Oh heck, he raru kei te haere, look at Kim’s face.
Fiona: True! Might be a good time to go for a coffee.
me noa ake au!
Meaning: Just saying / my suggestion
Julia: Bronwyn makes the best sausage rolls ever, me noa ake au!
Find out more
Throughout Te Wiki o te Reo Māori we’ll be blogging about ways you can help strengthen the reo.
I’m still recovering, weeks later, from the season 2, final episode, final scene of The Handmaid’s Tale. It had both my husband and I screaming “NO!” at the television.
Not usually a great fan of movies or television made from great books, this depiction of The Handmaid’s Tale was produced with the author of the book being consulted and directing the story arcs and character development and it is one of the best adaptations of a book I’ve watched.
I read this stunning book by one of my all time favourite authors, Margaret Atwood, years ago. It set me on a path to dystopian books with women as the protagonists. Women throughout history have borne the brunt of societal ignorance, discrimination and violence, either directly or indirectly. In dystopian fiction, there are several great books where women fight against the system, lead the change that is needed to free themselves and those around them or uncover the truths behind a regime that is hell bent on holding onto power.
I wrote about Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed in an earlier blog. It’s a great example of putting women’s stories front and centre. It’s interesting when I put this list together, how much of the control and evil perpetrated on the heroes in these books is around contraception and rights over their own bodies. Here’s a quick list of others well worth checking out:
When she woke by Hillary Jordan: A fundamentalist right wing agenda is spreading through America, forcing those who commit crimes to be ‘Chromed’ their skin changing colour to fit a particular crime. Hannah finds her skin turned red to punish her for an abortion she had after an affair with a high ranking official. How she finds her way in the world and seeks refuge is at the core of this story.
The Power by Naomi Alderman: What if women suddenly became the stronger more deadly sex, able to inflict pain and even death by just a touch and there was a sudden shift in power? How does this change both society and the women and men in it?
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch: In the near future, the earth has become a radioactive battleground and Humans live above the earth on a platform called the CIEL. The character Joan, is reminiscent of Joan of Arc and when she is turned into a martyr by the forces waging war – there are astonishing consequences.
Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall: This is a great story about a woman trying to escape a totalitarian state that enforces contraception and other restrictions on women. Sister has heard of a mythical commune of women who have fled and sets out to join them.
Wool by Hugh Howey: Another devastated world, and this time the few remaining people alive are in many leveled underground silos. Jules is one of the young women living in a silo, it’s all she’s ever known. But her curiosity leads her to discover the truth may be a lot different than what she has been told.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas: In a small Oregon town, several women are coping with the fallout of strict government rules around contraception, abortion and believing ‘every life is sacred’. They find themselves thrust together in a modern day witch hunt and a struggle to survive.
I found it interesting how many of these books are American and how many of the new ones seem to be commenting on the present government policies and alluding to the rise of the right wing agenda around women’s rights and the states’ intervention into their lives.
I seem to come back to this topic in my fiction reading time and again. It may seem a little depressing, but the women are strong, determined and more than often triumph and this is why I like the genre.
Like most kids my son enjoys stories before bedtime (which is just as well because his mum is a librarian and he was going to be getting them regardless).
Like a lot of Kiwi parents I do my best to add some te reo Māori into the mix where I can, but my own Māori language knowledge is a bit patchy in places – I’m a work in progress. So how to expose my 4 year old to some te reo, but also read a story so we’ll both understand it and enjoy the experience?
I’ve found that reading te reo Māori versions of books we already know really well in English has been a fun way to do it. It helps if it’s a book that you’ve read so many times, you’ve practically got it memorised. That way you can “read” the English language version (out loud from memory), and then read the te reo version from the page.
Our latest success with this method has been with Stephanie Blake’s Poo Bum aka Paraweta, which has just come out in te reo.
I let my tamaiti hold the original version and turn the pages of that one, while I hold the Māori language version, and he yells out “Paraweta!” at the appropriate points in the story.
Here are some other te reo Māori versions of children’s classics we’ve enjoyed that you might like to try:
If you’re a te reo beginner then start with simple stories like The very hungry caterpillar, Where’s Spot or even Kei te pehea koe? / How do you feel? (which is in both English and Māori and is really easy to follow).
Or try stories in English that incorporate some te reo Māori words like The kuia and the spider (because it’s never to early to learn words like “hōha“), or Row, kiwi, row your boat, which you can sing together and includes simple Māori greetings (and a full te reo version for more confident speakers/singers).
Even if I trip up on a word here and there I’ve found that as long as I’m doing the silly voices and engaging with the story, my son is pretty happy to have a te reo Māori story at bedtime, in fact… Paraweta is his new favourite.
Find out more
Throughout Te Wiki o te Reo Māori we’ll be blogging about ways you can help strengthen the reo.
But what about if you’ve not got the time right now to learn a new language? What about if you’re so busy with work and whānau and friends that the idea of having to learn new words and new sentence structures is just way too hard. Well guess what, e hoa mā – it doesn’t have to be scary. You and your whānau can start on your reo journey from within the comfort of your own whare.
Everyday items around the house
What are some household objects you use all the time? What sorts of clothing and food items do you always have in the wardrobe or fridge? Find out the te reo Māori words for these items, and use them every day:
You can use te reo Māori to give instructions to your tamariki and other whānau members. Do you feel a bit self-conscious, or think they mightn’t understand you? Guess what? You don’t need to worry about this anymore – there are lots of ways of giving instructions that you might already know, or that you can use with gestures to make sure that people can understand what you’re saying:
Whakarongo mai (Listen to me) – touch your ear
Haere mai (Come here) – beckon
Kia kaha (Be strong)
Scotty Morrison’s The Raupō Phrasebook of Modern Māori has a great chapter on phrases and questions that you can use around the home, as well as lots of other useful phrases you can use at work, school, or play when you start feeling more confident.
Having some easy Māori language books at home is a great way to pick up some basic Māori words without even trying. If you’ve got tamariki – children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or even little next-door neighbours – get them together for a reading session. With so many children’s books available in te reo, you’ll be learning new words before you know it.
Have a look for Māori translations of old favourites, like Te Pāmu o Koro Meketānara (Old MacDonald had a Farm), or new stories like the Bud.e Pānui books for people just starting to read in Māori. And if you don’t quite feel confident enough to jump straight into full Māori books just yet, you can always try picture books with singalong CDs so you don’t need to worry if you don’t say the word absolutely right.
Tamariki can also help you to learn some Māori by sharing the songs they learn at school.
Mā is white, Whero is red – learn the Māori names for colours
Mahunga, pakihiwi – have fun playing heads, shoulders, knees and toes
Are you worried there are too many new words for you to actually remember any of them? Don’t worry – the folks at the Māori Language Commission have your back, and want to support you this Māori Language Week. Check out their collection of useful information and phrases, and find out more about Māori language and culture. They’ve even created some special resources for this year, so why not have a look at them, and challenge yourself to buy a coffee or a ticket for your ride to work, or find out what the wifi password is at your local cafe.
So take the plunge this Māori Language Week – kia kaha te reo – and include some Māori kupu into your conversations with these everyday words. Even by starting off with just a few words a day, you’ll start to build up a kete of Māori kupu to use in everyday conversations, and you’ll become more confident to use those words outside the whare. Over time, there will be more people using more te reo in all areas of daily life, and that is what we need for a strengthened, healthy, Māori language.
Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria – My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.
Find out more
Throughout Te Wiki o te Reo Māori we’ll be blogging about ways you can help strengthen the reo.