Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Wednesday Night Lights: Tor.com

Many of you know who Tor Books is. As the publishers of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Orson Scott Card, Andre Norton, Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, and many more--sometimes it seems like every science fiction or fantasy book is published by Tor--librarians are very familiar with them and their work.

This past Sunday, Tor launched a giant interactive social community at Tor.com. In addition to offering interesting posts and discussions from Tor employees and other experts in the field,* Tor.com has downloadable art, free fiction, and until Sunday, 24 free downloadable books from the Tor catalog.

Not only is this an exciting opportunity to take part in an online community hosted by the biggest science fiction publisher out there (how serendipitous is that?), but you can get some free books!
*In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those experts in the field. I write on all matters short fiction.

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Webcomics in Print?

Hello, I'm Eli. Sophie has kindly asked me to become a contributor to Pop Goes the Library, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity! I think she got the idea when I wouldn't shut up about webcomics at the Midwinter Blog Salon, and I think I got on the topic because I was so excited to see The Trial of Colonel Sweeto at the Dark Horse booth. Sweeto is the work of Nicholas Gurewitch, whose comic the Perry Bible Fellowship (which has nothing to do with Perry, Bibles, or Fellowship) is an irresistable syrupy-sweet base with brilliantly hilarious and frequently offensive splashes of darkness, violence, or obscenity. PBF runs in some altweeklies and has a staggering web archive that covers a wide spectrum of style and content.

This is Dark Horse's first webcomic edition, and when I totally geeked out at the booth, the vendors asked me what other webcomics I might like to see in print (the venerable goats came first to mind), so with the awesome package of this edition, which includes red ribbon bookmark, beautifully bound, with some new content not found in the archives, I'm hoping we see a lot more great webcomics getting this Dark Horse treatment, especially since The Trial of Colonel Sweeto did $300,000 worth of preorders and has already gone to a third printing after only 4 months on the market.

Of course, if you want to start buying webcomics in print to add some cool depth to your graphic novel collection, there are a ton of great webcomics with self-published or small press paperbound stuff out there. A wide swath of webcomics are unabashedly geekly, and one of my absolute favorites (and no exception) is the daily comic space opera Schlock Mercenary, by Howard Tayler, who quit his job as the product manager for Novell Groupwise, and now supports his family of five with revenue from his webcomic. Tayler's art is not the star attraction, although he has come a very, very long way and the style grows on the dedicated reader; it's his storylines that are irresistable: tightly plotted, audacious and gripping, yet plodding as only a daily strip can get away with, but a punchline in every one. 1000 strips in, he relaunched the comic, organizing it into large story arcs optimized for print, with tidy volume endings and just enough exposition at the beginning of the next book. Start with Under New Management.

Another webcomic that's great in print ended a year ago this week. Bruno, by Chris Baldwin, started in 1996 as an offshoot from a college paper, and follows the life of a young woman, one panel at a time, for 10 garfield-sized volumes. ( I'm sure no author wants to have their work described that way, but if you're of a certain range of ages, and you see a paperback book of certain dimensions, that's what it is!) Again, while most people read Bruno online, the author was always aware of how the strips would fit together when printed resulting in some wonderful books that supplement the web archive with bonus material.

Now, treat these links with caution; webcomic archives are addictive, and PBF and Bruno are not for everyone and may not even be worksafe in your community. Then there's the issue of how the heck you can let those webheads know that you've got hard copies of their favorite webcomics in the collection... and if I figure that out, I'll be sure to let you know. Stay tuned!

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Hugo Winners 2007

And here are the winners of this year's Hugo Awards:

  • Best Novel: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [Tor, 2006]
  • Best Novella: “A Billion Eves” by Robert Reed [Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2006]
  • Best Novelette: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Short Story: “Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Related Non-Fiction Book: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips [St. Martin’s Press, 2006]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro [Picturehouse]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who - “Girl in the Fireplace” (2006) Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Euros Lyn [BBC Wales/BBC1]
  • Best Editor, Long Form: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Best Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Locus ed. by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong and Liza Groen Trombi
  • Best Fanzine: Science-Fiction Five-Yearly ed. by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan, and Randy Byers
  • Best Fan Writer: Dave Langford
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

Wish I could have been there. :)

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It's Been a While, Let's Talk Science Fiction

Got any science fiction books in your collection? Got any patrons who like science fiction? Ever heard of the Hugo awards?

From this point on, I'm assuming you've answered yes to the above questions. This time of year always gets me thinking about science fiction (ok, I'm thinking about nearly ever day) and particularly the Hugo Awards. The awards are presented at the World Science Fiction convention (AKA Worldcon) and are voted on by the people are attending the convention as well as the people who attended the previous year's convention.

Every year, the Worldcon is held in a different city. Last year it was in Los Angeles, the year before in Glasgow, the year before that in Boston, and so on. (you can go here if you want to see a list of bids for upcoming locations; they also decide future locations of the Worldcon at the current Worldcon) Follow me so far?

I try to go every year if I can, however this year I am not attending. That's because starting tomorrow (actually, perhaps right now) this year's Worldcon is in Yokohama, Japan. It's the first time the Worldcon has ever been in Japan. It was a little outside my budget for this year; next year is in Denver so I should be there.

In a few days, we will know the winner's of the Hugo awards. While no writer I know would turn down any award, the thing that makes the Hugo special for the recipient is that the Hugo is voted on by fans (sure, some of the voters are professional writers, artists, and editors, but a lot of the people who go to the convention are just fans of the genre) so it represents what the people like.

I'm going to replicate a few parts of this year's nominees. What a nice instant display for your science fiction fans!

Best Novel
  • Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (Tor)
  • His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
  • Glasshouse by Charles Stross (Ace)
  • Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (Tor)
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts (Tor)
Best Related Book
  • About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews by Samuel R Delany (Wesleyan University Press)
  • Heinlein's Children: The Juveniles by Joseph T Major (Advent: Publishing)
  • James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips (St. Martin's)
  • Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio by John Picacio (MonkeyBrain Books)
  • Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches by Mike Resnick and Joe Siclari, eds. (ISFiC Press)
And for non-readers:

Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form
  • Children of Men
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • The Prestige
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • V for Vendetta
Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form
  • "Battlestar Galactica" Downloaded
  • "Doctor Who" Army of Ghosts and Doomsday
  • "Doctor Who" Girl in the Fireplace
  • "Doctor Who" School Reunion
  • "Stargate SG-1" 200
It may be that your science fiction patrons will know the winners before you do (but not before I do) but that's ok. Make your display anyway. Perhaps someone won't mind reading an award-winning novel even if it is science fiction. I mean, a lot of people read award-winning novels that they don't know are science fiction, right?

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