Ages 18+.

Jack Williamson, giant in the Science Fiction world, has died

Jack WilliamsonJack Williamson

In 1915, seven year old Jack Williamson and his family traveled by covered wagon from Arizona to New Mexico. Thirteen years later his short fiction, The Metal Man, was published in Amazing Stories magazine and a monster science fiction writing career was launched.

Best known for his The Humanoids, Williamson won a Hugo and a Nebula for his novella The Ultimate Earth, 2001.

Mr. Williamson, whose last novel was The Stonehenge Gate, 2005, died November 10, 2006, at age 98.

2006 National Book Award winners

2006 National Book Award winners2006 National Book Award winners

The National Book Foundation announced the winners of this years National Book Awards on Wednesday, November 15, 2006.

They are as follows:

Young People’s Literature

M.T. Anderson for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party, published by Candlewick Press

Poetry

Nathaniel Mackey for Splay Anthem, published by New Directions

Nonfiction

Timothy Egan for The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, published by Houghton Mifflin

Fiction

Richard Powers for The Echo Maker, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Google Visits the Library

What's new with Google? What are their plans for the Ann Arbor area? Find out on Thursday, November 30 when Grady Burnett, head of Online Sales and Operations for Google's Ann Arbor office, discusses Google's plans for growth and their decision to open this local office. What will this mean for Ann Arbor? For Google? Join us from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the Downtown Library and find out!

November Books to Films

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, a bio-pic of the celebrated photographer, is based loosely on Patricia Bosworth's Diane Arbus: a biography. There is plenty of Oscar talk for Nicole Kidman who plays Arbus.

A Good Year with Russell Crowe, Albert Finney and the young beautiful Aussie Abbie Cornish is based on Peter Mayle's novel about a London financial barracuda who inherits a Provençal chateau and vineyard.

Remake of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale. Published in 1953, it was his very first James Bond novel. This 2006 film version features a brand new 007.

A young and edgy cast with Greg Kinnear, Avril Lavigne and Ethan Hawke, and directed by Richard Linklater will delight you in an adaptation of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, a hard hit on the fast-food industry.

Trust and Betrayal

Samurai XSamurai X

The Meiji Restoration (1866-1869) marked the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan. The two part OVA Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal is a story set during that tumultuous era. In the shadows of Kyoto, Himura Kenshin works for the Choshu revolutionaries as their best assassin. But a chance meeting with a mysterious young woman named Tomoe leads him to reconsider his choices.

Samurai X is gorgeously animated and features some of Japan’s best voice actors, including Mayo Suzukaze and Tomokazu Seki. It’s based on events from volumes 19, 20, and 21 of the manga Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki, but unlike the manga, it’s aimed at adults rather than teens.

If you’re interested in reading more about this historical era, the library also has some great nonfiction books about it, such as Inventing Japan, 1853-1964, The Making of Modern Japan, and The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori.

Guys and Teens - Short Stories

If you're a Teen you may enjoy these books of short stories. If you have already been a Teen, you are sure to enjoy them. How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen, has great read-aloud possibilities for family reunions, or fireplace sit-arounds. If you like to sample multiple authors, try Tomorrowland for glimpses of the future, or Every Man For Himself for slices of contemporary lives.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #41

Giraffe is the debut novel by Economist correspondent J.M.Ledgard that recounts the extermination of the world's largest captive herd of giraffes (49 of them) in a Czechoslovakian zoo in 1975.

The story spans the giraffes' capture in Africa to their deaths behind the Iron Curtain. We see them mainly through the eyes of three individuals whose lives were touched - a haemodynamicist (who studied blood flow in vertical creatures); a factory girl who visited them daily; and the sharpshooter ordered to bring them down one by one.

Ledgard unearthed the truth behind this little-known historic event while researching for the novel. The result is a "magnificent meditation on the quiet ways in which ordinary people become complicit in the crimes committed in their midst; … (and) a fairy tale about the power of other living creatures to enchant us into wakefulness”.

For wildlife enthusiasts, try also The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy. It’s a journey into the minds of African elephants as they struggle to survive years of drought and the deadly ivory trade.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (11/12/06)

Stephen King has written his first love story. The King of Scarey Stories said he was really afraid of his fans' reactions to his latest book. He need not have worried. His bittersweet romance entered the List at #1.

At #1 is Liseys' Story by Stephen King: the widow of a famous novelist who suffered from horrifying memories grapples with grief on her way to a new life. Is this a case of autobiographical projection?

At #6 is Hundred-Dollar Baby by Robert B. Parker: in the latest Spenser mystery the beautiful teenage runaway that our modern knight errant rescued twice (Ceremony and Taming a Sea-Horse) years ago asks for his help once again.

At #10 is First Impressions by Nora Roberts: this is a reprint of a 1984 romance. But everything this prolific author writes is publishing gold.

At #13 is Road of the Patriarch by R.A. Salvatore: this is Book 3 of the Sellswords fantasy series, and another winner for this popular author.

Let Them Eat History

It’s easy to admire Kirsten Dunst’s acting in Marie Antoinette – but it’s also admirable that plenty of educational asides on the history of the French and American revolutions found their way into Sofia Coppola’s new film. Check out reviews at metacritic, including this one from The Christian Science Monitor: “Freighted by its contentious reception at Cannes, writer-director Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" is destined to become this year's love-it-or-hate-it movie. Is it OK to say I merely liked it a lot?” The film continues this week at Quality 16 theater on Jackson Road. At the library we have loads of good books and films about the last queen of France, including the popular new book Abundance:A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund.

Book lover fights crime!

Read or DieRead or Die

The protagonist of Read or Die isn’t exactly your classic secret agent. Yomiko Readman is a mild-mannered substitute teacher who has a habit of spending every last cent she earns on books. But, as a monster quickly discovers when it tries to steal one of her books (which she hasn’t even finished reading—the horror!), she can put up a pretty good fight with her special skill for using sheets of paper as weapons.

Yomiko’s talent brings her to the attention of the British Library Special Engineering Force, which is investigating a rash of thefts involving rare books. Can Yomiko and her colleagues uncover the mastermind behind the thefts before their sinister plan comes to fruition?

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