TinkerHub Webcast - Backyard Brains

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TinkerHub Webcast: Backyard Brains
TinkerHub is a webcast collaboration between Ann Arbor District Library and All Hands Active, Ann Arbor’s Makerspace. Recorded in Downtown Ann Arbor, TinkerHub webcasts connect learning, technology, and the Ann Arbor community.

In this episode of TinkerHub, Josh and Terence talk to Tim Marzullo about his company Backyard Brains. Co-founded here in Ann Arbor, Backyard Brains helps make tangible how electricity helps control the body, all using inventions that can then be carried around in their pockets! Tune in as Josh watches the messages that he sends to make his muscles twitch.

Links mentioned in the episode:

Library resources mentioned:

Past AADL-All Hands Active Events

2013 Hugo Award Nominees Announced

Nominees for the 2013 Hugo Awards, the most prestigious prize in science fiction, were announced Saturday afternoon via livestream. The announcement was also made simultaneously at four major science fiction conventions across the country.

The Hugos have been awarded since 1953, and are given to both written and dramatic works in over a dozen categories. Well-known previous winners include Frank Herbert's Dune, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and the Pixar film Wall-E. Check out all the great the nominated works in the AADL collection before this year's winners are announced on September 1st!

Nominees for best novel:

2312, Kim Stanley Robinson
Blackout, Mira Grant
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi
Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed

Nominees for best film:

The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon
The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson
The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross
Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson

Episodes of Doctor Who, Fringe, and Game of Thrones were also nominated for awards in short-form dramatic presentation.

Click over to the Hugo Awards official site for a complete list of nominees, including graphic novels, short fiction, and fan authors and artists.

Voyage to Kazohinia


Finally seeing a wider publication, Voyage to Kazohinia by Sandor Szathmari, should be a highly revered classic but has never received its well-deserved due (at least in the English language) until now. It was originally published in Hungary in 1941, then in Esperanto in 1958, and had a very small, limited release in an English translation in the 1970s. But New Europe Books has given it a 4th life and a wider distribution, which I hope brings it more readers. Often compared to Gulliver’s Travels meets Brave New World with a touch of 1984 to boot, Voyage is the story of one, Gulliver, stranded on an island populated by two very different societies. The one he initially finds himself amongst are the Hins who, on the outset, seem to live in a utopia: no politics, no war, no starvation, and no disease. They enjoy a high standard of living for all, and no need for money since production is based on need. But there is a flip side: no art, no casual conversations (they only talk about rational needs), no sense of history (everything is about the here and now), no love, and no individuality (everyone wears the same style of dress for instance). It becomes unbearable as lack of conversation and loneliness take hold, so Gulliver decides to live with the Behins, who he has heard have feelings, in their walled off community. The Hins refer to them as “madmen” and he will soon discover why. This is satirical writing at its best. It will make you think about all the odd societal conventions as well as the political institutions that civilization hath wrought.

#1 Amazon Teen Bestseller: Angelfall

Currently the bestselling teen book on Amazon is Angelfall(Penryn and the End of Days, Book 1, the debut novel of Susan Ee. Romantic and dystopic, this novel has spent 97 days so far on Amazon's list of the top 100 teen books. It was written for readers about age 14 and up.

The novel opens shortly after angels of the apocolypse descended to destroy the world, seeking revenge against humans for killing the archangel Gabriel. When warrior angels grab a little girl, the child's 17-year-old sister, Penryn, makes a deal with Raffe, a handsome injured angel, and they set out through Northern California toward San Francisco, the angels' stronghold.

According to Amazon, the author "used to be a lawyer but loves being a writer because it allows her souped up imagination to bust out and go feral."

Post-Nuclear-War Graphic Novels

In popular fiction, the atom bomb destroys not only physical matter, but also society and even reality as we know it. Nuclear destruction is the modern day equivalent of the biblical flood that wipes out the world and its entrenched order. Unfortunately (according to the imaginations of most writers) this tends to lead to an even more brutal world instead of giving our children a clean slate and a fresh start. I guess we’ll never learn. Here are a few of my favorite post-nuclear-war graphic novels.

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind – This ecological parable from the artists of Studio Ghibli follows a teenage girl caught up in a war for the dwindling resources of the planet.

V for Vendetta – A masked crusader fights for freedom against the corrupt government in the post-nuclear totalitarian state of England.

Barefoot Gen – After the bomb destroys Hiroshima, Gen, his mother, and his little brother must find a way to survive and carry on with their lives.

The Dark Tower – The Gunslinger rides to meet his destiny among the sorceries and plots of his war-torn world.

Akira – Neo-Tokyo sits on the ruins of the old city, which was destroyed by a mysterious blast years earlier. Now history is beginning to repeat itself.

Dexter's Laboratory

Created in the 90's for Cartoon Network, Dexter's Laboratory is a children's cartoon series about the eponymous Dexter, a boy genius with a secret laboratory from which he conducts elaborate experiments, schemes to defeat his nemesis Mandark, and puts up with annoyingly perky sister Dee Dee. The series is funny and clever, with plenty gross-out jokes for children to enjoy and high-brow references that'll have parents laughing, too.

The first season is now available on DVD from the library. Check it out!

Sci-fi/Fantasy Award Nominees


The Nebula Awards, voted on by notable Scifi/Fantasy writers, are to be awarded in May and the nominees for best adult novel are:

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed: Fantasy writing doesn't get much better than this. World building that takes place in a medieval city that reminds one of an Arabian fairy tale for adults or a Ray Harryhausen adventure. One reviewer described it as, "...swashbuckling mythos mania."

Ironskin by Tina Connolly: Fey scarred Jane finds employment as a governess for a fey child following a war between fey and humans in this alt-Victorian, Jane Eyre-inspired fantasy. Great pick for older teens too!

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin: Some may know Jemisin from her Inheritance trilogy, nominated for multiple awards, this book is the first of the Dreamblood series, rich in character and substance (Jungian psychology, Egyptian history)

The Drowning Girl, by Caitlín R. Kiernan: Taking a real world subject like schizophrenia and creating a fantasy element around it can be difficult to say the least, but Kiernan accomplishes both with the character, Imp, who has 'hauntings', missing timelines, & odd coincidences

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal: Sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey set in an alternate Regency-era with some romance, lots of magic, & a bit of espionage to boot. You can place holds on the 3rd book in this series Without a Summer due out in April. Jane Austen fans take note of this inspired novel!

2312, Kim Stanley Robinson: My pick for winner. This is a brilliant, thought-provoking novel. It has real world building since Earth is eeking by from severe climate changes, terra-forming Mars, Mercury, & Venus has happened. The main character, Swan, is pulled into a plot involving personal artificial intelligences (qubes) and the destruction of the worlds. Award-winning author, Robinson, continues to amaze with some realistic possibilities for our distant future. Read the transcript or listen to the podcast with him from Wired here.

The Reading List 2013 (ALA RUSA)

Established in 2007 by the CODES section of Reference and User Services Association (RUSA, a division of the American Library Association), The Reading List seeks to highlight outstanding genre fiction that merit special attention by general adult readers and the librarians who work with them.

The 2013 List in 8 categories. What sets this list apart from all the other awards is the short listed honor titles, and the thoughtful readalikes.

Adrenaline
Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
It’s her fifth wedding anniversary: where’s Amy? Assumptions are dangerous in this chilling psychological thriller. The dark and twisty plot, unbearable levels of tension, and merciless pacing will rivet readers.

Fantasy
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
When Myfanwy wakes up with no memory, surrounded by corpses, she must immediately impersonate herself in order to unravel the conspiracy at the heart of a secret supernatural intelligence agency. This offbeat debut combines the fast pacing and suspense of a thriller with the gritty, detailed world-building of urban fantasy.

Historical Fiction
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Ambitious royal advisor Thomas Cromwell is at the pinnacle of his power and uses it to subtly engineer the downfall of his enemies, including the Queen, Anne Boleyn, and her inner circle. This intricately plotted character study presents a fresh perspective on the ever popular Tudor Court.

Horror
The Ritual by Adam Nevill
In the remote forests of Sweden, the friendship between four men disintegrates when they wander off the hiking trail and find themselves stalked by an unseen and increasingly violent menace. “Blair Witch” meets black metal in this dark and suspenseful horror novel.

Mystery
The Gods of Gotham
by Lyndsay Faye
The discovery of a mass grave of child prostitutes spurs “copper star” Timothy Wilde to hunt a killer through the seamy underbelly of 1840s New York City. Colorful period slang enlivens this carefully researched story about the dawn of modern policing.

Romance
Firelight by Kristen Callihan
Bartered as a bride to the masked nobleman Benjamin Archer, Miranda Ellis – a woman with a supernatural secret – becomes his only defender when he is accused of a series of murders. This is a dark and smoldering Victorian paranormal where love redeems two complex and damaged characters.

Science Fiction
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey
One wants control; one wants vindication; one wants his daughter back; and one wants revenge (and maybe a new suit). The shifting points of view of these four distinctive characters, an electrifying pace, and the threat of an evolving alien protomolecule propel readers through this grand space adventure.

Women’s Fiction
The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway
Galilee Garner’s carefully managed routine of teaching, rose breeding, and kidney dialysis is disrupted when her teenage niece moves in. Readers will root for the growth of this prickly character as she discovers the importance of cultivating human connections.

Locus Magazine Announces Winners of Poll for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels

At the end of November, Locus Magazine polled its readers to determine the best science fiction and fantasy novels of the 20th century as well as the best of the 21st century so far. As of this week, the results are in. Unsurprisingly, old favorites like Tolkien, Asimov, and Ursula K. Le Guin took top slots, sharing the spotlight with George R.R. Martin's wildly popular Game of Thrones novels as well as up-and-coming writers like Paolo Bacigalupi.

Check out the top books in our catalog, and visit Locus for the full results. Science fiction and fantasy are more popular than ever right now, and you can also find the film or television adaptations of many of these books in our collections!

Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century:
1. Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)
2. Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game (1985)
3. Isaac Asimov, The Foundation Trilogy (1953)
4. Dan Simmons, Hyperion (1989)
5. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)

Best Fantasy of the 20th Century:
1. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (1955)
2. George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones (1996)
3. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)
4. Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)
5. Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes in Amber (1970)

Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century:
1. John Scalzi, Old Man's War (2005)
2. Neal Stephenson, Anathem (2008)
3. Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl (2009)
4. Robert Charles Wilson, Spin (2005)
5. Peter Watts, Blindsight (2006)

Best Fantasy of the 21st Century:
1. Neil Gaiman, American Gods (2001)
2. Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
3. Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind (2007)
4. China Mieville, The Scar (2002)
5. George R. R. Martin, A Feast For Crows (2005)

For lesser-known reads that made the lists (but don't have holds queues yet!), check out Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates, or Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic.

On This Day in History--January 2nd: Isaac Asimov was born in 1920

One of the world’s best-known science-fiction writers and a professor of biochemistry at Boston University, Isaac Asimov was born on January 2nd, 1920 near Smolensk, Russia. Through his dedication to writing and to science he helped to elevate science fiction from pulp magazines to a more intellectual and respected genre.

One of the most prolific writers of all time, he wrote or edited more than 500 books, on subjects as varied as chemistry, biology, the Bible, Shakespeare, modern history, as well as books for preschoolers and college students. He received dozens of awards in his lifetime including six Hugo awards, 3 Nebula awards, and a posthumous induction into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. He even had an asteroid and a crater on Mars named in his honor. Asimov was also a member and Vice President of Mensa, though he found little enjoyment in it, feeling his fellow members were too arrogant about their high IQs. Asimov died in New York, New York on April 6th, 1992.

His more popular works include the Foundation trilogy, Pebble in the Sky, The Stars, Like Dust, and I, Robot, which was adapted into a film of the same name in 2004. Follow the links and you'll find them in AADL's collection!

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Locus Magazine Announces Winners of Poll for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels

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