Author Birthdays: Heinlein, Eddings, McCullough

July 7th marks the birthday of authors Robert A. Heinlein, David Eddings, and David McCullough.

Robert A. Heinlein was an American author of science fiction and first winner of the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement. He still holds the record for winning the most Hugo Awards for Best Novel, awarded for Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and the Retro winner Farmer in the Sky.

Heinlein also had a few Hugo Best Novel short-listed books: Have Space Suit--Will Travel, Glory Road, Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long, Friday, and Job: A Comedy of Justice.

David Eddings was an American writer mostly known for his fantasy series. Many of these series, including The Dreamers, were co-written with his wife, Leigh.

Eddings also wrote some non-fantasy novels. Regina's Song, also written with his wife, is a fictional work about twins and their relationships. Booklist called it "a story of murder and revenge sporting supernatural overtones."

David McCullough is an American author and historian, and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also won the Pulitzer twice for his biographies of Harry S. Truman and John Adams. The HBO television series John Adams and the film Truman were both based on his books.

McCullough has also written non-biographies. His The Path Between The Seas : The Creation Of The Panama Canal, 1870-1914 won four awards in 1978. Library Journal noted that in it "McCullough's careful research and genius for narrative come brilliantly through."

Author Birthdays: Haggard, Remarque, Brown

June 22nd marks the birthday of authors H. Rider Haggard, Erich-Maria Remarque, and Dan Brown.

H. Rider Haggard, also known as Sir Henry Rider Haggard, was an English author, mainly known for his works featuring the character Allan Quartermain, most notably the novel King Solomon's Mines.

Haggard's writing and characters have been the basis for many things: Quartermain was the prototype for Indiana Jones; his character Ayesha influenced psychologists and other writers; and his adventurous story lines influenced the "Lost World" genre's later writers.

Erich-Maria Remarque was a German author. His best known work was the WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which was also made into a film.

Remarque's other novels include The Night in Lisbon, which tells the story of German refugees during the beginning of WWII, and Arch of Triumph, which was also made into a movie (starring Ingrid Bergman).

Dan Brown is an American novelist, best known for his book The Da Vinci Code, and the other novels starring the character of Robert Langdon.

Brown's first novel was Digital Fortress, which, like The Da Vinci Code, features code-breaking, though the main character is a mathematician rather than a "symbologist." In 2007, Brown also published a memoir about his work as a New York teacher.

June's Books to Film

Green Lantern is based on the grahic novel series by DC Comics. In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force call the Green Lantern Corps has been dependent upon as protectors of peace and intergalactic order. When a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power, the fate lies in the hands of Green Lantern's newest recruit, the first human ever selected to wear the ring that grants them superpower.

In Submarine, 15 year-old Oliver Tate has two big ambitions: to save his parents' marriage via carefully plotted intervention and to lose his virginity before his next birthday. Worried that his mom is having an affair, Oliver forges suggestive love letters from his Mom to his Dad. Meanwhile, Oliver attempts to woo his classmate, Jordana, a self-professed, bossy, pyromaniac who supervises his journal writing --- especially the bits about her. I look forward to this delightful adaptation from Joe Dunthorne's humorous and imaginative novel (2008).

Based on the The X-Men comics created by Stan Lee, the current box-office smash X-Men, First Class is set up as a prequel. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men, closest of friends, working together to prevent nuclear Armageddon.

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Nebula Award Winner

Nebula AwardNebula Award
The brilliant writer, Connie Willis, has achieved another award to add to her auspicious collection. Having won a previous 6 Nebulas and 10 Hugos, she recently won another Nebula for her 2 volume novels, Blackout and All Clear (released separately in 2010). These novels were also nominated for the 2011 Hugo. These two books further the time-travel storyline started in a 1982 short story, "Fire Watch" (included in her short story collection Fire Watch), and the books Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, all multiple award winners too. They all revolve around time traveling history students and their professors at Oxford University circa mid-21st. In these latest award winning books, the students' field work assignments involve time-travel to various points during WWII England. The assignments involve reporting on the events while taking on roles like a shopgirl during the Blitz, an American reporter at Dunkirk, and a servant helping to evacuate children to England's countryside. But time-travel is never without some hiccups along the way. If you like adventure, historical fiction, and don't mind a bit of time-travel, dive into these right away! Great summer reading awaits!

Author Birthdays: Baum, Porter, Bulgakov

May 15th marks the birthday of authors L. Frank Baum, Katherine Anne Porter, and Mikhail Bulgakov.

L. Frank Baum was an American children's author most well known for his story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; there were at least 17 total Oz books that Baum wrote.

Baum also wrote short stories about the magical land of Mo. You may be interested in looking up other books by Baum which were actually published under the pseudonyms Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Staunton, John Estes Cooke, Suzanne Metcalf, and Laura Bancroft.

Katherine Anne Porter was an American writer and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner (for The Collected Stories). She was also nominated numerous times for the Nobel Prize.

Porter's novel Ship of Fools was a best-seller and was made into a film starring Gone with the Wind's Vivien Leigh.

Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian playwright and novelist. His most well known work was The Master and Margarita, a novel about the Devil visiting Soviet Russia. The book is something of a cult favorite now.

In addition, we have a collection of six of Bulgakov's plays. There is also another of Bulgakov's novels at AADL, Heart of a Dog, which is a strange story about a dog-turned-kind-of-man.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #262

After the second ice age, America Pacifica is one of the last habitable places and it is the only home that 18 year-old Darcy ever known. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson where education, food and the basic means of survival are strictly rationed and controlled by the "chosen" few.

Darcy lives a hand-to-mouth existence with her mother Sarah, a pearl diver by trade, in a leaky apartment. When Sarah disappears, Darcy embarks on a quest to find her. Along the way, Darcy learns about her island home's history, the secrets her mother guarded fiercely, and the same secrets that now put Darcy in mortal danger.

In Anna North's richly imagined debut novel set in the near future, she chooses to downplay the "science" aspects in favor of a more naturalist and realistic narrative, from the perspective of a likable heroine who is plucky and resourceful as she is melancholic and vulnerable. "An entertaining, stylishly written doomsday novel."

Readers looking for a readalike to Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games might find Darcy a new protagonist to root for.

Fans of post-apocalyptic dystopian, global-disaster survival story might also enjoy the Flood series by Stephen Baxter.

Author Birthdays: Niven, Dillard, Boyne

April 30th marks the birthday of authors Larry Niven, Annie Dillard, and John Boyne.

Larry Niven is an American author of science fiction. He is probably most well known for Ringworld, a winner of many literary awards, which has three sequels and a few prequels.

Niven's latest works include Stars and Gods, a collection of short stories and pieces of non-fiction, Betrayer of Worlds, a prelude to Ringworld, and The Best of Larry Niven, a collection of short stories with the author's explanations for them.

Annie Dillard is an American writer and former contributing editor of Harper's magazine. Her most well known work is The Maytrees, a story of "loving and longing", which was named one of the Top 10 Best Books of 2007 by the New York Times Book Review.

Dillard won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a book about religion and philosophy in the style of a journal. She also has written a book of found poems called Mornings Like This.

John Boyne is an Irish author; you may have heard of his novel The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, which was also made into a film. His forthcoming novel is called The Absolutist, set to come out in the UK in May.

Boyne's other books include The Thief of Time, a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy about a boy born in the 18th century who doesn't age, and Crippen, a mystery set in the early 20th century.

Machine of Death

If you could find out what the manner of your death will be, would you want to know? Keep in mind that it will be vaguely summarized in one or two words. You might be told your cause of death is “fishing” and then die of food poisoning from a tuna sandwich. Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die is a collection of short stories describing the variety of human experiences in the wake of this knowledge.

The machine of death is accessible to all cultures. After the majority of people use it, the force of the global reaction begins to alter societies. Social groups define themselves by death, and it affects industries and the job market. The results of the machine can give clues about the future. Even the population count is affected as people lose interest in planning lives they know will end. Those who refuse to know how they will die are outcasts from a world newly-obsessed with death.

Each story in the collection is full of twists and turns to keep the reader involved and on alert. Because even when you know how a story will end, what happens before that point can constantly surprise you. Edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bernardo, and David Malki, Machine of Death is a fast-moving, multi-faceted, fun exploration of how western society reacts to life and death.

Author Birthdays: Hersh, Kingsolver, Okorafor-Mbachu

April 8th marks the birthday of authors Seymour Hersh, Barbara Kingsolver, and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu.

Seymour Hersh is an American award-winning journalist and author. Many of his articles were written for The New Yorker. He won a Pulitzer in journalism for his writing on the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.

Hersh's books include a biography of JFK, called The Dark Side of Camelot, which portrays the late president as reckless, and was very controversial after its publication. He also wrote Chain Of Command: The Road From 9/11 To Abu Ghraib, which discusses topics like the torture and mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Barbara Kingsolver is a multi-award-winning American author, whose latest novel was the popular The Lacuna, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010.

Kingsolver's best known work might be The Poisonwood Bible, which is about a missionary family who moves to the Belgian Congo in the mid-20th century. Her most interesting book, in my opinion, might be her non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year Of Food Life, which outlines Kingsolver and her family as they attempt to eat solely locally-grown food for one year.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is a Nigerian-American fantasy writer. Her newest book, Who Fears Death, was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2010.

Okorafor-Mbachu has written some young adult novels, which may be of interest to many teens in world literature classes who are looking for something a bit more modern than the classics. Her novel The Shadow Speaker is set in a futuristic West Africa and relays the tale of a girl with magical powers who is seeking vengeance.

Author Birthdays: Trelease, Robinson, Cullin

March 23rd marks the birthday of authors Jim Trelease, Kim Stanley Robinson, Mitch Cullin.

Jim Trelease is an American artist, writer and educator. His The Read-Aloud Handbook, according to his website, "was the inspiration for PBS's 'Storytime' series". It emphasizes the importance of reading aloud to children, and has been used by both parents and educators.

Trelease also published a collection of stories which he thinks are perfect to read aloud. It includes many classics, as well as some inspirational stories, like "I have a dream: the story of Martin Luther King, Jr" by Margaret Davidson.

Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer. His Mars Trilogy has won Hugo and Nebula Awards. The trilogy focuses on a world in which Mars is a colony (by 2027, no less).

In 2009, Robinson published Galileo's Dream, in which Galileo travels to the future and finds himself caught up in political struggles on one of Jupiter's moons.

Mitch Cullin is an American writer of both novels and short stories. His collection of short stories is called From The Place In The Valley Deep In The Forest, and, as explained in a Booklist review, while the stories' topics are not fictional, "Cullin completely avoids making essays of his stories by focusing on vividly realized characters caught in the middle of those circumstances".

Cullin's A Slight Trick Of The Mind is a story of Sherlock Holmes in his old age, his memory failing. The cover is a tribute to Holmes' love of beekeeping in the novel.

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