Fantasy

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain is a graphic novel that is heavy on the novel half of that term. The book draws from the romantic authors of the nineteenth century, from the sirens of the Odyssey, and from the emotional and carnal explorations of modernist literature.

On a riverboat churning through the Hudson, we meet two very different men. One is the serious, contemplative Captain Twain. The other is the more freewheeling boat owner Lafayette. They are about to become ravaged by the same obsession: mermaids.

If you like Hood by Stephen Lawhead

Hood by Stephen Lawhead

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

Hood by Stephen Lawhead: "The first in a trilogy called King Raven, Hood tells the story of an alternative Robin Hood, a rebel in the deep forests of Wales in 1093. (Lawhead's extensive research convinced him of this premise.) Son of a king, a young man named Bran is made homeless when his father is killed and the kingdom of Elfael becomes a pawn to squabbling Norman factions. A long and fascinating time in the wilderness, in which Bran's faith and health are restored by an old woman of mystical origins, brings him at last to his destiny: leading a band of dauntless archers against the kingdom's usurpers. Robin Hood is born, along with Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, and Little John, in this highly imaginative, earthy adventure that has little to do with Errol Flynn but is just as rousing." (Booklist)

If you enjoyed this book's depiction of warfare and society in medieval Europe, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
A fugitive English forester and mercenary defender saves young novitiate Melisande and, defending himself from a vengeance-seeking rapist priest and Melisande's father, finds himself slogging his way to Agincourt as an archer in King Henry V's army. (worldcat.org)

 

 

Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England's ruthless, power-hungry King John. Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce by marrying the English king's beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, who slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband. But as John's attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales--and Llewelyn--Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie. The turbulent clashes of two disparate worlds and the destinies of the individuals caught between them spring to life in this magnificent novel of power and passion, loyalty and lies. (worldcat.org)

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Short stories are a tricky business. When done well, just a few pages of text can offer a tantalizing glimpse of another world, or immerse you in a scenario so familiar it feels claustrophobic. Creating a brief narrative that contains depth and nuance is a significant accomplishment. I’d venture to guess that only a few writers have managed to master the craft. For several years, my dependable favorites have been Ray Bradbury, Raymond Carver, Miranda July, Flannery O’Connor, and Etgar Keret. Since reading Smoke and Mirrors, this list now includes Neil Gaiman.

Smoke and Mirrors brings together a wide variety of Gaiman’s short pieces. In the introduction, Gaiman writes that “Stories are, in one way or another, mirrors. We use them to explain to ourselves how the world works or how it doesn’t work. Like mirrors, stories prepare us for the day to come. They distract us from the things in the darkness.” I’d like to think that most of Gaiman’s stories live up to such lofty ambitions.

If you like The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (for adults)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.

If you liked The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again, you may also like these titles (for adults):

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
A slightly disorganized and somewhat naive interplanetary tourist named Twoflower joins up with a bumbling wizard and embarks on a chaotic voyage through a world filled with monsters and dragons, heroes and knaves. (worldcat.org) First of the Discworld series.
 
 
 
 
Includes thirteen stories in the order that they were originally written. Conan the pirate, the swordsman, the army commander, and the thief are all here along with a map of the Hyborian World, drawn by Howard himself. Also included are other synopsis and story fragments (many that were completed by others), a poem, and notes on the original texts. (worldcat.org)
 
 
 

Tales from Tolkien: A Retrospective on Film Adaptations of Middle Earth

It has been over a decade since the first of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations, The Fellowship of the Ring, was released.  This film was greeted with both critical and audience acclaim upon its debut, and became a definitive cinematic event of the early 21st Century.  On December 14, 2012, Jackson’s long-awaited adaptation of the prequel to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, will be released.  Jackson’s films have become regarded as classics to the point that many fans may become unhappy with anyone other than Peter Jackson making a cinematic Tolkien adaptation, and it may come as a surprise to them that some film adaptations of Tolkien’s mythic cycle had already been made prior to Jackson’s! While waiting for the release of the first film in Jackson’s Hobbit adaptation, let’s take a look back at some prior cinematic versions of Tolkien’s works, and at Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Rip-offs and Tributes: A Look at Derivative Works

picture of copy machine

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Isn’t that how an article about derivative works is supposed to begin?  We only ask because there are probably other articles out there on this topic that begin the same way.  Whether or not we admit it to ourselves, 100% true originality in the case of media like books, film, music and games is practically unheard of.  That’s not a bad thing; works that build on one another can be some of the richest experiences imaginable.  On the other hand, some people are just lazy and rip-off other, greater works. 

If you like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.

If you enjoyed the dystopian themes of this novel and would be interested in similar dystopian works, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

1984 by George Orwell
Doublethink, thought police, constant surveillance, never-ending war. Although this classic dystopian novel was written in 1949, Orwell's lean prose, finely honed political discourse, and penetrating images seem as fresh, as menacing, and as disturbingly prophetic as ever. (Audiofile)


 

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, attempts to reunite two planets cut off from each other by centuries of distrust. (worldcat.org)

 

 
 

The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt

The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt

One of the earliest adventure novels detailing the journey of a group of explorers from the surface world through a subterranean civilization, Abraham Merritt’s The Moon Pool is also one of the best examples of the genre.  With an exciting narrative full of thrilling action sequences, memorable characters, and a fascinating civilization of bizarre wonders, The Moon Pool is a great adventure novel that will thrill fans of classic science fiction.  For fans of shorter novels, it is also a fast-paced read. Edited together from two novellas titled “The Moon Pool” and “Conquest of the Moon Pool,” it is under 300 pages in length and can be completed by most readers in about 3-5 days.  For those seeking to discover the roots of sci-fi adventure stories in the early twentieth century, The Moon Pool is an excellent trip back in time.

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

Part fantasy, part romance, Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson is a time travel novel featuring Richard Collier, who falls in love with a turn of the century actress and travels back in time to meet her.

In 1971, Richard, on finding out that he is suffering from terminal cancer, embarks on a road trip from Los Angeles to Denver.  On the way, he stops at a historic hotel on the coast in San Diego where he sees a play program from the late 1800s and falls in love with the woman pictured on the front.  Captivated by her beauty, Collier researches the actress, Elise McKenna and finds out that she never married, had an overbearing manager named W.F. Robinson, and that she had a brief encounter in 1896 with a mysterious man at the hotel he is currently staying at.  Throughout his research, he realizes that he has fallen deeply in love with the woman, and convinces himself that he is the mysterious man with whom Elise had an affair.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

“All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hidden in plain sight.”

In Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, an unemployed Web designer, a bookstore that never closes, a series of beloved fantasy novels, a secret society, and a typeface known as Gerritszoon are all embroiled in the search for immortality. While eternal life is a frequently-pursued prize in history and popular culture, Sloan’s rendition of this classic quest revolves around quirky characters and a cadre of technophobic code breakers.

Clay Jannon’s life has been disrupted by the economic recession. Since losing his job as a Web designer for a bagel company, he has struggled to find a sense of purpose and a source of income. One night while aimlessly wandering the streets of San Francisco, he happens upon a fascinating sight: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Clay is drawn to the store and takes special notice of the help wanted sign hanging in the front window. Once inside, Clay discovers Mr. Penumbra’s labyrinthine store requires parkour-like maneuvers: “The shelves were packed close together, and it felt like I was standing at the border of a forest – not a friendly California forest, either, but an old Transylvanian forest, a forest full of wolves and witches and dagger-wielding bandits all waiting just beyond moonlight’s reach.”