Children’s SF

Recently, I co-wrote a short sf story with my son. This week we officially submitted it to a quirky, space themed anthology. If it is accepted, my son will have his first professional writing credit at age 5. Think on that for a second.

Congruently, we have been doing a summer reading program through the library with the goal of reading for 600 minutes. Adding to that, we’ve been going through the Mensa reading list for grades K-3. We’ve been reading a lot and although we have found fairy tales, dragons, and even some space stories, the experience reminded me of an observation I made three years ago: there is virtually no kids merch at SF conventions.

When I go to a con, I always walk through the dealer room looking for a little something for my boy. From over 20 conventions I have found 1) a dinosaur on a stick, 2) used Dragonball Z figures, 3) a pirate eye patch and, 4) wearable horns. That’s it! Yes, there are plush dragons and geeky t-shirts and funny hats, but he doesn’t care about that stuff.

So, I will wait to hear about the story submission. Following that, we will begin to adapt the story into a fully illustrated children’s book. We will probably do a kickstarter to pay for the print run and the art. Once the book is done, I will work to bring my son to conventions as an author guest (mostly to amuse me and annoy serious writers). More importantly, I will have a legitimate, high quality product for kids at cons.

Our Thanks: more YA SF/F on our library shelves!

April Young Head Librarian Mountains Branch Library

April Young
Head Librarian
Mountains Branch Library

Copyright 2013 by Paula S. Jordan

April Young, the terrific librarian here in my town of about 1200, also serves many more readers in the western, mountainous part of our county. On behalf of all of them, she sends to all of you her thanks for your suggestions for fleshing out our F and SF section. The list turned up both missing classics and excellent new offerings that readers from the whole area will enjoy.

As time and discussions and reviews and such continue here, I will continue forwarding new suggestions to her.

Thank you from me too. Now when I tell folks about a book one of you has recommended I can finish by telling them, “It’s at the library!”

Give My Librarian a Hand

Copyright 2013 by Paula S. Jordan

Book Fiesta Kids reading on moon

Image Credits

The terrific librarian here in my tiny town is interested in supporting top-notch SF/F reading, but hasn’t read a lot of it herself. So she has asked me to suggest some authors and titles for her shelves.

I am preparing a list of my favorites, including authors we’ve discussed on the blog, but I don’t know much about books for children and young adults and haven’t actually seen much mention of them here.Book Fiesta 1

The first name I gave her was Ursula LeGuin, for her Earthsea series. And there’re the Narnia and Wrinkle in Time books. But with all the writing going on out there these days, I am sure there are great ones that I have never heard of.

Any good, sense-of-wonder, mind-expanding reads you can suggest for the younger set would be most appreciated!

P.S. In searching for images for this post I came across the following tidbit: seems a West Virginia legislator has proposed a bill requiring schools to add science fiction to their reading lists. He recommends adding grade-appropriate SF into the classroom … to stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools…. Bet it would help in a lot of other ways too!

A Reader’s Quest: The British Library

Copyright 2012 by Paula S. Jordan

This may just be the greatest library in the world: 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million The British Librarypatents, 3 million sound recordings. 130 million items in all, spanning 30 centuries and originating, as Philip Howard* puts it: “from almost every country and language since man stopped building the Tower of Babel.”

Texts both ancient and modern, world-renowned and rescued from obscurity. Works of music, art, mathematics, the sciences, and every known branch of literature. The earliest printed book, the Diamond Sutra, from 686 A.D., found buried along the edge of the Gobi Desert. Maps, letters, and manuscripts. Technical drawings, patents, and musical scores. A vast collection of contemporary material in an ever-expanding range of electronic media. Jane Austin’s writing desk. And one white ‘60’s- era envelope with Paul McCartney’s first scribbled lyrics for “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

King George III's Library

King George III’s Library

The Magna Carta, Beowulf, the Lindisfarn Gospels, the Codex Sinaiticus, beautiful early Qu’ran and Jainest texts, Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio, a Leonardo daVinci notebook, Sherlock Holmes, Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. (More on some of these in later posts.)

The largest single “item” may be King George III’s 65,000-volume, 19,000-pamphlet library, collected from the mid- 15th to the early 19th centuries and considered one of the most significant collections on the Enlightenment. It occupies a specially-designed six-storey UV-filter glass tower at the heart of the Library.

My personal favorite? Bill Woodrow’s bronze sculpture in the lobby. A book big enough that I could actually crawl into it! And weighted with a ball and chain lest it fly away.

Finally! A book I could actually crawl into!

Finally! A book I could actually crawl into!

But, for most of the world, the coolest thing of all has to be the British Library web site.  You can search the main catalog. The online gallery section lets you see 30,000 items from its collection. And its virtual book feature allows you to browse 32 of the Library’s greatest treasures online. The entire book. Every page. And you can turn the pages yourself.

* The BRITISH LIBRARY: A Treasure House of Knowledge, by Howard, Philip; Scala Publishers Ltd, 2008

Library FREE Bin

The main library that I have the opportunity to visit every other month has a Free Bin. Well, s couple of bins and some carts. They even keep plastic grocery sacks right there in case you want more than 1 or 2. The library gets so many donations that there is always something new in the Free Bin. Here is what I picked up this last time. Over half of these are by favorite authors. Then I picked up a few others on a whim – such as Shades of Grey by Lisanne Norman which is like Book 8 in some scifi series. Since the romance trilogy by the same name has been getting so much news time, I thought it was cool to bump into a book by the same title and also something I could get into.

I love browsing free books. I have taken a chance on several new authors simply because their book fell into my keeping. I also like the idea of giving the book back to the Free Bin when I am through with it.

Does your library have a Free Bin? Ever donate to it?

Which of these lovelies should I start with?

I fought the library and the library won.

I am picking up the pieces of my shattered dreams, demolished by the Librarian of Doom. I have been cast once again, savagely, into the land of indecision, my once-clear path blocked and confused by towers of the TBR pile.

As you can tell from the flurry of New Words last week, I have been reading Embassytown by China Mieville.

It’s been a rewarding, character-building struggle for me, with wondrous rewards. This book is definitely an intimidating challenge for me. The college-decimated reading skills compounded with the “multitask” virus I contracted at my corporate hell job makes it difficult at best to read a complex novel. In short, I have trouble concentrating when I read.

Regardless, I didn’t want to miss out on Yet Another Mieville and set myself the goal of reading it. Sitting quietly, no distractions, timer set for 30 minutes, all that. I got through the first third, which was the lovely tour of Mieville’s unique voice and introduction to the world building in the novel. In the next third, I became much engaged with the characters, found Hook #1, and was just about to turn the page for the Buildup of the Resolution for the Climax Yet to Come.

We had things to do in the next town over, and Duncan and  I stopped at the library on the way out of town so that I could pick up a book on hold for me and renew Embassytown so’s Duncan can read it when I finish BEFORE MONDAY!!  “Yeah! I’m so going to accomplish this! Go Me!”

That was yesterday morning. My life is now a shambles. My reading self-confidence is now shattered and my goals, towards which I was so slowly and diligently building, are now scattered to the winds.

I handed Embassytown over to the Librarian of Doom and as she scanned it I asked for a renewal. “I can’t do that, there’s a hold request.”

“Ok, whatever, let me have it back so that I can finish it and I’ll return it on Monday.”

“No, I’ve checked it in already”


We fought, me and that librarian lady. A simple tug of war over the counter escalated into a full-on cat fight. Name calling, hair pulling. teeth biting. She was like a mother bear protecting that cub of Book on Hold. It was fierce.

I lost, walking away in shame, empty handed except for the book that was placed on hold for me. I guess I’d best get to it. I’d hate for another librarian fight to ensue for the sake of my hold request.