Category: books

Santa's one-stop-shop: The Amazon warehouse near Milton Keynes has everything you can think of - including the author's own book!

Looks like organised chaos!  The full story can be found here.


Desk Made Of Books

This clever information desk is in the Architectural Library at the Delft University of Technology.  I like the way the books are arranged into colour layers.

Neil Gaiman reads his children’s book ‘Instructions’, with beuatiful illustrations by Charles Vess.

Ilona’s Compendium Of Leading Men

One of my favourite authors, Ilona Andrews, created Ilona’s Compendium Of Leading Men, a tongue-in-check guide to the common types of leading men found in movies and books today.

The Rake is an enigma. He can be a cowboy, a British Lord, a pirate, or an Italian gazillionaire,  but he is always charming, clever, and handsome as sin.   He may pretend to be brainless, but he never is.   He pursues women passionately and abandons them the moment after they succumb to his charms.  Strangely, despite this cruel treatment, he is usually well liked, perhaps because he’s quite entertaining and because he makes a dangerous enemy.

The Rake is usually damaged by a deep childhood trauma.  He has definite trust issues and taming him requires kindness and a great deal of patience rather than sharp wit and beauty.  However, once properly tamed, he makes the most faithful of husbands.

Click here to find out about the Aristocrat, the Madman, the Hero, the Victim, the Mercenary (eg: Han Solo), and the Genius.

Also check out The Compendium Of Leading Ladies: the Rebel, the Innocent, the Professional, the Shrinking Violet, and the Milady.

New Diskworld 2.0 reading guide

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels are some of my favourite reads.  They were not written in chronological order, and different books focus on different groups of characters.  I can imagine it would be confusing for a new reader wondering where to start!

This helpful reading guide is correct as of July 2010 and was created by Krzysztof Kietzman and beautifully illustrated by Jakub Oleksow.

A larger version can be found here.

My Time At Worldcon

(Be aware that there will be name-dropping…)

I had never been to a science fiction and fantasy convention before, and when I heard that the 2010 Worldcon was going to be held in Melbourne, I had to go.   

Several people at the convention said “Your first con?  And you chose a Worldcon?” in tones of disbelief.  I figured why not go for one of the biggest and best?  At least I was almost certain to enjoy myself, and, worst-case scenario, if I didn’t like the con, there is plenty of shopping and sightseeing to do in Melbourne. 

I had a wonderful time. 

I caught up with my friend Joanne Anderton, whose first novel should be published in 2011. 

Joanne Anderton & Me


 Jo introduced me to Ian Tregillis, with whom I had some fascinating conversations.  I will be tracking down a copy of his first novel, Bitter Seeds, when I return from Africa. 

Ian Tregillis

I also got lots of books signed by their authors, and was brave enough to ask if I could get my photo taken with my favourite ones.  

Me & Michael Pryor

  Michael Pryor was not originally scheduled to have a signing.  I wasn’t at all certain I could track down (stalk) him without knowing what he looked like, or even if I could randomly accost someone and ask them to sign my book.  Luckily a signing was arranged and Michael was very friendly, we chatted for a while about The Laws of Magic series.  I thought he really accentuated the humour in his books when I attended his reading, it is a pity the Laws of Magic series isn’t available as audiobooks. 

Me & Gail Carriger

 Gail Carriger’s third book, Blameless was released the week Worldcon began.  I carefully purchased a copy in Brisbane so I could read it on the plane to Melbourne and get it signed.  But Gail had been staying with family in Brisbane and had sneakily signed all the copies of her books in store! 

Thankfully I discovered the horror of a previously signed book before I left for Melbourne, and the second book was added to my growing  pile of luggage.  (A personalised autograph is much better than a generic one.  My brought with signature copies of Jo Beverley and Nalini Singh books don’t count.) 

Me & John Scalzi

 John Scalzi’s signing was the first one I went to, and he (unsurprisingly) had a very long line of people waiting.  I wasn’t brave enough to ask someone so famous (in the sci-fi and blogging world at least) if I could have my photo taken with him, so I just scurried away holding tight to my now signed copy of Android’s Dream. 

The next day, having partly overcome my “I can’t believe I’m talking to real actual writers who wrote books I love!!!!!” attitude, I summoned up the courage to ask him for a photo after his reading was done.  John very nicely agreed and said he often wonders if he ends up looking smug in these photos. 

The next morning, I was waiting outside the room where the first panel I was attending was going to start, and someone walked past and said “Hey, how’s it going?”  I just about forgot to say anything in reply when I realised John Scalzi had remembered me from the day before! 

Seanan McGuire & Me

Seanan McGuire was one of the bubbliest, cheerfulist people I met at Worldcon.  Being a published author with fans still seems to be new and exciting for her;  she happily posed with another fans’ toy before she cuddled in for the photo with me. (No really, our heads are touching.)

Seanan is also friends with Catherynne Valente, whose books I have not yet read, but I thought she was awesome and articulate on the panels I saw her on.

Melbourne Convention Centre At Night

 The first panel I attended on Sunday morning was about the early days of fandom in Australia and New Zealand.  I had met the moderator, Chris Nelson, on Thursday.  He is doing reasearch into early fan letters to sci-fi magazines and he asked if I would read aloud a letter that an eighteen year old New Zealand girl had sent eighty years ago.  Of course I agreed! 

(It would have been unusual to be female and passionate about science fiction in the 1920’s, I wonder who she was and what happened in the rest of her life.) 

Chris was very kind, he told everyone attending the panel (about ten people) that this was my first con and gave me a 1951 copy of Startling Stories. 

Startling Stories (from 1951)

On the final night of the convention, desperate for a proper meal with vegetables and conversation (previously I had been so tired I just crashed in my hotel room in the evening), I invited Ian Tregillis and Melinda Snodgrass to join me for dinner. 

I know this has little to do with the attraction of my conversation, but I find it highly amusing that Melinda had been invited to dinner with George R R Martin (famous author) and Patrick Neilsen Hayden (famous editor) but decided in favour of a quieter meal with Ian and I.  (Melinda knows them both very well, but I still find it funny!) 

I had a wonderful Worldcon.  I’m hoping that New Zealand’s bid to hold the Worldcon in 2020 is successful so I can attend again.

Similar to Pride & Prejudice Facebook Style, comes Pride & Prejudice told using Yahoo! emoticons

This is Mr Collins proposal:

Mr Collins: :-B
Lizzie: :-@
Mr Collins: [-O<
Lizzie: :-&
Charlotte: :-?
Mr Collins: *-:)
Charlotte: :>
Lizzie: #-o

And you can find the rest of the story here.

My dream house has always had a library, but now it is going to be a hidden library!

One of my friends actually renovated his house to contain a small secret room hidden behind a bookcase.  It was only used for overflow storage, but it was still really cool.

The Oddest Book Title of 2009

Here is the short list for the Diagram Prize for the oddest book title of the year:

Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter – David Crompton

Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich – James A Yannes

Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes – Daina Taimina

Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots – Ronald C Arkin

What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?  – Tara Jansen-Meyer

The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Ellen Scherl and Maria Dubinsky

The winner will be announced on 26th March, and you can vote for your favourite title here.