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Blog Posts by Subject: Science Fiction and Fantasy

June in the Reader's Den: Time and Again by Jack Finney - Part 2, Discussion Questions

"It had become habit, leaving the Dakota, to walk out and back into the winter of 1882."

Welcome back to the Reader's Den! I hope you enjoyed taking a trip to the New York of 1882 along with Si Morley, the protagonist in Jack Finney's classic 1970 novel, Time and Again. If you've been reading the book, why not share your thoughts with us through the comments form at the end of the post? There are some discussion questions (which include a few spoilers!) that can be used as a starting 

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Zombies and Why They Won't Go Away

Zombie Librarian Themed BookmarkAbout a month ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague about the then upcoming film, World War Z. Our discussion turned to pop culture's fascination with zombies. Zombies have shuffled their way into books, films,

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June in the Reader's Den: Time and Again by Jack Finney - Part 1

"So all in all there wasn't anything really wrong with my life. Except that, like most everyone else's I knew about, it had a big gaping hole in it, an enormous emptiness, and I didn't know how to fill it or even know what belonged there."

What would you do to fill a similar existential hole? How does a spot of clandestine, government-sponsored time travel sound? Welcome to June in the Reader's Den! This month we're reading the classic time travel tale and novel of New York, Time and 

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A Dystopian Future With a Cure For Suicide: The Program by Suzanne Young

Sloane lives in a world where teens have to hide their true emotions. If a friend, teacher, or even a family member sees her having an emotional outburst, they could report her and have her taken by force into The Program. That's why she can't risk crying where anyone else can see her. Because while the treatment she would get in The Program would remove her depression, it would also remove her memories. In other words, she might as well be dead.

Suzanne Young's novel The Program 

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Steampunk: An Introduction for Teens

Jon Foster / Cover of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

What is Steampunk? For a way to explain a fantasy subgenre, Steampunk is not very descriptive. According to The Steampunk Bible (2011), it can be explained most easily by this equation:

Steampunk = Mad Scientist Inventor [invention (steam x airship or metal man/ baroque stylings) x (pseudo) 

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Library Time Travel: Ruminations in Science, Literature and Film

I've always been fascinated by the possibility of traveling backwards and forwards in time, and scientific opinion is still divided on whether or not such a thing is even theoretically possible. Noted physicist Stephen Hawking seems to believe in the possibility of time-travel, but only forward, no backward time travel according to his work

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Back to Bradbury

"I wouldn't want the nursery locked up," said Peter coldly. "Ever."

"Matter of fact, we're thinking of turning the whole house off for about a month. Live sort of a carefree one-for-all existence."

"That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth and comb my hair and give myself a bath?"

"It would be fun for a change, don't you think?"

"No, it would be horrid. . ."

Ray Bradbury, "The 

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The Call of Cthulhu Turns 85: H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos

Weird Tales, February 1928. The Call of Cthulhu's first appearance in print.The short stories of H.P. Lovecraft have always been personal favorites of mine. Ever since I read "The Call of Cthulhu" for the first time as a teenager, I have been hooked on Lovecraft's particular brand of supernatural fiction and the sense of cosmic horror his characters evoke.

February marked the 85th 

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A Utopian/Dystopian Adventure: Creating a Book Discussion for Metropolitan Detention Center

While I've been actively working on the Veterans Oral History project, my behind-the-scenes project has been creating a book discussion syllabus for a book group at Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn. 

MDC was opened in the early 1990s and holds about 1,000 inmates who are awaiting trial or are serving brief sentences. This past August, Nick and Brian (another NYPL librarian) started a 15 week book group revolving around American literature after 9/11. Some of their reading included

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Alex Awards 2013 = Adult Books for Teen Readers

Browsing the shelves for a good book to read can be intimidating. There’s thousands of new books published every year and how do you know if a book is good anyway? It’s cover? Haha! Every year the Young Adult Library Association (YALSA) publishes lists of books that have been certified by librarians and readers as excellent reads. One of those annual lists is the Alex Awards. The Alex Awards are given to books that have been written for adults but have special appeal for teen readers. 

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100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2012: Con Artists, Besotted Toads, and Evil Puppet Masters - The Best in Children's Fantasy

I'm a big fan of the fantasy genre and have been reading it most of my life. So, of course when it comes to our booklist this year, I'm very happy about the Fantasy titles included, and delighted to talk about them. But before I do, I wanted to talk about the nature of the fantasy genre itself.

The best fantasies are real.

I know that sounds all wrong, but it's the truth. The best fantasies reach right into you, make you believe in that world and characters. In the midst of impossibility, readers are suddenly back dealing with very real issues.  

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Predicting the Future, at the Library

Since my early childhood, I loved going to the library. There were so many strange books, some written in other languages, with pictures, diagrams and magazines with glossy photos of people in far-away lands, living exciting lives.

My childhood seemed so problematic, so mundane and regardless of what I thought or did, tomorrow would come and go...

Every day brings us all a little closer, but to what? The books, magazines, movies and television of the day often depict two worlds, two evolving futures.

Often while daydreaming of the future, we can not 

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Are you Ready to See The Hobbit, My Precioussssss?

Okay, you're probably busy putting the finishing touches on your wizard's robe and/or brushing the hair on your furry hobbit's feet so that you will be as stylish as possible when you arrive at the movie theater to catch a midnight showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey later this month.

But while you're passing the time getting ready for the new movie, don't forget that you can use the library to read J.R.R. Tolkien's books, books about Tolkien, and other books connected to the LOtR universe. Plus you 

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Reader's Den: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Week 4

The Night Circus, as we've discussed, has a nearly obsessive focus on time; its passing, linearity and infinite nature. This is exemplified in the workings of its magnificent clock and its mechanical operation.

However, within the clockworks resides a nearly infinite number of possibilities to enthrall attendees. For example splashes of color are found throughout the strict black-and-white scheme. The twins' red scarves and the fires lit on the circus's opening night come 

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Stop, Rewind, Play: Every Day by David Levithan

A is sixteen years old, and has never been the same person twice. Every morning, A wakes up in the body of a different sixteen-year-old: a boy, a girl, an athlete, an addict, a star student, a burnout. Then A falls in love, and things get REALLY complicated.

Every Day by David Levithan takes a weird but simple premise — imagine what it would be like to wake up each day in a different person's body — and expands on this 

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Reader's Den: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Week 3

Last week we discussed the passage of time and the clockwork nature of The Night Circus. Time's flow tends to bring a stream of bounty and loss simultaneously.

For example, the myriad performers and founders of the circus are gifted with immortality. Some would say they were subjected to longevity's curse, especially in the case of Chandresh LeFévre.

As we head into the Thanksgiving season, think on this conundrum. Is the immortality the 

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Reader's Den: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Week 2

The Night Circus is crafted in lyrical and elaborate prose. Sometimes it even borders on the ornamental. The language and descriptions are fitting, however, considering the overriding theme of time's passage in the book.

If there is one thing the circus exemplifies, it is clockwork precision. The entertainments may be strange and off-kilter, but they all work together in a harmonious whole.

On its opening night twelve fires of varying hues are lit, one 

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October Reader's Den: "Ready Player One" Wrap-Up

Welcome back to Week 4 of the Reader’s Den for the book Ready Player One. I would like to thank our NYPL readers for waiting for this last installment of the October Readers Den due to Hurricane Sandy and hope that everyone enjoyed this book as much as I did. For November, the book will be the

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Reader's Den: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Week 1

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not." Erin Morgenstern's literary debut, The Night Circus, begins with this intoxicating passage before ushering readers inside the tent flaps of Le Circque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams.

For two young children, Marco and Celia, the dreams may turn to nightmares or fulfill their sweet promise as the two meet in a magical competition 

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October Reader's Den: "Ready Player One" Week 3

Welcome back to Week 3 of the Reader’s Den for the book Ready Player One. Here are a few questions you may have thought about while reading this book. If you think of something I haven’t, please post a comment. See you next week for the wrap-up of this book.

    Do you feel the world of Ready Player One is one that could come to 
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