Tag Archives: Among Others

Science Fiction Today – Libraries

LLast week we lined up Health Care and Immunization, and this week it’s Knowledge and Libraries. A couple of sets of things that go hand-in-hand as we look at the future. And while Holly and I might be outsiders looking in at the world of health care, there’s an inside-track when it comes to libraries: I am a librarian. So I have to try to make this post not about that…

What this post is about is the fact that libraries don’t always appear prominently in Science Fiction – though they feature prominently in Fantasy. Often there are other ways the information is kept or passed on in Science Fiction – the sorts of things Holly talked about yesterday with Knowledge. In  a world where all of human knowledge is at our fingertips… what does the future of libraries look like?

Libraries in Fantasy

“Libraries really are wonderful. They’re better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.”

-Walton, Jo (2011-01-18). Among Others (p. 59). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

Hey look at all that great citation info that comes along when you copy from a Kindle book…

Often in Fantasy, and especially in Urban Fantasies or Horror Fantasies, set largely in our world only with fantastical elements, libraries are the one place that still actually has information on the ancient, forgotten past – the arcane, eldritch secrets that explain why all these crazy things are happening now.

Maybe the best example is Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, where the Scooby Gang is constantly meeting in library, getting guidance, training, and leadership from the librarian. Where the focal point of the plot, the Hellmouth, is literally sitting under the library. And where, anytime something new shows up, they go to research the new evil in the books in the library.

So libraries have ancient knowledge – but what about future knowledge?

Libraries vs. Technology

Today, it’s the Internet that seems to be making libraries “obsolete” – all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. In the future, if we’re having knowledge beamed into our brains, if we have virtual holodecks full of the past where we can explore… where do libraries fit?

One librarian answer is that, as we find ourselves with the whole world of information at our fingertips, it is getting harder and harder to find accurate, definitive, or just generally “good” information. The need for librarians – or good journalists, for that matter – seems to be growing, not shrinking.

And despite my Among Others quote above, libraries are more than books. In a future that might include holodecks, or knowledge we can beam straight into our brains, or any number of other advances – are we really going to keep all of these devices in our own home? Star Trek makes it look easy, because they’re on their quasi-military space ships where they have the holodeck. I doubt there’s one in every home on Earth. So where might people go? Well, maybe the library.

Even today, libraries are adapting to the technological needs of the communities around them. We were browsing the video game collection at our local library earlier today (online…), and many libraries are exploring the option of having technology like 3-D printers – something you might want occasionally but not own in your home. I see no reason that these trends can’t continue into the future!

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!


Best of 2014 2

Yesterday Holly gave her best-of for 2014, so of course today I’m up! I’ll stick with the same categories she did. I’ll also try to go with different answers from her, so that you get a bit more of the best from the year.

This is a really hard year for me for a lot of topics. A lot of my favorite bands came out with great new albums I’ve been rotating between for most of the year. I’ve branched out and read a bunch of great comics, including a lot of the Batman canon. And though ticket sales numbers are down, I think this was a phenomenal year for movies. So agonize with me as I try to pick the best of 2014!

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Book Review – Among Others by Jo Walton

“I do not miss my toys. I wouldn’t play with them anyway. I am fifteen. I miss my childhood.”

-Jo Walton, Among Others, p.160

So I (finally) finished reading Among Others by Jo Walton. This novel won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the British Fantasy Award. This is what got it on my radar, for sure, and might be where you’ve heard of it. After all, that’s a lot of the big awards, and it’s rare for one book to run away with all of them.

So there must be something for everyone in this book, right? A relatable character, a known world or a well-actualized fictional one. Right? Oh, and it’s about fairies and magic. So the fairies must be well defined, and the magic must have a solid system and explanation.

Or… none of those things.

I don’t know if I can place what makes this story so good. Or why I liked it so very, very much. But I am going to try. So to do that, let me tell you what the book is about. I suppose what follows could be considered spoilers, but only in a basic sense that I tell you about the book, and better yet, let the book tell you about itself.

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The Purpose of Education 2 – Education in Naruto

Lately we have been watching a lot of Naruto Shippuden. This is the anime series that starts three years after the events of Naruto. Quick plot: they’re ninjas, in a society of ninjas, and they go on ninja missions and do ninja training and you can never expect what they’re going to pull off because they’re NINJAS.

It’s great.

So a while back I wrote a post about the Purpose of Education, and about what it does for the student, what it means for their life. And about why we might teach. Which also tied in, for me, to a large set of posts I wrote about how Science Fiction is important which, if I may, I will sum up in this quote from Among Others, which I am reading right now:

“One of the things I’ve always liked about science fiction is the way it makes you think about things, and look at things from angles you’d never have thought about before.”

-Jo Walton, Among Others

Okay, back to Naruto. In watching the show – especially in season 3 – there’s a lot of talk about learning, about studying Ninjutsu (ninja arts) and studying with a master. A lot about knowledge as power, which, when you’re throwing around crazy ninja powers, is a literal sort of adaptation of that concept. So let me talk through what I observed in the show, and what it tells us about the Purpose of Education!

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Reading Makes Us Better People?

I feel like I’ve kind of said this before. In talking about the purpose of education. In defining and defending genres like science fiction and fantasy from discrimination. But today my dad sent around an article that does a better job than I have in explaining just how much reading can affect you, can change you – for the better.

Readers, like voicemail leavers and card writers, are now a dying breed, their numbers decreasing with every GIF list and online tabloid.

The worst part about this looming extinction is that readers are proven to be nicer and smarter than the average human, and maybe the only people worth falling in love with on this shallow hell on earth…

Because reading is something that molds you and adds to your character. Each triumph, lesson and pivotal moment of the protagonist becomes your own.

Well okay then! You can read the whole article here: http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/date-reader-readers-best-people-fall-love-scientifically-proven/662017/

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