Fantastic librarians, or librarian fantasies?

In a recent post, I enthused about a few of my favorite fictional librarians, and invited others to share their favorites. The suggestions that followed were many and varied, ranging from Public Librarian Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, to Henry DeTamble from Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, to Garth Nix’s Lirael, who is given a job as Assistant Librarian, which turns her whole life around. There were nods to Armbruster, the crotchety monk librarian from Walter Miller’s post-apocalyptic classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Jane from Mindy Klasky’s Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft, the buttoned-down Rupert Giles of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, and the librarian witch Ophelia in Shirley Damsgaard’s Ophelia & Abby mysteries. One reader raved about Lucien, the chief librarian in the Dreaming from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series (“He’s stylish, kind, ethical, and gracefully manages to succeed in exemplary professional practice in quite a difficult environment”), while over in the Science Fiction aisle Signals Officer Adele Mundy from David Drake’s Lt. Leary series was mentioned, as was Sandra Foster from Connie Willis’ delightful Bellwether.

                                       Do you sense a pattern emerging here?

Could it be that librarians’ staid image is now bursting the seams of naturalistic fiction and spilling forth into the realms of imagination and empires of wonder? Are librarians truly fantastic, or are we just indulging in librarian fantasies? And what does it say about our supposed serious demeanor when possibly the most revered fictional librarian of all time is an orangutan? You’ll have to read The Color of Magic, first title in Terry Pratchett’s hilarious and perennially popular Discworld series, to learn just how The Librarian at the Unseen University Library became an ape, Continue reading “Fantastic librarians, or librarian fantasies?”

A Chicago-based wizard turns hard-boiled detective in The Dresden Files

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher chronicles the adventures of Harry Dresden, the world’s only wizard-for-hire, as he investigates crimes with a magical twist and saves the city of Chicago from assorted minions of evil, including vampires, demons and fiendish goats.

While some of the basics mechanics of this series aren’t new — magical man investigates mabook cover Small Favorgical crimes in a big city — there are a few key details that set the Dresden Files apart from the rest of the “urban fantasy” books out there. Most of those details can be found in minor characters like Bob the Talking Skull, perhaps the best magical assistant ever devised. Keep an eye out for Ivy the Archive, Mab the Winter Queen, and a dewdrop faerie known as Toot-toot. In the Dresden Files, it is often the little guys who make the biggest difference, or at least add the greatest moments of comic relief.

The Dresden Files was made into a short-lived television show on cable’s Continue reading “A Chicago-based wizard turns hard-boiled detective in The Dresden Files”

Fairy tales for grown ups

cover of prince of dreamsSome stories we love hearing over and over again. Folktales told worldwide over the centuries have amazing similarities of theme, style and even in presentation. Some of the most dramatic fairy tales capture our hearts and imaginations even today. Sometimes authors re-imagine than old story from another perspective. At times authors prefer to write new stories using riffs from established tales or using an old-fashioned storyteller’s style that encourages us to settle back and enjoy the telling.

Here are four new spins on fairy tales many of us recognize from our childhood days: