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Points of Departure, pt 2

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

How do you find somewhere that is figuratively in the middle of nowhere? Even worse, what if the place in question is also literally nowhere, except in the pages of the book?

MontanaAs Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Charlotte Perkins is a comically disastrous travelogue. The journey kicks off in the town of New Pêche, where 16 year old Ry - on his way to summer camp- arrives after mistakenly getting off the train in the middle of the Montana wilderness, setting off an escalating series of travel misadventures.

I scoured the map, but couldn’t see any town in Montana by that name. Perkins' observation that Pêche is French for Peach is a red herring, as further sleuthing revealed that it’s also French for fishing. And there IS a town called Whitefish in Montana….

Henry River Mill VillageSearching for places gets a bit trickier in speculative fiction. Place names, and sometimes even the geography, can change, but these locations can still be teased out.

District 12 of The Hunger Games is located somewhere in the Appalachian region of what is currently the United States. In the film versions, a full-scale version of the district was created in Henry River Mill Creek, North Carolina. Like Harry Potter, this has resulted in an adjunct tourism industry, complete with tours and camps (I don’t know that this would be my idea of a relaxing vacation). If you’re really keen you can even buy it!

Ship breaking

The New Orleans described in Ship Breaker is, to date, a far cry from the city as it exists now. The hulking shells of freighters that fill the shoreline can be found in other locales, however. A landscape that author Paolo Bacigalupi may have envisioned currently exists in Chittagong, Bangladesh and was documented in a stunning series by photographer Edward Burtynsky.

MoonThe precise terrestrial location of Zone Seven in the tyrannical 'Mother Land' is left vague in Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon. The lunar landscape, on the other hand, is described in vivid detail as the regime celebrates the imminent moon landing. The fate of this landing and those of Standish and his friend Hector become increasingly intertwined in this tense and heartbreaking book.

As easy as falling off the face of the earthCatching FireShip BreakerMaggot Moon

Points of Departure

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

Although stories often veer off into wildly imaginative terrains, they often set off from real life spaces. Whether peculiar, mundane or unexpected, these places are nonetheless imbued with potential and serve as important gateways into the constructed literary worlds. These places are created in collaboration between the imaginations of the writer and reader, but comparing this vision with the reality can also offer added insight. With this in mind, I thought I would try to track down some of these points of departure.

Cassiar ConnectorVancouver’s Cassiar Connector, which serves as the entrance way to the realm of the Half World, was pretty easy to locate, thanks to some rather specific instructions the antagonist, Mr. Glueskin, gives our heroine.

…”Where was I? Ahhh, yes. If you ever want to see your mummy again, and so on and so forth, leave the house immediately and proceed to the Cassiar Connector. Enter the tunnel that is farthest west. I really don’t know where you’ll end up if you go through the wrong Gate. So PAY ATTENTION!” he roared.

“West side,” Melanie sobbed.

“Good girl,” the vile voice soothed. “You’ll find there are numerous doors lining the inside wall. Go through Door Number Four! Get it? Door Four! Your prize-winning entry into Half-World!”

graveyard East Grinstead

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is inspired by an experience of a cemetery near his childhood home. As he recounts in the foreword to the book:

“The idea had been so simple, to tell the story of a boy raised in a graveyard, inspired by one image: my infant son, Michael – who was two, and is now twenty-five, the age I was then, and is now taller than I am – on his tricycle, pedaling through the graveyard across the road in the sunshine, past the grave I once thought had belonged to a witch.”


Kings Cross Station

London's Kings Cross Station became one of the most famous rail terminals in the world after Harry Potter used it as the starting point of his journey to Hogwarts. It is now a tourist destination for countless Potter fans who continue to flock there in search of platform 9 ¾. In honour of the literary homage, a luggage cart was installed halfway through the wall. However, as intrepid fans have noted, the platform isn’t quite in the same place as mentioned in the books. Rowling admits her memory was a bit foggy on this detail, and had based it on another nearby station.

Forest Park

The Impassable Wilderness, otherwise known as Forest Park in Portland Oregon, is the world that Prue has to enter in order to rescue her baby brother, along with many other quests and adventures in Wildwood.

As long as Prue could remember, every map she had ever seen of Portland and the surrounding countryside had been blotted with a large, green patch in the centre, stretching like a growth of moss from the northwest corner to the southwest, and labeled with the mysterious initials "I.W."

Even in real life, the forest lives up to its literary moniker, leaving so much to the imagination.

Half WorldGraveyard BookHarry Potter and the Deathly HallowsWildwood

On the Bus? Bored? School Trip?= Audio Book

by Adrienne Adams - 0 Comment(s)

Going on a school trip? Bored? Get sick reading on the bus? Many of your favourite books are now being produced as Audio Books & Book CD's. Play them in the car while going to Vegas with friends or family. Down load one of our E-Books sound recordings from Overdrive on our e-library and listen on your i-pod while biking around the river or play a book cd on a cd-walkman while on the bus to school. In fact sitting outside sun-tanning while sipping virgin margaritas listening to an Audio Book might just have become one of my favourite weekend pastimes. Especially if they could get Leonard Cohen to do the voice... One of my favourites recently has been Wildwood Dancing by Juliette Marillier narrated by Kim Mai Guest. Kim's soft voice is intruiguing and one of the great things about listening to her describe all the beautiful Romanian worlds like "Piscu Dracuili", from Transalvania, is that I didn't have to guess at the correct pronounciation everytime. On CPL's Overdrive you can listen to an audio sample - giving you a chance to decide whether not the book interests you. You can also search for other audio books narrated by the same narrator (from other authors). Sometimes the author narrates their own book - most times not. Cybele's Secret - a companion novel to Wildwood Dancing is also available on Audio Book - I read this one just to compare - and I admit you can probably read faster than most people can speak... however can you read while baking, knitting, cycling, driving or drawing?

And there's some of your favourite titles! Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld won an award (Read by Alan Cumming). As did Will Grayson, Will Grayson which you'll like if you like Glee! (by John Green and David Leviathan) narrated by Macleod Andrews and Nick Podehl (both Odyssey Honor Audiobooks Award).

And of course there's the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Colins- all three books are available on Audio and Book CD.

Others that have won awards include Alchmey and Meggy Swan (Karen Cushman, narrated by Katherine Kellgren), The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness, Mp3 narrated by Nick Podehl), and Revolution (Jennifer Donnelly, narrated by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering). (Also Odyssey Honor Audies)

Mirror Mask - by Neil Gaiman Narrated by Stephanie Leonidas was quite enchanting and highlights the complexities of fighting with your mom...

I asked Alex what her Audiobook picks would be. She said, "If you'd rather listen to a book than read one, I highly recommend the mp3 copy of "An Abundance of Katherines" -- John Green's words hardly need someone to read them since they leap right off the page, but the narrator of this one does a great job anyways!

If you've never treated your ear canals to the audioCD of HARRY POTTER, you're in for a real surprise! Jim Dale has won TWO grammies and TEN Audies (Audio Awards) for his readings -- he has a different voice for every character and they're all phenomenal. I fall asleep to one of these books almost every night. I bet I could recite Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Princeby heart!!! There are also loads of audio books that are read by celebrities! Check out titles like "InkHeart", performed by Brendan Fraser and "Series of Unfortunate Events" read by the amazing Tim Curry!"

Personally though I think listening to Harry Potter before bed might explain some of the horrifically fantastic dreams Alex has reported having! Just saying... Those ones might be better for those long rides on the bus ;0)

Seed Bombs: Getting to know bombus, and being eco chic this summer

by Alexandra May - 2 Comment(s)

BeeMaking seed bombs. Just what is a seed bomb you might ask? It’s basically a ‘bomb” (or “green grenade” of you like) that is made of dirt, clay, and seeds. The idea is not to spread violence, but growth. Throughout North America and Europe, many “guerrilla gardeners” use seed bombs to help beautify their cities, turning grey lifeless ashphalt into green spaces. Being a guerilla gardener can be as simple as doing something in your backyard, or just outside in your back alley, or by the side of an otherwise lifeless parking lot.

So why do people do it (garden that is)? Apparently, it’s revolutionary to plant things: a group of artists got together and actually had a “weed exchange”, where they dug up weeds , traded them, and replanted them throughout their city. I think we could do that with more than weeds – why not plant some native flowers or herbs you can eat instead?

Here is a link for some ideas on how to make a seed bombs (you can look for the eco friendly ones!).

Get to know Bombus.

Bombus is the bomb. Or, at least, sometimes these girls sound like low flying bombers as they fly by. Basically, bumblebees rock. If you’re scared of bees, you need to know a few things: 1) bees are not wasps (which actually can be pretty nasty!), 2) no, there are no “killer bees” in Calgary, so relax, and 3) bumblebees aren’t out to sting anybody unless they feel like you’re trying to hurt them – so don’t. Bees are also in trouble, as their populations are in decline. I figure, since we’ll be out guerrilla gardening anyway, why not make a seed bomb for bees? It’s just one more way to make the world a better, more interesting place.

You can visit www.bumblebee.org for information about bees. Generally, bumble bees love purple and yellow flowers, and they really seem to love sunflowers, oregano and other herbs (which you can also eat!), snapdragons, as well as native flowers like asters and wild bergamot (which butterflies also love!)

Being eco chic

Gardening is also a great excuse to wear great hats. Seriously. It keeps the sun out of your eyes, off your skin, and can make you feel styling even when you’re out getting your hands dirty. Good shades are also a must, and don’t forget your gloves (yes, even garden gloves come in a variety of colours and styles too). Joining a community garden and growing stuff with your friends is a great way to spend some time this summer. Don’t forget the sunscreen.