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try Mary Robinette Kowal for #historyread #rwpchat

September 20, 2016

Mary Robinette Kowal is a USA writer and puppeteer. Her most recent novel, Ghost talkers is set in France in 1916.  It is a novel which looks at the history of that time, and then imagines other possibilities for obtaining intelligence about the fighting.  It is a pacy, engaging novel for which the historical information is key.

Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal, image thanks to RT Book Reviews

This is not the first time Mary Robinette Kowal  has tweaked history.  Her Glamourist history series (which starts with Shades of milk and honey), imagines the world of Regency England (with some visits to other countries in subsequent novels) with other elements. Mary Robinette Kowal writes about the images which inspire her work, as well as the heritage sewing which she also enjoys.

The Lady Astronaut of Mars is a wonderful, sad, imagined history, and For want of a nail highlights the importance of digital preservation, exploring the importance of memories and how we keep them.

Have a look at her boards on Pinterest, they are a wonderful way of bringing together research about her different novels.

Ellen Forsyth

do some transcription for #historyread #rwpchat

September 15, 2016

You may want to do some text correction or transcription as part of #historyread. There are many places you can become a digital volunteer and help.

You could do some text correcting of the newspapers at Trove Australia. There are some simple to follow guidelines, and an honor board of contributors. This may lead to further action such as knitting, as the Trove group on Ravelry are active in transcribing knitting and crochet patterns from the digitised newspapers and magazines.  You can see some of the items made as a result of these transcriptions. The most popular pattern is a knitted elephant.

Zooinverse has lots of projects you can participate in, and some are transcription ones. You may want to:



The Smithsonian is also seeking transcribers.

These are just a few of the transcribing and text correcting opportunities out there.  They are a very interesting way to explore #historyread


Ellen Forsyth

Submit a “Writerly game” to WordPlay London

September 14, 2016

WordPlay London organisers are looking for submissions for their festival event at The British Library on 19th November. The focus of their event is games with a strong focus on writing.

The organisers site says:

“If you would like to submit or suggest a writerly game — a game with exceptional writing or one that uses writing in an integral way — please do so via the form below before midnight on September 28th. You can submit your own game, or a game you feel strongly about. No submission fee, Toronto and international games welcome.”

The link directly to the submission form can be found here.



#historyread – Star Trek at 50 #rwpchat

September 7, 2016
Kirk's Ship

A model of the USS Enterprise from the Star Trek television series.  (Copyright Brendan Hunter)

Space was my final frontier in Surrey in the 1960’s.  Having grown up in the space age of Gemini my press cuttings folder was full of the flights that paved the way for Apollo.  In July 1969 Apollo 11 went to the moon, I went to a new school and we watched Star Trek.

Real life was only imitating art as we were immersed in Star Trek – that was the future and  we were on the way there.  The bridge of the Enterprise was our window on the Galaxy and in 200 years it would all be real the transporters, communicators, tricorders and phasers (on stun of course) all deployed in peace for the Federation of Planets.

The voyages of the Starship Enterprise on its five year mission took us to worlds that often looked like ours – possibly for budgetary reasons rather than fore knowledge of exoplanets. However the science of Star Trek gave us a knowledge of the properties anti-matter which could be useful in CERN.

The stories sneaked in a social and political awareness, we saw societies where people who were half black and half white fought because the halves were on different sides. War was played out in booths for voluntary euthanasia rather than destroy towns and cause pain. And of course the kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura……. Which didn’t mean much to us as he was always kissing someone, but it certainly made an impression in some places. We loved Chekov anyway.

Star Trek the original, the Next Generation, Voyager, the films and all the spin offs kept us going in the lean years without space travel. The prototype of the Space Shuttle named Enterprise forever linked NASA to Star Trek. And now we have the new Star Trek to enjoy in our twilight years until we beam up.

Happy Birthday Star Trek – Live long and prosper.

Sue, Surrey Libraries

It is September, so it must be time for #historyread for #rwpchat

September 1, 2016


Fish washing indoors. Reykjavík.

Fish washing indoors. Reykjavík.

September is the month of #historyread, where there’s hundreds of potential themes to be discussed; from fact and fiction books, representations of history in film and a variety of history plays. This month’s theme also ties in with History Week (5th – 13th September), when the History Council of New South Wales member organisations collaborate to showcase the history of the state.

Every country and community has moments of its history which have been represented in some artistic form. Will you be exploring historical crime fiction with CJ Sansom’s Dominion series or perhaps reading into China Mieville’s science fiction worlds? Or do you prefer your historical fiction with a touch of romance, a 19th century steampunk twist, or an alternate history in a world that took a slightly different path? Though it isn’t an alternate history we can see from Tony Horwitz’ Confederates in the Attic that the American Civil War still has a legacy many people may be unaware of.

There’s also local history to explore; this will be different for everyone, so what’s local for you? Perhaps you’ve experience in genealogy and have an interest in family history, all of which can be done using books tracing your family history. Through the development of photographic techniques in the 19th century and later, moving pictures, we can see what life was like in the past, as well as reading about it.

We’ve got the history of everything from food, art and photography to sport and changes in the weather, through which we can all see a wide range of books and documentaries on these topics. We can go down an even narrower subject route with micro histories such as Simon Garfield’s Mauve.

Language has also changed over time, with new words always being introduced into the English Language including Melvyn Bragg’s The Adventure of English. Languages have travelled across continents over the centuries, sometimes as a result of colonialism, but what was the impact on the Indigenous languages of those continents, and what is the resulting legacy for those languages?

What about the studies of archaeology, anthropology and geology, which all give us further insights into the history of the world and how earth was formed.

A Little History of the World or Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything should get you started in everything you need to know about the world, or there’s plenty of other ways to explore the history of science and developments in technology and industry.

For online and digitised resources take a look at the National Library of Australia’s Trove site or Europeana.

Who provides us with a history of events though? We need to be mindful of apologist histories defending controversial activities.

Going back even further in time is the study of palaeontology- what child doesn’t love a book on dinosaurs!? Jurassic Park fits into this, and whilst not a true story (!), it brings to life this magnificent creature of history. Kids also love learning through the Horrible Histories book, which can also now be seen represented on our TV screens. Historical fiction is represented in children’s fiction including Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series.

Who can forget books on time travel such as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, books by Connie Willis, and everyone’s favourite time traveller, Doctor Who. Biographies and memoirs explore the history of individual famous figures, some of which have been brought to life through film such as Nelson Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom.

How many books can you name with the word ‘history’ in the title? The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a clear frontrunner, but there must be many more to be discussed.

And who doesn’t love to play at historical re-enactment? Dressing up in costume and recreating famous battles is a long forgotten pastime of many.

While you are reading, playing or watching your #historyread this month, you might like to tweet about it using hashtags #historyread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about it. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #historyread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

The Twitter discussion takes place on 27 September, starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. 9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 8am – 10.30am, 2pm – 4pm GMT. Note this is a staggered discussion.

#historyread – Historic houses in America #rwpchat

September 1, 2016

Oak Alley Plantation

This month’s theme is #historyread.  One of my interests is visiting historic houses.  One of my favourites is Biltmore Estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville in North Carolina.  George Vanderbilt had the 250-room French Renaissance chateau built in 1889.  I visited in November 1999 when the house was decorated for Christmas.  It looked amazing with garlands hanging from the fireplaces and huge Christmas trees throughout the house.

On a visit to Rhode Island I went to several of the Newport Mansions.  The one I liked best was Rosecliff which is built in the style of the Grand Trianon at  Versailles.  I went on the guided tour and the guide had some interesting stories about the house.  The most memorable one was the heart shaped staircase being encased in ice, due to water leaking in the winter months, which froze around it.  Scenes from The Great Gatsby, True Lies and 27 Dresses have been shot on location at Rosecliff.

Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California is also an interesting place to visit.  It was created by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan in 1947.  My favourite room in the house was the assembly room.  This was where Hearst’s guests would gather for cocktails before dinner.  Many famous people have visited Hearst Castle over the years including Winston Churchill, Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin.

While on holiday in Louisiana I visited Oak Alley Plantation which is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River.  The quarter of a mile long alley of 300 year old oak trees lead from the banks of the Mississippi to the entrance of the antebellum house which is named after the trees.  A guide in period costume gave an informative tour.  My favourite part of the house was the wrap around veranda which provided welcome shade on a hot day.

Join us @ReadWatchPlay on Tuesday 27 September when we will be discussing #historyread.  Use the tags #historyread and #rwpchat so everyone can join in the conversation.

Monique, Surrey Libraries

join the #geekread discussion today, for #rwpchat

August 30, 2016

There will be a twitter discussion, today, 30 August starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST (UK). Note this is a staggered discussion.

Please use the tags #geekread and #rwpchat as you discuss your reading, watching, and playing that is your experience of #geekread, so that others can join in the conversation too.

“You know, “nerd culture” is mainstream now. So, when you use the word “nerd” derogatorily, it means you’re the one that’s out of the zeitgeist.” Ben Wyatt.

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.” Simon Pegg

“Nowadays, people own their nerd-dom.” Neil Gaiman

“Being a geek is cool.” – Me (In the vain hopes I’m cool now)

#Geekread can be anything from the latest Brian Cox bestseller about the universe, to the world of Minecraft and everything in-between. It’s wanting to captain your own star ship but also wanting to travel Middle earth and fight a Balrog or becoming over excited when New Horizons flew past Pluto. Being a geek is difficult to define but what is universal across all geekdoms is passion.

Being a geek is so much more than the stereotyped kid with NHS glasses being socially inept. We geeks are inheriting the earth and showing the world that it’s ok to go crazy about that thing you love. Want to write fan fiction based in your favourite universe, or upload YouTube clips of World of Warcraft or collect every issue of X-Men? In the words of the ‘great’ Shia LaBeouf ‘DO it!’

Mrs. Bill Stagg with state quilt that she made, Pie Town, New Mexico. A community settled by about 200 migrant Texas and Oklahoma farmers who filed homestead claims ... Mrs. Stagg helps her husband in the field with plowing planting, weeding corn and harv

Mrs. Bill Stagg with state quilt that she made, Pie Town, New Mexico. Library of Congress on Flickr Commons

Being a geek is a state of mind. If you think you’re a geek, then you are one. You don’t need to be an expert in your fandom but you do need to have a devotion to it. (Don’t let anyone bully you because they tell you you’re not a real Star Wars nerd because you don’t know the name of the droid you saw for 5 seconds at the back of scene that one time).

‘Nerdy’ or ‘Geeky’ behaviour is way more common than most people like to think. You can be a gaming nerd, a book geek, a music fanatic, a keen quilter, knitter, maker of scalemail, garden geek, and RPG (Role Playing Game) freak and much much more.

It’s not just reading Lord of the Rings, it’s absorbing the world Tolkien has built by reading the 12 volume history of middle earth. It’s not just about who was the best Doctor (Tennant of course) but its understanding the biology of a time lord and exploring countless time streams and worlds with them. It’s the kind of person that sits in all day with the next sci-fi blockbuster by Ian M Banks. It’s the girl who wants to level up their Warlock Drow in Dungeons and Dragons so she can fight that last Boss Battle. And it’s the guy who likes to figure out if the science in Star Trek and Star Wars could actually work.

A geek is not interested in reality, we want an escape to a far off fascinating world. Being a Geek is cool. Have a look at some of the amazing #geekread stories at @iartlibraries