Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a fun and thoroughly enjoyable romp across the world both real and virtual in the year 2044.  For those of us that grew up during the 1980’s, it is also a very nostalgic romp full of references to things such as Rubik’s Cubes, Pac Man games and 80’s movies. In addition, if you are a fan of the Canadian rock band Rush as I am, you are in for a treat!!!

Ready Player One is set in the not so distant future. It’s the year 2044 and the world isn’t a good place. Reality is so bad for most people that they experience their lives mostly through their avatars in an online virtual world called OASIS. A unique opportunity arises when James Halliday — the 1980’s obsessed computer guru that created OASIS — dies and lets the world know that he has left a series of puzzles that lead to an Easter Egg in OASIS. Whoever solves the puzzles and finds the Easter Egg first wins the ultimate prize…Halliday’s massive fortune and control of his corporation.

In Halliday’s video will that was released upon his death, he left a clue:

“Three hidden keys open three secret gates

Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits

And those with the skill to survive these straits

Will reach The End where the prize awaits.”

Halliday also left a clue in a book he wrote that contained a puzzle to help people know where to begin hunting for the first clue.

“The Copper Key awaits explorers

In a tomb filled with horrors

But you have much to learn

If you hope to earn

A place among the high scorers.”

Our hero — Wade Watts, AKA Parzival — is a student and like countless others, has been obsessed for years with trying to solve the puzzle that Halliday left. The ‘gunters’ (shortened version of egg hunters) teach themselves about 1980’s movies, pop culture and video games to better equip themselves for solving the puzzles. It has been years since Halliday’s death and still no one has solved the first part of the puzzle. Parzival suddenly makes a connection and figures out the location of where to begin the quest. As he solves the first puzzle and gets the first key, he appears on the Scoreboard which attracts the attention of the whole world. He embarks upon a deadly, epic quest to solve the puzzles along with many others who are close at his heels.

Will he get there in time? Read and find out!!!

— Review by Marci, Fairdale

Indie Author Day at the Library

Indie Author Day

Saturday, October 14, 2017 – 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Join us at the South Central Regional Library for a celebration of local Indie authors and learn about IndieLou, the suite of services available from the Library that helps authors create, share, and promote their works.

Here’s the event roster:

1:00-4:00 PM: Local Author Marketplace

1:30-2:30 PM: Panel discussion with four local authors:
Amy Metz, Tytianna Wells-Smith, Bill Noel, and Atty Eve

3:00-4:00 PM: Memoir Writing Workshop by Kimberly Crum, MSW, MFA

Location: 

South Central Regional Library

7300 Jefferson Blvd.
LouisvilleKY 40219
Phone: 502-964-3515 

 Map    RSS Feed

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Phenomenal book! Full of brilliant brave, strong women! It’s Charlie’s Angels as if written by Mary Shelley! I can’t use enough exclamation points!

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter includes all of the gothic horror of Moreau, Hyde/Jekyll, Holmes and Watson, Dracula and Van Helsing. I didn’t think it was possible to put all of my favorite things in one story but Goss did it.

The story begins with Mary Jekyll, who has just buried her mother and is orphaned and broke and desperate for a way to make money. She’s also very interested in the secrets of her father’s shadowy past…one clue leads her to believe that if she could locate her father’s former friend, Edward Hyde, there is a reward for his capture and this could solve some of her urgent money troubles.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a wild, untamed and hilarious young girl suddenly shoved into Mary’s care. With the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary becomes involved in a spectacular adventure and mystery and befriends more remarkable women, all of whom have been created through frightening experiments.
The women uncover a secret society of wicked scientists and they band together to fight the forces of evil and take back their identities.

It’s such a fun read, I highly recommend reading it as I did with the windows open and rain falling outside, crisp fall air and a large ginger cat at your feet. Or another colored cat, doesn’t have to be a ginger. Or a dog. Whatever your preference. But it’s the perfect book to curl up with during the autumn season.

Review by Heather, St. Matthews

In Defense of Comics, pt. 5: Understanding Comics as a discussion tool

The biggest problem when discussing comics in an analytical way is determining just what they are. It is easier to talk about how they work than to come up with a solid definition, other than the old “I know a comic when I see it” one.  This is particularly true if you wish the definition to cover most (if not all) expressions of comics.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, a classic work of the Comics Studies discipline, defined comics as:

“Juxtaposed pictoral and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.”

In one of the Graphic Novel Discussion Group‘s meetings, McCloud’s definition elicited respect on one level but was hard to defend in toto when combined with some of his other assertions. For instance, his general assertion that writing (the act of inscribing thought in physical space) is distinctly non-pictorial in nature seems hard to defend considering there is a whole species of design – graphic design – that considers writing as a pictorial element (a.k.a. typography). Even within the comics industry, the position of “letterer” has been a long established one and the style of each letterer is often a strong consideration for the development of a particular work’s look.

McCloud violates his own rejection of a single panel as comic (which is asserted on pages 20-21 of Understanding Comics) on page 98 in the third and fourth panels. Granted, he hedges in the next two panels by differentiating between captions and word balloons but I think that’s because the narration is supposed to be framing the picture rather than a part of the world of the picture.  However, it is the introduction of speech and that speech takes time to happen that creates the sequential effect according to McCloud.

His distinction that in-picture indication of sound introduces sound as a narrative element — and thus changes things — doesn’t seem to add up as traditional forms of comics are a species of visual art. How such a sound is conveyed is part of the storyteller’s visual style, most clearly seen in the crafting of sound effect (think of the shape of letters used when you are to hear lightning or a punch to the jaw). Speech or audible sound is still an aspect of the story supplied by the reader’s mind, prompted by the images on the page (be they words or sound effects).

[Cartoon by Bil Keane (copyright holder King Features Syndicate), Fair Use]

So with Family Circus, it is clear that the words are actually speech that takes place in the world of the comic. Really, Bil Keane‘s quotes below the panel are just him avoiding using a word bubble. Maybe this is for sound commercial reasons (designated space on the page), for reasons of composition (to preserve the close-up shot feeling of the panel), or simply for reasons of style.

Further, McCloud misses that there is essentially an unbound panel of text next to the panel with obvious borders that has a picture. (At least) two panels = sequence, no? Here the mind moves from one kind of visual element (pictures) to another (type) and creates a connection, right? This would also apply to the sixth panel on p. 98 (if you ignore that there is no “gutter” – or gap – between the picture and the box with text).

During the discussion, I personally foundered when trying to separate the art of comics from other arts that use sequential methods/techniques. It’s not that I can’t get behind the idea that they are all just parts of “Art” or human communication – a position vigorously defended by a particular participant – but it seems like that kind of flattens out what makes comics differ(ent). Because when I talk about Watchmen, for instance, I don’t think it would be germane to bring in references to the methods of dance or sculpture or broadcast radio.

Part of it to me is that comics are the product of a particular technology, printing. And, as Marshall McLuhan wrote, “the medium is the message.” (1964) Because comics are creatures of print, our eye works a certain way, time is controlled more by how we read than by some static rate of delivery (such as television or radio), and a certain set of senses (sight and touch) are more dominant than others (smell, taste, and hearing).

I was especially flummoxed when asked about animation. My instinct is to treat animated works differently than more realistic film, to include them directly with comics. But animation is film and any distinction there is really just my own (or a general cultural) bias. They work by static broadcast, by use of light that is projected rather than ambient, and incorporate sound directly rather than by visual approximation (sound effect words, sound motion lines, etc.).

And what you would call Building Stories by Chris Ware?  Is it an architectural comic?  A comic box set?  An elaborate game with intricate pictures? A piece of conceptual art?

These distinctions seem a little silly on the surface but they do matter for no other reason than that of marketing. Being able to determine what to call something often guides the producer towards a target audience (and vice versa). If Building Stories is a work of architecture then it will be sold to schools of architecture and design. If it is just a  comic then it will be sold at places where comics are sold. If it is a game then it will be sold at gaming shops. And if it is a work of conceptual art, there might be an installation at some fine art gallery.

But back to Understanding Comics and the discussion it engendered.  One of the participants in this discussuion commented that he thought that McCloud was at his best when he was discussing the nuts and bolts of comic structure (e.g., explaining things such as conveyance of time via panels and the structuring of a story via panel placement) and also when explaining the artistic level of abstraction used to carry the story (e.g., highly detailed art for personal narratives versus pictographic expression for symbolic works). He thought that McCloud failed to really differentiate comics distinctly from visual art as a whole but that his presentation feels inspiring if one doesn’t dig too deeply, echoing an argument that Dylan Horrocks leveled at McCloud in his essay, “Inventing Comics.” (2001)

Horrocks feels that McCloud is writing more of a persuasion piece, which he deems a “polemic.” [As an aside, this feels like a mild misuse of the term as “polemic” tends to refer to a vigorous disputation of an argument rather than mounting a defense for – or presenting a supporting argument for – a position.] Further, that McCloud is trying to build a justification for comics as serious art, thereby uplifting the community of comic readers from their previous status as scruffy-looking nerf herders. Doing so comes by way of a definition (highlighted in red above) that excludes many other things that comics could be said to be without discussing why those exclusions make sense.

“Nation building,” as Horrocks calls this effort, seems kind of quaint nearly a quarter of century after the book’s first edition. In the intervening time, comics, comic nerds, and comic fans of all stripes have garnered the respect that McCloud was working towards. Comics are regular parts of academic studies and art galleries, and receive high-toned collections of previous works. Comic fans come from increasingly diverse backgrounds and feel no shame in hiding their passions. Comic industry insiders find that their work no longer traps them in the lower ends of the publishing industry.

And while I tend to like the basic idea, I also have felt the need to add a little meat to McCloud’s definition in this series of essays about comics by mentioning both cultural and historical factors that also have made comics what they are today. Even so, I feel like I am still very, very far off getting to just what makes a comic a comic. However, Understanding Comics did give our discussion a great starting place, and my sense of what is a comic was altered through that discussion. For that alone, I would recommend the book for anyone who wants to explore these questions.

Plus, it’s a fun read!


If you are interested in discussing these titles or other works of sequential art, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Meetings are held at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month, starting at 6:00 PM.

At our next meeting (October 9th), we will be talking about Monster Comics!

Women and the Square Circle

Women’s wrestling appears to be garnering interest with the public again due, I surmise, in part to the rise in popularity of the Netflix show GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).  Stepping into the square this year are two books which throw a spot light on the world of women in the ring.

The first is Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling by Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy. It offers short biographies of several athletes from around the globe and their journey into the world of female wrestlers. Two of the women are from Kentucky whose paths led them from an attraction at a freak show in a circus to a tag team matched up again male wrestling tag teams.  While some will see wrestling as a charade, which by in large it is, the performers/wrestlers display athletic prowess and drive to do whatever it takes to get ahead even if it results in broken bones or missing teeth, as displayed in the book.

Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy present a good mix of information, past and present, up to the latter half of 2016, as well as images of each female wrestler. There is still enough mystery in the field of women’s wrestling to keep the reader wondering what the future may hold for this rough and tumble sport.  If shows like GLOW are of interest or if wrestling draws your attention check out this latest non-fiction title.

My other selection is entitled Crazy is my Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by AJ Mendez Brooks

As in many autobiographies/memoirs, there is a mixture of good, bad and ugly. Brooks’ book is no different. Memories of her early years show the hardships – being bullied as a child and being raised by her older siblings – while her parents worked just to keep food on the table.  As a child, Brooks was drawn to the world of wrestling as she watched the excitement in the ring and the fancy ring attire.  She also struggled with anorexia and depression but she always knew she wanted to be in the ring, at the center of attention.  

At one point in the book she talks of traveling to a plethora of different venues around the States and Mexico.  Each chapter builds Brooks’ story and brings the reader along on her journey to the ring. There are lists at the end of the chapters in which Brooks’ rates her experiences.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

Are You A Fan?

Random Fandom is returning on

Saturday, September 23, 2017, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Let your geek flag fly!

This day-long convention of all things fandom returns to the Southwest Regional Library.

Join us for a day of child, adult, and family programming, vendors, gaming, food trucks, and contests.

Register at the door, or go to www.lfpl.org/RandomFandom to sign up online.

Location: 

Southwest Regional Library

9725 Dixie Highway
LouisvilleKY USA 40272
Phone: 502-933-0029
Website: Click to Visit

Girl in Disguise

Girl in Disguise by Greer MacAllister is a novel about the first female Pinkerton agent, Kate Warne, whose real life is almost stranger than fiction. I first discovered Kate in a Netflix show called the Pinkerton’s. I did the proper library assistant thing and researched her. Not only was she  the first female Pinkerton detective she also lead the women’s detective bureau part of the agency. Not much is known about her before she become a Pinkerton agent, leaving both historians and novelist alike to wonder who Kate Warne was.

Greer MacAllister breathes life into her own version of Kate’s history before she becomes a Pinkerton agent. The novel sucked me into the story and Kate’s world from the first chapter. It  begins in 1856 and continues through the Civil War but ends soon after the Civil War. Greer gives her own spin to a few of Kate’s actual cases as a Pinkerton, including cases that may or may not have been real. One of the most nerve racking and nail biting parts of the book  is her working to get Lincoln to Washington without him being killed before being sworn in as President. This is based on Kate’s most famous case as a Pinkerton.

It’s hard to put Girl in Disguise into a genre category even though the library had it classified as general fiction. To me it is a bit of biographical fiction and historical fiction with a bit of mystery thrown in. Fans of historical fiction, mystery, biographical fiction, detective fiction will enjoy this book. Kate Warne proves that sometimes life can be more mysterious than fiction.

Formats Available: Book, eBook

Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

A Girl, a Mission, and a One-way Journey: A Review of Mars One by Jonathan Maberry

Tristan and Izzy have been in love since middle school. They have always known that there was an ending date stamped on their romance that loomed ahead of them. Since he was twelve, Tristan knew he and his parents were going to be part of a mission that will take them away from Earth forever as part of the small group of people who were going to colonize Mars.

Reality television has pulled out all the stops to capitalize on the teen’s romance, drawing on the legend of star-crossed lovers Tristian and Isolde. Tristian and Izzy’s romance has humanized the mission and touched the heart of millions in a way none of the other publicity has done. With all the world’s eyes on the Mars Project, they have become the darlings of reality television, much to their chagrin.

Tristian and Izzy only agreed because the money they would receive could give Izzy opportunities for college and a better life when Tristian was gone. As for Tristian, some of his share would be divided between the needs of the mission and a trust set up on Earth to help others in need. But the mission isn’t all glory and celebration for there are those on Earth who would see it ended before the colonists leave the planet.

NeoLuddite radicals want the mission to Mars scrapped, even if that means killing the colonists. They also strike against Izzy in hopes of grabbing attention and rocking the confidence of the mission. News breaks that China has also been planning a trip to Mars with their own group of colonists. Another concern is who will reach the red planet first and what will that mean for their voyage?

Then someone aboard starts sabotaging life support functions on the ships. Now in deep space the colonists must find the saboteurs before it is too late.  Who are the terrorists among them? Where will they strike next? Will any of the ships and their crew make it to Mars?

This tale of space exploration, mystery, and danger is told through Tristian’s eyes, following his courtship and separation with Izzy, the grueling training, and finally the voyage of no return. A genius in engineering, he can take anything apart and put it back together in record time. At this point, it will take all of his skills, ability with machines, and ingenuity to help make this mission a success and save the people he cares about. Filled with scientific facts and supposition about how a journey like this might become reality, especially if we continue to deplete our limited resources without finding other solutions.

In my opinion, at the heart of Mars One are two strong young teens that grow to love each other, grow apart, and go their separate ways, all while keeping their memories of each other alive. In the end, they use their love to leave something wonderful behind.

Format Available: Book, eBook

Review by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Perception Versus Reality: a review of The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus

Perception versus reality – how often are the two completely unrelated?  Throughout the years, numerous authors, philosophers, poets, and others have attempted to explore this question.  Mr. Henry James, that behemoth in the firmament of American literature, employed, for example, his novels to aid in developing within the reader the ability to move past perception and into reality.

In the words of Betty Suchar at a presentation before the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (Henry James’ “Portrait of a Lady,” 2013):

“James believed that the skill the author possessed in composing the various scenarios played out in the character’s mind had the potential to assist intelligent readers in the complicated challenge of understanding human relationships and in developing their ability to rehearse options in their own mind before making decisions. Since motives are often hidden or misleading, readers could sharpen their ability to interpret human nature only if his novels were ambiguous.”

Now, what has this to do with the debut novel, The Unfortunates authored by Sophie McManus, you may ask, about which this review was to focus?  Well, I believe that Ms. McManus has aptly succeeded in giving the reader characters who, on first meeting, leave a very particular impression.  Cece and her son, George, heirs to a great robber baron fortune, seem cultivated, polished, and self-assured.  But once again, it is what lies beneath, hidden from sight, that is most important, and as the novel progresses, Ms. McManus begins to provide subtle hints that, when upon close inspection, there are actually cracks in the marble and all that glitters is most decidedly not gold.

This strong debut novel draws realistic characters who lead lives of quiet desperation, a desperation that slowly becomes visible as subtle hints become more pronounced when failures and tragedies are no longer avoidable and must then be faced.  And small decisions of the past, seemingly insignificant when taken on their own, rise from that past and merge to create unforeseen disasters.  Or were they foreseeable?  Decisions of her past, in Cece’s parlance, constitute “the unfortunates.”  Ah, the euphemism is such a useful tool in that wonderfully human game of self deception.

“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.” 

“History isn’t the lies of the victors, as I once glibly assured Old Joe Hunt; I know that now. It’s more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious or defeated.”  — Julian Barnes, A Sense of an Ending

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

 

South Central Regional Library is Now Open

The Okolona Branch has moved and is now the South Central Regional Library

 | 7300 Jefferson Boulevard, Louisville, Kentucky 40219 | (502) 964-3515 |

The new 40,000-square-foot South Central Regional Library is now open.The state-of-the-art facility replaces the considerably smaller Okolona branch library and enhances service for more than 160,000 people in south central Jefferson County. Filled with new books and cutting edge technology, the library is a place that encourages learning at all stages of life.

The South Central Regional Library is an awe-inspiring space, with an abundance of natural light and incredible views of more than an acre of preserved woodland. The building also offers two large community meeting rooms, several smaller rooms for studying, reading, or collaborating, a dynamic space for teens, and an expanded children’s area. This new regional library is also outfitted to serve the area’s technology needs, with more than 100 computers, a maker space, and LFPL’s first laptop checkout kiosk. And, of course, it offers more than 120,000 books, DVDs, and other materials!


Hours

  • Monday – Thursday: 9 – 9
  • Friday and Saturday: 9 – 5
  • Sunday: 1 – 5

Directions

The South Central Regional Library is located at 7300 Jefferson Boulevard at McCawley Road near the Jefferson Mall.

From I-65 – Take exit #127 for the Outer Loop. Head east on Outer Loop for about two miles.  At light located at the intersection of Outer Loop and Jefferson Blvd., turn left.  Once on Jefferson Blvd., go about a half mile. The library is on the left, next to the post office.

From 265 — Snyder Freeway – Take exit #10 for I-65 north. Go about one and a half miles to exit #127 for the Outer Loop.  Head east on Outer Loop for about two miles.  At light located at the intersection of Outer Loop and Jefferson Blvd., turn left.  Once on Jefferson Blvd., go about 1/2 mile. The library is on the left, next to the post office.

From 264 — Watterson Expressway – Take 264 to the I-65 South exit (#12).  Go about 4 miles until you get to exit #127 for the Outer Loop.   Head east on Outer Loop for about two miles.  At light located at the intersection of Outer Loop and Jefferson Blvd., turn left.  Once on Jefferson Blvd., go about 1/2 mile. The library is on the left, next to the post office.

From Outer Loop, east of Preston, Jefferson Mall area – Head west on Outer Loop toward I-65. At light located at the intersection of Outer Loop and Jefferson Blvd., turn left.  Once on Jefferson Blvd., go about 1/2 mile. The library is on the left, next to the post office.

From Fern Valley Road – Head south on Preston Highway. Go approximately 1 1/2 mile to the intersection of Preston Highway and the Outer Loop.  Turn left onto Preston Highway and head east on for about two miles.  At light located at the intersection of Outer Loop and Jefferson Blvd., turn left.  Once on Jefferson Blvd., go about 1/2 mile. The library is on the left, next to the post office.


COLLIDER Artist-In-Residence Program

South Central also includes another first for LFPL, an artist-in-residence space called COLLIDER, made possible through generous funding from Councilwoman Madonna Flood. This new programming space will feature rotating artists throughout the year with whom patrons can interact, both informally and at regularly occurring programs. Click here to learn more.


 History

Though memories have been handed down through the years of bookshelves in stores where one could “borrow” to read, the first official library in Okolona was established in 1958 in the Okolona Community Center (which later became the Okolona Woman’s Club on Blue Lick Road). Mrs. Stanley Williams was the first librarian, with the able assistance and direction of Ms. Mary Morgan, librarian at Southern High School. Okolona Woman’s Club members manned the facility that started with 800 donated books.

Growth demanded a move to Southern High School, and from there the library moved to quarters in a mobile unit in the shopping center across from Southern. In 1985 a new library was constructed at 8003-R Preston on property donated by Cumberland Bank. Growth then demanded another move . . . this time when places were exchanged with the Jefferson County Police and Employees Credit Union at 7709 Preston.

Still located in Okolona, this latest move also comes with a name change: the South Central Regional Library. This new, modern regional library is more than four times larger than the previous location. A spectacular quilt made by the Okolona Women’s Club is on permanent display in the new South Central and showcases the history and community pride of Okolona.