For my class on Services for Young Adults I wrote a Topic Briefing on Story-Focused Games in libraries. I ended up not using everything I’d read, because it’s only a five page paper. Here’s the full bibliography. There are a bunch of videogame related articles I skimmed in the course of research, but they don’t show up here. Also, some of the books of essays had other essays I read, but didn’t come close to using so they aren’t in here (but the book as a whole might be). My favourite resources in the bibliography are bolded.
This term I’m taking LIBR 504: Management of Information Organizations. Our first assignment was to prepare an annotated bibliography including three economics books, three general management books and ten management in information organizations resources. This is what I came up with. (Thanks to my buddy Sean, who knows his shit when it comes to economics and could recommend stuff I’d find interesting, though I’m sure he will find my four-sentence distillations of these books somewhat lacking. Selah.)
I’ve decided I’m not going to post reviews of every picture book I read for my Kids Lit class. There are just too many. I will try to mark them as read on my Goodreads profile though.
[photo credit: Dystopia by SteFunny Yeung]
I just spotted a couple of articles about the political modelling going on in YA dystopias: What Occupy can Learn from the Hunger Games and a comment on that article that asks Are YA dystopias secretly conservative?
It seems like there’s some connection there in wondering about the ramifications of political messages for these impressionable readers and discounting their agency. Rosenberg says the message of opting out is “worrying, given the age of the target audience” which isn’t a full on “These kids today’ll believe anything,” but I was sensitive to it after this week’s readings in my youth services class that discuss how much importance there is to making sure young people are making their own decisions.
Also, this review of Z for Zachariah had a bit calling a character’s decision “very pacifistic, almost dangerously so” which struck me as interesting for its use of non-politically correct ideas.
Anyway, what do you think? I’d be interested to hear more stories about large scale political reform for YA, myself.
I’ve had a pretty easy library school career. I’ve enjoyed or seen the value of most of my classes. I was one of those people who had an easy time getting a co-op position (some people never got one) at a place I really enjoyed (which some people did not, though they have very funny stories why not). I’ve had good experiences with different student groups. I have friends. But now I’m in a course that I’m not sure if it’s really for me.
It’s a class on data visualization and analytics: taking mounds of data and converting it into graphical forms people can play with. I love the idea of making this stuff, like Hans Rosling’s look at national life expectancy and income levels over the past 200 years.
I mean, seriously, you look at that and it’s pretty neat, right? The class assignments involve doing a project analyzing a dataset of my own choosing, and we get some training in some of the tools for making these things. I’d be able to do so much cool stuff with baseball stats with some of this expertise (though my project will probably involve analyzing independent publisher information I can get from Comic Book DB, since that’s a bit more applicable to libraries than baseball analysis).
The applicability of this in my career is the big issue. The course seems to be much more focused on hardcore academic analysis of research questions for PhD students in information science. That ain’t me. The very first class gave an impression that we’d be focused on splitting hairs and using the correct definitions for things rather than making cool shit.
The thing is that I don’t really need need to take this course. I’m going to have to take a course in the summer anyway and this is kind of my fifth one for this term (four plus a directed study that might end up being a lot of work). Doing another in the summer wouldn’t be overwhelming (assuming I can get into summer courses). And now I have the reading list for doing data visualization which could be most of what I’d need. Though I wouldn’t get training in the software tools if I drop the course. But I can usually teach myself software.
So yes, there we have it. This course would be neat and esoterically useful and provoke a bunch of good discussions, but it has a focus that isn’t really where I want to direct my energies. I think I’m probably going to drop it, but am willing to be talked out of it. If you have an opinion, please share in the comments. I have until January 16 to decide (that’s one more class session).
Sorry for the content lack but due to a lot of travel I’ve been taking time off from the internet in December. There’s a bunch of stuff coming, including a heap of reviews and a summing up of my time at Prosentient.
Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman was an interesting choice for our time-travel unit in my SFF course. Joss, the main character, is a first year cadet at a time-travel school who gets paired with the first alien to attend the school in a cultural exchange, but time-travel only features in the very last 20% of the book. Even then it’s the kind of time travel that’s just to sneakily grab some information before it was destroyed. Oh, um, spoiler alert?
Joss is a tough 17-year-old female protagonist (who’s been kicked out of a dozen schools), and her toughness comes through pretty well, but I kept on feeling she was written more as a precocious fourteen year old than someone actually in university. I probably just have a distorted view of it all.
The story’s pretty good, and isn’t as straight forward as it seemed at first glance (the time travel helped). It wasn’t amazing, but I’d be able to recommend it to certain types of readers. Readers of The Hunger Games would probably find this a bit fluffy.
I remember reading Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game a long time ago. I remember liking it, but rereading it now made me realize just how good it is.
Ender Wiggins has been bred to be a genius and maybe go to learn to be a genius military commander. He is a gifted child who’s forced into difficult situation after difficult situation in training to become a gifted strategist. He is 6 years old when the book begins.
The Game is about battle simulation and learning to become a leader. There is no romance in this book. There isn’t even real camaraderie, just the isolation and pain of duty and becoming the best. I don’t agree with the military glorification that happens throughout most of the story but the ending redeems even that for me. While they try to make Ender into a tool, so incredibly tough and lethalm he also remains human.
This humanity despite the fact that he acts little like any child I ever knew. The main strategic thesis of the book is that you respond with overwhelming force so you never have to fight the same battle twice. This is something that makes sense tactically but as the novel shows, it doesn’t make for a very happy life.
I’d always thought it was written before I was born but it wasn’t. One thing I really appreciated was the description of the simulations in the Battle Room. They’re like zero-G laser tag games, but they feel much better than that. Supposedly they’re making a movie but man, that’s going to feel so dated with all the CGI. The simulation technology in a book is so much better in its infinite upgradeability, no remake required.
The first book in The Saga of Darren Shan is called A Living Nightmare. Again, this is one of those books that I knew about because kids always wanted to read it, but hadn’t read myself. It’s not very good.
I think what bothered me the most about it was all the exclamations of how scary things were. It was very “Golly gee! That boy was a snake and those people got trampled and the wolfman bit off that woman’s hand!” I also found the actual Cirque bits disappointing because they all seemed so easily faked. I realize that Darren Shan (who decides to become a vampire to save his friend’s life, but the friend is mad because he wanted to be a vampire so now he’ll become a vampire hunter and dedicate his life to killing Darren) is just a kid, but I don’t know. It all felt stupid.
The good thing about the shitty writing in this book meant I could read about Madame Octa (a really huge tarantula who could be controlled telepathically for some non-scary reason) without getting freaked out.
So yeah. Not a fan.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a pretty big deal in the YA SF community. I remember one of my WPL co-workers (am I allowed to say where I used to work now, Rick?) who was a YA librarian who was so incredibly anticipatory of Mockingjay (the third in the series). They’re making a movie of it, for what that’s worth.
I’ve often heard of this book as the antithesis of Twilight. Katniss Everdeen is a girl from one of the conquered districts in this dystopian future America. She is awesome though because she goes out into the unregulated forest and hunts with a bow and brings home food to sell to her village. Because everyone is kept poor and hungry and working in coal mines in her district.
The titular games are a sacrifice each of the conquered districts makes to the capital for having dared to rebel generations ago. One boy and one girl from each district (there are 12 of them, the 13th having been destroyed) are pitted against each other in a televised (but more futuristic than television) fight to the death.
What makes Katniss awesome is how strong she is. She is making active choices throughout the novel, shaping her future which has consequences. There’s a romance subplot driven by the boy who goes from her district, but Katniss is into the strategy of it all, and there’s not a lot of room for pining for a vampire to be her true love.
Highly recommended. At some point I’ll probably read the sequels, because this book just set things up and you can tell the stakes are moving up from a mere bloody battle royale.