Category Archive – Must-Read Fiction

Week of Geek: VFC Fandom Countdown Part 2, Always There To Welcome You Home…

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Hello again Geeklings!  It’s week 2 of our 6 part series on fandoms, gearing up for Vaughan Fan Con, so let’s dive right in, shall we?  And in this particular fandom, there is a massive lake to dive into, so we’re set.

So there is a fandom that, in my experience, nearly every librarian is a member of, or at the very least an appreciator of.  Or at the very, very least aware of.  It’s a franchise that started as a solitary book published 20 years ago, and it has since grown not only into a full fledged series, but a series of films, 2 amusement parks, a stage play, an awesome main website, spin-off books, spin-off films and more die hard fans world-wide than you can shake a Nimbus at.  Not only is it beloved by young and old, but has been credited with re-establishing a love of reading for millions of people.

Yeah, I’m talking about Harry Potter, but you already knew that.  No legilimency required.

First published in 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone took the world by storm.  6 more books followed, covering all 7 years of young wizard Harry Potter’s time at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, handling things such as growing up, first crushes, the demands of school work and an influx of very evil wizards.  Covering big themes such as good and evil, friendship, family, courage, doing what is right instead of what is easy, and so many other deep thoughts mixed with humor, great characters and a few laughs, it was almost impossible not to love Harry and friends.

And this last June, on the 20th anniversary of The Philosopher’s Stone‘s publication, the world celebrated in a variety of ways, sounding off on the books impact on their lives whether it be 20 years ago or this very day.

And with more movies from the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series coming up, there’s no end in sight.

But how to really convey all of this?  How to really explain what this means to the people who love it?  How important is this?  Well, one of the best ways that I’ve come across is the following video, which was released a few months ago for the 20th anniversary.  Take a look.

Honestly, there are stories like this everywhere.  Of these books being a port in the storms of the lives of the people who read them.  Of readers finding themselves in the characters, in the houses, in so much of what they were reading.  That’s the true staying power of these stories.  The fantastical elements are amazing, but what touches your heart and your mind… that’s what makes it so pivotal.

So whether you’re a Gryffindor (yo!), a Ravenclaw, a Hufflepuff, a Slytherin or something else entirely wear those colors proud and show the love.  Any memories you have that you’d like to share?  Post in the comments or write it on WriteIt.

Stay tuned for more news and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: VFC Fandom Countdown Part 1, Star Trek Wars or Star Wars Treks?

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Hiya Geeklings!  Hope school’s going good so far.  Just gonna leave links for our volunteer programs here and for the Teen Writer’s Club here and Unleash Your Story here.  *wink*

Anyhoo, in just over 6 weeks Vaughan Public Libraries will host it’s first fandom convention we’re calling Vaughan Fan Con, a celebration of things geeky and how all those geeky things just mesh with libraries.  *massive fangirl squeal*

I’m thinking this is a great opportunity for us to spend the next few weeks going over fandoms.  What they are, what they mean, how they’ve impacted the world, etc.

Today, let’s talk about a couple of the big ones.  These two fan groups have often been pitted against each other for nerdy superiority for the last few decades.  But me, being the incurable optimist and peacemaker, I say thee nay!  I LOVE THEM BOTH!  YOU CAN’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!

Of course, I speak of Star Trek and Star Wars.

I think few would argue that any other two Sci Fi franchises have had as much of an impact on the genre as these two have.  Both have had big screen features (click here and here), television shows (here and here), books (here and here), comics (here and here), whole conventions dedicated just to them, etc, etc.  One takes place in our own potential future, where science and reason have won the day.  The other takes place in a galaxy far, far away and uses mystical elements in a classic battle of “good” and “evil”.  I’ve written ad nauseum about both, and you can click on those links to read a little more on each one.  But what I thought I’d talk about today is how they relate to each other, because there is a long and colorful history of Trekkers and Star Wars Fans (who don’t really have a fan name, at least not that I could find; go figure) and how they interact with each other.

For the record, Star Trek came first.  The first episode of the first TV series aired September 8, 1966.  The first Star Wars movie was released May 25, 1977.  And while Trek may have preceded Wars by a full 11 years, it is still endlessly debated over which one has had the bigger influence, which one has more quality over quantity and, frankly, which one is just better.  Debates can get heated, everything is compared (like which space ships are cooler, how the science works or doesn’t in each one, how the weapons stack up, and so on; even grammar), and some fans just cannot be moved on some points.

That’s the thing that always gets me; why it seems to be a completely acceptable thing that the two are not only mutually exclusive but are also adversarial towards each other.  When talking about Trek and Wars there’s almost always a ‘vs’ in there somewhere.  There are so many articles, videos and comments that reflect as such.

Again, I say thee nay!  I would like to submit that they are, in fact, 2 sides of the same coin.  Science and mysticism.  Pure Sci Fi, and Sci Fi mixed with Fantasy.  Our own potential future, and far off planets and stars.  Logic and passion.  What we can see and measure, and what we can feel.

Plus, they have SO MANY common elements.  Vulcans like logic and aren’t big on emotions.  The Jedi teach being unemotional and that strong emotions lead to the Dark Side.  Both franchises have their brash adventurers, their robots, their heroines, their science types, their wide-eyed noobs, their elegantly tactical villains, their rage buckets, their intergalactic drama.  They even share actors sometimes.

And the most important thing; both have tremendously passionate fans, with their own in-jokes, fan art, conventions, cosplay, websites and love, and boundaries are crossed far more often than anyone wants to admit.  It’s a beautiful thing.

So, a few reading and watching suggestions: There’s a great story in Geektastic about a Star Wars fan (cosplaying as a Jedi) and a Star Trek fan (cosplaying as a Klingon) liking each other ‘that way’, even though each of their friend groups aren’t keep on the other.  It’s full Romeo and Juliet territory.  There’s also a great short story by Rainbow Rowell about a Star Wars fan lining up for The Force Awakens, hoping to have the full waiting-in-line-for-days experience that previous Star Wars fans have had and finding it’s a little different this time around.  And I got lists, because of course I do…

So what do you think Geeklings?  Is one franchise superior?  Are they both awesome?  Post away in the comments or sound off on the Write It! website.

Stay tuned for more news and for more posts on fandoms, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Hogwarts, UA and other favorite fictional schools

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Hiya Geeklings!  Did you miss me?  I was up to my eyebrows in fandom pandemonium this last weekend *happy sigh*  Good times.

So, back to school.  Yay?  It is September, and along with the obligatory Pumpkin Spice shenanigans and pretty leaves, many people head back for a new school year this week.  And while school IRL can be a little… unexciting at times, there are many fictional, fantastical high schools in our favorite fandoms that many of us would genuinely look forward to going back to each September.  Here are few that come to mind…

Hogwarts: Of course this is on the list!  Harry Potter and friends spend several years over 7 books (and 8 films) in England’s seminal school for witches and wizards, learning all the spells and potions they need to take down dark lords.  Filled with ghosts, moving staircases and too many secrets to count, Hogwarts is ancient, mysterious and a true home to our heroes.

Starfleet Academy: The galaxy can be a dangerous place, what with unexplored locations, possibly hostile new species and many moral quandaries.  The men, women and everyone else who attend Starfleet Academy in San Francisco become as prepared as possible to face the final frontier head on.

UA High School: The #1 school for teens with superpowers, or ‘quirks’, to learn to become heroes.

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters: The other #1 school for teens with superpowers, specifically mutations that grant them said powers.  Where mutants are feared, hated and persecuted, the Xavier mansion proves not only a school to launch the next generations of X-Men but a safe-haven where different, outcast kids can be themselves.

Mystic Falls High School and Sunnydale High School: If you like your high school experiences with a side dish of vampires, try these two fine institutions.

Riverdale High School:  No matter which incarnation of Archie Andrews you like, there’s no question that Riverdale High is just as much a character in the story as any of its students.

Alola Pokemon School: For a library system with it’s own Pokemon League, I would be remiss to leave this fine school off the list.

Any schools you really love to visit in your imaginations?  Post away in the comments section!

BTW, did you know VPL is hosting it’s own sci fi/comic con next month?  Just gonna leave this link here and tell you to stay tuned for more news to come! *wink*  Also gotta give a shout out to the Teen Writer’s Club!  More details will be posted right here soon but for anyone who loves to write, or wants to get into writing, it’s a spot for you.  Check out my previous post on the subject of writing and sharpen those pencils!  (Or, you know, open your laptop and launch Microsoft Office or whatever.  21st century!)

Have a great start to the school year, stay tuned for more news, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Only Inhuman after all…

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Hiya Geeklings!  How are the last days of summer going?  Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s almost over.  Get as much fun in as you can!  We’re in the last week for the Teen Summer Reading Challenge so keep reading, keep up those missions and our End of Summer Party is THIS SATURDAY!  Sign up here!

Also, how about that eclipse this week, huh?  The sun was a crescent!  How cool was that?!  It blew my fragile little mind!

Speaking of the moon (bit of a flimsy segue, but bear with me), there’s a new addition to the MCU coming out next week in theaters before premiering on television this fall.  Check it out!

(I say bravo to their marketing department for using Rag’N’Bone Man‘s “Human” for that second trailer.  It worked perfectly.)

The Inhumans are an interesting group of Marvel characters with a rich and somewhat complicated history.  In short, their ancestors were once full fledged humans, who were experimented on by the Kree (we meet those guys in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie).  Most of the Inhumans went on to create their own society, though some broke away and mingled with regular humans, creating descendants on earth that have no idea they’re part Inhuman (this became a pretty big plot point in the show Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD).  The thing that reveals if someone is an Inhuman is something called Terrigen Mist.  When an Inhuman is exposed to this mist it triggers their latent powers.

The Inhumans who created their own society in the city Attilan on the moon (that’s right, the moon) have a Royal Family, who tend to be the main characters of any Inhuman storyline.  This family consists of…

Black Bolt: Full name Blackagar Boltagon, and he’s the King of the Inhumans.  He’s always been a fascinating character to me; he’s the ruler of an entire people, despite not being able to say a word.  He can’t, because his voice creates shock-waves that can cause serious damage.  A whisper is enough to knock the Hulk off his feet.  A shout will level an entire city.  As such, he does most of his speaking through other means like sign language, body language…

and spokespeople, including through his wife…

Medusa: Full name Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon, Queen of the Inhumans.  Her power is in her long red hair, where every strand acts as an extra appendage.

Maximus: Full name Maximus Boltagon.  He’s Black Bolt’s brother and a prince.  From what we’ve seen in those first trailers, and considering how he gets the moniker Maximus the Mad at some point in the comics, the dude is definitely trouble.

Crystal: Full name Crystalia Amaquelin, she’s Medusa’s sister, a princess and she can manipulate natural elements.

Gorgon: Full name Gorgon Petragon, he’s a cousin of Black Bolt and head of Attilan’s military.  He has hooves instead of feet and they can create shock-waves.

Karnak: Full name Karnak Mander-Azur, also known as the Shatterer, he’s a cousin and adviser to Black Bolt.  He stands out amongst the Inhumans in that he opted NOT to be exposed to the mists, and instead decided to be the most formidable martial arts master all on his own.  Good on him.

Triton: Full name Triton Mander-Azur, he’s another cousin of Black Bolt, as well as Karnak’s brother.  He looks a little… aquatic, and that’s because he has the ability to breathe underwater, as well as other skills.

Lockjaw: He’s a larger-than-average dog.  A teleporting larger-than-average dog.  Really, what more do you need to know?

Got them all straight?  If not, no worries.  You can read more about them in books like War of Kings, the Secret Invasion storyline, World War Hulk and in the Ms. Marvel series.

That’s all for now True Believers.  Keep working on the TSRC, stay tuned for more news and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Some Bit-Part and Lesser-Known Characters

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Hiya Geeklings!  How’re the last weeks of summer going?  Just another couple of weeks for the TSRC.  Keep logging in and don’t forget to sign up for the End of Summer party on the 23rd.

So here’s something interesting to discuss amongst your fandom circles.  Who do you find yourself drawn to more often than not in a movie, book, TV show, etc.?  Is it the protagonist, the main character, the one getting all the focus and drama?  OR is it one of the minor characters, the bit-part players, the ones who tend to hover in the background?

You’d be surprised how often fans can find themselves more focused on a side character.  Despite the creators best efforts to put someone, or a group of people, front and center sometimes someone else will break through for some or a lot of fans.  It can be unexpected, and therefore kind of magical.  And it’s not a new thing.  One really early example is the Fonz pretty much taking over Happy Days even though it was supposed to focus on Richie Cunningham (it was a show from the 70s about teens in the 50s, look it up).  And if those characters get killed off… you may not be all that inclined to keep watching or reading if your favorite character is gone, ammirite?  That’s why you see so many tshirts saying “If Daryl dies, we riot.”

So to get the conversation rolling here’s a few examples of side or lesser known characters I’ve enjoyed…

Reading about Gambit was what got me thinking about this in the first place.  The dude’s super facinating.  A proud Cajun, a thief, a mutant, an orphan, a former Horseman of the Apocalypse, member of many teams, uses playing cards as weapons, massive charmer.  There’s a lot to like there.  Apparently Fox studios is STILL thinking of giving him a solo film, but we’ve yet to see it come to fruition.  One of the biggest problems I had with X-Men Origins: Wolverine (and there were many) was Gambit’s portrayal.  The Cajun accent wasn’t nearly strong enough, amongst other things.

Keeping to Marvel, there’s Agent Coulson, the background character that proved so popular he helped connect the early entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and eventually got his own show and started appearing in the comics.

And gotta give a shout out to Quicksilver.  The Quicksilver in Marvel comics is pretty minor as well, but the version I’m thinking of is from X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse (sorry Quicksilver of Avengers: Age of Ultron).  Portrayed by Evan Peters (who’s a regular on American Horror Story) this version of Quicksilver is fast, funny, quirky and cool and has major scene-stealing moments in both films (set to music).

Switching gears to DC, one of my very favorite villains (though he would call himself a hero) is Sinestro.   He’s been around for a while as a major foil in the Green Lantern universe and is still one of the most complex and interesting characters in DC, in my humble opinion.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so because he ended up getting his own series.

And can’t forget to mention Harley Quinn, the one-off background character in Batman: The Animated Series who became so popular she’s had several comic series and appeared in a movie.  Go Harley!

Though I could talk about this all day, here’s one more; General Hux from The Force Awakens.  Seriously, what’s his deal?  We saw so little of him, yet he was a big enough player to give a key speech during a key moment (I’m not saying what, ’cause spoilers).  Loyal to the First Order, buts heads with Kylo Ren, probably super ambitious and he’s played by the same actor who plays Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films.  Seriously!  More details have emerged about him since the movie came out, but still much we don’t know.  I figured he’d probably be a one-off, but he is back for The Last Jedi, so yay!  Maybe we’ll learn more.

So there’s a few.  Which minor, secondary, or lesser-known characters to you hold in high esteem?  Post away in the comments section or write about them on the Write It page.

Keep reading for the TSRC, and until next time, End of Line.