Ask This Librarian: Reading suggestions

Next question is a great one – and I hope will fill many people’s reading lists for a good time to come:

I really want to read more sci-fi by writers who are queer and/or PoC and/or feminist besides Nalo Hopkinson, in particular more recently published stuff (i.e. definitely not the scifi canon – yet). Not picky about sci-fi subgenre. Open to multiple genres and formats: novels, anthologies, sci-fi magazines, online repositories …

May I slightly amend it to additionally specify whatever magazines or other serial publications tend to have the latest work in sci-fi? I want to be able to keep up to date with the latest developments, since the kind of fiction I want to write is more or less sci-fi. I hope that’s not too much of a separate question.

This is a huge question, but also a great one, so I’m going to take an initial stab at it, and I know that readers on my personal blog will have more comments, so I’ll come back here with a few more additions in a couple of days.

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Ask This Librarian: Black clothing

I got a chance to see the movie Agora in the theatres a month or so ago – it’s the story of Hypatia and the fall of the library of Alexandria. One of my friends asked me a question based on my comment about the movie – that they got lots of the historical details very right, but that I noted that one exception was that the Parabalani (the fanatical sect responsible for her death) are wearing very black black. Which, historically, is not very probable.

(You can, as I point out below, start with wool from a black sheep. In this case, though, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case: both the very open weave of the fabric and the way it hung made me fairly sure it was linen, not wool. Also, generally, wool and silk take color better (i.e. darker/richer color for the equivalent amount of dye) than linen, though there are always variables.)

Also, I’m taking this answer a little more conversational than is my usual habit here, because it came out of an existing comment I’d made.

So, my friend asked:

At what level of technology could one get black cloth reasonably cheaply? If other factors come in to either the black dye or the cheapness, which I imagine they do, what are they?

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Ask This Librarian – folklore, witches, and vampires

A friend with some plans around fiction writing asks:

I’m thinking of researching the parallels between vampires and witches, mostly from folkloric/superstitious claims (as opposed to historical witchcraft/modern Paganism). I don’t know that there are any resources on both together, but reliable information on both individually, especially where categorized by culture/geographic location, would be glorious and much appreciated.

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Ask this librarian – BPA study summaries

(again, part of the continuing series in my Ask This Librarian project)

Today’s question:

Both sides of the BPA debate love to mention studies. This usually takes the form of “studies actually show…” rather than useful cites. How can I track down these studies, and has anyone done a findable summary of the studies that at least appears to attempt to analyze the data before finding its conclusion, instead of vice versa?

This is, as one might imagine, a rather complicated question to answer.

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Ask This Librarian – After a beloved pet dies

One of the questions I was asked is what the recommendation is on getting a new pet after the death of an older, much loved, pet.

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Ask This Librarian – Beaded bookmarks

Today’s question is about creating beaded bookmarks. The person asking says:

I wanted to bead a bookmark. What resources would I need to start learning how to do this? (I’ve only beaded jewelry before).

My first thought, looking at this with the intention to answer it, was “What kind of beading?” – there’s beading on string, on wire, or bead weaving. I sent a note to ask which – though if I hadn’t had an easy way to do that, I would have just given some general information on all three.

She said:

Bead wire or bead weaving. What’s bead weaving? That sounds cool.

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Ask This Librarian – Dog years

Today’s question, from a friend who just put a much beloved elderly pet to sleep:

I found out from a chart at the vet’s that Kelty, a 15-year-old Chow/Malamute mix, was, in human years, 99 years old! I want to know how the idea of “dog-years” got started, who figures it out, what kinds of information is added to the mix when they decided how it worked, etc. All about it…

My answer below…

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Ask This Librarian – DIY help

One of my friends got me started on this project by asking:

My question, if you don’t mind: I’d like to improve my DIY skills. I know how to use a screwdriver, drill, hammer, and other usual simple tools, but have very little hands-on experience. Can you point me at some simple and small handyman projects for practice, and/or references to read and learn more, that are just above the level of total clueless newbie?

My answer:

Continue reading Ask This Librarian – DIY help

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind

More about my job and a day in the life

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