TAG | book club



Inside Story on Zombie Books

Zombies have been used in literature for a long time and more recently in movies and computer games.  Some stories use zombies as metaphors for the decay found in society such as consumerism, sexism, racism, class structure.  Zombies also represent more personal fears such as the loss of control or individuality.  Zombie stories hold up a frightening caricature of ourselves: zombies are both us and a dehumanized monster,  making them both scarier and more comfortable.  Lastly, zombies dig right down to our most primitive subconscious, and expose our most basic fears and taboos: the inevitability of death, the instinctive revulsion of cannibalism and the visceral terror of being eaten.

A good zombie story, as any good story should, shows us the drama of people striving against extraordinary and overwhelming odds – people discovering the strength and ability, previously dormant in themselves and others, to survive and adapt to a world turned on its head.  It is this element, I think, that most appeals to readers of this genre – the ability to observe these extreme and frightening events from the safe distance of a reader, but also to share the triumphs of the characters.  Readers will often sit, warm and safe, and ask themselves:  What would I do …?

David Hills

Zombies in Literature from BGS Library




Steampunk Works its Magic

At our Year 8 & 9 Book Club this week, we were treated to a fascinating look at Steampunk, a subgenre of Science Fiction which features themes and technologies from the 1800s to the early 1900s in fantasy settings.  Essentially Steampunk is speculative fiction about alternative futures – what might have happened if the Victorian Age had access to some of the technologies we have today.

Mr Gough, who has been helping us out in the Library over the past three weeks, has an interest in Steampunk, and many of the boys who attended discovered that they do too. From his presentation we learned about clockpunk and dieselpunk, cattlepunk and cyberpunk.  He also looked at Steampunk in other media such as film, television, anime and manga, video games, music and even fashion.

Steampunk has its own sub-culture and thousands of people around the world enjoy dressing up in steampunk costumes and attending steampunk conventions and festivals.


Steampunk from BGS Library




Year 10 Book Club

We have a strong culture of reading here at Brisbane Grammar School, developed over the years by our enthusiastic Library staff. Ms Palmer in the Middle School Library and Ms Ragen in the Senior Library are both keen advocates for books, reading and literature and both have instigated a wide range of initiatives to enthuse, engage and inspire boys to read.

Recently we held our first Year 10 Book Club with a group of enthusiastic boys. Over pizza and ice creams we discussed Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor, and the concepts of disguise and honourable death, the treatment of women and persecution of minority groups. Lian Hearn is the pseudonym of well-known Australian author, Gillian Rubinstein, and she wrote her now famous Tales of the Otori series after receiving a research grant from Asialink, a fund set up to assist Australian artists working in Asian countries. The five books in this series give a fascinating insight into life and death in ancient, feudal Japan.

One of the boys in the group read this book last year and analysed it in depth to create an excellent book trailer for his English assignment. He comments:


Beautiful, classic and elegant are just a few words used by reviewers to describe Across the Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hearn, and indeed, the bestselling author of this novel deserves these words of praise. The book had me hooked from the very beginning, with descriptive, poetic language and plenty of action. The well-constructed plot kept me enthralled in the plight of Takeo, a young, now orphaned boy, who attempts to avenge his family. Hearn creates a descriptive, well-paced text, and the epic tale continues on for a series of five books, all of which I enjoyed tremendously. This is truly a book to pick up and never put down. (Kieran B.)

An understanding of Asian culture is a core aspect of the new Australian Curriculum, and this very enjoyable series will undoubtedly hold an important place in schools for many years to come.

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