Category Archives: fiction

Guide to fictional Libraries #12 The Unseen University Library

Following the lead of The Matilda Project The Alibi Library has decided to produce a short series highlighting the work of some of the best fictional libraries:

In a month that saw the great Terry Pratchett attack the Education Minister’s reforms, the Alibi Library has chosen to honour his fantastic book cycle and the Unseen University Library.

Nunc id Vides, Nunc ne Vides (“Now you see it, Now you don’t.”)

The Library:

The Unseen University Library features chained books not unlike the Bodleian library at Oxford, although there it is done to protect the books from the students, whereas at UU it is done to protect the students from the books.

Unseen Academicals

The high concentration of magical lore has warped the Library interior into a locus of L-Space.  This library-space, is the ultimate portrayal of Pratchett’s concept that the written word has powerful magical properties on the Discworld, and that in large quantities all books warp space and time around them. The principle of L-space revolves around a seemingly logical equation;

 \text{Books} = \text{Knowledge} = \text{Power} = \frac{\text{Mass} \times \text{Distance}^2}{\text{Time}^3}.

Large quantities of magical and mundane books create portals into L-space that can be accessed using innate powers of librarianship. Because libraries with enough books to open a portal are often large and sprawling, those venturing into L-space may not necessarily know that they have arrived. The floor and ceiling of L-space follow the floor and ceiling of the library used to access it; the best example of this is that the central dome of Unseen University’s library is “always overhead”.  In every direction and as far as the eye can see bookshelves stretch off, meaning the nature of any walls are unknown.

“good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read.”

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Because L-space links every library, (and also possibly Death’s Autobiography Library) it is possible to reach any one of these in all space, time and the multiverse. There are indeed potentially other forms of data storage other than books as it represents every library anywhere. Additionally, one can read any book ever written, any book that will be written at some point and books that were planned for writing that were not, as well as any book that could possibly be written (note that this does not mean knowledge of everything; how would you distinguish the “correct” books from the “incorrect” ones?). As this is a form of interdimensional and time travel, there are strict limits on its use, and the Librarians of Time and Space, that is those who have access to L-space have developed three simple rules to ensure abuse is kept to a minimum:

  1. Silence
  2. Books must be returned by the last date stamped
  3. Do not interfere with the nature of casuality

Librarian_(Discworld)

The Librarian:

Access to libraries of other times or other realities is restricted to the librarian himself.

The Librarian chooses to take the form of an orang-utan having discovered that being one had certain advantages for a librarian – he can climb up to high shelves, for example.

Being an ape, he is known for his violent reaction to most people calling him a “monkey.” He speaks a language whose vocabulary consists primarily of the single word Ook and occasionally Eeek, but most people seem able to understand him.

The Librarian’s name has never been given in any of the books; he is always simply ‘the Librarian though he may once have been Dr. Horace Worblehat. Aside from his library duties his hobbies seem to involve playing keyboards (and his organ has a vox diabolica stop, a thunder pedal, and a 256-ft Earthquake pipe) or spending his leisure hours at the Mended Drum, where he drinks quietly unless provoked, eats prodigious quantities of peanuts, and plays a ruthless game of Cripple Mr Onion with anyone foolish enough to take him on.

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The Clients:

Access to the library is open to inhabitants of Ankh  Morpork, although non-magic users may get lost.  Theoretically, according to the strict word of the Lore, women are barred entrance to the library on the grounds that their inferior brains can’t handle it but in practice this has not been the case.

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Information courtesy of T. Pratchett and the wonderful contributors to Wikipedia

Coming up;  The Plume Library, Charlie Higson, Carole Boston Weatherford

Last Minute Christmas Shopping

from:

The Matilda Project

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. The Alibi Library has always been particularly fond of this blog whose mission statement reads:

I’ll scour the world and London, my adopted hometown and the greatest city in the galaxy, by the way (yeah that’s right, take that Martian metropolises) for the little independent bookshops that smell of paper and sell you not just a book, but a little piece of human history.   Every week, no matter where in the world my crazy nomadic lifestyle takes me, I’ll share a new indie bookshop.

Every week one is able to find a scrupulously detailed review of a trusty book seller accompanied by artistically pleasing photography of their premises. Furthermore, to enhance your book shopping experience, a handy map is provided, indicating the location of all the fabulous bookshops reviewed. Indeed the Alibi Library has some ambition to become the first fictional library or book shop reviewed therein.

This week the site beseeches its followers verily:

So friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears and let me beseech you to do me a favour.  If you have a couple of Christmas gifts left to buy, please please consider buying books for your loved ones; they’re the present that never goes out of style!  And please, if you would, make the effort to do it in a bricks and mortar bookshop.  If it’s a nice and friendly local independent one, well then all the better.

And the Alibi Library would like to second this plea.

Tales From A Stricken Submarine

New arrival in the library:

Cover for 'Tales from a Stricken Submarine'

By Christopher Flynn            $1.99        Rating:    Not yet rated.            Published: Sep. 11, 2012                                Words: 43302 (approximate)         Language: English             ISBN: 9781301789665

Description

An explosion, and a submarine is sent to the bottom of the sea. Twenty-three members of the crew have secured themselves in the control room. In the knowledge that they are beyond rescue, they begin to swap stories in the darkness, telling one another their last confessions, their blackest secrets. But one of them, instead of telling his terrible secret, is hiding one…

Check out this link https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/234205

A reputable and satisfied client!

Dear Archibald Lib and Ignatius Rary,

Thank you for taking the time to find me an appropriate alibi in recent weeks*. I sincerely appreciate the time you spent reviewing my predicament with me and recommending strategies for reaching a satisfactory outcome.  Your advice was of great assistance and gave me a new perspective on available opportunities.

I especially appreciate your offer to connect myself with others working in your network. I plan on following up the contacts you furnished me with right away. I also hope to use the networking resources you recommended to avoid future complications.

Any additional suggestions you may have would be welcome.  I’ll update you as to my progress.

Again, thank you so much for your help. I greatly appreciate the assistance you have provided me.

I am very much in your debt.

Yours,
Rt Honorable    XXXXXX   XXXXX   MP

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*

* The date and the name of the correspondent have been withheld for reasons of privacy, but should be noted that they do not refer to the present incumbent of this post or indeed to any recent events.

Postable

Henry:  Forget about an alibi.  What you need is a whole new freaking alias.

Thomas:  What do you mean, a new alias?

Henry:  Don´t worry.  I wasn´t trying to be serious or anything.

Archibald:  He means like a new name, a new presence and a new personality.

Ignatius:  We do those too you know.

Kim:  No.  No.  that´s not it.  What he needs is more an absence than a presence.

From  Lie is Worth Living  the sequel to The Alibi Library

Everyday

Every book you read.  Every story.   Every time you switch on the TV and you’re not starring in some drama or other.  Our lives are a constant escape from ourselves.  We seek refuge from the hurly burly of our own existence in the crisis and comedy elsewhere available.  We sit back and let our imagination (or someone else’s) show us a different set of lives and choices, just for a short while.  Just for a bit.  Just for kicks.  Isn’t that a little alibi too?