39 Steps, war, space adventures and soccer

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Sunday, August 8th, 13:00: Tea-Time At the Movies: The 39 Steps

Written whilst he was convalescing in a private nursing home, John Buchan’s 1915 novel The Thirty-Nine Steps tells the tale of a Europe teetering on the brink of war in 1914. In it, the  “everyday hero” Richard Hannay finds himself plunged into a world of intrigue, spies, threats to Britain’s security and murder.

Buchan’s novel was a gripping read when first published, and remains so to this day. It has all the ingredients of a classic thriller (although in Buchan’s time, they called them “shockers”): the hero-on-the-run; the seemingly insurmountable forces arrayed against him; the slow realisation by the authorities that rather than a villain, he might just be a saviour; and so on. Thus, it was, and is, the kind of story that naturally lends itself to a re-telling in film – and down the decades there have been numerous adaptations produced.

The first – and arguably most famous – of these celluloid outings came in 1935, with Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. While it actually takes very little from the novel other than the protagonist’s name (played by Robert Donat), and the idea of a man on the run whilst attempting to clear his name and solve a mystery, Hitchcock’s film was nevertheless a masterpiece in its own right. So much so that it actually became a blueprint for several of his later films – most notably, North by Northwest, a film that might also be said to pay a little homage to Buchan’s novel via the famous scene of it’s hero, George Thornhill, being chased by an aeroplane (Buchan’s original tale at one point features an aeroplane in the hunt for Hannay, although it admittedly keeps to a somewhat higher altitude!).

Such was the power of Hitchcock’s version of the novel, that it in turn became the foundation for a number of further cinematic outings. In 1959, for example, Ralph Thomas essentially took Hitchcock’s version and filmed it in colour, replacing Donat with Kenneth More in the lead role and adding or changing a few other characters and roles.

It is an adaptation of Hitchcock’s version that the tea-time team at Seanchai will be presenting, so why not slip into a disguise to avoid being recognised by any sinister spies, and join them?

Monday, August 9th 19:00: Goliath

The third and final instalment in  Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, Goliath takes us once more to the alternative past history of Earth at the time of the First World War, and a world divided between the Darwinists- those who have evolved genetics to make animals more useful to humans – and the Clankers, who have built their society on machinery technology.

Once again we join Alek and Deryn in their adventures, this time with both of them aboard the living airship Leviathan. Unexpectedly, the ship is diverted mid-flight over Russia with orders to pick up a single large create being transported overland by a fighting bear. Once aboard the whale-ship the crew set about constructing the machine as the ship continues on its way.

Passing over Siberia, the Leviathan comes across an area of great mystery: a devastated region where the trees have been flattened to form a great series of rings, the corpse of another whale-ship lying near its centre, the beleaguered survivors needing rescue even as they are protected from out-of-control and starving fighting bears by another strange machine.

Bringing them aboard the Leviathan, the crew discover the survivors have been protected by the work of one Nikola Tesla, a scientist and inventor who may have the weapon that can bring an end to the Great War.

As the adventure continues, Deryn, still disguising herself as a boy in order to be a part of Leviathan’s crew, struggles with her feelings for Alek and whether she should reveal the truth about herself to him…

Tuesday, August 10th


Music, poetry, and stories.

19:00: Dragonfly

Willow Moonfire reads a short story from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea sagas.

Wednesday, August 11th, 19:00 Creatures of Light and Darkness

Two gods, two houses, one quest and the eternal war between life and death. To save his kingdom, Anubis, Lord of the Dead, sends forth his servant on a mission of vengeance. At the same time, from The House of Life, Osiris sends forth his son, Horus, on the same mission to destroy utterly & forever The Prince Who Was a Thousand.

But neither of these superhuman warriors is prepared for the strange & harrowing world of mortal life. The Thing That Cries in the Night may well destroy not only their worlds, but all humankind.

With Corwyn Allen.

Thursday, August 12th

19:00 Galaxy Quest Part 2

Join Shandon Loring for a trip aboard the NSEA Protector, together with her crew (or cast, if you prefer!).

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-F / Fantasy with Finn Zeddmore.

Friday, August 13th, 14:30: Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals

Football in Ankh-Morpork is not as we might know it. Rather than being comprised of rules and played within a recognisable ground, it is far more akin to the somewhat violent mob football of medieval Europe.

Not that this is a concern for the elderly, mostly indolent and (some might be tempted to think) somewhat inept old wizards making up the faculty staff at the city’s school of wizardry, the Unseen University. Until, that is, their very handsome annual endowment becomes subject to their playing the game themselves.

Thus, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully sets out a two-pronged strategy: to ensure the city’s version of football is restructured with proper (and favourable?) rules, and to put team preparations at the university in the hands of the talented candle dribbler, Mr. Nutt and his assistant, Trevor Likely, the son of the city’s most famous (if deceased – did I mention the game can be violent?) player, who are in turn supported by Glenda Sugarbean, who runs the university’s night kitchen and her assistant Juliet Stollop.

Except Mr. Nutt soon discovers he has problems of his own to deal with, and Trevor has promised his Mum he’ll never get involved in the game.  Meanwhile, Glenda has the daily responsibility of baking the Discworld’s best pies, and Juliet is about to find herself whisked towards the heights of fame as a fashion model, thus potentially leaving the team a little short on practical advice…

Join Caledonia Skytower as she presents the 37th novel in the Discworld series, and possibly one of its greatest satirical undertakings encompassing football, academia, traditions, the fashion industry, politics, love, fandom, and which mixes in more serious themes of identity, crab mentality and self-worth.