Monday, 20 July 2015

Wesley on Cathedral Music

To most people who have heard of him, Samuel Sebastian Wesley is probably best know for his various anthems; however, in 1849, just before he moved to his new post as Organist of Winchester Cathedral, he wrote A Few Words on Cathedral Music and the Musical System of the Church, with a Plan of Reform which considers the state of music in English cathedrals at the time and offers suggestions for its improvement. All of his observations must be read within the context of the great reforms of the century being carried out by the Cathedral Commission, a part of which including the dissolution of cathedrals' choral foundations with their funds and lands being transferred to their cathedrals.

A scanned copy of the original document has been digitised as part of Google's book scanning programme and can be viewed at, but I have transcribed, corrected and added a couple of explanatory footnotes to the text and this edition can be freely downloaded.

However, for anyone who does not wish to wade through the whole document, I have extracted some comments which illustrate the state of cathedral music in the nineteenth century, and Wesley's take on the issues faced by those involved in all aspects of cathedral life that he considers:
  • before you can accomplish even any moderately correct and impressive performance of the Choral Service of the Church, it is absolutely necessary that there should be, first, competent performers, (or Ministers); secondly, the guidance of an able conductor, (or Precentor); and thirdly, that the musical compositions performed should be the emanations of genius, or of the highest order of talent.
  • The least number of men which can constitute a Cathedral Choir capable of performing the service is twelve.
  • What, for instance, can any one who has visited the Opera Houses, the Theatres, Exeter Hall, or any well conducted musical performances, think of a chorus of one to a part? Ask the men working the mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire what they would think of it? And yet, this amount of chorus would be a vast improvement on the present state of things at Cathedrals; for there may be sometimes seen one man singing chorus!
  • The Clergy are the irresponsible directors of Cathedral music. The views of the highest order of musical professors are never brought to bear on the subject.
  • The mixture of the Choral and Parochial modes, now so common, is inconsistent with a just appreciation of the Choral Service [...] It was a very early law in the Church, that none but those qualified by previous study and preparation should be allowed to sing in the service; confusion being the inevitable result of a different course.
  • The beautiful Choral Service of the Church, like other sublime things, would necessarily render the auditor speechless, and produce a tone of feeling far different from that which results in utterance. Paley, in his sermon on the text: “Lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away”, describes the danger even to the Clergy themselves which attends the frequent and formal “intermixture with religious offices”; and it is surely one of the most beautiful attributes of Choral Service that the worshipper is not compelled at any time to utter anything to interrupt the prostration of mind which would ever attend a perfect performance of that service in our beautiful Cathedrals.
  • Since the destruction of monasteries, the Cathedrals had been the only nurseries of musical talent, and boys could not now be obtained, so the treble parts were performed by men singing in falsetto, or by a musical instrument called Cornet.
  • The pious founders of Cathedrals never contemplated the ludicrous and profane state of things we now witness. Their music, like their architecture, was the best they could give. Modern Chapters cannot be wholly free from blame, for the superiority of the secular performances of music over those of Cathedrals, and the Church generally, must strike every one.
  • To suit the reduced Choirs of Cathedrals composers have departed from the true school of composition. Their recent Anthems have not been Choral: they have been devised simply to exhibit particular singers. Solos, Duets, &c.; and the Te Deum, Jubilates, Magnificats, &c, commonly sung in Cathedral service, are more like glees than Church music; and these seem, moreover, to have been written simply for the amusement of their authors, no official demand having proceeded from the Church.
  • The illusive and fascinating effect of musical sound in a Cathedral unfortunately serves to blunt criticism, and cast a veil over defects otherwise unbearable. No coat of varnish can do for a picture what the exquisitely reverberating qualities of a Cathedral do for music. And then, the Organ! what a multitude of sins does that cover!
  • Multiplication of small uninteresting Churches in the outskirts of large towns, however good in intention, is far from an universal success. Numerous instances occur, in which such Churches are almost invariably empty, or the very next thing to it. One magnificent Cathedral or Church in a large town, with its musical services properly performed, would more surely attract a congregation of ten thousand, than ten small Churches of the ordinary kind, with a preacher as the sole attraction.
  • As Cathedral Service existed at the Reformation, the sermon formed no part of Divine worship. The preacher delivered his discourse in the open air, (as in the Green Yard at St Paul’s) or in the antechoir, (as is still the practice in some cathedrals) and the attendance of those who had joined the worship in the church was by no means general. A reference to the Canons of the Church of England will shew that so far from the sermon being considered an essential part of the service, no minister was allowed to preach unless he had received a licence from the Bishop; and, till a very recent period, the parochial minister invariably divested himself of the surplice, and preached in his gown; by way of shewing that he had ceased to administer the Word of God, and that what he then promulgated was to be viewed simply as his own commentary on the sacred writings, and to be received or rejected as it was in conformity with sound principles.
  • But public opinion, unfortunately, is rarely brought to bear on Cathedral music.  Persons who but seldom attend Cathedral Service, are much impressed with the beauty of the architecture, the effect of the organ, and the sound of the human voice chanting the prayers, (all of which together furnish some idea of the exquisite nature of a service properly performed.
  • The prospect of bringing the Clergy to a just sense of the claims of music in the Cathedral Service of this country seems all but hopelessly remote. They still, in the main, view their own labours as all-important, and disparage the art in its most important bearings; as did the Puritans of Elizabeth’s reign.
  • Music, assuredly, will ever form a leading feature in our public worship. This or that form of worship may be varied or set aside, for none can ever be worthy of its object; and hence all forms must ever be open to discussion; but, assuredly, music will ever have a place in the ceremonies of religion. If asked what species of music it is that will ever thus be honoured, can we point to any but the “Church School?” — the purest, the most impressive of all — at once the most simple and the most sublime; demanding the highest order of merit in its composer, and producing, beyond all comparison, the most irresistible effect on the auditor. If asked how the Church came to possess this as its own, the answer is, By the means it attained its other numerous excellencies, by having the best intellects of many centuries shut up in the religious and peaceful seclusion of Monastic Houses and properly given to its development.
  • Josquin displays a largeness of conception and breadth of effect quite annihilative of the claims to peculiar merit ostentatiously put forth in behalf of our Tallis, — a portion of whose writings, when performed at the present day, tends to bring anything but good will to the musical offices; being destitute, it really should be said, of almost every kind of merit, and constituting one interminable monotony which no one can, or ought to, put up with.
  • Some would reject all Music but the unisonous Chants of a period of absolute barbarism,—which they term “Gregorian”. All is “Gregorian” that is in the black, diamond, note! These men would look a Michael Angelo in the face and tell him Stonehenge was the perfection of architecture!
  • Antiquarian and Motet Societies, and some newly-formed Choirs, have lately disturbed something they consider valuable, by raking amongst the long-discarded specimens of an early date and of good for nothing authors. Such bodies bring odium on Church music.
  • At Birmingham it was contemplated to perform Divine service in the Town Hall, in order to make use of its organ and highly effective Choral Society. Our Cathedrals are the places for a fine performance of the choral service of the Church. Let attention be kept steadily on them till all hope has departed. 
  • How different a picture is presented in the sister arts! The highest order of talent in them is appreciated, and a source of fortune and honour secured to its possessor. The work of a few days produces for the artist a sum of money greater than the work of a life (of the lives of many) would to the Church musician. Mr Landseer, it is said, has in eight days painted the picture of a horse for which he has received a thousand guineas. Turn we to Cathedrals. Were the musician who should produce a work of the highest merit in eight days, to ask, not a thousand guineas, but a thousand shillings, pence, farthings, the reply would be, invariably, “NO!” Let him study hard in his art, from the age of eight to thirty-five, sacrificing every interest to this one sole pursuit, let him offer his work as a present to some Cathedrals, and they would not go to the expense of copying out the parts for the Choir!
  • [Musical professionals] feel, also, that the Clergy either systematically disparage music, or at best view it with a cold side glance, and have ever done so since the reign of Elizabeth; and this for no better reason than that the interests of religion were far above those of music. 
  • Painful and dangerous is the position of a young musician who, after acquiring great knowledge of his art in the Metropolis, joins a country Cathedral. At first he can scarcely believe that the mass of error and inferiority in which he has to participate is habitual and irremediable. He thinks he will reform matters, gently, and without giving offence; but he soon discovers that it is his approbation and not his advice that is needed. The Choir is “the best in England”, (such being the belief at most Cathedrals), and, if he give trouble in his attempts at improvement, he would be, by some Chapters, at once voted a person with whom they “cannot go on smoothly”, and “a bore”. The old man knows how to tolerate error, and even profit by it; but in youth, the love of truth is innate and absorbing.
  • The painter and the sculptor can choose their tools and the material on which they work, and great is the care they devote to the selection: but the musician of the Church has no power of this kind; nay more, he is compelled to work with tools which he knows to be inefficient and unworthy — incompetent singers and a wretched organ! He must learn to tolerate error, to sacrifice principle, and yet to indicate, by his outward demeanour, the most perfect satisfaction in his office, in which, if he fail, he will assuredly be worried and made miserable.
  • Music, as it is now performed in our Cathedrals, when compared with well-regulated performances elsewhere, bears to them about the proportion of life and order which an expiring rush-light does to a summer’s sun. The higher order of musical composition belonging to the Church is now lost sight of. No new efforts by men of commanding talent are perceptible. Nor is this to be wondered at, seeing that the Choirs have long been reduced below a state in which such compositions could be sung with effect.
  • That the Church has been the originator of all improvement in the art of music, and has, from the earliest periods availed herself of every excellence which the advance of time supplied, is demonstrably a fact.
  • The first instance of a departure from the “monotony” [from chanting] is at that burst with which the Choir, as the representatives of the people, break forth at “And our mouth shall shew forth Thy praise.” To a person used to Choral service, the impression he receives at this passage, in parochial service, from the ordinary tone of voice being preserved, is, “Well, where is the praise? why don't you shew forth the praise?” The reply may be anticipated. “It is a spiritual shewing forth of praise that is meant, not an outward and visible demonstration.” But how, let it be added, how is that effect on the part of a congregation best attained? By a mispronouncing, provincial clerk, and shrill discordant school children, making the hurried, half intelligible response? or by the beautiful arrangements of the Church Choral Service? 
  • In discussing Edward VI's time: “The race of voiceless and incompetent priests was not then known; everywhere the Choirs were filled with singers. Deans had not tasted the sweets of Choir plunder, nor Chapters learned to disregard the obligation of an oath.” - History of Cathedral Music. Simpkin and MarshallLondon.
  • The abject position in which we see the lay-clerk at present, in many instances, would have excited the indignation of Christian people four centuries ago; and this maintenance, it is believed, would be ample for all present purposes, did it exist; but, unfortunately, the authorities at Cathedrals, to whose care the musical funds were entrusted, have, in various instances, taken them away from the musical department, and applied them to their own uses.
  • Vocal and instrumental performers are to [the composer] the colour and canvass of the painter, the chisel and stone of the sculptor. Great artists of the latter kind will at once admit the inconvenience of having their materials chosen for them by the Clergy. They would hardly entrust a brother artist, however eminent, with the selection; and yet, under existing circumstances, composers for the Church, (should there be any) must content themselves with such singers and organs as the Chapters provide.
In response to his own observations, Wesley responds with his Plan which extends beyond the number, abilities and pay of the cathedral musicians to the reordering of cathedrals to allow the organ to best serve the choir. (Amongst this, however, he continues to find opportunity to highlight his concerns.)
  • The number of lay Choir-men in daily attendance should never be less than twelve, this being the least number by which the choral service can be properly performed.
  • To ensure the constant attendance of twelve it would be necessary to retain at least three additional voices (one of each kind) to meet the frequent deficiencies arising from illness or other unavoidable causes. The stipend of the former might be £85 per annum; of the latter £52These lay singers should be required to give the degree of attention to rehearsals and every other musical duty exacted of all such persons at ordinary performances of music, and, like others, they should be subject to an early removal in cases of wilful inattention. Should it not be deemed desirable for them to occupy themselves in trade, or other pursuits, (and that it is not desirable cannot be a question, their Cathedral duty, if properly followed, being the work of a life,) the salaries should be higher, and not less than from £100 to £150 per annum.
  • The election to the office of lay Choir men should rest with the organists or musical conductors of three Cathedrals, namely the one in which the vacancy occurs, and the two nearest to it, the Dean and Chapter of the former exercising their judgment as to the religious fitness of the candidate. In fixing, as is here proposed, the number of the lay singers at the minimum number, twelve, it may be added, that in any Cathedral town where the musical services of the Cathedral were conducted in a meritorious manner, they would undoubtedly enjoy great popularity, and enlist the voluntary aid of many competent persons. An addition of six such might probably be relied on; and this, although inadequate—the requirements of such large buildings as our Cathedrals being considered — would be a great advance upon present things.
  • A Musical College in connection with one of the Cathedrals, and under the government of its Dean and Chapter, seems indispensably necessary for the tuition of lay singers; and, what is more important, for the complete education of the higher order of musical officer employed as the Organist, Composer, or Director of the Choir. Lay singers for Cathedrals are not easily procured; and the above arrangement would greatly facilitate the object of providing every Cathedral with the required number for its Choir, and for imparting a thorough and complete musical education to the musical professors employed by the Church. A School of this kind might not be self-supporting, possibly; every Cathedral, therefore, should be required to contribute something to its maintenance.
  • The Cathedral Organist should, in every instance, be a professor of the highest ability, — a master in the most elevated departments of composition,— and efficient in the conducting and superintendance of a Choral body.
  • If salaries of from £500 to £800 a year be suggested for the Provincial Organists, or Musical Directors of Cathedrals, it will be said how many Curates there are in the Church at a salary of £60 or £80 per annum? But it is not here a question of men standing at the threshold of their profession. The artists pointed to are the bishops of their calling—men consecrated by their genius, and set apart for duties which only the best talent of the kind can adequately fulfil.
  • The organ is a difficult subject. It seems a pity that every Cathedral should not possess a noble specimen of this instrument; its effects are so glorious — worthy of its distinguished use in the services of religion and of our splendid Cathedrals. Architects greatly object to its ordinary position on the choir screen; and it must be confessed, that were the Choirs perfect in their work, and the true school of Church composition rigidly adhered to, a large organ for the accompaniment of the Choral service is unnecessary. A small beautifully voiced organ, as near the Choir at possible, is the desideratum. It should not be on one side; for then, the music being arranged antiphonally, error exists from the organ’s sounding on one side differently to what it does on the other. The best arrangement which has occurred to the writer, is that of making a choir screen of the organ itself, and bringing the singers close to the instrument. Or, if it were determined, as no doubt it soon would be in numerous cases, were the Choral Service rendered all that musicians could wish, to take a portion of the nave for public accommodation, the instrument might stand sideways on the floor, and the screen be entirely removed; preserving, however, a suitable shelter for the authorities from the great draught existing in these large buildings.
  • The boys received great care formerly in respect to their vocal tuition. A great portion of each day seems to have been devoted to exercises. Their voices, however, at the best, are a poor substitute for the vastly superior quality and power of those of women.
  • Music can never be rehearsed and made sufficiently accurate to brave public opinion unless superintended by a competent Conductor.
  • Once place the music on a sound foundation, and, no doubt, assistance would flow in from many quarters, in aid of what would be found in the Cathedral towns one of the greatest public advantages.
Despite the polemic nature of the entire document, towards the end Wesley's underlying commitment to improving the musical provision of cathedrals as part of the worship is shown as he concludes
Let us indulge a hope that the claims of this subject will find support, and that its merits will be better understood. Amongst the dignitaries of the Church are several distinguished persons who are fully alive to the high interests of music, and who do not forget that whatever is offered to God should be as faultless as man can make it. Music should not be compelled to bring her worst gift to the altar!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Banana Cake

I was looking for a recipe for a banana cake and a friend showed me an ancient recipe, cut from a newspaper, which they swear by. Being the twenty-first century, I photographed it so I could try it myself. It is simple and was a success. I therefore share it here (in a slightly tweaked version to make it as easy as possible) for others, and to make it easier for me to read in future.
  • 70g (3oz) butter
  • 4 bananas chopped into chunks
  • 200g (8oz) (dark) brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 140g (6oz) plain flour
  1. Heat the oven to 160c/325f/GM3 and grease a loaf tin.
  2. Put each ingredient in order listed above into a food processor, and whizz after each one is added. (Or mix them together in order in a bowl, making sure the bananas are well mashed up.)
  3. After the flour has been added and whizzed, pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for an hour, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Lichfield Cathedral's Choral Foundation: broadcasting to the nation since 1934

While I was trying to check the (fairly obscure) details of a piece of music that Lichfield Cathedral Choir has broadcast on BBC radio in the distant past, as is sometimes the way with the Internet, I serendipitously stumbled across an online archive of all the copies of the RadioTimes from 1923 to 2009 that the BBC has made available which I had not previously encountered. Having been scanned and optical character recognised (the processes whereby the computer turns a scanned image into searchable text, rather than just a picture), the data is not perfect. However, it provides a remarkable resource to explore all sorts of things.

From a broadcasting perspective, seeing how the BBC's radio stations developed from just a National and Regional service to the genre-based stations to the more recognisable Radios 1 to 5 we have today is interesting. But coupling this with the geekily written historical detail of the stations on Wikipedia and being able to see how their output changed in response to moments of historical significance is fascinating.

In the musical world, it is possible to track the career of individuals: one particular example I found was seeing a cathedral organist move from Oxbridge organ scholar to organist of one of the country's more notable cathedrals via various other abbeys and cathedrals through their appearances on broadcast choral evensongs. Alongside this, it also showed their involvement with other groups over the course of their career.

Having clarified the tiny detail for which I was originally looking, I ended up searching for 'Lichfield Cathedral', and this resulted in a whole range of programmes - on both radio and television - over the past ninety years. Because of this, I felt it was worth updating the details of broadcasts which I maintain on Lichfield Cathedral Choir's website.

Firstly, I was able to fill in a couple of blanks and add details about original broadcast times and stations to the existing list of broadcast choral evensongs. Gratifyingly, there were no additional broadcasts to add to this list (wading through past music lists 15 years ago clearly paid off), but I did remove some as the BBC's listings showed that the broadcasts were not always of the Cathedral Choir singing on them. In this list, it is interesting to see that in days gone by, the BBC seemed to install themselves in the Cathedral for a stretch at a time, as between the 1940s and 1960s there are runs of two or three weeks in a row when the service was broadcast from Lichfield, but then there are years between such runs.

Secondly, the list of other radio broadcasts was significantly fleshed out. This had not been something I had been collecting details for, but odd editions of Sunday Worship had crept into the audio archive, so I had included them. Thanks to the RadioTimes archive, I think the listing in now complete. From this, it is clear that the broadcasting of a matins-based service antedate the broadcasts of evensong (1937 as opposed to 1939), but acts of worship from Lichfield are trumped by a broadcast of an organ recital from 1934 (and a documentary style programme gloriously described as a 'microphone impression' of the Cathedral from the same year).

Thirdly, because of the amount of data involved in keeping copies of television broadcasts, these had never featured highly in the archives. However, having this information to hand, means this listing has also been completed. This list is not so extensive, and the majority of entries are from the past twenty years; nevertheless, it is nice to know there was a broadcast of Songs of Praise from Lichfield in November 1972.

Finally, the wealth of details that I discovered meant that I did not want to miss anything out, or be left confused when people offered a broadcast of choral evensong from Lichfield from the 1940s, as someone did some years ago, subsequently telling me it was an RSCM course. I have therefore created the supplementary broadcasts page which is where everything which has a musical connection broadcast from Lichfield is detailed. This includes broadcasts made by the Cathedral's chamber choir, recitals by organists visiting the Cathedral (and therefore not a part of the Foundation), the broadcasts of evensongs sung by other choirs, including an Eton Choral Course, the RSCM Festivals, and the BBC Singers directed by George Thalben Ball. The evensongs with the BBC Singers seem to be in addition to those broadcast as part of the 'standard' choral evensongs as they are on Sundays, not Tuesdays or Wednesdays: maybe there was a greater appetite for broadcast religion in the post-war years.

Overall, this is fortuitous timing as the choir's #LentQuiz which is currently running is based on recordings made of the Cathedral Choir over the past fifty years (the extent of the audio archive), and it is nice to have the records as complete as possible as the Foundation's 700th anniversary celebrations start on Easter Monday. However, there is still scope for development: ultimately, it would be nice to link all of the entries back to the RadioTimes original data so the complete records can be seen (I have necessarily cut some repeated details to save space). Also, as the OCR process is not entirely accurate, if 'Lichfield Cathedral' has not be recognised, my searches would not have found the records, so there could be some other programmes which may need adding at some point.

As with all such research, it is inevitably ongoing, there will be more to add, and there will doubtless be corrections. However, more excitingly, as this information is now available, it is my hope that we might find some of the recordings still exist and that the audio (and visual) archives can be expanded.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Tweeted BCP Evening Prayer

As promised yesterday, the tweeted Evensong – or TwEvensong – happened. As a result of having a very public first attempt at something like this, there are things which need refining both for the producers and consumers (or ‘foundation’ and congregation) of the event (or service). I have compiled and sorted all the feedback that I received both personally and via the choir's Twitter feed to provide a record of the event and to help me - and others - in such an endeavour in future.

The way in which Twitter handles multiple connected tweets needs to be considered. I had found that two or three replies to one’s self without the @ name at the start got linked, but beyond three verses of the psalm this got confusing. As someone tweeted
sorry but you lost me at Isaiah.
and what appeared on people’s timelines seemed confusing (I also glanced some instances of this on a separate computer and account I set up just to watch the event while tweeting)
....and repetition of out-of-order verses ( tho' not in 2nd lesson?)
As @davidbartonmus commented
Yes, very entertaining (!) - could work well with a hashtag
and this is something that I did explore but felt tagging each tweet ate into the available characters too much which would have meant more verses of psalms and readings needed splitting. However, I do accept this would be necessary next time; indeed, there is a competition in the making with @AnnetteRubery suggesting
@LichfieldChoir Ah yes, bit of a challenge; you need to crowdsource a short hashtag via a Twitter competition ;) 
A private message on Facebook also got as far as the first reading but ‘then it seemed to stop’. I guess it is possible that Twitter though so many posts were spam and therefore blocked some of them. This needs investigating.

From a production perspective, it was difficult to try and keep tabs on the whole thing and know when to tweet your portion. As the Dean of Birmingham and Bishop of Cork tweeted at the end
Of course Evensong is always exciting, but rarely that nerve-wracking
nerve-wracking indeed!
This could probably be resolved with practice, as things did seem to calm down after the initial flurry of activity. However, this hectic beginning was apparently obvious to the consumers too:
Bravo! Team Evensong!  (just a tiny bit stressful at the start)@WealandsBell @LichfieldChoir @RevRichardColes @CatherineOgle @b2dac
As the Cathedral Choir’s Twitter account is linked to Facebook (to save having to create posts for each manually on a day to day basis), all of our contributions were also sent to Facebook without any of the other participants' tweets appearing. It would have been sensible to disconnect them for the duration of the event as highlighted:
Les Robertson
Actually it was bloody irritating and just clogged up the facebook timeline! Keep it to twitter if you must but somewhat loses its impact some hours later on fb for those of us who have been at work all day. You clearly have too much time on your hands!
Only downside of #Evensong via Twitter- it dominates my FB stream, surreally jumbled!
In order to keep things tidy, the Facebook posts have duly been deleted manually.

Whether Twitter is the best medium for such an event is something that needs further consideration, but what an alternative which is so widely used and easily accessible would be, I don’t know. Nevertheless, from the three hours following the TwEvensong, this is a compilation of the rest of the feedback received with the most recent first:
Very well done everyone ! Thank you
Kudos to @LichfieldChoir @WealandsBell @b2dac @CatherineOgle @RevRichardColes for the TwEvensong earlier. Loved it! When's the next one?
thank you, such a good idea, I normally avoid Evensong but found that lovely.
much enjoyed. Thank you
What a great idea! Please do it again and I'll have fresh coffee ready to remind me of Evensong at York.
How lovely.
...and I translated the bits common to our liturgies into Hebrew. Thanks again
I liked that it came from multiple accounts, and found other juxtaposing mid-office tweets rather amusing!
thank you for an enjoyable evensong! Made my day!
@rachywakey the tweets of @WealandsBell @RevRichardColes @LichfieldChoir @CatherineOgle @b2dac since 5.30. Ace Twitter evensong #fb
it was stunning thank you
should add that my chorister daughter enjoyed her own private game of "guess the next tweet". Great service!
really wonderful idea. Brilliant. Thank you. Well done
Thank you. The traditional Anglican liturgy is profoundly beautiful.
So, what time is Morning Prayer?
 *shakes hand* wonderful service, thank you :-)
pretty good for a first go, bravo
thank you for this evenings worship, nicely done, God bless
Thank you!
 *shakes your hands on the way out* Nice not to have to walk a mile home
Thank you, that was lovely. Well done all.
Many thanks to you all. That was very lovely. Xxx
Thank you to everyone I enjoyed it
*Shakes hands of clergy* Thank you all for a very different #Evensong.
a little bow of the head to you all, acknowledging & appreciating your ministry.
thanks all, was interesting!
that was fun. Fast typing fingers needed. Bit more practice for @RevRichardColes tho 
Thanks Guys !
Louise Stewart
I found it purposeful, prayerful and innovative; thank you, Lichfield Cathedral Choir!
and during the event, @GeorgeDay27 tweeted a photo of someone on their mobile phone standing in the snow outside a chalet with the caption: 'catching Evensong on twitter in Switzerland'.

When I wrote my blog post 24 hours ago, my hope was that it was appreciated by someone somewhere. This collection of tweets suggests that my hope was met. Yes, the whole thing needs a little refinement and some people were disappointed and saw it as a waste of time, but for it to come together so quickly and to be so well received was beyond my expectations. People are already asking about the next event, and I look forward to the next one being even more successful and building on what was learnt to day. Indeed, sorting through the feedback, the question of music – something I had wondered about but decided to leave on a back burner this time – was raised:
Next time a tweeted Choral Evensong? Music via Soundcloud/YouTube?
Didn't recognise the setting?
while @rogbi200 fully entered into the spirit of things and transported themselves to their own Evensong with their music list
@LichfieldChoir I went with Psalms from St Pauls (incl Willcocks Ps148), Howells Coll Reg, Radcliffe Resp, & your most appropriate anthem!
this is another logical step and one to consider for the future.

Watch this space.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Tweeting BCP Evening Prayer

For a while, I have been musing on the nature of the daily Evensong in which I sing being an enforced (but not in any bad sense) sacred space in my life. Apart from being a part of a centuries’ old tradition and therefore being made to feel somewhat insignificant in the grand scheme of things, part of this is inevitably down to the fact that technology – and its concomitant connectivity – are banished to pockets for the duration of the service.

This led me to think about the extent to which our connectedness through social media is preventing us from having that quiet personal time and space for religion, reflection or relaxation, as even when simply watching television or listening to the radio, we are being told to email or tweet with comments and feedback meaning that, without a great deal of self-discipline, our escape is never possible

If our connectedness is inescapable – my thinking went – I wondered how such a space could be created in our online connected world. The inevitable answer is ironic and I duly contacted a priest fried of mine and asked if he would like to lead an online Evensong with me tweeting as I do regularly on behalf of Lichfield Cathedral Choir. His enthusiasm for the idea led me to think that it was not quite as foolish as it felt.

Although this creates a lot of work for those taking part, one of the beauties of Evensong is knowing that it is happening in cathedrals up and down the country on a daily basis and while there are some people who attend regularly, there are plenty of others who just drop in for a single service or are there for just some of a single service. Another beauty of Evensong, from the congregation’s point of view, is that the majority of it is said (or sung) on their behalf by the priest and the choir, so they are able to partake as passively as they wish.

My idea of an online service is an attempt to create exactly the same thing. It will happen tomorrow – 30th December – at 5.30pm GMT whether or not people are reading the tweets. People can choose to follow us for as much or as little as they like. The text will all be delivered in tweet-size chunks: there will be the full psalms and readings for the day, along with prayers and an anthem text to read.

The Twitter accounts to follow will be @WealandsBell, @LichfieldChoir, and @RevRichardColes.

To the best of my knowledge, there has not been a tweeted act of worship before. There are online churches and religious communities but, as far as I can tell, they do not – or have not – offered something like this before.

It is an experiment. It will happen. I am sure there will be some people who see it as a waste of time and a foolish endeavour; however, I do hope that people will find the time to take out of their day to drop in on the event, and I do hope our efforts will be appreciated by someone somewhere in the world.

If details change, I will update this post and I welcome any comments, suggestions and feedback, but I look forward to my next post being a reflection of how the first tweeted service went.

UPDATE 16:27: Having enlisted a Dean and a Bishop to help us, please also follow @CatherineOgle, and @b2dac

UPDATE 31/12: After the event I compiled all the feedback I received and it can be read, with comments, at

Monday, 1 September 2014

Young Adult Fiction: Technology Reading List

I have blogged reading lists as I have gone along, but I am now finding it useful to have a entire list - dare I say, 'bibliography' - of the primary texts I have read. While the majority of the books listed here are YA texts, there are some which are examples of 'classic' science fiction texts and these offer a little (historical) context for the more contemporary texts.

This list is the most up to date and replaces any previous instalments: the links on each title are to Amazon and the list is sorted chronologically and then by author. I am sure the list will be updated again in the future, but until then I offer this as a good starting point for any (Y)A readers interested in technology and the concomitant dystopian worlds which accompany it.

iD - Madeline Ashby (2013)
In the sequel to vN, Javier, a self-replicating humanoid is taken on a quest from Amy’s island, where his actions have devastating consequences for his friend, toward Mecha where he will find either salvation or death.
The Mad Scientist's Daughter - Cassandra Rose Clarke (2013)
The billion dollar android, Finn, looks and acts like a human and is programmed to assist his owners and perform his duties to perfection. His primary duty is to tutor Cat and he becomes her guardian and constant companion. However, he begins to learn what it is to be human as he tries to find his place in the world and her heart.
The Different Girl - Gordon Dalquist (2013)
Four nearly identical girl live on a desert island with two adults who care for them and teach them. Unexpectedly a shipwreck brings a very different kind of girl to the island and her presence makes the girls question their own existence.
The Eye of the Minds - James Dashner (2013)
For Michael and other gamers, VirtNet makes their fantasies become real; the better their hacking skills, the more fun they can have. However, o ne gamer has been taking people hostage inside the VirtNet with hideous consequences to their real lives. The government asks Michael to track down the rogue gamer and the line between game and reality gets horribly blurred.
MILA 2.0 - Debra Driza (2013)
After the sudden death of her father, Mila’s at a new school, trying to fit in and falling for the mysterious. When she is involved in a car accident, she discovers she is not human and then learns that her life is a fiction and she cannot even rely on her emotions to tell her who she is. As she fights to find out who she really is and to protect her 'mom', she finds out there is much more to her life.
Proxy - Alex London (2013)
As a wealthy Patron, Knox has everything he could want. When he does something wrong his Proxy - Syd - is punished for it. Knox and Syd meet unexpectedly and realis e the only way to beat the system is to save each other from themselves and a death sentence respectively.
The Best of All Possible Worlds - Karen Lord (2013)
The Sadiri were once the galaxy's ruling élite, but now their home planet and most of the population has been destroyed. Impulsive civil servant Grace Delarua is assigned to work with a controlled and taciturn Sadiri Councillor, on a mission to visit distant communities, looking for possible mates.
Scarlet - Marissa Meyer (2013)
The sequel to Cinder, in which Scarlet turns to Wolf, a street fighter, when her grandmother goes missing. At the same time, Cinder becomes the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive as she breaks out of prison to escape from Queen Levana. The stories collide as Cinder's true identity is discovered and she becomes a greater threat to Levana.
Crux - Ramez Naam (2013)
In the sequel to Nexus, six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5 and the world is a different, more dangerous place. Terrorists, or freedom fighters, use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs and a government scientist and Nexus addict uncovers the forces behind the assassinations, and finds himself in a maze with no way out: the first blows in the war between human and post-human have been struck.
Nexus - Ramez Naam (2013)
In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link human minds together. There are some people who want to improve it, some who want to eradicate it and others who want to exploit it. When Kade, a young computer scientist, is caught improving Nexus, he finds himself in a world of danger and international espionage.
More Than This - Patrick Ness (2013)
A boy called Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, but then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving, but alive. He finds himself in what appears to be the suburban English town where he lived as a child, but the neighbourhood is overgrown, covered in dust and completely abandoned. Seth searches for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, and that it might not be the hell he fears it to be.
The Originals - Cat Patrick (2013)
The three teenage sisters grew up as identical triplets until they discovered they’re clones. The Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth as the sisters share one life between three. When one meets a boy, she realizes that she’s not a carbon copy of her sisters and begins to dismantle the delicate balance of her unusual family that only science could have created.
Fractured - Teri Terry (2013)
This is the sequel to Slated, in which Kyla's memory was erased and her personality wiped blank. However, she begins to remember things that she shouldn't as she encounters actions and people from her past. Finding out more about who she was confounds the question of who she is and what decisions she must make about her future.
Reboot - Amy Tintera (2013)
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. She serves as a soldier for the Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation and finds herself training a new Reboot who, as a 22, is practically human.
Boy Nobody - Allen Zadoff (2013)
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school who few notice. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name and makes few friends, staying only long enough to accomplish his mission as an operative for a shadowy government organisation which uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives.
vN - Madeline Ashby (2012)
The protagonist, Amy Peterson, is a Von Neumann machine - a self-replicating humanoid robot - who for the past five years has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. However, a flaw is discovered in her synthetic heritage which prevents her failsafe, the mechanism which stops robots harming humans, working as it should turning her into both a deadly and desirable entity.
MazeCheat - B R Collins (2012)
The sequel to Gamerunner, in which cheat programmers work with gamerunners to uncover the secrets behind the latest expansion to CRATER's Maze. If players finally manage to beat the game, it takes their brain and memories to use as material for new games for new Gamerunners, leaving them dead. But no one knows this yet. When the heroes realise what is happening they need to destroy the game, but the all-seeing CRATER already knows what their plans are.
Lay Saints - Adam Connell (2012)
Calder is able to read minds, but the noise means he avoids people. In New York a gang of black-market telepaths figures out who and what he is. They force him to help them pull off a big-ticket job, swaying the vote of a powerful politician. Another gang is working the other side of this job, and Calder is caught in a game of manipulation and shifting alliances.
Pirate Cinema - Cory Doctorow (2012)
The sixteen year old Trent McCauley is obsessed with making movies by sampling and reassembling footage downloaded from the net. However, in the near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever: if someone is caught three times, their entire household is cut off from the Internet for a year. When Trent is caught, the loss of the Internet nearly destroys his family and he runs away to London where falls in with a group of activists fighting a new bill that will further criminalise digital copying.
Soul Fire - Kate Harrison (2012)
The sequel to 2011's Soul Beach sees its protagonist continuing to talk to her dead sister in the virtual world of Soul Beach as she tries to solve the mystery of its inhabitants' deaths from the real world
1.4 - Mike Lancaster (2012)
The sequel to 0.4 sees another imminent upgrade to humans, but it is set against the backdrop of the protagonist, Peter Vincent (son of an internationally renowned scientist), uncovering a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment to hide the knowledge of human upgrades from the populace.
Glimpse - Claire Merle (2012)
People in England are divided into Pures and Crazies according to the results of a DNA test, and until the age of fifteen, Ana lived a privileged existence amongst the Pures, but her whole world crumbles when she finds out that there was a mistake with her Pure test.
Cinder - Marissa Meyer (2012)
A retelling of the Cinderella story in which the eponymous Cinder is a gifted mechanic and cyborg.
Fair Coin - E C Myers (2012)
Science fiction in the best sense of the term: alternative worlds, quantum theory, teenagers, and a the flip of a coin. To say anything else would completely give the novel away!
Starters - Lissa Price (2012)
Callie lost her parents when a virus attacked the Earth and then she lost what to her was home. In desperation she tried to raise money by participating in an illicit scheme whereby teenager bodies are leased to wealthy, but aged, renters. Finally, she loses her body too but she is determined to get it back.
Insurgent - Veronica Roth (2012)
In the sequel to Divergent, Tris is consumed by grief and guilt having survived a brutal attack on her former home and family and she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future. However, she has to find a new strength is to uncover the truth about her world as she faces more shocking choices and sacrifices.
Unwholly - Neal Shusterman (2012)
In the second book in the Unwind "Dystology", the teenage escapees continue to fight against the system that would 'unwind' them. A new character, Cam, is introduced: he is a 'rewound' made entirely out of parts from one hundred other 'unwinds', and struggles to find a true identity and meaning, and a place in society.
Slated - Teri Terry (2012)
Kyla's memory has been erased and her personality has been wiped blank: she's been Slated. The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance as long as she plays by their rules. However, echoes of the past whisper in Kyla's mind and she starts to search for the truth.
You Shouldn't Call Me Mommy - Susan Tsui (2012)
Orphaned as a little boy, Jay was raised by an artificial parent to become an upstanding member of society. Jay's older brother Ian still remembers their real parents and has never understood Jay's connection to his nanny-bot. As Ian and Jay try to understand each other and themselves they explore the nature of attachment and family loyalties.
Feedback - Robinson Wells (2012)
The second book in the Variant series sees the teenage Benson Fisher, who thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life, discovers the school's real secret. He escapes, only to find a town in which he finds all the pupils who he thought had died, and learns that the academy's plans may be impossible to foil.
The Future of Us - Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler (2011)
Set in 1996, two teenagers access the Internet and discover a site called Facebook which shows them what their life will be like fifteen years in the future; they are duly able to see the implications of their teenage decisions on their adult lives.
i2 - James Bannon (2011)
While creating a new procedure by which memories are uploaded, stored and transferred to a new body, the inventor is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He use the procedure on himself, preparing to begin life again. However, instead of being born to the woman he loves, he is born into the family of his rival: a man who has stolen his company and his family. As he reconciles his intellect being trapped within the form of a helpless child he embarks on rebuilding his life.
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline (2011)
In a dystopian future, the teenage Wade Watts spends his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a virtual utopia where people can live the lives they want. In his spare time, he is one of millions searching for the solution to a series of riddles concealed within the online world by its creator, in a bid to inherit his massive fortune. Players know that the riddles are based in late C20th culture and when Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle he finds himself competing against many others in a competition which takes on real-world dimensions.
Gamerunner - B R Collins (2011)
The Maze is a virtual reality game but one game does not allow the player to start again when they lose.
The Maze Runner - James Dashner (2011)
Thomas only remembers his first name and is welcomed to the Glade - a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze - by a group of similar male teenagers. None of them know why or how they came to be there, or what's happened to the world outside: all they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything (even facing the half-machine, half-animal Grievers) to try and find out.
brainjack - Brian Falkner (2011)
An extraordinarily skilled teenage hacker becomes involved in a world of espionage, intrigue and cybercrime when a remarkable hack grabs the attention of a secret government agency.
Soul Beach - Kate Harrison (2011)
When the heroine receives an e-mail from her dead sister she assumes it is a sick practical joke, but then she receives an invitation to join an idyllic virtual reality world where she is able to talk to her sister again but discovers it is only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead.
0.4 - Mike Lancaster (2011)
A teenager's account of a life-changing event has been transcribed from audio tapes and appear to reveal the history of a world in which technological obsolescence becomes personal.
You have seven messages - Stewart Lewis (2011)
A year after Luna's mother, the fashion-model wife of a successful film director, was hit and killed by a taxi in New York, Luna, her father, and brother are still struggling with grief. Luna finds her mother's mobile phone and it contains seven unheard messages. As Luna listens to them, she learns more about her mother and realises that what she's been told about her death is not the whole truth.
Momentum - Saci Lloyd (2011)
In a future London affected by global energy wars, the cruel Kossak soldiers prowl the streets, keeping the Outsiders - the poor, the disenfranchised - in check. Hunter is a Citizen, one of the privileged of society, but when he meets Outsider Uma, he is quickly drawn into their world - and into an electrifying and dangerous race to protect everything they hold dear.
Scored - Lauren McLaughlin (2011)
Set in a future in which teenagers are monitored by technology, they are all given a score which determines their ability to succeed. The reluctant heroine's scholarship-winning score is brought down by her best friend's behaviour. She is then faced with the decision between doing what feels morally right and her future.
Delirium - Lauren Oliver (2011)
Love, or deliria, is seen by society as a disease from which there is no recovery, but citizens receive the cure on their eighteenth birthday when love is eradicated and they meet their predetermined partner. The teenage protagonist, Lena Holoway, has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured but, with ninety-five days until her treatment, Lena falls in love.
Divergent - Veronica Roth (2011)
Reaching the age of 16, Beatrice has to decide which of five tribes she will join for the rest of her life. Turning her back on her family she discovers a new and violent life and duly has to make choices about where her loyalties lie.
The Predicteds - Christine Seifert (2011)
The experimental Profile programme is able to determine students' future behaviour, and the 'bad kids' names are kept on a list of Predicteds. The protagonist, Daphne, falls for Jesse, but his name is on the list.
Variant - Robison Wells (2011)
Problem child Benson Fisher wins a scholarship to Maxfield Academy, but when he arrives there he finds himself trapped in a school surrounded by razor wire and monitored by an external agency. He eventually discovers the reason why he and the other students are cut off from the rest of the world and that escape may prove impossible.
iBoy - Kevin Brooks (2010)
An accident leaves the teenage protagonist with an iPhone embedded in his brain but rather than it killing him, he harnesses the iPhone's capabilities.
Mockingjay (Hunger Games Book 3) - Suzanne Collins (2010)
Katniss Everdeen has, against all odds, survived the Hunger Games twice, but although she has made it out of the arena alive, she is still not safe. The Capitol is angry and wants revenge. She becomes the figurehead of District 13 and the rebellion against the Capitol and sees the life she wants becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.
Matched - Ally Condie (2010)
A dystopian society is controlled by technology and people's seventeenth birthday sees them given their perfect partner as dictated by society. Cassia's allotted partner turns out not to be the perfect match that society demands.
Monster Republic - Ben Horton (2010)
An explosion in a nuclear power plant leads to a class of visiting teenagers being patched up with scavenged body parts and bionic implants to create an army of superhuman soldiers.
Metagame - Sam Landstrom (2010)
Computer gaming becomes a way of life and the players' limits are explored in the virtual world where the winner takes all.
Wired - Robin Wasserman (2010)
Set a further six months after Crashed, this is the final part of the Skinned trilogy. Lia discovers that everything she thought she knew is a lie and everyone she thought she loved has been stolen away. With her life - her uploaded consciousness - and those of her Mech friends, she sets about trying to save everyone.
Dot.Robot - Jason Bradbury (2009)
Technologically proficient children are recruited to use the latest technology in a classic tale of good versus evil.
Catching Fire (Hunger Games Book 2) - Suzanne Collins (2009)
After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future, but she hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol which she and Peeta have helped to create. As they are forced to visit the districts on their Victory Tour they have to convince the world that they are still in love with each other or the consequences will be horrifying.
Crashed - Robin Wasserman (2009)
Set six months later, this is the sequel to Skinned. When a voice from Lia's past cries out for revenge, she is forced to choose between her old, human, life and her new one. As she reaches her decision issues of mortality, technology and morality are all considered and explored.
Skinned - Robin Wasserman (2009)
A popular teenage girl is involved in a near fatal traffic accident, and her brain is downloaded and installed into a new body and she has to discover her new identity.
2008 Rise of the Heroes - Andy Briggs (2008)
While surfing the net during a lightning storm, a group of teenage friends discover they have access to superhero powers at the click of a mouse, although they don't know what the powers will be until they try them. They learn that having super powers brings responsibilities and when a weather-altering super-villain kidnaps their mum, they have to decide to save her or the world. Council of Evil - Andy Briggs (2008)
In the partner series to, school bully Jake Hunter receives a mysterious email inviting him to join a scheme for world domination and the prospect of unlimited power and wealth proves irresistible. However, to get it he has to become an arch-criminal, entangled in a plan that threatens the planet and he has to make some decisions for himself.
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (2008)
Twenty-four teenagers are selected at random and are placed into a reality TV game in which the winner is the last person alive.
Little Brother - Cory Doctorow (2008)
Set in contemporary San Francisco, the teenager protagonist stands up for civil liberties having been falsely accused of a terrorist offence and plays a game of cat and mouse with the government in which both sides are using technology to their advantage.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E Pearson (2008)
A seventeen-year-old girl wakes from a coma and is told her name is Jenna Fox. Initially, she has no other memories, but she gradually begins to rediscover her identity and starts to find out what happened to her.
Unwind - Neal Shusterman (2008)
Unwinding means the end of a teenager's life, but such unwanted individuals are kept alive for their body parts. Three runaways fight the system and for their right to their life.
Incarceron - Catherine Fisher (2007)
Incarceron is a futuristic prison world where the descendants of the original prisoners; it is a mix of high technology (a living building pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character), and mediaeval torture chamber. A young prisoner, Finn, has visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born in Incarceron. He makes contact with the daughter of the Warden, Claudia, in the Outer World, and his escape is planned.
Hybrids - David Thorpe (2007)
A virus infects humans causing them to fuse with an item of technology they use a lot and the resultant hybrids are feared by the uninfected humans.
Hacking Harvard - Robin Wasserman (2007)
A group of high achieving geeks accept the ultimate challenge to use their technical and social engineering skills to get a fully unqualified slacker into the most prestigious college in America.
Uglies - Scott Westerfield (2005)
When teenagers reach the age of sixteen they are made Pretty and they are told this is their lives' purpose. Not everyone agrees and this novel follows the story of a girl deciding to follow the rebels.
The Game of Sunken Places - M T Anderson (2004)
Two boys visit the mansion of a distant relative and their discovery of a board game leads to an adventure which takes place beyond the confines of the board.
ttyl - Lauren Myracle (2004)
Written entirely in instant messages, the lives and loves of three girls are shown through their conversations over a few weeks.
Be More Chill - Ned Vizzini (2004)
A teenager ingests a squip - a new organic supercomputer purchased on the black market - which advises him how to behave in order to win the girl of his dreams.
So yesterday - Scott Westerfield (2004)
This novel explores the world of following fashions and the creation of new trends in contemporary New York.
Feed - M T Anderson (2002)
In a dystopian vision of the future, everyone who's anyone is connected to the feed. The typical rich boy/poor girl story follows a teenage couple's relationship when their feeds are hacked.
Golem 1: Magic Berber - Marie-Aude Murail, Lorris Murail, Elvire Murail (2002)
A group of children on an inner-city council estate encounter a new computer game which hijacks their computer and seems to bleed into the reality of their lives.
e-love - Caroline Plaisted (2001)
Sam, the teenage female protagonist meets 17 year-old Dan in an online chatroom and they soon become the closest of friends. They eventually meet in person and e-love charts the 'highs and lows of internet love going real-life'.
Hex: Ghosts - Rhiannon Lassiter (2000)
The third book in the Hex series in which those with the Hex gene are being hunted down by the security forces. However, they also find themselves facing a new form of an old enemy within the net on which the world relies for communication, and only one Hex can save them.
The Last Book in the Universe - Rodman Philbrick (2000)
In a land dominated by vicious gangs and mind probe entertainment, Spaz is alone. His foster sister is the only good thing in his life and she is dying. Determined to save her, Spaz bravely sets out into dangerous and forbidden territory, accompanied only by an old man, with his philosophies and memories of what the world once was.
Dangerous Reality - Malorie Blackman (1999)
The Virtual Mobile Interactive System developed by the hero's mum is the subject of industrial espionage and people's obsession with technology is shown through their actions.
Hex: Shadows - Rhiannon Lassiter (1999)
The second book in the Hex series. Having rescued Revenge, their sister, from the government facility where she was tested for her Hex powers, Raven, Wraith and her are now outlaws on the run from a government set on the destruction of the Hex gene.
Hex - Rhiannon Lassiter (1998)
Set in 24th century London, the government is hunting down Hexes who are mutant humans whose mutation gives them an ability to interact with computers. The female protagonist, Raven, is a young Hex hunting for her younger sister.
The Night Room - E M Goldman (1995)
A group of seven high school students are chosen to participate in the Argus project which offers them a virtual reality projection of their possible tenth high school reunion. However, one student is not at the VR reunion and the others try to find out why Argus predicts she will be dead.
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson (1992)
The Metaverse is the Internet's successor and provides a cyberspace home to avatars and software daemons, where anything goes. Newly available on the Street is Snow Crash, a cyberdrug; however, Snow Crash is also a computer virus which infects the person behind the avatar.
All Geared Up (Not Quite Human Book 2) - Seth McEvoy (1986)
The protagonist - Chip - appears as any teenage boy, but in reality he is an advanced robot. His sister knows and helps to protect his secret as he becomes the school's best drummer, but with a girl thinking he is really special and a rival drummer set on revenge keeping his identity secret gets increasingly difficult.
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (1977)
The human race faces annihilation from an alien invasion, and to defend humanity the government must create the greatest military commander in history and Ender Wiggin is their last hope, but first he must survive the rigours of a brutal military training programme to prove that he can be the leader of all leaders. A saviour for mankind must be produced, through whatever means possible, but the government maybe creating a hero or a monster.
The Black Cloud - Fred Hoyle (1957)
The classic science fiction tale tracks the progress of a giant black cloud coming towards Earth and sitting in front of the sun, which causes widespread panic and death. A select group of scientists and astronomers engage in a mad race to understand and communicate with the cloud, battling against trigger happy politicians.
The Clockwork Man - E V Odle (1923)
Not a YA text, but a fascinating historical text as the quiet of a village cricket match is interrupted by a mechanical creation from the future. Exploring the nature of what it means to be human and possible directions for the human race, this is a great glimpse back into the science fiction of 90 years ago.