Sword and Laser Podcast 166: The Prolific Mr. Adam Christopher

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

Sorry for the late podcast, everyone! I [Veronica] took a nasty tumble this week and broke my foot and wrist, so everything kind of shut down for a bit! But we're back, and so is Adam Christopher! We talk about the recently released Hang Wire, and upcoming The Burning Dark!

Read show notes here.

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

Sword and Laser: Subscribe RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

Exclusive excerpt: chapter 3 of Mur Lafferty's "Ghost Train to New Orleans" [Urban fantasy]


[Ed: Mur Lafferty's 2013 debut novel Shambling Guide to New York City was an outstanding work of urban fantasy and contributed to Mur's winning a much-deserved John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the 2013 Hugo Awards. Now, Mur's back with a sequel, Ghost Train to New Orleans, and she and her publishers, Orbit, were kind enough to give us an exclusive excerpt from the novel, along with Mur's introduction, below. -Cory]

Chapter 3 of Ghost Train to New Orleans has our hero, Zoë, and her writers aboard a ghost bullet train to write a travel book for monsters. Zoë and another human have just discovered the train is about to experience an old fashioned train robbery with cowboys and horses and everything. 

I love these cowboys. This is an example of the "iceberg" of fiction - you will see one scene with these cowboys and learn only a little about them. But I had to come up with why these cowboys wore business attire underneath their cowboy clothes, why they are so bad at their jobs, and how they died to become ghosts anyway. Their whole story doesn't appear in the book, but I know these people. I really want to tell their backstory in an upcoming short.

Ghosts are an interesting creature to use in urban fantasy. They always seem to have their own creation myth; if everyone who died turned into a ghost, there would be billions of ghosts wandering around the world, which would make them not so much scary, but an annoyance. If only some people turned into ghosts, who and why? And if vampire and zombie undead existed, why did the person's spirit leave the body instead of turning the proper undead? 

I got my inspiration from Gail Carriger's Soulless, where vampires sometimes fail in their attempts to turn humans. In Gail's world, the human dies. In mine, I decided, if a vampire os zombie fails, a ghost is created instead. Since vampires seem to have more fun than ghosts, and ghosts are failed vampires (or, in some cases, zombies) this makes the ghosts decidedly bitter as a whole. In the world of the Shambling Guides, ghosts are insubstantial all the time, and can do little with the physical world unless they possess a human, which is very difficult to do unless the human is weakened or willing. Ghosts love the ghost train, though, since that's where they can take physical form. The job market for work aboard the ghost train is highly competitive. 

As for New Orleans, I'd wanted to return there since I got my initial inspiration for the book in 2005 when I wrote an RPG supplement for a charity gaming book to benefit the Red Cross after Katrina. In my supplement, a zombie continued her job as a tour guide even after she had died because she loved her home so much. I took my first expansion of this idea to New York, but I'm excited to return this idea to New Orleans and her jazz and parties and beignets. 

Ghost Train to New Orleans

Read the rest

Gweek podcast 138: From Russia with Doubt

In each episode of Gweek, I invite a guest or two to join me in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. This time my guests were:

Ramez Naam, a computer scientist and the H.G. Wells Award-winning author of three books, including the sci-fi thriller Nexus, which has been optioned as a film by Paramount and director Darren Aronofsky. The follow up title, Crux, came out in August.

Dean Putney, Boing Boing’s software developer and Gweek regular, whose self published a book of his great-grandfather’s World War I photos.

Danimal Cannon, a touring chiptune and heavy metal musician who occasionally composes music for indie video games. His album Parallel Processing was recently launched as the soundtrack for the new game Wave Wave on iOS.

This episode of Gweek is brought to you by:

Lynda.com, with over 2,000 high-quality and engaging video courses taught by industry experts. Visit lynda.com/gweek to try lynda.com free for 7 days

GET GWEEK: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode | Stitcher

Show Notes:

Ramez's picks:

Geekomancy and Celebromancy by Michael Underwood: Fun, witty, insider-joke filled geek urban fantasy.

How to get the most out of Facebook & Twitter: It’s all about Lists. And an app: TweetDeck.

rubtr: A browser plugin that lets you rebut pages that are inaccurate, and see rebuttals that have been made.


Dean's picks

Wave Wave - upcoming iOS game by Thomas Janson built around a fantastic chiptune album by Danimal Cannon.

The ArtisanVideos subReddit


Mark's picks:

From Russia With Doubt: The Quest to Authenticate 181 Would-Be Masterpieces of the Russian Avant-Garde A couple of amateur art collector brothers buy $40,000 worth of paintings on eBay, and they are appraised at $50 million.

My Passport Ultra 2TB Portable External Hard Drive I have replaced my external desktop hard drives with these. They are small, quiet, and inexpensive.

And much more!

Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, out in the USA today


Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, the 40th Discworld novel, comes out in the US today. I reviewed it back in November for the UK release; here's what I had to say then: it's a tremendous synthesis of everything that makes Pratchett one of the world's most delightful writers. It's a curious thing: a fantasy novel about modernity and reactionaries, a synthesis of technological optimism and a curious sort of romantic mysticism.

Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 135: Terrible Father, Amazing Dragonrider

Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.

Ivan and Red reach their fourth and final podcast of George R.R. Martin’s medium-to-normal length story in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” world, “The Princess and The Queen”, part of the Railroad curated Dangerous Women Anthology. They discuss Railroad’s irresponsible editor, the eight hour long movie that is True Detective, heads up hallucinations, flesh sloughing, your dragon vs. your child, the riderless horse, Ser Hobert Hightower as hardcore Wallace Shawn, and one last dragon battle.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 134: A Turtle Is Not a Horse

Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.

Ivan and Red continue into their penultimate installment of George R.R. Martin’s medium-to-normal length story in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” world, “The Princess and The Queen”, part of the Railroad curated Dangerous Women Anthology. We discuss our hopes for the future of True Detective, the significance of working out sibling rivalry through dragon violence, the 9,000 MySpace Bannerman, land pirates, the importance of not being Hobert, and mid-air dragon leaps.

This episode is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create your own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and 10% off, go to squarespace.com and use offer code BOARS.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode

Sword and Laser Podcast 165: SciFi is Finally Literature!

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

We kick off our March book pick, Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, ponder the brief career of Jonathan Ross as LonCon MC, and discover that at least Houghton Mifflin thinks SciFi is lit.

This episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a free 30-day trial membership by going to audiblepodcast.com/sword and choosing from over 150,000 titles.

Read show notes here.

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

Sword and Laser: Subscribe RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

Sword and Laser Podcast 164: Bill Gourgey's POST-Post-Apocalyptic World

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

We chat with Bill Gourgey, who's Glide Trilogy does not settle for a run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic world. What happens AFTER the post-apocalyptic dust settles!? We also find out how a tech analyst ends up writing genre novels and poetry. You won't believe his answer! Or maybe you will. You probably will. But you won't know what it is, unless you watch/listen to the show! (Read show notes here).

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

Sword and Laser: Subscribe RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 131: Dragon Fight Club

Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.

Ivan and Red continue their delve into George R.R. Martin’s latest not-so-short story in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” world, “The Princess and The Queen,” part of the Dangerous Women Anthology. Sick Red is back as they briefly discuss House of Cards and Outlanders before moving on to Dragon Fighting, Lord Darklyn the Brooding, armor melting into flesh, id’ing bodies without dental records, the nasty implications of a sword named “Orphan Maker,” The Gold Turncloaks, and the harms of foreshadowing.

This episode is brought to you by Audible, for a free audiobook of your choice and a free 30-day trial membership, go to audiblepodcast.com/boars

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode

Sword and Laser Podcast 163: Hugh Howey Hullabaloo

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

Hugh Howey caused quite a stir with his findings about independent authors, but what does it mean for us readers? We also talk about the Wizard of Earthsea feminism implications and have an exciting election for the March book pick! There is a gavel involved. (Read show notes here).

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

Sword and Laser: Subscribe RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

Sword and Laser Podcast 162: Gregory A. Wilson's Graphic Fallen Angels

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

We chat with Gregory A. Wilson, author of The Third Sign, about his newest novel Icarus and the graphic novel based on it that he and artist Matt Slay are working on. It's about a being who falls from the sky to save a world from tyranny. We also find out if he named his daughter after one of his own fictional characters. (Read show notes here).

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

Sword and Laser: Subscribe RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

Paperback of Sailor Twain announced, read a 14-page excerpt

I reviewed Sailor Twain, Mark Siegel's amazing graphic novel about the mermaid of the Hudson River, back when it came out in 2012. The paperback has just been announced, slated for publication on March 4. Tor.com has a 14-page excerpt from the book up today. Here's my original review:

Read the rest

Sword and Laser Podcast 161: What Harry Potter Stole from Earthsea

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

This time around we're kicking off our February book pick, A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin. If you're looking for the first tale a of a boy who attends a school of wizardry, we've got the goods, as well as what Ms. Le Guin, who wrote her book in 1968, thinks of Ms. Rowling. Plus The Clarion Workshop deadline is looming and USC and Intel make one author's world come alive.(Read show notes here).

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

Sword and Laser: Subscribe RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

Locus recommended reading list for best science fiction and fantasy of 2013

Locus Magazine has published its annual Recommended Reading list, which is my favorite annual guide to the best that science fiction and fantasy have to offer. The 2013 roundup includes several of the books I've reviewed here this year, including Paolo Bacigalupi's Zombie Baseball Beatdown, Charlie Stross's Neptune's Brood, Lauren Beukes's The Shining Girls, Richard Kadrey's Dead Set, Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, Ian Tregillis's Necessary Evil, Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and Nathan Ballingrud's North American Lake Monsters.

I'm also delighted to see that my novel Homeland (the sequel to Little Brother) made the list!

The whole list is just a fantastic signposting of the best the field has to offer.

2013 Locus Recommended Reading List (via Tor.com)

Creating a font from a classic comic

Typographer Nate Piekos describes how he created a 21st-century typeface from a 1980 issue of Elfquest—just in time to begin lettering the comic series’ conclusive installment.

Read the rest