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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!

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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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

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 128: True Detective

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.

Just days before our live Game of Thrones gameshow at Lost Weekend in San Francisco, Ivan and Red hit the latest in this series of recommendations for GoT fans desperate for worthy off-season entertainment, “What You Should Be Watching.” This week it’s HBO’s True Detective, AKA the Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey non-Buddy Cop non-Comedy. They cover the world’s greatest casting agent, correlations with Aaron Sorkin, Rustin Spencer and his connection to Ocean’s 11, how to share what kind of person you are, McConaughey on sizzurp, filling in plot points with pagers and hurricanes, the worst kind of atheist, the show’s problems with women, and elements of a successful pilot.

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Fantasy comics, ranked

Fables, Elfquest, Marvel's Conan and Neil Gaiman's Sandman are the best fantasy comics of all time, according to Comic Book Resources, whose list is bullshit without Groo.

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 128: Masters of Sex

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.

With an episode yet between our live podcast and beginning Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen” in George R.R. Martin’s Dangerous Women anthology, Ivan and Red continue to direct Game of Thrones fans desperate for entertainment towards worthy replacements with our “What You Should Be Watching” series! This week it’s Showtime’s Masters of Sex, featuring the fascinating and truly terrifying sexual lives of the 1950s. Ivan and Red are joined by Caitlin Gill, member of the San Francisco comedy mafia “The Business”, who has appeared in 7x7 Magazine, on NPR’s Snap Judgement, and on this very podcast. Get into it, Daddy!

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Sword and Laser Podcast 160: Scully Writes a Book, Ringo is a God

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've got some awesome news about new books from Peter F. Hamilton, Richard Morgan, Joe Abercrombie and Gillian Anderson. Plus we wrap up our January book, The Einstein Intersection. (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

Mercury Waltz, a sequel to Kathe Koja's Under the Poppy

It's been nearly four years since Kathe Koja's amazing novel "Under the Poppy" was published, plunging readers into a dark world of eros, war, and puppetry (seriously). Koja is a chameleon of a writer, whose career began with grotesque, lascivious, splatterpunk horror novels like The Cipher, then transitioned into spare, quietly brilliant YA novels like Buddha Boy, and then emerged in the entirely indescribable territory of Under the Poppy, to which she has now returned with a new novel called The Mercury Waltz.

Koja stopped in at John Scalzi's blog Whatever for an online interview about the book:

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Back with the Borribles

Aimée and Rose de Larabeitti remember the stories their father, Michael, told them—stories he would go on to publish as the anarchic, anti-authoritarian, and completely wonderful Borrible Trilogy of young adult books.Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 127: Black Mirror

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.

Having finished all of Book 3 of George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords, and with a couple weeks before they start covering Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen,” part of the Dangerous Women anthology, Ivan and Red bring you their greatest “What You Should Be Watching” yet, Channel 4’s Black Mirror. If this is a show you have not heard about, you are in for some of the darkest humor imaginable, perfect for anyone deep in the Throes of “Thrones” withdrawal! We talk about the first episode of the first season of Black Mirror, but we leave out the ending because it’s something Bannermen should experience for themselves.

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The Borribles are back!


I've been posting here about The Borribles for more than a decade (proof!). Michael de Larrabeiti's young adult fantasy trilogy from the 1980s remains among my most favourite examples of both YA literature and literature about London. The books detail the lives of the Borribles, a race of elfin, pointy-eared changelings, whose number swells every time a naughty child simply walks away from home and begins a new life as an immortal, pointy-eared trickster. The Borribles live by a strict code: they never work, only thieve; they do not handle or covet money; they squat in derelict buildings, and they must earn their names by completing a daring adventure, such as taking up arms against the hateful Rumbles, a race of covetous, materialistic overgrown rodents who inhabit an underground world called Rumbledom.

Today, Tor UK is relaunching The Borribles for a new generation as three ebooks with lots of extra art and other supplementary material. They're also still publishing the UK omnibus edition a (the great Tor Teen US paperbacks are sadly out of print, though easy enough to get used). Only the ebook comes with China Mieville's wonderful introduction.

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Sword and Laser Podcast 159: Ian Tregillis on Angels, Superpowers, and Deathmatches

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 have a chance to chat with the fabulous Ian Tregillis, author of the Milkweed Triptych and Something More Than Night. He alludes to his secret "Clakkers" project, explains how to make an angel talk like a shamus, and reveals Gretel's secret Reagan baby. (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: Coldhands, My Canadian Girlfriend

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.

In this episode, Red and Ivan discuss the Davos V & Bran IV chapters of George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords (Catch up on past podcast episodes here to listen to previous chapter breakdowns). They also talk about Railroad speaking directly to listeners, Stannis’s Bannermen vs. Ivan’s twitter followers, the Nightfort, prince stew, Railroad writing Hodor high, and a TALKING TREE.

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Sword and Laser Podcast 158: Read a Book, Change Your Brain - It's Science!

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.

It's our first episode after New Year's and we're still recovering. Thank goodness Neil Gaiman, the Wertzone and Stephen Chow are here to perk us up. Plus we kick off our January book, The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany (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

Works eligible for science fiction awards

We're coming up on award season in science fiction and fantasy -- nominations are open or opening for the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, the Nebula Award, and a host of others. John Scalzi has put up a post where writers, artists, editors, and other eligible creators can list their eligible work; Charlie Stross created one too. They're both fascinating reads in their own right.

Feel free to post your own eligible works to the comments below!

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Sword and Laser Podcast 157: Marie Brennan's Fantasy Brings the Science to Fiction

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. - Mark

In this episode, Veronica and Tom chat with Marie Brennan about her historical fiction, her fictionalized history, and all kinds of matters relating to anthropology, ethnography, archaeology and natural history. And dragons. Plus, get a peek at how much glee she takes in chopping off hands.

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

Genderswitched Bilbo makes The Hobbit a better read

Michelle Nijhuis's five year old daughter insisted that Bilbo Baggins was a girl. After arguing about it for a while, Michelle decided to read her The Hobbit, switching Bilbo's gender-pronoun throughout. And it worked brilliantly. Bilbo is a great heroine: "tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender -- and neither does anyone else."

Pat Murphy wrote a novel based on this premise: There and Back Again, which is a retelling of The Hobbit as a science fiction story in which all the characters are female (in contrast to Tolkien, whose world is all but empty of women of any sort). It is, sadly, long out of print, but available used and well worth your attention.

In the meantime, this kind of on-the-fly changes to stories are part of what make reading aloud to your kid so much fun. Poesy often requests (demands) editorial changes to the books I read her, some of which have been surprisingly effective at improving the text.

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Gaiman's "Ocean at the End of the Lane" wins UK book of the year prize

Congratulations to Neil Gaiman, whose modern fairytale The Ocean at the End of the Lane was named "book of the year" by popular vote in the UK Specsavers National Book Awards.

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