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Sword and Laser Podcast 169: Sneaking Peeks and Swapping Sleeves

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.

From a debate on whether we should read early chapters from George R.R. Martin's Winds of Winter to the usefulness of Asimov's three laws, to our wrap-up of Altered Carbon, this is an episode that should contain a lot of wisdom. Who knows? It might!

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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Daniel Pinkwater's brilliant, hilarious, life-changing books as $3 ebooks


Children's author, essayist and hero of literature Daniel Pinkwater has revived his classic backlist as a line of DRM-free ebooks! Each one is only $3, and there are some astoundingly good titles in there.

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars was my first Pinkwater, and it literally changed my life. It's your basic nerd-discovers-he-has-special-powers book, except it's not: it's got saucer cults, green death chili, mystic bikers, and a sweet and inclusive message about following your weird without looking down on others. It literally changed my life.

The Education of Robert Nifkin is another take on an Alan Mendelsohn-like story, but this time, it's all about taking charge of your own education and an alternative school where the inmates run the asylum. It's probably no coincidence that I ended up at a school much like Nifkin's after reading Mendelsohn (here's my full review).

Young Adults is a hilarious, bawdy romp through the conventions of young adult literature. When got my first paperback copy, I walked around for days, annoying my roommates by reading long passages from this at them until they forgave me because they were convulsed with laughter. Dadaism was never so funny.

Wingman is such a beautiful, compassionate book about race, comics, and a love affair with literature. I read my copy until it fell apart.

What can you say about the Snarkout Boys? They sneak out at night and go to an all-night B-movie palace where they have comic, X-Files-style adventures with the paranormal and diner food. The Snarkout Boys & The Avocado of Death and The Snarkout Boys & The Baconburg Horror comprise the canon.

Fat Men from Space is the greatest paen ever penned to sloppy cooking. If you can't get enough of Shopsin's in NYC, or find yourself throwing everything in a frying pan at 2AM, you need this book.

Then there's Chicago Days and Hoboken Nights, a memoir as a series of comic essays that tell the story of Pinkwater's boyhood, his training as an artist, his late-night hot-dogs, and the forces that made him into the towering force of literature that he is today.

There's so much more!

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Blade Runner engagement photos


Rob Cruickshank found Paul Hillier's set of Bladerunner-themed engagement photos. He adds, "I do think the bride and groom should have taken Voight-Kampffs though, just to be sure."

Blade Runner inspired engagement shoot

Homeland audiobook, direct from me

My independently produced audio edition of Homeland, read by Wil Wheaton, is now available direct from me as a $15 MP3 download. The audiobook not only features Wil's reading, but also Noah Swartz reading his brother Aaron Swartz's afterword and Jacob Appelbaum reading his own afterword, recorded at the Berlin studio of Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire.

Here's a free preview of chapter one.

Homeland audiobook purchase

Boars, Gore, and Swords: Game of Thrones recap: 4x02:

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.

Season 4 Episode 2 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” takes the fourth season to an entirely different level. Ivan and Red are joined by comedian and Business-man Sean Keane to discuss an episode that is certain to be a classic in this realm. We cover the most disturbing tv scene in television history, Joffrey’s dream woman, a refocusing on Bronn’s storyline, the insufficient bastard naming system, Theon going to Barber school, Skyler vs Shae, the lineage of Dragonstone, Joffrey’s wonderfully short wedding ceremony, new Tommen, Ser Loras vs Ser Jaime, Brienne vs Cersei, the indignity of the little person acting troupe, and reams and reams of comeuppance.

This episode is brought to you by:

NatureBox, for 50% off your first box of snacks you can feel good about, go to http://NatureBox.com/boars

HuluPlus, try 2 weeks of HuluPlus completely free when you sign up at http://HuluPlus.com/boars

Read Boing Boing's other GoT S04E02 recap here.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes |

Locus Poll wants your picks for the best sf/f of 2013

The 43d annual Locus Poll and Survey is now online. Every year, science fiction trade journal Locus solicits votes on its editors' picks for the best science fiction and fantasy of the year (as well as write-in suggestions for missing works) and awards the winning authors with handsome plaques and the enormous honor of winning an award that's part editors' choice, part peoples' choice. I'm delighted to see that my novel Homeland made the list this year. Subscribers and non-subscribers alike are welcome to vote.

Locus Poll and Survey

Kickstarting Storium: turn writing into a multiplayer game

Mur Lafferty sez, "This week, Storium launched its Kickstarter and reached funding ($25000) in the first day. Storium is a web-based online game that you play with friends. It works by turning writing into a multiplayer game."

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Vodo's indie science fiction bundle: comics, movies, novels, and more!


Jamie from Vodo writes, "We've launched Otherworlds, our first indie sci-fi bundle! This pay-what-you-want, crossmedia collection includes the graphic novel collecting Cory's own 'Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now', Jim Munroe's micro-budget sci-fi satire 'Ghosts With Shit Jobs', Robert Venditti's New York Times Bestselling graphic novel 'The Surrogates', and Amber Benson/Adam Busch's alien office farce, 'Drones'. Check out the whole bundle and choose your own price 5% of earnings go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation!"

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Homeland audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton, is back on downpour.com

For those of you who missed the audiobook in which Wil Wheaton reads my novel Homeland in the Humble Ebook Bundle, despair no longer! You can buy it DRM-free on the excellent Downpour.com, a site with many DRM-free audio titles.

Homeland (audiobook)

SF in SF: Daniel Suarez and Andy Weir in San Francisco this Saturday

Rina writes, "Join SF in SF on Sat., April 12 for our author event! Authors Daniel Suarez (Influx) and Andy Weir (The Martian) will each read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A moderated by author Terry Bisson. Booksigning and schmoozing follows, with books for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books. The event will be podcasted by the Sword & Laser Podcast." Cory 2

Saturday: Pravic Science Fiction Extravaganza with Rucker, Davis, and Pesco (San Francisco)

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On Saturday (April 12), the excellent Pravic science fiction 'zine will hold its second live extravaganza in San Francisco. I'm honored that I've been added to the amazing bill featuring talks by two of my own big influences -- SF legend Rudy Rucker and Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis and co-host of the Expanding Mind podcast. I'll be sharing some thoughts on "Science, Art, and Magic." Hosted by Pravic commanders David Gill and Nathaniel Miller, there will also be readings by Ian Kappos, Ben Weiner, Michael Buckley, Daniel Gonzalez, Suhail Rafidi, and Nikita Allgire, music by Feral Luggage, and trivia, prizes, food, and beer! The free event is at Brainwash Cafe from 7pm-11pm. Hope to see you there! Pravic's 2nd Science Fiction Extravaganza

Boars, Gore, and Swords GoT recap: 4x01: Two Swords, One Throat

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 the long awaited Season 4 Premiere of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is upon us, Ivan and Red cut deep into “Two Swords.” They’re joined by third chair Kelly Anneken, and the three of them discuss molten ice, the sequel to Ser Captain America - The Winter is Coming Soldier, Tall Joffrey, the introduction of Prince Oberyn (AKA “The Red Viper”), mc’ing weddings for cake, the newer/higher mountain, Assassin Kenny Rogers, Jaime going full Buster Bluth, The Cannibal Borg, Joffrey’s Saxophone statue, the abbreviated "Ser Duncan the Tall", and the beautiful reunion of a girl and her named sword!

This episode is brought to you by NatureBox, for 50% off your first box of snacks you can feel good about, go to naturebox.com/boars

Read Boing Boing's other GoT S04E01 recap here.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes |

Squicked out alien describes human sex

Here's a nice use of science fiction's trick of describing cherished human behaviors and institutions through the ironic distance of an alien observer: Mallory Ortberg's short story Erotica Written By An Alien Pretending Not To Be Horrified By The Human Body:

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Cover and summary for Lauren Beukes's next horror novel

Here's some good news: the next Lauren Beukes novel, Broken Monsters, is up for pre-order, and we've got a taste of the cover and the synopsis: "Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world."

I loved Beukes's earlier work -- see my reviews of The Shining Girls and Zoo City.

Broken Monsters (via Super Punch)

Crowdfunding a science fiction short film adapted from Poe's Tell-Tale Heart

Nicholas sends us, "A crowd funding campaign to create a short film adaptation of Poe's 'The Tell Tale Heart' set on space station orbiting a mysterious planet. The short, ORBIT, has an emphasis on practical special effects and old in-camera techniques as a celebration of some of the classic sci-fi films it was directly inspired by."

The production team is very accomplished and this looks very beautiful, and they've brought down their reward pricing: $13 gets you a digital DRM-free download of the movie.

ORBIT - A Sci-Fi Thriller from the Mind of Edgar Allan Poe (Thanks, Nicholas!)