S&L Podcast - #181 - The Promise of More Blood

We break down our June book pick, Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan, and find out why its actually four or five books and its gods are not what they seem. Also we set up our July pick from Octavia Butler and decide whether warp speed is actually coming or not.  
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WHAT ARE WE DRINKING?    
Tom: Boddington's Pub Ale    
Veronica: Earl Grey Tea    
    
QUICK BURNS  

3 more Expanse novels announced - Ben    
IXS Enterprise (IXS-110) - Bookshelf
Every Game Of Thrones Scene Broken Down By Book, Chapter And Episode  
WINNERS: 2014 Campbell and Sturgeon Awards
 

PICKS    

Tom: Cibola Burn by James S A CoreyTraveling in Space by Steven Paul Leiva     
Veronica: Shattered by Kevin Hearne, though I'm still a book behind!   
  
Sandi - I finished listening Hollow World this morning. I really liked it. Kind of a modern H.G. Wells/Jonathan Swift vibe. I'm now starting On the Steel Breeze. I love the narrator, Adjoa Andoh. She played Martha's mother on Doctor Who and was one of the narrators of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.     
    
Find more upcoming releases at swordandlaser.com/calendar    

BARE YOUR SWORD    

Monthly meetups!    
Uncharted-esk Books by Josh    
How do you find new books to read? by Alexander   
Should We Read Comics/Graphic Novels As Group Reads by Killian    

BOOK OF THE MONTH DISCUSSION    

July Book is Dawn by Octavia Butler       
Wrap up Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan    
"The revolution will not be...?" by Sean    
Let's talk about the ending by Joanna    
    
ADDENDUMS

Looking for something ELSE to read? Wish you could read 20 books in the space you usually read one? Can't decide between scifi and fantasy? WE HAVE SOLVED ALL YOUR PROBLEMS. The Sword and Laser Anthology combines 10 great scifi and 10 great fantasy stories from new authors found RIGHT HERE in our audience. And the stories are fantastic. Even Patrick Rothfuss thinks so. Head on down to your favorite online bookseller and search Sword and Laser Anthology or point your favorite Web browser to swordandlaser.com/store.   

Listeners who complete the survey will be entered in an ongoing 
monthly raffle to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card. 
 

Survey!
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FEATURED REVIEW: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Welcome to our Featured Reviews! In this series, we'll be highlighting book reviews by the S&L audience. If you want to submit a review, please check out the guidelines here! -Veronica

Review by Derek Brown

It turns out that you can go home again. Or at least you can if you're Stephen King.

I just finished this, King's sequel to a much earlier work. The Shining is the story of a small child, trapped in a world so much more dangerous than the one other kids inhabit, because he has a special talent. A power that supernatural forces want to consume. In Doctor Sleep, we get to see that small child, now grown, haunted by the same affliction that nearly drove his own father to murder his wife and son. Not his power, but the drinking problem he now has, the only thing he has yet found to suppress his terrible, awesome power, and keep the ghosts of his childhood quiet. 

To me, this story is largely about demons. Recognizing the worst of them for what they are, and realising that you are never alone with them.

Its also a story about another small child, afflicted (or gifted) with her own set of abilities, and because ka is a wheel, and it always turns, this little girl is also chased by supernatural forces eager to consume her. 

I can't overstate how much I enjoyed this book. I first read The Shining over 20 years ago, and its one that's always really resonated with me. Getting to revisit the landscape of that work with King, seeing what happened to Danny Torrance after the events at the Overlook Hotel, and finding out how his life turned out because of it was a lot of fun. 

Fans of King's other novels will find a healthy helping of the usual Easter eggs here as well. If you've read any of his other books, you'll enjoy the many references to King's integrated universe. 

The only item to note (and it's not a negative, but it is a warning), would be that I consider either reading The Shining or seeing the original Kubrick movie a definite prerequisite to reading this book. Preferably both, so you'll know the correct version of the story that King uses to jump from, but also so that you'll have the awesome imagery from the movie to help light the way. 

S&L Podcast - #179 - Flintpunk and Geekomancy

Would you like to be in a George R. R. Martin Book? Got $20K? Don't mind being killed? Good. You can help wolves. Also we give our first impressions of Brian McClellan's The Promise of Blood and talk Geekomancy with Michael Underwood

Direct download!

S&L Podcast - #176 - Martians and Panda Pants

Veronica is back from China to regale us tales of motorboating pandas, but first we announce our June book pick and wrap-up The Martian by Andy Weir. Is it as scientifically accurate as so many say? We get an aerospace engineer's perspective. 

Direct download here!

Watch the hangout here on YouTube.

WHAT ARE WE DRINKING?    

Tom: Smithwick's     
Veronica: Anchor California Lager    

QUICK BURNS  

So what do you think of this year's winners?
Nebula Winners    
Former PC Gamer editor Gary Whitta is writing a Star Wars film    
LOCKE LAMORA TV series in the works: update    
FINALISTS: 2014 John W. Campbell Memorial Award    
H.R. Giger passes away    

PICKS    

Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi    
Dreams of Gods & Monsters    

Find more upcoming releases at swordandlaser.com/calendar    

BARE YOUR SWORD   

Godzilla (2014)    
Fan-Made Trailer For Jim Butcher's Next Dresden Files Book    

BOOK OF THE MONTH DISCUSSION    

June book: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
WARNING: Hachette and Amazon are having a fight which may affect shipping times for print copies. Might want to buy print copies elsewhere for the time being.    

Order Promise of Blood from Powell's
Order Promise of Blood from Amazon

Brian McClellan interview on Sword and Laser   

Wrap-up the Martian    

Peril overload.    
think a movie adaption is possible?    
-- Ridley Scott in talks to direct Matt Damon in The Martian    
What does NASA think about The Martian?    

Tom at BayCon May 23-26

Memorial Day weekend I'll be in San Jose for BayCon 2014! The theme this year is Honor, which is in no small part because the writer guest of honor is creator of Honor Harrington himself, David Weber. There's lots more honor to go around as well with Artist Guest of Honor is Ursula Vernon, and Fan Guest of Honor Sally Woerhle

I'll be succeeding Veronica Belmont as toastmaster. That's some big toast to fill. Her's where I'll be popping up throughout the weekend. 

Friday May 23

1:30 PM Opening Ceremonies, Ballroom A

5:00 PM Doctor Who: Why it is still going strong 50 years later? Camino Real

8:00 PM Meet the Guests,  Ballroom E-F

Saturday May 24

11:30 AM Interview with Writer Guest of Honor David Weber, Ballroom E-F

3:30 PM Internet of Things on Saturday Camino Real

5:00 PM KickStarter and How to use it successfully, Camino Real

Sunday May 25

10:00 AM Interview with Toastmaster Tom Merritt, Ballroom E-F

11:30 AM Battling Creationism and Pseudoscience, Stevens Creek

5:00 PM  BoF: Podcasting BayCon 2015, Lafayette

S&L Podcast - #174 - A Wrap-up of Earthsea

Veronica is traveling in China, so we pre-recorded this episode and took the opportunity to properly wrap-up A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Leguin. We also kick off the rest of The Martian and promise to be better about these sorts of things once Veronica is back. Still, on the bright side, we are putting in practice a ton of great suggestions from the audience. Yay audience!

Download show here!

WRAP-UP WIZARD OF EARTHSEA

The ending

Finished it, loved it, more Earthsea please!

ADDENDUMS

The Sword and Laser Antholgy: You. Can. Buy it NOW!

S&L Video: Author Spotlight -N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin writes fiction that reads like history in the best way. But could it also be romance? We ask N. K. Jemisin that and how she's able to keep a day job and still write amazing fiction. We also find out what trope she'd like to give a rest. It's our season finale and we couldn't think of a better person to help us wrap things up in style!

Download audio here. 

Download video here.

Sword and Laser at the Nebula Awards

The Nebula Awards weekend is coming up in San Jose May 15-18, with the awards themselves announced Saturday night the 17th.

Although Veronica is out of town, Tom will be there with Josh Lawrence to interview as many authors as we can trick into sitting down and chatting with us.

So far we’ve managed to get a few. If you’d like to suggest what we should ask, here are the links to the Goodreads threads where you can post your questions.

Scheduled
Emily Jiang
Ken Liu
Ann Leckie

Tentative
Samuel Delany
Dr. Gregory Benford

FEATURED REVIEW: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Welcome to our Featured Reviews! In this series, we'll be highlighting book reviews by the S&L audience. If you want to submit a review, please check out the guidelines here! -Veronica

Review by Carolina Gomez

Freedom, like anything else, is relative.

Why I read this book

Last year (2013) I read my first book from Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman, and loved it. The way she threw fiction elements while making a very impressive critique of society was amazing for me, and so I wanted to keep reading her work. The Handmaid's Tale has been mentioned several times as an iconic part of her work and when I saw it on my recommended on Audible it was a no brainer to get myself a copy.

What the book is about

The book is set in a dystopian future, taking place mostly in what used to be Massachusetts. After a "terrorist" attack, a theocratic, Christian regime has taken over. Women have lost any right they might've had and all "sinners" (homosexuals, people who committed adultery, people of other faiths) have been either killed or "re educated" (are you cringing already?) . The story is told by a woman we learn to know as Offred, this implying that she is a possession of a man with Fred on his surname. Offred has been made a Handmaid which in this new country, more than servant, implies child bearer. It is explained through the book that due to chemical contamination, radiation and other factors, procreation has been in declined in the country, and hence the government have established that officials not only have a wife, but also access to women (the handmaids) that will carry their child, sort off surrogate mothers. After delivery, the child is given to the wife to raise. Offred's destiny depends on her submission and her ability to bear children.

First impressions 

Listening to this book was hard, mostly because of the way women are treated, but also because you feel that this speculative work of fiction could easily take place again (references to other theocratic regimes are easily spotted, particularly Iran). Jumps from present to past are sometimes abrupt, but it carries a good feeling of how train of thought sometimes takes place and, in my case at least, makes the connection with the protagonist even deeper. That type of writing made me feel pain, angst and helplessness as Offred was feeling them too.

Final thoughts

Is hard for me to put into words my final thoughts. See, I have a lot of feelings when I think of this book, but they are not easy to put into paper, simply because they touch so deep. But let's try.

I felt rage as a woman, at to how women were treated. I've read some other reviews saying "well this would never happen; oh our society would never let this happen to women". And yet look at all the contraception legislation in the USA, most of the definitions are being taken by male politicians, and people are going with it.

I felt afraid of this being a plausible thing, maybe not right now where I am, but somewhere in the world there is right now a totalitarian movement, feeding, slowly maybe, and growing and getting more and more powerful. There are things that seem to happen suddenly when you are far away, but is just because you weren't in site to see the tiny changes that carried a big one. And this applies to any type of changes, positive or negative, particularly since this label is so subjective. The critic about how money was not physical anymore hit a stroke in me. I never thought about how I rely on plastic more and more. Not on credit, but I use my debit card most of the time and hence my contact with physical money has been decreasing more and more.

I felt sad at the different situations Offred had to go through, leaving her past behind, having so many memories, so many loved ones that she lost, almost overnight.

I felt a bit frustrated at the end of the book, because I wanted more closure, but at the same time, the way the author rounds the whole thing up, made me "forgive" the not knowing.

I loved Claire Danes as a narrator. At first I thought her tone was a bit flat, but this was at very beginning when the character was just stating facts. As emotions surged, as different characters appeared, so did new tones, new inflictions in her voice that made me get more into the whole story.

Nobody dies of lack of sex, is lack of love we die from 

S&L Video: Author Spotlight - Jim C. Hines

Haven’t you wondered how orcs and goblins and other monsters see the world? Do they feel unfairly vilified? Jim C. Hines can help you walk a mile in their— scaly misshapen feet. Find out why the author of the Goblin Series finds book-cover poses personally painful and whether he’ll give you a fire spider!

Download video here
Download audio here

S&L Video: Author Spotlight - Elizabeth Bear

What kind of mind can write about a faerie war in Shakespearian England and Lovecraftian Nightmares in depression-era Maine? The kind of mind that can also win a Campbell award for best new writer and then go on to notch a couple Hugos. That's the kind of mind that sits inside the cranium of Elizabeth Bear. We got a chance to talk to Ms. Bear and find out her mind on a few issues and ask her some of your questions too!

Download video here
Download audio here.

Veronica's Picks w/ Strong Lady Leads

From Popsugar:

Frozen brides! An espionage finishing school! Time-traveling romances! The Sync Up host Veronica Belmont discusses the most outrageous — but riveting — reads for geek girls and reveals her favorite of the bunch. All Veronica's picks feature strong leading ladies, so needless to say you'll see these titles on our bedside tables. Watch the segment, and find out which five books geek girls should put on their reading lists.