July Book Pick: Because you are so awesome

Wow. That was a more exciting election since Iran's last week. We even got insinuations of voter fraud! We've made it!

So right down to the wire Larry Niven's Ringworld just barely edged out John Scalzi's Redshirts.

Neither is a perfect choice for everyone. We've done Mr. Scalzi's books as a main pick recently and as an alternate book previously so he's had lots of coverage. on the other hand there does not seem to be a legit ebook of Ringwolrd (there are print copies and audio copies) which is a deal killer for some.

So here's what the electoral commission has decided. Ringworld got the most votes. It's our pick for July. But for the first time since before we went to a strict monthly schedule, we will have an OFFICIAL alternate pick. The votes were just too damn close.

So get out there and read whichever one you like. I'll be diving into both and I know Veronica already has read Redshirts.

And remember no book pick is ever going to please everyone in this club. It's not meant to. It's meant to expose you to books you might not pick up otherwise. And if you're grumbling about not having an ebook, remember the people who often grumble that the book is not in the library and they don't have ereaders. We're all in this together.

Now go enjoy some reading!

*In absence of Veronica who is on vacation electroal commission consisted of Tom and his two dogs. 


S&L Video - #09 - Interview with John Scalzi and Assassin's Apprentice Kick-off!

Here for your viewing pleasure are the two videos that, combined, compromise Episode 9 of the Sword and Laser! We interview the fantastic Mr. John Scalzi, and in our August book kick-off discuss one of Veronica's favorite picks, Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb!

S&L Podcast - #76 - Interview with Tad Williams

Subtitle: Veronica goes "SQUEEE!!!"

Since practically the first moment we discussed doing the book club, Veronica has told me how Tad Williams was the foundation of her fantasy reading history.  Today, we get the pleasure of talking with Tad about what he writes, how he writes, and why he's become the godfather of Sword and Laser.


Congrats to Peter Dinklage!

The Mountain is recast, plus some new villains for THRONES

German student creates an illuminated edition of THE SILMARILLION



9/20/2011 Reamde, Neal Stephenson
9/20/2011 Goliath, Scott Westerfeld
9/22/2011 The Islanders by Christopher Priest
9/27/2011 Ganymede, Cherie Priest (Tor)
9/27/2011 The Hum and the Shiver, Alex Bledsoe
9/27/2011 The Immorality Engine by George Mann
10/1/2011 Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton


Bay Area-based Tad Williams is the author of many outstanding books, including several series, such as Memory Sorrow and Thorn, Otherland, and Shadowmarch. On a personal note, his novel Tailchaser's Song was the book that basically got Veronica interested in fantasy in the first place! Follow him on Facebook!


In your discussion on the use of German in FlashForward, I cringed when you pronounced “jawohl”. It is pronounced like “yah-VOLE”, and is something you would expect to hear on Hogan's Heroes reruns, or in the phrase ""Jawohl, mein Herr!"", but I never heard it in Germany when I lived there for several months in the mid 80's.

I love your podcast,

Kevin Hansen


Hi Tom and Veronica,

As promised, here's a small pronounciation lesson for some of the German words that you talked about in the last episode.

If you have any more questions, just ask.

Have a great day and looking forward to the next podcast, Anne.


"Sword and Laser" in different languages


Gantt, AJ, Michael, Joseph, Adam, and Daric!


Next time we'll kick off: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. And Reamde, if you're so inclined!


This podcast is brought to you by Audible.com the internet’s leading provider of audiobooks with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to audiblepodcast.com/sword.


S&L Podcast - #76 - Interview with Tad Williams

S&L Podcast - #58 - Blindsight Kick-off

We're kicking off our brand new book selection, Blindsight, by Peter Watts! We don't have too many Quick Burns today... mostly just GoT news. Would you expect anything less?


Map of the free cities.

4/12/2011 After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughan

4/12/2011 "All the Lives He Led, Frederik Pohl (Tor)

4/19/2011 "The River of Shadows by Robert V.S. Redick

4/21/2011 "The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

4/26/2011 "Will Super Villains Be On the Final? Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

4/28/2011 "Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake and Maeve Gilmore

5/3/2011 "The Inheritance by Robin Hobb


The Kingkiller Chronicles > Penny Arcade Comic

Novels About People Playing Videogames

Geek Smackdown: George R.R. Martin disses on Lost

sword and laser question ( sales credit)

Blindsight by Peter Watts

From Wikipedia: Blindsight is a hard science fiction novel by Peter Watts, published by Tor Books in 2006. On 29 March 2007, it was nominated for the Hugo Award in the Best Novel category.[1] Watts has also released the novel online under the by-nc-sa Creative Commons license.[2] The novel deals with a crew of astronauts investigating an extraterrestrial entity and explores the nature of identity and consciousness. The title refers to blindsight, a neurological condition with implications for philosophy of mind.

The Chinese Room scenario features prominently in the book.

Thanks to Harold for making us an Infostripe!

S&L Podcast - #58 - Blindsight Kick-off

No more Arthur! - The S&L Podcast #47

Giveaway for The Once and Future King books! Post to the thread to win.

Did Harry Potter Really Steal All These Story Ideas?   
Worst book ever to win a Hugo   
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Tells the Tale of the World’s First Computer   
BARE YOUR SWORD - feedback from the audience    
What makes Arthur so great?   
Alternate History   
We wrap up The Once and Future King and The Princess Bride .
Next book! - How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel by Charles Yu   


Just listened to Episode #46 where it was asked at what point is there good books to start off to get into Discworld. I too have been wondering how to get into reading Terry Prachett's books, so I did a little search and found this post from the Guys and Gals at BoingBoing. http://boingboing.net/2007/09/30/pratchetts-discworld.html#. Thought you might like it if someone has not already suggested it.

Thanks for all the hours of shows! Love everything you both do.


Just listened to episode 46 and heard you pondering about where to start in the Discworld series. Well as someone who has absorbed the entire works of Terry Pratchett (TP) I would advise you not to worry about it and just jump into the series where ever you feel like.

The Discworld novels do not occur in chronological order with one underlining storyline.  Each book is its own individual story which just occurs within the Discworld universe. Characters constantly re-appear throughout the series however each book focus on one main character, therefore never encountering any of the characters before will not hinder your enjoyment.

However the Tiffany Aching books are aimed at younger audience than the rest of the discworld series, which results in the books having a different feel. Therefore I would recommend you to check out some of TP’s other works such as Guards, Guards, Interesting Times, Witches Abroad or Going postal to get a true feeling for the series.



Terry Pratchetts Author's Note in ""Lords and Ladies"":

By and large, most Discworld books have stood by themselves, as complete books. It helps to have read them in some kind of order, but it's not essential. This one is different. I can't ignore the history of what has gone before. [...]

So Pratchett has always tried to write the books Discworld books is such a manner that you can pick it up wherever you'd like. You might enjoy a couple of references and inside jokes if yu've read the whole series, but you shouldn't let it stop you if you're new to Pratchett. Especially not when it comes to the Tiffany Aching series.

In all fairness it is possible to group together ""series"" within the Discworld series that you might like to read in order. So that the handful of books starring Captain Vimes of the City guard would be more rewarding to read in their proper order, but it's entirely unimportant whether you read these before or after the books about the Lancre Witches. The Tiffany Aching books constitutes such a saga.

Thanks also to Gavin, Curt and Rob who wrote in about Pratchett orders as well! Kate also posted this helpful chart in the forums.


This podcast is brought to you by Audible.com the internet’s leading provider of audiobooks with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature and featuring audio versions of many New York Times Best Sellers. For listeners of this podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook, to give you a chance to try out their service.  For a free audiobook of your choice go to audiblepodcast.com/sword.

Our pick: METAtropolis: Cascadia

Partner Sticker Fu.  Use the code Sword1 and get 10% off the stickers at http://www.stickerfu.com/    

No more Arthur! - The S&L Podcast #47

Veronica gets spoiled - The S&L Podcast #42

Well folks it's wrap-up time for The Moon is Harsh Mistress and... sadly... Veronica hasn't finished.  But we wrap up anyway and Tom makes a shocking revelation that lets Veronica off the hook.  And he finished Moon, so it's not that.

New ‘Game of Thrones’ teaser (video)   
Why a universe-hopping entrepreneur may be your next big hero       
William Gibson reveals a "secret experiment" in his Bridge Trilogy, and ponders A.I.      

Gibson dropped some hints about a little stealth tie-in to Zero History  that's going to happen on Twitter soon. Let's just say that you should keep an eye on the Twitter accounts @gaydolphin1 and @gaydolphin2 - those of you who've read the novel know what those accounts are related to.
BARE YOUR SWORD - feedback from the audience        
Why did he die? (SPOILERS)
Human Judgment vs. Machines
The City & The City is a missed opportunity (SPOILERS)   
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Veronica still has not finished, she's prepared for her flogging. Tom's thoughts?    


We're taking suggestions from Classic Fantasy on Goodreads then we'll put it up to a vote.  
Hi Veronica, Tom
I will try and keep it pithy but I get "wordy" sometimes. :) I asked
the question at dragon con if future podcasts could contain a 5 minute
segment looking back at classic epic fantasy of the 70s and 80s when
readers were starving for good reads. I was thinking of producing my
own podcast on this subject but you guys have built a nice listener
base so you can do more with this than I.

In October, Stephen R. Donaldson will be releasing his newest novel,
"Against All Things Ending", the third book in a four book series that
completes the tale of Thomas Covenant he began in 1977 with the book
"Lord Foul's Bane". In the 70s & 80s Donaldson sold over 40 million
copies and was second only to Tollkien at one time. These books are

Another retro author with an impending release is Katherine Kurtz, who
will soon release the third book of her "Chylde Morgan" trilogy. This
is also a tale that began back in the 70s.

These two great authors have been overshadowed by Jordan and Martin
but are easily their equals or better. Please put these on your
reading list and introduce this generation's readers to some classic
epic fantasy.

If I can be of any assistance in the production of this segment please
don't hesitate to let me know.

Roman Thompson


Veronica and Tom,
A late addition, but just finished reading Accelerando by Charles Stross. The Earth and the inner planets are completely deconstructed and rebuilt into data storage and processing power for the digital needs of the human race. So, voluntary, resource savvy, non-Armageddon style Earth recycling.

Peter Hourigan

The following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page.

Plot concepts
In Accelerando, the planets of the solar system are dismantled to form a Matrioshka brain, a vast computational device inhabited by minds inconceivably more complex than naturally evolved intelligences such as human beings. This proves to be a normal stage in the life cycle of an inhabited solar system; the galaxies are filled with Matrioshka brains, communicating via wormhole networks. Lesser intelligences may live unmolested around brown dwarf stars.


I just listened to #40. I highly recommend Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in the audio version. I got this at my library and it was very good. Don't give up on the somewhat boring beginning, it's a superb story.
Thanks for the great podcasts!
Peggy Poellot


This podcast is brought to you by Audible.com the internet’s leading provider of audiobooks with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction and periodicals.   For a free audiobook of your choice, go to audiblepodcast.com/sword.

We suggested:

The City and The City, by China Mieville, read by John Lee

Zero History, by William Gibson Narrated by Robertson Dean

And by our Partner Sticker Fu.  Use the code Sword1 and get 10% off the stickers at www.stickerfu.com     

Veronica gets spoiled - The S&L Podcast #42

Give zombies a chance – The S&L Podcast #035

A brief episode this week just to gush about the new Game of Thrones trailer on HBO and get us all squared away on reading World War Z, plus a few alternates if you just don't think you like zombies.  But come on, all we are saying is give zombies a chance.

QUICK BURNS - unrelated news of the week
Haven  promo gives us a glimpse of new Stephen King on TV   
Interactive guide to Larry Niven's Ringworld is the next best thing to going there   
BARE YOUR SWORD - feedback from the audience   
Game of Thrones Teaser   
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss has a pub date!   
Zombies They Are a Changin'   
Book Kickoff   
World War Z by Max Brooks   

I have just started listening to S&L (had to get a Tom fix after he left BOL). I am a bit late on this discussion but, on the topic of books where Earth is destroyed, in the Death Gate Cycle novels the Earth is ""sundered"" and used to make four new worlds (plus a small gateway world and a living prison world) each based on one of the four elements. That's about as destroyed as you can get.

I was also wondering whether either of you have read Neal Stephenson's first novel ""The Big U"" which has fantastical elements (although it would be more accurately described as satire than fantasy or scifi). This is actually my favorite of his novels because it does not take itself at all seriously.
I do love your show.

-Leif from Oakland

Don't forget Sticker Fu.  Use the code Sword1 and get 10% off the stickers at www.stickerfu.com.   

Give zombies a chance – The S&L Podcast #035

No Zombies before bedtime – The S&L Podcast #034

In this episode we learn that some people hate Zombies, some are well prepared for them, and some people get very distrubed if they read zombe stories before bedtime. Of course it's not all zombies.  Sometimes it's para-narratives. And occasionally the Roman Empire. But isn't it always?


Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear and friends launch The Mongoliad: a shared universe that could only live on the Web   
Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age" turning into miniseries for SyFy   
Effinger's WHEN GRAVITY FAILS: super-noir cyberpunk Middle East   
Great moments in alternate history: the non-fall of the Roman empire  
BARE YOUR SWORD - feedback from the audience    
What Else Are You Reading June 2010 Edition  
What is your zombie apocalypse contingency plan?   
Our next book will be: World War Z: An oral history of the zombie war by Max Brooks
You asked about stories where the Earth was destroyed…
Beastmaster by Andre Norton
Not actually destroyed in the book but dealing with the aftermath. That’s close isn’t it?
She was awesome!



Somebody has probably mentioned this but in 'When Worlds Collide', by George Pal, the Earth is destroyed due to an impact with another planet. Happily, there is another planet that arrives at the same time, and some people move there.


This podcast is brought to you by Audible.com, the internet’s leading provider of audiobooks with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature and featuring audio versions of many New York Times Best Sellers. For listeners of this podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook, to give you a chance to try out their service. For a free audiobook of your choice go to audiblepodcast.com/sword.

New partner Sticker Fu.  Use the code Sword1 and get 10% off the stickers at www.stickerfu.com

No Zombies before bedtime – The S&L Podcast #034

Interview with Cory Doctorow – The S&L Podcast #028

As a wrap-up of "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" we finally snag an interview with the author of the Sword and Laser book club selection.  Cory Doctorow is always a fun person to chat with, and this episode is no exception.  We do query him on some of the thoughts behind Down and Out, but also about writing and the publishing industry in general. We also let him pick our next book!

Quick Burns

Ursula Le Guin's Petition Against Google Books

8 Comic Book Relationships To Make You Feel Good

Book Pick

Our next book is The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi.


Interview with Cory Doctorow - The S&L Podcast #028

Interview with Daniel Suarez – The S&L Podcast #027

We had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Daniel Suarez, author of previous Sword and Laser pick Daemon, as well as the new sequel Freedom (TM) that just came out January 7th. Get some insight into how much of the world of the Darknet Daniel really thinks could happen, and why.

Quick Burns

Star Trek going boldly again: Stardate 2012 for sequel undocking

Spider-Man 4 Scrapped, Franchise Reboot Planned

Free Online: F&SF’s Tale Of A Dog That Is Not A Dog, And A Messy Love Triangle

Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow! It’s the next official pick!

Sponsor: Visit our partner Sticker Fu. Use the code Sword1 and get 10% off the stickers.

Interview with Daniel Suarez – The S&L Podcast #027

#022 – The S&L Podcast: George R. R. Martin is not your bitch

It's time to pick a new book, but for some reason we just can't stop talking about George R. R. Martin. And in some cases singing about him. But we DID pick a new book and it's The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. It involves relativity, interstellar war and sad soldiers. In fact it's sometimes thought of as an anti-Starship Troopers. We think this book is a timely choice as Ridley Scott is making a 3D movie out of it. More on that in this and future episodes. If you want a sneak peek, take a look at this Forever War' Concept Art . [display_podcast] Also don't forget we're doing a live Sword and Laser in Atlanta at Dragon*Con! The show takes place Friday evening, September 4 at 8:30 PM in Hilton room 204. It will be Veronica, me and special guest Timothy Zahn. Other guests may be announced as well. BARE YOUR SWORD - feedback from the audience. Audio books are no good for SF Do you like your endings with everything-wrapped-up or open-ended? Hi Tom and Veronica, John Anealio' George R. R. Martin is not your bitch. QUICK BURNS - unrelated news of the month Robo-Ethicists Want to Revamp Asimov’s 3 Laws A Game Of Thrones pilot script leaked A brief history of SteamPunk Personal Effects: Dark Art by JC Hutchins. The book with a lot of cool extra materials. Tagline Contest Congratulations Barry O'Neil "Different worlds - different discussion"
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#018 - The S&L Podcast: Kwisatz and the Haderachs

It was Dune time and we found out how much of nerd I (Tom) am for Frank Herbert's stuff and how hard it is to pronounce pretty much anything he wrote when you try to say it out loud. [display_podcast] We also found out that there are Dune influences all over popular culture including Films, spinoffs, and metal. In fact there are all kinds of heavy metal scifi influences. Including, apparently this podcast. You must listen to the end to hear the rockingest book club rock anthem ever to rock. And we also form a new band based on Dune. More info, including club members thoughts on Dune, in the podcast and after the jump. Dune comments Hard to get into - Terpkristin Bizarre early attempt to make a film of Dune - Josh Lawrence Great lines - Sean o'Hara One thing I love about Dune is the great quotes it provides. - A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. - Mood's a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. (For some reason I imagine Gurney sounding like Groundskeeper Willy when he says this) - I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. What are the ones that stand out to you? Comment by Sh1mm3r Does anyone else find the sentence structure a little wacky? I find myself having to re-read some to understand what is being said. I'm in the first few pages though. I might just need to get into the rhythm. Tom's currently reading the Butlerian Jihad by K. Anderson (one of the extended universe novels - a prequel actually) Thread of the month Books with both Sword and Lasers Next Book: Daemon (buy here)
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#017 - The S&L Podcast: Let's talk about ...er... sex?

Really, most of the episode is about The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan: UPDATE: Hopefully the file will work now in iTunes! [display_podcast] We disucssed the paralells to other fantasy worlds like Lord of the Rings and even World of Warcraft. We also passed along Randy's post from the Ning site about the Robert Jordan convention which you can find out more about by visiting www.AgeofLegends.net. But then we got to talking about Watchmen near the end and one thing led to another. It all came back around to Robert Jordan though as we discussed Sean O'Hara's Ning thread called Sexbots and dragons. Speaking of the Ning group, we called out a couple of user-created groups that aren't related to official book club selections. Take a gander at the Alternate History group if you like to pretend things are different than they way they really are. And a really cool group that crosses TV fandom with literature, The Lost literary references group. Finally we settled on Frank Herbert's Dune as the next book. We'll kick it off in the April episode, so if you have any questions, or non-spoiler thoughts for newbies to the book, let us know here in the comments
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#014 - S&L Podcast: Not a "Dick" Move

Tom has picked our next book! It is Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem. Here's a bit of a summary:
Set in the distant future, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is the horrifying first-hand account of a bureaucratic agent trapped deep within the subterranean bowels of a vast underground military complex. In a Kafkaesque maelstrom of terrifying confusion and utter insanity, this man must attempt to follow his mission directives of conducting an "on-the-spot investigation. Verify. Search. Destroy. Incite. Inform. Over and out. On the nth day nth hour sector n subsector n rendezvous with N."
[display_podcast] But we have more than just that to talk about this week! Tom and I have also been reading Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, both by former S&L author William Gibson. Have you read either of them? What are your thoughts? And we have sad news... author Michael Crichton has passed away. Join the discussion on the forums about his life and works. ______ Check out Audible! Journey to a world beyond words with Audible Sci-Fi & Fantasy. Check out Audible for exclusive access to your favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors and exclusive commentary.  In addition, the new imprint, Audible Frontiers features new and sometimes previously unavailable audio books made available for the first time in audio.  Click here for a free trial offer and get your first audio book free.
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#012 - The S&L Podcast: Biggest book pick ever!

Welcome back everyone! So, I'm still trying to figure out why my audio sounds like crap, while Tom sounds great. It's especially grating since, you know, I'm supposed to be an audio producer and all. How embarrassing! We'll work it out soon, I promise. Anyhow, here's the show: [display_podcast] Book #8 is going to be Anathem, by Neal Stephenson. The two interesting things about this book are that a) it's super long and b) it's only available in hardcover and Kindle versions. We're also going to give everyone some more time than usual to get through this 900-someodd page book. CONTEST Here's the poll for the Best Closing Line Contest! Here are the choices: 1. Michael H. -- A smile crept into his eyes and with his walking stick in one hand, and the orb faintly glowing in the other, Gabriel set off across the street, scanning the horizon for traffic, and making a mental note to take better care next time he bought a tchochki from a Devonian Barkeep. 2. Michael M. -- With palpable relief Schuman slumped over the rail waiting for the pool of magma to close over the briefcase and reflected to himself that he still hadn't had a cup of coffee. 3. Shane G. -- And it came to pass in the last days of the lost colony that the swords were broken and the lasers died and the people cried out to the unhearing heavens from which they had come saying, "If any remain among the stars, for your lives, do not part the quantum jelly!" 4. Gregory F. -- After the dust had settled and the sound of battle waned, Sabrina and Julia found each other amongst the ruins.  The sisters then knew they had won, and once again evil would sleep. [poll=8] The winner gets a Logitech USB Headset! FROM THE NING GROUP

Music while reading

Frogg Lately, I have been doing a good chunk of my reading on the bus on my way to work. Whenever I leave the house, I always have my iPod on me, so I find myself listening to music while reading. Does anyone else do this, and if so, what do you listen to?

I usually shy away from anything with lyrics. It makes it hard to concentrate if I get caught up listening to the words, so most of my reading is done listening to post-rock stuff like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Esmerine, etc. Recently I have been on a William Gibson kick, and ambient electronic music such as Boards of Canada or Apparat go very well with it.
terpkristin I can't listen to music while I read, even something without lyrics. If I try, I soon find myself humming along with what I'm listening to and not paying attention to what I'm reading.
How Where Do You Like to Read

CHECK OUT AUDIBLE! Journey to a world beyond words with Audible Sci-Fi & Fantasy. Check out Audible for exclusive access to your favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors and exclusive commentary.  In addition, the new imprint, Audible Frontiers features new and sometimes previously unavailable audio books made available for the first time in audio.  Click here for a free trial offer and get your first audio book free. Stay tuned for more info on METAtropolis, from Audible! Featuring: Battlestar Galactica Cast Members: Michael Hogan Alessandro Juliani Kandyse McClure Legendary audiobook narrators: Scott Brick (Frank Herbert’s Dune) Stefan Rudnicki (Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game)
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S&L Book 7: Watership Down

Watership Down by Richard Adams is one of the first novels I remember reading (by myself, that is). I also remember being horrified, amazed, and entranced by it. It's definitely a classic, and I've always wanted to pick it up again and see how it affects me as an adult. No voting this time! In case you missed the podcast last time around, we're making it a dictatorship instead of a democracy for this cycle. If there are other books you'd rather read, please do and tell us all about them in the forums! Otherwise, I really hope you enjoy this selection. You can find it in our store, or your local library!
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S&L Book 5: Childhood's End

childhoodsendWe're back full-speed ahead into the science fiction genre with Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. The book (as well as the other voting nominees) are now available in the S&L Store, or where ever you pick up your books! Here's a little bit of a review to whet your appetite: It sounds like a story you've heard before: great alien masters descend on Earth and take control of the world, ushering in a golden age that may be cleverly disguised creative slavery. But Clarke's legendary novel (equal to Rendezvous with Rama and 2001: A Space Odyssey in fame) isn't about a human rebellion against alien overlords, but the evolution of humanity into its next stage, and the ultimate dwarfing power of the unknowable order of the cosmos. I'm really looking forward to this one! Join the discussion group here. We'll be releasing another podcast episode in the next couple of days, intro-ing the book and discussing some other the themes (among other topics, of course). If you have anything you'd like us to talk about, email your suggestions to theswordandlaser [at] gmail [dot] com.
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Two new books to distract me

Yes, I know I should be catching up with my Neuromancer, but two new books arrived at my doorstep this morning, and I'm dying to dig into them! The first is Renegade's Magic: Book 3 of The Soldier's Son Trilogy. Now, if you love fantasy and haven't read any Robin Hobb, I HIGHLY SUGGEST that you do so at your earliest convenience. Start with The Farseer Trilogy and work from there. Now, while I had a harder time getting into The Soldier's Son Trilogy a little more than her other works, I still really enjoy it. Here's a brief synopsis:
Loyal, privileged, and brave, Nevare Burvelle proudly embraced his preordained role as soldier in the service of the King of Gernia—unaware of the strange turns his life would ultimately take. Exposed to a plague of enemy sorcery that felled many of his compatriots, he prevailed, but at a terrible cost to his soul, body, and heart. Now he stands wrongly accused of unspeakable crimes—including murder, the most heinous of them all.
What I like most about this trilogy is how magic is both feared and condemned, yet you get a sense that the sides of good and evil aren't as clear as you may have thought. It's a very "man vs. nature" kind of book, and there's a lot of tension involved with the battles that Nevare is fighting inwardly and out. The second book (and the one I'll probably fall prey to first) is Shadowplay: Shawdowmarch Volume II. Tad Williams is probably my favorite author in the fantasy world, but he pulled a fast one over me with this series -- basically, because I didn't realize I was getting involved with more than one book! I started reading Shadowmarch (apparently, Volume I) and with about forty pages left I started wondering "Wow... there are a lot of loose ends to tie up in these last chapters! I wonder how it's all going to come together?" The joke was that they didn't. Abruptly, the book ended, and the remaining pages were Appendix. I realized then that I had been sucked into yet another series (and how many volumes, I have no idea...) but I'm pretty OK with that. Here's a blurb for the first volume:
Shadowmarch: Volume 1 introduces a world conquered by humans, who have driven the Qar, or fairy folk, into the far north. There, the Qar hide behind the "Shadowline," a mysterious veil of perpetual mist, which drives mad any human who dares enter it. Bordering that mist and named for it is Shadowmarch, the northernmost human kingdom.
Shadowmarch has lately fallen on hard times. Its king has been captured by a rival kingdom, the regent has been mysteriously slain, and the new regents are callow fifteen-year-olds. Moody, crippled Prince Barrick is uninterested in their responsibilities and haunted by eerie dreams. His twin, Princess Briony, takes their new duties seriously, but is hot-tempered and headstrong. How can they defeat the greatest threats in Shadowmarch history? Their nobles plot to overthrow them--and the plotters may include their pregnant stepmother, seeking the throne for her own child. The expanding empire of Xis has sent its agents into Shadowmarch. And, for the first time since it appeared centuries ago, the Shadowline has starting moving. As the maddening mist spreads south over Shadowmarch, it does not quite hide the powerful, uncanny, and vengeful Qar army of invasion...
There are several story lines in this book, and I'm really excited to see how they all relate to each other! As you can see, I've started a Goodreads account, and Tom has one too (which he's obviously spent a lot more time adding to than I have, I might point out). It's a great way to list the books and authors you're into, and also find new things to read! But don't get too distracted, we're still supposed to be working on S&L Book 4!
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