S&L July Book Club: Leviathan Wakes Wrap-up & Your Feedback!

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Jul 26, 2012


TOM MERRITT: Coming up, we wrap up Leviathan Wakes and

VERONICA BELMONT: Go spinward to the tube station that takes
you to the docks?
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, that's right.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, that wasn't so hard.
We also announce next month's book pick.
You do not want to miss this.
It's the Sword and Laser Book Club.
VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone.
Welcome to the Sword and Laser Book Club.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
And this time, we're wrapping up our book Leviathan Wakes by
James S. A. Corey.
And if you haven't finished it, don't be too alarmed.
Don't panic.
Just bookmark this show, finish at your leisure, and
then come back and join us later when you're ready.
TOM MERRITT: Or if you are done, or if you don't mind
spoilers, don't move.
Don't even blink.
Blink and you're dead.
VERONICA BELMONT: No, that's the wrong story arc.
That's a different--
that's Doctor Who.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, sorry.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm pretty sure.
Anyhow, we have lots of thoughts from our Good Reads
forums to get to, including some video
commentary and email.
So let's get on with it, eh?
TOM MERRITT: Yes, let's.
VERONICA BELMONT: So Leviathan Wakes.
I feel like we've been discussing this book for a
very long time.
We had James S. A. Corey on the show previously.
That's Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham, of course, who write
in conjunction as James S. A. Corey.
And so overall, what did you think of the book?
TOM MERRITT: I absolutely loved it.
TOM MERRITT: I thought it was fast-paced and fun.
I enjoyed the stories.
I enjoyed the characters, and I really had a good time.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, I enjoyed it, too.
I'd mentioned this on the audio podcast, but I was kind
of surprised when it ended, because I had been seeing the
percentage moving along the bottom, not realizing that
they also included another book in the Kindle edition.
So all a sudden, I got to 50% and, oh, that was the end.
TOM MERRITT: Right, because you get Dragon's Path by
Daniel Abraham in the Kindle edition, which is
a great book, too.
I'm, like, halfway through that and enjoying it.
VERONICA BELMONT: But I am eager now to read Caliban's
War, which is the second book in the Expanse serious.
TOM MERRITT: Good timing.
Just came out.
VERONICA BELMONT: Good timing, because it just came out.
Because I really want to know what happens.
So where we left off is that Miller and--
what's her face?
That's her name, right?
Juliette Mao?
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, they have her as the creature, as
the alien biochemical warfare creature of sorts, are
crashing the planet--
I mean, are crashing the--
it's not a comet.
What is it?
TOM MERRITT: Asteroid.
VERONICA BELMONT: Asteroid into Venus.
So now-- why are you nodding your head like this?
Are you just waiting for me to explain more or what do you--
TOM MERRITT: No, I'm not sure where you're going with this.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm just saying, I'm very curious to
know what happens after that happens.
TOM MERRITT: Yes, I am, too.
Well, and if you read some of the descriptions of Caliban's
War, you know that Venus is part of that.
TOM MERRITT: So you're going to get something.
VERONICA BELMONT: I want to know if the alien life form is
going to terraform Venus and turn into--
TOM MERRITT: I think that's pretty much a given.
VERONICA BELMONT: Is that what's going to happen?
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, that's got to be what happens, right?
That's what I hope happens.
TOM MERRITT: How could it not?
Yeah, I think so.
As far as the characters in Leviathan Wakes, people are
divided over Miller and Holden.
On our Good Reads forum, we had a little exchange between
Jay and Nick.
Jay said, "I can't stand Detective Miller.
He seems like an arrogant know-it-all.
I find myself wanting to punch him in the face every time he
explains what he thinks is going on to someone.
Am I alone in my thinking?"
And then, Nick responded, "Funny, because I got the same
exact impression you got of Miller, but for Holden." I
guess he wanted to punch Holden in the face.
"Miller was right about Holden being too quick to put all the
information out there without a thought to the real
VERONICA BELMONT: I think that's very interesting and
also very true, because they're very polarizing
characters in a lot of ways.
They're at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Holden is probably a little bit too goody-goody for a lot
of people, because he is driven by this
conscience that he has.
And yet it leads him to do things that are ultimately
extremely destructive.
While Miller, he thinks he's this really great guy, this
really great cop.
But he's actually, as we've discussed previously, deeply
flawed and kind of the joke of the police force on Ceres,
where he's working originally.
TOM MERRITT: I thought that was a brilliant reveal, when
we get to that point where you're like, oh, I thought
Miller was a pretty good cop, too.
But I only had Miller's word for that.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, the unreliable narrator.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's for sure.
But I actually liked Miller a lot.
I thought some of his choices, while very inflammatory and
very dangerous as well, I think that he probably had the
most realistic view of everything that was happening
and probably had a better grasp of the situation than
Holden did.
I think Holden was a little bit too quick to pass his own
judgments on top of everything and kind of think that he was
being the hero in the book, while, in actuality, he was
the cause of most of the war and the destruction.
TOM MERRITT: But you can't disagree
that Miller was crazy.
He was like--
VERONICA BELMONT: Miller was crazy.
TOM MERRITT: --bat crazy.
VERONICA BELMONT: Crazy like a fox.
TOM MERRITT: Well, yeah, crazy like imagining this woman
around who's not there.
And he's fallen in love with her.
She doesn't even exist anymore.
VERONICA BELMONT: The whole falling in love with Julie was
a little bit random.
Because all of a sudden, he's working on this case, and then
he's like, oh, and by the way, I love her.
I'm in love with you now.
And also, I see you in my waking vision.
But in the end--
TOM MERRITT: What did you think, Julie?
VERONICA BELMONT: But in the end, that actually turns out
to be what saves the situation, because he realizes
that in his crazy brain, he sees that the ship is using
Julie's consciousness to actually
communicate thoughts and--
TOM MERRITT: So was he crazy?
Was he just in communication?
VERONICA BELMONT: Maybe the ship was talking to him the
whole time.
TOM MERRITT: I don't know.
The ending.
Let's talk about the ending real fast.
Obviously, we've been spoiling throughout this whole episode,
so I'm not going to feel too bad about it.
But I thought it was a little bit weird that she was still
conscious, that she was actually
thinking as herself, too.
I kind of expected there to be more of a--
like more trials and tribulations for
Miller trying to get--
TOM MERRITT: You want it to be dead is dead?
I just expected her to be a much
different version of herself.
Yes, physically she was.
But when he actually finds her, she's able to communicate
to him as Juliette.
TOM MERRITT: That didn't bother me.
I was not disappointed.
It did surprise me that she was still there.
I thought the whole time, she's gone, gone
as gone could be.
She was D-E-D when we found her in the other room.
And so when--
I didn't feel cheated.
But I was like, I don't know if I like her being back,
until they had the interactions.
And then I was OK with it.
I was glad she was there.
VERONICA BELMONT: I just didn't find it realistic, even
for this super hyper-crazy situation.
I found it unrealistic that she was as lucid as she was
when he found her.
TOM MERRITT: But it's this alien bacterial technology.
It could just preserve that consciousness.
We could have an existential argument about whether that's
actually her or a simulation of her brain waves, you know?
You with me now?
Yeah, I guess.
I don't know.
TOM MERRITT: What about the food?
VERONICA BELMONT: What about the food?
TOM MERRITT: Nick wrote that he was fascinated with how the
food is all created from fungi, even alcohol, somehow
created from fungi.
VERONICA BELMONT: There's a fungus among us.
TOM MERRITT: And Nick says, "I hate mushrooms."
VERONICA BELMONT: I hate mushrooms, too.
TOM MERRITT: But he was wondering, do you think that
they could do enough with fungus to change the textures?
VERONICA BELMONT: Have you ever had quorn?
TOM MERRITT: Yes, I've had corn.
VERONICA BELMONT: Not corn, not C-O-R-N.
Q-U-O-R-N. It's a--
TOM MERRITT: The band?
VERONICA BELMONT: --vegetarian meat product.
And what is the band?
No, I said Q, not K-O-R-N.
TOM MERRITT: I haven't had them either.
VERONICA BELMONT: Anyway, it's a meat substitute that you can
buy at, like, Whole Foods, and it's made from mushrooms.
And it frickin' tastes like chicken like
you would not believe.
It tastes like chicken.
TOM MERRITT: And you don't like mushrooms.
VERONICA BELMONT: I hate mushrooms.
TOM MERRITT: So there you go.
TOM MERRITT: There's your answer, Nick.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm not a vegetarian.
But I like to eat the quorn chicken patties, because
they're easy to make.
I don't have to actually cook anything.
I just microwave them, and they're done, because
I'm lazy like that.
But they're made from fungus.
They're made from mushrooms.
They're actually portobello mushrooms.
But you can actually make fungus--
you can make things like that taste like other things.
TOM MERRITT: Another issue on the forums was David asking
how we imagined the Belter characters because of their
different physicality.
And actually, on this thread, there's a drawing of one of
the gray aliens with the really long limbs, like from
Close Encounters.
TOM MERRITT: I kind of had that body type, obviously with
human heads.
VERONICA BELMONT: Maybe not that extreme.
TOM MERRITT: Not quite that extreme.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, but I did get kind of a--
I would say a lot more humanoid, but just kind of
stretched out a little bit, stretched.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, stretchy people.
Kind of like when you see really tall basketball
players, and they just look kind of stretched.
They're all just basketball players.
TOM MERRITT: I almost said planet--
TOM MERRITT: of the basketball
players, but they're asteroids.
I would love to see what you guys think Holden
and Miller look like.
Did we do a casting thread for that?
TOM MERRITT: There is.
VERONICA BELMONT: Because usually we do casting.
There is a casting thread?
TOM MERRITT: There's a casting thread on Good Reads as well.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, I missed that one.
I'll have to go look at that after the show.
TOM MERRITT: And then Julia wrote, "Given
this, I began to wonder"--
I'm picking her up midway--
"I began to wonder, particularly given the
retention of Julie's consciousness"--
back to that--
"is it possible that the protomolecule was not an
attack on Earth, but a seeding, a form of
colonization effort by a collectively conscious alien
species more similar to a bacteria than to us?" So they
weren't trying to kill us.
They were just going to inhabit a new world the way we
would travel to another.
VERONICA BELMONT: So kind of like the engineers?
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, but because they're so different than us,
they show up, and they accidentally kill us all, but
they don't mean to.
They're just like, we're a collective consciousness.
We don't understand individuality.
Yeah, that's a potential answer to
that question as well.
I never really understood why they assumed it was a weapon.
TOM MERRITT: Well, because it killed.
VERONICA BELMONT: Because it killed.
TOM MERRITT: Because it killed people.
So when things kill you, you assume, that must be a weapon.
But things kill accidentally.
Toxic spills are not a weapon, per se.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, I am driven to read the next book.
I think I'm curious enough now that I really want to know
what happens, and I really want to see where the story--
TOM MERRITT: I've started it.
It's good.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah.
TOM MERRITT: Of course, you get different
perspectives, too.
You still get Holden in Caliban's War.
But you get new characters' perspectives as well.
VERONICA BELMONT: I really liked the little Naomi-Holden
I thought that was very cute.
TOM MERRITT: That's where the firefly aspect of the book
really kicks in, is in Naomi, Holden, Amos--
all the folks on the ship.
VERONICA BELMONT: Amos was one of my favorite character.
I loved his one-liners and kind of his ambiguity, too.
He's done a lot of bad stuff, but he's still trying to--
he's different from Miller in that--
TOM MERRITT: He's a redeemed Miller in a way.
VERONICA BELMONT: He's a redeemed Miller.
And he also has this kind of military background that
forces him to kind of follow rules, take orders.
But he's not going to think twice if his orders are to
wipe out that group of people
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, you want him at your back.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, but you don't want him on the
other side.
TOM MERRITT: No, you don't want him at your front.
TOM MERRITT: All right, next time, we'll kick off our
August pick, Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb.
TOM MERRITT: But before we go, let's see what else folks are
saying in email and on Good Reads.
First up, Daniel sent us in a review that just might save
your life someday.
DANIEL: Hi there.
This is my review of The Zombie Survival
Guide by Max Brooks.
So the day's finally come.
We've been overrun by zombies.
It was going to happen sooner or later.
So what are we going to do?
We're going to go out to the book shop and get this book.
It has everything you could ever need to
survive a zombie attack.
It can be anything from a small neighborhood infection
to a full-blown mass pandemic.
It's got you covered.
It offers a lot more practical advice than sit down and pray
to God, which the helpless masses will
probably do and die.
So should you buy this book?
Yes, unless you want to be one of the helpless masses walking
down the street, drooling.
This has been my review of The Zombie Survival
Guide by Max Brooks.
TOM MERRITT: Do you think Max Brooks pitches
his book that way?
Look, if you want to die in a zombie attack,
don't buy my book.
VERONICA BELMONT: Don't read my book.
Fine, just leave it.
TOM MERRITT: Now, we did read World War Z on there.
TOM MERRITT: That's another one.
VERONICA BELMONT: World War Z was one of my favorite picks,
and they are, of course, making it into a movie,
although I hear it's going through a lot of rewrites, a
lot of re-shooting--
TOM MERRITT: Much adapted.
VERONICA BELMONT: --a lot of issues with the filming of
this movie.
So I'm looking forward to it, but we'll see when that
actually happens.
TOM MERRITT: We also got an email from Steven, who writes,
"I stopped reading for a while last year.
But thanks to the book club, I've already read five books
and counting so far this year.
I picked up Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb"--
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, ahead of the game.
TOM MERRITT: Very prescient.
--"as well as The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie." Another
great book.
TOM MERRITT: He's going to read those after he finishes
Leviathan Wakes based on your high recommendations.
"Just wanted to let you guys know that at least for me the
book club has been a very positive influence."
TOM MERRITT: We're happy to hear that.
We love it when people say I'm reading more
because of the show.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm very excited about Assassin's
Apprentice, because that's one of my favorite
books of all time.
But we'll get more to that a little bit later.
Eric now wants to know how we choose the book picks.
He says, "I see that the next two picks are dictatorial.
Is there any rhyme or reason to when there are polls and
when the hosts pick?
I have no objection.
I'm just curious.
Also, when will next month's pick be released?
I'm hoping it's well before the end of the month."
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, yeah, and he also goes on to say,
"Also, what are the alternative picks, where there
are two books picked those months?
And what's the reason behind those picks?
Thanks in advance for clearing up any confusion."
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Well, first of all, the announcement of the book pick
in advance does happen on Good Reads and sometimes on our
audio podcast in advance.
TOM MERRITT: So keep an eye on those places--
TOM MERRITT: --and you'll hear about it.
VERONICA BELMONT: Otherwise, we have a very, very advanced
algorithm that's running through a system of
distributed computing.
TOM MERRITT: It's a Beowulf cluster combined with some
distributed computing, right?
It takes multiple machines, multiple days to run--
TOM MERRITT: A lot of research of Stanford and the JPL--
VERONICA BELMONT: A lot of very smart people are on it.
And then we just say, screw it, and pick it for you.
VERONICA BELMONT: So we just throw out all that data.
TOM MERRITT: And then, occasionally, we vote for no
apparent reason.
The alternate picks--
TOM MERRITT: --is usually when we have a book that
everybody's really excited about, or we have two books
that everybody's really excited about.
And one of them, maybe we've read the author before, or
it's time for a sword book, and it's a laser.
And we just say, OK, everybody's so excited, we'll
make this an alternate pick.
I don't know how often we're going to do that, though,
because we're reading a book every month.
And we don't want to make it hard for people to keep up.
I'm so squished on time now, especially--
oh, I guess I should mention, Vaginal Fantasy, the other
book club that I belong to--
I just said "vaginal," yes--
it's now officially on Geek and Sundry.
So we're going to start having those episodes with me,
Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, Kiala Kazebee.
We're all going to be doing our take on erotic science
fiction and fantasy and paranormal romance.
TOM MERRITT: Listen, guys, if you're like, I don't need to
hear about paranormal romance, you need to watch this.
It is fun.
These folks are fun to watch talking about these books.
It doesn't matter what the books are, although that's a
bonus if you're into them, too.
VERONICA BELMONT: We ladies have fun.
We have a good time.
So I'm not sure when that's going to start actually
happening regularly, but I think maybe next month.
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Keep an eye out.
VERONICA BELMONT: So yeah, it's coming up.
TOM MERRITT: Finally, this question from
Dustin on Good Reads.
"I saw The Lost Years of Merlin at a used bookstore a
few weeks ago and picked it up simply because it was the
first real fantasy book I read, and I wanted to have it
on my shelf again.
However, I haven't touched it since knowing that it will
only taint the fond memories I have of reading it
all those years ago.
Does anyone else keep books that are emotionally
off-limits for the same or other reasons?"
Yeah, so as I mentioned, Assassin's Apprentice is one
of my favorite books of all time.
VERONICA BELMONT: And I haven't reread it in many,
many years, because I was a little bit nervous that I
wouldn't love it as much.
But now we are obviously reading it for the book club.
So hopefully, it will be as good as I remember.
Robin Hobb was one of my favorite authors.
And I've enjoyed those books more than some of her more
recent books.
I don't know why that is.
Maybe it's just the subject matter.
But I'm really looking forward to digging back into this
series again.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, I've gone back and read a lot of books
that I read when I was younger--
C. S. Lewis books, Frank Herbert books, JRR Tolkien--
and not had a problem.
The ones that I have avoided--
and Donald Sobol just passed away, the author of
Encyclopedia Brown.
Those books I absolutely adored when I was in my single
digits still.
And I am nervous to go back.
VERONICA BELMONT: Many moons ago.
TOM MERRITT: I don't want to ruin--
VERONICA BELMONT: Many, many moons.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, it was before space travel.
But I don't want to ruin that childhood memory of how much I
loved them by going, wow, these are written for kids.
I just kind of want to leave that, I think.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think we all have some of that.
We all have a little bit of that.
But yes, Assassin's Apprentice is our next
pick, by Robin Hobb.
So pick it up, start reading.
Go to your local library, pick it up on Kindle, wherever you
can get your hands on it.
It's also on Audible, too.
So if you want to listen to it, you can do
it that way as well.
All right, so that about does it for us today.
But don't forget the main Sword and Laser show, where we
interview the best authors in the biz and submit your
questions to them.
In our latest episode, we talked with Daniel Suarez,
author of Kill Decision.
TOM MERRITT: You don't want to miss that.
So subscribe to our YouTube channel.
It's the green button up there in the corner at
Send us email to feedback@swordandlaser.com.
And of course, join in the fun on our Good Reads forum at
We leave you with another singing book review from Sky.
You can get the whole song in the show notes or at
swordandlaser.com as well.
See you later, folks.
See you next time.
MALE SINGER: She was a good cop.
Got framed by the top of the military.
Now her pledge is The--
MALE SINGER: She formed--
MALE SINGER: --her--