Interview with Ernest Cline & our Hyperion wrap-up! Sword & Laser Ep 4

Uploaded by geekandsundry on May 25, 2012


VERONICA BELMONT: Hello, everyone.
Welcome to the Sword and Laser show.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
VERONICA BELMONT: And this is a show for anyone who loves
science fiction, fantasy, swords, castles.
VERONICA BELMONT: Lasers, obviously.
TOM MERRITT: Space goats.
VERONICA BELMONT: All of that good stuff.
And hey, if you're new to the show, then we do
a lot of cool stuff.
We interview authors, science fiction fantasy authors.
We talk about all the discussions you guys are
having over on Goodreads.
And we talk about the latest news in the science fiction
and fantasy world.
TOM MERRITT: And today we're very excited to have Ernest
Cline, author of Ready Player One, joining us to talk about
his book, as well as hear what you guys thought of our book
of the month, Hyperion, by Daniel Simmons.
But right now it's time to put up your blast shields and get
ready to be blasted by news.
It is the Quick Burns. reports that Gollancz has revealed cover
art for a new Scott Lynch book called The Bastards and the
Knives, The Mad Baron's Mechanical Attic and the Choir
of Knives, an Omnibus, the Gentleman Bastard--
The Prequel.
The subtitle refers to two short stories set in the
Gentlemen Bastard's universe.
Expect the book to come out after the release of the
Republic of Thieves, whenever that ends up being.
I'm looking forward to that one, too.
Have you always wanted to narrate audiobooks?
Well, here's your chance to learn from the pros.
StarShipSofa is holding an online narrator's workshop
June 10 with some of the best voice actors
in the genre field.
Guest speakers are Kate Baker of Clark's World magazine,
Peter Seaton-Clark from Offstimme, Mike Boris of Mike
Boris Audio, and Nathan Lowell,
author of Solar Clipper.
Get trained up onto audiobook reading.
VERONICA BELMONT: I want to do that.
TOM MERRITT: I want to do that too, actually.
VERONICA BELMONT: I just narrated a short story,
actually, for Andrew Mayne--
TOM MERRITT: I know, that's awesome.
VERONICA BELMONT: --called Secret Identity.
It was a lot of fun.
VERONICA BELMONT: It was a little plug.
It was a little, tiny plug.
But it was super fun.
Check it out over at Andrew Mayne short stories podcast.
TOM MERRITT: That was not an official Quick Burn.
VERONICA BELMONT: That was not an official Quick Burn.
I digress.
Want to see some Ursula K Le Guin on stage?
You can help.
SF Signal reports Untitled Theater Company #61 are
bringing The Lathe Of Heaven to the stage.
And to get top quality visual equipment they've launched a
Kickstarter page.
Donations will get you a ticket or two to the premier.
Music is by Henry Akona, and video design is by Kate Freer
and David Tennant.
TOM MERRITT: Wait, that David Tennant?
TOM MERRITT: Wow, that's pretty awesome.
Got a favorite speculative fiction podcast you listen to?
Time to make it an award winning
speculative fiction podcast.
Nominations for the annual Parsec
Awards have opened online.
The awards are presented at DragonCon each year in six
general categories.
Go to to make a nomination.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, and in fact we will be at DragonCon
as we are always at DragonCon.
So if you are going to DragonCon, you
should come see us there.
TOM MERRITT: Our dragon probably won't be there.
VERONICA BELMONT: He probably-- he or she.
VERONICA BELMONT: Sorry, I shouldn't be so gender biased
and just call him--
we haven't figured it out yet.
TOM MERRITT: Assumptions.
VERONICA BELMONT: We haven't figured it out yet.
So the John W Campbell Award finalists have been announced.
Among the 11 finalists are China Mieville, Gene Wolfe,
and today's guest, Ernest Cline.
TOM MERRITT: Hey, congrats.
VERONICA BELMONT: The awards will be presented in Lawrence,
Kansas on Friday, July 6.
And thanks to Charles for tipping us off.
TOM MERRITT: Time for your take.
And Aaron is setting the bar for all you video
reviewers out there.
He sent us three white board reviews.
This week, we'll show you his take on an
Orson Scott Card book.
MALE SPEAKER: Everybody knows Orson Scott Card for Ender's
Game and its many sequels, except those who know him from
the Alvin Maker series or some other third thing.
You probably don't know him from his collaborations with
Kathryn Kidd.
No, you've never heard of her.
Lovelock is the story of an arc starship headed for a
distant colony led by scholars so busy with lofty thoughts
that they are given genetically modified animal
The hook?
The book is narrated by Lovelock, a monkey companion
to a brilliant scientist.
It's a departure from Card's multivolume works while still
maintaining his trademark moral quandaries.
Plus, hey, monkey.
TOM MERRITT: Those are so good.
VERONICA BELMONT: That was awesome.
That was way more creative than I could ever possibly
imagine from a white board video.
TOM MERRITT: And he sent us three.
And then we said these are great.
He's like, don't say that.
I'll send you more.
That was awesome.
TOM MERRITT: Very good.
VERONICA BELMONT: We like stuff like that.
Because I'm not creative.
But you obviously are.
So well done.
Hey, you can send us your videos, and you could be on
the show next week.
And we'll send a package of prizes,
including books and stickers.
Just upload your message to your favorite video hosting
provider, like, say YouTube, for example.
And email the link to us at [email protected].
TOM MERRITT: Coming up, we tear through Hyperion like a
Shrike through time.
And Ernest Cline reveals cheat codes for all video games.
TOM MERRITT: Maybe, maybe not.
But first what did or didn't happen on a day similar to but
not the same as this day in alternate history.

VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone.
Welcome back to Sword and Laser.
We are extremely pleased to have Ernest Cline, author of
Ready Player One on the show today.
Ready Player One was our book pick last October.
So we've had some great discussion on Goodreads and on
the audio podcast.
But now we get answers from the man himself.
Welcome, Mr. Cline.
May I call you Ernie?
ERNEST CLINE: Of course.
Thank you for having me.
So for the five people or so out there in our audience who
haven't read Ready Player One, can you
give us a brief synopsis?
The story's set from about 30 years from now when the real
world is kind of a crappy place due to climate change
and peak oil.
So a lot of people a big chunk of the world, spend time in a
virtual reality simulation called the Oasis, which is
kind of the coolest possible future version of the
internet, combining social networking and the World Wide
Web all kind of mashed into this
sprawling virtual reality.
And the creator of this virtual reality, James
Halliday, dies in the opening pages of the book.
And he leaves his entire fortune and control of this
virtual world to whoever can solve these video game puzzles
that he's left behind to locate this Easter egg that
he's hidden inside the game.
And the hook is that all of these puzzles and riddles that
he's left behind to unlock deal with classic 1980s video
games and '80s movies and kind of the pop culture of the
1980s, which he grew up obsessed with.
So to win this huge fortune, all of these players have to
become experts in 1980s pop culture.
TOM MERRITT: I think, obviously, we could spend all
day talking about the various influences in the book.
But is there a particular influence
for Halliday's character?
Or is it a combination of like Nolan
Bushnell and other folks?
ERNEST CLINE: The two guys that were the main inspiration
were Howard Hughes, who was a little unbalanced, but also
brilliant, and then Richard Garriott, who invented all the
Ultima games and Ultima online.
And he was a hero of mine growing up.
I loved his games.
And so I kind of combined Howard
Hughes and Richard Garriott.
Richard Garriott, if people don't know, he's the video
game designer who paid to go into space a few years ago.
And he lives in Austin where I do and has a huge mansion full
of secret passages and weird artifacts that he's collected.
So he's kind of an example of what a really eccentric geek
with a huge amount of money can do.
And so I kind of conflated Howard Hughes and Richard
Garriott for Halliday's character.
And guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs and kind of a
lot of industry titans are kind of mashed together into
that character.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think it's worth noting, too, that one of
our Geek & Sundry brethren, Wil Wheaton, who does the show
TableTop, also narrates the audiobook.
How did you guys make that connection?
ERNEST CLINE: I've always been a huge fan of Wil.
And I used to do spoken word recordings and
put them on my website.
And at some point, Wil discovered my website and
linked to it on a lark.
And that resulted in me selling a ton of CDs.
And we kind of became online friends as a result that.
But I was always a huge fan of his acting.
And he's kind of an '80s nerd icon himself, so even before I
finished the book, I knew that if there was ever an
audiobook, that I would want Wil to do it.
So I asked him, and he remembered who I
was and said yes.
And I know I'm biased, but it's my favorite
audiobook of all time.
He does all the voices and brings all the characters to
life in a way that's amazing.
And so I couldn't be happier with the job
he did on the audiobook.
And I'm powering that connection to get a guest spot
in the next season of TableTop.
I really wanted to be on that show.
TOM MERRITT: I'm sure--
ERNEST CLINE: I'm going to work my way through all the
Geek & Sundry shows.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, I'm sure that could
definitely be arranged.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, we know some people.
TOM MERRITT: One thing just about the audiobook that I
found hilarious was when Wil Wheaton is reading the part
about how Wil Wheaton had become one of the governors of
the online world.
Cory Doctorow was the other one mentioned.
Would he have been a backup choice for reading Ready
Player One.
Wil was always my first choice to read.
And when I put that in the book, Cory Doctorow had also
linked to my spoken word stuff on his site.
So I felt like I owed Wil and Cory both a favor.
And that was why I made them the future
presidents of the internet.
And having no idea that Wil would end up reading the
audiobook, he didn't read the book in advance.
He reads the book for the first time as he goes along.
So he didn't discover he was in the book until that day
when he actually recorded it.
TOM MERRITT: That's great.
That's really funny.
VERONICA BELMONT: So I think the question that everyone
wants to know right now is how is the movie coming along?
The movie is in the works.
Where are we with that right now?
ERNEST CLINE: Well, the movie rights were bought by Warner
Brothers the day after I sold the rights to the book.
And since I had had screenwriting experience with
my movie Fanboys and some other screenplays that I'd
written, they let me write the first draft of the screenplay,
which was one of the hardest writing jobs of my life.
It's a really dense book full of a lot of stuff.
And shrinking a 400-page book down to a 120-page thing was
really hard.
And the big hurdle that everyone's worried about is
all the licensing, all of the pop culture elements that are
included in the book and whether or not that's going to
be able to translate directly to the movie.
And I feel really lucky in that it's Warner Brothers that
bought the movie rights.
And they did all the Harry Potter adaptations, which I
think are about as faithful as you can be while still making
a book cinematic.
And since they're Warner Brothers and they're the
biggest movie studio in the world, they have a huge back
catalog of '80s video games and '80s movies and music.
So even if we have to change some stuff, we still have a
huge library to work from.
So I have really high hopes.
There's still not a director attached yet.
There are a lot of directors that I am really excited
about, that they're sending the script out to.
But no one's come on board yet.
So until a director comes on board, I'm not going to get
too excited.
But I have a wish list of guys like Robert Zemeckis who did
Back to the Future, people like that, that I would love
to work on the movie.
But I'm just waiting to see what happens.
TOM MERRITT: You hear that Robert Zemeckis?
Call this guy.
TOM MERRITT: All right, Andy wrote on a Goodreads, "Ready
Player One is a love note to the '80s.
Is there a trend that Ernie is happy that we have moved away
from, from the '80s?" And then he adds, "Was there any games
or movies that you wish you could have worked into the
plot that didn't make it?"
ERNEST CLINE: A trend in the '80s that
we've moved away from?
TOM MERRITT: That you're glad we moved away from.
ERNEST CLINE: Maybe the hair.
TOM MERRITT: Definitely.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, I'm definitley
glad about the hair.
ERNEST CLINE: And maybe the Cold War.
Those would be the two things about the '80s.
And his second question was what?
TOM MERRITT: Andy, his second question is were there any
games or movies that you wish you could have worked into the
plot that just didn't make it?
When I was writing it, I was kind of throwing in everything
in the kitchen sink.
Everything that occurred to me, I threw in there.
And nobody made me take anything out.
But after I wrote the book and then it came out, everybody
who reads it is always kind of looking for a reference to
their favorite thing from the '80s or something, like
whatever their favorite thing was, like Garbage Pail Kids.
And P Aaron wants to know, on a more biographical note,
"Clearly the gaming metanarrative is essential to
Ready Player One.
How much opportunity does Cline have to actually play
games anymore?
If so, what forms?
Do you do table top, MMO, console gaming, and why
ERNEST CLINE: Whenever I go back to Ohio, which is where I
grew up, I still play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons with my
high school buddies.
And then at home, I love Half-Life 2, and I play a lot
of first person shooters.
I'll jump on Quake Live when I feel like killing some people
just to let off stress.
I'm excited about Diablo 3, although I haven't had a
chance to check it out yet, because I've been travelling.
So yeah, I don't have as much time to game as I used to.
But I still game whenever I get a chance.
Skyrim ate up a whole big chunk of my year.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, Veronica's, too.
VERONICA BELMONT: Over 110 hours.
ERNEST CLINE: Oh, I wish they didn't have the time in there.
I really don't want to know how much time
I've devoted to Skyrim.
TOM MERRITT: All right, our last
question comes from Michael.
He wants to know how you decided what level of
explanation to use when referencing elements from pop
culture, especially the '80s pop culture.
ERNEST CLINE: You know, I think I just played it by ear.
I have spent a long time working tech supports and
helping people use the internet over the phone.
I think that might be why I explain like certain elements
of technology or certain things to a degree, Just
because I want to make sure people understand them.
Some people feel like I overexplain things, where
other people tell me they really appreciate when I would
explain things.
And there's a lot of
references that aren't explained.
But the one that are kind of integral to the plot or to the
puzzles, I would spell those out and make sure people
understood what I was talking about, just so they could
follow the story, even if they weren't familiar with the pop
culture elements that I was talking about.
TOM MERRITT: Well, Ernie, thanks so much for taking the
time and the persistence.
We had some connection errors that we were fighting through
here today.
We really appreciate you talking with us.
ERNEST CLINE: I really appreciate you
guys having me on.
I love your show.
TOM MERRITT: Absolutely.
Ready Player One is the name of the book.
You can find it in bookstores everywhere or on audiobook.
Coming up, the hot books for June.
And also we pay off our time debt to the All Thing.
Don't farcast away.
We'll be right back.

VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone.
Welcome back to Sword and Laser.
It's time now to wrap up Hyperion, see what's coming
out the first week of June, and check your feedback.
But let's start off with a video review of Hyperion from
one of our book club members.
Keith was good enough to send us a video
review of what he thought.
KEITH: Hyperion by Dan Simmons.
I read this many years ago.
I remember I couldn't put it down.
The complexity, the scope of it, was amazing.
This group of characters on an interstellar spacecraft who
find themselves traveling together
to the planet Hyperion.
This creature known as the Shrike, it was horrifying.
Any time the Shrike showed up, you were afraid.
And in the sequel, it was completely different.
It was so bad, it made me never want to read Dan Simmons
again, and I haven't.
And because of this, I don't recommend Hyperion.
TOM MERRITT: OK, so he liked Hyperion.
VERONICA BELMONT: Totally understand, though.
I totally understand.
But I just love how he's like, oh this book is great.
I loved this book.
It's so complex.
The characters are so interesting.
I would not recommend it.
TOM MERRITT: You know I liked Keith's video at first,
because it was compelling and it sucks me in.
But then it took a right turn at the end, and for that--
no, I actually loved that.
That was a great--
VERONICA BELMONT: That was a great review.
No, seriously.
And I do have to say, I kind of agree with some of the
parts of that.
Meaning, I was very upset when I got to the end.
But before we talk to that, it's a spoiler warning.
VERONICA BELMONT: We have to let let you guys know that we
are going to discuss major plot points of the book.
So spoiler warning.
You've had a chance to skip ahead.
VERONICA BELMONT: You have had a chance to skip ahead.
There will be an annotation in the video to put you to the
end of the thing if you haven't already.
But anyway, yeah, so when I got to the end of the book and
things just kind of stopped and we didn't get to see the
encounter with the Shrike after all we built up to, I
almost through my Kindle across the room.
TOM MERRITT: Now, I had been prepared for this, because
everybody said, you're not going to like the ending.
You're going to have read the second book.
And I have started the second book.
But I was OK with that.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know if I expected it to be that
much of a cliffhanger, though.
TOM MERRITT: I was almost fine with it.
I was almost like, you know, it kind of leaves it in my
VERONICA BELMONT: You're mental.
TOM MERRITT: I'm good with that.
You are not good with that.
You are going to read the second book.
TOM MERRITT: It means it's open to whatever
interpretation I want to put on it.
VERONICA BELMONT: No, that is baloney.
TOM MERRITT: That is a luncheon meat.
TOM MERRITT: OK, I've got some representative samples of what
the audience thought.
And they don't disagree with you, some of them.
Brittany was one of the people who said, "this is one of the
books that swept me in and kept me reading long past my
lunch break was over.
I'm already a good part of the way into the second one." So
she was among the many people who loved Hyperion.
There was also an opposite camp.
Caroline said, "Yeah, I finished it a few days ago.
I have to say, I really didn't like it.
I enjoyed Sol and Brawne Lamia's story.
But none of the rest of it captured my attention.
It a real slog.
To me, it was like a super skilled jazz saxophonist who
doesn't know when to stop.
You can admire the skill and parts of it will
really speak to you.
But the rest is whittling."
Ah, interesting.
TOM MERRITT: And then there's Tiffany.
Tiffany said, "I finished the book yesterday.
And to be honest my reaction was, meh.
I can take it or leave it.
Like many others, Sol's story was the most
compelling for me.
And I think if I were to continue on to The Fall of
Hyperion, it would be to find out what happens to Sol.
To be entirely honest, I'm kind of rooting for the AIs
and the Ousters in this whole thing.
I think that humans have been pretty arrogant.
And I don't think that they deserve all the amenities that
they have acquired.
Let the Shrike have them."
Well, yes.
It was another one of those situations where there--
I mean, we're never going to escape it.
We're never going to pick a book that every
single person loves.
TOM MERRITT: Of course not.
VERONICA BELMONT: I thought maybe this would be a little
different, though, because--
TOM MERRITT: Did you not like it?
TOM MERRITT: OK, you just didn't like that you were
VERONICA BELMONT: I was just pissed of at the ending.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: But that's beside the point.
I should've expected it.
People warned us.
But let's quickly talk about some of the different parts of
the book and the stories.
So the first one was the man who cried God, and that was
"The Priest's Tale." And that dealt with Father Paul Dure
and Lenar Hoyt.
And this story, I think, really kicked off the book in
a major way.
It was gripping.
It was terrifying, frankly.
TOM MERRITT: Suspenseful, too.
You know?
VERONICA BELMONT: Very suspenseful.
TOM MERRITT: It's hard to tell where it was going.
VERONICA BELMONT: And the ending
was just so gut wrenching.
And the fact that now Hoyt is carrying the cruciforms, two
cruciforms, on his body is like, oh, that's not good.
And actually, there were a lot of great discussions about the
relationship between Christianity and the cruciform
that were going on Goodreads.
And Alden O'Neil started a great discussion
thread about that.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, thanks to Alden for leading the
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, he was our discussion
leader for this book.
And he did a great job, chapter by chapter, starting
That was one of my favorite stories.
Not my favorite, though.
I agree with most of the commenters who gave us
feedback that the story of Sol Weintrub and his daughter
Rachel was the best, in my opinion.
I would have liked to have read a whole story about that.
Oh, wait, OK, so what's your problem?
You sighed.
TOM MERRITT: I saw that coming so far away.
I'm like, oh, Rachel is the baby.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, like as soon as they announce that
he had a daughter?
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, I was like, oh, OK, so I know what this
story is about.
I just felt like I--
VERONICA BELMONT: Didn't you enjoy figuring out
how they got there?
Didn't you like to see the progression of the story?
TOM MERRITT: I'm not saying I didn't like it.
I enjoyed it.
But it wasn't my favorite.
I thought the Fedmahn Kassad story with the historical
allusions was really--
VERONICA BELMONT: And the surprise, like, porno.
TOM MERRITT: Well, that part was not so
much why I liked it.
I'm sure that's what everybody-- oh, you
just liked the porn.
No, I liked the historical bits--
VERONICA BELMONT: It wasn't really porn.
TOM MERRITT: --at the beginning of it.
VERONICA BELMONT: No, that was super cool.
That made me think of old Star Trek holodeck days.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, my least favorite was Brawne Lamia.
I just felt like it was too trying to be like a Raymond
Chandler novel and not succeeding.
VERONICA BELMONT: But I really liked the John Keats
TOM MERRITT: I did like the Keats character.
I thought that character, Johnny, was really
And I connected with him in a lot of ways, even though he
was basically like an android, cylon-ish type of character.
TOM MERRITT: But a much more interesting of that type of
character than usually you get.
A lot more depth to him.
VERONICA BELMONT: My least favorite story was "The Poet's
TOM MERRITT: I think that was probably my
second least favorite.
VERONICA BELMONT: A lot of people agreed with me, I
think, on that front.
There were a lot of complaints that that was the point at
which they lemmed the book.
TOM MERRITT: Lemming meaning just abandoning,
stop reading the book.
VERONICA BELMONT: Abandoning the book.
That is one of our Sword and Laser terms, in case you
haven't heard us use it liberally.
TOM MERRITT: You know what I loved about "The Poet's Tale,"
which redeemed it for me.
I didn't so much like his story, but I liked seeing the
sweep of history that was in this universe and what
happened to Earth and why and where he went.
I liked that background part of it.
VERONICA BELMONT: What a sad story.
I mean, I still don't fully grasp, I think, what happened
to old Earth.
Do you remember?
I think I may have----
TOM MERRITT: A singularity.
That's all I remember being explained.
VERONICA BELMONT: But I guess it was the singularity.
Well, not the singularity.
TOM MERRITT: Well, not the singularity, like, we're all
going to be--
like a black hole type singularity.
TOM MERRITT: That kind of--
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, I guess there was kind of a
singularity, because there were, artificial life, alien
TOM MERRITT: Right, that's a different kind of singularity.
VERONICA BELMONT: That was the singularity that I thought you
were talking about.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, no.
I'm talking about black holes.
VERONICA BELMONT: OK, black holes.
VERONICA BELMONT: That was sad, though.
It was very touching starting with his childhood and him
growing up in the South of the Americas is the feeling I got.
And just not having any kind of outside connection with the
rest of the universe at that point.
Being very sheltered.
I liked that part of it.
But he's not my favorite character, Martin Selinus.
TOM MERRITT: All right, well we could talk about this
forever, honestly.
The discussion will continue at and on our
audio podcasts, which actually we mentioned this
on the audio podcast.
But Chris, I think, had the best line on Goodreads.
He said, Jorge Luis Borges wrote about lemming books.
Lemming is our term for abandoning
a book in the middle.
VERONICA BELMONT: So he didn't really, literally write about
lemming the book, he just--
TOM MERRITT: He didn't call it that.
TOM MERRITT: Chris says, he said something like if you
start a book and it doesn't speak to you, put it down.
It wasn't written for you.
But there are plenty of books that are.
And I think that's good advice to folks who are like, I
didn't like The Magicians.
I didn't like Hyperion.
There's a book coming that you will like.
VERONICA BELMONT: And thanks again to Alden O'Neil.
For kicking off so many of the great discussions happening
over on Goodreads.
We do need to pick a new discussion leader for our next
pick, which we will discuss shortly.
But we are out of the spoiler zone.

We're clear.
VERONICA BELMONT: We're out of the spoiler zone.
TOM MERRITT: Spoiler zone is clear.
VERONICA BELMONT: Clear, you're clear.
TOM MERRITT: Everyone, come back.
VERONICA BELMONT: Come back and watch
the rest of the show.
Because as Tom mentioned, there are many other books
that you may want to pick up.
Yes, next episode we will kick off a Sword pick.
It's Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana.
But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other new
books coming out.
It looks like June 5 is actually going to be huge.
Let's check in with the calendar.

TOM MERRITT: The first of our June 5 titles is Blue
Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds.
This has been out in the UK since January.
And if you didn't order a UK copy, like I did, get ready
for the first of the Poseidon's Children series
that starts in industrialized Africa and hits the moon,
Mars, Mercury, and beyond.
VERONICA BELMONT: Also out on June 5, Home From the Sea, an
Elemental Masters novel by Mercedes Lackey.
The eighth book in the series combines East of the Sun and
West of the Moon, as well as Tam Lin with The Silkie of
Sule Skerry.
TOM MERRITT: Continuing the June 5 festivities, Redshirts,
a novel with three codas, by John Scalzi.
Ensign Andrew Dalh is very excited about his post in
xenobiology on the Intrepid until he realizes what it
truly means to wear a red uniform.
VERONICA BELMONT: And finally on June 5, is also 1636, The
Kremlin Games, Ring of Fire by Eric Flint.
Number 14 in the series sees the modern town of Grantville,
West Virginia fighting for it's life in a war-torn Europe
just emerging from medieval madness.
TOM MERRITT: Medieval madness is my King Crimson cover band.
Before we go, let's see what folks are saying in email and
on Goodreads.
VERONICA BELMONT: All right, so this is a thread that's
been going on since the end of April, but shows no sign of
losing steam.
It starts out kind of sad.
TOM MERRITT: It is a sad story, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: It starts out pretty sad.
Nick let's us know that his cat passed away.
But the other good news is that he's getting a new cat.
And he needs a name.
He wanted to name her after a sci-fi book or character.
And the suggestions and stories are just pouring in.
Tons and tons of great suggestions.
TOM MERRITT: Someone had a guinea pig called Bilbo.
Someone has cats named Drusilla, Darla, and Evil
after the First Evil in the final season.
Not after just evil.
And Nick finally went with Daenerys or Khaleesi for just
around the house.
TOM MERRITT: You would think it would be the opposite.
Khaleesi formally and just Daenerys around house.
VERONICA BELMONT: Just Dani around the house.
Hi Dani.
Ready to eat, Dani?
VERONICA BELMONT: Actually we've been
calling our cats at home--
this is really embarrassing--
Sir Pounce and Lady Whiskers after the cats
from Game of Thrones.
TOM MERRITT: Well, I can't judge.
We have a dog named Jango after Jango Fett and a dog
named Sawyer after the con-man from Lost.
TOM MERRITT: So there you go.
VERONICA BELMONT: Equally nerdy.
TOM MERRITT: Let's move on to Maravian's post.
He says, "What I'm wondering is are fantasy sci-fi series
getting to be too long?
I have some examples here.
The Wheel Of Time, 14 books, 22 years, 11,000 pages.
The Sword Of Truth, 13 books, 17 years, 9,000 pages.
The Dark Tower, eight books, 30 years, 4,700 plus pages.
A Song of Ice and Fire, five books so far, 16 years, 5,000
plus pages and still going.
Do we really need or want stories to be 5,000 to 10,000
pages long spanning 20 plus years of releases?"
TOM MERRITT: I think a qualified yes.
If they're good enough, sure.
VERONICA BELMONT: If the story still needs to be told
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, I mean, I'd rather they come out a little
faster than George RR Martin puts them out.
But as long as he puts out awesome stories, I'm not going
to quibble.
VERONICA BELMONT: We all complain
about Georgie RR Martin.
But when you put it in perspective to these other
tales, he's on the low end.
TOM MERRITT: That's true, actually, pace-wise.
VERONICA BELMONT: So far, he hasn't written as many books.
But comparatively, The Dark Tower was eight
books and 30 years.
And Song of Ice and Fire is five books over 16 years.
So that's telling.
TOM MERRITT: I'm saying yes.
If I like the story, I want it to keep going.
If I don't like the story, I don't really care.
TOM MERRITT: They can keep putting them out.
I just won't read them.
VERONICA BELMONT: I got a lot of crap last week for saying I
only read to book four of The Wheel of Time.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah.
You know what?
The whole Wheel of Time series thing, that is a defect in us.
We're not saying it's a bad series.
VERONICA BELMONT: You just said that if a book doesn't
capture your interest, that you should just let it go,
because there are plenty of other books to read.
TOM MERRITT: That's right.
VERONICA BELMONT: And that's how I felt about it.
TOM MERRITT: There you go.
I really super respect Robert Jordan.
And, of course--
TOM MERRITT: And Brandon Sanderson, absolutely.
VERONICA BELMONT: Brandon Sanderson.
I love Brandon Sanderson.
But maybe at some point, I'll start over again
and see how it goes.
But yeah, I just got a lot of books to read.
Moving on, Oscar posted, "What is the most difficult book you
have read?" Maybe that should be book four of
Wheel of Time for me.
VERONICA BELMONT: He says, "For me, The Lord of the
Rings, I had to reread some pages.
It was very hard to keep up, especially when English was my
second language."
VERONICA BELMONT: What about you?
TOM MERRITT: And he's writing in Elvish a lot of the time.
VERONICA BELMONT: Alice says, the Bible.
That makes sense.
That makes sense.
TOM MERRITT: Ulysses is the hardest book I ever
attempted to read.
VERONICA BELMONT: But if we're keeping it
the speculative fiction?
TOM MERRITT: But keeping it in the genre, probably The
What, you found that easy?
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, not easy.
But it wasn't--
TOM MERRITT: It was hard to keep track.
Because there's not as much of a story.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think you're going to have the same
reaction that I just had for you for the one I'm about to
say, which was Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, Something about the language,
I couldn't deal.
TOM MERRITT: It's very complex.
I didn't have a hard time with it.
VERONICA BELMONT: I would love to go back and pick it up
again and restart.
TOM MERRITT: You have to be really interested and maybe
even have a little of that historical background.
VERONICA BELMONT: But I hadn't had trouble with Anathem or
with Snowcrash.
TOM MERRITT: Well, Anathem doesn't have historical
background, right?
Because it's all--
TOM MERRITT: They're all in sort of universes where you
either already know the historical background.
Or in Anathem's case, it's just made up.
Fair enough.
TOM MERRITT: Last but definitely not least, we are
officially kicking off our Guess the
Dragon's Name contest.
If you guess correctly, you get a fistful of books.
Actually, it's more like a Hulk fist full of books.
It's a lot of books.
And much swag form Sword and Laser and Geek & Sundry,
including a real genuine Sword and Laser t-shirt.
To make your guess, head to, find the
contest link, click on that.
And you have until June 4 to make your guess.
We'll be announcing the winner on our next show, June 8.
VERONICA BELMONT: I am very excited about that.
TOM MERRITT: I can't wait to discover.
VERONICA BELMONT: I can't wait to know.
TOM MERRITT: We'll just read the names off to the dragon
and see when he acknowledges--
or she--
See you said he.
TOM MERRITT: --she may acknowledge.
VERONICA BELMONT: We ask in the post if it's male, female,
gender nonspecific.
We don't know.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, could be both.
VERONICA BELMONT: All right, thanks everybody for watching.
If you want to subscribe to our channel, it's up here.
The little green button is somewhere floating around.
TOM MERRITT: Subscribe.
Tell your friends.
you can head over to
You can send us an email to [email protected] And
even call us at 415-779-6736 or 415-7-SWORD-6.
Actually, a gentleman named Ben called in and said we
should name the dragon Ben because his name is Ben.
TOM MERRITT: Thank you, Ben.
TOM MERRITT: We tried Ben.
No response yet.
Not a Ben.
And, of course, you can join in all the fun over on
Goodreads at
Search for Sword and Laser.
We will see you guys next time.
TOM MERRITT: Bye everybody.