Interview with Lev Grossman & our Hyperion kick-off - Sword & Laser, Ep 3.


Uploaded by geekandsundry on May 11, 2012

Transcript:

[COMPUTERIZED VOICE]
Sword and Laser.

VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone.
Welcome to The Sword and Laser.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
VERONICA BELMONT: And this is the pub where you can talk
about science fiction, fantasy, whether you like
space battles or dragons, like the one we got back there.
It's all good.
A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B.
TOM MERRITT: That's right.
It's like Chinese restaurant.
That's easy for you to say.
It's like a Chinese restaurant for speculative fiction.
You like scientifiction or phantasmagoria?
We got it all covered.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't think that's a word.
TOM MERRITT: What?
VERONICA BELMONT: Scientifiction?
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah.
It's an old word.
Like an 1800s word.
VERONICA BELMONT: Mmm, interesting.
TOM MERRITT: Steampunk-y.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, if you are new to the show, here for
the very first time, welcome.
And of course, all of our discussions happen over on
Goodreads at goodreads.com.
A lot of great stuff going on in there.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, very excited today.
We have Lev Grossman joining us to
talk about The Magicians.
Also we kickoff our new book for May,
Hyperion by Dan Simmons.
VERONICA BELMONT: But first, some tantalizing tidbits of
science fiction and fantasy news we call the Quick Burns.

The Snake of Talins has a new look.
Raymond Swanland did the cover art for the upcoming limited
edition of Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold, one of my
favorite books.
Monza Murcatto dominates the cover of both the 500 numbered
and 26 lettered copies, which will include five black and
white interior illustrations by Swanland as well.
Lettered copies are already sold out.
Sorry.
The edition comes out this autumn.
TOM MERRITT: It's the Snake of Talins.
VERONICA BELMONT: You don't know that.
TOM MERRITT: I don't.
VERONICA BELMONT: Neither of us listened to the audiobook.
TOM MERRITT: But you corrected my pronunciation last week.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, then YouTube commenters corrected
my pronunciation of the correction
that I made for you.
TOM MERRITT: I am going to support free pronunciation.
If you've wondered, as I have, if there could be a solid,
astrophysical reason why the seasons in George RR Martin's
Song of Ice and Fire are so long and variable, you should
thank George Dvorsky at io9.
He explains five scientific explanations for the
hard-to-predict summers and winters, including a wobbly
planet and a complex Milankovitch cycle.
VERONICA BELMONT: And what exactly is a
Milankovitch cycle?
TOM MERRITT: It involves the movement of the planet and its
effect on the climate.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't think you really know what--
TOM MERRITT: Precession.
Science things.
VERONICA BELMONT: Science.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: Science.
The Word Zone reports Tor Books has released the cover
art for A Memory of Light, the final Robert Jordan's Wheel of
Time novel, which will be finished by Brandon Sanderson.
Michael Whelan and the Tor art department created the cover.
And the novel is expected to be out in January 2013.
I can't believe that series is going to be done.
TOM MERRITT: I know.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's crazy.
TOM MERRITT: It seemed like it would never end.
VERONICA BELMONT: I only made it to book four.
And then it got lemmed.
I'm sorry.
TOM MERRITT: Io9's review of Madeline Ashby's
vN caught my eye.
It's described as a look at the world through the eyes of
a rogue artificial woman who becomes the most dangerous
robot in the world.
And Philip K Dick fans like myself will enjoy little bits
like the name of the robot-themed restaurant where
our robo heroine gets a job.
It's called Electric Sheep.
VERONICA BELMONT: Hmm.
I've dreamed of a place like that.
TOM MERRITT: Are you an android?
VERONICA BELMONT: Does not compute.
TOM MERRITT: There are many copies.
VERONICA BELMONT: No.
I can't even pretend to do the robot.
I'm absolutely terrible at it.
And finally, congratulations to Jane Rogers, author of The
Testament of Jesse Lamb, on winning the 2012 Arthur C.
Clarke award for best science fiction novel of the year.
The book describes a world where biological terrorists
have unleashed a virus that causes Maternal Death
Syndrome, or MDS.
The award was announced in London as part of the sci-fi
London Film Festival.
TOM MERRITT: Whoo.
Congratulations.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
That's awesome.
TOM MERRITT: Time for your take.
We love getting your videos.
And this week, Matt was good enough to send us one
reviewing one of his favorite books.
Take it away, Matt.
MATT: Hey, guys.
I've been reading The Chronological
Man by Andrew Mayne.
It's a great book, a good light-hearted adventure, very
atmospheric.
I really like Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes.
And it kind of mixes those two in a way.
It's a really good book.
It's only $0.99 on the Kindle store.
And you can get the free audio version read by
Justin Robert Young.
Fantastic book.
Check it out, The Chronological Man.
TOM MERRITT: I think he was a shill.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think Justin Robert Young and Andrew
Mayne put him up to that to get on our show.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
We are friends with both Andrew Mayne and
Justin Robert Young.
But actually, Chronological Man, great book.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, we interviewed Andrew recently on
the audio podcast, actually.
So if you're interested in learning more about his
writing process, check that out at swordandlaser.com.
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Thank you, Matt, for sending it along.
We want more videos, right?
VERONICA BELMONT: More videos, yes.
If you want to send in a video, we will send you
something in return.
If your video gets played on the show, we'll send you a
little goodie bag with some books, perhaps, some
bookmarks, stickers, all that good stuff.
TOM MERRITT: Maybe the dragon.
Probably not the dragon.
VERONICA BELMONT: No.
Why would--?
No.
TOM MERRITT: We can't send the dragon.
VERONICA BELMONT: No.
We can't tell him what to do.
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Coming up next, Lev Grossman joins us to talk about The
Magicians and why we're all wrong about the ending.

VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone.
Welcome back to Sword and Laser.
We're very happy to have Lev Grossman, author of The
Magicians, joining us tonight.
And a brief warning to our viewers.
If you're not finished with The Magicians yet, beware that
spoilers may be present.
Lev, thank you so much for joining us today.
LEV GROSSMAN: I'm so happy to be here.
I am so grateful to you guys for picking the book for this.
I can't tell you how much it means to me.
It's important to me.
Thank you.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, well thank you for writing such a fun
book, an enjoyable book and definitely a thought-provoking
and good discussion book.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
I have to say we have so many questions from our viewers
that they are very excited to ask you.
So we'll ask some of their questions,
some of our own questions.
We'll start off with this one, actually, from myself.
You've had a very successful career reviewing books for
Time Magazine and other publications.
What made you decide to attempt fiction yourself?
And do you feel as though that's made you a different
kind of writer, a better writer, a
more critical writer?
LEV GROSSMAN: Well, the truth is I never set out to be a
book reviewer.
The only thing I ever wanted to be was a novelist.
All I ever wanted to do was write fiction.
But while I was failing repeatedly to get published as
a fiction writer, I needed to find something to occupy my
time, and that ended up being writing book
reviews for Time Magazine.
So my career feels utterly backwards to me, because a lot
of people know me as critic rather than a fiction writer.
But I only ever wanted to be a novelist.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know if that's
necessarily true anymore.
I think a lot of people know you as a fiction writer now
because of the huge success of The Magicians and the
follow-up, The Magician King.
LEV GROSSMAN: I'm trying to turn it around a little bit.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
Did a good job.
Now getting to the book a little bit.
You seem to have had a similar educational trajectory to
Quentin Coldwater a little bit.
Does your dissatisfaction with the system also mirror
Quentin's thoughts?

LEV GROSSMAN: Hmm.
That's a complicated question.
And I think the premise is correct, at least on my side
that I definitely felt, I don't know, maybe not best
served by the education that I have.
Sure, I went to Harvard as an undergraduate.
I really have to take that out of my author bio, because
people get slightly fixated on it.
But it was just something that people from my family kind of
tended to do.
And that was a difficult experience for me and maybe
not optimal.
I think Quentin gets a good education.
He gets a lot better education than I got.
VERONICA BELMONT: One of our viewers, Corey, was among the
many people who heard Harry Potter for grownups when he
first heard about The Magicians.
How would you describe the book?
Would you describe it that way?

LEV GROSSMAN: I don't necessarily resist it when
other people describe it that way, partly because it has
turned out to be a very effective advertising slogan.

Well, the book is much about Narnia and CS Lewis than it is
about Harry Potter.
I just think of it as young adult fantasy for adults.
It's that story.
It's that kind of story, a story about someone
discovering that they have power that they didn't know
they had, finding their way into a place that nobody else
knew existed.
That story that you recognize from a lot of different young
adult novels, but also told for adults, told sort of
leaving in a lot of the stuff like sex and drugs and
depression and boredom that usually gets airbrushed out of
young adult fiction.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, that was kind of going to be a
follow-up question of mine, actually.
So you said it's for adults.
And then you went on to mention the sex, the drugs,
the alcohol, the depression-- all the issues that a lot of
the characters had.
But I feel like a lot more young adult fiction is kind of
being more grownup in a lot of ways.
Do you feel like there's that big of a difference anymore?
LEV GROSSMAN: Not like there once was.
I've been thinking about this a lot because
Maurice Sendak just died.
And his books were always so honest to kids about the
darkness of the world and the difficulty of life.
And I feel like we as adults and adults writing for younger
people, we've kind of decided that we can drop some of the
bull-[BEEP]
and really talk about what life is like.
And life is incredibly hard and difficult.
And I think most kids and young adults kind of
already know that.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, for sure.
And I know as a kid, when I would read books, I would
think, wait a minute.
This is kind of sugar-coating something.
And so I liked those books that crossed in, like Maurice
Sendak, even Beverly Cleary who said, no, not everything
is always so good out there.
LEV GROSSMAN: Sure, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's like talking to kids in real life.
They don't like being talked down to.
They don't like reading and being talked down to either.
TOM MERRITT: But the book has had a very polarizing effect
on our audience because of some of that reality,
especially regarding Quentin.
Do you feel that he should be a figure of sympathy or
contempt or a mix?
How do you feel about it?
LEV GROSSMAN: I'm going to go mix.
I didn't think very much about the question of whether
Quentin was a likeable person.
I wanted him to be a real person.
I wanted him to feel real.
I wanted him to be human and authentic and have the kinds
of emotions and do the kinds of things that
people like that do--
people who are very kind of intellectually overdeveloped
but maybe still have a long way to go emotionally.
That's the kind of person Quentin is.
And I wanted him to feel real.
And I didn't really think very much about whether people
could like him or not.
That was up to them.
I just wanted to him to be a human being.
TOM MERRITT: Well, I think you succeeded in making him real,
because the reactions are very much the reactions people have
to actual people, which is some people hate you and some
people love you.
And that's just the way it is.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
I don't think any author goes out trying to write a
particularly likable or, unless they're writing a
villain type of character, an unlikable character.
It's more up to the audience to decide.
But Boots actually wants to know, are any of the
characters in The Magicians based on people that you know
or are similar to people that you know?

LEV GROSSMAN: Yeah.
A couple of them are.
I don't have that thing that some writers do of really
cherry-picking the people around them.
I tend to fool myself into thinking that I've created
this amazingly original character that no one's ever
thought of before.
And then about three years after the book comes out, I
suddenly realize, oh, right, God, that's that guy I knew in
junior high.
That's who that was.
So I'm the last one to know, really, that I've just ripped
off these people that I know.
TOM MERRITT: The last question here, Kate says, "I feel like
the story was very unfair to Janet." And she wants to know
if you have any stories you'd like to tell about Janet some
day. "Like maybe her and Elliott could have adventures
and be deeply flippant about them, please?"
LEV GROSSMAN: Yeah.
Stay tuned.
Janet is my favorite character in the book.
And she's got some exciting developments in store for her,
not so much in The Magician King, where she spends a lot
of time off stage.
She's just too competent.
When things have to be taken care of off stage, you can
hand them to Janet, and you know she's
going to handle them.
But I agree that she got short shrift, and I'm really going
to try to give her her day in the sun.
TOM MERRITT: Kate called Quentin "self-involved and
unreflectively sexist" in her post with this question.
Do you agree?

LEV GROSSMAN: Self-involved and unreflective.
Sexist I have a harder time with.
It's not that I've never heard that before,
but I don't see it.
He starts the book as a 17-year-old boy who thinks
about sex all the time.
I never thought that he was particularly sexist, but I am
open to people educating me about my characters.
So if that's what people feel about him, I want
to know about it.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
Frankly, I didn't feel like he was sexist.
I think there's a big difference between being a
teenage boy and thinking about sex, as Lev mentioned, versus
actually having strong feelings about one sex being
better than the other.
He definitely acknowledged Alice's skill and her ability
to perform magic better than almost anyone else that they
knew at Brakebills.
So I don't know if I would qualify him as sexist, per se.
TOM MERRITT: But unreflective probably leads to that.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think every teenage boy is
unreflective or potentially too deeply reflective.
TOM MERRITT: All teenage boys are vampires.
LEV GROSSMAN: Yep.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well Lev, thank you so, so much for
joining us today.
Hopefully you'll be able to stick around for some bonus
questions that we'll have that'll come out
later on the episode.
But we really want to thank you for taking the time.
We loved the book.
It was a lot of fun to read.
And it definitely posed a lot of interesting questions to
our community.
LEV GROSSMAN: Good.
Well, I'm so grateful, again, that you guys picked it.
TOM MERRITT: Coming up, Chaucer meets Keats in outer
space with our new book for May, Hyperion.
Plus science fiction books to read to your kids.
Don't touch that mouse.

VERONICA BELMONT: Welcome back to Sword and Laser.
It's time now to kick off a new book, check the calendar,
and take a look at your feedback.
And let's start by kicking off Hyperion by Dan Simmons.
Now you are the laser, so you get to explain this book.
TOM MERRITT: OK.
We put it up to a vote.
I was expecting Old Man's War by John Scalzi to win.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, Nick is mad right now.
TOM MERRITT: I know--
VERONICA BELMONT: Poor Nick.
TOM MERRITT: --because there was a movement on Goodreads.
But Hyperion won.
And this is sort of a recent classic, and I'm really glad
that it was picked, because I hadn't had a
chance to read it.
And it was on my list.
Dan Simmons wrote it back, I think-- what was it?
He finished it in like 1989.
It actually received a Hugo and a Locus award in 1990.
So I think he finished it in '89.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, nice.
TOM MERRITT: And it is a sprawling space fiction.
I don't want to say space opera.
But it was definitely like I want to read something with
spaceships, and we got something with spaceships.
It's set in a post-Earth but human-dominated universe.
There's the world web, which is actually kind of the
civilization that exists for people to talk to.
VERONICA BELMONT: '89.
TOM MERRITT: '89.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's pre--
TOM MERRITT: It's pre-Tim Berners-Lee, right?
And there's a lot of other very prescient--
VERONICA BELMONT: It's pre what we know as
the World Wide Web.
VERONICA BELMONT: Absolutely.
A lot of other prescient aspects of this.
It originated when Dan Simmons was an elementary school
teacher as an extended tale that he told at intervals to
his young students.
VERONICA BELMONT: Best elementary
school teacher ever--
TOM MERRITT: Seriously.
VERONICA BELMONT: --perhaps?
TOM MERRITT: He wrote "The Death of the Centaur." That
was a short story based on those tales.
And it inspired a short story called "Remembering Siri,"
just like the iPhone, S-I-R-I.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, I caught onto that when I was--
I actually finished the book already.
TOM MERRITT: And "Remembering Siri" is "The Consul's Tale"
in Hyperion.
And it formed the basis for both
Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion.
And that's one thing that we should actually let people
know is that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are, in fact,
conceived of as one novel.
They were published separately, Dan Simmons says,
because of publishing concerns.
Kind of like the way Lord of the Rings was conceived of as
one novel but published in three different volumes.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'll tell you right now, as I just said,
I finished the book.
And I don't want turn anyone off here--
TOM MERRITT: OK, overachiever, "I already finished the book."
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know what happened.
I got all nervous that I wasn't going to be able to
read it in time.
And then I just started reading, and then I was done.
But it is a cliffhanger.
It is a--
TOM MERRITT: Hyperion is a cliffhanger.
VERONICA BELMONT: Hyperion by itself--
TOM MERRITT: You're going to need to read Fall of Hyperion.
VERONICA BELMONT: If you don't want to drive yourself crazy,
you are going to need to probably read the next book.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, Hyperion, as I mentioned,
received some awards.
It's a frame story, which means there's an overarching
story, and then other tales are told.
It is, in fact, modeled upon The
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
Actually, now that you mention it, there's a lot of classical
literature references in this book.
John Keats plays a huge role, because he did write a poem
called "Hyperion."
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, an unfinished poem.
And the sequel to Hyperion, Endymion, which is the third
and fourth book, also based on a Keats poem.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
Hyperion is the first book in the Hyperion Cantos, which
covers those four books.
And also the Hyperion Cantos plays a role in the story
itself, so it's very interesting.
There's a lot of ins and outs, a lot of ties between not just
the story itself, but stories within stories and then
stories within stories within stories.
It's very multi-layered.
TOM MERRITT: Several travelers are brought together.
There's The Consul, who's the first that you meet in the
last of the tales.
There is a poet.
There's a priest.
And they are sent by the Church of Final Atonement on a
pilgrimage--
so very Canterbury Tales--
to go to the Shrike Church.
They're sent by the Shrike Church
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
TOM MERRITT: So they're sent to the Time Tombs.
VERONICA BELMONT: The Shrike is one of those characters in
science fiction lore that I think is very well known.
And the cover of the book, actually, is one of the most
well known covers, I think.
Everyone's seen this cover at a bookstore.
And what's interesting, though, is that the
description of the Shrike and the Shrike that we see on the
cover of the book don't match up.
TOM MERRITT: And that's very typical with cover art, where
they tell the artist go do something that looks cool
that's going to sell books.
VERONICA BELMONT: Now I actually started a thread on
Goodreads about my initial impression of the Shrike.
And I don't want to get too spoilery or talk about the
story too much--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, we're not being spoilery this time.
VERONICA BELMONT: You are not expected to know what is going
on in this book yet.
This is the kick-off.
You do not have to have started reading it yet.
I'm just saying from my own point of view, when I first
met the Shrike for the first time, I pictured it as looking
like the moths from Perdido Street
Station by China Mieville.
It does not look like that at all, but something about the
description and something about the feeling I got upon
encountering that entity was very much like the moths from
Perdido Street Station.
TOM MERRITT: Are you a fan of the
Danish rock band, Manticora?
VERONICA BELMONT: I have heard of them.
I would not necessarily call myself a fan.
TOM MERRITT: They released a concept album called Hyperion,
which is actually based on this book.
VERONICA BELMONT: There are a lot of crossover, heavy metal,
black metal, slash, death metal with fantasy crossovers,
like albums based on books.
There's so many Lord of the Ring metal, death metal, black
metal covers.
TOM MERRITT: Well, yeah, like Zeppelin, the most famous Lord
of the Rings homage.
But yeah, it goes much deeper than that.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, that's a very mainstream example.
TOM MERRITT: Absolutely.
VERONICA BELMONT: We had a guy on the audio podcast one time
who actually talked about that and that relationship between
music and sci-fi, fantasy-- mostly though fantasy.
TOM MERRITT: I think Hyperion is one of those--
I don't want to say underestimated, because
anybody who knows the book doesn't underestimate it.
But it's sort of a little more under the radar than your big
titles that are out there.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
TOM MERRITT: And yet once you start digging into it, it's
incredibly influential.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's very good.
I really enjoyed it.
TOM MERRITT: I don't want to say too much more because I'm
not finished, but I'm most of the way through the book.
But if you like spaceships and mystery and literary
allusions, we didn't even scratch the
surface of where he goes.
Teilhard de Chardin, John Muir--
VERONICA BELMONT: Beowulf.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
Almost all of, at least Western literature and some
Eastern literature, gets covered.
The Bushido.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
Yes.
Actually, I found this to be a really,
really interesting book.
And I will make some notes that--
we don't typically say this kind of stuff on the show.
I would not recommend that maybe you read
this with your kids.
There's definitely some horror elements to it.
There's definitely some sexual situations to it.
It's not quite an Ender's Game.
It's more of a American Gods on our spectrum of
child-friendly Sword and Laser picks.
It's more towards the American Gods end of the
spectrum, I'd say.
TOM MERRITT: And we should point out, if you get hooked
and you want to read everything, obviously you'll
read the four main books.
You'll seek out the short stories we mentioned.
But don't forget about "Orphans of the Helix."
"Orphans" is currently the final work in the Cantos, both
chronologically and internally.
So don't read it until you've finished everything else.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, really?
There's another--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
You might want seek that out.
VERONICA BELMONT: So the fifth?
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: I didn't know that.
TOM MERRITT: Well, it's not a book.
It's a short story.
VERONICA BELMONT: OK.
TOM MERRITT: But it's in the universe.
VERONICA BELMONT: OK.
Well, that's good to know.
I love when they do stuff like that.
And we are already on doing some voting for the next pick.
TOM MERRITT: Right.
VERONICA BELMONT: We haven't selected our final pick yet.
But for June, it will be my turn once again--
TOM MERRITT: It will be a sword pick.
VERONICA BELMONT: --with a sword pick.
VERONICA BELMONT: And we have three selections right now on
Goodreads in a poll.
So if you want to hop on over there and start voting, I
think now would be a good time to do that.
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Well, that's it for kicking off Hyperion.
But check it out.
Go find it either in audio or print or ebook form, Hyperion
by Dan Simmons.
And next time on the show, we'll wrap it up for you.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, I have to say I started with the
audiobook, and there's a great cast of characters that are
involved with that, some of my favorite
audiobook narrators around.
I think Kevin Pariseau, and I wish I could remember--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
It's an ensemble audiobook of some great narrators.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's an ensemble cast.
Yes.
So I would definitely recommend it, if you love
audiobooks, to check that one out.
It was definitely a lot of fun.
And yes, as Tom mentioned, next time we will discuss what
you all thought of Hyperion.
You still have till the end of the month to finish it.
But there is always more to read.
Let's check in with the calendar.

TOM MERRITT: Just a reminder that Railsea by China Mieville
is coming Tuesday May 15.
That's the one we mentioned last time with the young
doctor's assistant, Sham, the mouldywarp, Mocker-Jack, and
the astonishing life-threatening secret.
VERONICA BELMONT: On May 22, look out for Blackout by Mira
Grant, the conclusion of the trilogy
started by Feed and Deadline.
It's 2041, and the surviving staff of After the Endtimes
has to deal with mad scientists, rogue government
agencies, and of course, zombie bears.
TOM MERRITT: Always zombie bears.
Also on May 22, 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.
If you like blockbuster space fiction, sounds like this
one's for you.
In 2312, humans live throughout the solar system,
and Swan Er Hong's home city is on Mercury but becomes
subjected to a brutal terrorist attack.
And the rest would be spoilers.
VERONICA BELMONT: And finally on May 22, a big day for
books, look for Princeps, A Novel in the Imager Portfolio
by LE Modesitt.
The follow-up to Scholar begins a new episode in the
young imager Quaeryt's life, starting with a volcanic
eruption devastating the old capital of Telaryn.
TOM MERRITT: Before we go, let's see what folks are
saying in Goodreads.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, indeed.
OK.
So we have a thread called "Books to Read to Your
Children," which was started by nannacore who says, "I've
just started reading the book of How to Train Your Dragon to
my five-year-old, a chapter per night at bedtime, and she
seems to like it.
Does anyone have any other recommendations for novels to
read to small kids?"
Well, there were some great suggestions in here, like The
Wind in the Willows, for example, and books by Lloyd
Alexander even Ursula K Le Guin's Earthsea series, which
I found interesting.
And then Jason points out that Wired's GeekDad blog has a
list of 67 geek books to read with your children.
There are some great selections in here.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Madeleine
L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time--
VERONICA BELMONT: Coraline.
TOM MERRITT: --Maurice Sendak, who just passed away, In the
Night Kitchen, not one that gets mentioned as often,
Coraline, Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis, obviously,
related to The Magicians, James and the Giant Peach.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, that's a good one.
Yeah, Coraline is definitely the Neil Gaiman pick that I
would suggest over American Gods for your child.
TOM MERRITT: Yes.
VERONICA BELMONT: Nothing against that book.
TOM MERRITT: Don't read Americans Gods
till your child is--
VERONICA BELMONT: That was vaguely traumatic.
I was traumatized by the second chapter.
TOM MERRITT: --something more mature.
Suppose this could be considered mildly spoiler-y,
But Jewel started Goodreads thread of what you think
characters from Hyperion would look like.
It's kind of like casting the movie.
The best one has got to be, you're right, Liam
Cunningham--
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, look at him.
He's so good.
TOM MERRITT: --as The Consul.
VERONICA BELMONT: As The Consul.
Absolutely.
And then, let's see, we've got--
TOM MERRITT: Pip the Troll as the poet's pretty funny.
VERONICA BELMONT: --Dutch writer Maarten 't Hart.
Yeah, he definitely looks like--
See, now I would put him as the priest.
TOM MERRITT: You'd put Maarten Hart as the priest?
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
TOM MERRITT: What do you think of Michelle Rodriguez, though,
as Brawne Lamia?
VERONICA BELMONT: So she's awesome, but I think she might
be too tiny.
TOM MERRITT: She could buff up for the role.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, even though Brawne is short-ish,
compared to the other humanoid people--
TOM MERRITT: I think she'd be great.
VERONICA BELMONT: --she's very muscular.
And they make a pretty good point on that.
So she'd definitely need to bulk up.
TOM MERRITT: Rick suggested Sigourney Weaver for Brawne.
VERONICA BELMONT: OK.
I don't know.
Maybe a little on the old side.
Naveen Andrews for Kassad?
TOM MERRITT: They like Lost, apparently.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
Who didn't?
There's a lot of really great stuff.
And the part of the Shrike will be played by Pinhead from
Hellraiser.
TOM MERRITT: Of course.
Why not?
VERONICA BELMONT: When I was a kid-- no, I'm not going to.
Maybe I shouldn't say this on the podcast.
TOM MERRITT: What?
VERONICA BELMONT: When I was a kid I used to shave all my
Barbies' hair so their head would look Pinhead.
TOM MERRITT: No kidding.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
TOM MERRITT: That is fantastic.
Of course you should say that.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know what that says about me.
TOM MERRITT: It says you're awesome.
VERONICA BELMONT: All right.
And Skaw has a great question to forum members
about obscure books.
He asks, "What book have you read that you love but no one
ever talks about?
Maybe it's something you read when you were younger.
Or maybe it's something you found in the cheap ebook
section at Amazon.
Whatever it was, you look back on it fondly.
When you mention it to others, however, they look at you
rather blankly.
There's no gleam of comprehension in their eyes
when you mention the name.
How could this book go unnoticed?
It was awesome."
He says for sword, The Chronicles of Scar is the
first in a series about a post-apocalyptic world reduced
to medieval technology, but not quiet.
And for laser he suggests Skirmish--
hotshot pilots, belters versus earthers, one of those typical
kind of stories.
I would actually suggest--
and this is one that I've not even thought about in a really
long time, but it was one of my favorite series back in the
day-- it was a series by Jane Lindskold.
The first book is called Through Wolf's Eyes, and I
loved the heck out of these books.
It's the Firekeeper Sage.
TOM MERRITT: So like the direwolves, like
through their eyes?
VERONICA BELMONT: It's kind of like that.
Yeah.
TOM MERRITT: Interesting.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's vaguely also similar to Assassin's
Apprentice by Robin Hobb, who's another one of my
favorite authors.
I think I read Robin Hobb first and then moved on to--
I was like, oh, books with wolves in them.
And you can kind of communicate with the wolves.
I'm going to check this one out.
And it was great.
TOM MERRITT: Did they predate George RR Martin's
Song of Ice and Fire?
Is that an influence, do you think?
I don't know.
Probably not.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know.
Bring up the graphic again for Through Wolf's Eyes.
I don't remember what the actual date of that book is.
Oh, we lost it.
That's all right.
Yeah, I think it was at least 10 years ago.
So I'm not sure.
He may have started it, but it certainly didn't--
TOM MERRITT: Mine was The Matrix by Douglas R Mason.
And I encountered this at a Goodwill and
was like The Matrix?
Is this like an unacknowledged predecessor of the movie?
Because here's the subtitle, Their Lives Were Controlled by
the Mother Computer Complex.
VERONICA BELMONT: That sounds vaguely similar.
TOM MERRITT: I know.
So I picked it up.
It's not.
It's more of a Philip K Dick-type novel.
Joel Dill, administer of the Citizens Resettlement Bureau,
was some kind of maverick.
And he uncovers that the computer that rules everything
is inefficient.
But it's not we're all living in a dream.
VERONICA BELMONT: It just happens to be similar.
TOM MERRITT: It's somewhat similar.
VERONICA BELMONT: Vaguely, vaguely similar
and titled the same.
TOM MERRITT: And titled the same.
And also put out in 1970.
VERONICA BELMONT: I wonder how much blow over they get from
The Matrix of people buying the book or downloading it.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, it's a long out of print.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, it's out of print?
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, it's 1970.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, wow.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
Really obscure, but actually a good story, as long as you're
not expecting it to be the Wachowski Brothers, actually.
VERONICA BELMONT: The acutal Matrix.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
And finally George Corley, host of the Conlangery
podcast, which is about constructed languages like
Klingon, for instance, sent us a video with a suggested
nickname for our dragon.
GEORGE CORLEY: Hey, Tom and Veronica.
Fiat Lingua has been serializing a grammar of a
dragon language by Madeline Palmer called Srinawesin,
which is ostensibly from the notes of a Howard T Davis.
Now as you're dragon in Sword and Laser seems to be quite
similar in appearance to Davis' informant, Bloody Face,
I think maybe we could call him Middle Face
for now, as a nickname?
VERONICA BELMONT: Hmm.
TOM MERRITT: That sounds like a name someone who's an expert
in constructed languages would know.
I'm looking to see--
[DRAGON GROWLING]
VERONICA BELMONT: He's not responding.
TOM MERRITT: He's not responding to the name.
VERONICA BELMONT: He didn't.
There was no glimmer of smoke in his eye
or out of his nostrils.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
It's obviously not offensive, no smoke.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, he's not angry.
He hasn't eaten us yet.
TOM MERRITT: Right.
VERONICA BELMONT: But I don't think--
He or she.
We're already saying he.
We don't even know.
TOM MERRITT: It was a really good guess.
VERONICA BELMONT: It was a good guess, though.
Yeah.
I appreciate the effort.
Well, yeah, I think that's all we've got for today.
TOM MERRITT: Are we done?
VERONICA BELMONT: We're done.
But that means more time to read Hyperion for you.
TOM MERRITT: That's true, actually.
I need to finish.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, get on there.
All right.
Thank you guys so much for watching.
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And of course, join in all the fun over at Goodreads at
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We will see you guys next time.
TOM MERRITT: Thanks, everybody.
VERONICA BELMONT: Bye.
TOM MERRITT: Bye.

[COMPUTERIZED VOICE]
Sword and Laser.