Sword & Laser - Cloud Atlas Kick-off & Your Feedback!

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Oct 5, 2012


TOM MERRITT: Coming up, we kick off our October book
pick, "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell.
It feels so familiar to click that off.
Like I have birthmark--
VERONICA BELMONT: And Tom shows off dirty book covers.
It's the Sword and Laser Book Club.
VERONICA BELMONT: Welcome to the Sword and Laser Book Club.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
This is the show where we help you find fantastic fantasy and
superior sci-fi to read.
You can join us in reading a new book every single month
right here.
Or just get great ideas for things to read from our other
members over on Good Reads.
And, also it is October now, which means that everything is
flavored like pumpkin.
Taste the unicorn pumpkin.
We'll also let you know what cool new books
are coming out now.
Let's do that right now.
Start off by checking out what books are coming out in this
pumpkin flavored month in the calendar.
VERONICA BELMONT: October 9 brings us "The Hydrogen
Sonata," by Iain M. Banks.
And "Into the Woods: Tales From the Hollows and Beyond,"
by Kim Harrison.
And on October 11, look for "Place of Dead Kings," by
Jeffrey Wilson.
TOM MERRITT: October 16 is a big day.
You'll be able to get "The Twelve," by Justin Cronin,
"Bowl of Heaven," by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven, "The
Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury," by Robert Kirkman
and Jay Bonansinga.
Now that's not a graphic novel.
And it's a prequel.
And finally on the 16th, "The Fifty Year Sword," by Mark Z.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm glad you got all the hard names to say.
And near the end of the month, on October 23, Joe Abercrombie
is back, and so is Nicomo Cosca, in "Red Country."
TOM MERRITT: I can't wait for "Red Country." I'm really
looking forward to that.
I love him.
TOM MERRITT: OK, one more item that might belong on the
calendar is the movie "Cloud Atlas," coming October 26.
In anticipation of that movie, "Cloud Atlas," by David
Mitchell, is our book pick for October.
VERONICA BELMONT: So I have heard many wonderful things
about "Cloud Atlas." So, by the way, as we mentioned, this
is the kick off, so no one's read the book yet.
So we're just kind of setting it up for the discussion going
forward for the rest of the month.
TOM MERRITT: This is mostly spoiler free.
If you don't want to know anything about the book, then
stop listening.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know anything about the book at
all, except what we've put in our notes.
So, if I spoil it, it is totally by accident.
TOM MERRITT: The book comes from the year 2004.
That's when he wrote it.
It was the third book by David Mitchell.
It was the British book awards literary fiction award winner,
and the Richard and Judy book of the year award-- it was
actually short listed for the 2004 Booker prize--
the Nebula award, the Arthur c Clarke
award, and other awards.
So, it got a lot of attention when it came out.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, I've heard a lot of people
mentioning it before.
And obviously, since it's becoming a movie, it had that
kind of groundswell to bring it to pop culture status.
Which is always interesting, I think, when a book becomes
popular and then it comes into the mainstream media's frame
of reference suddenly, with a movie or something like that,
or a miniseries.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, yeah.
A lot of sci-fi and fantasy novels don't get attention for
things like the Booker prize-- the Man Booker prize.
So it's often debated whether this is
really sci-fi or fantasy.
We'll get to that a little bit.
It's a six nested story book.
VERONICA BELMONT: Which is funny because it's just like
"Foundation" in a way.
TOM MERRITT: Somewhat, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well not just like it.
But I mean, it's similar in structure in that the stories
are connected but they're different.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, different than "Foundation" in that each
story is read or observed by the main
character of the next story.
And then there's an inflection point at the middle where it
starts going back.
So you start in the distant past.
And each story goes a little farther into the future, until
you're in the future.
And then in the middle of the book, you start going
backwards to the other stories, until you get the end
of those stories from the first half of the book.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm already confused.
So you're going to get--
VERONICA BELMONT: What's happening?
TOM MERRITT: --the first half of a story.
And then another story starts.
And you get the first half of that one, until you get to the
center, which is in a far, far future,
post-apocalyptic scenario.
And then--
VERONICA BELMONT: That's not my stomach growling.
TOM MERRITT: I don't know if they can hear that.
VERONICA BELMONT: My beverage is--
TOM MERRITT: Your beverage is speaking to you.
VERONICA BELMONT: My beverage is getting a little excited.
TOM MERRITT: I'm trying to explain this to her.
Do you know "If on a winter's night a
traveler," by Italo Calvino?
Did words just come out of your mouth?
TOM MERRITT: It's similar to that book.
Except that book never finishes the story.
So you're going to get the second half of the story.
So it's like a mirror.
VERONICA BELMONT: All I know is that Tom
Hanks is in the movie.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, and that's kind of confusing because they
have Halle Berry, Tom Hanks playing different parts
throughout the movie, because these characters have
similarities across the different stories.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm curious to read the book and then see
the film, because I always like to see how movies attempt
to translate interesting conceptual ideas like this.
And sometimes it works really well.
And other times a little bit is lost in the translation.
So it should be cool.
Maybe we can get together a Sword and Laser
movie viewing party.
TOM MERRITT: Ooh, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: Or you guys should set up movie--
TOM MERRITT: Definitely, in your locations.
VERONICA BELMONT: --going parties wherever you are.
TOM MERRITT: Go out and see "Cloud Atlas." Speaking of
conceptual, Ted Gioia, who runs-- and I don't know if I'm
pronouncing your name right, Ted-- he runs
conceptulafiction.com, which is all about things that are
conceptual fiction.
Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "One Hundred Years of
Solitude," Murakami.
But he points out that this is also like Jules
Verne and HG Wells.
He says, "Instead of trying to keep up with the Pinchons and
Gaddises who only live in the penthouse, David Mitchell
occupies the whole building, even the boiler room and the
broom closets." So it's accessible while conceptual at
the same time.
VERONICA BELMONT: So, the second we said Murakami,
suddenly I'm like, Oh, God, now I've got to like "1Q84."
TOM MERRITT: No, you know what?
VERONICA BELMONT: While I enjoyed that book, at the end
I was just like, what just happened to me?
TOM MERRITT: And Murakami is very conceptual, where the
plot is sort of secondary.
Plot is very important here.
But it's just broken up into six different plots that
you're going to get not exactly in linear order.
There are good reviews out there, of course.
"The Washington Post," Jeff Turrentine called it, "A
highly satisfying and unusually thoughtful addition
to be expanding puzzle book genre." And the "Daily
Telegraph" gave the novel a mixed review focusing on its
clashing themes with Theo Tait noting, "In short, 'Cloud
Atlas' spends half its time wanting to be 'The Simpsons,'
and the other half 'The Bible.'"
TOM MERRITT: That's intriguing.
I don't know how that's going to work out.
VERONICA BELMONT: What if "The Simpsons" is your Bible?
TOM MERRITT: Then you're going to love this book.
The Chinese really love this book.
TOM MERRITT: It was recently translated.
And it's become so popular.
According to "The Wall Street Journal," David Mitchell was
chased down a street in Shanghai by autograph seekers.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's pretty cool.
TOM MERRITT: He said he didn't know how to react to that.
That was just crazy.
VERONICA BELMONT: I wonder what other authors that
happens to.
In the States?
I can't-- maybe--
TOM MERRITT: Neil Gaiman.
TOM MERRITT: George R. R. Martin?
VERONICA BELMONT: George R. R. Martin,
TOM MERRITT: Possibly?
Stephen King?
I bet.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: If people saw him on the street they'd
get pretty excited.
But he's kind of a mainstay up in Maine.
That's where he is, right?
Mark Twain.
VERONICA BELMONT: Mark Twain, he's dead.
TOM MERRITT: I mean, yeah, exactly.
If you saw him--
VERONICA BELMONT: I'd be terrified because--
TOM MERRITT: He'd be a zombie.
VERONICA BELMONT: He'd be a zombie or a ghost.
TOM MERRITT: And he would try to eat your brain.
So, anyway--
VERONICA BELMONT: You know, if my brain were to be eaten, I'd
be OK with it being Mark Twain.
He could take my brain stuff.
TOM MERRITT: The coldest winter he ever spent was a
summary eating your brains.
VERONICA BELMONT: Never said that.
TOM MERRITT: Never said that, no.
He definitely never said that.
TOM MERRITT: Just a few notes about David Mitchell, himself,
if you want to know.
He was born in Southport Merseyside, England.
He was raised in Melbourne Worcestershire.
Got an MA in comp lit from the University of Kent.
Was listed in 2007 among the "Time Magazine" 100 most
influential people in the world.
VERONICA BELMONT: For "Cloud Atlas?"
TOM MERRITT: Not just for "Cloud Atlas,"
for all of his works.
VERONICA BELMONT: For all of his works.
TOM MERRITT: "Number 9 Dream"-- he's actually
inspired by Yoko Ono a lot.
Maybe because he's from Merseyside, originally.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well actually, there's probably a
reason for that.
And that is because "Cloud Atlas" is the name of a piece
of music by the Japanese composer, Toshi Ichiyanagi,
who was Yoko Ono's first husband.
So there's a whole--
TOM MERRITT: He's got that--
VERONICA BELMONT: --circle there.
TOM MERRITT: He's really into the Yoko Ono stuff.
He's also a stammerer, and has recently started to--
especially after "The King's Speech"--
come out to say, hey, it's OK if you stammer.
And I think he's the president, no patron, of the
British Stammering Association.
VERONICA BELMONT: That is really cool.
Actually, my family's all stammerers, so that's
TOM MERRITT: And he said "The King's Speech" is the first
thing he's seen that seems very close to his
experience in life.
TOM MERRITT: No, I think he's talking about the stammering.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm just joking.
TOM MERRITT: Maybe David Mitchell is a secret king.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's not at all funny.
I'm sorry.
But anyway, I'm excited about this.
So, as we mentioned, the movie is coming out October 26.
It's starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan
Sarandon, and many, many more.
A nice ensemble cast there.
So I'm excited to read the book and then go see the movie
right after.
TOM MERRITT: Yep, me too.
In fact, the day the movie comes out is our next book
club edition.
That'll be our wrap up.
Interesting how the timing worked out.
All right.
Well, anyways pick up this book, guys.
it's available, I believe, on Kindle.
Yeah, it is available on Kindle because I
actually just bought it.
TOM MERRITT: And audio book, so you can do the magic.
VERONICA BELMONT: You can do magic whisper sync.
Reading and listening at the same time like magic.
They are not paying me to say that.
I'm just really obsessed with that.
TOM MERRITT: It's pretty cool.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's pretty cool.
It's like, it's magic.
But anyway, should we move on?
Well, our next book club edition of Sword and Laser, as
we mentioned, is going to be on October 26.
So we will finish up everything then.
Wrap the whole deal.
But let's get back to some of your current feedback.
Maybe we should start with an older post, perhaps?
TOM MERRITT: I've got one from July 28.
VERONICA BELMONT: That is much older.
TOM MERRITT: Why, you ask?
Go ahead, ask.
TOM MERRITT: Well, I'm glad you asked.
Because it's one where Jenny started a renegade read of
"Cloud Atlas" two months before it became
our official pick.
Now, how do you feel about that, Veronica?
VERONICA BELMONT: How did you know?
TOM MERRITT: Should that be allowed?
The renegade read?
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, I mean, that's pretty impressive
that she picked it.
We hadn't talked about it yet, had we?
TOM MERRITT: I think the movie had just been starting to get
some press.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, what I think happened--
I commented on that thread.
I was like, well, interesting that you do.
TOM MERRITT: I did that, too, actually.
This was a very good idea to do this.
VERONICA BELMONT: So you guys got a little bit of a head
start on us.
So maybe I'll take that discussion, move it over into
the "Cloud Atlas" side.
TOM MERRITT: And renegade reads are fine.
Not everybody's going to like every pick every month.
VERONICA BELMONT: We can't dictate to you what you read.
TOM MERRITT: Some people read really fast.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, you guys read super fast.
And there's so much good stuff out there right now.
I mean, I'm several books behind in stuff that I want to
read right now, too.
So, yeah, we'll allow it.
Good on you.
Eric started a thread on Good Reads called,
Post Your Pulp Gems.
Saying. "I'm talking raggedy cover, with the bizarre
incomprehensible scene on it.
Yellow pages and a weird smell." And Tom, you brought
in some of yours.
I thought I smelled something funny.
TOM MERRITT: You smelled these, did you?
TOM MERRITT: I used to do the collectible paperbacks section
at Half Price Books in Austin, Texas.
And I collected a bunch of these things.
So I wanted to show a few of them.
There's some great ones and in the form threads, but these
are some of my faves.
Philip K. Dick, "Eye In The Sky," with the big old
fashioned eye up there.
Love that one.
Clifford D. Simak, "City." Check out that robot.
That is like--
VERONICA BELMONT: That's an awesome robot.
TOM MERRITT: You don't see covers like that anymore.
Some of them get a little risque.
We have Scott O'Neill's famous--
TOM MERRITT: "Martian Sexpot."
TOM MERRITT: This isn't a sci-fi one, but "I Was A
Teeny-Bopper For The CIA."
VERONICA BELMONT: This one is intense.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah.
Mary took lessons.
One of my favorites.
VERONICA BELMONT: She took a lesson in lust.
TOM MERRITT: "Naked on Roller Skates."
VERONICA BELMONT: That is not science fiction, is it?
TOM MERRITT: By Greenwich Village Maxwell Bodenhein.
And then, of course, this very lascivious cover, "California,
the Dynamic State," by former governor Edmund G. Brown.
This one gets your blood boiling, doesn't it?
Check it out.
Take a look.
Show me, camera.
TOM MERRITT: You missed the California--
That's hot.
This one, "She wanted the lowdown on life.
When grinning, reckless Terry Barberlit first met Ruth Riatt
on the open road, he had to battle for her." Oo, she likes
truck drivers.
They "made a strange agreement to share adventure and
TOM MERRITT: I've actually read that one.
VERONICA BELMONT: You've read this one?
TOM MERRITT: It's horrible.
It's one of the worst written books ever.
Heterogeneous gang?
TOM MERRITT: Talks about flippers a lot, too.
VERONICA BELMONT: What is happening in here?
You know what's funny about these books?
They capitalize random things that I always think are funny.
Like in the middle of a sentence.
TOM MERRITT: He was a-- he was a--
VERONICA BELMONT: Like that for example.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's racist.
TOM MERRITT: Of it's time.
It was the '20s.
Let's move on to the modern age.
Last month, Amazon announced that their Kindle Direct
Publishing would get behind serials.
Organizing how they get released and allowing you to
pay once for a whole run, and have them
automatically compiled.
That brought me back to Chris's thread from while ago
about whether people like the idea of serials or not.
He wrote, "Would you start reading a series if you knew
you had to wait a week or a month for the next part?"
VERONICA BELMONT: I think that's kind of fun, actually.
It's nice to have something look forward to.
It's like a really great TV show that's currently on air.
You want to watch it when it comes out.
TOM MERRITT: It depends on the author, right?
If it's good, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, why would you get
excited about crap?
TOM MERRITT: I prefer to watch TV shows all in a row, binge
on them on DVD.
It depends.
TOM MERRITT: Sometimes I don't want to wait.
VERONICA BELMONT: When I watched all of "Breaking Bad"
on Netflix and then I got caught up to the season.
And then I watched the most recent
season as it was happening.
And that was kind of fun, too.
Because you get that excitement of being like, oh
my gosh, it's Sunday night, I'm going to watch "Breaking
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, when everyone watches it once, you
can follow along on Twitter.
But that's going to happen with books, because
everybody's not going to read it at the same time.
VERONICA BELMONT: All of us are going to maybe read it.
TOM MERRITT: But people read at different paces.
VERONICA BELMONT: Or you can find groups of people who are
reading it at the same time.
TOM MERRITT: Well and that's why we have book clubs.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's why have book clubs.
TOM MERRITT: There you go, solved.
VERONICA BELMONT: Problem solved.
Finally, David bravely took us up on our challenge to send in
video reviews.
He joins Yancey from last time in our hall of heroes.
TOM MERRITT: We have a hall of heroes?
VERONICA BELMONT: It's pretty easy to join.
All you have to do is send us in a video as good as this
review of "Railsea" by China Mieville.
Take it away David.
DAVID: "Railsea" is China Mieville's latest work and a
modern retelling of Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick."
The story takes place in a world where humans live on
scattered islands separated by the tracks of the railsea.
You may ask, what about the ocean?
To which I reply, what ocean?
The railsea, its nature is the great mystery of the book.
The railsea, sitting on the flat earth.
That is the second level.
Tracks and ties in the random meanders of geography and
ages, in all directions, extending forever.
So I encourage you to hop on board for the greatest train
ride in your life in China Mieville's "Railsea."
TOM MERRITT: Great job with the editing there.
Lots of Mieville love in the past couple of episodes.
Yancey, a few weeks ago.
VERONICA BELMONT: We've got to have him on
the show some time.
TOM MERRITT: You hear that, China?
VERONICA BELMONT: You should come on the show.
TOM MERRITT: Call Veronica.
VERONICA BELMONT: We'd love to have you.
Call me.
You don't have my phone number.
TOM MERRITT: But you could email.
That about does it for us today.
Don't forget the Sword and Laser author guide show where
we interview the best authors in the biz and submit your
questions to them.
In our latest episode we learned all
about Cherie Priest.
And coming up in a week, we're going to
introduce you to Gail Carriger.
VERONICA BELMONT: One my favorite authors.
I'm super excited about that one.
If you don't want to miss that episode, you have to subscribe
to our YouTube channel.
It's that green button up there in the corner, at
You can also send us love letters, notes, all sorts of
different things, at feedback@swordandlaser.com.
And you can join in all the discussions happening over on
Good Reads at goodreads.com.
Look for the Sword and Laser.
We'll see you guys next time.
TOM MERRITT: I'm going to read, "Suddenly a
Corpse." See you later.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm going to read "Bodies Are Where You
Find Them."
TOM MERRITT: They sure are.