"The Magicians" (Wrap-up!) & Interview w/ Saladin Ahmed - Sword & Laser, Ep 2

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Apr 27, 2012


VERONICA BELMONT: And hello, everyone.
Welcome to the Sword and Laser, episode number two.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
VERONICA BELMONT: And thank you guys so much for checking
out the very first episode.
We had a fantastic time.
And you gave us a lot of really great feedback on
Goodreads and on YouTube and on email.
TOM MERRITT: BBkilljan described us as "where people
who watched Reading Rainbow go to grow up." I loved that.
VERONICA BELMONT: That is so perfect.
TOM MERRITT: That was one of our favorites.
That makes me so happy, because I was a huge, huge
Reading Rainbow fan when I was a kid.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah.
Me too.
VERONICA BELMONT: Still am, really.
TOM MERRITT: Absolutely.
VERONICA BELMONT: LeVar Burton is our mentor.
TOM MERRITT: I was a little older when I was a fan.
TOM MERRITT: I'm so old.
We need your videos, folks.
If you would like to be on the show, send us your videos,
We had a great Gordon video last weekend.
TOM MERRITT: We've got another good one coming up this week.
VERONICA BELMONT: But before we get to all of that stuff,
we should start off with the Quick Burns.

Io9 reports a new book trailer's out for The
Mongoliad, featuring Neal Stephenson working hard to be
a serious book trailer-type guy and having kind of a tough
time of it.
NEAL STEPHENSON: When we first started writing The Mongoliad,
it was important to get the fighting right.

To bear witness to battle on the page, we had to live it.

The Peasant's Strike.
So say it twice?
Yeah, OK.
So just go ahead.
The Peasant's Strike.

VERONICA BELMONT: But it does involve swordplay, which we're
always OK with.
TOM MERRITT: Io9 also pointed out the amazing fictional
birthdays calendar at flavorwire.com.
For instance, if you were born today, April 27, you share a
birthday with the character Willis from, Diff'rent Stokes.
And this Monday, the 30th, Lisbeth Slander from Girl with
the Dragon Tattoo turns 34.
Happy birthday, Lisbeth.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's actually Salander.
TOM MERRITT: Salander.
VERONICA BELMONT: Lisbeth Salander.
TOM MERRITT: What did I say?
VERONICA BELMONT: Like a salamander.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, I was slandering her.
VERONICA BELMONT: She does some of that too in the book.
It's OK.
Don't worry about it.
Lots of people like the smell of new books.
But what about used books?
Check out Boing Boing for this video from Richard at AbeBooks
describing where the smell of used books comes from.
The short version?
It's caused by the oxidation of the paper, glues,
and ink over time.
But watch the video for a full explanation.
TOM MERRITT: So you're sniffing books?
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm not saying I'm sniffing glue.
You're sniffing books.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's the oxidation of that happening.
It's unrelated.
TOM MERRITT: Thanks to Mac for tipping us off to the Prix
Aurora English award nominations from the Canadian
Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.
Michael Rowe, David Nickle, Derryl Murphy, Caitlin Sweet,
Ryan Oakley, and Robert J Sawyer all received best
English language novel nominations.
Voting for the awards began April 16.
VERONICA BELMONT: Robert J Sawyer is getting a lot of
promotion on our show already.
TOM MERRITT: How is he sneaking into
our show every week?
VERONICA BELMONT: He keeps getting into all two episodes.
TOM MERRITT: Every two weeks.
Every fortnight.
VERONICA BELMONT: All two episodes of that.
We love you, Robert J Sawyer.
Anyhow, want to read some Hugo nominees for free?
Worldswithoutend.com has posted links to most of the
Hugo-nominated short stories, novels, and novellas that are
being made available to read for free
online by the authors.
So it's all legal and stuff.
Free and legal.
VERONICA BELMONT: Because you care about that.
I'm assuming you guys care about that stuff.
TOM MERRITT: That's awesome.
VERONICA BELMONT: Thanks to Alex for tipping us off to
this in our Goodreads group.
TOM MERRITT: All right, time for your take.
We asked for videos.
We got a video.
This one comes from Charles in the Philippines who's
reviewing a book for us.
This is Charles from the Philippines, and I'm reviewing
Mechanique, A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti
by Genevieve Valentine.
The book is set in the post-apocalyptic world where
the circus travels from one city to another and features
an ensemble cast of characters, such as acrobats
who have hollow bones, to a strong man with a steel spine.
Valentine's text is very succinct.
And she has several very compelling characters.
TOM MERRITT: That was awesome.
Thank you, Charles.
VERONICA BELMONT: And I love how we said make your videos
30 seconds, and it was exactly 30 seconds long.
TOM MERRITT: To the microsecond.
That was fantastic.
But keep those videos coming, people.
We want your questions, comments, reviews.
Everything you've got, upload it to YouTube, and email us a
link at feedback@swordandlaser.com.
TOM MERRITT: Coming up we'll talk to Saladin Ahmed, author
of Throne of the Crescent Moon, about how his dad had
some cool ideas for chores and how that
turned him into a writer.

Sword and Laser.

VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone.
Welcome back to Sword and Laser.
Joining us today, we have Nebula and Campbell award
finalist, Saladin Ahmed, author of Throne of the
Crescent Moon.
Thank you very much for joining us.
SALADIN AHMED: Thank you for having me.
VERONICA BELMONT: So what made you start writing?
Who or what inspired you?
SALADIN AHMED: I've been writing since I was a very
small child.
My dad, actually, was very encouraging.
He used to make me write stories when I
was in first grade.
Before I could go outside and play each day during summer
vacation, he used to have me draw a little comic book or
write a little story.
And he himself was a sort of fantasy, comic book, science
fiction geek.
So it all rubbed off on me when I wrote those stories.
TOM MERRITT: So some kids had to mow the lawn
or clean their room.
But you had to write stories.
SALADIN AHMED: Well, I had to do that stuff too.
But he was very into storytelling himself and into
fantasy and science fiction.
And he really raised me on that stuff, which I'm very
thankful for.
TOM MERRITT: It seems a little unusual.
Why was he so into that?
You don't hear that kind of story about
parents that often.
SALADIN AHMED: And you especially don't necessarily
hear it about Arab parents that often, frankly.
I was very lucky that my dad didn't want me to become an
engineer or a doctor or something like that.
That when I told him that I was interested in writing and
trying to pursue it as a career, he was nothing but
So I don't know, a trick of the genes, a trick of the
But all I know is we had Dune and Lord of the Rings and all
that stuff on the bookshelf, and I'm better for it.
TOM MERRITT: That's fantastic.
Speaking of books on the bookshelf, I know a lot of
writers really don't have time to read anything at all.
Do you have time to read?
Do you pick up books?
VERONICA BELMONT: Have you ever read a book before?
TOM MERRITT: Well, I know you have.
SALADIN AHMED: I don't have nearly as much time
to read as I'd like.
I also don't have much time to read for pleasure.
My sort of day gig is I teach at universities occasionally.
But my bread and butter day gig is freelance editing,
So I'm reading manuscripts.
TOM MERRITT: You read a lot.
I read a couple manuscripts a week.
And then the other factor is that I've got twin
So free time is just sort of this fantasy.
I don't have time to sleep, let alone read novels.
I do try and keep up.
And my bread and butter is the same kind of stuff I write,
which is sort of adventure fantasy, sword and sorcery,
high fantasy.
And I do try and keep up with that.
But sadly I don't read a whole lot outside of that little
subset, because there's so little time.
VERONICA BELMONT: When you're really writing a book, when
you really digging into a novel, what's your
typical day look like?
Do you start and stop?
Do you just write continuously?
Is it just an utter pit of despair?
I'm asking for a friend.

SALADIN AHMED: I've tried to make it as much like a job as
possible where I sit down at a certain time.
As I said, I do have twin toddlers.
And because I don't have the regular nine to five-ish gig,
I'm the one taking them to and from daycare and stuff.
So it's sort of centered around them.
But in that few hours that they're in daycare each day, I
try and sit in front of the computer.
Twitter, Facebook, those things call more often than
they should.
But you just try and sit and plug away.
Different things work for different people.
I had a much more free-flowing method when I was childless
and when I was single than I do now.
VERONICA BELMONT: You're very funny on Twitter, by the way.
I appreciate that.
I walk the line towards being obnoxious.
SALADIN AHMED: But I try and stay on the right side.
TOM MERRITT: You walk it well.
We got some questions from our Goodreads forum--
Alla wanted to ask you, "After reading your recent Salon
article and having never really found a character in my
preferred genre who I can relate to on an ethnic, racial
heritage level, I was wondering if you've come
across any works or had any recommendation for works in
sci-fi and fantasy featuring persons of color?"
There's tons of it out there.
Some recent series, Howard Andrew Jones recently did
another Arabian fantasy series that was more historical than
mine and kind of mystery-oriented.
Daniel Abraham's books are in a kind of quasi-Asian setting,
his first series, that is.
Nora Jemisin, NK Jemisin's got a new series out now.
She got a lot of attention for the first series.
But her new series out now is based in a kind of
quasi-ancient Egypt culture.
I just got a copy of that.
I'm really anxious to read it.
But people have done this work, actually, online.
I'm not being obnoxious and saying Google it.
But people have done some great work cataloging the
work, especially of writers of color of
science fiction and fantasy.
And if you just throw that into Google, you'll come up
with a ton of stuff, especially short stories that
might not occur to me.
We're a big fan of NK Jemison over here at Sword and Laser.
TOM MERRITT: Absolutely.
VERONICA BELMONT: So that's a great recommendation.
TerpKristin wants to know do you find that the creative
process is different between writing short stories versus
writing novels, other than just the sheer length of
SALADIN AHMED: It is different.
And I'm kind of still learning the difference.
When I was first writing, I was doing a
lot of short stories.
And I think in my second and third novels--
Throne is my first novel.
And I think that I'll probably be exhibiting more clearly the
lessons of kind of writing a longer form
in those later books.
If there are weaknesses to the first book, some of it
probably comes from me being a short story writer.
TOM MERRITT: Do you think that people should
train on short stories?
I've heard authors say that before.
SALADIN AHMED: I think it depends highly on the writer.
It worked for me.
It worked well for me in terms of also developing contacts
and sort of familiarizing myself with the genre
But everybody's different.
Lots of people have had successful novels without
writing short stories first.
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Let's squeeze in one more question from a fellow
Detroiter, Ryan, who wishes you the best of luck, because
he's a fellow Detroiter, I suppose.
He says, "Did taking that approach and using Arabian
themes in your first novel make it a tougher sell to
SALADIN AHMED: You know, that's always a funny
question, because it's impossible to know.
People will never tell you that, oh, we're not going to
take this because it's Arabian fantasy.
There's a million valid reasons to reject a book.
And so I suspect in one or two cases it made some editors
nervous, or it made the people above them, who make the
buying decisions, ultimately nervous.
I will say I've had incredible support from the science
fiction and fantasy community for kind of trying to portray
a little bit of a different story, and
especially from my agent.
Jennifer Jackson was interested from the get.
And my editor, Betsy Willheim, was just fully committed to
going there with me.
And I really appreciate that.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, Saladin, thank you so much for
taking the time to answer our questions today.
Where can people find your work online?
SALADIN AHMED: I'm at saladinahmed.com.
That's S-A-L-A-D-I-N A-H-M-E-D dot com.
And there you've got links to all my social media stuff.
There's some short stories you can read there.
And there's a sample of the novel Throne of the Crescent
Moon, which is on Amazon and all sorts of other places.
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Check it out, folks, Throne of the Crescent
Moon by Saladin Ahmed.
Coming up next, we'll take a look at the calendar.
We'll answer some email.
And we'll tell you what we thought and what you thought
of The Magicians by Lev Grossman.
Coming up next.

Sword and Laser.

VERONICA BELMONT: Welcome back to the Sword and Laser.
It's time to wrap up our discussion of The Magicians,
take a gander at what books are coming out in the next
couple of weeks, and check with your feedback.
But first let's talk some Magicians, eh?
TOM MERRITT: Let's talk about The Magicians.
Now, if anybody doesn't know, The Magicians is
our book for April.
So if you haven't finished reading it yet--
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, it might be time to skip forward,
if you don't want any spoilers, for example.
Because we are definitely going to be
talking about the book.
We're going to be talking about what happens to the
characters, possibly about what happens at
the end of the book.
So if you're still reading and you don't want to hear about
this, move forward into the show.
Go ahead--
VERONICA BELMONT: Till you see the calendar stuff.
TOM MERRITT: Skip to the calendar.
VERONICA BELMONT: The calendar, exactly.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, exactly.
VERONICA BELMONT: This was a very polarizing book.
I was shocked at how many people
absolutely hated the book.
They said it was boring.
They didn't identify with the characters.
And then there were people who absolutely loved the book,
like I did.
I thought it was fantastic.
I found a couple of representative posts on
Goodreads here.
Corey summed it up for the dislike people.
TOM MERRITT: He said, "to me, being grown up means more than
just swearing.
And being realistic does not equal apathy."
So he's a little annoyed at the way that Lev Grossman is
perhaps portraying these college-age students.
And what we came back to time and time again is Quentin
Coldwater and his particular attitude and his never being
satisfied with anything, even when he finally gets what he
absolutely wanted more than anything else, which he never
even knew was possible.
Like this one thing he had in his life that was his shining
star in the sky--
TOM MERRITT: He's like I wish Fillory was real.
I wish magic was real.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, exactly.
TOM MERRITT: And he gets that.
VERONICA BELMONT: I can't even think of what I would want
that to be.
Like if I was his age, I would be like--
VERONICA BELMONT: --I wish Billy Corgan was my boyfriend.
That would be my Fillory.
TOM MERRITT: And then if you were Quentin and Billy Corgan
became your boyfriend, then you'd be like, whatever.
VERONICA BELMONT: Billy Corgan's stupid.
TOM MERRITT: Billy Corgan sucks.
He's not that cool anymore.
TOM MERRITT: Well, and the people who disliked it said, I
just didn't understand Quentin.
I thought he was a jerk.
I thought he was not sympathetic at all.
The people who liked it, I found Cam's post who said,
"The world, magical or otherwise,
doesn't owe you a destiny.
And that's something Quentin had to learn the hard way."
And Jonathan added to that.
He said, "I found that the mistakes he made were all
human and believable."
VERONICA BELMONT: So how did you feel about Quentin?
TOM MERRITT: I identified with Quentin.
In fact, I made a long, heart-wrenching post on
Goodreads about how I felt like I identified with Quentin
so much that I feel like if I had had magic and Fillory,
like that pretty much is my college and post-college
experience in both of these books.
VERONICA BELMONT: What drugs were you taking?
TOM MERRITT: Well, that's a long story.
But no, this idea of saying, oh, the world's being unfair
to me, not appreciating the advantages that I had, kind of
just being against everything and being sullen and not
learning from your mistakes as fast as you should, I think
that's totally typical of people in their 20s.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's typical, but that's the most
annoying thing about people in their 20s.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, it's totally annoying.
So in the beginning of book, I felt like I related to Quentin
in a lot of ways.
I felt like, OK, I can relate to his feelings
of not fitting in.
TOM MERRITT: Being the outsider.
VERONICA BELMONT: Being the outsider, feeling like you
don't have a place where you belong, not really knowing
what the meaning of your existence is.
Not that I know what that is now.
But it's doing this show.
This is the meaning of my existence.
TOM MERRITT: It kind of is.
VERONICA BELMONT: But we meet him.
He's living in Brooklyn.
He has two best friends.
He's pining for his best friend's girlfriend.
And then he starts progressing into, OK, well now he's
discovering that, oh, something's a little weird.
Oh, there's this actual magical school.
I'm at this magical school now.
This is amazing.
And then he's like, oh, but I'm not really fitting in
quite here either.
And I like this guy.
This guy Elliott seems kind of cool.
But we're not jelling in the way I would want us to.
We're not being bros, I guess.
You expect that they would move into some kind of
friendship relationship where they grow together and they go
into that kind of trope.
TOM MERRITT: The people who didn't like it
wanted that fun aspect.
They wanted the happy ending.
They wanted to see Quentin learn his lesson
and grow from it.
And instead, what I thought is you saw a more realistic
portrayal of how a person goes through their 20s.
And it doesn't matter if magic is real or not.
Lev Grossman's saying, look, this is what
people are like sometimes.
And maybe you weren't like that, but there are plenty of
people who are like this.
And this is how they might deal with it.
VERONICA BELMONT: I would have felt OK with it if I felt like
he had grown.
But I got to the end of the book and I still--
TOM MERRITT: He grew a little.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think he thinks he grew.
The way I was reading it, it felt like, oh, he feels like
he really grew.
He feels like he really learned something from his
time in Fillory, and he's become this amazing magician.
And then you get him back to the real world, and
he's still a d-bag.
TOM MERRITT: No, he's still miserable because what he is
the process of learning is that you have
to find value inside.
He hasn't found that yet, though, at
the end of this book.
And I think that maybe bother people because they're like,
oh, we haven't finished Quentin's story.
I wanted Quentin to have some progress.
And what Quentin has done is he's almost
reached bottom, right?
He's like nothing means anything.
And he's learning the hard lesson of I can't look outside
for validation.
VERONICA BELMONT: Is he Nietzsche?
TOM MERRITT: I don't know.
Or Deepak Chopra.
But no, he's learning I can't constantly
be looking to Alice.
I can't be looking to Fillory.
I can't be looking to magic.
I can't be looking to wealth to satisfy me.
I'm going to have to find it somewhere else.
The problem is at the end of this book--
and I've read The Magician King, so
maybe I'm colored here--
VERONICA BELMONT: That's unfair.
TOM MERRITT: But at the end of this book, he hasn't learned
all those lessons yet.
VERONICA BELMONT: So my problem, what I was just
realizing as we were talking about this, I would like to
read the same story from Alice's perspective.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah.
It would be an entirely different story.
VERONICA BELMONT: I want that book, just from her
perspective, not from Quentin's.
Because I feel like she went through the process of growing
up, discovering who she is, learning from everything
that's happened, and then making the ultimate sacrifice.
TOM MERRITT: Alice learns faster than Quentin.
We know this very early on.
VERONICA BELMONT: And how are we supposed to believe that
Quentin is a good magician?
TOM MERRITT: I think Quentin is an unreliable perspective.
TOM MERRITT: And so he thinks he's much better than he is.
VERONICA BELMONT: An unreliable narrator.
This is a very well known trope in literature, you young
viewers out there who don't know this yet.
The unreliable narrator, yes.

But he got pushed forward in school.
So there obviously is something there that's
special about him.
And one of my complaints when we first started talking about
the book when I first started reading it is that I felt like
there were a lot of divergent plot lines that I felt weren't
going to be answered.
VERONICA BELMONT: Some of there were, but
a lot of them weren't.
And I'm still frustrated by that.
We don't know what school he is.
Maybe they'll be answered in The Magician King.
TOM MERRITT: Some of them are, and some of them aren't.
TOM MERRITT: And we'll ask Lev Grossman when he's on
the show next time.
But we don't know if he plans to answer them or if some of
them he's like, no, I'll just leave that
hanging in the wind.
VERONICA BELMONT: One of my favorite comments, actually,
came from P Aaron in Goodreads who asks, "Is The Magicians
TOM MERRITT: And I posted back to him.
I'm like, well, if he's anti-intellectual, then my
life was anti-intellectual.
Because that's pretty much--
VERONICA BELMONT: But it's not about Quentin.
It's about the perspective of Lev Grossman and how he's
writing the book.
TOM MERRITT: And I don't think Lev Grossman is
Let's just go on this thought thread for a moment.
P Aaron writes, "The novel's conclusion simply underscores
this distorted pastiche of what the
intellectual life is like.
Characters who seem to actually give a darn about the
world are dismissed as saps, like Penny, for example.
And those who remain loftily above, you know, actual
feelings, are lauded as superior."
TOM MERRITT: I can't answer this properly without reading
The Magician King.
VERONICA BELMONT: Which you have.
TOM MERRITT: Which I have, but I don't want to spoil.
TOM MERRITT: So the story carries on.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, Penny was an interesting
character, wasn't he?
I felt bad for Penny.
I would also like to read a book from Penny's perspective.
TOM MERRITT: I don't think that the story is
I think intellectuals are sometimes not perfect.
Is Penny alive?
Can you tell me?
Don't tell me.
I don't want a spoiler.
Don't tell me.
TOM MERRITT: The dragon says don't tell you.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't want to know.
I do want to know, but I don't want to know.
TOM MERRITT: I think to sum it up, I want to say, "this is
what real people would do if they found magic" is what the
person who likes the book says.
And "if I wanted real life, I'd watch the news" is
actually what somebody wrote on Goodreads is pretty much
what people who didn't like the book says.
And I think those are both valid.
VERONICA BELMONT: There is an amount of
escapism in this book.
But I think what the takeaway for me is, is even if you find
that thing that you think might be your escapism, it's
not necessarily a good thing for you.
VERONICA BELMONT: Or it may not be what
you actually expected.
And I don't think everyone's going like this book, because
they won't identify with it.
Like Gail Carriger says, oh, no, I don't like negative
stuff in my books, the books she writes.
And for people who want that, they
should read Gail Carriger.
They'll love it.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, there's plenty of books.
TOM MERRITT: And there's lots of good books absolutely.
VERONICA BELMONT: And we didn't get time to talk about
every single thing we would have wanted to talk about,
about this book.
But there are so many discussions happening over on
Goodreads right now where you can go and participate.
And things are getting pretty deep over there.
And what I loved-- and I know we tease him all the time--
but Leptin actually agreed with P Aaron, and they got
into a whole philosophical discussion.
I was like, I'm going to read.
This is great.
TOM MERRITT: No, it was good stuff.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's like watching reality TV happening.
And you can participate.
But we are actually going to be kicking off our new book
for May coming up in the next episode.
So what we're doing is we're starting a new book at the
first of the month and ending it at the end of the month.
So our April pick was The Magicians.
Our May pick is going to be what we will discuss shortly.
And those will go month-by-month.
The shows may not always meet up with that.
But we're still going to make sure that we keep
that kind of specified.
TOM MERRITT: But if you're looking for more things to
read besides Hyperion by Dan Simmons--
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, we didn't tell them yet.
Yeah, Hyperion by Dan Simmons is going to be our
Laser pick for May.
So if you want to pick that up and start reading--
TOM MERRITT: We're trying to alternate.
VERONICA BELMONT: --we're not officially starting
it until May 1.
But if you're done with The Magicians and want to get a
head start on the next pick, pick up
Hyperion by Dan Simmons.
I've already started it myself, and it's getting very
interesting already.
VERONICA BELMONT: But it's certainly
not your only choice.
And we'll look at some more in the calendar.
Sword and Laser.

TOM MERRITT: Coming May 1, The Drowned Cities by Paolo
In a dark future in America where violence and terror
reign, young refugees escape from the drowned cities and
discover a wounded bioengineered war beast named
Tool who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers.
VERONICA BELMONT: Coming out May 15,
Railsea by China Mieville.
Sham is a young doctor's assistant in search of life's
purpose aboard a diesel locomotive on the hunt for the
great elusive moldywarpe, Mocker-Jack.
But on an old train wreck at the outskirts of the world,
Sham discovers an astonishing secret that may
cost him his life.
And also on May 15, Darksiders, The Abomination
Vault by Ari Marmell.
Two of the feared horsemen, death and war, must stop
renegades from finding the abomination vault, a horde of
weapons which could end the uneasy truce between heaven
and hell and unleash total destruction.
VERONICA BELMONT: Hmm, I wonder where the other
horsemen are going to be in that?
TOM MERRITT: Oh, they're just hanging out at the horse bar.
VERONICA BELMONT: The horse bar?
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, they're not horses.
But they have to have a place to tie up the horses.
VERONICA BELMONT: But before we go, let's see what folks
are saying in email and on Goodreads.
This thread was started back in March, but it's still
getting good posts.
Robert asks what books would you recommend to people who
recoil at the thought of sci-fi and fantasy?
KP and a few other folks recommend The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, that's a good one.
VERONICA BELMONT: One of my personal favorites.
KP also recommended Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy, if
you like action.
Amanda said Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.
And Carrie suggested Piers Anthony's books or perhaps I,
Robot, which is another great pick.
So what would you suggest?
TOM MERRITT: Those are good picks.
If you know that somebody likes comedy, I might say
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's a good one.
TOM MERRITT: Douglas Adams.
That's a good one.
VERONICA BELMONT: I would have to say, well, the first book
that got me into fantasy was
Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams.
TOM MERRITT: Of course.
VERONICA BELMONT: So that's one of the ones I always
recommend to people because it's a classic.
Man, I think it came out in 1985.
You're old.
He's still writing books, though.
He's old too.
He's doing great.
You just called Tad Williams old.
He's one of my favorite authors.
I really apologize.
TOM MERRITT: Josh writes to feedback@swordandlaser.com
with a question about the format.
He says, "I was pleasantly surprised to see there was not
much discussion of The Magicians, except for
background information.
Does that mean you intend to discuss the book in-depth on
the next show?
Or do you plan to keep the actual book discussions on the
Goodreads site?" Well, as you know, we just finished the
in-depth discussion.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, so I think we were a little unclear
when we started the show about how it works.
We will always have a kickoff episode.
And then the discussion will be happening on the forums as
the month progresses.
And then the last episode that airs in that month will be the
wrap up episode.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, I think in July, we'll actually have
three episodes in the month.
So there'll be a kickoff episode, there will be an
episode of just checking in, and then there'll be a wrap up
episode at the end.
VERONICA BELMONT: That makes sense.
TOM MERRITT: But most of the time you'll
only get two episodes.
So the first will be the kickoff.
And the kickoff doesn't mean you have to wait for us to
start reading.
TOM MERRITT: You basically just kickoff.
We'll just kind of introduce the book.
You'll know what book is coming up
because it'll be in Goodreads.
So we have discussion leaders in the threads as well, people
who kind of move the discussion along.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, yeah.
We should thank Anne.
VERONICA BELMONT: Anne was our discussion
leader for The Magicians.
And Alden O'Neil is going to be our
discussion leader for Hyperion.
TOM MERRITT: Fantastic.
VERONICA BELMONT: So if you think you want to get started
as being a discussion leader, let us now.
I'll always post a thread in the forums about, hey, we need
volunteers for discussion leaders.
And if you want to make a video too and send
it in to us, Alden.
TOM MERRITT: You could always send us a video, Alden.
VERONICA BELMONT: We've met you in real life, so we
already know what you look like.
So you don't have to be scared.
TOM MERRITT: You're not hideous.
You're fine.
TOM MERRITT: Not even at all.
VERONICA BELMONT: Don't worry about it.
All right.
Andre, who goes by the Procrastinador,
TOM MERRITT: I like it.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know what that means in Spanish.
TOM MERRITT: Is muy bien.
VERONICA BELMONT: Procrastinator?
TOM MERRITT: I think it's procrastinator.
He goes by the Procrastinador on Goodreads.
TOM MERRITT: You just like saying that.
VERONICA BELMONT: "I see that a lot of people read more than
one book at the same time.
And I'm curious to know if you feel you're able to fully
enjoy the stories and all the details when you're reading
more than one book."
TOM MERRITT: If I'm trying to read two print books, I have a
problem with that.
But what I do is I read one audiobook and one either ebook
or in print.
And I don't confuse them at all.
VERONICA BELMONT: I just have the author come to my house
and actually just read aloud to me.
TOM MERRITT: Well, you're Veronica Belmont.
We all can't do that.
VERONICA BELMONT: No, I don't really do that.
But I do the same thing you do, actually.
I'll read one book on Kindle or in print, and then I'll
listen to another book.
And that kind of helps me make the distinction
a little bit better.
But I do read multiple books on Kindle as well.
TOM MERRITT: I used to not be able to read more than one
book at a time until I started using audiobooks.
VERONICA BELMONT: And then you were forced to.
TOM MERRITT: Well, then I started doing this
show and I had to.
VERONICA BELMONT: When you're in two bookclubs, it's kind of
impossible to not do that.
TOM MERRITT: Ryan posted the following on Goodreads.
CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien had a writers group called the
Inklings that often met at a pub in Oxford called
The Eagle and Child.
But they always called it The Bird and Baby as a nickname.
And Ryan thinks in their honor we should start nicknaming the
Sword and Laser Pub, which we're at,
the Blade and Blaster.
VERONICA BELMONT: The Blade and Blaster.
I've actually walked by The Bird and
Baby in Oxford before.
TOM MERRITT: Well, aren't you fancy?
VERONICA BELMONT: And I heard that story.
I don't know why I didn't go in for a pint, though.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, you should have.
VERONICA BELMONT: I should have.
TOM MERRITT: We'll have to go back.
VERONICA BELMONT: The next time I'm in Oxford.
We'll have to do the show from Oxford.
VERONICA BELMONT: That would be awesome.
VERONICA BELMONT: No, man, this is the Sword and Laser.
We already have a name.
I guess we can nickname it.
TOM MERRITT: Nickname.
Not the official name, though.
VERONICA BELMONT: Not the official name.
We go back and forth on whether we call it The Sword
and Laser or Sword and Laser.
TOM MERRITT: The pub is definitely
The Sword and Laser.
VERONICA BELMONT: The pub is The Sword and Laser.
That's why we have this name.
TOM MERRITT: All right.
Finally Mr. Walters sent us some picks of his geeky decor.
These are shots of his home studio space.
And if you take a look, he's got some on his website.
And he has got a heck of a studio and a bunch of toys.
In fact, on a Flickr set, he put up pictures of walls of
toys in display cases.
TOM MERRITT: It's crazy.
Look at all those things.
collection of toys and PEZ--
TOM MERRITT: PEZ dispensers.
VERONICA BELMONT: --which my mom also collects, by the way.
TOM MERRITT: We have a few Lord of the Rings PEZ
TOM MERRITT: But nothing to rival this guy.
That's amazing.
That's a very nice man cave.
TOM MERRITT: Thank you, Mr. Walters, for sending along
your man cave pictures.
Well, thanks everyone for watching.
And of course, you can find us right here on our YouTube
channel at youtube.com/geekandsundry or
at swordandlaser.ge ekandsundry.com.
If you wanted to send an email, you can do so at
And remember, Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians, joins
us and we kick off Hyperion by Dan Simmons as
our May book pick.
That'll be next episode.
So get ahold of that book, and we will see you then.
TOM MERRITT: Thanks, everybody.
See you next time.

Sword and Laser.