Sword & Laser Episode 10 - Interview with Adam Christopher

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Aug 17, 2012


TOM MERRITT: Coming up, help save awesome
old sci fi from oblivion.
VERONICA BELMONT: And Adam Christopher shares secrets of
superheroes and alternate New Yorks.
Sword and Laser starts now.

Hey, everybody.
Welcome to the Sword and Laser.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
VERONICA BELMONT: And if I hold perfectly still, nobody
can see me.
Where did you go?
TOM MERRITT: Oh, you're--
VERONICA BELMONT: Anyway, we're here to keep you up to
date on all the latest in science fiction and fantasy
news, and talk to the people with the humongous brains that
think up these crazy worlds.
TOM MERRITT: We live to serve.
Whether you love gigantic sprawling space operas or
gritty urban fantasy or pretty much anything else in the
genre, you are in the right place.
And today we're talking to Adam Christopher, author of
Empire State and the
forthcoming book Seven Wonders.
TOM MERRITT: But quickly, let's look at some of the
things happening in the world of sci fi and fantasy.

The production company behind a movie version of William
Gibson's book Neuromancer has a web page up including new
concept art and an
announcement that Mark Walhberg--
VERONICA BELMONT: --has been offered the role of Case and
Liam Neeson the role of Armitage.
So who's going to play Molly?
TOM MERRITT: I can't play Molly.
Want to save the world's sci fi?
Singularity and Company, a Brooklyn-based science fiction
bookstore, is beginning its Kickstarter funded mission to
take one customer-chosen out-of-print sci fi book each
month, secure the rights, and then publish it online at
little or no cost.
The bookstore just opened and you can find their website
online at savethescifi.com
VERONICA BELMONT: I donated to their
Kickstarter and I got a t-shirt.
And I've gotten some paperback--
VERONICA BELMONT: --like old school paperbacks
of early sci fi.
TOM MERRITT: You are an angel.
VERONICA BELMONT: Investor, yes.
If you want even more DRM-free sci fi, take a look at
Like software and video game bundles, StoryBundle lets you
name your own price for five indie e-books.
If you pay at least $7, you'll get two bonus books.
Also, you can opt for 10% of what you pay to go to one of
two charities.
TOM MERRITT: Scott Sigler's Galactic Football League
series is in print.
The story Sigler podcasted in 2009 is now a paperback on the
shelves, in real, physical, brick and
mortar stores and stuff.
VERONICA BELMONT: Like a real thing.
TOM MERRITT: Like Barnes and Noble and Hudson News.
Book I and II are out now, and books III and IV hit store
shelves December 7.
VERONICA BELMONT: Finally, over at theawl.com, Jane Hu
has a post with a timeline of future events based on novels
and short stories that, well, take place in the future.
Find out when mutant great white sharks will inhabit New
York and when Lady Gaga will win the Nobel Peace Prize and
be arrested, apparently.
That's a--
she hasn't been already.
TOM MERRITT: Ups and downs for that lady.
TOM MERRITT: Lem, our dragon, is trying to penetrate
alternate earths to find Adam Christopher, so appropriately
enough, we give you this look at today in alternate history.

VERONICA BELMONT: We're very happy to have Adam Christopher
with us today.
Thank you for joining us, Adam.
So wait, are you the real Adam or the
alternate universe Adam.
And if so, how could we tell?
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: That's a very good question.
I think I'm the real Adam Christopher.
My evil counterpart wears a hat.
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: Distinguishing feature.
VERONICA BELMONT: Because I was about to say, the evil
Adam Christopher would say that he was the real Adam
Unless the real Adam Christopher wears a hat, at
which point the evil Christopher would--
VERONICA BELMONT: We have literally no way of knowing.
TOM MERRITT: There's no way of telling.
You know, sometimes people say, Adam, that you are a
comic book writer who writes books instead of comics books.
How do you feel about that comparison?
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: You know, that's actually a very
interesting comparison.
I'm quite pleased that someone's actually said that.
You know, I'm such a fan of comics and comic books,
probably even more than writing novels.
But yes, at the moment I'm kind of
focusing on being a novelist.
You know, it's a long road in this kind of business.
So we'll have to see about that.
VERONICA BELMONT: What genre would you say your books
actually fall under, if any?
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: That's kind of difficult.
I tend to think of myself as a science fiction writer.
But really, I guess I'm kind of maybe science fantasy.
I tend not to worry too much about the genre.
I kind of just write the idea that kind
of needs to be written.
VERONICA BELMONT: I kind of think of them as being like
sci-fi fantasy but also alternate history, in a way,
at least for Empire State.
Because it takes place in the '30s.
VERONICA BELMONT: And there are kind of alternate
branching histories within that alternate history.
That's right.
I mean, Empire State especially I'm kind of
fascinated by sort of alternate universes and
alternate history.
Although that's not kind of a genre that I'd consider myself
kind of focused in.
But I think Empire State, I kind of threw in everything
that I love about that kind of thing.
That's my big alt universe, alt history, period superhero
science fantasy detective story, I think.
TOM MERRITT: Well, let's look forward for a second here.
You've got a new book coming out, Seven Wonders, August 28
here in the US.
What's it about?
Seven Wonders is a real superhero story.
It's about a guy called Tony who lives in a city called San
Ventura in California.
This is a world where once upon a time the whole world
was filled superheroes battling supervillains.
But now there's only one superteam left, which is
called Seven Wonders.
And there's only one supervillain
left, called the Cowl.
So the Seven Wonders and the Cowl, they kind of play this
cat and mouse game in San Ventura.
The Seven Wonders don't really want to get rid of the Cowl,
because that would put them out of a job.
So this guy Tony, he's just an ordinary guy,
lives in the city.
One day he wakes up with superpowers and decides that
perhaps he can do the jobs that the Seven Wonders kind of
refuse to do.
But I guess along the way it's about his journey about
discovering power and what power does to you.
And also, it kind of tells it from the point of view of the
Seven Wonders, who are kind of resentful of a new superhero
just materializing.
And also from the point of view of the villain the Cowl,
because I really wanted to kind of show it from
his point of view.
He's had years of things going his way because he's got the
Seven Wonders on a leash, basically.
But then suddenly with this new guy, things
go out of his control.
And he doesn't like that very much.
All the rules change.
You have this tradition of kind of taking superheroes and
flipping them on their heads, kind of like
Watchmen, in a way.
Have you Irredeemable or Incorruptible, and do these
kinds of series influence you in any way?
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: You know, I haven't actually read those.
I guess--
I actually wrote Seven Wonders before I wrote Empire State,
kind of to get the superhero thing out of my system.
Although when it came to Empire State--
which I don't really think of as a superhero novel, it's
more of like a sort of pulpy detective novel.
--I did put superheros in it.
But really in terms of influences, it's more the kind
of classic silver, bronze, modern age comic books more
than a specific title like that.
TOM MERRITT: I loved Empire State's rich world.
It really was a detective novel.
I'm a big fan of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett.
TOM MERRITT: And I love that feel.
Do you think you'll ever revisit Empire State?
Will we ever go back there?
Actually, I'm in the middle of writing a sequel, which is
called The Age Atomic.
And that's coming out I think May next year.
So it's still--
Rad Bradley is back.
It's less of a sort of pulp, noir detective story and it's
moved forward a little bit.
It's more sort of retro '50s sci fi.
It's got an awful lot of atomic
robots and quantum ghosts.
TOM MERRITT: I love atomic robots too, so I'm definitely
looking forward to that.
VERONICA BELMONT: Are we seeing any of the same
characters, or is it too far along in the timeline?
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: No, it's some of the same characters.
There's a whole lot of new characters.
Some are returning.
In Empire State, for people who haven't read it, because
it's set in the Empire State, which is like a pocket
universe and in New York.
There's a kind of time difference, where New York was
in about 1950 and the Empire State was stuck in the '30s.
So for The Age Atomic, we've only really moved forward four
or five years.
So we're now in the mid-'50s.
The Empire State has kind of progressed as well.
So even though the Empire State is a kind of Prohibition
era, dark, art deco kind of city, it further
on, but not too far.
And certainly there's returning characters.
VERONICA BELMONT: Speaking on the subject of New York,
actually viewer Rob has a question.
He says, as a New Zealander who now lives in England, and
a huge Doctor Who fan as well, why did you pick New York to
base your story on in Empire State instead of London or
some other city?
That's a good question.
I think for Empire State, because I had this idea for a
pulpy detective story, I kind of needed to set it in an
American city.
And I wanted to write it more or less in that time period of
the '30s, '20s, '30s.
So that limited my choices.
And I think New York has such a connection with the origin
of modern superhero comics, which all kind of sprang up
from the mid-'30s onwards, so it kind of made sense to set
Empire State in New York.
And also, I mean, New York has got some of the most amazing
kind of iconic architecture, which I really wanted to play
a role in the story, the geography and the
VERONICA BELMONT: I loved the joke, like the Battery Park
joke in Empire State, like that's--
I don't want to spoil the book.
TOM MERRITT: Yes, right.
VERONICA BELMONT: But it's almost a funny
kind of play on words.
Well, this is the thing.
I love New York.
I never lived there, obviously.
But it's a place I've visited.
And I really, really fell in love with the city.
But places like, you know, The Battery, Battery Park, I mean,
it's not much of a spoiler, but it is a battery.
It powers something.
So, yes.
Our audience wanted to ask you a couple superhero questions,
your typical superhero questions
that people talk about.
Rob wants to know if you could have a superpower, what would
you have and why?
I think I would like to have the Flash's superspeed
ability, because that means I could get an awful lot done
kind of in a day, I think.
That's kind of weird, because like if that meant I could
write maybe a novel a day, but it would still take kind of
nine months to do, because your brain's operating at
Your brain--
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: So it would be kind of weird but--
TOM MERRITT: So you need Flash and super
Flash brainpower combined.
That would be pretty awesome.
I know, because can your brain process that fast.
Because you can move that fast--
TOM MERRITT: That would be the superpower.
VERONICA BELMONT: That would be super--
TOM MERRITT: It would be an extra superpower.
TOM MERRITT: On the side, like fries with a burger.
And Chris wants to know so if not Flash, then I guess who is
your favorite superhero?
My kind of roster of favorite superheroes
changes every week.
But I've been thinking about this.
And I think it has to be Hawkgirl from DC.
There's just something about the character
that I really love.
I mean, she's a golden age character with a huge
mythology, which is really confusing, because she's had
retcons and reboots and all that kind of thing.
But she's just a really powerful figure, I think.
TOM MERRITT: Are you a DC person, or do you not pick
sides in the DC-Marvel debate?
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: You know, I have to say
really I'm a DC person.
But I read Marvel as well.
But certainly CD was what got me into superhero comics.
I'm kind of the same way.
I read a lot of Marvel and I don't want to pick sides.
But DC is where I started.
It is kind of a little more bad ass.
TOM MERRITT: It's not my fault.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm just saying.
TOM MERRITT: That's just what happened.
VERONICA BELMONT: We have some questions also that we ask a
lot of the authors that come on the show.
Do you have any rituals when you write or do you have any
In terms of rituals, really as long as I have
a lot of tea ready.
During a working day, I will chain-drink tea, which is
probably quite a bad habit.
But you know, I keep hydrated.
TOM MERRITT: And that's not a euphemism.
You mean actual tea.
VERONICA BELMONT: What would it be a euphemism for?
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: English tea, you know, with milk and-- yes.
VERONICA BELMONT: And then if you could pick one that you
didn't write to introduce someone to genre fiction, for
example, what would you pick?
I would probably just off the top of my head, I would
actually say Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.
I think that was one of my favorite books of last year.
It's science fiction.
But there's something about it which makes it very readable
and I think very approachable sort of by non-genre fans.
It's got so much of that kind of '80s nostalgia in it.
I think that would connect with people.
TOM MERRITT: Excellent choice.
We had Ernie on the show out previously.
He's a great guy.
And I agree with you, fantastic book.
And he's giving away a DeLorean.
That's just insane.
TOM MERRITT: I know, right?
He's got two.
Who has two DeLoreans?
VERONICA BELMONT: Apparently Ernie Cline has two.
Ernie Cline.
The answer to that is Ernie Cline.
TOM MERRITT: Adam, thank you so much for
being with us today.
I really appreciate you chatting with us.
Thank you very much for having me.
TOM MERRITT: You can find Adam's book Empire State
wherever books are sold in any reality.
And in this reality Seven Wonders comes out August 28.
What else is coming out?
Let's check the calendar.

VERONICA BELMONT: Coming out August 21, Terry Brooks
revisits one of his most popular eras with the Wards of
Faerie, the Dark Legacy of Shannara.
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner team up for the Fate of
Worlds, Return from Ringworld.
And the astroid belt causes political problems in The
Unincorporated Future by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin.
TOM MERRITT: Moving ahead to August 28, of course, Seven
Wonders by Adam Christopher arrives.
Also, Devil Said Bang, a Sandman Slim novel by Richard
Kadrey explores whether running hell or
living in LA is harder.
And from Amazon's Children Publishing, Angelfall, Penryn
and the End of Days by Susan Ee.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, I hate to say it, but we are almost
out of whiteboard submissions from Aaron.
VERONICA BELMONT: What are we going to do?
But this week, we're not out quite yet.
He's going to tell us about the musical Damiano.
AARON: From Tolkien to Spellsinger, music is an
integral part of many fantasy novels.
One of my favorite takes on this trope is
RA Macavoy's Damiano.
Damiano Delstrego is a young alchemist and enchanter who
just wants to be left alone with his lute, but first has
to deal with Machiavellian warlords, angels, devils, and
witches rampaging across 15th century Italy.
Magical duels, angry mobs, an enchanted cow.
It's got everything.
There were two sequels that I never cared for, but I read
this one as a standalone several times
way back in the '80s.
I'm old.
TOM MERRITT: Dude, if you're old--
VERONICA BELMONT: You're not that old.
TOM MERRITT: He's a time traveler.
VERONICA BELMONT: Maybe he's just a very brilliant--
if he was young in the '80s, he was just very advanced.
TOM MERRITT: He's unstuck in time.
But anyway.
TOM MERRITT: Also, a lot of cow references.
VERONICA BELMONT: Wait, I thought Adam
Christopher said Cowl.
Was it Cowl?
No, you're right.
VERONICA BELMONT: I can't tell with his very
advanced British accent.
TOM MERRITT: It's a Cowl.
It's the Cowl.
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TOM MERRITT: Well, that is it.
Folks, if you'd like to read along with us, though, be sure
to watch our book club episode.
We're talking about Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice.
The kick-off is up already and the wrap-up
comes out next week.
If you want to find out when they're coming out, subscribe
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That's it, everybody.
We'll see you next time.