S&L July Book Club: Leviathan Wakes Kick-Off & your feedback!

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Jul 6, 2012


TOM MERRITT: Coming up, we kick off Leviathan Wakes, this
month's book pick.
VERONICA BELMONT: And we get our first singing book review.
You do not want to miss this.
It's the Sword and Laser Book Club.

Hey, everyone.
Welcome to Sword and Laser, the book club, where each
month we pick a brand new science fiction or fantasy
book and read it along with you.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
Very excited to kick off Leviathan Wakes--
TOM MERRITT: --by James SA Corey.
We've had them on the show before.
It's very exciting.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, when you say
them, we actually mean--
TOM MERRITT: Right, because--
VERONICA BELMONT: --him, but it's them.
TOM MERRITT: He is two people, kind of like Voltron.
We'll explain.
VERONICA BELMONT: We'll explain later.
Don't worry about it.
This is a new thing we're doing here.
We've separated the book club discussion from the main show
so we can focus on discussing the books without making the
people who couldn't read the book this month totally lost.
TOM MERRITT: It let's us really dig into the book and
discuss not only what we thought of it, but what you're
saying about it on the forums as well.
VERONICA BELMONT: And we have lots of thoughts from our
Goodreads forums to get started with, including some
video commentary and email.
So let's get started.
TOM MERRITT: James SA Corey is two people.
TOM MERRITT: If you've seen the episode, you
already know this.
But they decided to write under a pseudonym, because
they both write different kinds of fiction usually.
Daniel Abraham, one of the authors, writes fantasy.
I'm reading one of his dragon books right now.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, and Ty Franck is the other author.
And they were actually nominated for a Hugo Award for
best novel for Leviathan Wakes.
And it's the first in a series.
The second book, actually, Caliban's War, we discussed a
little bit in the interview with them.
That just came out as well.
So if you're reading along with us for Leviathan Wakes
and if you really like the series, you can go right to
the second book when you're done.
TOM MERRITT: Abbadon's Gate is the third
in The Expanse series.
That's planned for 2013.
You know, they also got nominated for a
Locus Award, too.
These guys have come out pretty hot.
They're not too bad.
TOM MERRITT: I mean this guy.
This James--
TOM MERRITT: --SA Corey guy.
I don't how to really talk about the author.
Should we just say--
TOM MERRITT: We should just say Corey.
TOM MERRITT: Like a band.
TOM MERRITT: Treat it like a band name.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's a little bit confusing.
TOM MERRITT: You know, the folks in Corey are awesome.
VERONICA BELMONT: But another person that we really respect,
Annalee Newitz of io9, she said that Leviathan Wakes is
kind of like--
it's as close you'll get to a Hollywood
blockbuster in novel form.
TOM MERRITT: Now , you've just dipped in.
Read the very first part.
And you said--
TOM MERRITT: You're pretty excited, right?
VERONICA BELMONT: It starts off pretty explosively.
Not literally, but there's a lot of action happening in
the-- was that the prologue I read or the first chapter?
TOM MERRITT: I think that's a prologue.
You're talking about where the girl is on the ship?
TOM MERRITT: Say no more?
VERONICA BELMONT: We don't want to say anything more than
that, because no spoilers in this part of
the book club today.
TOM MERRITT: As I found, you may find this a really quick
and enjoyable read, which will take you right into Caliban's
War, which good timing, because it just came out.
But there's also a short story out there in the same universe
called The Butcher of Anderson Station, A
Story of The Expanse.
That was released as an ebook.
And you can read that before you read Leviathan Wakes or
you can read it afterwards.
It kind of works either way.
VERONICA BELMONT: So there's two main topical threads.
There's two main story lines in this book.
One is kind of like a cop story almost.
Is that right?
VERONICA BELMONT: And then the other one is more--
TOM MERRITT: That's Detective Miller.
TOM MERRITT: Detective Miller.
TOM MERRITT: One the Ceres Station.
The Ceres Station is actually an asteroid that
was hollowed out.
And this is what they do in the asteroids.
In fact, that's the world.
Earth and Mars have colonized the asteroid belt.
And there's a little tension between the colonies and the
home worlds.
VERONICA BELMONT: And the people who live there are
called Belters.
Well, because of the low gravity that they grew up in,
they look a little different.
They behave a little different.
They even talk-- there's a whole slang
language that was created.
What is it?
They're like longer.
They're taller.
They don't have to deal with as much gravity like we do, so
they can grow a little bit taller, a little bit thinner
in the bone structure.
TOM MERRITT: And it's one of the cool things about
Leviathan Wakes that the guys in James SA Corey did--
TOM MERRITT: --that Corey did--
TOM MERRITT: --was they created a world that obeys the
laws of physics.
It takes a long time to travel from one place to another.
There's no hyperspace jumping.
There are micrometeorites that can cause problems.
And things like gravity affect you.
In fact, when they're under acceleration they have to have
drugs to keep them awake, because otherwise they'd pass
out because they're pulling so many g's.
VERONICA BELMONT: And we didn't talk about the second
story line, which is Holden who works on a ship, which is
actually like an iceberg dragging ship.
TOM MERRITT: It's an icebreaker.
VERONICA BELMONT: How do you explain it?
An icebreaker.
TOM MERRITT: It takes ice from the rings of Saturn and brings
it into the Belt, because they need water.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's so cool.
And it's almost like a Firefly-ish crew.
TOM MERRITT: I feel like--
Firefly-ish crew?
TOM MERRITT: --that Jim Holden, he's former Navy, now
he works out in the Belt.
So there's a little story there going like, why'd you
leave the Navy, Jim, that you'll want to keep in mind.
But, yeah, his crew that he works with, I definitely
picked up a Firefly vibe sometimes.
Not that Jim Holden is Malcolm Reynolds necessarily.
VERONICA BELMONT: See the reason why this conversation
is going so one-sidedly is because Tom has
already read the book.
That's fair enough.
VERONICA BELMONT: And so I'm asking all the questions,
because I literally just started it last night.
And Tom's like, well, yes, actually, this is the way it
actually is, blah, blah, blah.
So that's why Tom sounds much smarter about this particular
book than I do.
TOM MERRITT: I don't sound smarter.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, you sound more knowledgeable,
because you are, because you've read it.
TOM MERRITT: Because I know all the
words that were written.
VERONICA BELMONT: You know what's something
I did notice though?
The ship that they're in is called the Canterbury.
TOM MERRITT: At the beginning of the book.
VERONICA BELMONT: --this is another Chaucer throwback.
TOM MERRITT: Which we just had in Hyperion.
VERONICA BELMONT: In Hyperion, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: It was like The Canterbury Tales were very
central to the--
I'm so confused.
Classic literature is not my forte.
TOM MERRITT: Middle English.
It's all the rage.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's all the rage?
TOM MERRITT: All the kids are talking Middle
English these days.
You just walk on a campus, you hear them.
Between Chaucer and Keats and Canterbury Tales and all this
stuff, I'm learning something, and you will, too.
TOM MERRITT: Well, and you know what?
That's funny is people on our forums always dig into the
books as soon as we announce them.
They don't wait for the first of the month
necessarily all the time.
And some people are already picking on this.
They're like, it's too shallow.
It's not literary enough.
Tigana had the opposite.
Oh, it's too literary.
I think it's because we have so many people in the forum.
There's always going to be somebody who's like this book
isn't to your taste.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, there's almost 11,000 members
in the Goodreads forums right now.
So, yeah, you're not gonna like every single book pick as
much as the other one every single time.
But we're trying to bring a wide range of different types
of books and different types of experiences to you.
So you might get out of your comfort zone a little bit.
That's what I hope to do.
TOM MERRITT: What I like about this book is
you're getting a book--
if you want spaceships, if you want something that respects
the laws of physics and doesn't have too
much magical science.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's a little bit hard sci-fi.
TOM MERRITT: I wouldn't call it hard
sci-fi for lots of reasons.
It's not like a Peter Hamilton or an Alastair Reynolds,
because it's very story driven.
But they took into account science in it.
And that has a nice underpinning there.
And you get adventure.
It's action packed.
There's no dull moments where you're sitting around just
waiting for something finally to happen.
It moves and it moves and it moves.
And it's a mystery story.
TOM MERRITT: You've got a few mysteries cropping up, right
from the beginning, as you know.
Well, I'm excited about this one.
I've seen a lot of really great reviews about it.
You seem to have liked it.
TOM MERRITT: I totally got sucked in.
TOM MERRITT: I'll be honest, I picked it up and started
reading it, because we were interviewing James SA Corey.
Daniel and Ty.
Thank you, Daniel and Ty, for having the interview.
And I absolutely got sucked in.
It was just fun.
It was a great story.
And lots of folks on the forums and elsewhere have said
it reads like a movie.
In fact, Annalee says that, too.
It reads like a really great script.
I hope some day that somebody makes it into a movie.
VERONICA BELMONT: Hmmm, maybe one of you
out there, for example.
All right, next time, we will be wrapping
up Leviathan Wakes.
But before we go, let's see what else folks are saying in
email and on Goodreads.
TOM MERRITT: Now sometimes we get folks who tire of getting
drawn into series of books that take years to finish.
Gunslinger, for instance.
Vance to the rescue.
He's found a list of the best standalone fantasy books at
And would you look down there?
I'm sorry, bestfantasybooks.com.
Number one, Tigana, last month's pick.
VERONICA BELMONT: Very interesting.
TOM MERRITT: Number 2, American Gods, Neil Gaiman.
VERONICA BELMONT: Another book that we've--
TOM MERRITT: Another previous pick.
VERONICA BELMONT: --read for the book club in the past.
Yeah, there's some really good ones.
And this is fantastic, because we do have this problem.
A lot of times we kick off books that are the first in
the series.
We've never read anything official for the main pick in
the book club.
I think the only time we've read something that wasn't the
first in a series was The Dance with Dragons.
And that was just because we knew so many people in the
book club were going to be reading it anyway, we chose it
as an alternate pick.
So it made sense in that situation.
TOM MERRITT: It's hard to find books that aren't part of a
series to kick off a book club with.
So it's nice to have that list of like, once you read this,
you don't have to feel like there's anything else.
But then that kind of sucks.
If you really like it, don't you always
be like, oh, I wish--
VERONICA BELMONT: Want there to be more?
TOM MERRITT: --there was more in the world.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, we talked about that
with Tigana as well.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, yeah,
VERONICA BELMONT: That sometimes people wish that
Tigana had actually been the first in the series.
And Guy Gavriel Kay was like, nope.
Sorry about that.
TOM MERRITT: Not reading about any more Borgias or Medicis.
Steve is also reading and enjoying Leviathan Wakes, but
would also like some solid sci-fi that doesn't revolve
around military strategy and/or space wars.
He writes, "I'm not against reading sci-fi about space
battles, but I'm more interested in advanced
society, technologies, as well as exploration and space
TOM MERRITT: Well, there's a couple of suggestions in here
that I thought were really good.
Keith recommended The Mote in God's Eye, a fantastic
exploration of humanity's first contact and how
complicated it is.
That's absolute classic.
And then Random, whose name is Random--
TOM MERRITT: --recommended Anathem by Neal Stephenson.
VERONICA BELMONT: Ah, a great one.
TOM MERRITT: Another one that's like a great--
It's a long book, too, so you don't feel cheated.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's is so long.
TOM MERRITT: But it's a heck of a
universe, and its contained.
VERONICA BELMONT: Neal Stephenson, how do you have
that much in your brain?
TOM MERRITT: He has got a huge brain.
VERONICA BELMONT: All of your books are so long, and I love
that about you.
But damn, son, that is a lot of writing.
TOM MERRITT: Lots of Arthur C Clarke suggestions in this
thread, too.
So, yeah, check it out.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm just thinking about how prolific
Neal Stephenson is, not only with the number of books he
writes, but the sheer length of them.
TOM MERRITT: I'm signed up--
VERONICA BELMONT: It's not size that matters, though.
TOM MERRITT: --for the Kickstarter project.
TOM MERRITT: And have you've been reading those?
He writes the email updates.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, and the emails are really long.
TOM MERRITT: Long and involved and awesome,
if you want to learn--
TOM MERRITT: --about the sword fighting.
VERONICA BELMONT: I can't wait to get my hands on that game.
But anyway, we also have a video review of Tigana
sent to us by Sky.
SKY: Hey, Sword and Laser.
I've something to say about Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.
Now, and let me be honest, I liked this one.
The world felt inspired, the story well done.
My only real beef with this book was the words.
There were lots of them, in case you hadn't heard.
All the tangents, asides, and dependent clauses just slowed
down the story and stilled my applauses.
But overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, be they
my foe or my friend.
So, though I complain, it was pretty OK.
This book, Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay.
TOM MERRITT: He rhymed that.
VERONICA BELMONT: That was pretty prosy.
TOM MERRITT: That was good meter.
TOM MERRITT: I like it.
We also got this review of Zero Sight from the
suspiciously similarly named Sky.
Wizards and vampires and schools that teach magic.
Protagonists whose lives are rather tragic.
Exploding heads during big school-yard fights.
These are some things I found in Zero Sight.
Du-dun du-dun.
Du-dun, du-dun.
Smarter than fantasy by Mr. Shier, B Justin Shier.
Witty dialog you'll practically hear.
Practically hear.
Complex relationships brought into light.
Into light.
These are some things I found in Zero Sight.
I'll be honest.
This book's brutal.
And its gory, too.
A man gets flayed.
But it's so well written that I'd be remiss to not recommend
it, recommend it to you.

TOM MERRITT: Slow clap.
Horror book, Sound of Music,.
Never thought I'd see the two meet.
VERONICA BELMONT: Do we have to pay the rights for that?
TOM MERRITT: We might have to pay Sky.
Get the release, quick!
VERONICA BELMONT: Well done, sir.
TOM MERRITT: OK, Sky, you've set the bar.
Feedback@swordandlaser.com, folks, if you want to send us
your own video reviews or comments.
That about does it for us today.
But don't forget, the main Sword and Laser show where we
interview the best authors in the biz and submit your
questions to them.
In our latest episode, we talked to Rob Reid, author of
the Year Zero.
It's about aliens and how they want to give us all of their
money, because they love human music.
In fact, they owe us all the money in the universe.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't think they want to give us
their money.
TOM MERRITT: No, they feel like they have to.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think they're just forced to by
copyright law, which is a very interesting
premise for a book.
All right.
Goodbye everybody.
You don't want to miss any of these episodes, so make sure
you subscribe to our YouTube channel.
It's that green button right up there in the corner
somewhere at youtube.com/geekandsundry.
And as Tom said, make sure to send us email to
And of course, join in all the fun over at Goodreads at
Search for Sword and Laser.
We will see you guys next time.
TOM MERRITT: Enjoy the book.