The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club and podcast, started by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of sci-fi / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. — About S&L [www.swordandlaser.com]
The following is the list of books read by The Sword and Laser book club during the first half of 2013 (also see the list from the second half of 2012). This page is designed as is a quick reference page so that I can quickly jump between the forum pages and good read listings. Geek & Sundry host the YouTube Sword and Laser videos.
06.) Among Others
Among Others is the Sword & Laser read for June 2013
Jo Walton – Among Others
Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled–and her twin sister dead.
Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…
Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
★ S&L Podcast – #135 – Wrap-up Among Others, Kick-off Ringworld
★ S&L Podcast – #134 – Interview with Gene Wolfe
★ S&L Podcast – #133 – Interview with Joe Haldeman
★ S&L Podcast – #132 – Get out the vote!
★ S&L Podcast – #131 – Baycon Interview with Lois McMaster Bujold
Wool is the Sword & Laser read for May 2013
Hugh Howey – Wool Omnibus (Wool #1-5)
They live beneath the earth in a prison of their own making. There is a view of the outside world, a spoiled and rotten world, their forefathers left behind. But this view fades over time, ruined by the toxic airs that kill any who brave them.
So they leave it to the criminals, those who break the rules, and who are sent to cleaning. Why do they do it, these people condemned to death? Sheriff Holston has always wondered. Now he is about to find out.
This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.
(Media: Will probably go with the Audible audio book for this read.)
★ S&L Podcast – #130 – So many servers
★ S&L Podcast – #129 – Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson
★ S&L Podcast – #128 – Awards season!
★ S&L Podcast – #127 – Hangout with Adam Christopher
04.) Dragonriders of Pern
Dragonriders of Pern is the Sword & Laser read for April 2013 (just Dragonflight if you don’t have time for all three).
[Omnibus edition: Dragonriders of Pern #1-3, Pern (Chronological Order)]
Anne McCaffrey – Dragonflight (Pern, #1)
HOW CAN ONE GIRL SAVE AN ENTIRE WORLD?
To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.
But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world…
★ S&L Podcast – #126 – More like Dragon-FIGHT!
★ S&L Podcast – #125 – On the wagon
★ S&L Podcast – #124 – Whur my dragons at?
Sword & Laser – Sword and Laser live from Dragon*Con 2012
Excerpts from the Sword and Laser panel at Dragon*Con 2012 with guest R. A. Salvatore
03.) Downbelow Station
C.J. Cherryh – Downbelow Station (Company Wars #1) is the Sword & Laser read for March 2013.
A legend among sci-fi readers, C. J. Cherryh’s Union-Alliance novels, while separate and complete in themselves, are part of a much larger tapestry—a future history spanning 5,000 years of human civilization. Here is the 20th anniversary edition of Downbelow Station, the book that won Cherryh a Hugo Award for Best novel in 1982. A blockbuster space opera of the rebellion between Earth and its far-flung colonies, it is a classic science fiction masterwork.
★ S&L Podcast – #123 – Power couples!
★ S&L Podcast – #122 – Interview with Michael J. Sullivan
Sword & Laser ep. 33 – Thanks for All The Fish! Downbelow Station Wrap-Up & Your Feedback
Sword & Laser ep. 32 – Author Guide: Peter F. Hamilton
Sword & Laser ep. 31 – Self-Publishing, Synergy, and R.A. Salvatore!
Veronica Belmont (@Veronica) March 14, 2013
Sword & Laser ep. 30 – Kushiel’s Legacy, Jacqueline Carey, and More!
Sword & Laser ep. 29 – “Downbelow Station” – March Book Club Kick-Off & Your Feedback!
02.) Bridge of Birds
Barry Hughart – Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was is the Sword & Laser read for February 2013.
When the children of his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox sought a wiseman to save them. He found master Li Kao, a scholar with a slight flaw in his character. Together, they set out to find the Great Root of Power, the only possible cure.
The quest led them to a host of truly memorable characters, multiple wonders, incredible adventures—and strange coincidences, which were really not coincidences at all. And it involved them in an ancient crime that still perturbed the serenity of Heaven. Simply and charmingly told, this is a wry tale, a sly tale, and a story of wisdom delightfully askew. Once read, its marvels and beauty will not easily fade from the mind.
The author claims that this is a novel of an ancient China that never was. But, oh…it should have been!
Also avialable in an omnibus format The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox (The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox #1-3)
★ S&L Podcast – #121 – A bird too far
★ S&L Podcast – #120 – Book Blind Dates
Sword & Laser ep. 28 – February Book Club: Bridge of Birds Wrap-Up & Your Feedback!
Sword & Laser ep. 27 – Treacherous Spies, Trilogies, and Trudi Canavan!
Sword & Laser ep. 26 – Stormlight, Steelheart, Sanderson, and more!
Sword & Laser ep. 25 – February Book Club: Bridge of Birds Kick-Off
01.) Old Man’s War
John Scalzi – Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) is the Sword & Laser read for January 2013.
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce–and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.
★ S&L Podcast – #119 – Pronounce this…
★ S&L Podcast – #118 – Scientific seal of approval
Sword & Laser ep. 24 – January Book Club: “Old Man’s War” Wrap-Up & Your Feedback!
Sword & Laser ep. 23 – Terry Brooks!
Sword & Laser ep. 22 – Trash Talking Angels and Tad Williams
Sword & Laser ep. 21: Sword & Laser January Book Club: “Old Man’s War” Kick-Off