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 second half of 2014. This page is designed as is a quick reference page so that I can quickly jump between the forum pages and Goodreads listings.
12.) The Night Circus
The Night Circus is the Sword & Laser read for December 2014.
Erin Morgenstern – The Night Circus
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
★ S&L Podcast – #199 – Integrity for Sale
★ S&L Podcast – #198 – The Most Hated Phrases in SciFi
11.) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the Sword & Laser read for November 2014.
Philip K. Dick – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner #1)
A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep . . . even humans.
(Media: audiobook, ebook) // There is also an audio version on archive.org
I think I should also follow up and watch Blade Runner (the Director’s Cut).
★ S&L Podcast – #197 – Veronica is a Cannibal
★ S&L Podcast – #196 – Would Vegetarians Eat Electric Meat?
10.) Alif the Unseen
Alif the Unseen is the Sword & Laser read for October 2014.
G. Willow Wilson – Alif the Unseen
In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the State’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the head of State security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen. With shades of Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, and The Thousand and One Nights, Alif the Unseen is a tour de force debut—a sophisticated melting pot of ideas, philosophy, religion, technology and spirituality smuggled inside an irresistible page-turner.
★ S&L Podcast – #195 – Why It’s OK to Hate My Favorite Book
★ S&L Podcast – #194 – Delilah S. Dawson: Why Whimsydark Rules
★ S&L Podcast – #193 – Kiss from a Queen (on the Face)
★ S&L Podcast – #192 – Sexual Experiences with Robert Jackson Bennett
09.) Stories of Your Life and Others
Stories of Your Life and Others is the Sword & Laser read for September 2014.
Ted Chiang – Stories of Your Life and Others
Here are eight astonishing science-fiction stories that explore the boundaries between science and religion, between determinism and our ability to choose, between words and the entities they describe. Here are stories of conceptual breakthrough … of making sense of the universe and our place in it.
★ S&L Podcast – #191 – Tom Merritt, Kindle Hater
★ S&L Podcast – #190 – Timothy Zahn Minds Your Soul
★ S&L Podcast – #189 – Literary Virginity, Literally
★ S&L Podcast – #188 – It’s a Dragon Con Plex
Patrick Rothfuss – The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
(Media: Deadtree, audiobook)
★ S&L Podcast – #187 – How to Win a Hugo
★ S&L Podcast – #186 – The Name of the Wind is Dave
★ S&L Podcast – #185 – Traveling by Bubble!
Octavia E. Butler – Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)
Lilith lyapo awoke from a centuries-long sleep to find herself aboard the vast spaceship of the Oankali. Creatures covered in writhing tentacles, the Oankali had saved every surviving human from a dying, ruined Earth. They healed the planet, cured cancer, increased strength, and were now ready to help Lilith lead her people back to Earth–but for a price.
★ S&L Podcast – #184 – Threeways to Save Humanity
★ S&L Podcast – #183 – The Damon Inside Me
★ S&L Podcast – #182 – Ken Liu Translates Success