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 2015. This page is designed as is a quick reference page so that I can quickly jump between the forum pages and Goodreads listings.
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12.) Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)
Arrows of the Queen is the Sword & Laser read for December 2015.
Mercedes Lackey – Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)
Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a run-away, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.
But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason which could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the Queen’s heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen’s own foes!
★ S&L Podcast – #239 – King Arthur is a Mary Sue
★ S&L Podcast – #238 – W.E.B. Dubois’ 1908 GoT Reference
★ S&L Podcast – #237 – Charles E. Gannon and Big Idea Books
11.) Time and Again (Time, #1)
Time and Again is the Sword & Laser read for November 2015.
Jack Finney – Time and Again (Time, #1)
Science fiction, mystery, a passionate love story, and a detailed history of Old New York blend together in Jack Finney’s spellbinding story of a young man enlisted in a secret Government experiment.
Transported from the mid-twentieth century to New York City in the year 1882, Si Morley walks the fashionable “Ladies’ Mile” of Broadway, is enchanted by the jingling sleigh bells in Central Park, and solves a 20th-century mystery by discovering its 19th-century roots. Falling in love with a beautiful young woman, he ultimately finds himself forced to choose between his lives in the present and the past.
A story that will remain in the listener’s memory, “Time and Again” is a remarkable blending of the troubled present and a nostalgic past, made vivid and extraordinarily moving by the images of a time that was…and perhaps still is.
★ S&L Podcast – #236 – Time Travel is Frustrating
★ S&L Podcast – #235 – The Practical Effects of Mallory O’Meara
★ S&L Podcast – #234 – We Think We Know How Game of Thrones Ends
★ S&L Podcast – #233 – Publishing Inside and Out, with Jaym Gates (Con-Volution 2015)
10.) The Traitor Baru Cormorant
The Traitor Baru Cormorant is the Sword & Laser read for October 2015.
Seth Dickinson – The Traitor Baru Cormorant
THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT is an epic geopolitical fantasy about one woman’s mission to tear down an empire by learning how to rule it.
Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.
The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.
In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery – and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.
But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.
★ S&L Podcast – #232 – Is This Book a Traitor To Its Genre?
★ S&L Podcast – #231 – Can an Author Spoil Herself?
★ S&L Podcast – #230 – Reading Makes You a Better Person, Says Science
★ S&L Podcast Rewind – ‘The Martian Influx’ Redux
09.) A Canticle for Leibowitz
A Canticle for Leibowitz is the Sword & Laser read for September 2015.
Walter M. Miller Jr., Mary Doria Russell – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature–a chilling and still provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future.
In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.
★ S&L Podcast – #229 – Taylor Swift Is A Fremen
★ S&L Podcast – #228 – Is Present Tense For Baby Brains?
★ S&L Podcast – #227 – Cherie Priest And The Caverns Of Inspiration
Uprooted is the Sword & Laser read for August 2015.
Naomi Novik – Uprooted
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
★ S&L Podcast – #226 – Embrace The Manic Pixie Dream Witch
★ S&L Podcast – #225 – Why You Should Welcome the Robots
★ S&L Podcast – #224 – Scott Sigler Keeps Us Alive!
07.) Station Eleven
Station Eleven is the Sword & Laser read for July 2015.
Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
★ S&L Podcast – #223 – Why Station Eleven is Horror AND Science Fiction
★ S&L Podcast – #222 – Neil Gaiman Writes All the Things
★ S&L Podcast – #221 – From Authors to Hollywood Moguls!