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 2016. 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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06.) Updraft (Bone Universe, #1)
Updraft is the Sword & Laser read for June 2016.
Fran Wilde – Updraft (Bone Universe #1)
In a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves.
Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.
Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.
As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever – if it isn’t destroyed outright.
(Media: ? )
★ S&L Podcast – #260 – Why Young Adult is for Everyone w/ Fran Wilde
★ S&L Podcast – #259 – The Adventures of the Giant Space Hedgehog
★ S&L Podcast – #258 – When to Worry About the Singularity w/ Ramez Naam!
★ S&L Podcast – #257 – Shakespeare Was a Genre Writer
★ S&L Podcast – #256 – Interview with Hardcore Game of Thrones
Aurora is the Sword & Laser read for May 2016.
Kim Stanley Robinson – Aurora
A major new novel from one of science fiction’s most powerful voices, AURORA tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system.
Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers.
Our voyage from Earth began generations ago.
Now, we approach our new home.
(Media: ? )
★ S&L Podcast – #255 – Just the One Planet
★ S&L Podcast – #254 – Wheel of Boobies?
04.) A Darker Shade of Magic
A Darker Shade of Magic is the Sword & Laser read for April 2016.
V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.
(Media: ? )
04.b.) The Fifth Season
The Fifth Season is is the Sword & Laser ALT read for April 2016.
N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.
A season of endings has begun.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.
(Media: ? )
★ S&L Podcast – #253 – A Tale of Two Styles
★ S&L Podcast – #252 – Andrew Mayne’s Magical Writing Secrets
★ S&L Podcast – #251 – How Veronica Tamed Tyrion
★ S&L Podcast – #250 – Ken Liu explains why Silkpunk is not what you think
03.) All the Birds in the Sky
All the Birds in the Sky is the Sword & Laser read for March 2016.
Charlie Jane Anders – All the Birds in the Sky
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.
(Media: ? audiobook?)
★ S&L Podcast – #249 – Secrets of All the Birds in the Sky w/ Charlie Jane Anders
★ S&L Podcast – #248 – The Truth About Vampires w/ Jim McDoniel
★ S&L Podcast – #247 – Parents Just Weren’t Understood
★ S&L Podcast – #246 – The 34 Rules of Robotics with J-F Dubeau
★ S&L Podcast – #245 – Terry Pratchett Helps Us Feel Better
02.) The Sword of Shannara
The Sword of Shannara is the Sword & Laser read for February 2016.
Terry Brooks – The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy #1)
Long ago, wars of ancient Evil ruined the world and forced mankind to compete with many other races – gnomes, trolls, dwarfs, and elves. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles until giant, forbidding Allanon, with strange Druidic powers, reveals a supposedly-dead Warlock Lord plots to destroy the world.
The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, only usable by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races. Soon a Skull Bearer, dread minion of Evil, flies into the Vale to kill Shea. To save the Vale, Shea flees, drawing the Skull Bearer after him.
(Media: dead tree, audible special price $4.95)
★ S&L Podcast – #244 – It’s OK to Like Junk Fiction Sometimes
★ S&L Podcast – #243 – Hugo Nominations Are Open!
Radiance is the Sword & Laser read for January 2016.
Catherynne M. Valente – Radiance
Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own, from the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe. …
(Media: audiobook )
★ S&L Podcast – #242 – The Animal in Our Collection
★ S&L Podcast – #241 – A.I. Animal Flesh Carvers
★ S&L Podcast – #240 – Wish We Were There