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8.1: The Children of Time pre-read: What is "Hard" Science Fiction?

This November we're reading Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Woo Adrians! This episode we discuss what the "science" in science fiction means. What other books portray science well? What does it mean to write a book about science? Should science fiction try to be "realistic"? In addition, we give you the book facts, and discuss a number of other works. Links are at spectology.com if they don't show up in your podcatcher: * Blindsight by Peter Watts * Ursula K. Le Guin * Foreigner...


Announcements: Adrian guest hosts a podcast + our November book

Two quick announcements today, since we weren't able to get our usual pre-read episode recorded in time. The first is that our November book will be Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This is a book neither of us has read, but won the Clarke award and has themes that we're both interested in. Should be a good time. The second is that Adrian guest hosted on the Hugos There Podcast (https://hugospodcast.com) a few days ago to talk about Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. It...


7.2: The Ballad of Black Tom post-read: When is it appropriate to destroy the world?

Late but not never! Our post-read episode for Victor LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom. We discuss the plot & many of the themes of the novel. Why do we think Black Tom such a better retelling of Lovecraft's story? What is psychological realism? Was an opportunity missed to include more immigrant characters? When are greivances such that ending the world is at least an understandable response? Resources mentioned in the podcast. Links on www.spectology.com: - The Ballad of Black Tom by...


In Conversation: Books, Ebooks, & Audio Books; or, How Aesthetics Drive Reading Choices

In this bonus episode we welcome Kevin Kelsey, author of the Heradas.com SF Blog & longtime listener, to discuss our reading habits. How does reading on paper differ from reading on an e-reader? Why does one of us prefer paper for non-fiction and ebooks for fiction? Who enjoys audio books the most? Which imprint has the best physical books? When is it OK to write in a book? And why does Adrian sound like a sad Cookie Monster impersonator? We discuss all of these and more in what was a...


7.1: The Ballad of Black Tom pre-read: Race & the History of Horror Fiction

For October, Matt & Adrian are dipping their toes into the world of Horror, reading Victor LaValle's novella The Ballad of Black Tom. The Ballad of Black Tom is a retelling of one of HP Lovecraft's most egregiously racist short stories, "The Horror at Red Hook", from the perspective of a black man living in Harlem who gets wrapped up in NYC's magical underworld. It won or was short listed for a number of top SF, Horror, and Fantasy awards due to its compelling characters, comfortable prose,...


6.2: Ninefox Gambit post-read w/ Ellie Bartels: Military Games in Science Fiction

At long last, our follow-up episode to Yoon Ha Lee's wonderful Ninefox Gambit has arrived! And Ellie is back to talk about her job & the book with us. Unlike most post-read episodes, we start off with a longer, non-spoiler discussion with Ellie about what she does & how the US Government uses startegy war games in both education & decision-making. It's a fascinating half hour conversation, and worth listening to even if you haven't read the book. Then of course we get into the meat of it!...


Things We Like: September 18

Welcome back friends, it's been a while! Adrian & Matt are back from our break, happy to bring you our hottest takes on what we've been enjoying recently. And next week we'll have our post-read Episode for Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, so you should read that & listen to our last episode if you haven't yet. This week we cover: - MeasuredPolitics.org, Adrian's Political Action Committee - Mike Boyd's YouTube channel, where he documents his process learning random skills - Bojack...


6.1: Ninefox Gambit pre-read w/ Ellie Bartels: Strategy War Games in Science Fiction

Late episode this week... but early episode this month! It's the Labor Day holiday weekend, so we wanted to post a longer episode to keep people company during all the BBQs and road trips. This month, the book we're reading is the Locus-award winning Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee. We also have a wonderful guest. Ellie Bartels is a strategy & war game designer, and has long been book club pals with Adrian & Matt. In this episode we discuss military science fiction, how science fiction and...


5.2: Gnomon post-read with Max Gladstone

We're back with our post-read episode, discussing Nick Harkaway's challenging, interminable, and oh so enjoyable novel Gnomon. Spoilers all around. We also discuss postmodern fiction, writing people unlike you, and the power, both good and bad, of narrative in the modern world. It's a long episode, but it was a hugely fun one to record! Big thanks to Max for taking so much time this month to hang out and chat with us, make sure to check out his books & the Serial Box story...


In Conversation: Things We Like This Month

Adrian & Matt are together for a short episode going over some of their favorite books, movies, video games, and podcasts of recent. We each discuss three things that we're excited to share with each other and all of you! They are: - Making Obama, a podcast from WBEZ Chicago - Sorry to Bother You, a movie from Boots Riley (see it in theatres!) - Japanese Style Originator, available on Netflix - Chrono Trigger, available on Steam, iOS, Android, etc - The Invisible Valley by Su Wei,...


5.1: Pre-read for Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway, with guest Max Gladstone

We're back with the #content plants crave. Joining us this week is special guest Max Gladstone, SF & fantasy author extraordinaire. But he's not here to talk about his own work, the Craft Sequence, oh no. Max wanted to discuss the phenomenal, long, daunting, nuanced, and mysterious Gnomon, by estemed author in his own right Nick Harkaway. The discussion this week is spoiler-free, and acts as an introduction to the book and the ideas in it. We had a long and wide-ranging conversation with...


4.3: Matt's back for our Romie Futch wrap-up!

We got your hot takes right here, folks! Matt's back for a super-quick wrap-up of our series on The New & Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott. Matt reveals his favorite scenes from the book, we go down some rabbit holes talking about taxidermy and halloween costumes, and discuss about why growth as an adult is so difficult & important. We also mention the phrase "Soft Apocalypse" a bunch, which comes from the phenomenal book by that title by Will McIntosh. And manage to keep it under 30...


4.2: The New & Improved Romie Futch post-read w/ Britt O'Duffy

We're back for our post-read episode of The New and Improved Romie Futch. This time, our friend Brittney O'Duffy dropped by to give her thoughts on the novel. She and Adrian discuss education as a gateway between socio-economic class in America, the use of the male gaze in Romie Futch, marketing analytics & the surviellance state, recontextualize the "millenials are killing X" think-pieces, and much much more. Sadly, Matt couldn't be with us this time, but he and Adrian will have a short...


In Conversation: Matt & Adrian talk "Spoilers"

What is a spoiler? Why do we care about them? How do different people react to them? Do fan communities police spoilers too much? If a spoiler makes you like something more, is it really a spoiler? This week, Matt and Adrian talk about their own reading habits and how they think about "spoilers" both in their own reading, and when interacting with others. This episode is part of a new series we're calling "In Conversation", shorter episodes where we talk about one topic in the SFF world....


4.1: The New & Improved Romie Futch pre-read

July's book is The New and Improved Romie Futch, by Julia Elliott. Julia is an English and Women's & Gender Studies professor at the University of South Carolina, as well as an accalimed short story writer. Her first novel, Romie Futch follows the titular character, Roman, as he goes from schlubby taxidermist in rural South Carolina to a brain-enhansed schlubby taxidermist in rural South Carolina. In this spoiler-free, pre-read episode, Adrian & Matt give you the book facts, as well as...


3.BONUS: Talking Caribbean SF with Tobias Buckell + July book announcement

Do we have a great episode for you today oh boy! As a coda to our series on Binti and Afrofuturism, we invited Caribbean SF author Tobias Buckell to teach us about science fiction from the islands. Tobias has a patreon at patreon.com/tobiasbuckell, which you should check out if you enjoy this episode, and find him on twitter at @tobiasbuckell. We mention a lot of books, stories and more in this episode. Links are below or at our website, spectology.com, if they don't show up in your...


3.4: Binti: The Night Masquerade post-read

Woo! Here it is, the final episode in our Binit mini-series. We get to wrap it up with a book neither of us have read before, and bring it full circle talking about Afrofuturism, university, technology, and what "herratige" really means. Links to buy the Binti novella's and support the pod are: - Binti - Binti: Home - Binti: The Night Masquerade Next week we're taking a break, but will have a short announcement of our next book! Then we'll be right back into it with the pre- and...


3.3: Binti: Home post-read

We read and discuss the second installment in the Binti trilogy. In this book, Binti: Home, Binti comes back to Earth to go on a Himba woman's pilgrimage, and has to deal with a family who doesn't understand her decisions and a homeland that is hostile to her new friend, the Meduse Okwu. We continue our discussions of different ways to relate to the idea of technology, whether rural life is necessarily "primitive" and whether that's a useful word in any context, and how Binti's journey is...


3.2: Binti post-read

Welcome to our first post-read episode this month, for the first novella in the Binti Trilogy: "Binti". In this episode, Adrian connects his childhood growing up in rural Alaska to Binti's background, Matt talks about why he loves the moral landscape of the novella, we discuss the essence of technology, and we both answer whether we'd rather be Meduse or a shrimp-ship. Content warning for some discussion of the violence in the book, as well as spoilers for only the first Binti...


3.1: The Binti Trilogy pre-read

A new month, a new book! Or in this case, series of books. The Binti Trilogy is a set of short novellas by Nnedi Okorafor. Together they are about the same size as a novel (and about the cost). They tell the story of a young woman in Western Africa who gets an invitation to the best university in the galaxy, and leaves everything she knows to attend. However, these aren't your typical chosen one or fish out of water school stories, and they take a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the...