Are you a science fiction fan? If yes, this podcast review is just for you! Today I attempt to turn you on to a most excellent science fiction and fantasy book reviewing podcast – Sword & Laser.
Sword and Laser, as the name suggests, deals with books in the science fiction and fantasy genres. It is hosted by Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont, both of whom are avid book readers and lovers of the genre. As far as I know, Sword and Laser has been in existence from 2007 and before there was a podcast, there was an active book review and discussion club, hosted on Ning. This group is now dead and all of the activity happens on the Goodreads forums. There is no barrier to entry so feel free to join the group, even if you are not into podcasts.
Veronica and Tom pick a book each week (or so) and, after giving the members some time to read it, discuss it on the podcast. Both are active participants in the Goodreads group so the podcast is not just a one way street. The most interesting part in the podcasts, in my opinion, is the interview with the author part. Veronica and Tom coerce the most famous of the sci-fi and fantasy authors and characters to come on to the podcast and answer the questions from the Googreads group members. Think Joe Abercrombie (The First Law trilogy), Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor on the Game of Thrones).
As I mentioned, both Tom and Veronica are avid readers themselves and are extremely knowledgeable in the subject matter. Both are tech journalists and have excellent geek cred. Veronica is known for producing and hosting some shows on CNET and Mahalo and currently hosts Tekzilla show on Revision3 network. Tom Merritt is also a well known tech journalist, having been a host of several shows on CNET until his departure for the TWIT Network, where he currently hosts several shows, most prominent of which is Tech News Today.
Whether you are a frequent reader of sci-fi and fantasy books or whether you are looking for some one-off recommendations, I would recommend you navigate to the Sword and Laser Goodreads group and become a member. Also, if you are a fan of show like Flash Forward, The Game of Thrones or the Millennium Trilogy movies, it should be no surprise to you to find out that these shows and movies are based on books, which are reviewed by Tom and Veronica. Check out their George R.R. Martin and Robert J. Sawyer threads, as well as the respective podcast episodes.
Bottom line, to navigate the world of sci-fi and fantasy, that abides by the Sturgeon’s Law (“Ninety percent of everything is crap”), you need Tom and Veronica to hold your hand. Between the podcast and the S&L Goodreads forum you will have your hands full of excellent fiction!
You can find Sword and Laser content on:
It is remarkable how ambitious I was when I set out to write about a new podcast every week at the beginning of this year! Not only did I underestimate the time commitment (what else is new!), but I also overestimated the amount of decent podcasts there are out there.
No, I am not saying that there are only 15. What I am trying to say is that podcast discovery is almost a full-time job! There is so much crap out there and yet it surfaces to the top-ten lists all the time.
The task is especially hard if you are only using iTunes for podcast discovery. iTunes is horrible at this task. I recommend the following:
I always thought that geek is the new cool and have modified my lifestyle accordingly. However, since everything new is well forgotten old, whatever Woody Allen and Larry David exemplified some time ago seems to be coming back. This podcast review is of a neurotic character by the name of Marc Maron and his podcast WTF: With Marc Maron.
Maron is no sweetheart. He is a no holds barred straight shooter comedian, who does stand-up comedy, used to host several radio and TV shows and now sits in his garage/studio and conducts interviews with fellow comedians/movie stars/TV personalities.
Maron started in stand-up, then moved on to TV, then to radio and finally to the podcasts. Wikipedia lists his genre as “Alternative comedy, Cringe humor, Black comedy, Satire, Observational comedy” and boy is that an understatement! He would frequently discuss issues of personal nature (failed marriages, relationships with parents, sex, drugs and his genitalia), but would do that in an extremely uproarious neurotic way that does not make me cringe at all. But to each his/her own.
Are you an entrepreneur or do you want to become one? Wouldn’t it be great to hear success and failure stories from one-off or serial entrepreneurs that started companies like Wikipedia or Wine Library TV? If you like to be a sponge and learn tips and trick, be inspired and entertained by these stories, this podcast review is just for you.
First of all, indulge me in a little rant. I have had several requests from people who just started a new podcasts for a review write up of their show. Let these people remain nameless, but perhaps they will read this review and take a few notes. If you want to create a podcast please think about the content first. You cannot just record your conversation with friends and publish that to iTunes. Well, you can, but no one except for your friends will be interested in what you have to say. I listened to so many podcasts where people ramble on, litter the speech with ahh’s and mmm’s for an hour long session. It takes great skill to interview someone or to rant on “radio” and only a few that do it well should do it!
Wanna hear something funny? Sorry, I’m not the man to turn to, but I do have two podcasts for you that will make you laugh. This is a joint podcast review of NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and BBC’s “Friday Night Comedy – The News Quiz”.
Hailing from the two sides of the Atlantic these two podcasts will leave you clueless for some local issues, but will make you wet your pants from laughter on others. This is exactly the reason why I bundled these two podcasts together. The format for both podcasts is very similar, almost as if they were designed by a geographically neutral committee.
This is a podcast review of Freakonomics Radio, produced by American Public Media’s Marketplace and public-radio station WNYC. The subject matter is all things weird economics and all that does not fit into standard textbooks.
This is a podcast review of The Age of Persuasion, produced by CBC. What if you can have Don Draper tell you a bedside story about the inner workings of the ad industry? Okay, that sounds positively creepy, but wouldn’t you like to get into the heads of the people whose business it is to routinely get into your heads via advertisement and subliminal manipulation? Now we are on a less-creepy track!
I have to apologize in advance for a slight delay in my schedule (I am a week behind) and design hiccups here and there. I am trying to iron out the Facebook page integration and the correct display of my posts in the Feed.
There have been many good and bad additions to my regular playlist over the past few weeks. I do not think I will bother reviewing the bad ones! There are a few that are quite outstanding so stay tuned!
Do you have something to say? Why not create your own podcast (it’s easy!!!) and I will gladly review it!
This is a podcast review of Planet Money, produced by NPR. There are podcasts out there that go above and beyond the “up and down economics”, and give you a more in-depth picture of the world of business and finance. Planet Money is one of these podcasts. It is one of the best investigative journalism programs out there that looks at the source of the latest news stories and is not afraid to “get its hands dirty” by buying toxic bonds and gold coins to help answer some of the questions.
This podcast review is for a production put together by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which is the Canadian equivalent of National Public Radio (NPR) in the US and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the UK. CBC produces a ton of amazing programming in the podcast form, some of which I will be reviewing later, but Quirks and Quarks stands out.