Mur Lafferty returns to Books and Ideas

Mur Lafferty (photo by Philip Peterson)Mur Lafferty inspired me to start podcasting back in 2006, so I am very proud that she recently won the prestigious John W. Campbell Award at this year's Hugos Celebration. Her latest novel The Shambling Guide to New York City is also garnering well-deserved praise.

Mur was my guest way back in Episode 17 of my Books and Ideas podcast so I am very pleased to have her back on for Episode 52. We talked about her writing career and what she has learned along the way. Mur continues to produce her long-running podcast I Should Be Writing, which is a must listen for all aspiring fiction writers.


Listen to Episode 52 of Books and Ideas

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)


Additional Show Notes:



Karen Traviss on Writing for Gears of War (BI 44)

Karen TravissThe thing that draws me to novels by Karen Traviss is her characters and her recent series of novels based on the popular Gears of Wars videogame delivers a character-driven story of surprising depth. In fact, even though the recently released game Gears of War 3 (also written by Traviss) brings the games to an end, Traviss is still working on the 5th and final Gears of War novel, which is scheduled for release next spring.

I was fortunate to interview Traviss last month, shortly after the release of Gears of War 3. The interview is spoiler free, but even if you don't play video games this interview will give you a new insight the role of writing in this emerging genre. 

listen-to-audio-20 Listen to Karen Traviss (BI 44)

Episode Transcript (Free PDF)

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References and Links:

  • Aspho Fields by Karen Traviss
  • Dr. Campbell's mini-review of Hard Contact (Star Wars: Republic Commando, Book 1) by Karen Traviss
  • "Mad World" video from YouTube (embedded below)


 More Fiction Authors: 

  • BI 17: Mur Lafferty, podcasting pioneer and author of Playing for Keeps
  • BI 18: Tabitha Grace Smith lead writer of Buffy Between the Lines
  • BI 35: Scott Sigler, best-selling author of Contagious and Galactic Football League series
  • BI 38: Christiana Ellis (Nina Kimberly the Merciless) and Skyler White (and Falling, Fly)


listen-to-audio-20 Listen to Karen Traviss (BI 44)

Episode Transcript (Free PDF)

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Scott Sigler on Incorporating Science into Horror Writing (B&I 35)

Episode 35 of the Books and Ideas podcast is an interview with best-selling horror writer, Scott Sigler. Scott is widely admired for pioneering the use of podcasting to promote his fiction writing, but so far hasn't gotten the recognition I think he deserves for incorporating hard science into his unique blend of horror and science fiction. This interview gave me the opportunity to talk with Scott about how he meets the challenge of incorporating accurate science without sacrificing storytelling. I think this is an excellent follow-up to the interview I did with Sheril Kirshenbaum (co-author of Unscientific America) back in Episode 32.

listen-to-audio-20 Listen to Episode 35 of Books and Ideas

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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Recommended Reading: Useful Links: Announcements:
  • Don't forget to check out the Books and Ideas application for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • Books and Ideas will be on hiatus for the next few months while I work on producing and promoting the new premium versions of the Brain Science Podcast.
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Mini-Review: "Empire" by Orson Scott Card

empire.jpgThose of you familiar with Orson Scott Card's long-running Ender series know that he has an unusual interest in history and how it shapes political events. In his latest novel, Empire, the assassination of the US president and vice-president lead to a civil war between the extreme right wing and the extreme left wing. The scenario he presents challenges our tendency to assume that such an event could never occur. The near-realism of the story is both chilling and thought-provoking. This is not a feel-good book, but while it is disturbing, it also provides a strong argument in favor of a return to a politics of moderation, in contrast to the increasing polarization of the current political landscape. In the tradition of great science fiction and great storytelling in general, Card uses his characters to communicate an important message. No matter what your political beliefs you will find characters in the story that you can respect and root for. The book comes to a conclusion that is both satisfying and open-ended. The narration by Stefan Rudniki is excellent though you might find yourself wishing for the print version so that you can re-read some of the more complicated arguments. If you want to get this as a free audio download from be sure to click on the ad on this page (sorry new members only). I recommend this to all OSC fans and to anyone who enjoys speculative, political fiction.
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