Science Fiction/Fantasy

Sites We Like: Sword & Laser

Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

I’ve been on a quest to discover my inner geek lately. I thought my love of books fully qualified me as geek, but I have discovered that there is so much more to it than that. I have Ernie Cline, Lev Grossman, Wil Wheaton, and Felicia Day to blame…or to thank.

What am I talking about? In short form, reading books like The Magicians and Ready Player One made me realize that the realm of Geekdom is much larger than I once thought. RPO led me back to Wil Wheaton (I was a big Wesley Crusher fan in my younger days), which led me to Felicia Day. She led me to her new YouTube network, Geek & Sundry, which features a show about sci-fi/fantasy books called Sword & Laser, and the book that they were discussing in their first episode was The Magicians. So I watched.

What I saw caught my interest, and I clicked the link for their site to discover that Sword & Laser has been around for a while. For four years, Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt have hosted the Sword & Laser podcast. It is hugely popular, and a large community has grown up around it, including a Goodreads forum with more than 8000 members. Their next podcast, which should be posted today (if I’m following the schedule correctly), will be their 100th episode.  Things like this do not last that long unless they are doing something right.

When they announced the video show on their blog, they assured their listeners that it would not take away from the podcast at all. Instead, they hope to see the podcast focus more on the book club and discussion, while the videos will feature more interviews and features like the Quick Burns (quick news items from the world of sci-fi and fantasy) and an Alternate History segment (this was the first thing that really caught my attention and made me keep watching).

Veronica and Tom do a pretty good interview, too. They are friendly, funny, and enthusiastic. They don’t have to try too hard to get these authors talking about their influences and their work or to make them look like they enjoy doing it. This can be quite a challenge (as those of us who regularly attend book events have noticed), but it is a challenge that they meet head-on, sword (and laser) in hand.

Their enthusiasm is infectious, and I find myself waiting eagerly for the next video so that I can add to my pile of books that need to be read.  I was looking for a guide into the world of sci-fi/fantasy, and I got real lucky. I found two. Let Veronica and Tom show you around, too.