The Sword & Laser book club, spearheaded by fantasy geek Veronica Belmont and science fiction geek Tom Merritt, is one of the most vibrant and enthusiastic fan communities on the ‘net. In addition to the book club, Belmont and Merritt also host a podcast and a weekly video show, which feature discussion about all the hooplah (good and bad) in fandom, book club discussion, and interviews with some of the genres’ most popular authors.
As if that wasn’t enough, the busy duo saw an opportunity afforded to them by their loving community of fans: an anthology of new writers. I reached out to Veronica Belmont to discuss the anthology, which is just a few weeks away from release, and features some pretty great stories (including one from me!).
“The Sword & Laser Anthology is almost two years in the making, at this point,” Belmont explained when I asked her about the origins of the anthology. “We’d been planning it for a long time, but we officially started accepting submissions in March of 2013. Building this community, which has existed since 2007, we realized very early that we had many talented writers among our listeners, and we wanted to give them an opportunity have their voices heard as well. That’s basically where the idea came from.”
Table of Contents
- “Soft as a Feather When Done Right” by Nicole Feldringer
- “A Night for Spirits and Snowflakes” by Aidan Moher
- “Saltwater Skin” by Kristy Sutherland
- “Partly Petrified” by Auston Habershaw
- “The Lesser Evil” by Day Al-Mohamed
- “White Flame” by Jeff BakerHow Fox Fixed the Sky by Stephen Case
- “A Good Man” by Zachary Tringali
- “Knowing Better” by Paul Krueger
- “The Novice’s Guide to Adventuring” by Sean Tadsen
- “The Osiris Paradox” by Sarina Dorie
- “Leviathan! Leviathan!” By Jacob A. Boyd
- “Jonah’s Daughter” by Adam Callaway
- “Birdy” by Rebecca J. Thomas
- “The Same International Orange” by Luke R. Pebler
- “Afterword” by Mike Murphy
- “Data Dump” by Trisha L. Senbastian
- “Honeybun” by Austin Malone
- “False Lights” by Victoria Hooper
- “Only Darkness” by David Emery
We feel like the final collection really highlights the best of both genres, and is very indicative of the stuff Tom and I love to read ourselves.
“There are twenty original short stories in this anthology, split evenly between science fiction and fantasy,” Belmont explained. One of the core tenets of Sword & Laser, as evidenced by their name, is their split focus on both fantasy and science fiction. Each of the hosts comes with a different reading background, and their enthusiasm for their genre-of-choice is clear in their podcasts, video show, and book club discussions. It only makes sense that the anthology would follow along the same lines. Ten fantasy stories, ten science fiction stories.
“It was an incredibly difficult process to choose which stories made the final cut,” Belmont admits. “We’ll probably limited the submissions to one per author next time! There’s just too much good stuff out there. We feel like the final collection really highlights the best of both genres, and is very indicative of the stuff Tom and I love to read ourselves.”
My own story is three years in the making. “A Night for Spirits and Snowflakes” is a heroic low-Fantasy story following the travails of a young soldier as he buries his dead comrades and reflects on the nature of warfare, greed, religion and justice. The story was inspired by Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven. I’m thrilled that readers are finally going to be able to read it. (Also, terrified.)
And how about that cover art?
Taking the idea of these stories as little capsuled universes, artist Cliff Nielsen had a field day and produced a fun piece of art. Nielsen isn’t the only recognizable name to contribute a piece to the anthology, though. “The icing on the cake was the incredible cover by artist Cliff Nielsen, and the introduction by Patrick Rothfuss. We’re really happy with the collection, and we hope readers are too!”