He Uses His Powers For Evil

His reputation precedes him. Harlan Ellison is probably one of the best writers of the last century, but he may be more famous (or infamous) for his irascibility, his lawsuits, and his reputed bad behavior. In this episode, six people (two of whom are Ellison novices) read six of his most lauded short stories and discuss the man and his words.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Rhias Hall, Lisa Schmeiser, Chip Sudderth, David J. Loehr and Scott McNulty


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Previous Episodes

Apart From All the Skiing

Our Book Club returns to discuss two late 1960s works by the legendary Ursula K. Le Guin, who passed away earlier this year. We tackle the fantasy novel “A Wizard of Earthsea” and the science fiction novel “The Left Hand of Darkness”, both deeply influential in different ways. The works were new to some of our panelists and old favorites for others, so we discuss both what they represented at the time and how we view them from the perspective of 2018.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Scott McNulty, Antony Johnston and Glenn Fleishman


Kids Love the Kaiser (An Autumn Reading List)

Here in North America, the leaves are brightly colored and there’s a chill in the air. What better time to stay inside, make a warm pot of tea, and curl up with a good book? Our panel has many suggestions for excellent books to read if you or a friend is looking for a good science fiction or fantasy novel.

Jason Snell with Scott McNulty, Erika Ensign, Dan Moren and David J. Loehr


Terrifying Fear of Clouds

Beloved (yet creepy?) children’s author Roald Dahl is in our spotlight this week, as we talk about some of our favorite books by Dahl, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “James and the Giant Peach”, “Danny, the Champion of the World”, and “Matilda.” We also discuss film adaptations and all the uncomfortable bits that have been cut out of new editions of Dahl over the years. Look for the golden ticket inside this podcast!

Jason Snell with John McCoy, Brian Hamilton and Monty Ashley


Just Give Me 35 Years

It took thousands of pages over seven novels, but eventually Stephen King finished his genre-busting series, The Dark Tower—and eventually we finished it too! Join four faithful readers who have taken the journey with Roland and his Ka-Tet and are ready to report back. We’ve got 30 minutes of non-spoiler discussion for prospective readers, followed by a lightning-round palaver about all seven main-sequence books, and how they link with other parts of King’s work.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, John Siracusa and Dan Moren


I Tried to Quit This Book Twice

Looking for a good science fiction or fantasy book to read? Have we got a list for you. Our intrepid panel read all the novels nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards this year—eight in total—and has returned with the results. No spoilers, but we’ll share our feelings about all eight books. With any luck, you’ll come out with one, or four, or eight books to add to your reading list.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Scott McNulty and Aleen Simms


Go to the Moon

Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss the works of novelist N.K. Jemisin, specifically her most recent books, “The Fifth Season” and “The Obelisk Gate.” We also discuss the Inheritance Trilogy, which started with “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.” Plus, what are we reading now?

Jason Snell with Aleen Simms, Scott McNulty and Erika Ensign


Metaphors All the Way Down

Tape plastic wrap to your windows and wear a heavy jacket, because we’re revisiting Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel “American Gods” (and its not-a-sequel, 2005’s “Anansi Boys”) before these books make it to TV screens. We appreciate Gaiman’s writing style and the tightrope he walks to tell the story he wants to tell, but have some questions about invisible gods, tall tales, roadside landmarks, and the rules of this world.

Jason Snell with Aleen Simms, Monty Ashley, Glenn Fleishman and David J. Loehr


Burned Like Books

The Incomparable’s Book Club reconvenes to discuss two books from the past about future dystopias: Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Is Bradbury just angry about reality TV? Does Orwell just want you to read his essay about language? Can we read these famous books without bringing along our preconceived notions of what they’re supposed to mean? At what temperature do Kindles burn? Don’t worry—in the end this entire episode is going down the Memory Hole.

Jason Snell with John McCoy, Scott McNulty, Erika Ensign and David J. Loehr


Just Add Jesuits!

After 20 years, we revisit Mary Doria Russell’s first-contact classic “The Sparrow.” It’s a story about aliens, spirituality, and why God allows terrible things to happen to good people. And boy, do terrible things happen to people in this book. (Content advisory: One of those things is sexual assault of humans by aliens.)

Jason Snell with Scott McNulty, Shannon Sudderth and Erika Ensign


All the Best Words

It’s time for our annual survey of some of the best science fiction and fantasy novels of the year, as we read all seven of the nominees for the Nebula Award. If you’re looking for some new books to read, check out our discussion—we tread lightly on the spoilers.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Scott McNulty, Aleen Simms and Shaun Duke


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