Latest Episode: October 8, 2022 — Antony’s book list

635 Throw a Rock at a Reader

It’s time to reconvene our Book Club, not to talk about an awards shortlist but to recommend books from arbitrarily selected categories. So many books! And not many rocks, we promise.

Read the show notes.

Previous Episodes

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    July 22, 2022 — Dan Moren and “The Nova Incident”
    624 You Got Ludlumed

    On the occasion of the publication of “The Nova Incident,” Jason asks Dan a bunch of questions from readers (and listeners) about his writing career, techniques, tools, and more.

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    June 24, 2022 — 2022 Awards Book Club, part 3
    620 Alien Donut Lady

    2022 Awards Book Club concludes with three Hugo-nominated novels: Andy Weir’s deep-space problem-solver “Project Hail Mary”; Shelley Parker Chan’s historical epic “She Who Became the Sun”; and Ryka Aoki’s alien-and-demon-packed “Light from Uncommon Stars.” Also, Erika and Jason highlight some of their favorite short-fiction Hugo nominees.

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    May 27, 2022 — 2022 awards book club, part 2
    616 Bad Decision Theater

    Our Book Club continues its walk through the Hugo and Nebula nominees for Best Novel with three books, “The Galaxy and the Ground Within” by Becky Chambers, “A Master of Djinn” by P. Djèlí Clark, and “The Unbroken” by C.L. Clark.

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    April 22, 2022 — 2022 Awards Book Club, part 1
    611 Distributed Disinterested Dystopia

    Our annual shortlist book club is back! We read two novels that were nominated for Best Novel in the Nebula Awards! SB Divya’s “Machinehood” is a near-future story of gig workers, weak AI servants, and rebellious space stations. Jason Sanford’s “Plague Birds” is a post-apocalyptic story about strong AIs and gene-altered people that’s so far in the future that it feels almost like fantasy. Plus: We recommend other books we’ve enjoyed recently!

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    February 25, 2022 — Book Club: “A Desolation Called Peace” and “Witness for the Dead”
    603 Witness for the Airship

    This episode features a book with fantasy zombies and a book with alien hive minds. Talk about range! Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss the fantasy mystery “Witness for the Dead,” a standalone book set in the world of “The Goblin Emperor”, and “A Desolation Called Peace,” the conclusion of the duology begun in the award-winning “A Memory Called Empire.” Plus: What are we reading?

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    February 4, 2022 — 2010s book draft
    600 The Machine Was a Vampire

    In this six-hundredth episode of The Incomparable, recorded across two separate sessions, we talk about a whole bunch of novels—namely, our picks for the best SF/F novels of the first decade of The Incomparable, the 2010s! For our purposes, we’re designating the “decade” as 2010-2019. Along the way, we may ponder the most important question a reader should ask: Are there Zeppelins?

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    October 16, 2021 — 2021 SF/F Novel Shortlist, part 3
    585 Remember the Soup

    Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss two final 2021 Best Novel nominees, “Harrow the Ninth” and “The Relentless Moon.” We also discuss all the Hugo Award nominees for short fiction, rank the books, and recommend some books we’ve been reading lately!

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    June 26, 2021 — The Midnight Bargain, Mexican Gothic, and Network Effect
    571 You Paint Mushrooms Beautifully

    Some people read with their eyeballs, and still others talk to their books—we do both! In part two of our three-part survey of novels shortlisted for 2021’s top SF and Fantasy awards, we’re discussing the magic and romance of “The Midnight Bargain” by C.L. Polk, the spooky “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and the murderbotiness of “Network Effect” by Martha Wells. Plus, what else are we reading?

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    June 5, 2021 — Helene Wecker and “The Hidden Palace”
    569 The Worst Way to Write a Book, Ever

    Back in 2014, we read Helene Wecker’s novel “The Golem and the Jinni,” and we liked it! Little did we know that she was listening to us… and that she would end up as an Incomparable panelist! Now a sequel, “The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni” has arrived! In this special episode, Jason and Helene discuss the first novel, how real life can intrude on a publishing schedule, the value and temptation of research, and how “The Hidden Palace” ultimately came together.

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    May 9, 2021
    565 The Avengers of Cities

    Our Book Club returns with a new way to approach this year’s SF novel shortlist: we’re reading all the Hugo and Nebula novels in three batches. First up: “Black Sun,” “The City We Became,” and “Piranesi.” Plus: What are we reading?

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    January 30, 2021 — “The Space Between Worlds”
    551 Transdimensional Tech Warlord

    After a long gap, our Book Club reconvenes, and if they can remember Micaiah Johnson’s “The Space Between Worlds,” they’ll recommend it to you. It’s a story about identity and society set across parallel worlds that are even more similar than they initially appear to be. Also, what else have we read lately? Curl up with a good book and keep an eye out for parallel-universe warlords!

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    July 25, 2020 — 2020 Hugo Award nominees
    525 Sorry, Ocean

    It’s our annual read of the annual science fiction and fantasy shortlist, the Hugo Awards nominees! Our panelists catch up on the three books that weren’t covered in our Nebula Awards episode, and then Jason and Erika spend a little time on the short fiction nominees. And the raging debate on whether a planet is space or not continues!

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    May 24, 2020 — 2020 Nebula Award novels
    516 Like a Fruit Salad

    We’ve completed our read of this year’s six Nebula Award nominees for best science fiction/fantasy novel of the year, and have returned with our opinions! And this year was a pretty good one, with very few of our readers experiencing the pain of bad books. From space opera to portal fantasy to Mexican mythology, there are almost certainly books on this list that will strike your fancy. Also, we debate the perennial question: Are planets in space?

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    February 14, 2020 — “To Be Taught, If Fortunate”
    501 The Kickstarter of Space Exploration

    Climb aboard your spaceship and prepare your skin to be sparkly, because we’re discussing “To Be Taught, If Fortunate,” a novella from Becky Chambers, a writer we enjoy quite a lot. This is a story about science, adventure, sacrifice, and the difficulty of being away from home for a very, very long time. An interesting crew of characters explores strange, new worlds—while trying to fit in biologically. Sometimes it goes really well, and other times it doesn’t. Also: What are we reading?

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    November 24, 2019 — “This Is How You Lose the Time War”
    488 What If Romeo and Juliet Were Terminators

    Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss “This Is How You Lose the Time War”, a beautiful novella about the relationship between two time-traveling operatives in a multiverse-wide struggle. Also, Erika keeps stuffing us full of food metaphors. Plus: What are we reading? This episode will go down like ice cream on your brain tongue.

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    August 3, 2019 — 2019 Hugo Nominees
    472 33 Percent Rule

    Our Book Club returns with reviews of the six finalists for the Hugo Award for best science fiction/fantasy novel of the year. You’ll be thrilled by our panelists attempting to remember what happened in books they read months ago! We liked five out of the six, which is a great batting average—but oh, that sixth book. Also, we read some novellas and short stories, too! And Erika’s up for another Hugo!

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    May 18, 2019 — Nebula Novels 2019
    461 Team Jerkface

    It’s time once again for our Book Club to tackle the six novels that made it to the Science Fiction Writers Association’s shortlist, the nominees for the Nebula Awards. All four of us read all six nominees and we discuss their merits (and occasionally demerits). The concept of being a Reverse Nemesis With a Twist is introduced. If you’re looking for a few books to add to your reading list, this episode will hit the spot.

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    February 17, 2019 — William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition”
    446 Allergic to Brands

    Clip the labels off your clothes and put on a World War II replica bomber jacket—it’s time to revisit one of our favorite novels of this century, 2003’s “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson. It was Gibson’s first book to be set in the present day, and yet 16 years later it still feels like a work of science fiction, with a very modern story about brands and viral marketing and our desperate search to find meaning in a world that may have none. If all you’ve read of Gibson is “Neuromancer”, it’s past time that you visited the post-9/11 world of cool-finder Cayce Pollard, the mysterious internet video clips known as The Footage, the global marketing firm Blue Ant, and a series of increasingly lonely international hotel rooms.

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    January 12, 2019 — Book-to-TV-series pitch session
    441 Evil Dukes Are the Worst

    In this era of peak TV, with more than 500 scripted English-language series on the agenda for 2019, what better time for our very well-read panel to suggest books and book series they’d like to see turned into new TV shows? If you’re a TV producer, you’d better act fast—since we recorded this episode, one of our picks has already been announced as a new project! If you’re not a TV producer, consider this a great reading list of books that you’ll like so much you’ll wish they were adapted into TV shows.

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    October 6, 2018 — Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut” novels
    427 A Lot of Rocket Metaphors

    This summer we devoured two novels by Mary Robinette Kowal, “The Calculating Stars” and “The Fated Sky.” They’re both exciting tales of space exploration, with well-rounded characters having to navigate challenges both external and internal, cultural and scientific, personal and global. They’re set in an alternate timeline where the Space Race we know happened quite a bit differently, and at the center is the world-famous Lady Astronaut, Elma York. We seriously can’t recommend these books highly enough. Listen in to find out why, and then stick around for a list of other books we really enjoyed!

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    June 23, 2018 — Hugo Award nominees 2018
    412 His Books Are Like Popcorn

    The Incomparable’s Book Club reaches the finish line of our annual SF/Fantasy award read, as we discuss the six nominees for the Hugo Award for best novel. From new series to concluded trilogies to standalone epics, this year’s list had a lot of variety. And for good measure, we throw in a few of the short-fiction nominees that we really liked.

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    May 19, 2018 — Nebula Novels 2018
    407 Robot Lovin’

    Our Book Club has reconvened to take you on a tour of the seven novels nominated for this year’s Nebula Awards, honoring the best in Science Fiction and Fantasy. After you listen your summer book list will be replenished! We liked almost all of these books, so there’s a lot to choose from—and only one of the six is a later book in a series, so you won’t have to do homework to get reading. Read them all and Jason will give you a gold star and a pizza party, but he’s eating all the pizza.

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    April 8, 2018 — Harlan Ellison short stories
    401 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.

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    March 18, 2018 — Ursula K. Le Guin
    398 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.

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    October 28, 2017 — A list of books!
    377 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.

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    October 22, 2017 — The books of Roald Dahl
    376 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!

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    October 7, 2017 — The Dark Tower novels
    374 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.

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    June 24, 2017 — Hugo and Nebula novels 2017
    359 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.

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    April 1, 2017 — The books of N.K. Jemisin
    346 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?

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    March 18, 2017 — Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”
    344 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.

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    February 11, 2017 — “Fahrenheit 451” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”
    339 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.

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    September 4, 2016 — “The Sparrow”
    316 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.)

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    May 21, 2016 — 2016 Nebula Novels
    301 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.

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    March 12, 2016 — “Aurora” and “Luna: New Moon”
    291 I Like Complicated Books, Glenn

    Our Book Club returns to read two recent, highly praised science fiction novels. From Kim Stanley Robinson comes “Aurora,” the story of a spaceship sent from Earth to a far-off star in a trip that will take generations. And from Ian McDonald comes “Luna: New Moon,” a sort of “Dallas” (or is it “The Godfather”?) set on and under the surface of the moon. Plus, what else are we reading?

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    November 14, 2015 — Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy
    272 Laid a Lot of Foundations

    We have seen tens of thousands of years into the future, and our best psychohistorians think the Galactic Empire will once again reign supreme… so long as there aren’t any surprise mutants or aliens. In this episode, we discuss Isaac Asimov’s classic “Foundation” trilogy. From the perspective of 2015, what still works, and what seems out of date? Plus: What else are we reading?

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    October 10, 2015 — “The Water Knife” and “Seveneves”
    267 I Read It All

    Our Book Club reconvenes to cover two books that are both sort of about the end of the world: Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife” and Neal Stephenson’s “Seveneves.” Regional apocalypses versus worldwide apocalypses! Plus, what else are we reading?

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    July 25, 2015 — 2015 Hugo Award nominees
    256 Space Bureaucracy

    It’s time for our annual dive into the Hugo Awards, focused mostly on the five nominated novels, but also touching on short fiction, comics, films, and TV episodes, as well as this year’s big Hugo controversy.

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    June 13, 2015 — 2015 Nebula Award Novels
    251 Tea, Sandwiches, and Mushrooms

    Time for our annual review of the Nebula Award nominees for the best SF or Fantasy novel of the year, with podcasters from Skiffy and Fanty, SF Signal, and The Three Hoarsemen! We’ll cover (in a spoiler-light fashion) books about space stations, alien invasions, empires, mushrooms, and tea ceremonies. There’s even a deadly incident involving a Zeppelin!

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    May 9, 2015 — Assigned reading
    246 The Shmoop Index

    This episode is all about assigned reading from our school days. Stuff we loved and, more importantly, stuff we hated. Does Jason hate all French literature, or just Emma Bovary? Whose teachers assigned Ursula LeGuin and Kurt Vonnegut? And will Charles Dickens tear our friendly group of podcasters apart? Be sure to do the reading—there might be a quiz tomorrow.

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    March 20, 2015 — Terry Pratchett
    239 The Colour Blue

    In honor of Sir Terry Pratchett, who died a week ago, four voracious Pratchett readers discuss what made Pratchett great, their favorite Pratchett works, and recommend places for newcomers to Terry Pratchett to get started.

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    January 24, 2015 — “Station Eleven” and “The Peripheral”
    231 Eat Pray Love Die Survive

    The end of the world is here, or in the near future, or in the far future, or maybe all three? Our Book Club reconvenes to talk about three somewhat apocalyptic novels: “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel, “The Peripheral” by William Gibson, and “Slow Apocalypse” by John Varley.

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    December 13, 2014 — “The Last Policeman”
    225 A Very Different Idea of Fun

    It’s your usual detective story, with a guy obsessed with a mystery, a femme fatale, and… an asteroid that’s about to kill most of the living things on the earth? That’s the premise for “The Last Policeman” by Ben Winters. We liked the book (and its two sequels) quite a lot, though that comes with a big caveat based on what your definition of “fun” is, and apparently if you’re a soulless monster or not. Plus: What are we reading?

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    October 18, 2014 — Urban fantasy novels set in London.
    216 Maps of London

    London is a thriving modern metropolis, but beneath its streets and behind its doors are ancient, magical secrets. In this episode, a group of (North) Americans discuss some of our favorite London-based urban fantasy novels. This is a spoiler-light episode, so listen in and get ready to add a whole bunch of books to your to-read list. Plus, what are we reading?

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    October 4, 2014 — “The Expanse” book club.
    214 Fun is Underrated

    Space detectives! Pathologically honest spaceship captains! Murderous alien molecules! Solar-system-wide diplomacy! You’ll find all this and more in “The Expanse,” a sci-fi novel series by James S.A. Corey that’s soon to become a SyFy channel series. The members of our Book Club highly recommend it. Also: What are we reading?

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    September 5, 2014 — Stephen King’s “The Stand.”
    210 You Ain’t No Nice Guy

    Take your flu medication, head west out of the abandoned cities, and join us for our discussion of Stephen King’s classic novel “The Stand.” We discuss why we enjoy (literary) apocalypses, question King’s setting of the revised edition in 1990, and join forces with an impossibly wise Yoda figure to plan the ultimate battle between the forces of good and the forces of Vegas. Baby, can you dig your man?

    Post-show: Our own personal apocalypse plans, revisited.

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    July 11, 2014 — The 2014 Hugo Award nominees.
    202 The Partial Monty

    Bury your dead in a Zeppelin and call your interplanetary accountant—it’s time for our annual read of the Hugo Award nominees. We cover this year’s award nominees, plus the “retro Hugos” from 1939, both of which will be awarded in August in London. Also, someone defends Mira Grant.

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    May 31, 2014 — 2014 Nebula Award nominees
    196 Golem and Jinni Detective Agency

    Every year Scott and Jason read all the Hugo Award-nominated novels, which supposedly show off the best science fiction has to offer. That hasn’t always gone well, so this year they’ve read the eight novels nominated for the Nebula Awards—and recruited three other SF podcasters to join them in the fun. We discuss all eight novels with extremely light-to-no spoilers, so it’s safe to listen. And the good news? All eight of these novels are pretty good!

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    March 24, 2014 — Book Club: “The Martian” by Andy Weir.
    187 Man versus Mars

    Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss “The Martian” by Andy Weir. It’s a nuts-and-bolts adventure about a stranded astronaut who uses his botany and engineering skills to stay alive on Mars. Did we mention botany? And engineering? There’s a lot of both. Also, we tell you what we’re reading.

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    January 25, 2014 — “The Lies of Locke Lamora” and “Ancillary Justice.”
    179 Thief-Based Economy

    Our book club returns with discussion of two books! First we talk Scott Lynch’s “The Lies of Locke Lamora,” a fantasy book about a gang of thieves that are even outlaws to other thieves (spoiler horn at 12:00). Then it’s Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice,” a space opera about AIs and ships and empires and corpse soldiers that brings Iain M. Banks to mind (starts at 28:48, spoilers at 33:22). Confusingly long prologues! Fun with gendered pronouns! Questionable burrito metaphors! Plus: What are we reading (starts at 68:13)?

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    November 29, 2013 — A large collection of books we think you should read.
    171 Pirate Politics (A Winter Reading List)

    Winter’s here and it’s time to light a fire, get under a blanket, and curl up with a good book. Our panelists are well read and of exquisite taste, so we’ve got a boatload of suggestions for you. From funny to serious, there’s a book in our list that will hit the spot the next time you’re looking for something to read.

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    November 2, 2013 — Separating authors from their art, and series that have disappointed us.
    166 I Assume Everyone is Awful

    Awful people can make great art. Nice people can write bad books. Can you separate the creator from the art? We struggle with Orson Scott Card and his (rightfully) classic novel “Ender’s Game” and go on to list other writers and series who we’ve hand to break up with. To make things not entirely disappointing, we also talk about authors and series that have never let us down.

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    October 11, 2013 — Alt-history novels and military sci-fi.
    163 What If Galactus Was Made of Jello?

    The winner of our iTunes review contest had us read John Birmingham’s “Weapons of Choice,” which our Book Club used as a jumping-off point to talk about alt-history novels, time travel, military SF, and a whole lot more. You don’t need to read the book to appreciate the episode! Plus: What are we reading?

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    August 24, 2013 — Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.”
    155 The Cat Who Listened to Podcasts

    A boy with no name travels to the end of the lane and discovers how a pond can be an ocean in Neil Gaiman’s brief and wonderful novel “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” Also Dan explains Jason’s perfect vacation, there’s lots of talk about cats, why David has issues with Old Yeller, and we talk about other Neil Gaiman works that we like.

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    July 27, 2013 — The 2013 Hugo Award Nominees.
    151 Not Technically Incest

    Put on your red shirt, renew your blogging license, and swallow some alien bacteria! It’s time for our annual read of the five Hugo Award nominees for best novel. We liked some of them, we hated some of them, but we talked about all of them! But beware: The diabolical eyes of the Centers for Disease Control are watching us all.

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    June 29, 2013 — John Scalzi’s “The Human Division” and Hugo-nominated short stories.
    147 Space Fish

    Though we were tempted to release this episode in eight 10-minute installments, we refrained. Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss John Scalzi’s novel “The Human Division,” which was initially released as a serial and later as a single-volume novel. Does the serialized format help or hurt? Is Scalzi’s return to his “Old Man’s War” universe a triumph? PLUS! We discuss all the short fiction nominated for the Hugo Award this year.

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    May 4, 2013 — “A Wrinkle In Time”, book and graphic novel.
    139 Flying Horse Angel People

    We delve into the children’s literary classic “A Wrinkle In Time,” by Madeline L’Engle, as well as its recent graphic-novel adaptation by Hope Larson. Why is there a brain on that table? What are the pros and cons of cooking dinner on a Bunsen burner for the average Super-Cool Science Family? Come for the Cold War allegories about communism, stay to talk religion with a bunch of nerds!

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    April 7, 2013 — Apocalyptic novels “The Dog Stars” and “The Road.”
    134 Obligatory Cannibalism

    Load your shotgun and gather your platonic apocalypse friends around you! It’s time for us to discuss two books about the end of the world, Peter Heller’s “The Dog Stars” and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Do names matter when the world has ended? We also revisit John Siracusa’s doomsday plans (a moat is involved), Lex offers a depressing death plan, Jason extolls the virtue of dirty apocalypses, and Scott laughs it up from his apartment full of canned food.

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    February 15, 2013 — “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley.
    128 Bureaucracy Is Her Superpower

    Cut off your thumb and send it to a friend just to see what grows! In this episode of our Book Club, we talk about Daniel O’Malley’s modern supernatural fantasy novel, “The Rook.” (We liked it a lot!) It’s sort of about a supernatural version of Britain’s MI-5, written by an American-educated Australian civil servant. Also: What are Scott, Dan, and Jason reading?

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    December 2, 2012 — “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” and reading on the iPhone.
    117 Intergalactic FedEx

    We follow up on our previous episode to ask Serenity Caldwell how she uses her iPhone to read books (and discover her shocking method of scanning pages). Then there’s a discussion of Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest Vorkosigan novel, “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance.” Finally (at 65 minutes in if you’re skipping ahead), Jason asks Scott to recommend which unread book on his Kindle he should dive into next.

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    November 24, 2012 — Ebooks versus paper books. Plus what we’re reading.
    116 Very Well-Read Hobos

    We talk a lot about what we read, but how do we read? Join our Book Club as we talk about ebooks, paper books, and libraries, and how we like to read today. Plus, we tell you some of the books we’re reading right now.

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    September 30, 2012 — “Cloud Atlas”
    109 Evil, Surfing Ronald McDonald

    Soon to be a major motion picture you probably shouldn’t see, David Mitchell’s 2004 novel “Cloud Atlas” is in our sights. This novel consists of six separate stories set in different genres and timeframes from the 1850s to a post-apocalyptic future, and yet they’re all interlinked. Somehow. It’s fun, weird, and challenging, but what does it all mean? Read it now before every character in it becomes Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.

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    September 2, 2012 — Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy
    105 That Mr. Hitler Seems Nice

    Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy of novels, “Farthing,” “Ha’Penny,” and “Half a Crown.” (We fire off the spoiler horn before each novel.) These novels explore an alternate-history in which Britain makes peace with Nazi Germany, and focus on a detective who just wants to do his job—but his job keeps changing in increasingly awful ways.

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    July 16, 2012 — Summer Reading List
    99 Convenience Store Clerk of Dune (A Summer Reading List)

    Summer’s here and it’s time to get to the beach with a good sci-fi novel. Our panelists are well read and of exquisite taste, so we’ve got a boatload of suggestions for you. From funny to serious, there’s a book in our list that will hit the spot the next time you’re looking for something to read.

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    June 24, 2012 — 2012 Hugo Award nominees
    96 Space Fedora

    The 2012 Hugo Award Nominees. Of all the sci-fi novels published in the last year, these are five of them! (And four aren’t actually sci-fi.) But that hasn’t stopped us from reading them and giving you our opinions. Join our book club as we talk about five books and pick our favorites. Plus: Vomit Zombies! A unique novel-sponsorship opportunity for Coca-Cola! Our near-unconditional love of author Jo Walton! And what the locusts are reading this year!

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    June 2, 2012 — “Ship Breaker” and “The Drowned Cities”
    93 Monstor

    Our book club takes a dive into the world of Paolo Bacigalupi, covering his award-winning novel “Ship Breaker” as well as its recently-released follow-up, “The Drowned Cities.” These books are apparently considered YA (or Young Adult) fiction, leading us to discuss what that label means, if anything. We also talk about Bacigalupi’s particular brand of eco-apocalypse, his use of science fiction to make us reconsider what’s going on today in the world, and how to pronounce his name. And of course, we coin a new word: it’s half monster, half mentor, all Scott McNulty.

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    May 20, 2012 — “The Hunger Games” book series.
    91 The Hungry Tributes of Catan

    From despotic rulers to lethal hummingbirds, it’s time for us to address the cultural phenomenon of “The Hunger Games.” Join us as we discuss the movie and original book, as well as (following carefully placed Spoiler Horns) the other two books in the trilogy. Why do all households in Panem get the Bravo network? Should “1984” be a Little Golden Book? And why does Lisa know which district of Panem is in charge of making lumber? This episode has the odds ever in its favor.

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    April 22, 2012 — Dragons!
    87 Where Do the Dragons Go to the Bathroom?

    Here be dragons! Special guest hosts Glenn Fleishman and Lisa Schmeiser discuss books featuring winged and scaly creatures, from Anne McCaffrey to George R.R. Martin. Glenn and Lisa are joined by special guest stars Dori Smith and Sarah Barbour, who are also knowledgeable in the ways of the dragon.

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    April 14, 2012 — “The Magicians” and “The Night Circus”
    86 Like “Catcher in the Rye,” Except Crappier

    Get out your magic wands, prepare your incantations, and prepare for a battle of wills involving ancient powers and callow youths. We discuss two recent novels with magic at the fore: Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” and Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.” One of them we liked a lot… the other, not so much! Prepare yourself for a magical podcast.

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    November 14, 2011 — “Ready Player One”
    66 Regular People Like Us

    Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” is a sci-fi novel that’s chock full of references to 1980s culture. But is it a good book, or are the references all that it’s got going for it? What will John Hughes movies be like in the future? And what do Cline, P.G. Wodehouse, and Umberto Eco have in common?

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    October 27, 2011 — “The Wise Man’s Fear”
    63 Like a Good Book Exploded

    Is Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Wise Man’s Fear” a rich fantasy novel about storytelling and myth-making, or is it a collection of good story elements scattered across an overlong plot? Could it be both? Ninjas! Off-camera shipwrecks! Board games! Sexism! Off-camera courtroom drama! Discursions within digressions within framing sequences! Join us as we discuss yet another 1000-page fantasy novel, the sequel to “The Name of the Wind.”

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    October 23, 2011 — “A Dance With Dragons”
    62 The Pig is Chekhov’s Gun

    We discuss “A Dance With Dragons,” the latest 1000-page installment in George R.R. Martin’s bestselling “Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy series. Is this series going to end well? Which parts of this book were good, and which just treaded water? Would adding Klingons have helped? Why are trees the Westeros equivalent of security cameras? These are the sorts of questions you ask deep in the middle of a long fantasy series.

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    May 1, 2011 — The “Game of Thrones” book series
    35 The Only Way to Win the Game of Thrones is Not to Play

    Everybody wants to rule the world, er, the kingdom of Westeros. As the “Game of Thrones” series continues on HBO, we discuss the source material: George R.R. Martin’s bestselling “Song of Ice and Fire” books. If you haven’t read the books, you will be spoiled! We’ll post the climactic resolution of this podcast in about five years, so invest your time wisely.

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    April 23, 2011 — The “Game of Thrones” books
    34 The Wrath of James Caan

    Based on the best-selling novel! Inspired by HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” in this episode we discuss the translation of books to the screen. Should movies be faithful to the book? Is it better if filmmmakers take liberties? And what books do we wish would be made into movies? If you don’t want to listen to this episode, just buy the novelization.

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    April 11, 2011 — SF short stories by Ted Chiang
    32 The Story of Ted Chiang and Others

    Stories by science-fiction writer Ted Chiang, including the anthology “The Story of Your Life and Others.” Plus, enough recommendations to get you through every bathroom break and bus ride for the next three years.

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    March 22, 2011
    29 Magic Fridge

    A hero with an unpronounceable name, magic that doesn’t actually do much, cardboard female characters, a story where nothing really happens, and the first and inconclusive part of a longer series? Sounds like an acclaimed fantasy novel to us! “The Name of the Wind” on this week’s Incomparable Podcast.

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    March 7, 2011
    27 Coal Mound Sex Scene
    Turn on your perpetual-motion machine, man your Zeppelin, and fly away for our next edition of the Incomparable Book Club. We discuss "The Dream of Perpetual Motion" by Dexter Palmer, as well as answer the question, "What are you reading?"
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    February 13, 2011 — The Vorkosigan Saga
    24 My Word as Vorkosigan

    Dive through a wormhole to defend the honor of the Imperium! We discuss Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series of novels, which we really can’t recommend highly enough. It’s swashbuckling Sci-Fi adventure with some great characters and a big canvas. And you can read most of them for free!

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    January 9, 2011 — Time Travel Books
    19 This Podcast Never Existed

    Hop in your time machine and listen to our latest Book Club installment—and then be sure to travel back and prevent the podcast from having ever been recorded, because time travel is tricky like that. We discuss “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” and other time travel books we have liked.

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    November 10, 2010 — Spin, Hyperion, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
    11 To Be Continued?

    Three Hugo winners enter our Book Club. “Spin” by Robert Charles Wilson, “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons, and “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon. Also: Why sequels suck. And we’ll work you like a ham!

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    September 20, 2010 — Nick Harkaway, Cherie Priest, William Gibson
    5 Shakespeare is a Hack!

    Our Book Club reconvenes, to discuss Nick Harkaway, Cherie Priest, William Gibson, favorite prose stylists (Shakespeare? Please!), and multiple Shatners. Also in this episode, we introduce listeners to two new inanimate-yet-Incomparable characters: the Spoiler Horn and its good friend, the All-Clear Bell.

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    August 22, 2010 — The City in the City, The Windup Girl, For the Win
    1 We’ll Always Have Zeppelins

    In the very first episode ever of The Incomparable, recorded before we even knew what we were going to be called, we talk about a whole bunch of novels, including China Mieville’s “The City and The City,” Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl,” and Cory Doctorow’s “For the Win.” We mispronounce some of their names, float an idea for books that burn themselves, and ask the most important question a reader should ask: Are there Zeppelins?