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Tough love for literature


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Episode 273: The People’s Future of the United States, Part II

This week we continue our Spring Forward season with two short stories: one that imagines a future in which books have been outlawed, and people have to write stories on their bodies; and one in which a strongman leader puts the sun on trial. Both are from a new anthology, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, A People’s Future of the United States, which takes its inspiration from Howard Zinn’s famous work of populist history. LaValle and Adams put out a call for writing that imagined the future from the perspective of the oppressed, the put-upon, the discriminated-against, and the marginalized.

We also talk about the future of food, as imagined in the early part of the 20th century, and we taste test some new “around the world” M&M flavors.

If you have suggestions for things we should check out this season, let us know! We’re not just interested in traditional science fiction, but any kind of writing that imagines a possible future (including those written long enough ago that their “futures” have already passed).

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps us make a bit of money each month and keep the show going. For just $5 a month, you’ll get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we visit some of the weirder, goofier corners of the literary world. Recently, that’s involved reading a paranormal romance novel, the debut novel of Jersey Shore’s Snookie, and the novelization of the movie Battleship (yes, based on the popular board game).

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 272: Spring Forward!

Hello, Book Fighters! It’s a new season, and that means it’s time for a new seasonal theme: Spring Forward! For the next several week, we’ll be reading future-looking stories, books, and essays, and talking about literary visions of the future throughout various times in history. First up, we’ve got two stories from a new anthology, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, A People’s Future of the United States. Taking their inspiration from Howard Zinn’s famous work of populist history, LaValle and Adams put out a call for writing that imagined the future from the perspective of the oppressed, the put-upon, the discriminated-against, and the marginalized. On this week’s show we discuss two stories from the anthology, one which imagines a United States on the cusp of making slavery legal again, and one in which women’s reproductive rights have been so curtailed that teenage girls sell condoms and IUDs on street corners.

If you have suggestions for things we should check out this season, let us know! We’re not just interested in traditional science fiction, but any kind of writing that imagines a possible future (including those written long enough ago that their “futures” have already passed).

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps us make a bit of money each month and keep the show going. For just $5 a month, you’ll get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we visit some of the weirder, goofier corners of the literary world. Recently, that’s involved reading a paranormal romance novel, the debut novel of Jersey Shore’s Snookie, and the novelization of the movie Battleship (yes, based on the popular board game).

Thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 272:

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Episode 46: Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

Well, it finally happened: we had to re-record an episode because the usually trusty Book Fight laptop ate our first effort. Technological woes aside, this week we’re talking about Cat’s Cradle, a book we both read as teenagers and are revisiting now as adults. We also discuss the behavioral proclivities of haters, beer can design, and why you should give us some of your hard-earned money.

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Seriously, if you enjoy the show, we hope you’ll consider throwing us a few bucks to keep us funded for the next year. We certainly don’t expect to get rich from doing the podcast, or even moderately financially solvent, but we would like to recoup our ongoing technology costs, and maybe buy ourselves a few fancy beers. If you can afford to donate–and we know a lot of our listeners are poor writers, like us–we’ve got some great rewards lined up for you, including a digital anthology of work from past Book Fight guests (and your trusty Book Fight hosts), and a bonus episode in which we’ll read Rush Limbaugh’s forthcoming young adult novel, the sheer awesomeness of which we can’t even begin to fathom.

As always, thanks for listening, and for helping us spread the word about the show. You can stream the episode below, or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode.

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Episode 42: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

Tom picked this week’s book, because he’s thinking about writing some post-apocalyptic fiction and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake came highly recommended. So, did it meet our expectations? Did it thrill us with its bleak vision of a world where humans have rendered themselves (mostly) extinct?

OryxandCrake

We also talk about fiction that proceeds from character versus fiction that proceeds from premise, and whether science fiction can ever be capital-L Literature. That discussion was prompted, in part, by this Sven Birkerts review of the novel, which first appeared in the New York Times and which you can read here.

As always, you can stream the episode for free right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe and never miss another episode. While you’re there, please consider leaving us a rating and a comment. If you want to further support the show, you can donate a few bucks by clicking on the little piggy bank over there on the right, or buy some books at Powell’s–if you get to their site using one of the links on our site, we’ll get a little portion of every dollar you spend. You’ll also be supporting a great independent bookstore, so win-win!

Finally, if you’re in or near Philadelphia, please consider coming out to the Conversations and Connections Writing Conference on Sept. 28. For only $65, you’ll get a full day of panels and craft sessions, a keynote by J. Robert Lennon, a free boxed-wine happy hour, a subscription to a literary journal of your choice, and a book from one of our participating authors. What more could you ask for? (That is a rhetorical question.)

Thanks for listening to the show. Tell your book-loving friends!

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Episode 34: Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Would you like to hear us talk about Disney World for thirty minutes? If so, this is the episode for you! Also, we dig into Cory Doctorow’s debut novel, in our continuing quest to broaden our reading horizons and check out some work outside our usual genre comfort zones.

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Want to read the book? You can download it for free (legally!) from Doctorow’s website. You can even get an audiobook version. Or, if you’re old-fashioned, you can buy the paperback from Powell’s here: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

Talking points for this episode include: the defeat of death, Facebook likes as currency, problematic premises, the Haunted Mansion, Mike’s childhood propensity for tears, carnival food, the Gravitron, and Battlestar Galactica (which you should really watch, because it is great; do you not like things that are great?)

Want to take a class with one of us? We’re each teaching an online workshop through Barrelhouse Magazine, starting June 1 and running for eight weeks. Get more info., and register, here.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or you can download the mp3 file directly. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another update.

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Episode 33: Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

We’ve got a very special episode for you this week, Book Fighters. We’re joined by Tom’s college roommate, Kevin Greway, an avowed non-reader who agreed to give Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One a try. Will he like it? Or will he spit it out, like a surly child forced to eat spinach? Will we convince him to become a regular reader, or at least pick up a book more frequently than once every three or four years?

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Also this week, Mike talks about the time he helped recreate scenes from popular 80s movies; unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) his Princess Bride acting job is no longer extant on YouTube. Though you can watch a recreation of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off here, starring Mike’s former roommate and several other friends.

We’ve also got some special recommendations from TV Guide, and a “where are they now” piece on two of the stars from The Beverly Hillbillies.

As always, you can stream the episode below, or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can download our whole back catalog for free, and subscribe so that you never miss another update. Please also consider visiting our sponsor, Powell’s Books. If you click through any of the Powell’s links on our site–like the book cover above, or the button over there on the right–any purchase you make will help to support the show.

Thanks for listening!

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