[Theme music – fades out]
[Camestros Felapton] Welcome, welcome everybody to our new semi-regular feature: The Book Club Roundtable Discussion Club Non-Audio Podcast Club. Every episode we’ll be putting together a podcast with a truly innovative feature. Instead of all the needless complexities of sound recording, downloads and temperamental technology, we will be providing the podcast in a special coded, non-analog format using hyper text transfer protocols.
[Timothy the Talking Cat] He’ll be typing it because he thinks his voice sounds weird.
[Camestros] I’ll be your regular host
[Timothy] and I’ll be your irregular host. You are looking distinctly less abstract today Camoflauge Flugelpots. What’s with the new look?
[Camestros] This is my podcast-pundit body. Designed to give me an air of avuncular authority.
[Timothy] Nice. The blue suits you.
[Camestros] and joining us will be notable figures from the world of science fiction and fantasy writing.
[Timothy] Ooooh guest stars! Whose our first guest Floppypants?
[Camestros] Well, I’m glad you asked. Coming all the way from the distant past and the far future is Susan the triceratops! A big round of applause for Susan!
[Susan the Triceratops enters from the wings] Hi.
[Camestros] Hi Susan. Now for the viewers at home can you tell us more about yourself?
[Susan] Viewers? Isn’t this a podcast?
[Timothy] The government is always watching us Susan. They fear my outspoken commitment to freedom and privatising healthcare.
[Susan] Thank you for the clarification small mammal predator. Well, as you know, I’m originally from the distant past but due to a time-travel accident I ended up in the far future where I now live in Fungus Town, home to the post-apocalyptic Fungus civilisation. In my spare time I defend the city in my superhero identity: Triceracopter.
[Camestros] Welcome on board.[turns to Timothy] So first episode, first book – what have you picked out for us Timothy?
[Timothy] Well, I know somebody has been very keen for you to read their books. They are one of my TOP clients at the moment.
[Camestros] I’m regretting this already…
[Timothy] Yes, yes, it is the one and only Jon Del Arroz and his break out card-game tie-in and probably Dragon Award Finalist Science Fiction hit: Star Realms: Rescue Run!
[Susan] Um, I haven’t read that. I thought we were going to do the only book that survived the apocalypse: They’d Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley.
[Camestros] I can’t say I’ve read it either (despite several requests) but given the other option, let’s see how we go with Star Run: Rescue Realms. We can do a read-along.
[Susan] So what’s the book about tiny fang monster?
[Timothy] I’m glad you asked, mutant rhinoceros reptile. There are several elements to this complex story. Firstly STARS. They are big deal in this novel but also, REALMS. In particular there are realms of stars. Now, that’s not all – there is also at least one rescue and I believe there will be some significant running as well. Also I’m hoping for non-sparkly vampires and viscious apex-predators with teeth.
[Camestros] You haven’t read it either.
[Timothy] It would be a conflict of interest if I had. I need plausible deniability when I promote books.
[Camestros] OK let’s start with the cover. “…a space adventure romp with intrigue and a touch of romance” is the line on the front cover. Susan, sound like something you would want to read?
[Susan] “romp” is good, as is “intrigue”. Romance? Sorry but the idea of mammal sexuality frankly disgusts me. I like to be open minded but mammals don’t need to go around flaunting all their supposed “social tendencies” or “heavy investment in child rearing as an evolutionary strategy”. I mean, ugh, lactating, gestating hairy sweaty things with spindly limbs squishing about – frankly it makes me want to vomit. Kind of glad you all get wiped out by fungus-zombies.
[Camestros] For me a soupçon of romance is nice addition to a story. Timothy? You were nodding along to some of Susan’s comments?
[Timothy] Well she paints her brush too broadly by referring to mammals in general but yes, glad to hear humanity is wiped out by fungus-zombies.
[Camestros] OK two-stars out of three for the future obliteration of humanity. Back to the cover. I like the art work.
[Susan] What does that character have strapped to their abdomen?
[Timothy] Space armour.
[Susan] Ah to protect their entrails from the bite of apex predators no doubt. Smart, the human upright posture makes them particularly vulnerable in that region as does their lack of abdominable ribs .
[Timothy] Cool. I think that definitely implies that there will be a T-rex in the book.
[Camestros] I think you should avoid references like that in front of Susan…
[Susan] No, it’s OK. On average, household accidents were a more significant cause of death for a triceratops than tyrannosaurs – also catalysmic comet impacts.
[Camestros] Noted. However, now that you’ve drawn my attention to it, that armour would make it very hard to bend at your waist.
[Timothy] Yeah but…it would keep you safe from dino-bites.
[Camestros] Fair point but on balance I think I’d rather have waist mobility and run the risk. I mean, what if she dropped her gun?
[Timothy] She could bend her knees and pick it up – with confidence that a carnivorous monster couldn’t rip out her intestines.
[Susan] Ok so maybe 1 star overall for the space armour. Can we move on?
[Camestros] OK, here we go. Chapter 1 – The Heist.
[Camestros] Balibarn Station Local Date 1137.455
[Susan] Very sciency – I like it.
[Camestros] “Joan paused before the sealed hatch in her aft…”
[Susan] Is that what you call it in humans? I call it a ‘cloaca’.
[Camestros] Hold on, the Kindle had a weird line break. I’ll do that line again. “Joan paused before the sealed hatch in her aft control room.”
[Susan] I think I’ll need a human anatomy book. Control room? She has a control room in her aft?
[Camestros] Of her spaceship, I assume.
[Susan] Well it doesn’t say ‘spaceship’.
[Timothy] You just paused deliberately to make it sound funny.
[Susan] If the author meant spaceship he should have said “spaceship”. I’m not here to learn about mammalian digestive tracts.
[Timothy] Campbell Souptin here is just trying to make the book look bad by DELIBERATELY pausing for laughs.
[Camestros] I am not – it was an honest mistake.
[Susan] Doesn’t explain why she has a control room in her aft either way.
[Timothy] It’s the aft of her SPACESHIP cycad-breath.
[Susan] Yeah well at least my breath doesn’t smell of fish, you stinky fur ball.
[Camestros] OK, ok, ok – we are only one sentence in. At this rate we won’t even finish chapter 1. I propose some silent reading.
[Susan] Fine by me.
[Susan] OK, so the computer in what I’ll assume for the sake of argument is in her spaceship and not part of her alimentary canal, is called G.O.D. right?
[Timothy] Yes, us more evolved beings call that an “acrobat”
[Susan] So the GOD stands for GIC Onboard Diagnostic tool. So shouldn’t the name be GICODT?
[Camestros] Well it is an embedded acronym. I think its OK.
[Susan] Hmmm I just don’t like it. I give it minus one stars for an acronym.
[Timothy] But in real life there are lots of bad acronibs. It’s realistic to have bad ones in the future as well.
[Susan] Sure, I’m just saying, as an acronym IN ITSELF I don’t like it.
[Camestros] So you aren’t judging the whole book by the acronym quality?
[Susan] Correct. This is merely a local and highly specific acronym evaluation. From a literary perspective, I appreciate how the author has helped engender a feeling of fear and disgust about this future society by highlighting the poor quality of future acronyms.
[Camestros] I think I’ll abstain on this vote. Timothy?
[Timothy] I couldn’t disagree more. Not only is it a great acronym it is also demonstrates the romp-like quality of the book. 2 stars.
[Camestros] So a total of one star for the acronym. Can we move on?
~SILENCE BROKEN ONY BY THE SOFT RUSTLE OF KINDLE PAGES TURNING~
[Camestros] OK can I just read this bit out? “In basic training for the Martine Star Empire Navy, her space combat instructor had made a scene the first day of class, placing a watermelon in a pressure suit.”
[Susan] Seems like an inefficient way to store your watermelons.
[Timothy] I assume you mean the next bit: “Her instructor led them to an observation portal and decompressed the room with the suit in it. When the air dissipated from the room, the watermelon exploded into a million tiny bits” Nice. A gory image and yet suitable for vegetarians.
[Susan] Like me! Nice to feel included. I’m concerned about this “observation portal”. It’s not going to be more digestive anatomy is it?
[Camestros] I don’t buy the whole melon exploding in a vacuum.
[Timothy] You’ve been wrong about this before. Remember that whole thing about holding your breath that time we got pushed out of an airlock?
[Camestros] I think the principle was sound even though it caused my lungs to rupture.
[Timothy] So QED. Melon in a vacuum – it would totally go all head explody.
[Susan] You know, I happen to have a vacuum chamber, an air pump and a watermelon with me. We could just try it?
[Timothy] The armour plated hippo is making sense for once.
[Camestros] LET’S SCIENCE THE SHIT OUT OF THIS!
~TWENTY MINUTES LATER~
[Timothy] Well that was disappointing in so many ways.
[Camestros] Admit it, I was right.
[Susan] It did explode when I crushed it with my jaws but I’m afraid the internal pressure of a watermelon is not sufficient to cause it to explode in a vacuum.
[Timothy] OK but MAYBE that was all just a set up. The space combat instructor was trying to teach those rookies a valuable lesson. So MAYBE they rigged the watermelon with a small explosive just so the rookies would be extra careful with their space combat star empire navy suits?
[Camestros] Yeah but…if I could make a watermelon explode then I’d try it myself as soon as I could.
[Susan] Likewise and when all the rookie space soldiers try it our with their own melons, they’d soon learn it was all a set up.
[Timothy] BUT maybe “Joan” has such deep implicit trust of her star combat space empire navy instructor that she believes it anyway,
[Susan] Ah, the subtle implausibility of the melon incident is a way of showing us some of the inner complexity of the central character?
[Camestros] OK, let’s move on. No complaining for at least 4 pages.
~THE SOUND OF TIMOTHY BREATHING LOUDLY THROUGH HIS NOSE~
[Timothy] uh-oh “At that same moment, Joan heard the unmistakable guzzah of a phase pistol readying a charge.”
[Susan] That doesn’t sound like a good sound. If I heard a “guzzah” I’d be worried.
[Camestros] Looks like Joan has been zapped by two Star Empire soldiers!
[Timothy] The whole sneaking onto the mining base was a set-up!
[Camestros] And we finish the chapter on a cliff hanger. Feelings, opinions, ratings?
[Susan] Definitely two stars for “guzzah”. Overall, I could have done without the aft control room but otherwise I give this chapter two stars as well.
[Timothy] I feel we did get a couple of stars and realms in there. However, there was no running nor any rescue. Two stars from me also.
[Camestros] Well it was better than being bludgeoned to death by John C Wright’s adjectives and the clunks-per-sentence rating was quite low compared to Vox Day’s books. There are clear signs of the book actually being edited by an actual editor who edits.
[Timothy] I prefer my books like my fish – raw, uncooked and unedited.
[Susan] I’m siding with the blue mammal man on this one. Doesn’t matter how good the writer is, editing makes it better.
[Camestros] Well thanks everybody – looks like we’ve run out of time and we only managed to cover a single chapter. Let’s all do our homework and finish the book and meet up next time for our thoughts and impressions here on The Book Club Roundtable Discussion Club Non-Audio Podcast Club.
Final score: Star Rescue: Running Realms Chapter 1
Future obliteration of mankind (as a general principle – not actually featured in the book): 2 stars
Space armour tummy strap thing: 1 star
Cloacas as a sensible evolutionary adaptation (as a general principle – not actually featured in the book): 1 star
Embedded acronyms: 1 star
Was Camestros right about watermelons exploding in vacuums: 10 stars (with a lengthy written dissent from one judge)
‘Guzzah’ sounds: 5 stars
Stars: 2 stars
Realms: 2 stars
Rescues: 0 stars
Running: 0 stars
Non-sparkly vampires: 0 stars