Cover to Cover #257: Mur Lafferty

Tips and TricksMichael, Summer, Brian and Michael discuss where the line may be between an author's viewpoints merely coming across in the fiction, and the author delving into full-blown preaching and grandstanding. The conversation also touches on the possible cultural impacts stories and fables have and whether or not messages in those tales may or may not endorse non-standard mores and viewpoints, despite the fact that the fictional world differs greatly from the real world.

Listener Feedback: What do you think about this topic? What books changed your life, and what books are your A+ books? Keep letting us know what your personal essential books are!

Interview: Michael, Summer and Michael talk with super-busy author and podcaster Mur Lafferty about her latest shows and books.

"Geek Fu Action Grip" is the home of her serialized fiction stories, "Heaven", it's sequel "Hell", and it's upcoming continuation "Earth". She's still writing the popular and humorous essays there as well. I Should Be Writing is still going strong, with author interviews and writing tips, and her work with Psuedopod, the horror short fiction companion to Escape Pod. She's also working at Lulu Press, and continuing to collect rejection slips while shopping her novel around.

And we put out the suggestion for someone to start a podcast called "The Rejection Slip", to let writers vent about the rejection letters they receive. Mur and Summer are way too busy, so don't even think about it...

Seems like the place to be Memorial Day Weekend will be Baltimore, MD, attending Balticon 41. Seems like all the cool podcasting kids will be there this year.

The Library: New to the studio this week we have Dawn by Tim Lebbon, No Regrets by Shannon K. Butcher, Sword of the Deceiver by Sarah Zettel, Beyond the Gap by Harry Turtledove, Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan, The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin, Keeping It Real by Justina Robson.

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Link: Mur Lafferty
Link: Balticon
Promo: Geek Label


  1. Again thanks so much for interauthor discussion! You've educated me again today!

    Slavery is one of my hot buttons and morality is another. No need to repeat all of what you've said, but I will say this; the movie "300" and thus Frank Miller's graphic novel conveniently left out the Spartans' slaves. Including them would have quite effectively wrecked all of King Leonides' grandstanding (which, frankly, got on my nerves after a while). But now knowing that Spartan had slaves makes me dislike the chestbeating even more. And I have found that all throughout history, leaders carry the hypocrisy of championing the cause for freedom when their nation and their successes ride firmly on the backs of hundreds of years of slavery. It all makes my skin shiver.

    But I am endeavoring to forgive, since the past can't be changed, and mistakes must somehow be allowed to be corrected.

    As for the writers' responsibility to keep their tales preach-free? That'll be impossible. I think also that Summer is right--if the story becomes a dialogue about who's right and who's wrong, it should be turned into non-fiction. But I think the writers of society have an obligation as cosmic mouthpieces to reveal things in parable. Think of George Orwell's "1984", Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta", and Dante's Inferno. Sometimes society needs a subversive medium to bring about necessary change, and who else will do it? Who else can?

  2. Roddy Reta says

    My reaction is that you should keep drawn-out discussions about politics out of the podcast.

  3. I expected this to be a great episode, one of my favorite podcasts (Cover to Cover), with one of my favorite authors (Michael Stackpole) and an absolutely fantastic guest and podcaster (Mur Lafferty). Then Michael Stackpole ruins most of it by doing his Barbara Streisand/Natalie Maynes/Sean Penn/Johnny Depp impression by assuming that we give a damned about his political views.

    I don't listen to podcasts to hear people insulting my President, insulting me, and creaming their shorts over the possibility of Al Gore running for President. I have enjoyed every book of Michael Stackpoles I've read. But now I find out that he thinks I am too stupid to converse with him and so I'm starting to regret spending my money and time on him.

    Stay on topic! Far Point Media produces over half the podcasts I listen to. But recently I've noticed a lot more political references sneaking into many of their podcasts. Cover to Cover should be about writing, Slice of Sci-Fi about Sci-fi and Wingin' It about drinking, sex, kilts, pool parties and crazy sons of bitches. If I want political commentary I'll subscribe to the RantingLoons Podcast.

    Of course you all have the right to say whatever you want. Just remember that probably half of your audiance also has the right to stop listening to and supporting you after you say it. Many Hollywood stars and musicians don't understand that they entertain us with their craft - not their political views. Everytime they step up to a microphone and start insulting half the people listening they are damaging their careers, their futures and the businesses that support them. I hope you guys are smarter than that.

    I will gladly buy books, go to movies, buy music, and support podcasts created by people who I know hold diametrically opposite political views to my own, as long as they aren't throwing their political opinions in my face at every opportunity. Stay on topic, or entertain yourself, because I won't be listening.

  4. I had just discovered that Michael Stackpole was associated with this podcast and was going to subscribe, then I read David's post and I guess I won't bother.

    I guess I'm also one of those stupid right-wing nuts that have no place in this culture. And to make matter worse I'm an evangelical Christian. I get enough abuse on the nightly news, I'm not going to subscribe to this sort of crap.

  5. This isn't a political podcast, and never will be. But if a guest brings up political topics, we aren't going to tell them to shut up and quiver in fear of what might be said during the course of the conversation.

    Left wingers were abused mercilessly since 1999, and now the pendulum of social dissatisfaction is swinging back towards the right. Avoiding hearing distasteful comments was impossible for me for years, and I'm nowhere near the far left side of the carnival ride.

    All right-wingers and all evangelicals aren't nuts (and yes, I know there's a difference between "evangelical" and "Fundamentalist"), but the ones driving public policy seem to be nuts, or blatant hypocrites. Given the current state of some affairs here, you have to admit it's easier to make jokes than it is to be angry about it, or cry about it. I think both sides have completely botched things because they're trying to get back at each other instead of doing their jobs, and need to stand up and be held accountable for it all, but maybe that's just me.

    This show will always be about books, the people writing the books, and tips to help people who may someday write their own books. I don't think people's vitriol should be preaching in the stories they write, but the occassional comment will be present because we're human, and what's going on in our environment affects our lives and that affects what we write about, and sometimes how we write it.

  6. Roddy Reta says

    It wasn't the guest that brought up politics in this podcast, it was the hosts who introduced it. To me, it's not a right/left thing. Again, people have every right to their political opinions, but I don't think rambling discussions that bash religious conservatives belong in a podcast that has nothing to do with political issues.

  7. AJ Brackins says

    Hello,Thanks for all the Podcasts! This one 257,I need to listen again. But if its Fiction any kind Anything can happen,why worry. History is wonderful but,if we look back and try and put are values on things that were the norm back then its not History any more is it?? This is a Sci Fi podcast should it be a history time travel one?? But it was great loved the conversation got me thinking. But hey Fiction is where we get to have allot of fun that we would normally never ever do right???
    Mr A Brackins

  8. amazingly, these same people who were so 'insulted' were probably the first to call left-wing people terrorist-sympathizers. David being a fine example of the type of hypocrite.

    You did fine.

    News flash; if you think sci-fi literature doesn't have political/religious commentary everywhere...the tooth fairy doesn't exist either.

    The same bullcrap about 'pc' talk that these people always bring up and they are the FIRST to be in line to complain and try to silence when it doesnt go their way.

  9. OK, I was stuck out-of-town at a volleyball tournament and just got back to this thread. It may be late but I want to make a couple re-comments:

    Jeff: Don't skip Cover to cover based on my comments. It is a great podcast. But in my opinion Michael Stackpole lost his focus for the sake of a few cheap laughs. Download several episodes, listen to them and then make up your own mind.

    Summer: Mur didn't bring up the political comments, Michael and Michael did. Mur was charming and entertaining. Exactly how I like my entertainers to be. I don't have a clue what Mur's or your politics are, and don't care as long as you both just keep doing what you have been doing so well. Also, it's not just you, there are a lot of us who are pretty digusted over the way ALL our elected leadership is behaving. Oh look, I made an oxymoron - "elected leadership".

    Raul: Please take a deep breath, and read my comments again. Now show me where I called anyone a "terrorist sympathizer".

    Definition: "Hypocrisy is the act of condemning another person, where the stated basis for the criticism is the breach of a rule which also applies to the critic and of which the critic is in breach to a slightly lesser, similar or greater extent." Show me anywhere in my comment where I committed any offense that I accused someone else of committing. Show me where I insulted someone. Show me anywhere in my comment where I tried to silence anyone.

    My point to that comment was - if this is the direction the podcast is headed I will stop listening. This podcast is the property of it's producers and they have the right to say anything they want on it. Just as I have to right to stop listening to it.

    Michael Stackpole is a brilliant guy, surely he can find a way to be funny without telling half his audiance they are too stupid to carry on a conversation with him. If he insists on political humor, try the Johnny Carson approach - bash everyone. That way we can all laugh and we can all keep listening to him.

  10. David, I think we were misunderstanding each other.

    I never said Mur brought up political commentary, but instead thought you were referring to spillover comments from the Tad Williams discussion in the previous show.

    Politics is not the direction the show is going, so you don't have to be concerned about that. But you have to admit that your public threats to stop listening because the jokes were offensive to you could be considered a veiled attempt to silence the commentary that you didn't agree with. You could have stopped listening without saying a word, and the way you worded your first comments on the subject did raise the question.

    That said, I appreciate your candor and your viewpoint, and would welcome deeper conversation on the subject at A View From the Fence, once that podcast is up and running. I will also try my best to continue to bash both sides, whenever possible.

  11. David:
    "Then Michael Stackpole ruins most of it by doing his Barbara Streisand/Natalie Maynes/Sean Penn/Johnny Depp impression"

    By mentioning names at all, you assuming that your positions could never be lampooned by calling out celebrity names, lor example: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Toby Keith, or Bruce Willis.

    "I don’t listen to podcasts to hear people insulting my President, insulting me, and creaming their shorts over the possibility of Al Gore running for President."

    Im sure(sarcasm included) that you felt the same way about people talking about Bill Clinton when he was in office. If you haven't been insulted yet perosnally by the actions 'your' President, perhaps as a 'conservative' should go back and read about Barry Goldwater.

    Also here in includes the point of ["Show me where I insulted someone."].

    3. By saying "Do it my way or i will quit listening/stop buying books/blah blah blah" is a type of silencing of opinion. But in this manner; you can remain dishonest about the intentions while being able to remain adamant about anti-pc. You could have just stop listening or sent a email to any of the producers. But you choose to make a public threat. So, in denying that, you are being a hypocrite.

    It is a entertainment show. Not news medium, not a retail outlet, not even a review of the majority of books they cover(notice there is almost never negative comments on literature).
    It is produced by creative(and stars public school teachers elsewhere) people of type who are usually maligned in public commentary by the type of people now complaining of unfair treatment in public discourse.
    -Next up; musical theater people will demand to have no sexual-preference slurs called at them during a cowboy rodeo in South Carolina.

  12. Well, I thought the political jokes were funny.


    I looked at the summary of that Magic Bites book a while back Summer, it looks a lot less 'girly romance' than a lof of that sort of thing, possibly not even much there. Maybe a bit more like Rogue Angel.