Blake Charlton, author of Spellwright, joins us to talk about fantasy, dyslexia, and medical school. Plus, Dave and John discuss magic and medicine in fiction.

The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy is hosted by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley.


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Read on for this episode's fabulous SHOW NOTES! (Note: Show note time signatures may be slightly off, as the show was re-edited prior to this rebroadcast—it's the director's cut! This episode originally aired on February 22, 2010, on


00:00 Introduction by

0:42 Dave and John introduce the show

Interview: Blake Charlton, author of Spellwright

01:35 Interview begins

01:47 Growing up dyslexic, and how SFF saved his education

05:53 On discovering writing while at Yale, a.k.a "Hogwart's with more beer."

08:17 About Blake's debut novel Spellwright

10:10 How the idea for Spellwright emerged from a rivalry in Biochemistry

14:08 The language of Blake's magic: constructs, textual extensions, and subtexts


16:57 Podcasts and audio books as legitimate forms of "reading"

18:18 The journey from medicine to noveling and back again

23:04 How medical school has influenced his writing, including his short story "Endosymbiont" (which you can find in John's Seeds of Change anthology


23:44 No, it's not a pseudonym

26:04 On asking a stranger who fouled him on the court exactly who he thinks he is and being told "Tad Williams"

28:42 Blake's other literary influences

29:33 End of interview

Dave and John geek out on the rules of magic and medical thrillers

29:43 Text-based games as learning tools

35:41 The Great Debate: should magic follow rules?

45:01 Dave poses a question that those burning Harry Potter books really should ask themselves


46:37 Interesting portrayals of magic in fiction: Illusion by Paula Volsky; Robert Asprin's Myth series; Star Wars; The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny; Jeremiah Tolbert's short story "Captain Blood's B00ty"; The Magicians by Lev Grossman

56:27 Medicine in science fiction and medical thrillers: Chromosome 6 by Robin Cook; The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer; the Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell; James White's The Sector General series; S.L. Viehl's Stardoc series

01:00:18 The problem of the "big twist' in mystery and science fiction: Jack McDevitt's Omega series


01:02:26 Storytelling as a tribal social endeavor vs. a solitary pursuit, and why you should get out to readings more!

01:06:40 Show wrap-up: have you posted a comment on yet? Tell us what you think!
Next week: Carrie Vaughn, author of the best-selling Kitty Norville series

Thanks for listening!


John Joseph Adams is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the bestselling editor of the anthologies Brave New Worlds, Wastelands, The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, By Blood We Live, Federations, The Way of the Wizard, and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Forthcoming anthologies include Armored (Baen, 2012) and The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination (Tor, 2012). He is a 2011 Hugo Award-nominee for Best Editor (Short Form), his books have been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and he has been called "the reigning king of the anthology world" by Barnes & He is also the editor of Lightspeed Magazine and Fantasy Magazine. Find him on Twitter @johnjosephadams.

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David Barr Kirtley has published fiction in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, Lightspeed,Intergalactic Medicine Show, On Spec, and Cicada, and in anthologies such as New Voices in Science Fiction,Fantasy: The Best of the Year, and The Dragon Done It. Recently he's contributed stories to several of John's anthologies, including The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, and The Way of the Wizard. He's attended numerous writing workshops, including Clarion, Odyssey, Viable Paradise, James Gunn's Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and Orson Scott Card's Writers Bootcamp, and he holds an MFA in screenwriting and fiction from the University of Southern California. He also teaches regularly at Alpha, a Pittsburgh-area science fiction workshop for young writers. He lives in New York.


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