Feb 22 2010 6:00am

GGG#008: Magic! Medicine! Fantic Episy! (Guest: Blake Charlton)

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


00:00 Introduction by

0:42 Dave and John introduce the show

Interview: Blake Charlton, author of Spellwright

Blake Charlton01:35 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 completely 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 editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. He is currently assembling several other anthologies, including Brave New Worlds, The Living Dead 2, The Mad Scientistís Guide to World Domination, and The Way of the Wizard. He worked for more than eight years as an editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and is currently the fiction editor of Lightspeed Magazine, which launches in June 2010.

David Barr Kirtley ( is a writer living in New York who has been called one of the newest and freshest voices in sf. His short fiction appears in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and in anthologies such as The Living Dead, New Voices in Science Fiction, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition.

Show notes compiled by podtern Christie Yant. Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

1. EstragonPanda
Enjoyed the podcast. This is the first episode I had caught and am now going back to iTunes to download the remainder. I enjoy writing sci-fi and fantasy, and have often wondered about the internet as a broadcast medium. There are cartoonists making their living posting webcomics for free. Is there such an equivalent for fiction writers? Is anyone able to produce serialized fiction fast enough and well enough to garner a viewership that would make ad revenues significant, much less livable?

BTW - Awful comments section. I tried to post and it tells me I can't because my name is in use by another user and I must change the name. I do so, try to post again, only to be told I am posting too frequently and must now wait to make a post (even though I haven't actually posted just yet). So you are unlikely to get your wish of 15 commenters if you can't make this a bit more pleasant I think.
2. StephanieG.
Good episode! I like the references to some of my favorite (and not-so-favorite) authors. It reminds me of why I love sci-fi!
Joshua Evans
3. JoshuaEvans
Post #3 of 15! I enjoyed the podcast and Spellwright sounds like a great book. Will have to pick it up. I enjoyed the dicussion on magical systems. Reminded me I need to get back to my fantasy roots. The current short story I'm working on is SF though and I tend to base my other media consumption around that. Took a break from the fantasy novel I was working on to actually be able to complete shorter projects. Enough rambling, can't wait for the next podcast.
Matías Herrera
4. TheInsurgente
Hey there, first time listener and poster. I liked the podcast, it was fun and reflexive. Also the magical structure chat was very intriguing, I always wonder about that stuff myself.

About people reading you more, this place should have forums or somethign where people can post. You too should search for writing forums, there are bound to be many. Anyways, You guys really hooked me, and I hope to be listening to more of you!

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment