Ep082 – Epilogue

Leave it to the Prose – the Epilogue

Leave it to the Prose is your podcast for science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Over the past three years Isaac and Reid have enjoyed sharing their reading journeys with everyone and thank you listeners for turning in. We cannot put into words how amazing the response has been to Leave it to the Prose. Originally hatched as a plan to read more and discuss critically the words on the page, Leave it to the Prose grew to be something more.

Thank you so much to our listeners as we say goodbye for now; and until we meet again.

Keep reading!

Re-Release: Ep022 The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker

The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker

Is magic real? This is the question posed by Sarah Pinsker’s short story The Court Magician, in which a young boy turns into a magician after learning all of the street tricks that have been nothing more than an illusion. As the magician uses real magic the moral questions of the cost of magic come into the forefront of the story. Isaac and Reid discuss the cost of magic, the desire for magic to be real, and the extent a short story can display a variety of themes based upon interpretation.

Works Mentioned

  • The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker (spoilers)
  • The Prestige (2006 Film)
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  • The King Killer Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Animal Farm and The Jungle by Upton Sinclaire
  • The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (and its many adaptations)
  • Lord of the Rings (movies)

Magic Systems

The Court Magician presents a magic system of cost, but not universally equivalent cost. The magician says a magic word and loses something he loves: fingers, furniture, people, memories. A magic system with a cost places limits on what can be considered magic, and by extent what can be considered plot points. But at the end of this story the overall question of ‘is magic real?’ persists. The court magician only becomes the court magician after mastering the trickery of slight of hand and street magicianship. Magic is nothing more than tricks until his desire proves that he wants to know magic, understand magic, be all that magic is. The court magician, in his own seeking for magic, is willing to do magic, but was it all a trick? Can a magic system be built upon a desire to seek magic? Real or otherwise?

Re-Release: Ep010 – Tideline by Elizabeth Bear

Re-Release: Tideline by Elizabeth Bear

A machine near the end of its life and a curious boy come together and create a relationship that will honor the past and lead into the future. Tideline is a science fiction, award winning, short story by Elizabeth Bear. In this episode of Leave It To The Prose, Reid and Isaac discuss the ethics of robotics and the characteristics of great characters. The story leaves us with many questions off the page, including what machine cognition is like, and if it is possible for a machine to act against its self interest.


  • Tideline by Elizabeth Bear
  • Bicentennial Man (movie)
  • Born in China (movie)

Science Fiction Robots

Machines are portrayed in many different ways across science fiction, from “WALL-E” to “I, Robot” there is no one vision of the future of our mechanical contraptions. As artificial intelligence continually advances, there is no knowing what the future of robots would look like. Despite all of these different types of robots that could be, the ones that stay close to our hearts are the ones that remain like us: emotional, contradictory, empathetic. The robot of Tideline is one that will steal your heart and make you question what robots could be in the future.

Re-Release: Ep052 – A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Re-Release: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

The 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel, A Memory Called Empire is Arkady Martine’s debut novel of interstellar intrigue. In this episode we dive into the characteristic that this book excel at: worldbuilding.

Book Discussion

  • Worldbuilding: The strength of this book. Direct and passive worldbuilding are well-balanced to paint a picture of the interstellar empire, the culture of the court, and the strong contrast between Mahit, the main character, and the ever-expanding empire. Passive worldbuilding, the showing more than telling, for example shows up in the names of the characters (Three Seagrass, Six Direction), the poetry contest. Direct worldbuilding, the telling, for example appears when the Imago devise is described.
  • Epigraph structure of passive worldbuilding, where the beginning of each chapter begins with an excerpt of a history book or report from a
  • Exceptional usage of the magic key, the object or resource the main character possesses that plays a pivotal role in the plot of the story. The magic key of A Memory Called Empire is Mahit’s imago device, a device that allows Mahit to obtain the memories of her predecessor. The imago plays the role as the magic key as it is common to Mahit’s culture, and also is the reason for the death of her predecessor and why the emperor put off choosing a proper successor.
  • Setting: Settings react. A Memory Called Empire has a powder keg set up, and Mahit moves through the world as the powder keg explodes. An important aspect of conflict and plot is to set the story within a powder keg, which means to have the story set with multiple type of conflict occurring: political, economic, geological, geographic, etc.
  • Other topics discussed on:
    • Pacing: speed and tonal whiplash.
    • Physical vs Intrigue conflict.
    • Character depth.
    • What makes a story award winning?

Re-Release: Ep012 – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Re-Release: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In a world where books are burned and the mind is distracted Bradbury gives a character a glimpse at something more. Despite the monumental following of Fahrenheit 451, we take issue in the importance this book takes in the dystopian genre. Is the story a warning or a pontification? Join in our discussion.


  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Brave New World (mild spoilers)
  • 1984 (mild spoilers)

Media Mentioned

  • The Giver
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Uglies
  • Red Rising

Dystopian Science Fiction

The big three: Brave New World, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451. These books were not the first dystopian worlds, but have been deemed as the starting points from which to jump from. Dystopian fiction has expanded, especially with the popularity of The Hunger Games. With new books tackling the subject of dystopia, we have to ask: when do we let the old books retire? Isaac and Reid have their opinions about Fahrenheit 451, but what books would we choose to elevate to dystopian classic?



Re-Release: Ep025 – Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Re-Release: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Imagine a world after the oceans have risen and the gods of the previous times have taken physical forms. In Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning we follow monster hunter Maggie as she seeks to find the witch who is creating people-eating monsters. Along the way Maggie meets up with unconventional medicine man Kai and they hunt down the mystery while unfortunately entering police feuds, betting brawls, and enter into the middle of the feud of the gods. Isaac and Reid discuss how this book perfects the young adult dystopia genre as well as discuss how to open a book with twenty pages of intense action. The least we can say is we recommend it, and get ready for a dissection of how books should and ought to be written.

Works Mentioned

  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb


Ep081 – 2021 Review 2022 Look Ahead

2021 Review and 2022 Look Ahead

Leave it to the Prose is your podcast for science fiction and fantasy discussion. We bring the perspective of a reader and a writer to discuss what works and doesn’t work in storytelling fantastical fiction.

2021 Review

2021 was another big year for Leave it to the Prose, featuring in depth analysis and discussion of contemporary and classic works. The year started out with a discussion of middle grade books, and books which got Isaac and Reid into speculative fiction. We read through the first works of Deltora Quest, Animorphs, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Giver cycle. These works allowed us to reflect on those memorable moments where fantasy and science fiction entered our childhood, as well as gain a greater appreciation for the depth of work required to write for a younger audience.

2021 features our first series discussion, and Leave it to the Prose: The Next Chapter went through the first three books in the Red Rising Saga. The Next Chapter dove into the dramatic downturns of Golden Sun, and the triumphant rise of Morning Star.

We discussed contemporary works such as The Poppy War and Dreadnought. We also read The Unbroken very close to its release!

We went back in time. We celebrated our 75th episode with The Hobbit. We went back to Brave New World. And just a generation ago to the groundbreaking works of House of Spirits, Dragonflight, and Magic’s Pawn.

Upcoming 2022 Look Ahead

2021 was a great year for Leave it to the Prose, but it was also an exhausting one. As many listeners know it is a lot to juggle work, life, hobbies, and more; and as such Leave it to the Prose is modifying the 2022 plan. Isaac and Reid wish to keep the podcast going, and, in looking through the stories we most enjoyed, we landed on a complete read through of Deltora Quest starting in April. January through March will feature re-releases of some of our favorite discussions from 2019 and 2020, and then in April we will begin new content beginning with book 2 of the Deltora Quest series: The Lake of Tears.

Join us in 2022 as we read through Deltora Quest!

Leave it to the Prose

Leave it to the Prose is your book discussion podcast dedicated to science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction. In 2021 we read a variety of stories featured below:

  • The Forests of Silence by Emily Rodda
  • The Invasion by K.A. Applegate
  • The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  • Fantasy Magazine Issue 63 Read-Through
  • Morning Star by Pierce Brown
  • The Vaporization Enthralpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family and The Wandering City by Usman T Malik
  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
  • The Glass Bottle Trick and Old Habits by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
  • The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
  • The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power; The Two Bullet War; and Cratered by Karen Osborne
  • Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
  • Dead at the Feet of a God; Pattern Recognition; and Like Birdsong, the Memory of Your Touch by Izzy Wasserstein
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  • Dreadnought by April Daniels
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  • House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey
  • 2021 Hugo Award Short Story Nominees
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wesker
  • And then there were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker


Ep080 – And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker

And then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker

Sarah Pinsker explores the multiverse in “And then There Were (N-One).” Within this short story Pinsker explores choice and a theme of “are we the best version of ourselves?”

Discussed this Episode

  • The idiosyncrasies of each different Sarah, and how this plays into the main theme and plot points of the stories.
  • The theme of “Are we the best version of ourselves?” How Science Fiction Fantasy is a place to explore themes in an exaggerated way. At face value the story is absurdist, but upon mild reflection this story pulls apart how little choices in life could lead to dramatically different lives.

Discussed This Episode:


Ep079 – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

In the story of golem finding a purpose and a jinni seeking freedom, Helene Wecker explores human wanting against the backdrop of turn of the century New York City.

Discussed this Episode

  • Comparing and contrasting the journey of the Golem and the Jinni.
  • The character-driven plot of the story.



Ep078 – 2021 Hugo Awards for Best Short Story

2021 Hugo Awards for Best Short Story

The nominations for the 2021 Hugo Awards for Best Short Story

  • “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, by Rae Carson (read on Uncanny Magazine)
  • “A Guide for Working Breeds”, by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (read here)
  • Little Free Library, by Naomi Kritzer (read on Tor.com)
  • “The Mermaid Astronaut”, by Yoon Ha Lee (read on Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, by T. Kingfisher (read on Uncanny Magazine)
  • “Open House on Haunted Hill”, by John Wiswell (read on Diabolical Plots)

Discussed this Episode

  • What makes a short story award worthy?
  • Ho each of the above stories stand out.