Monthly Archives: May 2020

Ep039 Servant of the Underworld

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard

Servant of the underworld is a mystery set in the capital city of the Aztecs, where the magic of the Aztecs is real and the gods play an active role in the lives of mortals. A high ranking priestess has gone missing, and Acatl, the High Priest of the Dead, is responsible for uncovering the mystery. Bodard studied the Aztec culture and through her research created a story rooted in fact, and in many ways Servant of the Underworld is a historical fantasy novel. Despite the emphasis on the setting, Servant of the Underworld is much better described as a mystery novel set is a historical-fantasy world.

In this episode we discuss

  • Acatl’s character arc, and its similarities to many young adult stories. How Acatl grows from a character filled with regret and nervousness associated with his position to someone who is comfortable leading and being a high priest in the civilization.
  • The accuracy of the Aztec setting. Though neither of us are experts, Bodard is known for her study of the Aztec world which resulted in a historical fantasy novel. Also portrayed and explored is the (blood) magic used in the sacrificial system to summon the power of the gods.
  • The structure of a mystery novel, and the pros and cons of genre. We discuss how Servant of the Underworld is more accurately described as a mystery novel set in a fantastical world more than a fantasy novel with mystery elements. How information revealed is how the plot progresses. And the slow burn beats of a mystery novel’s progression.
  • The size of the world presented. Due to the story being written in first person, we the readers are limited to Acatl’s perspective; which does portray great characterization, but for the first half of the book limits the size of the world we are presented.

Other works mentioned





Ep038 Even the Queen and Cibola by Connie Willis

Connie Willis

Connie Willis, winner of the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master award in 2011, is a legend. Willis is a prolific writer and a common nominee and winner of awards, including eleven Hugo awards and seven Nebula awards won. In this episode Leave It To The Pros focuses on two highly acclaimed works by Connie Willis: Evan the Queen and Cibola.

Evan the Queen is a 1993 short story, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best short story. The story is a conversation taking place in a future where menstruation can be eliminated; however there is a ‘cyclist’ movement to reclaim menstruation. This work is a fantastic conversation starter, and quite honestly everyone should read this work.

Cibola is a 1991 Hugo nominee for best short story. The story follows a reporter on an investigation to find out if Cibola, the lost seven cities of gold exists, and near Denver of all places! 

In this episode…

  • Reid laments about how legendary authors slowly get lost in time, especially authors that were well known in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Even the Queen’s conversation begins a little awkward as two men attempt to discuss a monumental feminist work, only to then dig into this uncomfortability and realize if this story makes you feel uncomfortable then you need to read it and find someone to discuss it with.
  • The importance of normality in science fiction, as exemplified by the simplicity of a brunch conversation in Even the Queen.
  • Reid and Isaac express their ignorance of the layout of Denver, the setting of Cibola.
  • A discussion of ‘what is science fiction fantasy?’ as it relates to Cibola.