Episode 251: Christopher Columbus’s Zodiac Pontoon Boat

The Overthinkers tackle Shana Mlawski’s Hammer of Witches and subversive genre fiction.

Matthew Belinkie, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather are joined by Shana Mlawski to overthink her young adult fantasy novel Hammer of Witches.

→ Download Episode 251 (MP3)

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Hammer of Witches by Shana Mlawski

Hammer of Witches by Shana Mlawski

Further Reading

13 Comments on “Episode 251: Christopher Columbus’s Zodiac Pontoon Boat”

  1. Chris Morgan #

    I have a pressing question about Street Sharks. This Hammerhead Shark who would, as God intended, hammer things with his head… how exactly did he do it? I would imagine he would use the side of his head not unlike one would use a hammer. However, wouldn’t that cause him potential eye damage? Did he wear safety goggles?

    When hammerspace was being discussed and Donkey Kong was mentioned it was stated that Donkey Kong pulled a hammer out of hammerspace. However, that is of course not the case. He would conjure up barrels, while Jumpman would use a hammer to smash those barrels, because he was-a so emotional. Also, I was disappointed that in the discussion of hammerspace that Bender was not mentioned at all.

    I was also disappointed that nobody brought up Master of Ceremonies Hammer vis a vis pop culture hammers.

    Evidently I didn’t have anything to say about the main, substantive conversation of this episode and just focused on the frivolous opening. The important thing is that “Muppet Babies” has been included in the further reading. Also, if nothing else, Shana’s last name should draw the eye to her book when people are browsing. Maybe this is the main issue facing me. My name was used as the generic name in the ads for Shell gas station’s credit cards.


    • Chris Morgan #

      Ah, I should have learned the lesson of Marvel Comics movies and waited around until the very end, because MC Hammer did indeed get his well-warranted mention. I cheerfully withdraw my prior complaint. Also, this gives me the chance to bring up something I forgot in my previous comment. Of course, it involves the movie Steel, and the joke about Shaq’s free throws. Mostly, I just want to bring up the old Taco Neck Syndrome commercials for Taco Bell. Lastly, was there a joke about Shaq’s free throw shooting in Kazaam? That is all.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Jab used his head as a bludgeon in the un-hammer-like way you’d expect — butting with his forehead rather than swinging it sideways and hitting with his eyeball. But Jab was also a boxer and broke things with his fists frequently.

      The whole situation is further complicated by the fact that all the street sharks routinely chewed through concrete and steel with their teeth, and also seemed capable of bursting through these same materials at will simply by approaching them on foot at a medium gait or jumping in their direction.

      So it is not clear that Jab’s hammer-head offers any practical benefit to the team. But it is still Jawesome.


  2. Emil #

    Shana joins OTI podcast, drops two titles I’m forever in love with (Ranma 1/2, Monkey Island) and then Matt finishes intro off with a penis joke! The emotional roller coaster!


  3. proserpina #

    This episode is a strange coincidence, as my friends I have recently been having conversations about Street Sharks, oddly enough. The best part are the titles, which are all existing phrases with “shark” inserted into them, including my favorite “To Shark or not to Shark”


  4. petrlesy #

    if you guys ever get a chance, check out http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064546/ , a good introduction to witch hunting and one of the best pieces of film/literature ever created in my little country


  5. Derdrom #

    I missed the word ‘young’ in the summary, which really changes the tone!


  6. Gab #


    I totally remember Street Sharks.*

    I immediately thought of Grabthar’s hammer. You know, the one referenced in Galaxy Quest, “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged!”

    Shana, thanks for mentioning disability, even if it was only in passing.

    YA author John Green has two books that deal with death- Looking for Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars.

    *And Muppet Babies.


  7. Fishyd #

    Being Australian I have no knowledge of ‘street sharks’, however I can reveal that Clint Bolton was a fairly successful Australian goalkeeper.


  8. JosephFM #

    Reaslly surprised, given the current popcultural landscape, that there was so little mention in the inital discussion of the Marvel Comics/Movies version of Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, which strikes me (no pun intended) as probably the most prominent popcultural hammer of late. But I suppose it’s not as ripe for overthinking as some of the other choices, what with being a literal hammer.

    Also, as a librarian who works with teenagers, I pretty much loved this episode in general and I can’t wait to read this book and perhaps suggest we order it for the library where I work (though the final decision on collection development isn’t up to me). I especially liked the discussion of the problems that result from allowing marketing to drive publication choices.


  9. Ben Adams OTI Staff #


    It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one, alphabetically, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. So far, female authors whose last names begin with A or B have been most affected, although many others have, too.

    The intention appears to be to create a list of “American Novelists” on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men. The category lists 3,837 authors, and the first few hundred of them are mainly men. The explanation at the top of the page is that the list of “American Novelists” is too long, and therefore the novelists have to be put in subcategories whenever possible.

    Too bad there isn’t a subcategory for “American Men Novelists.”


    • Gab #

      I’m gurgling in anger. And, by joyous happenstance, the topic for part of today’s class was already scheduled as sexism.


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