Over the last few months, I have acquired yet another hobby. Those who know me may appropriately groan at this point.
So just a quick update this time – though I have a fun new project to discuss in an upcoming post – I made it onto The Drabblecast again! Woot.
Once, again, you can scroll to the end of the episode (about timecode 30:00) if you want to hear Norm’s awesome narration and background music, but I’ve posted my twabble (a 100-character, “twitter length” story) below:
“Even deep within his bunker, Paul felt each bomb add to the city’s devastation. He smiled and tore up 15 parking tickets. ”
If you get a chance, DO listen to this week’s main fiction the same episode. It’s really a great story that explores an interesting microcosm…a very squishy one!
I used the creative enthusiasm from this micro-publication to write up a 100 word story (a drabble). If it doesn’t find a home in a paying flash fiction market, I’ll see if The Drabblecast is interested…
[Drabblecast Cover by Bill Halliar]
So two writing-related bits of good news:
First off, I’m tallying up all of the Critters.org critiques (or “crits” as they are affectionately known) that I recieved for my latest science fiction short story manuscript. For those who haven’t been subjected to my story, essentially it’s about “time travel without time travel” and it’s called “The Lost Month.” This may be a working title, though, as one of the critiques pointed out that it doesn’t have a TON of substance on its own. Anyway, entering all the suggestions into Word comments is taking quite a while (I received over 20 crits), so this next bit of news has given the next little jolt to keep things going!
As many of you know, I listen to a huge number of podcasts, many of them audio fiction podcasts. One of them, The Drabblecast, purveyor of weird speculative fiction, has a weekly contest for best 100 character story (exactly 100, not counting spaces). They call it a Twabble because it’s a Twitter-sized Drabble (a 100 WORD story, which they also feature weekly).
Anyway, I put one up on the forum and BAM, a couple weeks later, I got onto episode 232! Just click the link and then download to hear it read (timecode 20:00 if you don’t want to listen to the first two fiction pieces and their weird commentary). OR just look below, I’ve copied it for your amusement:
“As I leaned in to kiss her moist, pink lips, I received a small electric shock! It must have been static from my PC monitor. ”
Yeah, it’s a little weird, but then, so is The Drabblecast. I wanted to lead the reader one way and then whip him or her into a different perspective. Either way, I’m just glad I got picked…maybe I’ll post more on the forum and on here in the coming months.
[Drabblecast Cover by Jerel Dye]
Some people in the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) asked me to select some of the best podcasted fiction episodes of the year, so I have done so in this post. Keep in mind, these are the result of MY opinions, not the club’s, but I think you’ll agree that they are pretty darn good. FYI, I tried to avoid major fiction nominees and winners (Nebulas, Hugos, etc.).
In no particular order, The Top 5:
Clockwork Fagin – Cory Doctorow
Escape Pod Episode 315
*This story is definitely one of my favorites of the year, even though it is only from last month. None of our participants had listened to it yet, so I figured I’d give it another chance to warm your heart!
Tying Knots – Ken Liu
Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 52
*Ken Liu is one of my favorite rising stars in SF short fiction. This a a really interesting story that blends cutting-edge science problems with intercultural conflicts. I was also privileged to help critique this story when Ken shared it with the Critters online workshop.
Breakaway, Backdown – James Patrick Kelly
Lightspeed Magazine February Issue
*Make sure you listen to this one with your ears. The narrator does a fantastic job and the “one-sided conversation” format took me to new and exciting places (especially as a hobbyist writer).
Raft of the Titanic – James Morrow
StarShipSofa Episode 214
*Be aware this is a long one and to get to it, you’ll need to skip to timecode 31:55 (though I thought the previous segment was interesting too). That said, if you listen to this whimsical story (reminded me of Gulliver’s Travels to some degree) in a few smaller chunks, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s another recent entry, but I think it deserves a spot in the year’s best for its micro world-building.
Epoch – Cory Doctorow
Cory Doctorow Podcast (Excerpt from With A Little Help)
*Yep, that’s two Doctorow stories out of 5. Don’t be upset – I could have made it 5 without breaking a sweat (he’s had a good year)! This story stuck with me all throughout the year, and I think it contrasts fairly well with the other chosen story.
That’s the list, BUT I am weak and will include below all the runners-up that I just couldn’t leave you without mentioning: Continue reading
The entire paradigm of science fiction literature seems to be in a state of flux. Book publishers are being outstripped by eBook sales and new online-only publishers seems to spring up every week. The upside of this shift is that fans of audiobooks and audiofiction have more opportunities than ever to listen to free works by professional authors. I’ve put together this list to help you capitalize on the proliferation of great podcasts out there.
You’ll notice I’ve numbered this list, and indeed, if I had to listen to one podcast first, it would be Clarkesworld. Voiced by the soothing Kate Baker, the Clarkesworld Magazine podcast releases two stories (usually awesome ones) a month. Their topics range across SF, fantasy, and horror, but the average reader will likely find the stories well within their own taste. I warrant that some of the best fiction of the year comes out of Clarkesworld Magazine. One of the advantages of this podcast is that it encompasses the entire magazine, so there is no fiction in print that are not also “in voice.” They offer subscriptions and accept donations if you wish to show your support.
Right up there with Clarkesworld is Lightspeed. This up-and-coming online-only publication puts out two audiofiction episodes a month. They don’t read everything they publish in text, but you get quality instead of quantity. Some of the best SF narrators around show up in Lightspeed (including Stefan Rudnicki, my personal favorite and co-narrator of ALL of the Enderverse audiobooks). I look forward to the groundbreaking stories and the exceptional voicing each time they say “Let’s take the jump to lightspeed!” They also offer subscriptions and accept donations.
3. Escape Pod
For a bit of variety, Escape Pod is a good choice. Their stories are largely audio “reprints” from other sources (though they do publish the occasional original fiction). Unlike the previous two entries, the authors aren’t always “name brands” and sometimes the stories don’t hold up to the same standard. The podcast often makes good use of the audio medium by playing with multiple narrators and the like. The reason I keep coming back to Escape Pod is the uncertainty over whether the story will be fantastic or disappointing: I like the surprise. At the end of each episode, they read listener comments to previous stories, so I if you didn’t like a story, you might find that you’re one of many who posted angrily on the forums. There is a greater sense of community with Escape Pod than most on this list.
As an added note, Escape Pod is part of the Escape Artists family of podcasts. I haven’t listened to them yet, but you might want to check out Podcastle for Fantasy and Pseudopod for Horror if those tickle your fancy. You can support Escape Artists with donations.
Oh, man! What can I say about StarShipSofa other than “climb aboard!” Tony C. Smith captains this lengthy podcast, which features segments on recent science, science in liturature, interviews, deep studies of the genre and, of course, original fiction. It is audio’s answer to Analog. The segments are all done by various contributors, but they are neatly stitched together by the gregareous Captain Tony, whose Scottish accent and ultra-positivity will have you grinning from minute one. Overall, the fiction is very good and sometimes Tony snags an interview with the author. It’s a long podcast, so I’ll keep this blurb brief and let it speak for itself! StarShipSofa accepts donations.
If you have a hankering for weirdness, this podcast is for you. Each week, narrator Norm Sherman offers up a great piece of short fiction. One of the interesting aspects of The Drabblecast is its use of music. Each original story comes complete with background music that really accents the story being told. I’ve listened to other podcasts that used music before and always found it distracting. With The Drabblecast, each piece is custom composed for the fiction, so it sounds great!
Beyond the main fiction, each episode includes a drabble (100 words) and a twabble (a twitter-sized 100 character story). Some weeks, the episodes begin with a silly audio serial full of puns and strange adventures. The Drabblecast takes a little getting used to, but I say it’s well worth the effort. You can support the podcast through donations or merchandise.
This podcast is almost completely defunct, as they haven’t published anything since February of this year. I bring it up because the archives are fairly extensive and Tor.com publishes a lot of great stories. The episodes themselves are pretty spartan, but the fiction is good, so check it out!
Why is a fantasy podcast on here? Well, your mother always told you it was good to have variety in your diet! In all seriousness, I’m not a great aficionado of fantasy, but this podcast does a good job of presenting a story with no “world of fantasy” news and such. Also, they tend to lean toward “adventure fantasy,” so it makes for a nice half an hour of escapism. Not every issue publishes an audio story, but you’ll receive about two a month. Beneath Ceaseless Skies accepts donations for support and offers payed Kindle subscriptions.
This podcast is a little odd because it’s the only personal podcast on the list. If you’re familiar with Cory Doctorow and you like his work, I probably don’t need to convince you of this podcast’s quality. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s one of those guys with a finger in every pie. Doctorow is an editor of BoingBoing.net, former member of the EFF, and has written a ton of interesting, cutting-edge SF over the years. His most famous work is probably the posthuman novella, Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom.
His podcast generally includes updates about his life and career, calendar of events, and recordings of various things. This latter category can range from original fiction he’s yet to put in print, Mark Twain stories (which he reads excellently), and speeches/interviews he does in other places. Like everything Doctorow does, the podcast is free and can be supported by buying anything he has produced over the years.
If you’re a big SF nerd like me, you’ve probably followed a link or two pointing toward SF Signal. They take on the wide world of SF, reviewing books, posting the news, and generally geeking out. Their podcast alternates between roundtable discussions (mostly “What is your favorite ______?”) and interviews with authors who have recently published. As of this publication, I am listening to their interview with the esteemed William Gibson. There is no audio fiction on this podcast, but after a given episode you’ll probably find yourself nose-deep in a new book/show/movie/podcast they have recommended.
“Good morning Gary!” Notes from Coode Street is last, but certainly not least. Each week (or so), Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan sit down for a cross-ocean chat about books, authors, genre, and even more esoteric topics within SF. Both are professional reviewers and anthologists, so they process an enormous number of works at the same time. We the listeners benefit because they can share their fairly unique understanding of the SF field on the show. They also get into more than a few friendly debates over the merits of a book or a shift in the field. Notes from Coode Street doesn’t seem to take donations, but I bet they’d love it if you told a friend!
I hope this list gives you a nice starting point if you’re new to SF podcasts. If you’re already a podcast veteran, maybe one of these can help flesh out your subscriptions.