Synthetic Voices Episode #5 – Selections from May 2012

So many wonderful stories this month!  Plus, we have some new markets represented on the podcast this time!

Take a listen to the episode here:

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*Public Domain Fiction Special*
I don’t know if you noticed, but an extra podcast popped up on the feed at the end of May – “The Beasts in the Void” by Paul W. Fairman.  It was the first in what will hopefully be a continuing series of public domain SF works that have been recorded by LibriVox volunteers.  This time, I did the recording, but it probably won’t always be me in the future — they take a LOT of time to record.  If you’d like to check it out, just download the previous episode.

*Featured Stories*

“A Hole To China” by Catherynne M. Valente
Lightspeed Magazine May Issue
55:48 mins
— I really loved this story from start to finish.  It’s a long one, but let me see if the premise hooks you…a little girl feels unhappy with her condition in life, so she decides to dig a hole to China.  Still not hooked?  Well let’s just say that she doesn’t hit a layer of clay at five feet…in fact, she discovers an amazing subterranean world and a lot about herself.  The mythos in the story is also something to behold.  Maybe it’s based on one culture or another, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it.

“Synch Me, Kiss Me, Drop” by Suzanne Church
Clarkesworld Magazine Issue #68
32:37 mins
— This story focuses on a loser and, arguably, a bastard.  Our protagonist is plugged into a very futuristic kind of drug that works the same way that music does on our minds.  I found the scene, a pulsing club, a little confusing in the beginning, but after getting into the rhythm, excuse the pun, I really enjoyed the exploration of rock bottom in a high-tech, drug-crazy society.

“Lila The Werewolf” by Peter S. Beagle
Podcastle Ep #209
1:05:02 hrs/mins
— First of all, I’d like to mention that Podcastle had a very strong selection of fiction in May, but in the interest of providing a diverse list of fiction for you…I just picked my most favorite.  This story grabbed me because it involves a werewolf, as you would expect from the title, but uses the supernatural creature as an accent note for an otherwise normal story of a guy and the girl he’s dating.  After the initial shock of finding out her secret, we get to observe how he takes in the news and assesses it alongside her other pluses and minuses.  Having never dated a werewolf, I don’t know whether his assessments are realistic, but it was entertaining to read and it ended with a big bang!

“Nora’s Thing” by Will Ludwigsen
The Drabblecast #244
~8:45 mins
— This flash fiction story won’t take you long to listen to, but it might stay with you for a little bit.  The creature that Ludwigsen invents has its own unique spirit.  It reminds me a little of a Lovecraft story, in that there is a dark human moral to the story, though maybe without a solution to that moral.
— All three regular episodes of The Drabblecast this month were pretty solid, so I suggest you check them out!  I’m not just saying that because Norm published one of my 100 word drabbles on there, though I DO love self promotion!

“Mindy In the Shadows of Broadway” by Steven Silver (timecode 5:00)
~19:00 mins
“Incompatible” by Will McIntosh (timecode 1:03:00)
~56:00 mins
StarShipSofa Ep. #236
— Here’s a two-for-one deal!  Both of these stories were great and they’re conveniently featured on the same episode of StarShipSofa.  “Mindy in the Shadows of Broadway” is a short bit of almost humorous fiction with a wonderful tone and voice.  Think 1940’s gangsters and you’ll have some approximation.  The other story, “Incompatible,” is almost an hour long, but it’s really worth the time commitment.  We learn about a debilitating disease of the mind (or is it) suffered by our main character, and how she has learned to live with it from a young age.  From there, a love story blooms and through trust and desperation, the two lovers try to overcome an almost insurmountable obstacle.  That’s all I say, but I hope you’ll check it out.

*Hugo Month on Escape Pod*
This month, Escape Pod featured all but one of the Hugo nominees for their “Hugo Month Special.” If you haven’t read or listened to all of these stories yet, I HIGHLY recommend it.  I particularly enjoyed “The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick, “Movement” by Nancy Fulda, and “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu.  Escape Pod also reprinted a past Hugo winner, “Hawksbill Station” by Robert Silverberg.

*Contemplating YA*
A feature and a few thoughts on YA…

Cast of Wonders
May 2012 episodes
— I’m not a regular “YA Fiction” reader.  I know many adults who frequently read YA fiction and even a few who avow anything else.  For me, the “for young persons” label has always deflected my interests.  With that disclaimer out of the way, I can say that I love listening to Cast of Wonders.  It’s a self-styled YA podcast, but I feel that it works hard to collect fiction that young people can approach, but that is not necessarily FOR young people.  The writing is often compelling, the plots complex and mature.  There is a preponderance of younger characters, but I haven’t found this distracting.  At no time have I thought, “I didn’t like it but I’m sure the kids would.”  If you haven’t checked out Cast of Wonders, give it a whirl.  May featured “In The Cemetery of Frozen Ships” (Parts 1 and 2) by Suzanne van Rooyen, if you’re looking for an action/adventure story and “The Morandini Genie” by Michael Haynes, if you’d rather listen to a clever and whimsical tale.

*A Bit of Flash*
This segment features flash fiction in podcast form.

“The Appropriate Response” by Jeff Samson
Nature Vol 485 p. 272 “Futures Section” (10 May 2012)
Print Version – Podcast Page
6:11 mins
— I have never featured a Nature: Futures story before and I am sorry for that.  Each issue of Nature has its very own SF story.  These stories are published under the “Futures” moniker and generally appeal to the science and tech crowd.  They don’t podcast every one of them, but once a month they feature their favorite in the Nature Podcast.  This story takes a frightening glimpse into the future of the classroom, once technology has overrun good sense.

*In Rememberance*
Only a few days ago, the world received the news that Ray Bradbury had passed away.  If you were, like me, influenced by The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, or his work on “The Twilight Zone,” take a moment to revisit one of his classic works. Bradbury loved books and reading and I think it is a fitting tribute if we all pick up a book and let it become a dream, if just for a little while.

Our closing quote for the week:
“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury


Synthetic Voices is by Jimmy Rogers, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

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