SF: Science fiction? Speculative fiction?
Whatever your favorite acronym, I love the stuff, wild dreamings about possibility. Always have, even before Mrs. Burnett’s F&SF sophomore English class at Wooster High School in Reno, Nevada, the salvation of many a brilliant weirdo. (And a few plain weirdos.)
I love the musty smell of old crumbling paperbacks with lurid covers. I even love those ridiculous 1950s images of rayguns, robots, and half-clad cavewomen found – where else? – in the distant future on other planets.
Ah, to roll like a mongrel in the sweet stink of crazy imagination.
And I especially love short stories. A good short story has to be a perfect little jewel with no excess verbal flab of the sort a novel can get away with. The reader can dive fully in and then get out and go to sleep instead of having to stay up until collapsing at 2 am every night for a week to find out what happens. Short stories are a boon to the biblioholic.
I’ve always preferred books to movies, since what goes on in my own head as I read is generally way more interesting than what can get put on the screen. But now, there are podcasts. And my love for the genre has been kindled anew.
Currently, I commute two days per week, around 45 mins one way to the college at which I teach cultural anthropology. And my dad, whom I love and visit at least two times per year, lives around 9.5 hours drive time away. (Before your environmentally righteous hackles rightfully rise too high at this, I must let you know that no, there is no available public transportation. He lives in the middle of nowhere, on purpose. If you walk west over a mountain range from Burning Man, you’ll come to his house. There used to be a railway to that town, but the gummint pulled it up. Not very systemic future-oriented thinking, eh?) But I digress.
Each podcast lasts around 20 to 40 minutes, with a few lasting as long as an hour + and a few “Flash” casts being only 10 mins or so. They’re perfect escapism for helping a person face gawdawful inching-along rush hour traffic without getting riled up. Who cares if it takes longer? I’ve got a storyteller on board!
They are all FREE but you can donate if you enjoy them, or if you’re broke, tell more folks like I’m doing here. Escape Artists Inc. actually pays their authors, a practice which must be encouraged and supported. Their podcasts are produced and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license. As many of the readers are also the hosts and their pals, I suppose they are doing this on a volunteer basis, but don’t know. I’d like to do this sort of long-form voiceover reading myself, and hope these folks get some financial remuneration along with the joy of vocal interpretation.
The readings are uneven, but some of the narrators are excellent at it: good pace, clear enunciation, very pleasant and interesting voice to listen to.
I’ve not yet dipped my pointy ear into Escape Artists’ third sister, the horror podcast Pseudopod, but when I run out of the first two, be sure that I will.
In the meantime, here are some of my favorite episodes for your own delight.
Science fiction. Many of these listed here involve alternative social structures: messages about current environmental and social issues, the nature of consciousness, animism, time travel, largeness of spirit in the face of conflict, and relationship drama due to problems like cloning. I tend to go for the softer stuff instead of exposes on kewl new space hardware.
- EP 151: Behind the Rules, by Stephanie Burgis. Read by Scott Sigler.
- EP156: Distant Replay, by Mike Resnick. Read by Steve Anderson 5/1/08. [2008 Hugo Nominee]
- EP162 – God Juice, by M.K. Hobson. Read by Christiana Ellis (1:01:28 mins), 6/12/08
- EP170 – Pervert, by Charles Coleman Finlay. Read by Stephen Eley (35:03), 8/8/08
- EP173: Robots Don’t Cry, by Mike Resnick. Read by Stephen Eley.
- EP191: This is How It Feels, by Ian Creasey. Read by FNH 3/18/09
- EP193 – Article of Faith, by Mike Resnick. Read by Stephen Eley 4/2/09
- EP200: All You Zombies, by Robert E. Heinlein, read by Steve Eley 7/2/09 (a classic, 35:54)
- EP214: Sinner, Baker, Fablist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster. 57:51 9/3/09
- EP215: Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store, by Robin Sloan. Narrated by Stephen Eley (46:36)
- EP239: A Programmatic Approach to Perfect Happiness, by Tim Pratt. Read by Stephen Eley. 27:30 2/28/10
- EP241: Thargus and Brian, by Stephen Gaskell. Read by Chris Miller. 30:53 5/19/10
- EP Flash: Grandpa? by Edward M. Lerner. Read by Ben Phillips, 4/6/09
- EP Flash: The Sincerest Form, by W.G. Hopkins. Read by Alasdair Stuart
- EP Flash: Patent Infringement, by Nancy Kress.Read by Steve Anderson, 5/31/09 *** (GREAT!)
These contain provocative elements of spiritual ecopsychology and/or animism, such as sentient plants or overly self-interested machines:
- EP237: Roadside Rescue, by Pat Cadigan. Read by Stephen Eley. ** 20:30 2/7/10
- EP 195: 26 Monkeys, also the Abyss, by Kij Johnson. Read by Diane Severson. [Hugo nominee]
- EP210: The Hastillan Weed by Ian Creasey. Narrated by MarBelle. 41:20 8/6/09
- EP 253: Eugene, by Jacob Sager Weinstein. Read by Tim “ShoEboX” Crist.
- EP Flash – Tired, by Michael Bishop. Read by John Meagher.
- EP Flash (Honorable Mention in Flash writing contest): Hello, I Love You by Katherine Sparrow. Read by Rachel Swirsky, 12/4/08
- PC001: Come Lady Death, by Peter S. Beagle. (41:20), 4/1/08
- PodCastle 073: Rapunzel, by Tanith Lee. Read by Rajan Khanna. (33:19)
- PodCastle 070: The Dybbuk in the Bottle, by Russell William Asplund. Read by Wilson Fowlie.
- PodCastle 77: Nine Sundays in a Row by Kris Dikeman. Read by Kane Lynch. 37:16, 11/11/09
- PodCastle 88: Another End of the Empire by Tim Pratt. Read by Cheyenne Wright. 34:59 (sweet!)
- PC Miniature 36: To-Do List by Nick Mamatas. Read by Jake Squid. 7/24/09, 14:02 ["1. Go to your local public library. Find a copy of The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung. ..."]
These allude to Celtic myth, story, song:
- PodCastle 55: Bottom Feeding, by Tim Pratt. Read by Kip Manley. ["The salmon of knowledge lived a long time ago, in the Well..."]
- Podcastle 82: The Twa Corbies by Marie Brennan Read by Elie Hirschman. 34:29, 12/15/09
These contain provocative elements of spiritual ecopsychology and animism (as does #55 above):
- PC060: The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change, by Kij Johnson. Read by Heather Lindsley. (55:13)
I also like some of what I hear from this British podcast, including:
- Natural Selection by Jonathan Pinnock. [Just how far would you go to get the perfect job?] (14:12) 9/9/09
- Valentine’s Day by Nick Cook. 11:44; great character piece. 9/9/09
Other podcasts of note are of course This American Life, by Ira Glass
[Check out #293: A Little Bit of Knowledge], and
that delightful dance with astrologer Caroline Casey’s coyote wisdom about the world we live in today. You can also subscribe to her podcasts through the Berkeley public radio station KPFA.
All of these podcasts are providing authors with a way to get the word out about their work. I’ve of course enjoyed discovering new offerings from my favorite SF/F authors like Peter S. Beagle, Nancy Kress, Kij Johnson, and Tanith Lee, but also, to my delight, continually discover new ones. For example, I’ve now clearly got to check out more by Tim Pratt.
I also notice preferences arising for certain narrators. You’ll see the patterns in my favorite podcasts listed here, and if you keep it up, you’ll begin to recognize them in your own as well. Then your trouble with the burgeoning bookshelves will begin, so I’ll just apologize now in advance.
Those of you who write brief fiction may wish to consider submitting your work for this new form. If they find it engaging, I’m available for voiceover work to read it…
In the meantime, enjoy letting these folks into your braaaaaaaains. ——->
(And by the way, if you happen to invent the affordable, zero-emissions personal hovercar or jetpack, please deliver asap. I’m still waiting, as I have been since childhood. Haven’t you?)
<— [Your Face Here]