Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Steve Eley Speaks

I just heard an interview with Steve Eley the Geek' Guide to the Galaxy, show number 7. Steve is the founder of the EscapeArtists family of podcasts: EscapePod, PseudoPod, and PodCastle. Since he left EscapePod last year I've been wondering what he's been up to. Unfortunately the interview was from February 2010, and there was no hint in it that Steve was even thinking about leaving. But it was still a great interview, all about how Steve started EscapePod, paying authors $20 a story and later moving up to $100. I was fascinated by how he put the whole thing together. It reminds me of listening to the Dunesteef, where they talk about the podcasting process even as they do it.

So I still have no idea what Steve is doing now. He cited other duties and mental health issues when he left EscapePod. Apparently he is into Polyamory, although he never talked about it on EscapePod. I guess it's where you can be married and still have other love interests. He used to contribute to the Polyamory Weekly podcast, maybe still does. Good luck with that. I get it, there are some cute girls out there, but frankly, my wife would kill me. And I don't want to die just yet.

Anyway, hope you are doing well Steve.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DrabbleCast B-Sides

DrabbleCast B-Sides is a spin-off of Norm Sherman's DrabbleCast, where Norm Sherman puts stuff too weird for the normal show. The DrabbleCast "brings strange stories from strange authors to strange listeners such as yourself" already, so what goes on B-Sides can be pretty weird or very esoteric, like narrative poems from H.P. Lovecraft. I listened to "Snuggle the Dead" yesterday, by Matthew Bey, and I have to say, that was one of the weirdest, creepiest, stories I had heard in a long while. I had to share because the first rule of Snuggle Club is "you always talk about Snuggle Club."

Here is Norm's promo line:
Drabblecast B-Sides \ˈbēˈsīds\ n.
1.  The Drabblecast’s awkward, hilarious but mildly retarded half-uncle that every so often drops by unannounced with his prize-winning pet mole.

New to podcasts?

Skip this post if you're already listening to podcasts. Two years ago I kept hearing about podcasts and had no ideas what they were. It drove me crazy. Now it's incredible that I could completely miss out on something so big. A podcast is basically just an audio segment that you can download onto your computer and listen to on an IPod or any MP3 player. How do you do it? The easiest way for me is to go through the ITunes store. Search for the podcast you want and subscribe. It's free. Then when you open ITunes, the podcasts you subscribe to will be right there in your Podcasts folder along with your music. You can also download podcasts direct from the podcast's website. The podcast will download as an MP3 just like a music file. The benefit of going to the website is you get to see artwork, show notes, and comment on the podcasts.

This blog is dedicated to speculative fiction, but any subject you can dream up is out there. I am out looking for all the interesting SF podcasts. Let me know if you see one I haven't covered.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Dunesteef

The Dunesteef podcast is run by two guys Rish Outfield and Big Anklevitch. Their focus is speculative fiction of any kind. The stories are produced with sound effects and different voices for different characters, including guest actors. The story seems to be usually from a half an hour to an hour. After the story, Rish and Big talk about the story and anything else that comes into their heads. The dialog is an amusing, quasi-literary attempt to disect the story and give their impressions. An added bonus is that they usually have the author record a short segment about the story as well.

Good stories, selected for their You may get annoyed be the sometimes aimless chatter of the two editors, or you may come to love that more than the stories. An interesting thing about this podcast is that the editors talk a lot about the podcasting process, how they record stories, the things going through their minds, what time it is, etc.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pod Castle

PodCastle is devoted to fantasy stories. It is one of the three Escape Artists podcasts spun off from EscapePod in July 2007. Fantasy tends to reside in sprawling fat trilogies and sequals, but PodCastle seeks out the elusive fantasy short story, which includes everything from swords and sorcery to modern day strange occurences, Arabian Nights, folklore, magical realism, and every other not quite mainstream fiction. Some of the popular authors on the show are Greg van Eekhout  and Tim Pratt. The quality of stories and narration is first rate. For some reason the intros and outros have always been weak, however, especially compared to EscapePod and Pseudopod, the other two EscapeArtist sisters, although with the addition of Dave Thompson, this condition has changed. His intros are great.

Here are some fantastic shows to get you started:

PC005  The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale                                                  
PC003  Run Of The Fiery Horse                                    
PC020  Cup and Table                                                  
PC029  Dead Languages                                               
PC008  The Osteomancer’s Son                                    
PC004  Goosegirl                                                          
PC006  Hotel Astarte                                                    
PC027  Red Riding-Hood’s Child                                  
PC018  Illuminated Dragon                                            
PC017  Goblin Lullaby

And one of my personal favorites, a seething indictment of racism in the Shire, Middle Earth
PC032  Senator Bilbo

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Drabblecast

The Drabblecast brings strange stories to strange listeners...such as yourself. This is its tagline and they don't dissappoint. Norm Sherman hosts one of the slickest, hippest speculative fiction podcasts around. A Drabble is a story exactly 100 words long, and one is featured on every show. There is also a main fiction piece and often a Twabble, a story exactly 100 characters long (think Twitter).

Norm Sherman is a talented musician and a hilarious personality. His introductions are short and funny. Sometimes he includes a bit of real news of the bizarre. The production value of the whole show is very high and the stories are full of sound effects and music. The focus of the podcast is on fun and enjoyment of the slightly bizarre. Most episodes are about one hours long.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Escape Pod

EscapePod was started by Steve Eley back in 2005 with the idea to bring fun, thought provoking short (half hour to an hour) speculative fiction. Steve later spun off two additional podcasts, PodCastle devoted to fantasy and PseudoPod devoted to horror, leaving EscapePod primarily for science fiction. All three podcasts are under the EscapeArtists umbrella and you can comment on stories from all three casts at the forums there.

From the beginning, EscapePod had a homey feeling. As Steve introduced each story, you got the feeling he was talking directly to you, and his own life angst came through sometimes, making EscpaePod a very personal experience. In the early years Steve read most of the stories himself but gradually brought in a lot of guest narrators. In 2009 Steve stepped down as the chief and passed the editorship of EscapePod off to Mur Lafferty. She and Norm Sherman (of the Drabblecast) trade off hosting the show now. The stories are still great. Mur and Norm don't share as much of their personal lives as Steve did, but are excellent hosts, especially Norm who I will elaborate on in the Drabblecast entry.

The stories are still a half hour to an hour of fun science fiction. Super hero stories are also included here, instead at PodCastle and there is a very popular series called Union Dues by Jeffrey R. DeRego that features stories first on EscapePod.

There is a warning at the beginning  if any material will be unsuitable for sensitive listeners, right after the weird female robot voice annouces the story. The weird voice is usually unintelligible so just wait for Mur or Norm to repeat it in the intro. Steve Eley always started the story with "it's story time," something all subsequent introducers have stuck with.

Top Episodes you should check out. This is some of fun, amazing science fiction at its best.

EP Episode 144    Friction
EP Episode 008    Blood of Virgins
EP Episode 169    How I Mounted Goldie, Saved My Partner Lori, and Sniffed out the People's Justice
EP Episode 124    Save Me Plz
EP Episode 100    Nightfall
EP Episode 101    The 43 Antarean Dynasties
EP Episode 143    Flaming Marshmallow and Other Deaths
EP Episode 115    Conversations with and About My Electric Toothbrush
EP Episode 105    Impossible Dreams
EP Episode 146    Edward Bear and the Very Lonely Walk
EP Episode 148    Homecoming at the Borderlands Cafe

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Star Ship Sofa

This is the first podcast to win the Hugo Award for best fanzine, in 2010. This premier podcast is hosted by Tony C. Smith, about double the length of most pocasts. Each issue has short fiction, a fact piece or interview, sometimes a poem, sometimes a section on genre history. Sometimes they even run a serial in addition to all of the other fiction in each cast. The podcast has a lot of guests. The quality is excellent, the narration professional, and the calibre of the stories is very high, often from celebrated speculative fiction writers.

What really distiguishes this podcast are Tony's exhuberant intros and comments. He has a hilarious regional English accent and is such a likeable, enthusiastic fan of speculative fiction that his excitement is contagious. He does tend to go on a bit long. If you have time he can be very fun to listen to, but as he himself has commented that you are free to fast forward if you like. He has voice talent do all the stories, interviews, etc.

Star Ship Sofa has been going on for several years now, and last I looked they were on episode 173. I started from the beginning with a Michael Moorcock story called London Bone. The narration by MCL Studios was superb, and I was hooked ever since.