I cycle to work after I take Emma to school and I cycle home after dropping her off, which comes to about a 40 minute commute. A commute I spend listening to podcasts. Additionally, I have a hard time falling asleep at night and listening to fiction podcasts helps me unwind and actually drop off. So I get through a lot of podcast hours. In 2011 and 2012 I did In your Ear posts, recommending the podcasts I listened to on a regular basis. After skipping it last year, I thought I’d bring it back this year, since I’ve discovered a lot of new podcasts in the past two years! So for those of you unfamiliar with the wonderful world of genre podcasts or those looking or a new listen, I hope you find something of interest below.
The Coode Street Podcast
The Coode Street Podcast is a weekly conversation between Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe mostly focused on science fiction and with occasional guests. Listening to Coode Street is fun as it’s almost as if you’re listening in on a bar conversation or phone conversation between two old friends, who chew the fat and set the world to rights. It’s what we’d call gemoedelijk in Dutch which translates roughly into genial, but that doesn’t quite convey the total meaning. If you want to learn more about the field of SF this is a good place to start, even if Jonathan and Gary didn’t know who I was when I got nominated for the WFA!
Presented by Tansy Raynor Roberts, Alisa Krasnostein, and Alex Pierce, Galactic Suburbia might well be my favourite podcast at the moment. Discussing SFF through a feminist lens, I find their viewpoint and discussions interesting and additionally they’re really funny. Tansy, Alisa, and Alex have taught me a lot about feminism and other issues surrounding diversity just by listening to their discussions. Add to that Tansy’s tales of her opinionated daughters and Alisa’s anti-feminist dog and how can you not love these three?
A relative newcomer to the list, but one that has become mandatory listening really fast is Tor.com’s Rocket Talk, presented by Justin Landon. Justin is perhaps better known for his blog at Staffer’s Book Reviews, where he writes not just incisive reviews, but well-researched thought pieces as well, a quality that he brings to his podcasting as well. If you haven’t checked Rocket Talk out yet, I highly recommend that you do.
The grand-daddy of genre podcasts on my lists, SF Signal has just won the Hugo this year in the fancast category. Presented by Patrick Hester, the podcast features interviews and roundtables with the SF Signal Irregulars. In recent months there have been several bigger roundtable episodes organised by Jaym Gates and hosted by her and Patrick together. I really enjoy these bigger and often somewhat longer discussions especially the recent one on Social SF.
The Skiffy and Fanty Show
Hosted by a large group of people, but most notably Shaun Duke, Paul Weimer, Julia Rios, and Michael R. Underwood, the Skiffy and Fanty Show is a very diverse show, with discussions about books, the genre in general, author interviews, film and TV discussions, and their famed Torture Cinema shows. They also structure their year around a specific theme. 2014 for instance was the World SF tour in which they focused on the genre and genre authors outside of the States and the UK, while 2015 will be focused on the contributions of women to the field of SF.
The Functional Nerds
The Functional Nerds is a weekly show hosted by Patrick Hester and John Anealio, featuring weekly picks of nerdy items and an interview with a broad range of SFF writers or other nerdy people. They are always entertaining and have featured some of my favourite interviews.
Tea and Jeopardy
This one is a little different. Tea and Jeopardy is a scripted interview podcast, which means that while the interviews are just your regular interviews, they are always set in a different exotic tea lair and have the guest braving some sort of peril on their way home. It’s written, produced and hosted by Emma Newman and her butler Latimer, a.k.a. her husband Peter Newman.
This was the podcast that beat out the SF Signal podcast for the Hugo. It’s a permanent panel formed by Lynne M. Thomas, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, Cat Valente and Seanan McGuire, often with additional guests. This one stands out because of it positivity. The panellists always bring things to squee about and always with a positive slant. I like it for its positivity, but also for the personalities on the show. These are fun people, having a fun conversation and always interesting. The SF Squeecast gets together once a month.
A show presented by the duo of Bradley P. Beaulieu and Gregory A. Wilson, this one focuses on the craft of writing. Mostly taped in the form of triptychs, each trilogy consists of a reader response episode, an interview with the author of the work under consideration and an episode discussing writing technique. Brad and Greg always have interesting takes on the books they discuss and while I’m not a writer – I don’t have the writer gene, I’m a reader – I definitely take something away from these shows that I can use in my reviewing. Episodes are posted weekly.
The Roundtable Podcast
Worth listening to just for host Dave Robison’s mellifluous voice and his awe-inspiring guest introductions, this one also features some interesting writing deconstruction. Always structured as a two-parter, one week will feature an interview with a guest host and the other will feature the same guest host and an aspiring writer in what is essentially a writer’s workshop where the audience gets to listen in. As I said above, I’m not a (fiction) writer, but listening to Dave and his guests bouncing ideas around is great and the discussion of some essential writing skills is also instructive for a reviewer.
The Three Hoarsemen
Or what if Waldorf and Statler were joined by Marriott and discussed SFF instead of heckling the muppets? No, not really of course, but Jeff Patterson, Fred Kiesche, and John E.O. Stevens are definitely genre reading veterans and I like their discussion of older works in the field.
Dear Book Nerd
This one is not necessarily a genre podcast, but has featured several SFF authors, such as Saladin Ahmed and Chuck Wendig, and I believe Sam Sykes will be a guest soon. Hosted by the wonderful Rita Meade, a librarian, this is an advice column for readers where people write in and Rita and guest discuss three letters per episode. It’s interesting to see how some issues are so common and I always like the discussion the questions spur between Rita and her guest.
Cast of Wonders
A podcast focused on YA SFF fiction, it is often on the shorter side. Edited and hosted by Marguerite Kenner, I really like these doses of short fiction YA.
Welcome to Night Vale
WTNV is a phenomenon. A serialised audio story presented as the local radio show of the odd and eerie town of Night Vale. New episodes drop on the first and fifteenth of every month and if you like weird and wacky and great indie music, this one is definitely one to check out.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
BCS is a magazine focused on literary adventure fantasy. Their podcast features selected stories from each month’s issue.
Lightspeed is edited by John Joseph Adams and the podcast is produced by Stephan Rudnicki’s Skybox Media. They run four stories from that month’s issue and feature both SF and fantasy. Stories are mostly read by Rudnicki or Gabrielle de Cuir, who are both wonderful narrators.
A weekly show, Escape Pod features Science Fiction short stories and flash fiction.
PodCastle is Escape Pods sister site and features weekly Fantasy short stories and flash fiction.
The audio version of Clarkesworld Magazine features their fiction read and hosted by Kate Baker. I love Kate’s voice and her reading style and the Clarkesworld podcast is a staple on my bedtime mp3 player, together with Escape Pod and PodCastle.