Podcasts

I find podcasts an excellent way to get a broader view of current events in the speculative fiction industry. Besides, it gives me something to listen to on my walk to and from work. Here is a list of the podcasts that I’m currently following (listed in alphabetical order, not any kind of preference). If you know of a podcast you think I should check out, contact me and let me know or leave a comment below.

A regular podcast related to the Antipodean Speculative Fiction website, which features stories (mostly flash fiction of approximately 500 words but occasionally something longer), speculative fiction news (mostly Australian) and reviews of various books and movies (as well as a healthy dose of mainly electronica music).

I like this podcast a lot – and not only because AntiSF has published some of my short stories. It has a wide variety of stories (with the usual mix of quality you’d expect from a high volume publisher) and gives exposure to a variety of authors that you wouldn’t otherwise get to read. The editor and presenter Ion “Nuke” Newcombe obviously loves the genre and publishes 5 or 6 stories each month, all of which get read out in the podcasts (often by the authors themselves).

As well as narrating my own stories, I also narrate the occasional story for other authors. Nuke has been very generous in letting me play in the AntiSF sandpit.

Another podcast of a radio show, this one from America and hosted by Paul Cole. Mainly talking about science news (in particular focused on space exploration), but also some audio stories. Paul’s voice takes a little getting used to (it took me an episode or two to tune my ears into the thick American accent), but it is interesting to get a bit of science news thrown in with the speculative fiction.

The Beam Me Up podcast has featured some of my flash fiction.

Presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, with the occasional guest. Each podcast usually contains speculative fiction news and general discussion about the field, with both an Australian (Jonathan) and US (Gary) perspective. I’d probably describe the format as long discussions which don’t seem to be following a run sheet too closely and are all the more informative because of it. Both presenters are very knowledgable about the history of the field and often put interesting context around modern trends that I don’t hear elsewhere.

They often note that they are rambling, but I always find it an interesting meander.

Interviews with speculative fiction authors. Early episodes included interviewers Tansy Rayner RobertsAlisa Krasnostein or Sean Wright (very similar to the Galactic Surburbia podcast discussed below, with the exception of Sean who is a close friend of the Galactic Suburbia family).

Relatively recently the podcast “rebooted”, with Sean Wright taking the reins as the lead interviewer. Other interviews have been conducted by Alexandra PierceDavid McDonaldHelen Stubbs and yours truly.

Interviews are fairly wide ranging and cover a variety of issues, depending on the interviewee. A great way to learn more about the personalities that make up the Australian speculative fiction scene, with occasional forays into international waters.

This podcast is currently on hiatus, but the back catalogue contains a great range of Australian SF authors.

A fantastic mix of Australian speculative fiction news and opinion. The range of perspectives is good – for instance often looking at things from an editorial, authoring and/or publishing viewpoint. The presenters (Tansy Rayner RobertsAlexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein) are intelligent and coherent. As is often the case with clever people the opinions are strong and put forth with an enviable lack of uncertainty, which makes for entertaining listening.

Draws attention to the decidedly male bias in a lot of speculative fiction coverage (ironic in a genre that prides itself on having a broad capacity to explore issues of the human condition including subjects such as equality). Has introduced me to a wider range of authors which has been excellent. Highly recommended.

Podcast by Terry Frost, focusing on in depth discussion of a couple of sci-fi movies each week that are a bit off the beaten track. Frost is very knowledgable in the genre, I always pick up something interesting.

Podcast about things “generally geek” by Ian (from The Writer and the Critic below), Mitch and Dave (with producer Kirstyn McDermott sometimes interjecting). This is a very entertaining monthly podcast, where the three hosts pick a topic (usual from geek popular culture) and talk about it from all angles. They have covered at various times films, books, comics, particular authors, movie franchises and more – the list is endless. Well not endless. Long. Or potentially long. You get the picture.

In some ways this format could be hit and miss if you happen not to be interested in whatever the monthly topic is. However I’ve found that even if it is something you don’t think will hold your attention, the STP hosts manage to convey their enthusiasm for the subject at hand. In fact I have come to like the “deep dive” into a narrow topic, you get a meaningful and more comprehensive discussion.

Besides all that, it is laugh out loud funny. This is not a podcast that takes itself very seriously, which usually means it makes its way to the top of my listening pile when I can’t quite bring myself to listen to more serious podcasts.

A UK based podcast, hosted by author Emma Newman and co-written by her and her husband Peter Newman. In some ways a fairly standard author interview podcast, this one is elevated from the pack by what is in essence a small radio play that bookends the interview. The conceit is that Emma Newman travels through time and space seeking out new “tea lairs” in which to take tea with her “guests” (the author being interviewed). Each podcast sees the author being put in some kind of peril using various tropes and cliches from the speculative fiction world. She is accompanied by an amoral and somewhat suspicious butler, who quite frankly seems to be the cause of much of the danger.

It is a very amusing and well written podcast, and also contains some great author interviews. One of my favourites.

This was a monthly podcast with short stories by Australian speculative fiction authors reading stories they had written. Unfortunately it ended in May 2011 after 30 episodes. Edited by Keith Stevenson (whose is a very active participant in the Australian speculative fiction scene), there are some great stories in here.

The first story in the series (The Devil in Mr Pussy by Paul Haines) really drew me in, and I credit it with reviving my interest in the broader speculative fiction genre and starting me on the path into writing.

I also particularly liked “Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn” by Jason Nahrung (podcast number 8).

Mostly video rather than audio podcasts (so be careful of your download limits!) although there is a “download the audio ones only” option (but you miss out on some of the good ones that way). A very wide range of topics, generally related to literature but not always about writers and writing. I pick and choose a little from this one (for instance there are excellent discussions by John Birmingham 22/7/2010 and Michael Connelly 8/7/2011).

This is one of my favourite podcasts, partly because the presenters (Ian Mond – the critic – and Kirstyn McDermott – the writer) are around my age and seem to have some similar sensibilities (similar sensibilities, but not necessarily the same tastes in actual reading material which makes things more interesting). The banter is very light hearted and I’ve had a few laugh out loud moments (a bit embarrassing when you are walking along the street on the way to work). It is long (usually between one and a half and two hours) but only comes out every second month, so is very manageable.

This podcast is aware of the kind of gender/culture issues that are discussed on things like Galactic Suburbia (another excellent podcast – see above) without being as consumed by them, which leads to a balance that I quite like.

The format of the podcast is appealing. The presenters each recommend a book to the other (and if there is a guest, the guest also recommends one), and after a brief introduction they review each of the novels, discuss themes and basically seem to have a good time. The books are usually speculative fiction, although sometimes they look at books that aren’t necessarily genre but have a “genre feel” (still not sure about that concept but I’m willing to let it slide – yes, the podcast is that good!). As of 2016 they are taking a more “curatorial” approach to novel selection, where they look for a theme to tie two novels together. I’ve found this to be an enhancement, it adds some extra substance to the discussions.

They are based out of Melbourne, Australia so the podcast has an Australian flavour, but it will be of interest if you don’t happen to live down under.

They spoil the books they read, so if they are looking at a novel that you still want to read it might be worth checking the show notes (example here) where they kindly give time cues for the various stages of the podcast (i.e. you can see at what time they start and finish talking about a particular book).

To paraphrase, significantly alter and then horribly butcher the words of Douglas Adams – the podcast is usually interesting, often informative and outstanding for the times when it is both.

Very short (15 – 20 minutes) podcasts focused on the process of writing presented by Mary Robinette KowalBrandon SandersonHoward Tayler and Dan Wells. Very American in style and content. I like listening to people talk about the process of writing and this is OK from that perspective. They pack in a surprising amount considering the short format and there are usually a couple of good tips somewhere in there. It is a sponsored podcast, and the references to the sponsor get a little grating over time but it isn’t too bad. Given it is so easily digestible this is one I would recommend.

In 2015 they moved to a “writing masterclass” format, where they focus on different elements of writing each month. It’s a interesting and valuable way of organising the podcast.

Musings of a Wannabe Speculative Fiction Writer