Last week I talked about my love of the spoken word in all its containers be it on cassette, CD, or the Podcast variety.
I promised a list of some of my favorite podcast fiction so here it goes.
For me the fictional triumvirate in the Podosphere is EscapePod, Pseudopod, and Podcastle.
These 3 podcasts respectively cover science fiction, horror, and fantasy short stories. These stories come from the top current authors in these genres and they are generally always enjoyable. Surprisingly often however these short stories are so captivating that I immediately copy them to that most vaunted of all iTunes playlists…the one I call “PodcastKeepers”.
Escape Pod is definitely one of the first podcasts I go to to see if anything new has been posted. There’s something about good science-fiction that is so compelling to me; in fact, half of my collection comes from this podcast alone. Kudos to Stephen Eley for his hosting and narration skills.
It’s hard to pick my favorites among my favorites but here’s some you should like:
Friction is a story about a bizarre alien race whose lives are limited not by the number of heartbeats or sunsets but by how much they move. The more they move, the more friction slowly wears them away.
The 43 Antarean Dynasties is a lovely story about those proverbial Ugly Americans or perhaps Ugly Earthers who visit an ancient race to smugly tour their once glorious and preeminent civilization. This is one of those stories where the narration and other otherworldly sound effects brought the story to a different level for me.
Exhalation is a fascinating story about a race of robots who notice something funky happening to their clocks. It takes an intrepid robot however to discover the true nature of the problem by carefully dissecting his own robotic brain.
Other great stories from this podcast include the following:
The House Beyond Your Sky: Beings billions of years hence, Wonderful techno-babble
The Veteran, Very cool and believable high-technology
Family Values: Intelligent, political jellies (jelly fish)
Acephalous Dreams: AIs, Robots and FemtoTech. Need I say more?
Pseudopod is a wonderfully creepy horror podcast hosted by Alasdair Stuart who had one of the most consistently insightful outros in the business.
The Reign of the Wintergod is an over the top story that you may want to listen to alone or with someone as horrifically inclined as you. Definitely not for the kiddies. Needless to say…I loved it.
Merlin’s Bane is a story about a world in which magic is an everyday reality and demonic dimensions are only a portal away. Ben Philips is one of those narrators that never fails to convince you that he IS who he’s reading.
Akropolis is about an alien temple that lands on earth and forever changes a handful of people who takeover the planet. I love stories in which people are enhanced to amazing degrees. The X-Men got nuthin’ on these guys.
For more lovely pseudopodic horrorness:
The Podcastle podcast hasn’t been around as long as the previous two but it has racked up an impressive list of not-to-be-missed short stories.
The Mermaid’s Tea Party was a recent offering that I’ve listened to about 3 times now. It’s about a shipwrecked little girl, a pirate (of sorts), and a trio of beautiful mermaids that are as formidable as they are evil. You’ll never think of Ariel the same way again. Wonderful narration.
The Osteomancer’s Son is about a magical world in which people strive to ingest parts of magical creatures so that they could absorb the magical properties into their own bones. Ben Philips again takes you on a wonderful audio trip you won’t want to end.
Goblin Lullaby is a fantasy story set in a world of questing humans, erudite elves and bellicose goblins. I love how the author skewers common themes found in many such fantasy stories. Christiana Ellis never disappoints me with her narration.
Here’s a couple more:
Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again: Masterful world building by this author.
Dead Girl’s Wedding March: A cursed city, banished underground and populated by dead people.
I recently discovered the Clarke’sWorld podcast which can’t possibly be as good as it seems. I’ve only listened to 3 podcasts so far yet each story was awesome and is now in my favorites list. I’m sure the next few I listen to will be merely very good.
If you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing then you will absolutely love this podcast story called The Things by Peter Watts. If you haven’t seen the original movie please see it now while I wait…………………………………………..Ready? This story is the same as the movie except it’s from the perspective of the shape-shifting alien……Nuff said.
Wow, I’m getting all podcasted out here but I need to mention one more podcaster who deserves to be famous.
Mike Bennett has hosted multiple podcasts over the years, two of which are called One Among the Sleepless and Hall of Mirrors. Each of these Podcasts contain many episodes of macabre short stories that Mike not only wrote but also narrated as well. This rare talent in the podcasting world has some serious skills when it comes to readin’ and writin’. Mike’s various voices and accents bring life to his words in ways that would make Victor Frankenstein insane with jealousy. Speaking of Insane, listen to Mike’s reading of Lovecraft’s From Beyond. Not many voice actors could pull off this dialogue. See if you agree.
If you sample Mike and like him, you must read his podcasted vampire novel called Underwood and Flinch. I know that vampires are getting a bit super-saturated with all the movies and tv shows and the sparkling but U & F could well be Mike’s Magnum Opus.
Please remember that my enjoyment of all these podcasts stems from an odd and varying mixture of the writing, the narration, and other more ineffable components.
I dare say that most everyone who loves these genres should at least enjoy the story if nothing else. Mixed in with the story is the narration which often has an unpredictably synergistic relationship with the words. Sometimes it can seem as if the reading actually eclipses the story itself. Some people bring such a creative nuanced aspect to the story that I would never want to just read it. It would be like turning the volume of my favorite action movie down to unbearably low levels. Finally, there are some stories that just connected with me for idiosyncratic reasons that are hard to put into words. This may help you if you find yourself listening to one of my recommendations and thinking, “WTF!, why did Bob like that one”.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.