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TSS: Short Story Podcast Reviews, Sept-Dec 2011

December 18, 2011

The Sunday Salon.comHappy Sunday, all!

It’s been a while since I last did mini-reviews of a bunch of podcast short stories. (Previous installments are here and here.) I thought now would be an apropos time to run through some more, since I would imagine that a lot of people are traveling for the holidays. Audiobooks are great for travel, but there are a lot of complications, particularly if you’ve got more than one person in the car. You have to pick a new book to start, one that exactly fits the amount of time you’re going to spend driving, and then what happens if one person falls asleep, or doesn’t like the story, etc.?

That’s where the short story podcasts come in: they’re a great way to get some reading done without committing to a full-length audiobook; they can be interspersed with music or conversation; you can listen to as many or as few of them as are needed to fill the time. And, best of all, they’re free!

All of my mini-reviews today are about fantasy short story podcasts from Podcastle.

Run of the Fiery Horse by Hilary Moon Murphy. Girls born under the sign of the Fire Horse are rare, and temperamental. The protagonist loves to run, and thus is dreading having her feet bound, so she makes a deal with a dragon… but the price he asks might be more than she is willing to pay. Another story I enjoyed a lot; I like when my fiction is infused with mythology of any flavor, so basing a story around the Chinese zodiac was completely fascinating.
Listen to it

Goosegirl by Margaret Ronald. A retelling of the Goosegirl fairy tale, in which the title character is under a spell to forget her former life… but the spell’s power is wearing thin. I enjoyed this one a lot; I’m not super-familiar with the fairy tale (Shannon Hale’s version was the first time I’d ever heard of it), but I thought the way Ronald wove together her fake memories and her resurfacing real memories was really effective.
Listen to it | Read it

The Ant King by Benjamin Rosenbaum. Completely bizarre story in which a guy’s girlfriend dissolves into thousands of yellow gumballs, which he then makes a profit selling, while she is being held captive by the Ant King. This one didn’t do much for me; I’m not a big fan of surrealism, nor am I particularly interested in the world of corporate politics and the dotcom boom.
Listen to it | Read it

Hotel Astarte by M. K. Hobson. In this story, the young Prince of the Midwest must face his own heritage, in the form of the relationship between his mother, now the Queen of the Midwest, and a warlock called Licorice, who is acting in service to the Emperor of the East. This story was better than my summary makes it sound, a Neil-Gaiman-esque fable in which the forces of American history are embodied and do battle. I wasn’t over-fond of the ending, though; it fit with the direction of the story, but I felt like it lost some of the mythic tone of the rest.
Listen to it | Read it

Fear of Rain by Robert T. Jeschonek. Mr. Flood has used his powers to submerge Jonestown, Pennsylvania, three times in the last century, and now he’s planning a fourth. As the rain starts, his young apprentice starts to have second thoughts, but can her magic stand up to that of the master himself? This story was great; the central conceit completely captured my imagination, the action was exciting, and the conclusion was surprisingly dramatic and satisfying, especially for a short story.
Listen to it

The Osteomancer’s Son by Greg van Eekhout. In this world, magic is done via consuming the bones of rare, magical, and powerful creatures, and the bones of an osteomancer are the most powerful of all. This story was also really good. It’s story-within-a-story format was a little confusing, but the action was great, and the world van Eekhout created was fascinating.
Listen to it

Wisteria by Ada Milenkovic Brown. Dahlia’s husband has been dead for years, but she begins to imagine that she can see his face peeking through the leaves of the wisteria arbor he built for her. This story had a solid emotional core and a definite Southern charm to it, but I wanted a stronger fantasy element than it provided.
Listen to it

Magic in a Certain Slant of Light by Deborah Coates. A discussion about whether a talking dog or a zeppelin is more magical only fuels the fears of a psychic young woman that her boyfriend is planning to leave her. This was a sweet idea for a story, but the only real fantasy element – Nora’s precognitive tendencies – weren’t ever really explained or developed to my satisfaction.
Listen to it | Read it

Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery by John Schofstall. This epistolary story tells the story of the dissolution of a young couple’s relationship, and how he attempts to win her back through a series of increasingly unlikely packages sent via the post office. I loved this story. It was absolutely hilarious; I was literally laughing out loud throughout a lot of it. It also manages to develop some pretty complex relationship dynamics in a relatively small space.
Listen to it | Read it

Barrens Dance by Peter S. Beagle. A wizard, who is used to using his power to get everything he wants, falls in love with a shukri-trainer, and attempts to use magic to lure her away from her husband and animals. For most of this story, I was interested but not particularly blown away, but the a twist at the ending threw the entire thing into a new light, and had me wanting to go back and immediately start over.
Listen to it

Spell of the Sparrow by Jim C. Hines. In this story, it’s the husband who is under a love-spell cast by a witch, and his wife and daughter who must do what they can to save their family. This story was cute, although I think I liked the details of the world (bird-magic done via eggs, ghost cat, etc.) more than the actual plot.
Listen to it

The Grand Cheat by Hilary Moon Murphy. Like Run of the Fiery Horse (above), this story of Hilary Moon Murphy’s also features non-Western mythology, and a bargain with powerful forces. It’s based on Hindu mythology, and tells the story of a man who must do what he can to circumvent the fates laid out by the gods for his master’s children. This story was very clever, with an ending that fit the story yet wasn’t predictable, and a really nice interweaving of mythology and fiction.
Listen to it

Whew, that was a lot! I need to do my mini-reviews more often, instead of letting them pile up for months on end. In any case, happy holidays, everyone, and safe travels, whether you’re listening to podcasts or not!

What about you, readers? Listened to (or read) any good short stories lately?

© 2011 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2011 10:07 am

    I just finished Songs of Love and Death, which had two good short stories—Jacqueline Carey’s “You and You Alone” and Neil Gaiman’s “The Thing About Cassandra”.

    • December 26, 2011 12:46 pm

      Omni – I really, really liked Songs of Love and Death – both of the stories you mentioned, and I was also totally charmed by Jo Beverly’s “The Marrying Maid”.

  2. December 19, 2011 5:40 am

    I am going to have to look into this more. I meant to last time you did mini-reviews, but then I forgot. I starred this post so I would remember this time!

    • December 26, 2011 12:47 pm

      Kailana – If you come across any new short-story podcasts that I don’t know about, I’d love to hear about them!

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