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TSS: Some Short Story Podcast Reviews

June 26, 2011

The Sunday Salon.comHappy Sunday, all! I’ve very recently discovered the wonderful world of short story podcasts. I’ve written before about my turbulent relationship with short stories, particularly with anthologies, but audio short stories have filled a gap in my listening life that I didn’t know was there. They’ve turned out to be great for the time between audiobooks, when I have some little time to listen but don’t want to start an entire new book yet. And, best yet, they’re free!

I’ve known about the Story Podcast for a while, but recently, I’ve discovered a bunch of other fantasy/sci-fi-focused podcasts: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fantasy Magazine, The Drabblecast, and the terribly/awesomely pun-tastic PodCastle (and its sci-fi counterpart, Escape Pod). Seeing as most of these have been coming out with several stories per month for the past several years, and I’m just finding them now, I’ve acquired quite a backlog of stories. I’ll probably never get around to all of them, especially if I plan to keep listening to regular audiobooks (which I obviously do). But if you know of any other podcasts in a similar vein, please let me know! I love being able to sample little snippets of new-to-me authors, as well as to hear stories from some of my favorites.

In the meantime, I thought I’d do some mini-reviews of the stories I’ve listened to over the past few months:

Farewell Performance by Nick Mamatas
A vaguely Lovecraftian short story detailing a street performer in a post-apocalyptic future where the humans have been decimated by a horror from beyond the stars. Mamatas did a nice job evoking the scene and creating atmosphere, but there wasn’t quite enough story to this story to really suit me.
Read it | Listen to it

Bugs in the Arroyo by Steven Gould
When one member of a group of travelers gets stranded in an arroyo, and surrounded by the metal-eating mechanical bugs that have taken over the desert, it’s up to the protagonist of this story to save her. This was a very cool story, mostly because of how effectively it handled its worldbuilding, and how interesting that world was. The idea of bugs that eat metal – including the iron in human blood, if they’re really hungry – gave me the shivers. Apparently post-apocalyptic killer robots don’t have to be sentient to be scary.
Read it | Listen to it

The Starship Mechanic by Jay Lake and Ken Scholes
The first human contact with aliens comes in the form of Penauch, an alien who fell to earth, formed a bond with a human bookseller, and is capable of fixing just about everything… whether it needed fixing or not. I liked this story quite a bit, and found it surprisingly poignant for being so short.
Read it | Listen to it

Looking for Truth in the Wild Blue Yonder by Ken Scholes and Jay Lake
A man crippled with grief from the death of his parents turns to drugs (on the advice of his therapist) to help him cope… but not just any drugs. Meh. Part therapy session, mostly hallucinogenic grief-fueled trip, unlikeable protagonist, and some weird and off-putting sexual imagery thrown in for good measure. Not my cup of tea.
Read it | Listen to it

After the Coup by John Scalzi
An independent story set in the universe of Old Man’s War, in which a Colonial Fleet tech, as part of a diplomatic negotiation with a newly-encountered alien species, must engage in ritual combat with a very mismatched opponent. This story is very much in the vein of Old Man’s War: lots of action, and thoroughly giggle-inducing. A very fun listen, and a good way for Scalzi-newbies to get introduced to the universe and to his writing style without committing to a full book.
Read it | Listen to it

The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles by Kij Johnson
A community of cats in feudal Japan is destroyed by an earthquake, leaving Small Cat alone, far from home, and unsure if she will ever find a place for her story to fit. I am not particularly a cat person, nor have I ever really cared for cat-narrated stories, so while there wasn’t anything I disliked about this story, it didn’t really capture my attention or my imagination, either.
Read it | Listen to it

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

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2011 1:38 pm

    I’ve been a fan of PodCastle and EscapePod for a couple of years now. Those are the only two that I never miss. There’s a terrific podcast called Radio Drama Revival that features full cast radio productions from different groups each week. Some are wonderful, some are good. I also enjoy Star Ship Sofa podcasts though mainly for their non-fiction pieces.

    • June 29, 2011 9:05 am

      C.B. – I’ve had mixed luck with full-cast dramatisations/radio; some are good, sometimes I just can’t get into it. Definitely worth checking out, though, to see how I fare with the podcasts. Thanks for the tip!

  2. June 26, 2011 3:59 pm

    I don’t listen to short stories—I’m not an aural listener, so it’s useless—but I do read them and save them in my account.

    “Wikihistory” by Desmond Warzel is hilarious; it’s kooky epistolary time-travel hijinks.

    “Divided by Infinity” by Robert Charles Wilson is beautiful and haunting, about time and loss and alternate realities.

    “Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro is wonderful sci-fi horror. Don’t eat while you read, but it’s freakishly compelling.

    • June 29, 2011 9:06 am

      Omni – Awesome! I’m saving these links for when I need some quick reads. I actually think I’ve read – or at least heard about – “Wikihistory” before… the first few lines and the premise seem very familiar.

  3. June 26, 2011 4:26 pm

    The stories all look interesting. I want to read them now, but I am supposed to be doing the dishes… And yet, I am reading blogs…

    • June 29, 2011 9:07 am

      Kailana – That’s the joy of podcasts (and audiobooks more generally)… you can read them *while* doing the dishes! :)

  4. June 27, 2011 5:08 pm

    This is awesome advice! I have the same feeling about short stories, but have recently gotten into audiobooks in the car. A great merging of the two.

    • June 29, 2011 9:08 am

      PB – Short story podcasts would be great for the car, particularly if you have a ~30 min. commute!

  5. September 12, 2011 10:13 am

    I was just curious. Has anyone made a podcast of multiple short stories which they editorialize? Seems like it would be a really cool way to find out about new authors, and also help get exposure for those of us who write short stories.


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