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Short Story Podcast Reviews: July/August 2011

August 22, 2011

I’m going to do something a little different today: instead of doing one long review for one book, I’ve got a bunch of mini reviews for the short story podcasts I’ve listened to in the past few months. I’m doing this partly because I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently – not a slump, exactly, but slogging through two chunksters right in a row – so I’m fast running out of regular books to review. But I’m also doing this partly because I just think it is so neat that there is all of this fiction available for free, online, and that people will read it to you! For free!

…and also because I am apparently incapable of consuming fiction of any kind without blathering my opinion about it all over the internet. So here goes!

The first six stories I’ve listened to come from the Beneath Ceaseless Skies podcast:

Architectural Constants by Yoon Ha Lee. The City is out of balance, and the Architect is coming to put things to right. This felt like it was a snippet of something larger rather than a self-contained short story. The worldbuilding wasn’t done effectively enough to give me a good sense of who each character was and why they were important in the world of the City before the scene shifted and I had to start over, so I was mostly lost most of the time.
Read it | Listen to it

Sun Magic, Earth Magic by David D. Levine. A Sun Sorceress is headed out to the distant reaches of the Empire, where the backwards people still worship the Earth… but then she is called upon to save a boy trapped in a cave where the sun’s light cannot reach. I liked this one a lot; interesting, self-consistent magical systems are one of my favorite things in fantasy. It was a little bit predictable, but well-told and satisfying.
Read it | Listen to it

Kingspeaker by Marie Brennan. The voice of the king is too powerful to be heard by mortal ears, so the Voice of the King must speak for him, but accepting such a role means giving up a voice of one’s own. Another good one, with just the right balance between worldbuilding and character and plot. Watching the interplay of the person and the role, both in the King and his Voice, was fascinating.
Read it | Listen to it

The Last Devil by Sarah L. Edwards. A young man is apprenticed to a great demon-hunter, and they head into the hills to slay one of the last demons in the realm. I saw the twist in this story coming miles off, but I still enjoyed it; Edwards does a nice job of balancing trust and suspicion and suspense.
Read it | Listen to it

Sand-Skin Man by K. C. Shaw. A man who seeks to kill his father’s killer finds common cause with a shape-changer man who rescues him in the desert. This story would have been much better if I hadn’t seen The Princess Bride a million times, but if you’re going to have your protagonist swearing vengeance on the man who killed his swordmaker father over the price of his masterwork sword? That bad guy had better have six fingers.
Read it | Listen to it

Precious Meat by Catherine S. Perdue. The leader of a hunting pack undergoes the change of life, which, in these creatures, is pretty severe. Animal stories are not usually my favorite, and while I liked this one well enough, I found it disconcerting that I could never get a good fix on what the animals looked like. I mostly pictured them as wolves – what with the pack hunting – but would then be thrown off every time something non-wolfish was brought up.
Read it | Listen to it

The next two come from the Podcastle podcast:

Come Lady Death by Peter S. Beagle. A highborn London lady always strives to throw the best parties, so finally she invites the one most famous guest that no one else would think to invite: Death. Excellent historical fantasy, well-written and well-plotted and left me wanting more. Also, I think it’s impossible for anyone that has read Sandman to picture Death as anyone other than, well, Death… but in this case, that worked for the story rather than against it.
Read it | Listen to it

For Fear of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn. Every year, the people of a kingdom sacrifice a virgin girl, chosen at random, to appease the dragon and spare their lands its ravages. But this year, the chosen girl has a plan. Another really good story, that does just what a short story should do: build a sliver of a world wide enough in which to tell a good story, and use that world and that story to explore an idea – in this case, the use of fear in building and maintaining a society.
Read it | Listen to it

What about you, readers? Read any of these stories? Or any other good ones 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.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2011 7:53 am

    I have to listen to some of them

  2. August 22, 2011 12:44 pm

    This post was fun! I am grateful for all the free podcast that can be found online. I knew about Podcastle but had not heard of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Thanks for these links.

    • September 8, 2011 9:08 am

      Gavin – You’re welcome! I’m grateful as well – but a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount out there! Need more hours in the day….

  3. August 23, 2011 8:06 pm

    Bookmarked this page for reading later! I’ve seemed to have gotten over my short story reading frenzy a while ago, but you never know…some of these titles are so tantalizing. I can already imagine the awesomeness!

  4. August 27, 2011 9:42 pm

    I just read a few of these. I llike Sun Magic, Earth Magic, I was on the edge of my seat hoping for the best outcome!

    • September 8, 2011 9:08 am

      Sharry – Awesome! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Did you read or listen?


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