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Short Story Podcast Reviews – September 2012

October 5, 2012

Time for another installment of podcast mini-reviews! As I’ve said before, I’m doing these mini-reviews 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.
Previous installments: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

My reviews this time are all of fantasy short story podcasts from Podcastle.

Gordon the Self-Made Cat by Peter S. Beagle is a story about a mouse who wants to better himself, and decides to do this by attending cat school. This was cute but not super-substantial. There’s a decent message about being who you want no matter what other people say, but there were a lot of details that didn’t quite work for me in the execution.
Listen to it | Read it

In the House of Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages is a story of a library that is closed down. The librarians stay with the books, and then one day, a baby is left in the return slot. The librarians decide to raise the child in the library – but can a child really get everything she needs from books? I loved the premise of this story, and found its execution totally charming. Who wouldn’t want to grow up in library?
Listen to it

Honest Man by Naomi Kritzer is the story of a con man who won’t cheat honest people, and a woman who keeps running into him throughout the course of her life. Con man stories don’t always work for me, but this was a good one. The cons were relatively straightforward and easy to see through, but since the point was more about the protagonist’s reaction, that didn’t matter so much. Kritzer did a nice job injecting the story with the flavor of its various time periods, and I thought the ending was in character but also nicely satisfying.
Listen to it

Hell is the Absence of God by Ted Chiang is… well… not very good. Or, well, it won a Hugo and a Nebula, so I guess on an objective level it’s good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. It’s got an extremely interesting premise: in a world where miracles, visitations by angels, and manifestations of hell are common, a man’s wife is killed in a visitation. She’s in heaven, but he’s not religious. He needs to love God to get to heaven to be with his wife, but how can he love God now that He’s taken everything? It sounds like the kind of story I should have loved, but I was really unclear on what the point and/or message of this story was, beyond “God’s an arbitrary jerk, but it’s important to love him unconditionally anyways.” The story also switched between POVs frequently and I had a bit of a hard time keeping things straight.
Listen to it

Dragon Hunt by Sarah Prineas is the story of a humble court member who, when the dragon-slayer king hears the rumor of a still-living dragon, gets sent to investigate the truth of the rumors. It was a cute story, but I was really hoping it was a continuation of Prineas’s story “Illuminated Dragon“. Also, it’s hard to set up the braggart king / humble librarian dichotomy without giving away that maybe the king is not as great as he seems.
Listen to it | Read it

De La Tierra by Emma Bull is the story of an assassin with fancy fairy/elven technology hunting down illegal supernatural immigrants in LA to keep things stable for the elves that are already living there. I liked that this story remained a little cagey about the exact nature of its faery/elf/whatever creatures, although that may have been because I’d read Welcome to Bordertown fairly recently, and had no problem inserting the version of elves from Bull’s contribution to that anthology into this story as well, although I have no idea if that’s what she intended. (Probably not.) The idea of an assassin listening to one of his victims and wondering about his employers’ motives has been done before, but that plot made for an interesting mix with the supernatural elements and the traces of environmentalism.
Listen to it | Read it

Sweet, Savage Sorcerer by Esther Friesner is a satire of bad fantasy writing, involving an elven maiden who turns to a sorcerer to help defeat her father’s enemies. While I get that it’s meant to be mocking the fantasy tropes and writing cliches, it was just too unrelentingly silly and over the top without any real meat or enough of a subversive twist to make it something more than the material it was mocking.
Listen to it

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

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2012 1:52 pm

    I love “In the House of the Seven Librarians!” It’s such a lovely story, both in print and on audio.

    I haven’t read (or listened to) that particular Naomi Kritzer story, but I’ve really enjoyed the work she’s published in F&SF over the last little bit. She’s become one of my authors to watch for.

    • October 8, 2012 10:59 am

      Memory – One of the things I like about the podcasts is that I’m finding a lot of authors I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise – Kritzer being one of them. Has she published any full novels, or does she exclusively write short fiction?

  2. October 7, 2012 2:54 pm

    Oooo, Emma Bull! Definitely going to get that one. And also In the House of the Seven Librarians! I love stories set in libraries! Not just because I want to live in one myself, of course…*cough*

    • October 8, 2012 11:00 am

      Anastasia – Oooh, you’re going to love “In the House of the Seven Librarians”!

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