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Short Story Podcast Reviews: October 2012

November 7, 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, 7

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

Immersed in Matter by Nina Kiriki Hoffman is the story of a half-human faery who wants a horse, but horses don’t like the way faeries smell. He can shapeshift, but if he shapeshifts into a human, there may be consequences from both the animals and his fellow faeries. This was a good story, perhaps because it reminded me of my own pre-teen horse-loving phase. I did think some of the story angles (i.e. the anti-halfbreed fairy prejudice, and the story with the protagonist’s father) could have been built up a little more with a longer time.
Listen to it

The Annals of Eelin-Ok by Jeffrey Ford is the story of a race of creatures named Twilmish, who live in sandcastles, but die when their castle is destroyed by the tide, and can stretch time to live whole lives in between. Sweet and sad and maybe leaning a little heavily on the descriptive rather than plot, but magical all the same.
Listen to it | Read it

Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer is the story of a corporate office building that goes crazy, an office plant that turns into a vine that grows throughout, a chameleon, and an employee that everyone forgot. Strange and surreal, and although I get the obvious point about how corporate culture can take over our lives, I didn’t really *get* this story.
Listen to it

Bright Waters by John Brown is a historical fiction story with a dash of fantasy; a Dutch trapper gets a Native American tattoo designed to make him more attractive to women, but will it work on the one woman he really wants? I liked this story quite a bit; the historical setting was nicely done, although I wish the fantasy element had been a little stronger.
Listen to it | Read it

“I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,” The Manticore Said by Cat Rambo involves a woman travelling with a carnival (and a talking manticore) who has a run-in with a strange woman who just wants their help. Enjoyable idea and prose, but it felt like the balance between backstory and actual plot wasn’t quite right.
Listen to it | Read it

In Return of the Warrior by Laird Long, the greatest danger facing peace and prosperity the kingdom is… the tax code, so the people need a warrior-accountant to save them. Funny enough, but the narration made it really difficult to follow; the narrator had a great accent, but it was delivered so fast that I had a hard time keeping up.
Listen to it | Read it

Komodo by Tim Pratt is the story of a woman who uses sex to steal magical energy for immortality, but she gets an STD from a bite during sex with a komodo dragon spirit. Cool idea, and I always approve of the intersection of fantasy and biology (although – that’s not exactly how immunology works?) but the ending felt a little too easy, without enough consequences.
Listen to it

In The Cambist and Lord Iron by Daniel Abraham, the cambist, who is in charge of the currency exchange for the country, attracts the attention of a bored and dissolute nobleman, who attempts to trick him, but soon gets caught up in the notion that all transactions and economics is based on the exchange rate of one kind of thing to another. I don’t really like economics, but this story was great. It broke down the ideas behind “value” and “wealth” in a way that both made sense, and kept my interest, and although it’s a longish story, it’s plotted in such a way that my attention never wandered and I never got impatient.
Listen to it | Read it

The Nalendar by Ann Leckie is the story of a girl, fleeing from a persistent suitor, who gets caught up with a minor god and his history involving an artifact that gave kings the power to rule. Cute story, reminded me a little of Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods. I like relatively powerless and petulantly cranky gods, so this story was right up my alley. M. K. Hobson’s reading was also quite good.
Listen to it

Change of Life by K. Tempest Bradford is the story of a mom who gets emotional when her children start leaving home, but is placated by pets… which she calls by her children’s names. Cute play on the title, but I knew how the story was going to go almost immediately, and there wasn’t any real explanation – was the mom doing it, or was it just happening? This story could have been a lot more effective if there had been either some more ambiguity (i.e. if the pets had been somehow abnormal) or more explanation, but as it was it felt like it was missing something.
Listen to it

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

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2012 11:50 am

    Everytime I read your posts about this I think I really should listen, but then I never do. Really have to listen!

    • November 19, 2012 8:29 am

      Kailana – Well, I’m going to keep posting about them, so you’ll keep getting reminders. :)

  2. November 10, 2012 8:38 am

    I went back and looked through your other installments this morning (a day off!) and I admire your efforts! I can’t get myself to write about more than half of what I read. I checked out Podcastle and will probably subscribe, but I’ve got way more podcast subscriptions than I listen to. I’ve recently been listening to my backlog of Selected Shorts, which are usually readings by actors of short stories, recorded live in front of an audience. I haven’t written a review of a single one, but they offer a nice mix of contemporary and classic stories and it’s kind of nice to hear the audience laughing at funny lines. The one I’m in the middle of now happens to be a rare instance of an author reading his own story, Neil Gaiman.

    • November 19, 2012 8:30 am

      Laurie – Oh, I like Neil Gaiman reading his own stuff; he’s a surprisingly good narrator. Selected Shorts sounds like fun, I’ll have to check it out! (Not that I need to add to my enormous backlog of things to listen to, but, y’know.)

  3. November 12, 2012 9:03 am

    I’m a big Podcastle fan but I’m always months behind on my listening, so I’ve not heard any of these yet. I love the Sir Hereward stories, Shard of Glass, Some Zombie Contingincey Plans, Uncle Tio and the 27 Ghosts, and many others.

    • November 19, 2012 8:31 am

      cbjames – Hee hee, you may be months behind, but I’m years behind! I think these are all from the spring/summer of 2009. I would jump around in my listening, but the way Podcastle does it, with the feedback from previous episodes after the main story, makes me want to listen in order.

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