Mar 17 2016

Podcasts Part II – Poetry and Fiction

Following up last week’s post on audio theatre podcasts, here are a few of the poetry and fiction podcasts I’ve been gorging myself on lately — most of which are associated with print and/or online publications for speculative fiction and poetry.
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Uncanny Magazine

Pod-UncannyUncanny Magazine is an bimonthly online Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine that published gorgeous fiction and poetry, as well as essays and interviews. What I love about the Uncanny podcast is the unique format, which incorporates a reading of a short story and a poem from the current issue, followed up by an author interview (most often the author of the short story that was just read). As such, each episode tends to be about an hour in length. Uncanny provides a powerful collection of emotionally moving and beautifully written work, which is read by fantastic narrators.

A Small Selection of Favorite Stories and Poems (so far):

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Lightspeed Magazine

Pod-LightspeedLightspeed Magazine is a monthly publication, providing a wide ranging array of science fiction and fantasy fiction, as well as essays and interviews. Each podcast features an individual story. The narrators are all phenomenal, making it easy to just melt into the story while listening. Most of my (current) all-time favorite stories have been discovered on this podcast.

A Small Selection of Favorite Stories (so far):

  • Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn, as read by Gabrielle de Cuir

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PodCastle

Pod-PodCastlePodCastle is unique here in that it is solely an audio journal, providing well-produced audio versions of fantasy stories, most of which have been previously published in other publications. At the end of each episode, feedback is provided for stories that have previously appeared on PodCastle. Since, PodCastle is subscription based, only a selection of the most recent stories are available for free.

A Small Selection of Favorite Stories (so far):

  • Ogres of East Africa” by Sofia Samatar, as read by by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali and Troy L. Wiggins

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Nightmare Magazine

Pod-NightmareNightmare Magazine is a sister publication to Lightspeed, and often features many of the same set of fantastic narrators. The stories in this podcast are darker, slipping into more horror and dark fantasy, tales to unsettle and creep you out.

A Small Selection of Favorite Stories (so far):

  • Spores” by Seanan McGuire, as read by Kate Baker
  • Fishwife” by Carrie Vaghn, as read by Susan Hanfield
  • Returned” by Kat Howard, as read by Gabrielle de Cuir

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The New Yorker: Poetry

Pod-NY-poetryIn each episode of The New Yorker’s Poetry podcast, a poet is asked to read a poem that has been published in The New Yorker and then to read one of their own poems. Together with the host Paul Muldoon, the poet discusses the poems and why they are compelling. These discussions tend to be more intellectual and academic, which is sometimes more than I can fully focus on when I’m listening on the road home. However, there are some interesting discussions of craft and how the language in certain poems can create an emotionally moving experience in the reader.

I believe there’s also a New Yorker fiction podcast, but I haven’t got to that one yet.

Episodes I Particularly Liked:

  • Ellen Bass’ reading and discussion of Adam Zagajewski’s “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” as well as her own poem “Reincarnation”
  • Meghan O’Rourke’s reading and discussion of John Ashbery’s “Tapestry,” as well as her own poem “Apartment Living”
  • Ada Limón’s reading and discussion of Jennifer L. Knox’s “Pimp My Ride,” as well as her own poem “State Bird”

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Another two podcasts that I’ve started listening to are Strange Horizons and Apex Magazine, both of which feature great stories and narrators. Although, I’ve found them to not have quite as good of a sound quality and in some cases to be a little more glitchy.

Next week I’ll finish up this little series of posts with my favorite Filmmaking and Screenwriting podcasts.


Mar 14 2016

Events and more events

So many things this week!

Tuesday, I checked out the Alchemy Slam & Open Mic at the F8 Lounge in San Francisco, which is a homey, intimate space. My plan was to simply kick back and watch the amazing Allie Marini and Brennan DeFrisco perform, but I got talked into pulling putting my name on the list. It was a wonderful experience in terms of both listening and speaking, due in a large part to the great group of people who were present.

Over the weekend was FOGcon, three days of talking all things genre and geeking out with friends and meeting authors and hoarding books and generally having a good time. I’ll being doing my usual report later this week.

And finally, for week two of the March Around the World movie watching challenge, I watched: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Iran), Bangkok Love Story (Thailand), Volver (Spain), The Snapper (Ireland), The Assassin (China), and Sin Nombre (Mexico).

What I’m Reading

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, which was supposed to have been FOGcon homework. The story involved the creation of AI creatures in a virtual space, at first as

What I’m Writing

My writing was slim this week, though I mostly managed to keep up with all the collaborative projects I’ve been working on. But FOGcon and the movie watching challenge have taken giant bites out of my writing time. This weekend will be rough in that regard, as well, because I have plans to help my sister paint her house this weekend.

However, since I signed up to participate in Get Lit in Oakland tomorrow, where I am required to present new work, I will be compelled to get something down on the page this week.

Goal for the Week:

  • Finish one story and/or one poem draft.
  • Submit something.

Linky Goodness

A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction, as presented by Nisi Shawl.

Five Signs Your Story Is Sexist


Mar 12 2016

FOGcon Homework: Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

FOGcon 2016 kicked off yesterday, and I’ve already been to several interesting panels, connected with friends, and generally having a fabulous time. I’ll be posting a recap sometime next week, but for now…

About a year ago (or something), I read and adored Jo Walton’s Among Others, for the way it handled fairies and magic as subtle things in the world, so subtle they often go unnoticed by most people.

Tooth and Claw is nothing like Among Other, a completely different direction in style and story. The book is a comedy of manners, kind of like Jane Austen but with a society of dragons. It deals with the practical matters of such a society. From the book description:

“Here is a tale of a family dealing with the death of their father, a son who goes to court for his inheritance, a son who agonizes over his father’s deathbed confession, a daughter who falls in love, a daughter who becomes involved in the abolition movement, and a daughter sacrificing herself for her husband.”

It’s so human in the kinds of troubles the dragons have to face (which makes sense since dragon culture was influenced by the Yarge), but social manners and propriety are all greatly influenced by the biology of the dragons — a young women is gold when she is a maiden, but blushes to pink when she becomes betrothed signifying her new ability to have children (it makes for some interesting new challenges when a woman is “compromised”); the length of a dragon has a strong influence on their social position; and so on. There is more, but I don’t want to give too much away.

The only giant glaring negative to this novel was the fact that my edition had two pages that were bound wrong — page 19 came after page 22 (which took me a week to figure out) and another page toward the end was flipped upside down.

Otherwise, Tooth and Claw was a charming read, neatly pulling together the threads of all the character’s storylines into a satisfying conclusion.


Mar 10 2016

Podcasts Part I – Audio Theater and Radio Drama

A few months ago, I discovered podcasts. Or not discover them, per se, as I’ve been aware of them and they’ve been around for ages now. So maybe I should say, several months ago, I decided to give listening to podcasts a try and they’ve consumed my life. My usual music time in the car has been taken up with listening to podcasts, and I’ve also started listening to them when I go on runs.

I don’t know why I didn’t start listening to them before. Podcasts are amazing — or at least the ones I’ve discovered are, and I know there are a ton more amazing podcasts that I could be listening to.

Since the list of channels that I’ve been listening to is rather long, I’m splitting them up into three separate posts. Part II will be fiction and poetry podcasts, and Part II will cover film and filmmaking podcasts.

First up is radio drama or audio theatre, which I think both describe the same thing and I’m assuming apply here, in regards to narrative podcasts in which a story unfolds over multiple episodes.

I’m itching for more radio drama style podcasts, so please send recommendations!

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Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale podcast“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. But, because of distance, not for millions of years.” — Night Vale Proverb

Welcome to Night Vale is a serial podcast about a community radio show, reporting on the quaint and creepy desert town of Night Vale. The voice of Night Vale is Cecil Balwin, who reports on local news and community events, like giant glow clouds raining down the bodies of dead animals or the goings on of the Sheriff’s Secret Police or strange underworlds appearing under bowling alleys.

So, I started listening, and because I’m a completionist on these kinds of things, I started at the beginning and have been working my way forward. Since there are over 80 episodes and since I can only listen to one or two a day without devolving into madness, it’s taking me a rather long time to catch up. But that’s okay, because starting at the beginning has allowed me to see how the town and all of its characters have grown and survived or survived but damaged or not survived, as the case may be.

Night Vale was the rabbit hole that spun me off into discovering more and more podcasts. It’s fantastic.

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The Message

The Message podcastThe Message is a sci-fi narrative that follows “the weekly reports and interviews from Nicky Tomalin, who is covering the decoding of a message from outer space received 70 years ago. Over the course of 8 episodes we get an inside ear on how a top team of cryptologists attempt to decipher, decode, and understand the alien message.”

Only eight episodes long, The Message is a great bite-size introduction to this kind of audio theatre and podcasts in general, presenting an unsettling sci-fi storyline with great voice acting and sound effects. Just talking about it makes me want to go back and listen to it again. It’s that good.

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Alice Isn’t Dead

PrintAlice Isn’t Dead follows the story of an unnamed narrator, searching for her wife, whom she believes to be dead, while working as a truck driver. Joseph Fink, one of the creators ofWelcome to Night Vale, told Wired, that the story would have the same humor mixed with creepiness as Night Vale — a sure win for me.

This one is so new that I’ve only listened to the teaser. But based on that and the fact that it’s from the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, I have high hopes that Alice Isn’t Dead is going to be fantastic.

Updated to Add: Having listened to the first episode, I can say that Alice Isn’t Dead is creepy in a decidedly different way from Night Vale., where strange and creepy happen but are generally mitigated by the light, humorous tone. Alice Isn’t Dead has humor, however, it seems to be a little darker.

Narrated by truck driver, Nicole, the narration is punctuated by scratchy hiss of the truck’s CB radio cutting in and out. The effect is unsettling as some of the storyline comes through in non-chronological order. The horror of events described are more personal and frightening, leaving a lingering sense of threat. All of this is to say, I freaking like it and can’t wait to hear more.


Mar 7 2016

Rain and mud and beautiful things

The rain, rain, rain came down, down, down this weekend. But that didn’t stop my family and I from heading out to Loch Lomond and taking a short hike. It was a grey, chilly day by a beautiful lake, tromping through slightly muddy trails and watching my niece and nephew jump in puddles.

My favorite part was when my niece put her finger to her lips and said, “Shh. We have to be very quiet. Because of the water.”

Loch Lomond1

Loch Lomond2

And because, apparently, I have all the time in the world (haha), I’ve signed myself for the March Around the World movie watching challenge, in which I am meant to watch 30 movies from 30 countries. So far, I’ve watched: Monsoon Wedding (India), Suspiria (Italy), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Australia), Ida (Poland), Blue is the Warmest Color (France), and Heavenly Creatures (New Zealand).

What I’m Reading

Turns out the missing page within Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (that I mentioned last week) turned out to be not missing but transposed. Apparently, page 19 comes after page 22 in my edition.

Other than the little page weirdness, Tooth and Claw is turning out to be a good read. It kind of reminds me of something like Charles Dickens, but with dragons instead of people. An interesting aspect of the society is that it’s perfectly normal for dragons to eat other dragons, either as an inheritance from family member that have died or to cull the weak, whom they don’t feel are worthy of surviving. I’m curious to see how this family of dragons strive to make their way in society and try to build a wealth for themselves, although I suspect at least one of them is going to fall into tragedy.

What I’m Writing

Due in part to the immense amounts of movie watching and, in part, to my inability to focus on any one project at a time, I didn’t manage to complete anything last week. Being indecisive about which short story to work on is a sure way to fail to finish any short stories. Although, I did manage to jot down a few scenes and notes in the hopes that I might actually finish something this week.

Goal for the Week:

  • Finish one story and/or one poem draft.
  • Submit something.

Linky Goodness

SFF in Conversation: Talking Novels with Haralambi Markov, Sunil Patel, and S.L. Huang

Why is Elizabeth I, the most powerful woman in our history, always depicted as a grotesque?

Benjamin Crouse comments on the friend-zone and how it diminishes the value of friendships as a whole.