nora at inkstain

November 29th, 2009

the best podcasted short fiction of this year

Posted by nora in art, podcasts, science fiction

So the end of the year is coming up and I haven’t written anything here in ages. A couple people I know have been asking for lists of good short fiction from podcasts, so here’s the stuff I’ve listened to in the past year and thought was good enough to pass along. It’s all genre fiction– science fiction and fantasy– but don’t dismiss it because of that. They’re not in any particular order.

  • Jesus Christ Reanimator by Ken Macleod. (story starts at 49:50) I really want to like StarShipSofa more than I do. They have really good fiction picks, and a lot of the other stuff is interesting, but I find the genre history sort of hit or miss, and a lot of the fact articles are just not things I’m interested in. It’s worth skipping to the main story on most of their casts, though, and this is a perfect example of a really good story choice. It takes a really good, half-serious look at what would happen if Jesus came back– would people think he was a fraud? An alien? Their savior? It’s a weird and interesting look at religion in general, and the character of Jesus is really well done and likable. I also absolutely love Matthew Wayne Selznick’s voice and narration style.
  • A Hard Rain at the Fortean Cafe by Lavie Tidhar. A whirlwind of the conspiracy theories meet noir styled heroes narrated by Amelia Airhart.
  • The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford. (story starts at 9:39) A fascinating story about intense synesthesia. This is an exceptionally well-crafted story, with a main character who is totally alienated from society by what his parents and doctors see as hallucinations, a mental illness. He’s likeable and surprisingly identifiable. The images the story paints are amazing.
  • Sinner, Baker, Fablist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster. (trigger warning for sexual assault) This is a hard story to summarize– it’s about people who literally become the masks they wear, but it’s much more than that. It’s one of the most beautifully crafted stories I’ve ever read. It’s creepy as hell, too, so check it out if that’s your thing.
  • N-Words by Ted Kosmatka. Neanderthals are cloned and racism becomes, uh, an issue. This is narrated by the widow of a neanderthal that has been killed in racist violence. Kim the Comic Book Goddess’ narration here is powerfully understated; she captures the mood of the story perfectly.
  • 26 Monkeys, Also, the Abyss by Kij Johnson. This is one of those stories where you create something totally weird, put a normal character in it, and see how they react. The main character is an ennui-filled woman who purchases a bus full of monkeys that dissapear into a bathtub during a magic show that she takes around to various carnivals. It’s strange and beautiful and well-written. The main character is interesting and surprisingly pragmatic. Also this story taught me the word “lagniappe”.
  • Summer in Paris, Light from the Sky by Ken Scholes. (trigger warning: rape) An alternate universe story where Hitler isn’t a bad guy. Creepy. Haunting.
  • Rapunzel by Tanith Lee. A revisioning of the classic story of Rapunzel. It’s a romance, and a very sweet one. It’s one of those stories where you get to the end and everything gets put together and makes sense, which I always find satisfying.
  • One Paper Airplane Graffito Love Note by Will McIntosh. A strange romance story set in a world very like our own about a woman whose life becomes a part of movies. It’s beautifully written.
  • Castor on Troubled Waters by Rhys Hughes. A hilarious shaggy dog story– the whole thing is a convoluted excuse to get away with avoiding paying a bet. This is another one where everything comes together at the end.
  • Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters by Tim Pratt. A strange superhero story with fascinating characters– there’s not much more I can say without spoiling it. Again, I adore Matthew Wayne Selznick’s voice.
  • Hell is the Absence of God by Ted Chang. This is another sort of fantasy story about religion– it’s set in a world where angels appear regularly and it is easy to tell if souls go to heaven or hell. It has a really interesting cast of characters who are coming to terms with their ideas of faith. It’s beautifully written and deeply sad.
  • In the House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages. A very sweet story about a child raised by seven semi-feral librarians in a library that is cut off from society in all ways. It’s a really nice growing-up story.
  • Huntress by Chris Lester. I don’t know who it was that said that they could listen to Leann Mabry reading the phone book and be totally entranced, but I agree with them. This is a really good story, though– the narration just makes it… unbearably sexy. It’s about a vampiress looking for willing prey, but not in, you know, a creepy way.