As I mentioned in my last post, I have recently embraced podcasts as a way to get me through my workday. I work long hours with my hands, and those hours pass a lot quicker with podcasts and audio books, as it turns out. This month, instead of linking to all the individual stories I read, I decided to do a drive-by rec post for the podcasts that I listen to constantly. All of these podcasts are available on iTunes, and presumably Stitcher and other podcast apps.
First, a quick plug for the app Overdrive. If you have a membership to a public library, you can use Overdrive to borrow audiobooks and ebooks for free. Of the three novels I got through last month, two were mp3 audiobooks that I borrowed from the Chicago Public Library. They don’t have everything I could wish for, but that also nudges me towards books I wouldn’t read otherwise.
Magazines you already read might have podcasts! I regularly listen to the Clarkesworld, Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Strange Horizons podcasts. In addition, there are audio-only magazines like Glittership, Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod.
If you’re interested in listening to stories outside of genre, Selected Shorts and The New Yorker Fiction Podcast both feature mainstream literary fiction. Selected Shorts employs actors to read short fiction, while the New Yorker’s fiction podcasts has authors choose a story from their archives to read and discuss.
If you, like me, consider everything between September 1 through Thanksgiving as BASICALLY HALLOWEEN, you might be interested in some horror- or supernatural-themed podcasts. I’ve been mainlining Knifepoint Horror, going through two or three episodes a day. Knifepoint is extremely pared down, with a single reader with minimal sound effects or music. It’s like listening to a ghost story told on a camping trip. My girlfriend and I, meanwhile, are both obsessed with The Black Tapes Podcast, which has a X-Files meets Serial feel. It’s engrossing and charming, and tries to blur the line between fantasy and reality. The Horror! rebroadcasts vintage radio plays from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. And is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Welcome to Nightvale? Have you been hiding out in the sand wastes?
I do also listen to non-fiction podcasts, though they’re still mostly story-focused. I’m a fan of Radiolab, On the Media, This American Life, and most of NPR’s podcasts. I love me some Snap Judgement, because it’s a welcome disruption to the dweeby guys sitting in sound booths. Criminal is a great true-crime podcast, and you can’t help but feel educated after the BBC’s History Hour. Sawbones covers the history of medicine while being hysterically funny. Here Be Monsters is another excellent storytelling podcast, with an ethereal, occasionally unearthly sort of feeling. Love and Radio feels different than a lot of podcasts: focused in on a single voice, telling a complex and complicated story; they’ve had pimps, Mars one applicants, sex workers, and bank robbers tell their stories.
WHERE TO START?
Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite episodes that I’ve listened to recently. Links go to individual downloads/streams.
- Clarkesworld: The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild, Part I and Part II by Catherynne M. Valente.
- Uncanny Magazine: episode #5A, with Midnight Hour by Mary Robinette Kowal, and The Saga of Captain Jens by C.S.E. Cooney
- Strange Horizons: Beyond Sapphire Glass by Margaret Killjoy.
- Lightspeed: Ghosts of Home by Sam J. Miller
- Glittership: How To Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps by A. Merc Rustad
- Nightmare Magazine: And This Is the Song It Sings by Megan Arkenberg
- New Yorker Fiction: Daughters of the Moon by Italo Calvino
- Podcastle: The Truth About Owls by Amal El-Mohtar
- Pseudopod: Abandon All Flesh by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Knifepoint Horror: possession is probably my favorite episodes, but it’s also one of the longest. If you’re looking for something shorter, listen to landmark or sisters.
- Black Tapes Podcast: listen from the beginning. This podcast has a season-long arc, and you won’t understand it if you jump into the middle.
- Criminal: Ex Libris. Because who doesn’t like stories about book thieves?
- Sawbones: Guinea Worms. HEAVY TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE PARASITES THAT TRY TO WRIGGLE OUT OF YOUR LEG.
- Here Be Monsters: Do Crows Mourn Their Dead?
- Love and Radio: The Living Room if you are in the mood to cry. Sesquipedelian if you want to listen to an extremely charming avant-garde pianist and former con man/fight fixer.
If you have recommendations for podcasts, add them in the comments or email them to me at nanoonino [at] gmail [dot] com.
Edited to add: I’ve been alerted to the existence of The Mystery Show, a charming podcast about an amateur sleuth who solves her friends’ (and presumably some total strangers’) mysteries. Also, turns out Apex Magazine has a podcast as well.