Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Free Science Fiction For Everybody!

“Free Electricity for Everybody!” was the motto and goal of genius inventor and inter-dimensional refugee Nikola Tesla. That may not have endeared him to his financial backers, so we're still paying for our AC the old-fashioned way: cash for wire-delivered current.

But here in the future, at least we can enjoy a stream of other aether-borne free goods, including a weekly SF story from Escape Pod. For a couple of years now, podhost Steve Eley has been buying real high-quality SF from authors new and old, classic and up-and-coming, and putting it out each week to a loyal listener base that should include you.

Recent entries have included M.K. Hobson's “God Juice”, K.K. Rusch's “Elites”, and my personal favorite, Michael Swanwick's “A Small Room in Koboldtown” — a Hugo finalist and this year's Nebula winner. We've also been treated to a few of Jeffrey R. DeRego's tales in the Union Dues series, an unexpected angle on the behind-the-scenes lives of superheros. Eley reads many of these himself, and when he doesn't, he calls on any number of authors, sf bloggers, and other odd netizens to help out. In this regard, “Koboldtown” deserves special mention for Cheyenne Wright's invocation of the varied accents of a peculiar city that isn't too much like, say, New Orleans, oh no, not at all.

Eley's introductions and other discussions are mostly focused, considered, and on-point. You don't hear any of that “well, I've just turned on the mike, now what the hell should I talk about?” fumfering that bloats some otherwise-good podcasts. And every now and again, just for fun, he features one of singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton's peculiar sf-themed geek-pop tunes. (Don't be surprised if Coulton's bouncy cheery-sounding “Chiron Beta Prime” becomes one of your Xmas-time holiday favorites.)

Escape Pod began by covering horror and fantasy as well as science fiction, but now has two sister podcasts, Pseudopod and Podcastle. There should be links to those from the Escape Pod site. If not, write to tell Steve that you found out about him here, and tell him to get those links up, fergoshsakes. And once you get hooked, don't forget to buy some merch or make a regular donation. It's free, yeah, but it ain't cheap, you know?


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