The World of SFF Podcasts
There are so many fantastic resources today for discussing the genres we love, finding out about upcoming books, reading interviews with new and established authors, and getting advice on writing and world building. Amongst all these, something I’ve discovered in the last year and that I particularly enjoy is the world of science fiction and fantasy podcasts.
These are audio episodes on a variety of themes, from book clubs to geek culture discussions, hosted by authors, editors, and long-time fans. They’re great for filling the odd fifteen minutes or half hour of spare time, waiting at the bus-stop or walking to town, or perhaps to liven up a bit of cleaning, or in the background while researching/procrastinating on Pinterest.
Where to begin? Here are some fun starting places, and a few of my favourites.
The Hugo Award winning monthly SF Squeecast is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a podcast for science fiction and fantasy authors to discuss things (usually books and comics) that they have personally loved, or, as the show’s introduction claims, a place where “a group of science fiction and fantasy professionals squee about things SFnal, in a never-ending panel discussion of vague positivity.”
The hosts Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, and Catherynne M. Valente use a show-and-tell format to each present what they want to discuss each episode. The show is frequently hilarious, and it’s fascinating to listen to the hosts analyse what they loved so much about each book, comic, or film. I’ve found this a great way to discover new authors and books, especially as the ones mentioned are often older works, less-hyped books, or novels from debut authors who I had been previously unaware of.
Warning! Your ‘To Read’ list will grow at an uncontrollable rate if you start listening to this podcast.
The Sword and Laser Book Club
Hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, this is a podcast and occasional video show, as well as a book club that listeners can join in with. Each month a new book is chosen, usually alternating between a ‘sword’ pick (fantasy) and a ‘laser’ pick (science fiction). Most of the book club discussions take place on Goodreads, where threads and topics of interest will be picked up on in the audio show, and where listeners can leave questions for authors who are due to be interviewed on the podcast.
The audio show includes discussions of the book of the month, interviews with various sci-fi and fantasy authors, news of interest to SFF readers, book recommendations and lists of new releases, as well as a general discussion of science fiction and fantasy topics. This is a really fun podcast with extremely charismatic presenters. The forums are lively and it’s a fun way to get more out of a book by sharing the experience with other readers.
Hugo and Parsec Award winning, hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells, this is a fifteen minute podcast that talks about writing science fiction and fantasy. It deals with things like characterisation, plotting, dialogue, descriptions, editing, time-keeping, avoiding holes, and all kinds of writing questions and problems. There are often interesting guests with their own perspective on the weekly topic, and each episode there is a book of the week, as well as a writing prompt for the listeners.
The podcast is fun and chatty, with a relaxed atmosphere combined with some very useful tips and advice. Particularly useful if you’re a writer or aspiring writer, but non-writers can get a lot out of this too. It’s fascinating to hear favourite authors discuss their techniques, and it’s a great way to find new authors and books.
The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy
Hosted by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley, each episode includes an interview with a ‘big name’ professional in the world of science fiction and fantasy – author, editor, scientist, game writer, etc – followed by a discussion about a topic that’s of interest to science fiction and fantasy fans. The discussion usually involves a ‘guest geek’ in addition to the guest interviewed earlier in the show.
This is a great show that features some very in-depth discussion about a wide range of different topics.
I Should Be Writing
Similar to Writing Excuses, this podcast, hosted by Mur Lafferty, was created to share a struggling writer’s experiences. The episodes deal with a variety of aspects of writing and publishing, and have a friendly, personal atmosphere that’s easy to listen to. As well as helpful advice, there are also some interviews with publishing professionals. This is a great podcast for new and aspiring writers.
SF Signal Podcast
You may know the website SF Signal, which is a fantastic resource for all things SFF – news, discussions, reviews, roundtables and more – but did you know that there’s an SF Signal podcast too? All of the same kinds of good stuff you’ve come to expect from the site, in audio form.
Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing
Created by Shaun Farrell and hosted by Timothy C. Ward, Moses Siregar III and Brent Bowen, this podcast interviews authors, with a focus on how they first began writing, how they made it, inspiration stories, writing tips, and advice that they wish they’d known when they were starting out. This is both inspiring for the new and aspiring author, and interesting for fans to get a greater insight into their favourite authors’ careers.
The Roundtable Podcast
This podcast does what it says in the title – it’s a roundtable workshop in which story is discussed and developed with published authors and editors. Ideas are bounced around, problems are fixed, and inspiration is turned into something tangible. Hosted by Dave Robison, Brion Humphrey, and a different guest host each time, this is a wonderful podcast for getting a sense of how a story is developed, and how you can do it too.
Tea and Jeopardy
A bit of fun from Emma’s secret tea lair. Hosted by Emma Newman, this is part author interview, with a different guest each episode, and part wacky audio-drama. Each time there is a new location, and new dangers for the latest guest to navigate.
The above podcasts are all presented in a magazine or book club style, but there are also plenty of places you can go to enjoy short stories in audio format. Many of the big online magazines, such as Clarkesworld, Lightspeed and Apex, provide their stories in audio. There are also dedicated short story podcasts such as Escape Pod (SF), Pseudopod (horror), and Cast of Wonders (YA).
There are so many podcasts out there, I couldn’t talk about them all in one article. And I’m still discovering new ones all the time! I’m sure there are lots of excellent ones that I’ve missed from my list. Why not share them in the comments – what do you like to listen to?