Sunday, November 25, 2012

SF Squeecast, the Skiffy and Fanty Show and the Outer Alliance podcasts

Who knew that podcasts would be one of the best ways to hear about books you might want to read?

I've recently discovered three podcasts that do that (and more), each in quite distinct ways. Truthfully, I discovered them because they've each provided a mention of my novel, INK, in one of their podcasts, but I've stayed because they've already augmented my "to be read" list.

SF Squeecast - brings together four or five SFF writers to talk about books, films and TV shows that have caught their attention. In episode 18 "You can't put your finger there"  you can hear author Elizabeth Bear talk about INK; along with Paul Cornell on the British TV show Quatermass; Seanan McGuire on the U.S. TV show Mockingbird Lane, Lynne M. Thomas' take on Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts; and Catherynne M. Valente's delight in the novel Seaward by Susan Cooper. As you can see, it's a nice combination of very recent and classic SFF, and the discussion is in-depth enough to really make you want to read (or watch) the works discussed.

The Skiffy and Fanty Show
- Shaun Duke and company deconstruct films, subgenres, the writer's process, anything and everything. In the interview with me, Episode 117, Shaun and Paul Weimer asked questions that were, for the most part, so out of the norm no one had yet asked them of me. So we delve into translation, for example, and the ways poetry, journalism and fiction intersect. There is a charming informality about the Skiffy and Fanty show podcasts, underpinned by intellectual and academic engagement, and a truly encyclopedic knowledge of the SFF genre. Plus, when they interview writers they give them nicknames. For future reference I am Sabrina Vourvoulias, a.k.a. the Octopus (hence the image on this post) because the book I issued is titled INK. They've recently interviewed writers Jay Kristoff and Cat Rambo, and it is worthwhile to trawl the archives. I really enjoyed an interview they did with Tobias Buckell (a.k.a. Captain Planet) in February.

Outer Alliance podcast - The Outer Alliance is a group of SFF writers who have come together as allies for the advocacy of LGBT issues in literature. The podcast is only one of many ways they focus attention on LGBT issues in SFF. Julia Rios conducts the podcast interviews, and she has something of the quality of NPR's Terry Gross — if Gross focused on SFF, diversity and representation in literature, that is. My first listen to the podcast was OA Podcast #23, which was an interview with Bart Leib and Kay Holt, the publishers of Crossed Genres (who published INK), which delved into their philosophy of publishing, among many other topics. In addition to interviews with writers like Elizabeth Hand and Tansy Rayner Roberts, Outer Alliance has conducted some fascinating topic-centered podcasts of panels at SFF conventions, like the "Heteronormativity in YA Dystopians" panel from WisCon and a "Changing the Conversation" program recorded at WorldCon.

If you listen through the end of the Skiffy and Fanty show podcast, you'll hear Shaun and Paul and I discuss one of the great advantages of indie bookstores — the way an informed bookseller can guide you to books you haven't heard about but that dovetail with your preferences, or even blow your preferences wide open. No algorithm on Amazon or Goodreads that picks "you might also like" suggestions can do what that informed bookseller in love with genre literature can. But I'm convinced that the sorts of genre-centered, literary podcasts I've highlighted here are as close to the virtual equivalent of that informed bookseller as you can get, and as such they perform a very, very valuable service to the genre and to us individually as readers and writers.

SF Squeecast, the Skiffy and Fanty Show and Outer Alliance are the three I've found, but I'm sure there are other podcasts out there worth discovering. Leave me links to the ones you like (and why) in the comment section.


  1. Who knew that podcasts would be one of the best ways to hear about books you might want to read?

    Surprising, huh? I've been amazed by the stuff I've discovered thanks to a bunch of podcasts. There are several more worth your listening time if you have it, ranging from the Roundtable Podcast to Speculate! to SF Signal (of course, the other podcast home I have) and more...

  2. There's also The Agony Column by Rick Kleffel. He interviews SF/F authors and non-genre folks; I quite enjoy the range and Kleffel's NPR interview style.

    Other favorites that mix up genres: NPR Books Podcast and The Guardian Books Podcast (I've discovered some truly amazing books through both of them; what's great about the three I've mentioned here is that they aren't exclusive to genre, which means sometimes you discover writers who normally aren't known in genre circles as genre writers).

    Plus, all the others that have already been mentioned (I don't listen to them all, though, because I have something like 20 hours of podcasts for every week...).

    Oh, and thanks so much for the plug, Sabrina! I really really really appreciate it :)

  3. I just listened to the lengthy Skiffy and Fanty podcast, which I had never run across before. It was an interesting and wide-ranging conversation!

    I wrote about this on my own blog, but to save you from clicking: I hadn't thought about the structures of different types of writing (e.g. journalism-ballads vs. fiction-symphonies) in that way before. I particularly enjoyed the bit about how fiction can include the other forms of writing. It made me think of Dracula, which encompasses diary entries, letters, news reports, and telegrams, and World War Z, a written collection of oral histories, among many other examples.

    I was also very interested in the segment about translation, and thinking in different languages. My dad took a course in Greek this year and was struck by the difficulty -- some words just don't have direct equivalents, and sometimes words have multiple meanings in one language, and the translator just has to choose one of those meanings instead of being able to find an equivalent that embraces the ambiguity.

    Have you read C.J. Cherryh? Many of her books deal with conflicts between different mindsets, but her Foreigner series deals specifically with a human translator who basically ends up by default as the ambassador, because misunderstandings are so dangerous...

    1. Thanks, Trish. The Skiffy and Fanty conversation was pretty interesting - and it went on for a while before we signed on and after we signed off! Hey, post a link to your blog, please?


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