Audio

You are currently browsing the archive for the Audio category.

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a podcast addict.

The list of podcasts I’m subscribed to currently exceeds eighty. Seriously. Not that I listen to every episode they all put out, and some of them are probably dead or at best wildly infrequent.

But there’s fairly continuous churn. I’m constantly dropping and picking up series as I discover new stuff or lose interest.

Here, then, are my five favourite podcasts that I picked up in 2016. Something on this list for most kinds of listeners and they’re all worth your time, at the very least for sampling purposes.

Crimetown
From the podcast empire that is Gimlet Media, this is by far – by far – my favourite true crime podcast amongst those I’ve tried. The genre exploded in the wake of Serial, of course, and I’ve found one or two other decent ones. But Crimetown is astonishingly good. It’s a hugely ambitious serialised documentary about organised crime, local politics and law enforcement in Providence, Rhode Island; mostly in the 1980s. It’s like a true-life audio version of The Wire. Full of recurring characters, interviews, archive recordings. Unmissable.

Liftoff
The place I get 90+% of my astronomy, space exploration etc news and info from these days. A highly accessible, all-encompassing bi-weekly update on all things space-related. Rockets, satellites, probes, planets, exo-planets, moons, stars and so on. A wonderful example of what podcasts can do: plugging a gap in TV and radio output through the simple mechanism of two guys who love their subject and know quite a bit about it talking about what’s going on and what’s caught their attention. If you like space stuff, of whatever kind, this is for you. (Part of the RelayFM podcast network, which has a heap of other geek-friendly shows you might want to check out).

Talking Politics
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I sampled quite a few politics-related podcasts last year. The only one I’m still listening to regularly is Talking Politics. It’s from Cambridge University, and it’s mostly just a bunch of folks talking about big picture issues (and sometimes specific events) in politics around the world. Inevitably, there’s an emphasis on British and US politics, but they talk about European stuff a lot and get into major developments elsewhere sometimes. Kind of non-partisan in that they’re more interested in understanding what’s going on than pushing specific agendas, but the individual participants do, of course, have opinions so possibly not for you if you’re allergic to the so-called ‘intellectual elite’.

2000AD Thrill-Cast
For those who don’t know, 2000AD is a legendary British sf anthology comic that started up in the late 1970s and – kind of miraculously – is still going. A truly formative experience for a big chunk of us Brits whose interests lay in that direction. Even those who don’t know it might have heard of Judge Dredd, it’s most famous character, right? This is their official podcast, loaded with interviews with famed writers and artists, talk about the comic’s history, key past and current stories and characters etc. etc. If you ever enjoyed 2000AD, you should listen to it. If you’re into comics, you should listen to it. If neither of those things apply to you … maybe not?

Imaginary Worlds
A podcast that looks at the culture surrounding sf and fantasy in all media. Sympathetic, smart and rarely obvious, it’s touched on a crazily wide variety of topics: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Avatar: the Last Airbender, LARPing, D&D, fantasy maps, Godzilla, Batman … the list goes on and on. Invariably just as is interested in the people who consume and support the media as it is in the properties themselves, it’s a weirdly unifying approach to all of geek culture.

Tags:

As noted many times here, I’m a hopeless podcast addict. The rest of the world seems to be slowly catching up with my good taste, but frankly there are still too many of you out there who need to get on the bandwagon asap. Therefore I stubbornly keep proselytizing.

I’m not much of a binge watcher (or reader for that matter). I’ve got neither the time nor the inclination to gorge myself on exciting new TV shows. One episode a day is more than enough, and more than I can usually manage, no matter how awesome the show is. For the record, the closest I’ve got to binge-watching anything in years was Netflix’s Daredevil, and that took me about three weeks I think – which is not very close to bingeing at all, really. (Liked it a lot, for the record).

Podcasts are a bit different, though. When I happen across one that’s been around for a while, if I like it I tend to power through the back catalgoue pretty fast. That’s the joy of a medium you can consume while doing other things, I guess. So, here are some well-established podcasts that I discovered long after they launched and therefore was able to binge on. Perhaps there’s something here to tempt you?

I Was There Too. Conversations with supporting or bit-part actors from famous movies. Enormous fun, especially when you know the movie in question well. Lots of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, interesting snippets about acting, nostalgia for the movies of your (my) youth.

You Must Remember This. Still on a movie theme, but now with a hint of a historical flavour. As the podcast itself puts it, it’s about ‘the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century’. Mostly, it’s about the lives of the stars and the culture of their times, with bits of specific film history thrown in. It’s often fascinating stuff. The most recent season was entirely devoted to the Manson Family – their crimes and numerous connections to the film and music scenes of Hollywood. Extremely creepy – even disturbing – in parts, but enormously detailed and interesting.

The British History Podcast. Gliding on over to full on history now, and it doesn’t get much more full on than this. This might be the most bonkers (in a good way) podcast history project I’ve come across. The aim is to recount the entire history of Britain, and as of today we’re at episode episode 173 (173!) and haven’t even reached the 9th Century Viking invasions. Everything you ever wanted to know, and a huge amount of stuff you didn’t even know you wanted to know, about the early history of Britain is right here waiting for your ears to be applied.

The History of English Podcast. And continuing our smooth thematic links, here we’ve got history but now with added linguistics. The effort, research and knowledge that goes into this podcast boggles the mind. It’s the history of the English language, from its very earliest roots in prehistoric Indo-European to the modern day. It’s a mixture of historical narrative with heavy – and sometimes I really do mean heavy – doses of linguistics, phonetics, etymologies. For a writer, it’s utterly fascinating. Just as interesting for a reader, really. It does require your attention, though. The information is conveyed very clearly and carefully, but there’s a lot of it and it’s undeniably sometimes complicated and a bit arcane. But if you like words and language, listening to this is endlessly surprising and revelatory in a ‘So that’s why …’ sort of way.

Tags: , , , ,

I’d probably have a whole other list if I did this next month, but I thought it’d be fun to rattle through my five favourite podcasts right now, off the top of my head. I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts, so there’s an absolute heap of deserving stuff I’m not mentioning, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And one other thing: these aren’t exactly recommendations. I’m entirely ignoring the question of whether these particular podcasts might appeal to anyone other than me. They appeal to me enormously, for sometimes personal or idiosyncratic reasons, and that’s all it takes to get them on this list … you have been warned …

In no particular order:

Revolutions – a great history podcast that’s working it’s way through a load of the world’s most significant revolutions, one per season. The British Civil War and American Revolution have been covered, now we’re deep into the big daddy of revolutions: the French. Each episode is reasonably short, the tone is accessible and very appealing. Full of fascinating details and wry humour. Great.

Let’s Talk Comics – there’s no particular shortage of interview podcasts relating to comics out there, and I listen to several, at least now and again. This one is frequent, well-produced and delivers pretty meaty interviews with a pretty wide range of people involved in the mainstream comics industry: artists, writers, publishers etc etc. Tends to take a life-story approach, and it’s always interesting to hear how people first got started in the medium, as both reader and professional creators.

Hello Internet – some folks will just not like this one, I suspect. It’s a fine example of the ‘two guys talking’ podcasting school. No specific theme, though many recurring topics, so its appeal depends entirely on how interesting or engaging you find the two guys and the subjects they choose to talk about. Me, I’m interested and engaged. These guys make their livings from their YouTube channels (in fact, they’re both quite famous YouTubers), and I find stuff relating to that fascinating when it comes up. One of them also has a highly distinctive and structured view of the world and of life that you may or may not always agree with (or even find palatable) but it makes for entertaining, thought-provoking and often amusing listening at times.

Wait, What? – my favourite comics-related podcast. I like it so much I pay for it, via Patreon! Another entry in the ‘two guys talking’ category, this time talking very specifically about comics. All sorts of comics. It’s sometimes meandering, sometimes tangential, sometimes doing a deep-dive into stuff I know very little about, but for whatever reason I always enjoy it.

TetZoo – and here we are at the quirkily unique end of the podcasting spectrum. What’s podcasting for if it can’t produce the kind of audio you just would never, ever hear anywhere else? This is a scientific podcast with a focus on tetrapod (i.e. anything with four limbs) zoology. I’ve got a lot of zoology in my educational background, so I can follow most of what’s going on, but fair warning: quite a bit of jargon is involved. However, because this is podcasting rather than radio, there’s also a lot of silly humour, cryptozoology, sf movie talk, running jokes, vaguely disorganised unprofessionalism. I really like it. Once again, it’s ‘two guys talking’, and it’s very like eavesdropping on them just having a rambling chat in the pub.

Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s some stuff I’ve harvested from around the web of late:

The Nerdist Podcast put out a couple of interesting/fun interviews that caught my ear: Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy, talking about the comics and the movies; David J. Peterson, language guy, talking about inventing languages (including for Game of Thrones) and various real-language stuff.

Rio 2 has been all over cinema screens around the world lately. Here’s the real parrot it’s based on, Spix’s macaw:

Very pretty, no? Really quite beautiful in fact, if you ask me. But not as widespread as Rio 2, that parrot. In fact, it’s extinct in the wild as far as anyone can tell. Has been for some time. Good job, humanity. (And yes, I know the whole extinct in the wild thing is kind of a central plot point in the movies, but I still find the whole ‘let’s make fun movies and a bajillion dollars based on this’ thing a bit weird, even if it’s sort of well-intentioned.)

Amazon took over Comixology, the biggest purveyor of digital comics, to absolutely nobody’s surprise. I can’t begin to tell you how despondent the big river’s acquisition avalanche makes me. They’re a fine and clever company, I know; I use their excellent services now and again. But it’s in precisely no-one‘s long-term interest (except their own, of course) the way they’re hoovering up competitors and add-ons that incrementally turn them into a leviathan of truly leviathanic proportions. If you want to buy books online, take a look at Wordery. Good prices, good service, free delivery worldwide.

Talking of comics, I thought I’d take a moment to point out my favourite comic produced by IDW Publishing, the good folks who put out the Rogue Trooper comic what I have been writting. Locke & Key is an inspired, beautifully crafted and beautifully illustrated dark fantasy/horror comic from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Complex and intriguing, it’s loaded with terrific character writing, clever world-building and eye-popping set-piece action. Give it a try (at Wordery, of course).

And here’s one of my favourite blogs, which I don’t believe I’ve mentioned here before: Abandoned Scotland. An exploration of ruined, forgotten, derelict Scotland that’s kind of hynoptically fascinating if you ask me. Stuff that’s hidden in plain sight, overlooked and disregarded, comes alive when you pay close attention to it. Investigate it. The most grungy and crumbly places and buildings become kind of beautiful. The Abandoned Scotland YouTube channel is a goldmine of strange discoveries. Don’t suppose this is exactly how the Scottish Tourist Board wants the world to see Scotland, but as a resident it’s all simultaneously familiar and surprising. Great stuff.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s a non-trivial chance I’m going to regret this tomorrow, but hey ho, off we go. I spoke, the machine recorded it, so I might as well post it up here.

At the foot of this post you will find something in the region of eight minutes in which I read out, and talk about, a few of the character names from the Godless World trilogy. Listen in wonder to the secret origin of ‘Orisian’, and the mental hiccup that allowed me to name a character ‘Wagon’.

I should point out that, naturally, I sound nothing remotely like this inside my own head. As my personal experience of the world is the only one that really counts, I would like to assure you that I do not in fact sound anything like this recording would appear to suggest. I sound much, much better. You’ll just have to imagine it.

I believe that if you click on the link below, a window’s likely to pop up from which I address you. Alternatively, I believe that if you right click and do the ‘save link (or target or whatever) as …’ thing you can download the mp3 for more convenient listening. The file’s c. 1.9MB.

Enjoy, or not. Feel free to let me know if the former, and to keep it to yourself if the latter. Further audio files may, or may not, ensue if there’s any interest. I promise nothing, and rule nothing out.

Godless World Commentary by Brian Ruckley – Names