Podcasts are coming of age

Podcasting has been around for a long time now, by internet standards. Anything that lasts more than a few months is long-lived by internet standards, but you know what I mean. Some things have their blaze of glory and disappear, though they leave a kind of legacy, like MySpace. Some things fire into the stratosphere incredibly briefly, incredibly brightly, and then are forgotten forever, like Chocolate Rain or the Star Wars Kid. They live on in infamy, in memory, but that’s about it. So it’s hard for anything, be it a person or an idea, to stick around for any length of time. Of course, podcasting isn’t really like a specific website or internet meme, but it is something that was either going to fly or sink.

With video-casting on YouTube and a website or three in every home, I did wonder back in the day (about 2008) if podcasting would really generate that desired state of normalcy, or if it would be something a geeky few would love briefly, before moving on. Here we are in 2011 and podcasting is ubiquitous. I co-host one myself, all about thrillers and other genre fiction. I listen to loads of them, especially fiction podcasts like Escape Pod and Podcastle. I’m still dancing with joy because my favourite podcast of all, Pseudopod, bought one of my stories recently. I can’t wait for that to come through.

But you know that podcasting is becoming truly accepted when it starts to win awards. Not podcasting awards, obviously, but other awards that have been around for ages and have now started recognising podcasts. I noticed this when I was going through the recently released Ditmar Awards ballot. Here’s the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium nominations list:

* Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, edited by Alisa Krasnostein et al.
* Bad Film Diaries podcast, Grant Watson
* Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
* Terra Incognita podcast, Keith Stevenson
* The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
* The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Out of six listed nominations, five are podcasts. Among them are podcasts that I listen to regularly and one of them got my vote. The sixth one is a review website.

Here’s the same category last year:

Best Fan Publication

* Interstellar Ramjet Scoop, edited by Bill Wright
* A Writer Goes on a Journey (awritergoesonajourney.com), edited by Nyssa Pascoe et al
* ASif! (asif.dreamhosters.com), edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Gene Melzack et al
* Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet (bullsheet.sf.org.au), edited by Edwina Harvey and Ted Scribner
* Steam Engine Time, edited by Bruce Gillespie and Janine Stinson

No podcasts.

In the 2010 Hugo Awards, the Best Fanzine award went to StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith. A podcast. It won a Hugo! It is brilliant, but even so it’s a great step in the acceptance of podcasting.

And this is just the genre podcasts that I’m familiar with. I’m sure there are thousands more out there covering all kinds of subjects. It seems that the audio magazine has really come of age. Even radio stations now are offering their shows as podcasts to appeal to people that might not be able to listen at a certain time, or may have missed a show. More power to the podcast, I say, and not just because I’m involved with one. Podcasting is a great example of utilising the power of the internet for good, producing quality, interesting content. Long may it continue.

I wonder when the Hugos, Ditmars, etc. will have an actual Podcast category. It can’t be far off.


Scenes From The Second Storey – review

scenesIf you think you recognise the title Scenes From The Second Storey from previous posts, you’d be right. It’s been nominated for Best Anthology in the Aurealis Awards, Ditmar Awards and Australian Shadows Awards, and numerous stories from it have been nominated all over the place as well. It’s got a lot of attention and deservedly so. I picked up a copy after the launch at Worldcon last year and it’s just made it to the top of my reading pile.

Scenes is a strange but rather cool concept. Mark Deniz of Morrigan Books came up with the idea, based in his love of the God Machine album of the same name – Scenes From The Second Storey. He wanted to pay homage to that, one of his favourite albums, by editing an anthology of short fiction, with each story being named after each track on the record. In the end two anthologies emerged – one with international contributors and one with Australian contributors. It’s the Australian edition, edited by the ably talented Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall, that I read. The talent commisioned for this book is awesome – here’s the ToC:

Dream Machine – David Conyers
She Said – Kirstyn McDermott
The Blind Man – Felicity Dowker
I’ve Seen The Man – Paul Haines
The Desert Song – Andrew McKiernan
Home – Martin Livings
It’s All Over – L.J. Hayward
Temptation – Trent Jamieson
Out – Stephen Dedman
Ego – Robert Hood
Seven – Stephanie Campisi
Purity – Kaaron Warren
The Piano Song – Cat Sparks

Each story takes its name and inspiration from a song on the album, with each author penning a speculative yarn in their own unique style. There’s really not a weak story in this book, but the real standouts for me were Kirstyn McDermott’s She Said, a creepy exploration of art and muse; Robert Hood’s Ego, an out there ghost story that takes some great twists and turns; and Kaaron Warren’s Purity, a tale exploring a cult of purity and laughter that is just beautiful in concept and execution. Seriously, Kaaron’s work is invariably mind-blowing, she really is a prodigious talent. Her collection, Dead Sea Fruit, is quickly rising to the top of my reading pile and I can’t wait.

So Scenes manages to be that rare thing – a different, intriguing anthology with no weak spots. It’s also made me deseperate to hear the record now, so I’ll be picking that up soon. It sounds like it’s just my cup of tea. After each story the author has written a paragraph or two about how their story came to be, based on their listening to the track in question, which only adds to the depth of the book.

So get yourself a copy – you can get it in print or ebook. All the details here. Highly recommended.


New ThrillerCast – villains

thrillercastThe latest ThrillerCast podcast is up now. This time, David Wood and I talk about villains. What makes a good villain, what motivations and backstory make a villain believable and interesting and so on. We talk about the really popular villains already out there – Tony Soprano, The Joker, etc. – and try to figure out what makes them so powerful.

It’s a longish episode for us – our crapping on reaches new heights – but I think it’s a good episode too. All the details here: www.thrillerpodcast.com


2011 Ditmar Awards nominations announced

I told you it was awards season. The shortlist for the Ditmar Awards has just been released. The Ditmars are Australian fan-voted SF awards – you can learn all about them here. They’ll be awarded at Swancon in Perth in April. I’m so pleased to see so many talented people have got the nod, especially as so many of my friends are among them. Seriously, these guys make some stiff competition.

The list of nominations really does capture some of the best stuff from last year – voting in this is going to be really hard. In many cases I’ll be casting my vote between friends as well as very worthy stories. But just getting nominated among the plethora of talent in Australia is a hell of an achievement, so congratulations to all the nominees.

If you’re a member of the last Natcon or this coming one (Swancon in April) you can vote. Or you can pay $20 to be a supporting member, and then you get to vote without the expense of travelling to Perth. Of course, I’d recommend you go to Swancon, but I’m biased. I’ll be there.

I blogged about the Aurealis Award nominations here. Below is the Ditmar nominations ballot:

Best Novel

* Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson (Hachette)
* Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott (Pan Macmillan)
* Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Voyager)
* Stormlord Rising, Glenda Larke (Voyager)
* Walking the Tree, Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot Books)
* No Award

Best Novella or Novelette

* Acception, Tessa Kum (Eneit Press)
* All the Clowns in Clowntown, Andrew McKiernan (Brimstone Press)
* Bleed, Peter M. Ball (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Her Gallant Needs, Paul Haines (Twelfth Planet Press)
* The Company Articles of Edward Teach, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)
* No Award

Best Short Story

* All the Love in the World, Cat Sparks (Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press)
* Bread and Circuses, Felicity Dowker (Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
* One Saturday Night With Angel, Peter M. Ball (Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press)
* She Said, Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes From the Second Storey, Morrigan Books)
* The House of the Nameless, Jason Fischer (Writers of the Future XXVI)
* The February Dragon, Angela Slatter and Lisa L. Hannett (Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
* No Award

Best Collected Work

* Baggage, edited by Gillian Polack (Eneit Press)
* Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
* Scenes from the Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)
* Sprawl, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Worlds Next Door, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
* No Award

Best Artwork

* Cover art, The Angaelien Apocalypse/The Company Articles of Edward Teach (Twelfth Planet Press), Dion Hamill
* Cover art, Australis Imaginarium (FableCroft Publishing), Shaun Tan
* Cover art, Dead Sea Fruit (Ticonderoga Publications), Olga Read
* Cover art, The Girl With No Hands (Ticonderoga Publications), Lisa L. Hannett
* The Lost Thing short film (Passion Pictures), Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan
* No Award

Best Fan Writer

* Robert Hood, for Undead Backbrain
* Chuck McKenzie, for work in Horrorscope
* Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
* Tehani Wessely, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
* No Award

Best Fan Artist

* Rachel Holkner, for Continuum 6 props
* Dick Jenssen, for cover art of Interstellar Ramjet Scoop
* Amanda Rainey, for Swancon 36 logo
* No Award

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

* Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, edited by Alisa Krasnostein et al.
* Bad Film Diaries podcast, Grant Watson
* Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
* Terra Incognita podcast, Keith Stevenson
* The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
* The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
* No Award

Best Achievement

* Helen Merrick and Andrew Milner, Academic Stream for Aussiecon 4
* Amanda Rainey, cover design for Scary Kisses
* Kyla Ward, Horror Stream and The Nightmare Ball for Aussiecon 4
* Grant Watson, Media Stream for Aussiecon 4
* Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, Rachel Holkner, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely, Snapshot 2010
* No Award

Best New Talent

* Thoraiya Dyer
* Lisa L. Hannett
* Patty Jansen
* Kathleen Jennings
* Pete Kempshall
* No Award

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

* Leigh Blackmore, for Marvels and Horrors: Terry Dowling’s Clowns at Midnight
* Damien Broderick, for editing Skiffy and Mimesis: More Best of Australian Science Fiction Review
* Ross Murray, for The Australian Dream Becomes Nightmare
* Tansy Rayner Roberts, for A Modern Woman’s Guide to Classic Who
* No Award


Midnight Echo #6 to feature me

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was waxing lyrical about one of my favourite publications, Midnight Echo. In fact, I was posting about how issue 5 was now available and featured a killer line-up of awesome stuff. I also said, “I’m really hoping that they’ll buy one of my stories one day.” Well, what do you know – I’ve just had word that my sci-fi/horror story, Trawling The Void, has been accepted for publication in issue 6.

Midnight Echo is the official publication of the Australian Horror Writers Association, so it’s all about dark fiction. Issue 6 is a themed edition, with all the stories being some variety of sci-fi. My story scored an Honourable Mention in the Writers Of The Future competition last year, and is exactly suited to the theme of ME6. But it’s a tough publication to score a hit in, so I’m Snoopy dancing like a madman at landing this one.

It’s co-edited by the team of Jason Fischer, David Conyers and David Kernot. The full ToC was released by Jason Fischer today and I must say, I’m humbled to be a part of this line-up:

* Out Hunting for Teeth by Joanne Anderton
* Trawling the Void by Alan Baxter
* Silver-Clean by Jenny Blackford
* Graveyard Orbit by Shane Jiraiya Cummings
* More Matter, Less Art by Stephen Dedman
* Seeds by Mark Farrugia
* Earth Worms by Cody Goodfellow
* The Wanderer in the Darkness by Andrew McKiernan
* Dead Low by Cat Sparks
* Surgeon Scalpelfingers by Helen Stubbs

This issue will also contain interviews all sorts of other bits and pieces.

Sweet! I’ll let you know when it’s published.