May 30, 2020

Review: The Drabblecast by Norm Sherman.

Alright; this post has been a long time in coming… a few months back, we reviewed Escape Pod as one of the ultimate greats in science fiction podcasting. More than once, we’ve heard host Steve Ely refer to wonders of a podcast known as The Drabblecast. Noting that it’s the only podcast out there that’s he’s routinely jealous of is high praise indeed, so we vowed to give it a listen. We’re now totally hooked! In fact, with the current hiatus of Escape Pod, The Drabblecast has moved to top of our pod catcher list. Advertized as “bringing strange stories to strange listeners…” host Norm Sherman never fails to bring quality stories on a weekly basis. And I wouldn’t merely pigeon hole the content as just sci-fi; the strangeness can cover the intersecting genres of horror, fantasy, and often lends a Twilight Zone bent to things. Norm’s production skills and comedy input is first rate, and from rotifers to art and Mongolian Death Worms gone mad, his insight never fails to amuse. Check out Norm’s musical and video compilations as well; he’s truly a jack of all trades. So just when does he like, eat or take in sustenance? Or has his alien species evolved past such menial things?

The tone of The Drabblecast reminds us of the old live radio shows of old, were the narrators were responsible for providing their own sound effects. Mr. Sherman takes a direct lineage with these broadcasters of yore to new digital heights. A nod to this styling was even given in the recent two part saga, The Golden Age of Fire Escapes, complete with authentic scratchy commentator voicing.

So, what, might you ask, is a drabble? Although the etymology of the term is subject to some controversy, the term is generally attributed to Monty Python circa 1971. A drabble is a short-short story or “Flash fiction” piece of exactly 100 words. These are also showcased in the Drabblecast, and Norm suggests you try it out and submit one (or one hundred) to him. I find Drabbles a wonderful way to “kick start” the creative writing juices; they say that no one likes the writing process, but everyone likes the feeling of having written. A drabble is a good way to get that quick warm fuzzy feeling without having to push the brink of insanity by writing at a Stephen King-like pace.

And for those who feel a drabble is just too much, Mr. Sherman even features “Twitfic” from a certain 140- character site. Follow him as @Drabblecast and perhaps belt out one of your own.

Now in its third year, The Drabblecast is at 161 episodes and counting. Each podcast episode is also commemorated by unique icon artwork contributed by the fans.  I find like Escape Pod, The Drabblecast is best consumed in those moments before sleep invades consciousness, although we can’t vouch for what might happen to your sanity if you load up your pod-catcher with every episode and simply doze off. In the last few months, some of our favorite episodes have been;

Dr. Diablo Goes Through the Motions by Saladin Ahmed: What’s a super-villain to do when he gets bored with the corny routines and canned dialogue?

The Second Conquest of Earth by L.J. Daly: Alien invasion with a twist; conquest is long over, but humans may yet gain dominion over their captors in a unique way. I love it when a new spin can be put on an old theme! Joan of Arc, blogger style!

The Drabblecast also hosts several three story Trifecta episodes, all of which have been outstanding! In closing, I’d say if you only listened to one fiction podcast on a weekly basis, let The Drabblecast be it. Downloads are up on ITunes or straight MP3 feed for the rest of the internet universe. And don’t forget the Mega Beasts and Drabblecast B-Sides links! This is definitely a load up for a desert island kinda podcast… and just think, you’ll be hip, uber-cool, and down in with some of the coolest in strange fiction, sci-fi or otherwise!