June 2, 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!

Joanierules.bloggermax.com: 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!

May 2010: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

May brings ultimate news to the Astroguyz camp, with the selection for yet a second NASAtweetup, this time to the final launch of the shuttle Atlantis! Expect us “to be all STS-132, all the time” as we track events leading up to and during the launch. With that in mind posts will be noticeably space shuttle oriented, so be forewarned. So without further digression, here’s what you can expect from an Astroguyz soapbox coming to a viewing device of your electronic choosing…

Coming to a Sky near You: You’ve heard of em’, but have you ever tried spotting a quasar yourself? This month, we show you what it takes to cross this elusive class of objects off of your life list. And of course, we’ll keep you abreast of the latest STS/ISS sightings, as the pair couples and uncouples in low Earth orbit. For those fortunate to be positioned from northern Africa through Southeast Asia, the 2 day old Moon will occult Venus on the 16th. The rest of us will see a close conjunction of the pair. On the lunar surface, we explore Aristarchus, a crater home to the most recorded Transient Lunar Phenomena. On the final day of the month, the Moon once again meets up with S Scorpii in an interesting occultation of the close binary star. On that same date, we’ll point you towards an offbeat reader submitted event; Jupiter’s moons positioned in 1,2,3,4 order. Our own Moon will reach New on the 14th and Full phase on the 27th.

This Month in Science: Did we mention that we’ll be attending the NASA STS-132 Tweetup? Expect you-are-there tweet-reporting, videos, deep ponderous thoughts, and a full length after-action post. For those who didn’t get picked (hey, this was us more often than not!) we’ll give you a complete guide to off-site observing, good for both manned and unmanned launches both out of the KSC and the Cape. We also resume our exposé on Great Orbiting Observatories, this month delving into the ultraviolet end of the spectrum. And speaking of UV, we review the UV flashlight from INova, and why you need one of these curious devices…

This Month in Science Fiction: This month, we take advantage of the spring publishing lull to work through some of our backlog. Expect a review of Solis by A.A. Attanasio, a book that we can’t believe let sit on our shelves all these years before finally cracking. We also review what’s rapidly become our favorite in Sci-Fi podcasting, the Drabblecast. In the hot-off-the-press-department, our advance copy of Dervish House by Ian MacDonald, soon to be released by Pyr just hit our doorstep and we’ve delved headlong into this tale of a futuristic Istanbul.

Launches in May: What with all this talk of adventure in a time of NASAtweetups, you might get the impression that STS-132 launches on May 14th at 2:19 P.M. EDT! This mission will be deploying the Russian-built Mini Research Module to be attached to the Zarya Module, as well as carrying further maintenance supplies and spare parts to the ISS. The flight is also notable as it is more than likely the last flight of the shuttle Atlantis, unless it launches in the very unlikely event of a rescue op during the final two missions. Astroguyz will be on hand to witness the final flight of Atlantis as she rides into orbit one last time. About a week prior, Falcon 9 will launch out of the Cape on May 8th at 11 AM EDT, on the qualifying flight of Space Xs Dragon spacecraft. This flight test is crucial to demonstrate that private companies can indeed fill in the gap left by the termination of the shuttle program and take up the duty of unmanned resupply of the ISS. Another interesting launch of note occurs on May 17th at 5:44 PM EDT, when Japan’s Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter departs Tanegashima Space Center for a journey to the cloud-shrouded world.  Follow these latest mission updates courtesy of SpaceFlightNow.

Astro Bloopers: Alright. This month’s snafu is spaceflight related, and the offense was committed twice in the past month by two separate organizations, both of which should have known better! The problem occurred with a common misconception of the Kennedy Space Center versus Cape Canaveral; both tend to be interchanged by the media, but are in fact separate installations! KSC is the launch site for manned missions such as the Shuttle and the Apollo missions; the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is the home of unmanned satellite and deep space probe launches. NOVA recently got the two exactly wrong in a recent otherwise outstanding episode, and then CNN bumped the lunacy up a notch during Obama’s visit to the Space Coast, referring to the KSC as the Kennedy Space Station! And they complain about us upstart blogs…what are they, missing a science reporter?

This Month in Astro-History: On May14th, 1973 Skylab was launched. The first manned space station for the United States, Skylab utilized left over Apollo hardware to cobble the station together and saw its first crew of three opening it for business on May 25th of the same year. Two more crews followed until abandonment in early 1974. Astronauts conducted several science experiments while in space, including solar observations and microgravity experiments. Ideas to eventually reoccupy Skylab when the Shuttle came online in the 80’s never materialized. Skylab re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere amid much media craziness on July 11th, 1979.

Astro Quote of the Month: “Everything really is made from one fire, the fire of all the stars. In that furious light, the stars forge the elements, strew them into the black void, and then stand around and watch the frantic atoms huddling together in the cold limits, sharing their small heat and enormous dreams.”

Solis, A.A. Attanasio.

Escape Pod: The Ultimate in SciFi Podcasting!

Pssttt! I’m gonna let you on a secret, a podcast that by very mention of its name will put you in the realm of the ultra-hip. For over a year now, topping our pod-catchers list has been a gem called Escape Pod. Run by the prolific guru of sci-fi Steve Eley, it is only one of two (including the Drabblecast) science fiction pod casts that make our must listen to list every week…in fact, the Drabblecasts’ Norm Sherman is now a frequent host on Escape Pod, perhaps in his evil bid to conquer sci-fi podcast-dom.

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