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. Escape Pod has been up and running since early 2005, and has even turned us on to such hip music as Jonathan Coulton and Daikaiju. The format is simple, yet effective; each week, a cutting edge story is read from some of sci-fi’s current greats. When they do dredge up an older tale, its always tastefully selected and almost always an unknown rarity. I especially like the fact that Escape Pod is done in a very minimalistic format; the stories are allowed to speak for themselves. For those of a fantasy horror bent, there’s also Pod Castle and Pseudo Pod available. Steve Eley’s formidable knowledge of the sci-fi genre is approaching encyclopedic, and we here at Astroguyz have frequently learned a thing or two. Even the occasional bad stories are pretty good, and over the years’ worth of listening, we’ve caught such gems as; a crime dog made cyber-intelligent (How I Mounted Goldie, Saved My Partner Lori, and Sniffed Out the people’s Justice, by Jonathon Sullivan, Ep. 169), the moral dilemmas of a new race of Neanderthals (N-Words, by Ted Kosmatka, Ep. 198), and a children’s story about alien invasion (Will You be an Astronaut? By Greg van Eekhout Ep. 202). One of our all-time faves concerned the cloning of dead rock stars and the subsequent infestation of Elvises. (Elvis in the Attic, by Catherine M. Morrison Ep. 199). The only memorable low light was perhaps the review of Armageddon (yes THAT Armageddon!)… c’mon guys, its a big wide sci-fi ‘verse out there…
Escape Pod also provides an outlet for what’s becoming termed “Flash Fiction”, or the time cherished short-short story. This genre has preceded the current vernacular of “Twit-Fic” and come of its own in sci-fi. With a plot stripped down and devoid of filler, its a story denuded down to the “sting”…now how ’bout some Sci fi poetry? Or some Scifaiku?
But like most podcasts, Escape Pod is a labor of love. Donations are welcome, and serve to keep such cutting edge flagships of sci-fi afloat. Like most of unemployed blogging America, we here at Astroguyz know how it feels…art is such a fragile thing, and usually the first to go in these tough times… but without things like Escape Pod, what is worth struggling for? If you like what you hear, please donate to them if you can… you won’t get a PBS pledge mug, just a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart that won’t go away!
Unlike other podcasts, I personally like to listen to Escape Pod as I’m dozing off, so I’m not diverted by my of army of devices of distraction…lord knows what subconscious messages brother Steve and brother Norm have put in my head as I’ve dozed off!
In closing, do seek out this no frills, unique science fiction podcast via Itunes or direct from the site; your intellect will love you for it. But a brief warning is in order; it may spoil you for what passes for television science fiction fodder these days on SyFy. (How ’bout Escape Pod on SyFy? Hmm….) But on the up side, you may find yourself digging up works from these cutting edge authors. As we expand, we here at Astroguyz hope to give a weekly blow-by-blow about such gems and what they are up to…as Steve Ely says, “have fun!”