Feb 15 2010 6:00am

GGG#007: Escape Pod! Audio Fiction! Unabridged! (Guest: Steve Eley)

Steve Eley—editor of Escape Pod, the internet’s most popular science fiction podcast—stops by this week and we discuss the very promising future of audio fiction.



0:00 Introduction by

0:37 Dave and John introduce the show

Interview: Steve Eley, creator and host of Escape Pod

01:27 Interview begins

01:47 How Escape Pod began as a paying market, and convincing Steve’s wife that he isn’t insane

05:08 On fun in fiction and competing with other media for readers’ time

08:28 Pairing narrators with stories

11:05 The pitfalls of adapting prose to audio

13:31 Recommended Escape Pod episodes: Connie, Maybe by Paul E. Martens, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov

15:04 The Escape Pod message board, and how to not be a jerk on the internet

17:46 Escape Pod meetups

18:40 The creation of Podcastle and Pseudopod

22:38 Young adults and Escape Pod

23:55 Making the show personal

25:44 Intros and outros

27:15 The present and future of podcasting

30:03 Recommended fiction podcasts: Drabblecast, Decoder Ring Theater, Metamore City Podcast

32:22 End of interview

Dave and John talk about audio fiction

32:23 Dave talks about the history of audio from his frustrated childhood perspective

33:24 John and Dave talks about the audio explosion in SFF and the abomination that is the “abridged” version of any book

36:36 POV in audiobooks, a challenge for both narrator and listener

37:55 Vanilla narrations vs. ‘acted’ narrations, and props to author Jack Kincaid, performer of GGG’s intro and outro, and his audio drama Hoad’s Grim.

42:03 Considering how the prose will be adapted to audio, and Dave talks about text-to-speech software as a writer’s tool

45:27 The different experiences of reading vs. listening to a story, and attending readings

47:55 It’s “ah-SHEEL,” not “uh-KILL-eez”: listeners’ frustrations

51:08 How podcasting and the web have changed the author-reader relationship in short fiction

52:52 The shortage of audiobook reviews for SFF, and the recent availability of audio samples through sites such as SFFaudio

54:51 Availability of audio books, how and where to find them, and using Markable to rip audio books on cd

56:00 Proto-podcasts: Tell Tale Weekly, and Mech Muse

01:00:07 Recommended listening - see list below

01:14:48 Show wrap-up

Next week: Blake Charlton!

Thanks for listening!

Recommended Listening

Title Author Podcast Narrator
The 43 Antarean Dynasties Mike Resnick Escape Pod Steven Burley & Gregg Taylor
The Annals Of Eelin-Ok Jeffrey Ford Podcastle Rajan Khanna
Cup and Table Tim Pratt Podcastle Stephen Eley
Impossible Dreams Tim Pratt Escape Pod Matthew Wayne Selznick
Instead of a Loving Heart Jeremiah Tolbert Escape Pod Jared Axelrod
Nightfall Isaac Asimov Escape Pod Steve Eley
Seamstress Sarah Prineas Escape Pod Deborah Green
Will You Be an Astronaut? Greg van Eekhout Escape Pod Christiana Ellis

Stories in John's Anthologies

Title Author Podcast Narrator Anthology
And the Deep Blue Sea Elizabeth Bear StarShipSofa Amy H Sturgis Wastelands
Arties Aren't Stupid Jeremiah Tolbert Escape Pod Philippa Ballantine Seeds of Change
Carthago Delenda Est Genevieve Valentine Escape Pod Kate Baker Federations
Child of an Ancient City Tad Williams StarShipSofa Peter Cavell By Blood We Live
The Culture Archivist Jeremiah Tolbert StarShipSofa Ray Sizemore Federations
Everything's Better With Zombies Hannah Wolf Bowen Pseudopod Mur Lafferty The Living Dead
Infestation Garth Nix Escape Pod Geoff Michelli By Blood We Live
N-Words Ted Kosmatka Escape Pod Kim The Comic Book Goddess Seeds of Change
Resistance Tobias Buckell Escape Pod Stephen Eley Seeds of Change
The Shoulders of Giants Robert J. Sawyer Escape Pod Stephen Eley Federations
The Skull-Faced Boy David Barr Kirtley Pseudopod Ralph Walters The Living Dead
A Song Before Sunset David Grigg Telltale Weekly Alex Wilson Wastelands
Stockholm Syndrome David Tallerman Pseudopod Cheyenne Wright The Living Dead
Waiting for the Zephyr Tobias S. Buckell Telltale Weekly Mary Robinette Kowal Wastelands
When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth Cory Doctorow Cory Doctrow's
Full-cast radio drama Wastelands
Dynamics of a Hanging Tony Pi Hour of the Wolf
(begins at 00:48:25)
Brilliance Audio The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

John Joseph Adams ( is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. He is currently assembling several other anthologies, including Brave New Worlds, The Living Dead 2, The Mad Scientistís Guide to World Domination, and The Way of the Wizard. He worked for more than eight years as an editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and is currently the fiction editor of Lightspeed Magazine, which launches in June 2010.

David Barr Kirtley ( is a writer living in New York who has been called ìone of the newest and freshest voices in sf.î His short fiction appears in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and in anthologies such as The Living Dead, New Voices in Science Fiction, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition.

Show notes compiled by podtern Christie Yant. Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Kate Baker
1. Kate_Baker
Great episode guys! I'm always looking for recommendations of stories to listen to in a quest to hone my own skills.
Chuk Goodin
2. Chuk
Escape Pod and Podcastle are great (Pseudopod is good too but not really my thing.)

I also liked "The Cambist and Lord Iron", a Daniel Abraham story that was on Podcastle:
Matthew Wayne Selznick
3. Matthew Wayne Selznick
Thanks for mentioning Tim Pratt's story "Impossible Dreams" that I narrated for Escape Pod a few years back. It's one of my favorites from Tim, and it was a real treat to do the dramatic reading. It's a gem!

I had the pleasure of reading another of Tim's stories for Escape Pod's sister podcast, Podcastle, "Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters," which can be found here:

Many thanks,

Samantha Brandt
5. Talia
Long time EP/PC/Drabblecast/podiobooks listener/forum dweller here. You definitely provided some interesting perspectives.. thanks!

RE: authors commenting in forms: I, for one, always welcome it, and it certainly doesn't necesarily stifle conversation. For instance, Tim Pratt recently dropped by the Drabblecast discussion thread for one of his stories. His posts were well recieved but debate continued long after. :) I mean sure, clarifying some points of a story may slow SOME conversations, but for me, personally, i'd rather have the author clarification, or whatever. :)

The Escape Artists forums seem to have a vague bit of a reputation for periodic harshness - I dont think thats because people are being mean, so much as the commenting population there seems to consider it a place to engage in serious literary criticism, and they tend to analyze a great deal.
So yeah, going there as an author can be risky, but on the other hand, we get into a lot of interesting arguments :) (extremely rarely flame war level. There have only been a couple instances I can think of, and the moderators stepped in at that point..).

Lastly, I don't RECALL being mentioned (but perhaps it was and I missed it somewhere), but its a fantastic source for some great podcast fiction. Mur Lafferty, Nathan Lowell & Abigail Hilton are the authors I personally recommend (although J.C. Hutchins & Scott Sigler are the ones who seem to have become very popular). There's some fantastic fiction out there that has not yet been picked up by the mainstream press. Podcast novels are a wonderful way to access it.
Joshua Evans
6. JoshuaEvans
great podcast again guys, and I appreciate all the links to stories. Will definitley check them out.
Joshua Evans
7. JoshuaEvans
Hey guys, just listened to Cup and Table yesterday. Great story! Thanks for the tip. I have several others to listen to still.
Matthew Wayne Selznick
8. Janice in GA
Catching up with podcasts here.

Narrators that do different voices: my favorite is Nigel Planer, who reads a lot of Terry Pratchett's books. I think he does a lovely job of coming up with distinctive voices. I listen to his books over and over. I adore Terry Pratchett, but I love Nigel's interpretations of the stories a LOT.

Y'all mentioned Neil Gaiman's reading. The one Neil Gaiman book that he DIDN'T read was Anansi Boys. It was read by Lenny Henry, who did a FABULOUS job, using lots of different voices for the characters. It's the book I always recommend when somebody's looking for an outstanding audiobook.

I don't think a narrator HAS to do different voices to read a story well. And doing it badly is MUCH worse than not doing it at all. But when you have a good narrator that can do it right, that's when magic happens, for me at least.
Eugene Myers
9. ecmyers
This is a great topic, and a little meta to have a podcast about podcasting. Excellent interview and discussion, as always. (I want a clip of John's sound of disgust when the Amber audio books were mentioned.)

A YA podcast is a great idea! I hope Steve can put that together soon.

I used to follow Escape Pod and Pseudopod religiously, but as with the rest of the media I consume, I've completely fallen behind. Your recommendations are a good place to start catching up...after I'm caught up on Geek's Guide, of course.

Dave, I haven't listened to the audio book version of The Time Traveler's Wife, but I can confirm that it is really good in printed form too--one of my favorite books.
Eugene Myers
10. ecmyers
Dave, I also wanted to thank you for the suggestion of using software to read your stories aloud to you. I know I should always read my work aloud to myself, but I rarely do; I think this will be a good way to make sure it sounds good during revision.

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