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Vox: SF For Your Ears
by Scott Danielson

Other Vox: SF For Your Ears Columns

Blackstone Audio
Crazy Dog Audio Theatre
Radio Repertory Company of America
Soundings by Jeff Green
Yuri Rasovsky
Audio Drama
Crazy Dog Audio Theatre
Giant Steps: An Apocalyptic Comedy for the World Wide Web
Mark Time Award
Seeing Ear Theater
Wollcott and Sheridan
Audio Publishers
Atlanta Radio Theater Company
Books on Tape
Defiance Audio
Fantastic Audio
Full Cast Audio Books
The Reader's Chair
Recorded Books, LLC
Star Trek Novels/Audio
Star Wars Novels/Audio
Timberwolf Press
SF Talk Radio
Book Crazy Radio
Cosmic Landscapes
The Dragon Page
Hour 25
Reality Break - a science fiction talk show
Sci Fi Overdrive
SF On the Radio
Podcast Alley
The Dragon Page
Escape Pod
SF Site Podcast Reviews
Rev-Up Review
Reel Reviews Radio
Radio Station: subspaceXmission
The Teaching Company
Timeship Studio
Voyage's Multimedia Project

For years now, I've been getting streamed audio from the internet. The main advantage of this is that I don't have to pay attention to a schedule -- if I want to listen to a particular radio show, it's available on-demand on a website, most often from the website of the folks responsible for the show in the first place. I've gotten so used to this convenience that if a radio show is not available this way, then I usually don't catch it. But there's still one more convenience obstacle -- I can listen to these shows on my computer, but only on my computer. Because these radio shows are normally streamed audio, you have to have a computer to do the streaming in order to listen. It's not portable.

Enter "podcasting". With podcasting, the audio shows are packaged in a convenient MP3 file which can be played on your computer or any MP3 player. So now, you can take the programs with you wherever you go. And even more convenient? Programs called "podcast aggregators" or "podcatchers", which download your favorite shows automatically much like blog entries are collected by news aggregators. A list of these programs (many of them free) can be found over at Podcast Alley, a fine website dedicated to podcasts.

Innovative new podcasts are popping up all the time. Their quality varies widely, as you can imagine. Here are some good genre-related programs to try out:

Slice of Sci-Fi Evo Terra and Michael R. Mennenga over at The Dragon Page are clearly the pioneers of genre-related podcasting. They are an XM Radio program which has added podcasting to their mix. They've recognized the advantages of this new format, and have adjusted their show accordingly by offering three separate podcast feeds. Mike and Evo are the energetic and extremely entertaining hosts of all three. The first show is called Cover to Cover, which is a book and author focused show. Second is Slice of Sci-Fi, in which Michael and Evo talk SF television. The third show is called "Wingin' It", which is described as "A little sci-fi variety for you, and the occasional drinking."

The Dragon Page has also taken it a step further, creating a web site called Podiobooks, which offers serialized audio books made available in podcast format. To get these free audiobooks, a user just subscribes to the proper feed, and a new chapter of that book is automatically delivered each week. (Has anyone told Stephen King about this?) Currently, Podiobooks has several titles available, including Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana by Tee Morris and Lisa Lee (a fantasy novel), The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Jeffrey (a science fiction adventure), and the very popular Earthcore by Scott Sigler (a science fiction thriller).

Kudos to everyone at The Dragon Page! The science fiction talk shows are produced to a high quality, and are very entertaining. I haven't yet taken a crack at a podiobook, but will very soon. I love the concept and wish them the best of luck with it. Visit the Dragon Page web site for the info on all the stuff their doing.

Escape Pod Also of high quality is Stephen Eley's audio science fiction magazine called Escape Pod. Subscribing to this feed will get you a new piece of short science fiction, fantasy, or horror every week, along with some commentary. The sound is excellent, and so are the stories. Don't miss it! Of particular note: Escape Pod is a paying market for short fiction.

From New Zealand, there's a podcast called Claybourne, a sci-fi/supernatural thriller/soap opera radio drama, recorded and broadcast in New Zealand in the late 1990s.

SF Site is experimenting with podcasts too -- the "SF Site Podcast: Audio Reviews", which are reviews of science fiction audiobooks, are available.

From the UK comes the Rev-Up Review podcast which contains reviews of all kinds of genre-related stuff. Check out Show #2 for an introduction to many other Speculative Fiction podcasts.

If you are interested in podcasting yourself, visit Reel Reviews Radio for some good advice. Their site has a podcast that features movie reviews.

Podcasting is fairly new, but has really taken off in the past few months. Things are very much in flux, but large companies are jumping on the wagon; NBC News has announced that they will podcast, and Apple has said that they will add podcast capabilities to their popular iTunes software. All signs show that we'll see a lot more of this, and that is a wonderful thing.

Thanks to Jesse Willis for introducing me to podcasts!

Copyright © 2005 Scott Danielson

Scott discovered the world of SF audio years ago, when he spent hours a day in his car. His commute has since shortened considerably, but his love for audio remains. By trade, he's an control engineer for a manufacturing plant. Aside from reading and writing science fiction, his hobbies include community theater, where he can often be found behind the soundboard or (much less often) on the stage. Scott can also be found at SFFAudio.

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