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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Best of the Drabblecast

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The drabblecast devoured my soul and my life for the last couple months. I’ve listened to nearly the entire catalog of 281 episodes now, and of course, I want to share my favorites with friends. Unfortunately, it’s kind of like watching Battlestar Galactica years later… You’re SO DAMN excited about it all but it’s old news to the other fans and you don’t want to chat with them anyway because they just might be full of spoilers.

I did very quietly put on Jelly Park (ep. 43) the other day when driving a very GRUMPY friend around and by the end of it, he was in a great mood and singing along to the amazing song. I plan on sneaking more of my favorites at my friends in the weeks to come, but in the meantime…

I’m creating a “highlights” list of all of my favorite drabblecast episodes. These are not the best or the worst and I didn’t start out with a number in mind (i.e. top 10 or 20). These are simply the ones that stuck out to me, that were fun to listen to, that I’d like to listen to again and again.

Drumroll, please … Best of the drabblecast :

Top of the top – these are my top 5 – not that I picked five deliberately, I just pulled out the stories that I WILL force my friends to listen to because they’re just so damned good. Stories are in this category because I just can’t stop thinking about them, usually because they did something so differently that I felt like I was hearing something new – an exciting and unusual feeling when you’ve consumed as much spec fic as I have.

43) Jelly Park by Aliya Whitely This is one of my all time favorite drabblecast episodes; to give Norm his due, at least 50% of that is due to the great song he wrote to go with the story. This story fits the weird category… I’m not sure what the hell it was all about. But it puts me in a great mood every time I listen to it. Kudos!

76) Apologies all Around by Jeff Soesbe – Funny science fiction – You could easily pick this story apart, as listeners in the forums did, or just relax, imagine you’re in a sci fi world with all the complexity of, say, the Jetsons, and just enjoy the absurd humor in this story. I certainly did!

84) Doubleheader I by Michael Swanwick – Thanks to the Drabblecast, Michael Swanwick is one of my favorite short story authors – some really great stuff by him has appeared on the Drabblecast, including these two pieces. Some people hated the second bit, but the meta nature of it was right up my alley.

129) Annabelle’s Alphabet by Tim Pratt – I believe this was the first Tim Pratt story to appear on the Drabblecast, and it blew me away. Easily one of my top 3 all time favorite Drabblecasts. Listen to it! (Can’t believe this didn’t win the People’s Choice Award, by the way… Such good stuff!)

146) Teddy Bears and Tea Parties by S. Boyd Taylor – I made the colossal mistake of listening to this right before I went to sleep the other night. Scary as hell! This is one of the scariest stories I’ve listened to in the podcast world. I’m generally not a fan of horror, but when it mixes in the perfect amount of weirdness, as this one does, it works for me. Definitely a top pick for me.

And here’s the extended list of my top 18 drabblecasts out of the first 150 –

18) The One That Got Away by J. Alan Peirce – The drabblecast started out with zero connection to the spec fic industry and I’m assuming, zero financing, as well. In the beginning, it seems that the stories and listeners were mostly people Norm knew. This was the first episode where the story was strong enough to feel professional level to me, and it’s one of my favorites. In fact, this author is one of my favorites, and I still wonder what happened to him and his writing career. This story is told entirely as dialogue between two people, which caused some print publications to reject it, but that format works perfectly for an audio broadcast. Highly recommend this and the other two stories this author contributed to the Drabblecast.

36) Pumpkinseeds by Kevin Anderson – Kevin Anderson, like J. Alan Peirce, shone in some of the best episodes of the first 100 drabblecasts. This was the first Halloween special, and it’s great. Very eerie, very atmospheric, highly approved.

39) The Beekeepers by J. Alan Peirce – A much more serious tale than his episode 18 contribution – complex and fascinating.

43) Jelly Park by Aliya Whitely This is one of my all time favorite drabblecast episodes; to give Norm his due, at least 50% of that is due to the great song he wrote to go with the story. This story fits the weird category… I’m not sure what the hell it was all about. But it puts me in a great mood every time I listen to it. Kudos!

53) Sing by Kristine Kathyrn Rusch – A great story by a very well known author. Her writing is hit or miss for me – sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it – this was the first I listened to by her that I loved. Solid story about music and the soul.

59) The Interview by Kevin Anderson – Freaky fun story. Horror! Again, Kevin Anderson’s stories were always a highlight for me in this period of the Drabblecast.

76) Apologies all Around by Jeff Soesbe – Funny science fiction – You could easily pick this story apart, as listeners in the forums did, or just relax, imagine you’re in a sci fi world with all the complexity of, say, the Jetsons, and just enjoy the absurd humor in this story. I certainly did!

77) Permanent Detention by Weldon Burge – To be honest, the plot wasn’t too original in this one, but I simply cannot get the great theme music out of my head and recommend it for that alone.

79) Low-Carb Cheesecake by Nicky Drayden – Not the most in-depth story you’ll ever hear – it’s short and too the point, but very memorable for all that. Funny and strange.

84) Doubleheader I by Michael Swanwick – Thanks to the Drabblecast, Michael Swanwick is one of my favorite short story authors – some really great stuff by him has appeared on the Drabblecast, including these two pieces. Some people hated the second bit, but the meta nature of it was right up my alley.

91) Gifting Bliss by Josh Roundtree – I wouldn’t say there’s much story to this – it’s a mockumentary following the story of a Nirvana-esque band whose lead singer used magic to heal people through his music – the story is interesting enough but the music takes this to a whole new level. I WANT the CD! All the song samples Norm creates for this are hilarious and just wish they were real songs somewhere that I could listen to.

99) Sarah’s Window by Janni Lee Simner – This story creeped me out in a good way. Fun horror twist on a fantasy trope.

125) Little Brother by Bruce Holland Rogers – Listening to this DC is sort of like hearing a radio version of a classic Twilight Zone episode. Good stuff.

129) Annabelle’s Alphabet by Tim Pratt – I believe this was the first Tim Pratt story to appear on the Drabblecast, and it blew me away. Easily one of my top 3 all time favorite Drabblecasts. Listen to it! (Can’t believe this didn’t win the People’s Choice Award, by the way… Such good stuff!)

141) On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War Machines of the Merfolk by Peter M. Ball – Some listeners didn’t like this story, and I can see why. The protagonist hears about this random terrorist act on the news but isn’t really involved with it, even though his sister is missing and possibly dead. Instead, he focuses on a brief, dead-end love affair with someone whose name he’s never sure of. This description doesn’t sound great, but the narrative style won me over. It’s a personal story; it’s the story of what it was like to be a human being in the U.S. watching acts of terrorism from a distance and caring but not being touched by it on a deeper level. Norm used the word malaise to describe it, and that seems fair. BUt it also felt very real, and I, at least, found it compelling.

142, 143) The Golden Age of Fire Escapes by John Aegard – Norm went all out with this story, creating a complete radio drama that felt like something from the 1920’s. The story is solid without being too exciting; the production values carried this one into the top list.

146) Teddy Bears and Tea Parties by S. Boyd Taylor – I made the colossal mistake of listening to this right before I went to sleep the other night. Scary as hell! This is one of the scariest stories I’ve listened to in the podcast world. I’m generally not a fan of horror, but when it mixes in the perfect amount of weirdness, as this one does, it works for me. Definitely a top pick for me.

149) So You’re Going to Die by Robert Reed – Reed seems to write and think a lot about death. This is a solid story where someone is trying to sell you on a way to near immortality – but he’s a fairly scary former hit man. The narration took this story to a much higher level for me, though the story was great to start with.

And I’m stopping here, even though I’m nowhere near through the archives. There’s some amazing stuff ahead, to be posted at a future date.

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