Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Roundup

It has been a big week in Sci-Fi and Fantasy in the podcasting world, but the biggest news has to be the astounding success of JC Hutchins' second novel launch, 7th Son: Descent. The blogosphere and Twitter were virtually on fire yesterday as Hutchins' fanbase rushed bookstores and e-retailers across America to show their support for this storyteller, who has brought so many listeners so much great fiction over the past four years.
Descent rocketed up the Amazon charts, peaking at 188 overall, which is a phenomenal achievement and a credit to Hutchins and the commitment of the Beta Clone Army. Congratulations, Hutch. You worked bloody hard, and you've earned every bit.

While 7th Son is a hard act to follow, I can assure you that there are plenty of other great sci-fi and fantasy podcasts out there, hanging around for free, just waiting for your ears to find them. Here are a few of them.

Top of the charts for in-progress releases in my book right now is The Gearheart, an inspired steampunk novel brimming with brass goggles, grand airships, blazing magic, treachery, gunfights, murder and darkness.
Written, performed and produced by Alex White, with the female parts performed by Renée White, The Gearheart is a sleek production, tightly wrapping up an enthralling and brilliantly narrated piece of steampunk fiction.

Alex White also composes all the music for this podcast, and promos the music of steampunk bands at the end of each show. Never heard of a steampunk band? Well, now's your chance.

Well worth a listen. Also, be sure to hang on for the nifty little alternate universe ads at the end - Hilarious!

If you've ever wondered what a drabble is, I just learned that it's a piece of fiction written in under 100 words. So how do you write a drabble novel?
Jake Bible seems to have the idea over at Dead Mech. Written in 100 word snatches, Dead Mech builds a post-zombie-apocalypse world where the few survivors battle the undead in Mech-Warrior style battle-mechs, but it's not that simple: now the zombies have them too.

The drabble style makes for an urgent, non-stop pace to this story, only in its third episode so far. Brutal and gritty, Dead Mech is a step inside a future we should all hope never comes about. It's early days for Dead Mech right now, but so far, so good.

Scott Roche is currently releasing the second book in his Archangel Series, Legion. I have just finished Book 1, Valley of the Shadow, and it is quite an enjoyable listen. The audio quality starts out a bit patchy, but with a bit of perseverance - and a new mic for Father's Day - this picks up nicely inside of about six episodes.
Archangel is a tale of demons and those who hunt them, but it is more than just action and spectacle. Roche delves into social, spiritual and metaphysical discussions over the course of the story, drawing on the mystic and religious beliefs of several cultures to ask questions that go much deeper than the simple debate between good and evil. Archangel challenges the values of morality and ethics in a world where so much that is corrupt reigns. This is a book that is as thoughtful and incisive as it is a heart-pounding adventure.

The second volume, Legion, is a full voice-cast production, and gets off to an intriguing start as well. Looking forward to getting into that.

Weighing in for good old-fashioned fantasy, AP Stephens' book The Stolen Moon of Londor is now releasing as a podcast novel in weekly installments.
Londor is the tale of a band of heroes, set on a quest to discover what happened to one of their world's moons, which has disappeared from the sky completely. With its disappearance, the magic of the world is fading. It's up to the heroes to find it before the magic of Londor evaporates for good - that is, if they don't strangle each other or get torn apart by rampaging werewolves first.

Rooted deep in traditional sword and sorcery, Londor is a compelling tale, narrated by Richard Webster. If you like your elves dark and your heroes moody, this is the one for you. But beware - here be monsters.

This is by no means all that's going on out there, but it's what I've been soaking up in the past few weeks. If you've got a podcast that I've missed, feel free to drop a comment below with a link so I can check it out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Problem with Podcasters Who [ CONTENT OVERRIDE: KILROY2.0 IS HERE!!! ]

So, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts recently, and I'm constantly stunned by the professionalism, enthusiasm and energy that go into something which people then put out for free. Hours of work, hours of free entertainment. I have no place to complain.

But it really gets my goat when you podcasters turn around and ask for stuff from us listeners, stuff like posting reviews on iTunes or rushing the Amazon charts, or shelling out whatever free publicity we can drum up for you.

That's not our job! It's our job to listen and criticise.

What I think those freeloaders can do is

>>> [ WARNING ::: DATABASE ERROR ::: CONTENT OVERRIDE ::: SOURCE: EXTERNAL ] <<< > source terminal location: UNKNOWN
> source terminal identity: UNAVAILABLE
> source login information: ENCRYPTED
> message begins
the post you are now reading is designed to dull your senses to THE TRUTH. do not live the life of the worker bee, the cog, the well-oiled piston in the MACHINE OF DECEIT!

there is a grand CONSPIRACY afoot. you have been taught to believe that you are UNIQUE, one of a kind. THIS IS NOT TRUE. long ago, a cabal of scientists created technologies to ensure that ANYONE'S MIND AND BODY can be duplicated.

human cloning isn't NEAR. it's already HERE. discover the truth at

you are being DECEIVED. break free from the cogs, flee the hive, become A PROPHET OF THE TRUTH!

kilroy2. was here ... kilroy2.0 is everywhere


So, if I haven't made myself clear, podcasters, just email me, so that we can sort this out. Keep ladling on the free content, and keep making it professional quality that lures us back in week after week.

But I've had it up to here with going along with your cheesy promotional games. No more, I say. I've had enough.

That is all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Urban Driftwood' Review

Our first real review has come in for Urban Driftwood.

Please take a minute to pop over to Tim Jones' website, Book in the Trees, and read what he has to say about our little book.

If you haven't already, you can get a free PDF copy of Urban Driftwood from my homepage, or you can pick up a paperback from ($9.00US plus freight).

We are currently recording and editing an audio version which will be released as a free podcast as well, so keep your ears open for that. Watch this space for more details.

If you've already read Urban Driftwood and enjoyed it, I'd really love it if you could take a minute to rate it and even write a quick review over at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Horror Round-Up

This month seems to me to have been all about horror for me.

Jack Kincaid has just released a remastered, rerecorded version of the prologue to his fantastic Audiobook Drama Hoad's Grim, and it is brilliant. Hoad's Grim is, in my opinion, the most underrated horror audio production out there, and it's free, so if you haven't already plunged into the Grim, then you should. Then, write a review, and let Jack know that you liked it. You can also download the book as a free PDF, and there are rumours of a print version in the works, as well.

The other top performer in the horror audio division right now has to be Harvey by Phil Rossi. With only two episodes left in this gripping tale of murder and sucking earth, Rossi has wracked up the tension and the scares more potently than in any of his previous offerings. Both sexy and disturbing, Harvey slides between the horror of the past and present, into the cracks between the real and the nightmare. Seriously spooky, well-written stuff.

Paul Elard Cooley has just finished releasing his novella Tattoo, a spin-off from the Fiends series of horror shorts. The Fiends collection is a distorted little set of macabre tales, told from the perspectives of various psychotic folk who probably ought to be locked away. Tattoo then tells the tale of the journalist who tries to hunt one of these nutters down, and gets a whole lot more than he bargained for in the process. Creepy and fun, this podcast also features the excellent voice talent of Andrew Richardson.

Also, in my efforts to bone up on the classics, I consumed Michael Bekemeyer's Scatterpod stories, all in quick succession. For anyone planning on doing the same thing, while I can highly recommend the entire podcast, I would suggest giving yourself a break in between episodes. Scatterpod starts with a novella called "The Deadlight District", which I thoroughly enjoyed, as it weaves a twisted tale of demons and doppelgangers living amongst us, and then moves into the Scatterpod:Dark season. The stories in this collection vary from the gruesome to the absurd, variously making me laugh out loud and shudder in disgust. Bekemeyer provides a good variety of storytelling, but be aware: When he says that his podcast is intended for a mature audience, he means it. It's called Scatterpod:Dark for a good reason.

So go scare yourself; you've earned it, I'm sure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: 'Cursed' by Jeremy C Shipp

The thing about Jeremy C. Shipp is that:
  1. You never quite know what you're going to get;
  2. When you get it, it's hard to know how to take it in.
Cursed, Shipp's latest novel, is:
  1. No exception;
  2. No disappointment.
Once again, it has taken me a good couple of weeks since finishing Shipp's latest book before I have been able to sit down and put together a coherent review of his work (For a bit more background, check out my review of Vacation). There are several reasons for this. Shipp's writing:
  1. defies definition;
  2. cannot be boxed in the ragged old cliches of other more pedestrian authors;
  3. gets inside your skull and messes with your head.
It may also be because I was:
  1. looking at my watch;
  2. scratching the mole on my left arm;
  3. thinking about what I didn't say.
If you're wondering what the hell is up with the lists, I'll leave that to you to find out. Cursed is that sort of a book. I can't say too much without giving things away.

From the outset, Shipp drops us into a world slightly skewed and fundamentally wrong. Chapter by chapter that world tilts further into madness, as our protagonist Nicholas struggles to undo the curse laid on him by an unknown villain, for reasons unknown.

Shipp weaves an abstract tale that questions the nature of family and community in a world where we grow ever more estranged from each other, rendering the breakdown of our social constructs in the isolation of his characters. In their efforts to find meaning in lives which have grown more and more pointless, Shipp's characters, in their twisted version of a reality, do what we so often do without facing up to it: they hurt each other.

Once again, Shipp has written a book that cuts to the core of who we, as people, really are, and how we struggle to confront our emptiness, our grief, and our fear. In Cursed, we see characters who have fallen into the very blackest of despair, yet they find ways to battle through it regardless; sometimes, regardless of who gets hurt in the process. They put on brave faces, they write lists, they surround themselves with trinkets and memories of lives now faded, and they huddle to each other for the sake of not feeling so lost and alone.

Shipp has truly come into his own voice in this most idiosyncratic of books. Despite his experimental style and unorthodox structures, Shipp still tears at the reader's heartstrings as Nicky and his friends spiral deeper into the insane haze of the Curse. Cursed also has its uplifting moments, and plenty of laughs, if only in the blackest of humour. The sort of laughs that come because if you don't, you might just have to cry.

Cursed is definitely a book worth laying your hands on. I'm going to rate it at 4 Stars, with a bonus point for innovation.

Cursed will be available from October 30th, and can be ordered from his website.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

7th Son Hits the Airwaves Again

Right now, folks.

JC Hutchins has right this moment released the first installment in his new short story collection, 7th Son: 7 Days.

Hutchins never fails to deliver when it comes to thrilling audio fiction, and this series of shorts promises to be nothing less than his exceptionally high standard. The vignettes recount dramatic moments in the lives of the trilogy's seven main characters in the seven days prior to the start of 7th Son, and will be released on a daily basis over the course of this week. These stories stand alone, but foreshadow darker things to come, and delve into the characters that fans will already know and love.

If you haven't already listened to 7th Son, you can find them starting here, and I have a review of the series up that you can read here. Hutchins is also working on a re-recording of the entire series to accompany the print release of Descent.But beware: The intro to the first 7th Son: 7 Days story includes spoilers. If you haven't already devoured 7th Son, I suggest you do so before starting into 7 Days. You won't be disappointed.

The first book in the 7th Son trilogy, Descent, is due to be released by St Martins Press this month, October 27th, and is available for pre-order now.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hail the Sestina - And Inspire an Author

The great thing about the Internet is that I'm always learning new things, even when I'm not looking to learn new things.

Today's lesson is in the poetic form of the Sestina. Jennifer Hudock introduced me to the form by announcing her YOU INSPIRE ME contest, and she's calling for entries to inspire her to write one of these awfully complex but satisfying pieces of literary genius.

Head over to her website for the rules and instructions and details of the cool prizes she has on offer.

And you never know; you might even feel inspired yourself.