In my first article here at SF Signal, I provided a brief introduction to fiction podcasts, including reasons why they are my primary source of fiction and a list of places where you can find more fiction podcasts. That was just an introduction, to break the ice, to get things going.
Anyone who knows me from Diabolical Plots knows that I love to make lists of my favorite podcast fiction stories. Since 2009 I have listened voraciously to more than 1000 episodes from 17 different podcasts, 12 that I’m still keeping up with, and I’ve written up a bunch of Best Of lists over the course of those five years.
Since I’m new here at SF Signal, I was thinking of how I could get this series of articles kicked off with a bang. I love podcast fiction. I love lists. But I wanted something new, something I’d never done before, something epic. And then I thought: I’ve never made a cross-podcast list. I’ve only compared a podcast’s episodes to its own episodes. I myself didn’t even know which of the podcasts had the most epsiodes I’d liked because each publishes great material but each has found its own style niche.
So here it is, the epic Best Podcast Fiction of All Time list.
Well, really, it’s the best podcast fiction that I’ve listened to before I made this list, but that’s a significant swath of the podcast fiction out there. That covers the entire backlog of the following podcasts: Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod, Drabblecast, Beneath Ceaseless Skies’s podcast, Clarkesworld’s podcast, Lightspeed’s podcast, Fantasy Magazine’s podcast, Dunesteef, Cast of Wonders, Journey Into…, Toasted Cake, Every Day Fiction’s podcast, Cast Macabre, Variant Frequencies. It includes part of the backlog of: Well-Told Tales (which I’m currently catching up on), and StarShipSofa (which I listened to for a couple of years but had to give up at some point). I’ll be giving each of these podcasts their own spotlights in future articles.
When I started writing the list I had no idea how long I was going to make it. Usually I go for a range of somewhere between five and fifteen, depending on how many episodes I’m working with. But I didn’t want to limit myself to that considering the length and breadth of the body of work I was working with. So I just started at #1 and added numbers until I reached a point where I would not be distraught to leave off the rest of the stories. That number ended up being about fifty.
But I decided that posting all fifty at once wouldn’t maximize the fun. If the list were split into five parts, with a bit of time in between, then if people wanted to follow along they could spend some time in between each segment of the list downloading the audio files and listening to my picks so far. Sounds like fun to me! If you do listen, or you have listened to some of these, please do post in the comments and say what your favorites were, suggestions for other podcasts or podcast episodes, or anything else.
One more thing I feel I should say: if a particular podcast or story or author aren’t on the list it doesn’t mean that I dislike them. I love a lot of stories. I take into account a variety of factors when making list, but mostly it boils down to the originality of the idea, and the evocation of some strong emotion. The stories on this list are often of an epic scale in at least one of those factors, something which not every story can be, even when I like that story. And it’s super hard to do in a flash story so some flash fiction focused podcasts have a lower showing here than my general love for them would suggest.
Okay, now after all that, on to the first fifth of…
- “Gazing into the Carnauba Wax Eyes of the Future” by Keffy R.M. Kehrli (Podcastle) – In which the secret to telling the future is a combination of sugary Easter confections and reverse peristalsis.
- “Creature” by Ramsey Shehadeh (Podcastle and Drabblecast) – In which an amorphous blob wanders a post-apocalyptic landscape and makes a friend.
- “As Below, So Above” by Ferrett Steinmetz (Podcastle) – In which we enter the mind of a weaponized giant squid.
- “Deathbed” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Toasted Cake) – In which we hear the life tale of a man who remembers only the future with his wife who remembers only the past.
- “The Cardinals of Ever June” by Sylvia Anna Hivén (Cast of Wonders) – In which a brother and sister escape the bitter cold by finding a secret land.
- “My True Lovecraft Gave to Me” by Eric Lis (Drabblecast) – In which The Twelve Days of Christmas finally makes sense.
- “How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 Cents” by Michael W. Lucht (Drabblecast) – In which we owe royalties to the discoverer whenever we make use of scientific principles.
- “The Girl Who Was Loved by the Sea” by Spencer Ellsworth (Toasted Cake) – Pretty much what it says on the tin.
- “Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strange” by David D. Levine (Drabblecast) – In which a character in a children’s comic breaks the 4th wall.
- “The Button Bin” by Mike Allen (Pseudopod) – In which we find out just how sinister buttons can be.
I’ll be back in two weeks with the second installment of the list, covering stories 31-40. I encourage you to follow along and listen to these episodes as we go.