The final installment of my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time List, is finally here, revealing the top ten. You can find  the individual posts as they were posted #41-50 here,  #31-40 here,  #21-30 here, and #11-20 here.  For those who just want to get to the Top Ten already I’ve listed that first.  For ease of reference, I’ve also included the entire list of fifty at the bottom of the post so if you want to refer people to the list, you can just link here.

These are (my opinion of) what is the best of the best, the most epic of the most epic.  Load them all up and have an awesome road trip, or ration them out over months of liistening.

I would love if other fiction podcast fans would comment here and say what their own favorites are and why.

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This is my second installment of my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time List, covering #31-40. You can find #41-50 here. The list is picked from thousands of episodes of the backlog of seventeen short fiction podcasts. There are many more episodes that I love, but these are the cream of the cream of the cream. All of the stories on this list are ones for which I have epic love, so it was a matter of trying to rank them based on fine gradations of that epic love.

Please comment, follow along, share this list with your friends.
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Cover & Synopsis: THE DOUBT FACTORY by Paolo Bacigalupi

Check out the cover art and synopsis of Paolo Bacigalupi’s upcoming novel The Doubt Factory.
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Do you own a computer, smartphone or Kindle reading device? Then you may want to know that today only you can get Paolo Bacigalupi’s awesome collection Pump Six for the low, low price of $1.99.

The eleven stories in Pump Six chart the evolution of Paolo Bacigalupi’s work, including the Hugo nominated “Yellow Card Man” and the Sturgeon Award-winning story “The Calorie Man,” both set in the world of his novel The Windup Girl.

This collection also demonstrates the power and reach of the science fiction short story. Social criticism, political parable, and environmental advocacy lie at the center of Bacigalupi’s work. Each of the stories herein is at once a warning and a celebration of the tragic comedy of the human experience.

Paolo Bacigalupi has won the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, the John W. Campbell Award, the Compton Crook Award, the Locus Award, and the Hugo Award. Between his award-winning debut novel and this landmark collection of short fiction, Paolo Bacigalupi demonstrates why he is one of the most celebrated science fiction writers of the twenty-first century.

[Note: This post is going live very early in the day. Not sure of the exact start time of the deal -- always, always check the price before you check out.]

Coming Soon: “Zombie Baseball Beatdown” by Paolo Bacigalupi

Amazon has the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming children’s book Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Here’s the synopsis:
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MIND MELD: Ecological Science Fiction

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

The recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio 2012 or Rio+20, where the heads of state of 192 governments discussed sustainable development and declared their commitment to the promotion of a sustainable future, has – even if for a short while – galvanized the media attention. Science fiction, however, has never turned its back on ecology, being a constant theme, growing strong particularly in the past few years, with authors ranging from the master ecothinker Kim Stanley Robinson to younger and prolific Paolo Bacigalupi, all focusing in strategies to survival of humankind under a grim scenario of climate change.

So, we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: With all the debates on global warming, the constant fear that we may be running scarce of basic resources such as potable water in the near future, what is science fiction’s role in this panorama? What are your favorite SFnal scenarios for problem-solving regarding the maintenance and sustainability of ecosystems, if any? Is there any scenario science fiction could be exploring better with relation to ecology?

Here’s what they said…

Tobias Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell was born in the Caribbean and lived on a yacht until he moved to the US. He writes science fiction. His latest novel, Arctic Rising, is out from Tor Books. He lives online at www.TobiasBuckell.com.

Is potable water really that huge of a threat, I wonder? I think my background actually plays into my answer here. I spent my high school years in exactly the sort of dystopia that people posit when talking about ‘peak water’ or ‘water wars.’ In St. Thomas, USVI, the sole spring doesn’t produce much in the way of potable water for the 150,000 or so people on the island at any given time (residents plus tourists). As a result, water is made using reverse osmosis from the ocean. There’s a lot of ocean in the world, well over some 1 billion cubic kilometers. What happens is price. The reverse osmosis system requires energy (in St. Thomas it’s diesel power, so the whole edifice of being able to drink there requires fossil fuels) to be created, and the cost of water I grew up using was $65 per 1,000 gallons, versus $1.50 in Ohio for the very same amount. I grew up with water costing 50 times what it does in the US. What does it do? Well, it changes your conservation behavior, for one. I remember reading in the papers that Californians were in a drought, and being told to limit their showers to ‘fifteen minutes’ and laughing. Who the hell took fifteen minute showers? That shit was expensive.

But even at over 50 times the cost, we didn’t don our Mad Max American Football-inspired leather uniforms and head out to do battle. There were water trucks, more conservation, more awareness of water use, and lots of clever human hacks around the situation (roofs that collected rain, cisterns, etc). People are clever.

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Paolo Bacigalupi‘s new novel The Drowned Cities (a companion to Ship Breaker) comes out next week. Here is the book description:

Soldier boys emerged from the darkness. Guns gleamed dully. Bullet bandoliers and scars draped their bare chests. Ugly brands scored their faces. She knew why these soldier boys had come. She knew what they sought, and she knew, too, that if they found it, her best friend would surely die.

In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man–a bioengineered war beast named Tool–who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.

This thrilling companion to Paolo Bacigalupi’s highly acclaimed Ship Breaker is a haunting and powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

Author A.S. King had the chance to talk with Paolo about The Drowned Cities

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REVIEW: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

REVIEW SUMMARY: A vividly realized, destitute world with characters full of their own agenda; constantly working against each other to an end that lacks punch.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In a future where corporate greed has driven the world to a near-constant brink of disaster, the Thai remain an island of seclusion — ever vigilant against an influx of bad fruit or infectious disease that could kill them all. This is a story of a medley of characters all trying to survive in a hostile world.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Smart, unique, well thought-out setting; realistic characters.

CONS: Story lacks cohesion; too many foreign terms; hard to feel there is a central conflict/character.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a story rich with ideas and setting but lacking the strength of a central character to follow on their journey.

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“Best of the Year” lists start appearing as early as November, so we are perhaps a little late in asking folks around the community:

Q: What were the best genre-related books, movies and/or shows you consumed in 2009?

[Also added was this note: They don't have to have been released in 2009. Feel free to choose any combination of genres (science fiction/fantasy/horror) and media (books/movies/shows) you wish to include.]

Read on to see their picks (and also check out Part 1 and Part 2)…

Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi is a four-time Hugo Award nominee, a Theodore Sturgeon Award winner, and the author of the Locus Award-winning collection Pump Six and Other Stories. His latest novel is The Windup Girl from Night Shade Books.

I’m not sure about the best answer to this question. I must be feeling a little depressed right now. Perhaps I’d suggest this:

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and our Last Chance to Save Humanity, by James Hansen.

It’s not genre-related at all, and that seems somehow telling. One hopes that science writers aren’t about to trump science fiction writers as the people who actively look at the world around us and speculate about its ramifications.

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Recent events and discussions once again bring the topic of genre fiction’s mainstream respectability to the forefront. So we thought it’d be timely to ask this week’s panelists:

Q: In your opinion, does literary science fiction and fantasy have mainstream respect? Why, if at all, does it need mainstream approval? What would such approval mean for genre fiction?

Read on to see their level-setting responses…

Gene Wolfe
Gene Wolfe is a science fiction author noted for his complex and dense prose which is liberally influenced by his Catholic faith. He has won the Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award four times and has been nominated for the Hugo Award multiple times.

That’s a softball. No. Literary sf and fantasy are not respected by mainstream critics or the mainstream professoriate. Neither needs mainstream approval, which would diminish (and perhaps destroy) both. Just look at what they DO respect. Look at what poetry was as late as the early 20th Century, and what it is now.

Now and then I’m asked at cons why I don’t write fiction of the respected sort. You know, he is a professor and she is a professor and they are having adulterous affairs, and they are almost overcome with guilt and angst, and there is no God, and scientific progress doesn’t enter into it, and just about everybody in the world is upper middle class.

When that happens, I ask the questioner abut Martin du Gard. Have you read him? Have you heard of him? Invariably the answers are no and no. Then I explain that Martin du Gard won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year H. P. Lovecraft died.

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SF Tidbits for 10/1/09

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SF Tidbits for 9/25/09

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SF Tidbits for 9/19/09

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INTERVIEW: Paolo Bacigalupi

[Editor's Note: A while back, SF Signal published a Mind Meld feature on Tomorrow's Big Genre Stars. Patrick at Stomping on Yeti has been profiling these writers and has agreed to cross-post them here.]

I was particularly excited to interview this week’s subject for Keeping An Eye On…: Paolo Bacigalupi. Like all of the authors on SF Signal’s Watchlist, Paolo’s early work has been spectacular. What distinguishes him in my mind, is his skill at writing plausible, provocative, and more-than-slightly disturbing environmentally-themed fiction. In a lot of ways, the next couple of decades will be shaped by the success or failure of the green revolution in the same way that the space race and the computer age influenced the 60s and 80s. Paolo Bacigalupi will be there, setting the bar for genre authors when it comes to predicting the problems and the improvements of the next generations.

There’s a reason why Paolo sits on the top of the Watchlist with no less than 5 nominations.

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SF Tidbits for 9/10/09

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GUEST REVIEW: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

[SF Signal welcomes guest reviewer Jason Sanford!]

REVIEW SUMMARY: A classic dystopian novel likely to be short listed for the Nebula and Hugo Awards.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In a future Thailand struggling against gened plagues and rising seas, the most important elements of life are the calories needed to stay alive. But as iron-fisted food corporations, flawed rulers, and an impure army of environmental defenders fight to impose their views on this world, an unlikely girl—who could be the next step in human evolution—fights for the right to simply live as she wants.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: An all too possible future expertly crafted with beautiful writing, sympathetic characters, and a fast-paced plot.

CONS: Not a true con, but instead a warning. The novel features a few horrific scenes of violence, including sexual assault. While not gratuitous, this may disturb some readers.

BOTTOM LINE: One of the best first science fiction novels of recent years; a completely realistic and terrifying future populated with characters you’ll love even as they do things you’ll hate.

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SF Tidbits for 8/26/09

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