In the first few Podcast Spotlights, I covered the Escape Artists podcasts: Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and Podcastle. If those three are sister podcasts, Drabblecast is kind of the weird uncle of the family–sharing many of the fans and even some of the same staff as the EA casts, but not part of the same company.
Drabblecast’s tagline is “Strange Stories, by Strange Authors, for Strange Listeners Like Yourself.” For most publications, I have difficulty identifying a “feel” but Drabblecast has a definite feel to it. The genre varies from SF to fantasy to horror to the occasional mainstreamish one, but it’s all very weird no matter what it is. I’m pretty sure that my brain and Norm’s brain were twins separated at birth because he has a knack for picking stories that hit every cylinder for me. It’s no coincidence that fifteen of my top fifty podcasted short stories of all time came from the Drabblecast.
Drabblecast has a few things that set them apart. They usually have a Halloween episode with ridiculous over-the-top Halloween Norm. Every episode has original art organized and often created by the art director Bo Kaier. Periodically they have Trifecta episodes that have three very short stories with a common theme. They also have Doubleheader episodes that pair two stories by a single author in a single episode. Every March is Women and Aliens month, with all stories about aliens written by women.
My personal favorite of all of their features, though, is Lovecraft Month that they hold every August. They run one story by H.P. Lovecraft, but also commission three original Lovecraft-inspired stories by contemporary authors. They’ve run a lot of great stories in that month by authors like Tim Pratt, Ferrett Steinmetz, Eugie Foster, and Jay Lake. I look forward to August every year!
Drabblecast also a premium feed with extra contents as a reward to donors called “Drabblecast B-Sides”. If you like Drabblecast, you can get even more Drabblecasty goodness on the flip side.
The Drabblecast was launched in February 2007 by founders Norm Sherman, Kendall Marchman, and Luke Coddington with Norm as host. Norm has mentioned Escape Pod (which had been running for two year at the time) as a direct inspiration for starting a podcast. I don’t know a lot about Kendall or Luke–they never spent any time on air that I recall. But Norm is a man of many talents. Besides being a very funny writer, entertaining host, he’s also a very entertaining musician who has released several scenes. I don’t know if this is still an open offer, but for quite a few years he offered to write a Bbardle for anyone who donated above a certain amount–he would write a humorous song on a topic and style of your choice. At some point Kendall and Luke dropped off the masthead and left Norm in charge.
It’s really interesting to hear the gradual development of Norm’s style from the beginning of the show to the present. In the beginning of the show he just sounds like a regular guy talking, but over the year’s he’s developed a distinctive “host voice,” smoother and more presentation–it’s really weird to go back and listen to the old ones again or to hear him doing an intro of a live reading at a convention.
Norm’s voice isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the years. In the beginning it was clearly an amateur operation, the debut story “The Coughing Dog” by Norm Sherman, and a lot of the earlier stories depended on grossout humor or horror–I’m honestly glad I didn’t hit the podcast until it had gone away from those stories a bit. It didn’t pay authors at the time, and was a “for the love” operation in the best sense of the word. It’s progressed to a quality market with great production, the best authors and voice actors, reasonably good author pay. All around great quality.
- “The Electric Ant” by Phillip K Dick
- “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties” by S. Boyd Taylor
- “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler
- “The Wish of the Demon Achtromagk” by Eugie Foster
- “Betty Flesh and the Meat Man” by Damon Shaw
- “Mongoose” (Part I and II) by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette
- “Hollow as the World” by Ferrett Steinmetz
- “Death Comes But Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal
- “Jagannath” by Karin Tidbeck
- “The People of Sand and Slag” by Paolo Bacigalupi
- “Babel” and “Probe” by David D. Levine
- “Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strange” by David D. Levine
- “How I Crippled a World for just 0.01 Cents” by Michael W. Lucht
- “My True Lovecraft Gave to Me” by Eric Lis
- “To Whatever” by Shaenon Garrity
MY OWN WORK
One of my stories has appeared in Drabblecast, a flash fiction horror story titled “Constant Companion” featuring a Pinocchio inspired character as part of Trifecta XXIII. When Drabblecast revamped their site a few years ago, they embarked on a massive art project to fill in cover art for as many of the past episodes as possible. I volunteered to do three episodes and was very pleased with the results. If you’re curious about how I did these (with little artistic skill), I did a post about how I did it. I’m particularly fond of how the illustration for “The Fine Point” turned out.
Now that the Escape Artists sister podcasts and their weird uncle have been covered, next month the spotlight will shine on Toasted Cake, the idiosyncratic flash fiction podcast run by one-body production company that is Tina Connolly (whose newest book Silverskin just came out from Tor Books). It’s a great source of flash fiction, all with quality production.