3 Favorite Tales: 2 New & 1 Old

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My iPod touch is never very far from me.  I’m always listening either to a great story or to a podcast that will give me tips on how to craft one.

I wanted to share three podcasts that I’ve added to my list of favorites.  The next time you’re in a listening mood, you can check them out.

1. Clarkesworld: The Womb Factory by Peter M. Ferenczi (April 2012) 

“The Womb Factory” was an awesome tale that managed to be timely and touching all at once.  It speaks to our current political and social climate regarding trade relations with China as well as issues of infringement and piracy.  Then there is Mei, the main character, a young girl, who due to unfortunate circumstances is forced to give up so much of herself in order to earn her right to live.  And yet, what she has can hardly be considered a life.  Mei’s sentiments and emotions carry this heavy tale so well you can feel them just as keenly.  Politics aside, this story is also about issues even closer to home such as how we value each other, right down to the most basic human level. What is a life worth?  Does money, status, race, or gender play any part in determining one’s value?  Should it?  “The Womb Factory” is a masterpiece and I plan on listening to it again.

2. Escape Pod 339: “Run,” Bakri Says by Ferrett Steinmetz (April 5, 2011) 

Breathless.  This story left me breathless.  The pacing is ingenious, frenzied, painful.  The main character, Irena has a job to do, over and over and over again.  In this awesome tale, Irena has the opportunity or the curse of having to repeat a task until she reaches her goal.  Like video games, she has a save point, but unlike video games, her task is hardly fun or rewarding.  Fortunately the repetition gives Irena the time and experience to reach some rather painful and gruesome realizations, as well as improve her game.  Unfortunately, these realizations force her hand.  Intrigued yet?  You should be.

3. Clarkesworld: Frozen Voice by An Owomoyela (July 2011) 

I wanted more.  I wanted to know how we came to this.  When the story was over, I wanted to know what would happen to these children.  I ached for these children.  An Owomoyela managed to create such a full and wondrous world in this story that it was difficult to accept its end.  Additionally, Rhianna and her younger brother are such strong, solitary, yet fragile children it was impossible for me not to fret about their condition and their future.  This story has just about everything that I love all wrapped up in one: aliens, a future dystopian society, a blending of cultures and understandings, and description so keen you can almost smell it.

* I wanted to share that this site was mentioned on Clarkesworld’s podcast of 03/15/12 in the intro to Bells of Subsidence by Michael John Grist. What a wonderful surprise!

An Indian Flavored Fairy Tale, It’s Spicy!

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I consider myself a bit of an anomaly, but not in a bad way.  I am a surprising mix of personas.  I love to read.  Writing is my passion and avocation.  I am an oncology nurse.  I am the fairly young mother of three amazingly sharp children, two of whom are adults.  I have been married for almost twenty-two years, no divorce.  I sew.  I have a beautiful organic garden in my back yard where I grow herbs and much of the produce I and my family consume.  I am of the African Diaspora here in America and I am an American of the African Diaspora (there is a difference, at least to me).  Although I pretty suck at it, I love video games, the more violent the better.  I love zombies and the infected (there is a difference).  I also love the classics.  I almost passed out when I learned about the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Romance and YA (sorry if I offend anyone) makes me want to erk.  My politics are midline as I am somewhat religious (although I fail daily at being the best kindest person that I can) but I do have some very liberal leanings.  I am a painfully extreme introvert but I can hold a pretty stimulating conversation.  I am a hijabi, which means that I am very visibly a Muslim.  There’s more to me, I am sure, but I think you get my drift.

I didn’t become a strange mix on purpose.  Like all people I am a product of my society, my upbringing, my own tastes, ideas and perceptions.  I am unique, as no doubt we all are in various ways.  As such I thrive on the unique and as an author I am absolutely giddy when I come upon a tale that pushes the boundaries of what some would call “normal”.  I call such tales divergent.

I recently listened to an amazing, colorful, lyrical fairy tale that absolutely blew me away.  You’ll be able to find it on the Podcastle lineup in your iTunes library or online.  The story is called “Lavanya and Deepika” written by Shveta Thakrar.  This story will definitely go on my Divergence list as it quickly became a favorite.

“Lavanya and Deepika” is an Indian flavored fairy tale about two very different yet loving twin sisters born to a woman who against convention had her children without a husband.  She became pregnant through magical means.  Gulabi, the mother, raised her daughters in a great palace, and life was good until they were visited by a raja from a neighboring kingdom who wanted the most beautiful daughter and Gulabi’s land.  This story has magical sandals, fighting, and lessons in loyalty and love.

Listen to it, or read.  I know you’ll love it as much as I did.  I give this story .

Five of My Favorite Podcasts

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My commute to work is easily an hour each way.  That equals 10-12 hours a week on the road.  I often wish that I car-pooled so that I could use that very valuable time to read.  Thanks to modern technology, I do the next best thing.  Ear buds in ears, I read by listening.  The iTunes library and Podiobooks is full of free content, some of which is honestly quite awful and not worth the time it takes to download.  On the other hand, a lot of it is totally professional and smart.

Since Starla Huchton was good enough to write a guest post discussing the benefits of podcasting, I thought that I would share five of my favorites.  Be forewarned that the short list below is a pretty mixed bag, but that also describes me to a tee.

1.  Heavenfield by I.G. Hulme  

 

There are four parts to this fantastic science fiction series, three of which are already podcast.  The fourth will be available in early April.  Heavenfield won the Podiobook 2009 Founder’s Choice Award, which is impressive.  If you listen to podcast novels as much I do, then you know that some people shouldn’t even voice act their own stories, but I.G. Hulme , the author of Heavenfield, does an awesome job of it.  The writing is smart and solid enough to make you willing to suspend disbelief for the duration of the tale.  I just found out that all four parts are available for download onto Kindle at a steal of a deal.

2.  Shadowmagic by John Lenahan  

When I first started listening to this fantasy tale, I honestly thought it was over the edge with goofiness.  We start with a teenager who is transported to another place and time and to say he doesn’t quite fit in, is an understatement.  Soon the goofiness was just plain charming.  I like this action packed fantasy adventure, and I love the way each scene ends with a mini cliffhanger.  There are two books in this series and I believe Mr. Lenahan has plans for a third.  You can find both books at Podiobooks and in iTunes.  They’re also available in paperback and Kindle formats.

3.  Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker  

Emperor's Edge Fantasy Book Cover

I’m pretty new to steampunk but I think I’m in for the long haul.  I love the genre.  My first taste of steampunk was with Emperor’s Edge.  Admittedly, this series is light on steam but that takes nothing away from the motley cast of characters who keep getting caught up in one dangerous scheme after another.  Lindsay Buroker has already completed three of the six books she has planned for this series. Currently, Emperor’s Edge is available through Podiobooks and iTunes and it’s read by Starla Huchton who does a smashing job of it.  Dark Currents, the second book in the series will soon be available through Podiobooks as well.  I’m excited.  You can also download Ms. Buroker’s books to Kindle.

4.  Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates  

I’m a Muslim woman who is American.  I work in an industry that brings me into contact with people of every possible affiliation.  I often find myself in the position of spokesperson, whether I want to be or not, for an entire group of people that other than faith, are as diverse from one another as snowflakes.  The following, quoted from the Inside Islam description is exactly why I love this podcast so much:  “Inside Islam is designed to spark conversation and interaction about Islam, and to spotlight the diversity of dialogues and debates within Islam as well as with other religions and communities.”  I believe in tolerance and coexistence.  I totally love this podcast series.

5.  Clarkesworld  

One word: PHENOMENAL.  Clarkesworld is a speculative fiction magazine that offers three podcast stories per month, a digital magazine available on Kindle, and a website with tons of free content.  The hostess/voice talent is Kate Baker and she is a gem.  I can’t say that I like each and every story, but this is merely a matter of personal taste.  Each tale is without a doubt expertly written and read.  Some of my favorites are A Jar of Goodwill by Tobias Buckell, The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor, Laying the Ghost by Eric Brown, and Frozen Voice by An Owomoyela just to name a few.  Many podcasts come and go on my iPod, but Clarkesworld is permanent.

If you haven’t listened to any of these, I hope you’ll give them a try and let me know what you think.  If you have listened to any of these, leave a comment below.

Don’t be shy.  Tell me.  What are your favorite podcasts?