Archive for the ‘recommended’ Category

The Incomparable Podcast

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

If you’ve listened to every last episode of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy and still crave more sf chat, you might check out The Incomparable podcast.

The Incomparable Podcast

Science Fiction Podcasts

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

For newcomers to this blog, here’s a list of science fiction podcasts I’ve been involved with over the years:

    Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy is a talk show hosted by me and John Joseph Adams. We’ve interviewed authors such as George R. R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, and Robert Kirkman.

    Lightspeed is an online science fiction magazine, and they also have a podcast on iTunes. My story “Cats in Victory” appeared in the debut issue.

    StarShipSofa is a podcast magazine featuring stories and interviews. My story “Cats in Victory” appeared in Episode 141.

    Escape Pod is a science fiction short story podcast. My stories “Save Me Plz” and “Blood of Virgins” appeared here.

    Pseudopod is a horror short story podcast. My stories “The Skull-Faced Boy” and “The Disciple” appeared here.

    MechMuse, a science fiction short story podcast, is now sadly defunct. My stories “Veil of Ignorance” and “The Second Rat” appeared in the debut issue.

Find more science fiction podcasts over on Worlds Without End.

WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Here’s a cool podcast I’ve been listening to recently: WTF with Marc Maron.


Maron is a stand-up comedian who invites people over to the recording studio in his garage and conducts long interviews with them. Most of the guests are other comics, with a smattering of other folks in the arts & entertainment world. Maron is up front about his flaws, failures, insecurities, neuroses, and the all-consuming jealousy he feels toward his more successful peers, and he conducts frankly personal interviews that often deal with awkward topics such as “Why does everyone hate you so much?” Maron has been in stand-up for thirty years or so, and is friends and/or enemies with most of the folks he talks to. So far I’ve listened to interviews with Louis CK, Ira Glass, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Smith, and Bob Saget, all of which were interesting. The most riveting episodes so far have been the two in which Maron confronts Carlos Mencia over a range of grievances that his fellow comedians have against him.

Reading List: Books for Teen Boys

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

So in response to my last post, my parents write, “So our challenge to you is to create a list of 20 books that a 14-year-old boy would want to read. Heck, make it 10!”

Ten? You insult me, sir. Here’s 24 off the top of my head. Not necessarily the best books or my favorites (though many of them are), but simply my first stab at a list of books that I think have the most chance of being picked up and read by a typical 14-year-old boy.

(And for an in-depth discussion of the issue of boys and reading, check out Episode 2 of my Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.)

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Dragons of the Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Homeland by R. A. Salvatore

Interstellar Pig by William Sleator
The Green Futures of Tycho by William Sleator
Singularity by Williams Sleator

The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Illusion by Paula Volsky

Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin
A Malady of Magicks by Craig Shaw Gardner
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
The Master of White Storm by Janny Wurts

The Long Walk by Stephen King
The Running Man by Stephen King
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
The White Mountains by John Christopher

Halo: The Fall of the Reach by Eric Nylund
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Feel free to suggest additions.

Myths and Realities About the Roman Gladiator by Garrett Fagan

Friday, June 11th, 2010

This lecture is terrific: Myths and Realities About the Roman Gladiator by Garrett Fagan.

Jean-Leon Gerome Art Painting Pollice Verso Gladiators fighting

The History of Rome Podcast, 12 Byzantine Rulers

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Here are two good history podcasts: The History of Rome and 12 Byzantine Rulers.

The History of Rome Podcast    12 Byzantine Rulers Podcast

They’re not quite as gripping as Hardcore History, but they’re still very engaging and interesting, with a solid focus on characters and stories. You may be asking yourself: What exactly is the Byzantine Empire? It’s not that well known, for kind of a weird reason. The Byzantine Empire is the name given by modern scholars to the the Roman Empire after it moved its capital to Constantinople (previously Byzantium, hence “Byzantine”) and became Christian. Which brings us to Edward Gibbon, who wrote the famous The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. As a boy, Gibbon had attempted to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, only to change his mind when his family violently opposed the idea. This incident left him with a lasting distaste for Christianity generally, and he basically declared that when the Roman Empire went Christian it got all lame and stupid and not worth bothering with. Gibbon was so influential that much subsequent scholarship followed his lead. The Byzantine Empire is definitely worth studying though, particularly if you’re a fan of bloody palace intrigue.

Corey Olsen The Tolkien Professor Podcast

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Here’s an interesting and enjoyable podcast I came across recently: The Tolkien Professor.

corey olsen tolkien professor podcast

The host Corey Olsen is a professor at Washington College, where he teaches courses on Chaucer, courtly love, Arthurian literature, the Bible, Greco-Roman mythology, and a full-semester course on the works of Tolkien. He’s obviously a huge Tolkien fan, and his tone while discussing Tolkien’s work is never less than ebullient, and there’s none of the self-indulgent twaddle you might fear from a lit prof. Instead he adheres to Tolkien’s own critical approach, as laid down in Tolkien’s seminal essay “On Fairy-Stories,” and takes the story seriously as a story, focusing on analyzing the characters and pointing out details and connections you might never have noticed before. He’s started out discussing The Hobbit, and is currently about halfway through the book. Check it out.

ETA: I interviewed Corey for Episode 12 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Jeff Goldsmith Creative Screenwriting Magazine Podcast

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009


Here’s a really good free podcast for screenwriters — the Creative Screenwriting Magazine Podcast. Each episode features a long (one hour or so) interview with a different writer (or team). I’ve listened to about twenty of these now, and they’ve all been good. The host Jeff Goldsmith really seems to know what he’s talking about, and he asks substantive questions about writing process, breaking in, making deals, film production, etc., and the writers respond with really interesting, insightful, and often very funny answers. Stop wasting your time watching shallow interviews with airhead movie stars on late night talk shows and listen to this instead.

The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics by Daniel Abraham

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I just saw that Daniel Abraham’s story “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” is now online. This was one of my favorite stories that I read in my contributor’s copy of Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008 (see “Save Me Plz”). “The Cambist and Lord Iron” originally appeared in John Klima’s anthology Logorrhea, which invited contributors to submit stories inspired by winning spelling bee words. For me, one measure of a great story is that it motivates you to recount the entire plot to people who haven’t read it. I’ve retold “The Cambist and Lord Iron” to several lucky people, including my mom. But I hadn’t gotten very far into my telling when she said, “You’ve told me this story before.” I declared that I hadn’t. She insisted that I had. I insisted that I hadn’t. She said, “Well, I’ve definitely heard this story before.” She then realized that my dad had read the story and that he had already retold the whole thing to her. So that’s how good this story is. Check it out.

ETA: There’s a podcast version as well.

Art Documentaries: Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?, My Kid Could Paint That

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Here are two terrific art-related documentaries that are definitely worth checking out. (If you have Netflix, both are available as instant downloads.)

Who the Bleep is Jackson Pollock movie poster    My Kid Could Paint That movie poster

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? is about an older woman, a retired truck driver who lives in a trailer park and who spends her nights digging through dumpsters in search of hidden treasures. One day, she buys a painting at a thrift shop for $5 (she talks the owner down from $8). The painting is too large to fit in her trailer, so she props it up outside, and contemplates using it as a dartboard. Later a man knocks at her door. He explains that he teaches art history at a local college, and he spotted her painting as he was driving by, and that she might want to get it appraised, because it looks to him as if it might be a Jackson Pollock. The woman responds, “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?” She spends the next decade researching art and trying to prove that her painting is a real Pollock, and in spite of steadily mounting evidence in her favor the art world refuses to validate her find, largely due, it seems, to snobbery. In particular there’s one art critic featured in the film who you almost can’t believe is a real person, because he seems like such a gross, over-the-top parody of a pretentious twit. Midway through the film someone offers to buy the painting for $2 million, but the woman turns them down. It’s worth at least $25 million, she declares, and she’s not going to get played for a sucker. By the end of the film she’s also turned down an offer for $10 million.

My Kid Could Paint That starts out as the heartwarming story of a normal, likeable family who discover one day that their four-year-old daughter can paint brilliant works of abstract expressionism that sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and the little girl soon attracts major media attention. But midway through the film, the story takes a plunge down the rabbit hole, when a 20/20 investigation suggests that the little girl isn’t doing the paintings by herself, and that her father is either directing her or retouching her work. The filmmaker, who has become close to the family, doesn’t know what to believe, and he gradually loses faith as his attempts to capture on film the little girl painting something exceptional prove fruitless. But in the end he’s still not sure, and man, neither am I. The owner of the gallery who first displayed the girl’s paintings talks about the frustration he feels as a photo-realist painter who spends months on a piece — deploying the most exacting technique — as he watches canvases that consist of nothing more than a few splashes of paint selling for millions of dollars, and his glee at being able to prove to the art world that even a four-year-old could do it. The question of whether this little girl is a scam or not is therefore set against the larger question of whether abstract expressionism itself is a scam.