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Summer stories: fantasy and science fiction podcasts

girl on a hazy sunny day needs a fantasy or science fiction podcast to listen to

It’s never too hot to read.

But it *is* hellmouth hot here in the UK right now. What’s a slightly sweaty, story-starved girl to do?

Sure, you could lug a book to the park. Will there be room in your bag, though, once you’ve packed your your sun hat, water & Chocolate Salted Caramel Booja Booja ice-cream?

(My hardback of Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor is making sad-eyes at me right now. “Why won’t you read me? I’m so pretty! And you can bet I’m full of beautiful words!” Because you’re too big, my darling, and I am too lazy to carry you around when my slim kindle has lots of tiny books in it (plus I know you’ll slay me with your perfect sentences and some brand new flavour of heartache, damn you Taylor).)

Sure, you could take your kindle/ipad to the beach. Get ready to knock the screen up to full brightness, though, & watch out for seagulls who’ll think it’s a yummy snack to swoop on.

OR: just lie back on your picnic blanket, in your sunglasses and high SPF, & let someone tell you stories instead? Keep your hands free for making daisy-chains & holding elegant parasols.

Here are 3 podcasts** to listen to from your lawn, and a bonus playlist of songs I associate with being hot. I wish it was a cool relaxing beach-chill mix you could impress your smooth friends with while eating sophisticated gelato, sorry, but blasting noisy 90s alt guitar bands while dunking chips in mayonnaise is more authentically me.

Happy summering!

My three top fantasy and science fiction short story podcasts

  1. Lightspeed I’ve probably mentioned this one before, right? Four new fantasy or science fiction short stories every month. Always fabulously narrated. You can listen to all the stories from year one as an audiobook, too.
  2. Starship Sofa Short SF stories, genre chat & the finest example of a Geordie accent you’ll ever hear. Tony’s enthusiasm always cheers me up, and the stories are top notch.
  3. Far-fetched Fables A fantasy slanted sister show to Starship Sofa. Both shows are part of the District of Wonders stable, who have a patreon set up to fund paying their writers & narrators, aka paying people for the new worlds, characters and stories we love. Definitely something to support!

My noisy summery playlist

*I’m averaging at least two tubs a week right now. What? Vegan means good for you, right? 😉

** I use the free Overcast app to listen to podcasts, because it links to Twitter and tells you what your friends there are listening to. It’s got ‘smart speed’ and ‘voice boost’ settings which improve how shows sound, too. iphone/ipad only, though).

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Spring Science Fiction Recommendations

science-fiction films novels writingBefore Spring comes for real and I have to Go Outside and step away from the remote, I curled up for a long overdue sci-fi love-in. Just me, my kindle and Netflix, oh, and an assortment of aliens, robots and time-travellers.

Read on for book and film reccys (that everyone else watched ages ago).

First up, Lauren Beuke‘s short story collection Slipping. This was hit after hit of what I like best about her writing: sly, sharp digs at who we are, who we want to be, and the tricks we fall for, all with a gritty, near-future cyberpunk backdrop.

If you already like her writing, you’ll like this – if you haven’t read her yet, start here or see my review of Zoo City. I’ve seen this collection hailed as satire but it read more like fortune-telling to me – the future is written, and Instagram is going to kill us all.

Ex-Machina Alex garland robotThen, my brother added me to his Netflix account (because our mum made him – thanks Mum!), and I streamed Ex Machina immediately.

I’d wanted to see this since the Alex Garland interview on the Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

I love Alex Garland’s novels, but I hadn’t heard him speak before. Swoon! Who here isn’t a sucker for a deep-voiced guy talking knowledgeably about John Wyndham? Not me! So I needed to know if I’d enjoy his films as much as his books (read The Tesseract if you need a book you can’t put down til its finished).

Ex Machina was dreamily shot, cleverly written and has a satisfyingly un-saccharine ending. Most everyone I’ve mentioned it to has already seen it & gushed about how good it was, so I’d file it under Clever Arty Sci Fi Your Clever Arty Friends Will Like (But Saw Without You).  Also, Geoff Barrow from Portishead contributes to the soundtrack.

lucy-luc-besson Netflix’s hypnopowers then made me watch Lucy. It’s a fun Luc Besson caper that I refuse to link to the trailer for because it spoilers most of the film.

I’d give it 8.5/10* for satisfying my particular RhianFilm tastes: cheesy gangsters, sci-fi time babble, gunfights, car crashes & a solid Vincent Cassel-alike. [*.5 deducted for tenuous monkey link]

looper bruce willis time travelI finished up with Looper, which I’m glad I’ve finally seen but is my least favourite of the three.

It had its highlights: I find that Bruce Willis improves most things, and the future-noir world-building is detailed and believable. I’m not convinced by the time travel rules, though.

long way small angry planet becky chambersNow, this was all great but you might have spotted there are NO SPACE SHIPS in these films. And you can’t have a sci-fi jag with no spaceships. Which led me nicely onto a novel I’ve meant to read for ages – A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers.

I started reading this in bed one morning & was somehow halfway through by lunchtime, in that magic way reading=timetravel sometimes. The good thing about not starting this series for so long is that the sequel is already out, hurrah!

If you (like me) now want to write your own sci fi stories, I’ve done the legwork and found us a course on Cat Rambo’s site, taught with Ann Leckie. Yup, Hugo, Nebula & Arthur C Clarke award winning Ann Leckie. It’s called ‘Space Opera and Beyond‘, and it’s only $29, and I am 100% enrolling once I’ve finished editing this novel & am allowed to play on other projects.

If you also (like me) now need to read more sci-fi, here’s a good article that’s swelled my TBR pile: 9 Modern Women Science Fiction Writers You Need To Be Celebrating.

Send me any of your own sci-fi recommendations and I’ll be your bestest friend (I accept email, Twitter, Facebook or futuristic robot morse code)

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What writing work looks like

unsplash-oscar-keys-for--blog

Sometimes writing work doesn’t look like writing work. You don’t see me with a pen in my hand, or anywhere near a desk. and it’s not that i’m out glamorously filling the well in a gallery or the cinema or by the sea.

Sometimes writing work is an afternoon of shopping and carrying and chopping and cooking, hauling the food processor out of The Badly Stacked Cupboard Of Falling Down Things and repeatedly having to wash up.

It’s making mega chicken salads so I get the whole lunchbreak to write or read in, and don’t have my lycanthropy triggered by queues. Wait, no, I meant misanthropy. Some days they feel the same.

It’s cooking up a two-ton chocolate chilli so I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week – this way I get to write on the other nights, or meet up with sane (i.e non-writing) friends.

It’s making a dozen egg muffins so I have something to throw in my mouth while I’m writing on my commute, thus resisting the croissants at the station that make me sleepy ten minutes later & fall into flakes on my keyboard.

It’s me squinting in a badly lit bathroom, gamely cutting my own hair after watching a five minute youtube video, so I don’t have to talk to the hairdresser and have £40 for books instead.

And writing work can look like signing up for a free BFI course on film making or and getting obsessed with a new (to me) world of short films, because cross-pollination is awesome and it’s all stories, right?

It is super-glue difficult to unstick myself from the belief that I should be All Writing All The Time! Every Day! But it’s only by stopping regularly to sort the rest of my life out, and to take in pretty, non-writing things made by other people that I have a chance to keep up the energy & momentum to edit 80,000 words again.
And again.
And again…

Now playing, the spooky-beautiful & always dance-making ‘Of The Light’ by Psylhouette:

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Rhian Salvatore

Aw, another Season Finale! Already? What about my Damon fix?
***{Spoilers below the playlist}***

[8tracks width=”500″ height=”288″ playops=”” url=”http://8tracks.com/mixes/3896511″]

So, that was Season 5, huh? Well, I’m glad it was an improvement on season 4. No, I don’t give a crap about the travellers either, but I really didn’t give a crap about Silas. Immortal invulnerable baddy with no tragic/romantic backstory or hope of redemption = YAWN. At least Klaus had daddy issues and loneliness.

Also, while Nina Dobrev pulls off multiple personas with ease – Sweet Elena! Sired Elena! Switched Elena! Evil Katherine! Elena and Katherine pretending to be each other! Original Doppelganger girl who’s name never registered! Etc – Silas only ever seemed like Grumpy Old Stefan to me.

Oops, that turned into an anti-Silas rant. Sorry. No, I probably wouldn’t be complaining if there were two Ian Somerhalders on screen. And wasn’t Katherine amazing this time around? I’ll miss her, though I’ve already forgotten what happened to her mopey daughter.

Season 6 can’t come fast enough for me. I love the prospect of Alaric coming back (though given a choice I’d be 100% #TeamLexi) and all the new, angsty ways that Elena and Damon can be unrequited across the planes.

dasal

Nothing like belly-twistingly conflicted supernatural romance to get me tuning in. Speaking of, Staroline has been begging to happen for ages now so I do hope that comes to something next time. Ahem.

In the meantime, I’ve found a motherlode of Mystic Falls themed playlists on 8tracks, so I can get that gut-wrenching hormonal angst hey-i’m-17-again feeling triggered whenever I want.

All 8track playlists tagged with ‘Vampire Diaries’ should turn up in the player below. Click play if you want to spend the summer between seasons swooning like me…

[8tracks width=”500″ tags=”vampire diaries” ]

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