Tag Archives | fantasy

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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British Fantasy Awards Best Novel Jury 2016

jury deliberations british fantasy awards best novelI am delighted to announce that I’ll be a juror for the British Fantasy Awards again!

This year I’ll be on the jury for Best Novel, which is sooo exciting. Read the cream of the crop of the year’s sci fi/fantasy novels and then talk about it with other people? Oh, alright then…!

Previous BFS winners include Frances Hardinge, Lauren Beukes, and the Women Destroy Science Fiction Lightspeed anthology (which was my favourite as a juror last year).

Juries for all the awards are posted on the British Fantasy Society’s site now.

I’ll post again when the nominees are public – fingers crossed for your favourites!

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My May To Read List

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Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton coverJust noticed that I hadn’t cross posted this review here yet – whoops. This was written for Slacker Heroes and first posted there in April.

I’ve just finished (and loved) Sacrificial Magic and Beautiful Creatures so, given that this one also has spells and magic in it, it’s fair to say I’ve been in a witchy phase this year. Way more fun than vamps & weres.

Have just checked Goodreads and the sequel to Blood Magic (The Blood Keeper) should be out later this summer – fab. I’ll definitely be reading it.

Got any suggestions as to other spooky-dark stories I can try in the meantime? Let me know!

Here’s the review –

It’s been a month or so since I finished Blood Magic, and I keep being disappointed when I pick up my Kindle and remember that I’m reading something else now, that I’ve left that world and those characters. I’d say that’s a sign of a good book, wouldn’t you?

It’s the story of seventeen-year-old Silla, a girl whose hands are heavy with the rings her father gave her, one for every birthday since she turned nine. A father who committed suicide after killing her mother. Silla was the one who found their bodies, but she’s sure there’s more to the events than has been discovered. She’s looking for answers in the mysterious book that arrived after their death. A book of spells written in her father’s hand.

Silla’s not the only one whose parents had secrets. Nick, the long-limbed new boy, has memories he’d rather forget, but coming back to the town his mother grew up in is stirring up the past and linking him to Silla in improbable ways.

So, we’ve got magic, death and secrets straight from the start. Yum! I’m a sucker for some good ol’ runes and pentacles, and the spells and rituals in this were very satisfying, very cool. We also get crows cawing and circling and beautiful, tree-heavy graveyards. These images are recognisable and classic, but felt fresh and aren’t something I’ve read much of recently, outside of Stacia Kane’s Downside series (which is definitely for an older readership). It felt fresh for YA, and the writing is atmospheric and compelling.

The narration swaps between Silla and Nick and it drew me in really quickly. I loved the way Gratton describes Nick, “He was so gangly and tall. Like half-grown animals, when their paws are still too big, and their legs way too long, and you know they’re going to grow into it all eventually and be the handsomest thing you ever saw”. I think it sums up the gawkishness of teenage boys very well, and emphasises how these characters are nearly – but not quite – on the verge of adulthood. I don’t think Nick would really be that into me, since he goes for bird-thin, blood-covered, fucked up 17-year-old orphans and I am almost exactly the opposite, but I’d still be happy to help him with his homework. Silla’s a teenage drama student whose parents both died recently in a gruesome murder-suicide, so of course her chapters are a little over the top with purple prose, but it works. It’s authentic.

Silla and Nick fall for each other very quickly – that’s not a spoiler, since their feelings are clear from the start. At first the speed made me twitch – was this realistic? – until I remembered high school, and how emotions, friendships, love and hate really did move that fast. I don’t know how we managed to pack in so much drama between Double Maths, netball and French but believe me, we did. A whole social network could dissolve and reform in a day, and people were always dating someone else’s ex or crush or brother or something – who knows why, did we think there weren’t enough boys to go around or something? Anyway. I don’t think a teen audience or someone familiar with that would find the speed of the relationship or the intensity of their devotion hard to believe.

The power of the spells and the shadow hanging over these two grows stronger with every chapter and I raced through to the end, despite the novel’s length. I see from Tessa’s website that there’s a stand-alone companion novel coming out this year, and I’m already looking forward to reading it. Another sign of a good book. Pick it up, let me know what you think. And if you see a strange figure in a graveyard, just stay away from it, alright?

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