Hugo Review – Best Fancast – The Coode St Podcast

As I previously mentioned, I’m attempting to consume as much of the 2012 Hugo Short Listed works in order to make an informed vote.

I’ve started with Best Fancast, as all content is available even before the Hugo Voter Packet is released.

This is my review of The Coode St Podcast.

Note, this review is obviously subjective and most definitely biased, based on the topics which interest me. For those who are interested, I listened to the podcasts in 30 minute to one hour segments whilst driving, so my attention was often split depending on road conditions.

I asked Jonathan Strahan which episodes I should review, and received the response: “I can never judge! Sorry. Um. Try Eps 65, 71, 74 and any other one at random. Wish I could help more.”

I picked Episode 97 as the one at random, as it discusses the 2012 Hugo ballot, and I’ll hopefully be able to contrast that with the other podcasts if they also discuss the ballot. I also grabbed their latest one (at the time of reviewing) Episode 98, as I’ve heard of Nnedi, but not much about her or her works.

Format: Jonathan Strahan, Gary K. Wolfe and (usually) one or more invited guests talk about a particular topic (with occasional divergences) for approximately an hour.

In general: I struggled to maintain interest with the recommended episodes, partly due to content, but mostly due to audio issues. They seem not to have normalised the volume of the various microphones, such that I’d have the volume turned up as high as I could stand, and find myself wincing when one person laughed or exclaimed slightly louder than usual, yet still not be able to hear someone else when they were speaking. That aside, I did enjoy them and find some bits of particular interest.

Episode 65: Jonathan and Gary interview Jo Walton. I had a lot of trouble with the audio on this one, Jonathan’s volume seemed good, Jo’s too loud, Gary’s too soft. As a result I missed most of the questions / comments Gary asked / made, and was only hearing Jo’s answers. I also hadn’t heard of Jo Walton, nor read any of her work. Despite this, I found a couple of parts of the podcast interesting, particularly Jo’s comments on previous Hugo ties for Best Novel, which had “stood the test of time”, and her comments on previous Hugo Winners. It turns out Jo has written a series of posts Revisiting the Hugos from 1953 – 2000, which look fascinating. This was my favourite of the three recommended episodes, primarily due to finding out about Jo’s Revisiting the Hugos posts.

Epiosde 71: Jonathan, Gary and Ursula K Le Guin discuss Margaret Atwood and her newly published book of essays, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. I hadn’t read the book, nor heard of it previously, and the discussion left it sounding quite controversial and sketchy on research / evidence. The discussion of it was quite interesting and seemed balanced in its critiquing. Sound quality was better than on the previous one, but I still missed occasional bits.

Episode 74: Jonathan, Gary and Kim Stanley Robinson discuss KSR’s new novel 2312. Sound was much better in this one,with everyone audible throughout. It’s been a while since I’ve reread KSR’s Mars trilogy, and I haven’t read 2312 yet (it’s on my to read list), so I wasn’t fully engaged with this podcast. Perhaps I need to re-listen to it after reading 2312.

Episode 97: Jonathan, Gary and Liza Groen Trombi discuss the 2012 Hugo ballot. Sound was okay on this one, although there was an occasional ticking sound which distracted me every now and again. I enjoyed this episode more than the previous three, possibly due to my investment in the Hugo awards. Gary, Jonathan and Liza were very knowledgeable and went through pretty much every category and nominated work, and discussed them all briefly.

Episode 98: Jonathan, Gary and Nnedi Okorafor discuss African science fiction, Nigeria, the World Fantasy Award and other related topics. This, surprisingly enough, was my favourite episode of all the ones I listened to. Nnedi, who I’d only heard of briefly, was great on the podcast, and I’ve added Who Fears Death and Akata Witch to my reading list. The discussion on Nigerian culture, the lack of Nigerian SF and the way Nnedi was bridging it was fascinating. I can’t recall any sound glitches on this episode, definitely the best quality of the ones I’ve heard.

All up, I’ve enjoyed selective episodes of The Coode St Podcast. It’s the first one I’ve listened to, so I have no idea how it compares with the others, or where I’d rate it. I can say though, at this stage, I’ll be adding it to my regular listening, although I’ll probably give each episode 10 minutes to see if the specific topic / people grab my attention enough to finish it.

One Podcast reviewed, four to go. Next: Galactic Suburbia.



Best Fancast Background Material:

Short listed in the Best Fancast category for the 2012 Hugos are:

The Coode St Podcast – Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast  – Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
SF Signal Podcast
– John DeNardo and JP Frantz (presenters), Patrick Hester (producer)
SF Squeecast
– Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
– Tony C. Smith

In terms of review, I asked each via Twitter / Email and received the following recommendations:

Galactic Suburbia have suggested podcast episodes 32, 36 and 47 as their ‘picks of 2011′ for review.
SF Squeecast has suggested Episode 7 via email, and say that will be the one they link to in the Hugo Voter Packet.
@JonathanStrahan has suggested episodes 65, 71, 74 and one at random of Coode St via Twitter.
@StarShipSofa has suggested episodes 214, 228 & 232 via Twitter.
@atfmb has suggested episodes 26, 30, 49 and 94 of SF Signal via Twitter.


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