Hugo Review – Best Fancast – Galactic Suburbia

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 Galactic Suburbia.

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 on twitter which episodes I should review, and received the responses: “we have a recommended list on our podcast site. Try our Joanna Russ ep” and “ep 36. We also recommend eps 32 and 47“. I also grabbed Episode 57, the latest at the time, which discussed the Hugo Awards.

Format: Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts, usually talk about events of the previous fortnight (both what’s been happening and what they’ve done / consumed / want to talk about) for between one two hours. Occasionally they do specific topic podcasts, such as Episode 36 on Joanna Russ.

In general: I enjoyed the way Tansy, Alex & Alisa bounce off each other, often agreeing, often expanding on each other, but not afraid to disagree and call each other on it when it happens. It certainly seems they’re having a lot of fun in doing the podcasts, and would have had the conversations anyway, they just happened to have recorded it for the rest of us. I found their feminist approach very refreshing and useful, and enjoyed most of the episodes for that alone, even if I wasn’t familiar with the specific content. Warning, if you have low will power, you’ll find yourself spending lots of money on their recommendations for consumption.

Episode 32: The ‘casters discuss, amongst other things, the late Joanna Russ, the outpouring of grief at a celebrity’s death, whether writers can actually retire or are seen as just having stopped at succeeding, e-book publishing, Penguin’s Book Country hangout, and the various things they’ve consumed. I enjoyed the episode, although Alisa did occasionally sound like she was underwater. The way they moved fluidly from topic to topic really worked for me – I never felt they spent too much or too little time on any given section. I’m resisting the urge to add Madigan Mine to my “To Read” list, but expect it will fall into my hands from the Dealers at a convention in the near future. I wasn’t quite as successful in resisting Alex’s recommendation for Deep State, and Pushing Ice which are now on the list.

Epiosde 36: The ‘casters focus on Joanna Russ, in particular How To Suppress Women’s Writing, The Female Man and When it Changed. Whilst I’ve not read any of Joanna Russ, I now have all three on my reading list, although somewhat apprehensively as it seems the first two might be rather heavy going. Whilst I’d heard of How to Suppress Women’s Writing, I’d made an assumption about it (having heard the title, I don’t really need to read the book), which seems to be both common and completely incorrect.

Episode 47: This was my favourite of the four podcasts I listened to, with a wide range of topics covered from Anne McCaffrey’s passing through 48 years of Doctor Who, to Twilight Fandom Shaming, as well as their media consumption. The Twilight Fandom Shaming bit is one I’ve been thinking about recently in light of Brandon Sanderson’s Guest of Honour Speech at Swancon over Easter. He compared the “snobbishness” of Literary folks towards Speculative Fiction (“It’s not real Literature”) to the “snobishness” Fandom is showing towards Twilight (“It’s not real Speculative Fiction”), and how it’s quite bad for Speculative Fiction, and that we should be welcoming the fans who are just starting at a more entry level into Speculative Fiction than we may be accustomed to.  In terms of media consumption, I thought I was going to get away ‘cheaply’ on this one, having already read The Steel Remains, putting Blue Remembered Earth on the “when the trilogy is complete” list and being able to resist Tansy’s recommendations by not being a comics fan. Unfortunately, for my finances, my reading list grew longer by All Men of Genius and The Courier’s New Bicycle.

Episode 57: This podcast discussed the Hugo Ballot, Christopher Priest’s comments on the Clarke Award Shortlist and Cat Valente’s response on the way a woman couldn’t have said the same thing, The Hunger Games overcoming Hollywood’s dislike of fully clothed, female protagonists, the BSFA Awards misogyny and lots of other awards discussion. I quite liked this episode, although I think they could have spent a full two hours discussing the Hugo awards alone, so it felt a bit rushed in places. Nothing to add to my reading list from this one, which my finances are grateful for!

All up, I’ve really enjoyed Galactic Suburbia and will definitely be adding it to my regular listening list. Audio quality was pretty good throughout with only the occasional glitch, and I really liked the way the podcast started and finished with a bit of of music to cue that it was about to, or had started a new episode. My favourite podcast so far, but given it’s only the second I’ve reviewed, that may well change.

Two Podcasts reviewed, three to go. Next: SF Signal Podcast.



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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