Monday, June 28, 2010

Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL (An Ongoing Series)

And now...with more cowbell!

An ongoing (occasional) series looking at what podcasts I've been listening to. I think this time through I'm going to break it into three parts: podcasts I listen to on a regular basis; podcasts that seem inactive; podcasts I've found that I have not gotten far into enough to have an opinion (in other words, downloading furiously, but haven't put them into the mix).

Active Listens:

365 Days of Astronomy: Now in its second batch of 365 Days! Short (10-15 minutes) shows that focus on a wide variety of astronomical subjects (news, background, history). If there is any downside to this year it is what seems to be a more than occasional focus on the 2012 B.S.

40K Radio: A long-running podcast for the Warhammer 40,000 series of games. Shot down recently due to the idiotic antics of one anonymous listener to threatened the hosts. Hopefully to be reborn?

Jon Armstrong and If You're Just Joining Us: Most of the episodes are interviews with an author or an editor, but some use as the basis an outside source, such as a audio essay on the "Amen" track and links to sampling, copyright and intellectual thought. Good stuff, good production and Jon Armstrong definitely has a "radio voice".

Binge History: An occasional (several times a year) entry on history, with subjects ranging from Trafalgar to the colonization of America to the Battle of Britain. Fits in nicely with some of the other history podcasts that have hooked me.

Robert Ashley's A Life Well Wasted: I almost put this in the inactive category, as it seems as if we have been waiting forever for episode six. The subject matter is gaming (usually electronic) and computers, but never mind that. Folks, this is one of the best-produced podcasts out there. Robert Ashley has managed to put out a show that rivals Radio Lab or Studio 360 or This American Life. Download and listen. You'll be astounded.

Babylon Podcast: A fairly regular (slowing down of late) podcast that deals with Babylon 5 (still one of my favorite shows). Interviews with cast and crew, "deep geeking" on themes or episodes. If you are at all interested in the show, you'll enjoy it. If you are interested in televised or filmed science fiction, give it a try (you may get hooked...and end up getting the show).

Balticon Podcast: A podcast that grows out of the annual convention. Posting picks up after each convention ends with a number of episodes derived from panels, interviews or even performances. Noted for appearances by rare interview subjects such as David Drake and Gene Wolfe.

Bat Segundo: As with If You're Just Joining Us and The Agony Column, a podcast that focuses on a wide variety of literary subjects. Interview subjects range from the author to the editor to the performing artist. Our young correspondent (as Bat Segundo refers to him) manages to ask some pretty good questions, it is clear, as with Rick Kleffel's excellent The Agony Column, he actually knows about the subjects he interviews. (Young correspondent? Bat Segundo? Listen and learn...)

Lars Brownworth's 12 Byzantine Rulers and Norman Centuries: Brownworth has written (including one book that is current perched on Mount Toberead) on the periods discussed in these two podcasts, the podcasts can be seen as both a way to promote the writings and to illuminate the periods in ways a book may not be able to do. Good production values in terms of sounds, no use of sound effects/enhancements (other than some music) and some dang fascinating stories about people that most of us probably have forgotten.

Luke Burrage's Science Fiction Book Review Podcast: Luke Burrage reads books and then reviews them, as he reads them. So you may get a couple of shows in the row, or wide gaps. Burrage is also a "performance artist" that travels a bit, so he may have sporadic access to de intertubez. My main complaint with the reviews is that they often seem very off-the-cuff, so he forgets names or plot points or wanders. He also does not seem to research the book or author much, so may miss an important part of the background of the author, etc. Lots of classic books covered (always a good think), thought-provoking when in focus.

Dan Carlin's Common Sense and Hardcore History: Recommended by a friend, and I've liked it so much I've tossed money at Carlin and bought back episodes. Common Sense is the political/news show and Carlin is neither fish nor fowl (left or right). Hardcore History is more a soundscape, Carlin focuses on periods or events. The period after the death of Alexander the Great as a mafia family feud? Listen and enjoy!

Stephen Euin Cobb's The Future and You: I keep downloading them, but to be honest, I haven't listened to the shows in a long time. It should be interesting...but the host rambles, is unfocused, and "ummmmss" and "ahhhsss" a lot during interviews. Some interview subjects are possibly friends or members of his family (so how does it qualify them as experts). Subject matter ranges wildly, from great to W.T.F.

The D6 Generation Podcast: Best multi-subject gaming podcast out there. "Rapid Fire" should not be listened to if you are drinking any sort of liquid or you may be subject to spraying.

Mike Duncan's The History of Rome: An examination of Rome, from its founding to downfall.

Len Edgerly's The Reading Edge Podcast: Edgerly talks about various eBook reader gadgets, software, offerings, etc. He also does a Kindle-related podcast, this is for "everyone else".

Shaun Farrell's Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing: Sort of teetering on the inactive list due to that devil to all "hobbies" and interests: Real Life (R). Shaun is dealing with a career change and the trials of parenting, so the pace of the show has slowed from its heyday. But the episodes that have managed to squeak out still shine. And you'll find very few other appearances by folks like David Weber or John Ringo out there.

Fear the Boot: A long-running game podcast that I've only started listening to. So far, so good.

Fringeworthy: A podcast dedicated to the classic SF-RPG from Tri-Tac Games.

Functional Nerds: Hosts John Anealio and Patrick Hester cover genre fiction, music and technology (especially Apple products). A series of interesting interviews have been tossed in as well. Still developing, still finding its theme, but a good listen so far.

The Geeklife Podcast: Still getting into this one. If it is "geeky", you'll find it here.

Guts 'n' Gears: A podcast dealing with the games of Privateer Press, primarily their steampunkish-fantasy miniatures game Warmachine. Wish they would get rid of the robo-voices that do the introductions and get a better audio feed. Some good game-related interviews, commentary, tricks and tips for the game.

George Hrab's Geological Podcast: Funny, irritating and a darned good musician. I'll put up with the constant jabs at various personal beliefs for somebody with the talent to do songs like "Brains Body Both" and "Far".

Rick Kleffel's The Agony Column: For me, the wellspring, the place that I started with for literary podcasts. Hours upon hours upon hours of excellent listening awaits you here. Not just science fiction or fantasy or mystery or mainstream or slipstream or politics, Kleffel ranges all around the landscape. And he does so in a way that shows he has read, researched and thought about the subjects he touches upon in the shows. The only problem with the show? I keep hearing about books I want to buy. The wallet cringes!

Chris Lackey's and Chad Fifer's H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast: Interviews with folks who study Lovecraft or the tales of Eich-Pee-El Himself. Worth it!

Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing (and other podcasts): Laffery has produced several podcasts on her own and has been involved with the Tor Books podcasts and (now) the Escape Pod podcasts. These run between personal essays on the craft of writing (trials, tribulations and triumphs) to interviews with various authors (poke around for the extended David Drake interview, worth it despite sound quality problems).

LibriVox: Buckets and buckets of bits. As Project Gutenberg and similar sites put up texts that are out of copyright, LibriVox puts up audio files of similar texts. Recording is done by volunteers, with a variety of equipment (and a variety of quality). YMMV, but there are some gems in dem dere hills.

Jim Mowatt's Historyzine: Only a few episodes into this, but it (as with others) talks about periods of history that other history-related podcasts have not covered. Mowatt also reviews different history podcasts each episode, which (naturally enough) leads one to make more downloads!

Nerdist: More geeky/nerd culture. Like Elvis, they are everywhere.

Nowhere in Mulberry: Cullltuure, dahlling. Pop culture. Man, these guys can ramble on.

PodCulture: More geeks on geekdom. Or is it nerds on nerdom?

Radiolab: I first got hooked on this show when it started showing up on the local NPR station. But airtimes bounce from slot to slot and you never know when you have a new episode or not. Luckily, there is an alternative: the Radiolab podcast, both episodes and shorter (podcast only) episodes. Great stuff, no matter what the subject.

Spider Robinson and Spider on the Web: SF author Spider Robinson puts out an occasional podcast dealing with his own fiction, thoughts on current events, music and his family.

The S-Words Podcast: More geeks! More nerds! More culture! More Elvis!

The Sci-Fi Guys: Reviews (written and audio) of SF/F books and the occasional interview. Somewhat inactive (de boys, dey are in school, see).

SFFaudio Podcast: Reviews of audiobooks, a podcast that ranges around the audio world, and links to either direct downloads of free audiobooks or books for sale. Hours of listening!

Studio 360: Another NPR production. Wide-ranging and always interesting.

This Week in Wargaming: Tottering (?) on the brink of inactivity. I first discovered this through The D6 Generation Podcast. Hopefully it will continue (even if not at the rate the name implies). Lots of good reviews and background on games I would like to buy (the wallet cringes).

The Tolkien Professor Podcast: Professor Corey Olsen (a tenured professor teaching fantasy, the mind boggles!) podcasts about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Some shows can be listened to independently, but most should be listened to after you read the various works of Tolkien. Audio quality varies, but is generally good (most episodes were done in the classroom, so you sometimes lose the voices of students who are participating).

Voices of Babylon: At first a series of dueling voicemails on the Babylon Podcast (above), then incorporated into that podcast, then a podcast on its own until one of the hosts became ill. Hopefully coming back (there have been a few brief postings recently).

Wil Wheaton's Radio Free Burrito: Multi-faceted one-man show Wil Wheaton talks about acting, ST:TNG, being a parent, being a husband, writing and more.

The Webcomic Beacon: Just started listening to this recently. About (doh) webcomics. Quality seems on the low-end in terms of audio and focus, but the day is young.

Writing Excuses: One of my favorites. Great podcast.

Inactive, Dang It:

Carpe GM: Several game-related episodes. The podcast seems to have died and only some (?) of the episodes can be found here. Some good stuff.

The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas: No show in quite a while, so I'm putting this in the inactive list. The Ninjas cover science fiction and fantasy, alternating between movies or television and books.

Point to Point: "Historical simulations" or, if you are like me, wargames. Sadly, appears to be inactive.

Table Gamer Weekly: No new shows since April 2010, so I guess it is no longer "weekly"...

Tor Podcasts: Started with great fanfare a few months ago with audio versions of stories and a weekly podcast on a variety of subjects. Seems to have been "slowed" by management (see comment 15), which management seems to deny (see comment 30 onwards in the previous link).

No Maps For These Territories:

Ancient Rome Refocused: Just found it today. Seriously. Downloading now.

Armed with Science: Science as it relates to the military. Seems to be inactive since April 2010.

Astronomy Cast: A wide-ranging series of shows on astronomy. Usually three or so episodes seem to be related by theme (e.g., the structure of the solar system, or several historical figures).

Beam Me Up: SF/F related, news, reviews and even stories.

Cheap Astronomy: I've encountered the Cheap Astronomer in the 365 Days of Astronomy series (above), both last year and this year. Here he runs a cheap site, with cheap tricks and tips and a cheap podcast. Seriously, the entries in 365 Days have been excellent, which led me to this podcast.

Clarkesworld: Fiction that has appeared in the award-winning magazine, from authors ranging from Tobias S. Buckell to Jay Lake to Cat Rambo to Kij Johnson and beyond. Downloaded all to date, waiting for a long solo car trip to start digging into them.

The Command Line: Primarily a programming podcast (!), but talks on occasion about technology, genre fiction, etc.

CWF Gamecast: Seems somewhat inactive. Wide variety of subjects.

Dead Robots' Society: Genre related news, interviews, etc. Go to this link for downloads and previous episodes.

Dice Like Thunder: Another long-running game-related podcast. So many episodes, so little time...

The Dice Tower: New shows and the occasional reposted and/or updated archive episode. Best games, worst games, classic games, boardgames, card astounding variety.

Dragon Page: Massive, sprawling, throwing out arms like a squid from outer space. Frustrating in that many of the earlier shows seem to be missing. Downloaded all I could find, now to start tagging and listening!

Dr. Karl and the Naked Scientist: Science-related, a wide variety of subjects. Downside with this (and other BBC podcasts) is that episodes are taken down and I haven't found a archive yet.

Dungeon Crawlers Radio: Came across this due to some of the interview subjects.

Escape Pod: 246 episodes and counting. A wide range of science fiction stories from the Golden Age to today, narrated by a wide range of people. YMMV, but most are excellent. Related to this site is PseudoPod, horror stories and PodCastle, fantasy stories.

Forgotten Classics: Similar to Librivox and other public-domain sites. Each episode is usually one or more chapters of a book.

Game On with Cody and Jon: Cover a wide range of gaming subjects. Mentioned several times on a regular listen, The D6 Generation Podcast, so I've started downloading and will put it into the mix.

I've Been Diced: Few episodes and somewhat sporadic. Good variety of gaming subjects.

Jodcast: An astronomy-related podcast coming out of Jodrell Bank. Twice monthly, each episode is available in a number of recording qualities (file size).

Maria Lectrix: Religious-based podcasts, readings from history and historical texts. Somewhat sporadic (inactive?).

Meeples and Miniatures: Seems to be moving away from the podcasts to video and written reviews.

The Messy Game Room Podcast: History games, roleplaying games and more. Somewhat sporadic in frequency.

Myriad Games: Myriad is the game store mentioned in just about every episode of The D6 Generation Podcast (they also support the D6 Generation).

Napoleon 101: Somewhat inactive, covers the period of Napoleon's various rises and falls.

NYAS and Science and the City: Discussions on a wide variety of subjects, recorded at various places. Audio quality varies.

Outriders (or Pods and Blogs): Technology, geekdom and nerdom. As with other BBC podcasts, episodes have a short shelf life and I haven't found a archive yet.

Podhammer: From Down Under comes a show dedicated to Warhammer Fantasy.

Quirks and Quarks: A wide-ranging science-based podcast. Downloaded most of the episodes, now working it into the mix.

Roleplaying Public Radio: Spotted this when they did some episodes on games that I've played in the past. Subject matter seems to be mostly D&D, but they cover quite a few other games.

Sidebar: A comics-based podcast. Came across it as they interviewed one of my favorite genre artists.

Skeptoid: A podcast of "critical thinking".

Slacker Astronomy: Another podcaster that I first found in episodes of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast.

Slice of Sci-Fi: Another massive SF/F related podcast with multiple linked shows. So many episodes, so little time!

StarShipSofa and Sofanauts: Two related sites, sort of a audio magazine for science fiction and fantasy. News, reviews and a lot of stories.

Sword and Laser: SF and Fantasy with interviews, reviews and more.

The Tabletop Battlefield: Audio and visual podcasts on a variety of gaming subjects.

THACO: Seems to have grown out of Fell Calls (above). Morphed from Iron Kingdoms specific to gaming general.

The Game's the Thing: RPG's, boardgames and more.

The Two Half-Squads: What a fascinating modern age we live in! A podcast that revolves around the venerable series of Squad Leader games!

WhatTheCast?: A podcast based around the DragonCon convention.

World's End Radio: Gaming podcast, primarily (exclusively?) Warhammer 40,000-based.

Zlurpcast: A podcast dedicated to one game in the Warhammer universe. Lo, signs and portents, signs of the end times are upon us!


Jon said...


Thanks for the link, and I'm glad you're enjoying If You're Just Joining Us!

jimmowatt said...

I'm glad Historyzine seems to hold some interest for you and I offer my humble apologies for leading you further astray and piling yet more History podcasts into your already extensive listening list.
My evil ways continue in the next episode where I'll be reviewing the Russian Rulers podcast.

Fred Kiesche said...

Jim, keep leading me astray! I'm enjoying them!

A new one (can't remember if you reviewed it as well): Ancient Rome Refocused (

CWFGameCast said...

Just want to say thanks for the link to the CWF GameCast. The podcast is inactive but we're still blogging about New England topics. Right now we're focusing on the CMG War at Sea by Wizards of the Coast.

We hope to podcast again but have recently gotten married.

PeterLev said...

You should seriously listen to more worlds end radio - those guys are really awesome. Not just 40k either, they cover heaps of different gw stuff. One of my top picks for sure. Game on & D6G are really good too.

Fred Kiesche said...

I'll get around to World's End eventually. Since I am not an active gamer, let alone an active GW gamer, it isn't high on the list (yet). Recently it has been genre stuff (SF and related) and history/news style stuff (especially Dan Carlin's stuff).

World's End, 40K, Podhammer will all get their chances!