Hugo listening 2018: Best Fancast Category

Time for the podcast category!  We’ve been listening to these in the car, over dinner, and at other random times, so I’m hoping that the ones I’ve listened to earlier will still be fresh in my memory for this…

Verity! describes itself as ‘Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who’.  One of those women is Tansy Rayner Roberts, whose work I enjoy very much; the others are Lynne M. Thomas, L.M. Myles, Katrina Griffiths, Erika Ensign and Debora Stanish.  I’m not really into Dr Who (mostly I find him to be an exceedingly annoying character), but Andrew more than makes up for my disinterest, and in fact would not allow me to listen to the third podcast listed because we do not yet have the episode it talks about available to us, and even though I love spoilers and am entirely happy to form opinions about shows I have not yet seen, Andrew disapproves of this attitude.  And since I haven’t yet worked out how to listen to podcasts on my own (I’m sure it’s perfectly easy, I’m just lazy), what Andrew says, goes.

So we listened to two of the Extra podcasts instead, and they were very good. The first one was ‘Extra! In Defence Of … The Gavel Edition’, which is a sort of game show in which Deb gives her three fellow podcasters (Tansy, Katrina and Erika) a topic – such as the length of the Doctor’s scarf, or the Barbie doll in the 11th Doctor’s pocket – and each of them has one minute in which to defend it.  This was extremely silly, and highly entertaining, and led to such conclusions as Tansy defending the existence of a character she didn’t even remember by claiming that a forgettable character just highlights the Doctor and the Companion more, and later contending that Doctor Who has a deep relationship with his wardrobe and a fascination with design and fashion, and spends his time in between eras and episodes doing fashion design and trying on new outfits.  Perhaps best of all was Katrina’s theory about Doctor Who carrying a Barbie doll because he had been protesting Mattel’s unrealistically-proportioned dolls, and also because he intended to make it into a raggedy doll for young Amy Pond.

I would definitely listen to this game show again.

The other episode we listened to was called ‘There’s nothing “only” about being a Doctor”, which was the podcasters reacting to Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the next Dr Who.  This was particularly interesting because while most of the podcasters were very happy and quite emotional about finally having a female doctor, one of them was actually very unhappy about it, and they spent a fair while unpacking some of the (non-misogynist) reasons why one might not be thrilled at this choice.

I enjoyed this podcast a lot – significantly more than I enjoy Doctor Who, in fact – and I expect that it will go high on my ballot.

The Coode Street Podcast, by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K Wolfe, is basically an interview podcast.  We listened to the interview with Kim Stanley Robinson about drowned New York – sort of a preview of New York 2140 (which is apparently allowable, unlike Dr Who spoilers.  Andrew, are you sure you are being consistent here?).  He actually made the book sound like something I might want to read, which was unexpected – though I suspect that Robinson’s idea of comedy might be different to mine.  I did like it that Robinson had actually walked around the streets of New York with a topograhpical map, checking what would be underwater and figuring out what the tides would look like.

This is a perfectly good podcast, but not for me.  My attention span for listening to something is not sufficient to last through a full-length interview (I think it went for about an hour), and I kept on zoning out.

I remembered Fan Girl Happy Hour with great fondness from last year.  It is hosted by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams, who I really want to invite over to my house, because they seem absolutely lovely.  We listened to the episode where they discussed Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, which is a book I love so much that it overcomes my dislike of vampire stories (it has a lot of baking in it…).  The conversation rambled in a highly entertaining fashion.  Ana never re-reads books (something Renay simply can’t comprehend, being an inveterate re-reader, much like myself), and hasn’t read Sunshine since she was a teenager and had apparently imagined an entire sex scene that wasn’t even in the book (‘vampire dick’ was discussed at some length, as promised in the introduction, since blood flow might be assumed to be an… issue… for vampires).  There was discussion of which genre the book falls into, of the source of Sunshine’s power, of whether Con is *really* as disgusting to look at as Sunshine says he is, or whether it’s her ability to see through glamour that makes him so (or whether she is in deep denial of the fact that she really wants to bone him, thank you, Renay).  They also had a really interesting discussion about Sunshine’s relationship with her family and friends, and also what she is hiding from (or ignoring) about herself.

I then saw that there was an episode about The King of Attolia, which I adore, but which Andrew hasn’t read yet, so I decided to read the transcript of this one (which means, sadly, that I don’t get to listen to Ana’s gorgeous accent, but I can imagine it…).  Again, this was delightful, not least because Ana adores the book and Renay… doesn’t.  She actually does like it (unlike previous books in the series), but fascinatingly, she finds that she can’t connect to it at all emotionally.  Ana and I are both stunned by this, because both of us find it intensely emotional.  Ana is also very dramatic on the subject, and I’m really going to have to listen to this sometime, because I can very nearly hear it in her voice, but I want the reality.

In short, Fan Girl Happy Hour is still utterly adorable and is currently at the top of my ballot.  I really have to get around to listening to it in non-Hugo seasons.

Then today we had a really long drive, to Warburton and back, via Canterbury, so we knocked off the last three podcasts.

Galactic Suburbia was the next cab off the rank, and we listened to the episode recorded at Continuum last year. This was a fair bit of fun, and I enjoyed especially their reflections on Wonder Woman and on last year’s Hugo Reading, which of course I had also done. I liked it a lot, but not as much as Verity or Fangirl Happy Hour. (Andrew would put this one higher than I would, because he appreciated the different perspectives people brought to the work, which is fair enough. I think I like two or three person podcasts more, because the conversation is more intimate and direct or something I can’t define, but I prefer it.) Also, this was *very* long – more than an hour and a half – which I find a bit long for a podcast.

We then listened to the Ditch Diggers podcast on the power of saying No. This was also over an hour, oy. It had some good advice, and some good examples of how to apply it, and sort of reminded me of reading Ask A Manager, which is one of my favourite blogs. But after a point, it got a little repetitive for me.

This afternoon, we had a try at listening to Sword and Laser, which is only 40 minutes. It had that nice, two friends chatting about something dynamic, which I should have liked, but after about 25 minutes it wasn’t holding either of our attention. I feel as though it didn’t go into much depth about anything – a lot of things were mentioned, and there was a lot of ‘oh, that’s interesting’ or ‘oh, I enjoyed that’, but no further commentary. Theoretically, there was more interesting stuff in the second half of the podcast, but I think you do have to do more to engage your audience in the first twenty minutes if you want them to stick around for the second twenty. (I think perhaps the difference between this and Fangirl Happy Hour is that where Fangirl Happy Hour feels like you have two really enthusiastic friends geeking out about something in your loungeroom and giggling a lot, this felt more like overhearing a conversation on the tram without context – people who have known the two people talking for years will get more out of it, because they know the cues and backstory, but for the random tram spectator, there isn’t a lot to go with.)

I think my final ballot here will be Fangirl Happy Hour, then Verity!, then Galactic Suburbia. Ditch Diggers and Coode Street are tied in 4th and 5th, and I don’t know their final order. Sword and Laser is last.

Next up, I’m going to start on the Best Novels, but since New York 2140 is my first one, and it’s a gigantic tome, you may not hear from me for a few days…