Listening to Stories

I listen to about as much material as I read if not more. With two kids and their lessons, a part-time job and a dog to walk, it’s the only way I stay current at all.

Listening is different from reading with your eyeballs. But once you adjust to the aural attentiveness required to take in a spoken word piece its delightful to knit or scrub or walk while someone reaches across time and space to tell you a story.

With audio there are three people involved, you the writer and the reader. I great reader can really add dimension to whatever you are listening to, and a not so great reader can make a difficult slog of a great story. It’s the price you pay for the extra company.

It feels both modern – with the technology that makes audio books and podcasting so accessible – and primal to listen to a story. Put in your earbuds and join those long gone people who sat around the fire listening to the Illiad, Gilgamesh and Beowulf (all of which you can get as audiobooks by the way).

Mostly, I get audiobooks from the library and load them onto my iPod, but my queue of novels and nonfiction is getting dusty since I discovered so many great podcasts this year. Turns out the Pod-o-sphere is chock full of fantastic genre stories, news and chat. To write great short stories you have to read lots of them. Thanks to these podcasts I’ve listened to more stories, and to a broader range of stories within the genre, than I could have possibly read this year.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to. It’s by no means a comprehensive list, but I still say it’s awesome. It’s made cleaning the house, running errands and walking the dog immeasurably more pleasant.


All kinds of fantasy stories from swords and socerey to slipstream.

Escape Pod
Great science fiction stories in all styles from new and established authors in the field.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies
This one specializes in literary adventure fantasy that takes place on secondary worlds.

This online magazine has won the Hugo for best semipro magazine two years running. The stories are fantastic and varied. The first thing I did when I got my Kindle for Christmas was subscribe to this and to Lightspeed Magazine.

A John Joseph Adams joint this magazine and podcast is combining with its sister magazine Fantasy for double the podcasts and stories.


Both the website and this podcast are a great source of news about goings on in the genre.

Coode Street Podcast
I really enjoy hearing these two friends chatting about all things science fiction and fantasy. Both Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Woolfe are award-winning anthologists and editors.

(File under inspiration. keeping the “science” in science fiction.)

Groks Science Radio Show
The production values are low but the two hosts are great interviewers and often have some big names in science on their show to discuss current science topics.


Samples of lectures from the Odyssey Writer’s Workshop. They don’t post very often, but I’ve listened through their entire catalog and there’s a lot of great writing and genre advice. If you can’t afford six weeks to attend this workshop, check out their podcast.

Writing Excuses
Fun and chatty with good advice too. Gotta love their motto: “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”

I Should Be Writing

Another great genre focused podcast. Advice and interviews mixed with writerly commiseration.

So that’s what’s keeping my ears happy right now. I know there’s lots more out there. Tell me about your favorites in the comments and I’ll add them on. Enjoy!

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