Hugo 2017 Fancast

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Posted on : 7/02/2017 12:51:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

I completed my review of the fan-cast nominees a few weeks back.

From my perspective, a good podcast will include the following;  good audio quality, news/information, an entertaining format, and engaging hosts.  With respect to hosts, I appreciate it when hosts know how to share the microphone in a conversation as well as know how to get out of their lane with respect to understanding other perspectives.  An additional consideration for the Hugos is whether or not I would recommend a podcast to someone else even if it might not be in my wheelhouse.  I also evaluated podcasts against my current list of regular podcast subscriptions.

1.  Tea and Jeopardy

I'm a fan.  They are on my list of regularly experience podcasts.  I donate via Patreon.  Emma and Peter Newman provide a great podcast.

For those that haven't listened to their podcast, they combine radio theater with an interview podcast.  Peter Newman portrays Emma's butler, Latimer.  Latimer locates unusual and frequently perilous locations for Emma and her guests to take tea.  Emma hosts her guests in a manner reflective to my American ears as that of a proper British lady.

She and her guests talk about books and writing and publishing and other oddments.  At the end of the show, there is another bit of radio theater as the guests encounter a peril uniquely associated with the locale for the tea lair and/or the guest in question.

It is just simply great fun, wonderfully written (where writing is required), and most informative.  The hiccups are few.

I have a tough time believing that any of the other nominees will be able to knock the Newmans out of first place on my ballot, but we shall see. (Yup!  I was right!)

2.  Coode Street Podcast

I listened to Episodes #286 & #292.

This is a fairly straightforward news and interview format.  The hosts shared the microphone quite well.  When they had guests, they asked relevant questions and then got out of the way to let the guests speak.

Those episodes were good enough for me to consider adding it to my regular list of podcasts.

One aspect of their program that I enjoyed was that it was conducted with a level of maturity.  One episode included Canadian author Jo Walton.  There was a discussion about preferential treatment of authors and their books.

Ms. Walton quite openly acknowledged that publishers, reviewers, and readers choose to focus their attention on a smaller range of the genre.  She indicated that she will frequently discover rare gems from prior years that were ignored when they were first published in favor of other works.

It was a refreshing exchange that acknowledged the reality of publishing and media promotion.  It is quite possible for Author X to write something superior to the work of Authors A, B, and C despite the publishing/media/fandom desire to promote Authors A, B, and C for any of a number of reasons.

3. Rageaholic

For the purposes of consideration for the Hugos, I limited my review to episodes that are limited to SF/F commentary.  The host is clearly pro-Trump.  I elected not to let that bleed over into my review.

I listened to the following episodes.  They covered three video games and one comic series.

  • The Rageaholic: Doom
  • Razor vs Comics: NIGHTWING Rebirth #1-5
  • Battlefield 1 - The Rageaholic
  • Mechwarrior 5: For Real, This Time! (A rant)

As with last year, I found the persona being presented to be over-the-top entertainment.  I wouldn't want a strict diet of this stuff, but it is entertaining in manageable doses.

What comes through all of the rapid-fire delivery of invective is a central concern for properties that provide a satisfying experience.  For video games, then need to provide an engaging experience within the respective sub-genres.  The host appears to have enough playing experience within enough titles to be able to offer informed opinions about what works to provide a reasonable gaming experience.

There is also the basic subtext that he believes gaming journalism is placing non-gaming factors ahead of game playability factors when assessing the relative merits of a given title.  Welcome to 2017.

His thoughts on various iterations of Nightwing were also interesting.  I followed that series for a while a decade or so ago.  It was pretty standard fare, so I stopped.  But it looks like there was one period that I might want to go back and review.  Specifically, the Nightwing/Huntress series written by Devin Grayson.

4.  No Award

5. Galactic Suburbia

After attempting to listen to a Galactic Suburbia debacle last year, I wasn't exactly keen on listening to them this year.  I ended up listening to Episode #148 (Ghostbusters Review).

On a positive note, the podcast was less of a hot mess than the episode I sampled last year.  The participants were better able to "share the mic".  A modest negative was that their commentary seemed to lean too frequently on viewing Ghostbusters (2016) via a feminist lens rather than simply relating the story elements that they found engaging.  That is an important perspective.  It isn't the only one worthy of their thoughts.

The moment that drove this podcast below No Award was when they started to suggest that they would consider alternative opinions once they purged stalking and threats of violence from that range of perspectives.  That is (or should be) a no-brainer.  But then they followed it up with a quick assertion that they wouldn't consider other perspectives anyway.

Exclusionary and eliminationist rhetoric isn't deserving of any reward.

I do have to give them credit as one of the co-hosts didn't really enjoy Ghostbusters (2016).  Her reasons dovetailed with others that I have heard/read.

6.  Fan Girl Happy Hour

I listened to Episodes #32 (No Fucks 2016) and #42 (2016 Hugo nominations announcement)

In episode 32, the hosts spent too much time talking about their other blogs/commentary projects.  So they consumed a significant amount of time on one commentary project talking about their other commentary projects.  Once they finally moved beyond talking about their opinions about their other opinions, the podcast became pretty informative and engaging.

Episode #42 was a reaction to the nominations for last year.  It amounted to a half hour's worth of guttural sounds of exasperation and a half hour's worth of "I don't understand".  Both of which are fine reactions, but not necessarily informative nor entertaining.

7.  Ditch Diggers

I listened to episodes #29 and #33.  Two people talking together.  Occasionally informative, but not terribly entertaining.  Presumptuous of the value of their opinions.  And I say that while agreeing with quite a few things that they said about people taking advantage of freelance writers by offering "exposure" or "beer money" in lieu of, you know, paying people based on the value of their work.

In one of the episodes, Mur announced that Netflix had announced that they were developing one of her properties.  She then went on a rant about the TV and film industries "white washing" properties.  A couple of her secondary characters are gay.  Mur was concerned that Netflix might change her work to make it more palatable to a wider audience.

Netflix is the same network that presents Sense8 that includes some pretty graphic scenes between gay and lesbian characters.  While I share the concern about the displacement of authentic/original characters, Nexflix has produced a number of Marvel properties that emphasize the use of characters as originally created.  Netflix isn't exactly a place where "whitewashing" is not a valid concern.

It just came off as a knee-jerk perspective as opposed to a reasonable concern based on the history of the production company.

While that seems like I'm teeing off on Mur, she was really the more engaging of the two hosts.  Her co-host, Matt, was pretty self-absorbed.  I kept picturing being stuck at a party with him and inevitably found that I would be seeking the quickest way out of the conversation as I could reasonably find.

I've listened to other SFF author based podcasts that offer similar advice.  Those authors have a better format, better sense of perspective, demonstrate interest outside of themselves, and generally are more engaging in their presentation.

So What Is Better??

In addition to Tea and Jeopardy, I also nominated Sincast, Sarcastic Voyage, The Post Atomic Horror Podcast, and The Horror Show with Brian Keene.  All of those other four podcasts are (admittedly subjectively) better than those that I put below No Award.  Sincast and PAH utilize a combination of entertainment and information that is comparable with Tea and Jeopardy.  The Horror Show uses a straight news/interview format.  The entire range of regular hosts of The Horror Show are more engaging and entertaining than the shows that I put below No Award.  The Sarcastic Voyage is a straight up bit of radio theater based on fantasy writing.

All of them deserve to have sufficient attention from fandom to be discussed as contenders for the Hugo awards.  They would (or should) easily beat out those that I put below No Award.

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