The Best of Lightspeed/Fantasy Podcast 2016

written by David Steffen

Lightspeed Magazine is the award-nominated science fiction magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, and their podcastis  produced by the excellent Skyboat Media.  They publish about half of the stories they publish in text.  They published 52 stories in 2016.

This year marked the publication of their People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction special issue (guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim), published in Lightspeed, as well as the People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy (guest-edited by Daniel José Older), published as a special revival issue of Fantasy Magazine (which is otherwise subsumed by Lightspeed in most other respects).

The stories eligible for the upcoming Hugo/Nebula award season are marked with an asterisk (*).

The List

1. “The Venus Effect” by Joseph Allen Hill*
Metafictional story trying to write science fiction adventures of Apollo and The Girl From Venus in various formats.  Tragic and fitting, told in a compelling way.

2.  “Not By Wardrobe, Tornado, Or Looking Glass” by Jeremiah Tolbert*
When everyone seems to be finding their own personal portal to their own personal wonderlands, Louisa awaits her turn.

3.  “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Death: 0” by Caroline M. Yoachim*
Written as a fun pulpy choose-your-own-adventure story.

4.  “5×5” by Jilly Dreadful*
Summer camp with mad scientist types.

5.  “The One Who Isn’t” by Ted Kosmatka*
Stories within stories, and you have to piece together what is happening as it goes.  Interesting, compelling, well done.

Honorable Mentions

“Fifty Shades of Grays” by Steven Barnes*

“Double Time” by John Chu

“The Lives of Riley” by Sean Williams*





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The Best of Pseudopod 2013

written by David Steffen

Another year, another round of Best Of lists.

Pseudopod, and the other Escape Artists casts had a bit of a crisis to overcome this year–they realized that although they had a great listenership, only 1% of the listeners donated, and it wasn’t enough to keep the publications afloat. The good news is that when they revealed this there was a strong reaction to add subscriptions–if you read this and you like the cast, consider adding a subscription.

And I thought this was another strong year for Pseudopod, and I’m not just saying that because two of my own stories were published during the year. Since I don’t consider my own stories for Best Of lists, I’ll just mention them briefly here. “Meat” is the story of a domestic housebot doing the best he can under difficult circumstances. “Helpers” is a special dark Christmas episode.

Pseudopod published 58 stories in 2013, of which these are my personal favorites.

The List

1. Neighborhood Watch by Greg Egan
Point of view of a monster summoned by the leaders of a suburban neighborhood to make it prey on only the wrong kind of person for the neighborhood. Not very many monsters come off as original, but this one was done extraordinarily well and the narration of Ron Jon Newton really made it even better.

2. The Murmurous Paleoscope by Dixon Chance
A lot of steampunk stories seem like the steampunk elements are just set dressing, goggles and gears without any real consideration for how the world would have to be different to make this environment. This is the story of a female archaeologist during a time period when archaeology digs were viciously competitive. Each side has its own steampunk gadgets to use in its work, and it really gets interesting when they find something in the dig.

3. Bunraku by David X. Wiggin
This story is about an incredibly lifelike puppet, which in the hands of its creator the master puppeteer attracts the love of a man. The puppeteer and the man work out a bargain to allow the man to continue his romance with the puppet. Ugghhh, yeah creepy.

4. Cell Call by Marc Laidlaw
The protagonist of this story takes a wrong turn on his way home, and ends up somewhere just sideways of normality. He’s on the phone with his wife, his only connection to his regular life.

5. Cry Room by Ted Kosmatka
You know how in some churches, they have a separate room for parents to take their crying babies? What happens to the kids who are too noisy for the cry room? Oh, you didn’t notice the door in the back?

6. Boxed by Donald McCarthy
What would you do if you had a magic box which had the ability to wipe away any memory you chose?


Honorable Mentions

The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

FootSteps Invisible by Robert A. Arthur Jr.

The Bungalow House by Thomas Ligotti