Titles: Escape Pod, Pseudopod & PodCastle
Reviewer: Sheryl Anderson
First, some general notes. These are podcast magazines. They are professional magazines who just happen to be online, in audio, and free. They depend on donations to pay the authors and run the site. In practice, for you, this means that a new story is released every week as an .mp3 file. You can download them from the website yourself or if you have a podcatcher program, like iTunes, you can set it to download the file automatically. The audio quality has always been good on all three magazines. I’ve never noticed a problem with it. The stories are often read by the editors or by other members of the podcast community.
Most of the stories tend to be around half an hour or a bit more. They also occasionally release flash fiction, which is really short fiction, and reviews. All of their work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. This means you can download it for free, give it to anybody you want, burn it to CD, etc. as long as you attribute the work to the author, don’t change the file, or try make money off it.
Escape Pod is the original magazine; it began in May 2005. Originally it ran mainly science fiction, but did run some fantasy and horror. These days, except for an occasional story, it’s all science fiction. They feature a mix of new and established authors. Some of those established authors include Isaac Asimov, (Nightfall, ep.100,) Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick, David Brin, and Elizabeth Bear. They also run the Hugo nominees every year, or as many of them as they can get. The stories are generally good. There have been a few I haven’t cared for, but it’s been because I didn’t care for the story itself, the writing and production were fine. The stories are rated, G through X, and there is a secondary feed that only runs the G through PG13 stories. If you like science fiction and listening to stories, I highly recommend Escape Pod. It’s my favorite of the three.
Pseudopod was the first sister podcast. It began in August 2006. It’s a horror magazine. It too has both new and established authors. Unlike Escape Pod, which has stories suitable for children, Pseudopod doesn’t, nor would I recommend it for the easily disturbed or offended. If you like horror though, it’s a good magazine and worth checking out.
PodCastle is the newest magazine of the three, and it’s a fantasy magazine. It only started publishing in April of this year. Again, it has both new and established authors. There have been a lot of stories by Peter S. Beagle for instance. So far, it’s publishing its regular stories, flash fiction, and they just started PodCastle giants, which will be longer stories. They’ve only published one so far, and it was around an hour and a half long. PodCastle also rates their stories, but I haven’t noticed a secondary feed like Escape Pod has. It’s also worth checking out.
I must admit to not having listened to any of the recent episodes on Escape Pod and Pseudopod. When I discovered them I started all the way back at episode 1 and I have not caught up yet. There’s only so much listening you can do in a day. I’m up to about episode 130 on Escape Pod and episode 60 on Pseudopod, so I’m currently about a year behind. PodCastle only began this year, so I’m only a couple episodes behind at the moment.
To sum it all up, if you like science fiction, fantasy or horror, and you like listening to stories, you should give them a try.
And if you are new to podcasting, you might want to check out Escape Pod’s explanation of it.