Christina Vasilevski

Toronto Writer/Editor for Content Strategy, Content Design & UX.

Short Story Roundup

In February, I posted a list of some of the podcasts and short stories I’ve enjoyed recently. I’ve listened to a whole lot more in the interim and subscribed to even more feeds, so here are some additional recommendations. The ones in bold are my favourites, and the ones I most highly recommend.

Source: Podcastle

Podcasts of fantasy fiction. My favourite of the 3 Escape Artist podcasts.

  • The Ghost of Christmas Possible, by Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw
  • Limits, by Donna Glee Williams
  • A Window, Clear as a Mirror, by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • Their Changing Bodies, by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  • Lavanya and Deepika, by Shveta Thakrar
  • Destiny, with a Blackberry Sauce, by David J. Schwartz
  • Urchins, While Swimming, by Catherynne M. Valente
  • A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet, by Garth Nix
  • In the Stacks, by Scott Lynch
  • The Rugged Track, by Liz Argall

Source: Escape Pod

Escape Pod has recently been giving PodCastle a run for its money. They introduced a new person to handle their feedback segment, and he’s a great improvement over their old feedback presenter.

  • Revenants, by Judith Tarr
  • Surviving the eBookalypse, by Randy Henderson
  • The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived, by Keffy R. M. Kehrli
  • Devour, by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • Overclocking, by James L. Sutter
  • Counting Cracks, by George R. Galuschak

Source: Pseudopod

Pseudopod is still the Escape Artists podcast that gives me the greatest trouble. There are good stories, but I find a lot of them are overwrought or just not engaging.

  • The Poor Girl Taken by Surprise, by Gemma Files
  • The Stink of Animosity, by Rob E. Boley
  • To My Wondering Eyes Did Appear, by Larry C. Kay
  • A Study in Flesh and Mind, by Liz Argall
  • The Burning Servant, by Steven Saus

Source: Daily Science Fiction

Daily Science Fiction – short stories in your inbox every weekday. Despite the title, they deal in all forms of speculative fiction, not just SF.

  • Biomass, by Alexander Stanmyer
  • Magic Enough, by Chuck Von Nordheim
  • Angry Child, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • The Steel Throne, by Eric James Stone
  • The Age of Three Stars, by Kenneth Sehneyer
  • The Pencil of Truth, by Shamus Maxwell
  • In Her Arms of Dresden Pale, by Damien Walters Grintalis
  • The Prisoners, by D.K. Latta
  • Nilly, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • Bus Ride to Mars, by Cat Rambo
  • The Procedure, by L.E. Elder
  • The Princess of the Perfume River, by Aliette de Bodard
  • Genie Electric, by Andrew Kaye
  • The Way, by Frank Dutkiewicz
  • Insomnia, by A.G. Carpenter
  • The Heartless Light of Stars, by Aliette de Bodard
  • Memories of My Mother, by Ken Liu
  • Godshift, by Nancy Fulda
  • Frog/Prince, by Melissa Mead
  • Offering Solace, by Jamie Lackey
  • After, by C.L. Holland
  • Nameless, by Mari Ness

Source: Toasted Cake

Toasted Cake is a new podcast by Tina Connolly. I first read her stories through DSF, but she’s also a gifted audio presenter. Her voice is pointed and distinctive. Toasted Cake specializes in flash fiction – a nice little bite of cake to whet your appetite.

  • Health Tips for Traveller, by David W. Goldman
  • The Ballad of Delphinium Blue, by Samantha Henderson
  • Mount Rainier Considers its Mental Health, by Spencer Ellsworth
  • Please Return My Son Who Is in Your Custody, by Helena Bell
  • Again and Again and Again, by Rachel Swirsky
  • Shatter Shatter by Sean Markey

Source: Cast of Wonders

Cast of Wonders is a newer podcast hosted by Graeme Dunlop, who also narrates audio fiction for some of the podcasts listed above. CoW is like Podcastle in that it does fantasy fiction, but it aims to be more all-ages friendly. How they define “all-ages” is unknown to me, because some of their stories involve sex, violence, and even drug-dealing.

  • A Suitable Pet, by Abigail Hilton
  • A Proof of Unicorns, by Elizabeth Creith
  • Damnation, by Chris Stamp
  • Alienation, by Katherine Sparrow (a 2-part episode)
  • Same-Day Delivery, by Desmond Warzel
  • Saved, by Arin Greenwood (a 2-part episode)

Thoughts on Ovid

The last few days have been pretty run-of-the mill in some ways, and special in others. Office work proceeds apace, but outside of that, I’m now part of a multi-user project that I was originally considering doing independently – a public domain podcast of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I’ve loved this particular book for quite some time, and was wondering whether it would be feasible to try podcasting the whole thing myself while adding commentary. The main thing holding me back was my preferred translation still  being under copyright protection.

Solution? Enter Librivox. Librivox has been providing audio versions of books in the public domain for a few years now, and over the holidays, they’ve been gathering people to narrate a public domain translation of the Metamorphoses in several sections. While this translation isn’t as lyrical as the one I know, it is more kosher from a legal/copyright perspective.

I happened upon the forum thread asking for more readers, and they still had some good sections of the story available. In particular, I’m looking forward to reading the story of Pomona and Vertumnus. So many of Ovid’s stories feature men and women pining away for love, dying for love, or being killed or transformed for not requiting someone else’s desire – worse yet, you could capture Jove’s eye, and earn Juno’s wrath. What sort of good is that?

Pomona and Vertumnus, on the other hand, I feel is unique – Pomona’s a beautiful, practical and competent woman who doesn’t really want love. Vertumnus is someone who loves Pomona for her dedication and skill, and her alone. So he comes to her in disguise, talks himself up in disguise, tells her all about how bad it is to refuse love, and charms her socks off. When summarized like that, it sounds like a bad rom-com movie, but for Roman myth, it’s pretty revolutionary:

  • The woman is more than just a pretty face
  • The person who is in love with her doesn’t chase her, abduct her or attempt to rape her (See: Io, Persephone, Medusa, Calisto, Caenis, Philomena, etc)
  • She doesn’t get punished for trying to avoid someone’s advances (See: Galatea and Polyphemus, Daphne, Hermaphrodite, Picus, etc)
  • She doesn’t turn into a tree for no good reason (See: Dryope)
  • Vertumnus actually talks to her and tells her to give him a chance – none of this “transform into a bull and get a lady to climb onto your back” crap (See: Europa)
  • Both people end up happy and still in their original forms!

In short, she has agency in a way that a lot of other Ovidian heroines don’t. Sure, a modern lady would have probably kicked him to the curb for doing the whole visiting-in-disguise thing, but Ovid doesn’t seem to like women being too independent. Pomona’s the best we can do right now.

Aside from that, I’ve decided to help a business contact get his own website working using WordPress. I’m looking forward to the challenge  of installing it for someone else and getting exposure to the backend of another hosting provider. More news to follow.

Introducing the Writer’s Circle

The last few days have been very encouraging from a professional development perspective.  Not only have I made some new contacts, but I’ve got a nice advertisement up, and I’ve also got leads on some new projects. So, the good news, in no particular order:

  • My first editing client from a few weeks back has informed me that she’ll send me some new articles to edit by the end of the week. Project rates are yet to be ironed out.
  • I am now a member of the Writer’s Circle of Durham Region, and I attended their monthly breakfast meeting yesterday. My thanks for the extremely warm welcome to go Rich Helms, Karen Cole, Susan Reynolds, Thomas Moss, Victor Demko, and many more.
  • I’ve just started to talk to a local real estate agent about redesigning his community news website. Right now I’m in the process of reviewing the site to figure out how it could be streamlined and made more user-friendly.
  • My editing services are now being advertised on WCDR’s member services page.
  • The deadline for the EAC’s Claudette Upton Scholarship has been extended, so I now have plenty of time to prepare my application and get a recommendation letter.
  • I’ve been offered a chance to write a short article for the next issue of one of the EAC’s newsletters

Other than all of this, something happened to me that has given me a lot of food for thought. At yesterday’s Writer’s Circle breakfast meeting, I bought a copy of The Best Laid Plans available for sale. Now, this is a book that is available for free as a podcast, and my friends and family know that I love, love, love hearing podcast fiction – so why would I buy something that I could get for free?

Well, there are multiple reasons. One, I just never got around to downloading it, even though its success proves the viability of podcast fiction. Two, the book was right there, just waiting to be purchased, and at a reasonable price to boot. Three – and this is the biggie – it was a signed copy. The book would have been a steal without it, and the signature made it an even better value.

So, I guess there’s a lesson here for you publishing wonks: signatures are a value-added feature that you just can’t provide outside of book form.  People like the idea of owning things that have been handled by someone famous, and a signature provides a nice tactile way of proving contact. If any eReader manufacturer ever get the idea of adding digital signatures to eBooks, I guarantee it’ll go down like a lead balloon – the intimacy of physical contact, of the author writing something specifically for you is not there.