Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

March 6, 2013


In the absence of particularly positive or useful things to say about my writing month (hoo boy), I’m going to do some quick shout-outs to the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately. I’ve already spoken of my abiding love for the world’s most dangerous comics and pop culture podcast, War Rocket Ajax, the amiable rambling of the Coode Street podcast that range far and wide over the speculative scene and the sublimely delightful feminist Aussie spec-fic chat show, Galactic Suburbia. Those are all still regular, much-anticipated items in my podfeed. Here are some of the other things keeping me sane while I clean up the front yard with a mattock, a shovel and a desperate awareness of my own physical limits…

Doctor Who: As all persons of wit and discernment are aware, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the greatest television program ever devised. No, not bloody Landline, I mean Doctor Who. I’m managing to indulge in a reasonable amount of Who fandom at the moment without actually watching any episodes. For one, I’ve just ravenously devoured the first two volumes -covering the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras – of Philip Sandifer’s collected essays on the program, compiled from his epic blog TARDIS Eruditorum. They’re great, offering in particular an insightful perspective on rewatching the program with modern sensibilities. I’ll probably do a proper review at some point, but hey, I recommend them if you’re interested in what was happening when the show started out.

Meanwhile, the Splendid Chaps podcast is celebrating the anniversary year by producing a monthly podcast, starting in January, which covers each of the eleven Doctors and will culminate in a final episode to be broadcast on 23 November. This is a really fun show, not least because the presenters, John Richards and Ben McKenzie, are the creator of Outland and a successful stage comedian respectively as well as being dedicated Who nerds. Episodes are recorded in front of an audience, the guests are smart, thoughtful and funny, there’s a chirpy and witty MC voiceover from Melbourne singer/actress Petra Elliott, and there’s (so far) a ribald fan song at the end of the episode [1]. Splendid Chaps is great fun. Oh, and they assign homework, recommending episodes to watch in preparation for the next themed episode.

Verity! is another Doctor Who podcast, with an all-woman panel. Six of them, in fact – including Galactic Suburbia’s own Tansy Rayner Roberts – though generally only four or so will feature on any given episode. It’s a round-table format, as you would expect, full of gleeful squeeing and thoughtful chat about all things Doctorish. What’s most entertaining and distinctive about Verity is the range of fan experiences and views represented (Old series! New series! Shipping! No snogging in the TARDIS! Trad vs Rad! Frocks vs Guns!) and the fact that in every discussion there’s at least one dissenting voice who completely disagrees with everyone else. Not only does it avoid becoming a pontificating echo chamber but it also makes for an excellent representation of Who fandom in general. And I do love my Who fandom when it takes a fierce delight in the show.

Writing: Another fat chunk of my listening time, goes to following podcasts featuring writers talking about writing. Shut up, that’s often much more interesting than it sounds!

ThrillerCast is a show ostensibly about thriller and genre fiction that in practise often goes off on interesting and sometimes gossipy tangents about writing and topics affecting writers and readers in general – which publisher is going under this week or Amazon’s latest atrocities or some author’s foot-in-mouth/social media-fail moment. Neither presenter – American David Wood and Australian Alax Baxter (who is local to this area and is a member of the CSfG, not to mention a lovely bloke) – is a worldwide international phenomenon, but they are both working writers with solid followings and a heavy investment in knowing which way the winds are blowing in the publishing world. They know their stuff, in other words, and if the business of writing is of any of interest to you – even if the presenters’ particular fields are not to your tastes – then I recommend ThrillerCast.

Nerdist Writers Panel. This is a fantastic panel show hosted by Ben “I’ve written for the series Supernatural and Supah Ninjas” Blacker. Every week, he assembles a power lineup of LA script writers (typically ones working in television, but it varies) and grills them about the business, their influences, their daily writing routines and their careers. Once in a while he breaks up the formula and speaks to comic writers as well (Ed Brubaker, Len Wein, Erik Larsen and Robert Kirkman have all been on in the past few months). Blacker is a great interviewer whose easy rapport with his guests overcomes any introvert tendencies they may have (as a few do, but fewer than you’d probably expect). No doubt it helps if you have at least a passing interest in the conventions and production of US television (or films, or comics, or off-Broadway plays sometimes) but the broad discussions are fascinating and, for me as a writer, very useful.

[1] I didn’t care for the song at the end of the first episode, but the one for the Troughton episode more than made up for it.

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