Saturday, 3 February 2024

Podcast recommendations update

I wrote a series of posts in 2021 about podcasts that I listen to and since it’s been a couple of years and things have changed, I thought I’d write an update with new recommendations and remembering the ones that have ended in that period.

Ended, changed, and ones I’ve just given up on

So several podcasts that I listed in my earlier series have ended, changed, become irregular, or I’ve just given up on.

Despite saying a number of times that they had new episodes coming, Robby the Robot’s Waiting haven’t released a new episode since September 2021.  I suspect it was mostly a pandemic project for all the hosts, and now that they’re no longer locked down, they’re away doing other things.  Reply All had several internal scandals, and eventually wound itself up in June 2022.  My Dad Wrote a Porno also decided to stop after the sixth book in the series, although they’re currently running a series monthly “best of” shows and keep talking about mysterious future plans.

Reasons to be Cheerful has changed its format.  Since there’s a good chance that the Labour Party will win the next election, they don’t think they’ll have time to do the in-depth analysis that they’ve been doing, but they’ve changed up to just getting together every week for a chat (they call it the “cheerful chataroo”). Dungeons and Daddies finished their previous story arc and moved on to a new season playing the grandchildren of their previous characters, and that just wasn’t as much fun for me so I gave that one up.  Finally, while Til Dice Do Us Part is still going, it’s now on a very irregular schedule, partly down to host health issues, and partly just life getting in the way.  A new episode is always something to celebrate though.

New podcasts

I’ve added a whole bunch of new podcasts since 2021, so here’s a few of my favourites


New releases of Octothorpe are posted on noted SF fan site File 770, which is where I first heard about it.  One of the episode illustrations must have caught my eye, and I went and listened to an episode.  I immediately started binging the archive and I still get a little hit of dopamine every time a new episode appears in my podcast feed.  Octothorpe was started at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, by three British SF fans, talking mostly about fandom and a little bit about actual SFF material.  I was still only part way through the archive when one of the hosts made the mistake of inviting letters of comment on older episodes.  I immediately started doing so on Twitter as I was going along and got to hear them being read out on the podcast, which just led to me writing to them more.  They ran their own online con during the pandemic (although I think that was before I started listening) and I’ve already met John at Satellite 8, and hope to meet the other hosts, Alison and Liz, at the Glasgow 2024 WorldCon.

They’ve recently hit their episode century, and episodes are released every two weeks, and tend to be about an hour long.  Octothorpe has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fancast several times now, although it has yet to win.

Hugo Girl!

Hugo Girl! consists of three (space) feminists reviewing Hugo Award winning novels, and anything else that takes their fancy.  They’re sharp, clever and funny and their analysis is always incisive and in-depth.  I love listening to their reviews, even when they hate a book that I’ve really liked.  They take serious notes and discuss the books in depth, with regular segments including “goodies from GoodReads” where they look for other reviews of the book (usually at the lower end of the scale, since those tend to be funnier); “feminist favourite” and “misogynist moment” for the best and worst parts of the book from a feminist point of view; “boob talk” for male gaze; and, of course, the all important question: is this book more Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

There should be a Hugo Girl! representation at the Glasgow 2024 WorldCon, and I hope to increase my SF podcasters collection by meeting one or more of them there.

There’s over 80 episodes out so far, and episodes are released monthly, and tend to be about an hour long.  Hugo Girl! won the 2023 Hugo Award for Best Fancast (and, in a very classy move, have permanently recused themselves from consideration in future).

The Irish History Podcast

I know as little about Irish history as I did about Indian history, so I thought I’d try to correct that, after giving up on the History of India podcast.  I think I found this by just searching in my podcast app, I tried a couple of episodes and decided to keep it.  The presenter, Fin Dwyer, is an historian, but the episodes are much less dry than Kit Patrick’s style of presenting.  The earliest episodes in my feed discuss the early medieval history of Ireland, including the Viking invasion and going up to the Norman conquest in the 11th and 12th centuries.  I dipped in and out of this series, but too much of it was just kings and dates.  But moving forward a bit, there were a lot of interesting series focussing more on the social history of Ireland, which is something I’m much more interested in.

There was a long series on Great Famine in Ireland, something which (somehow) made me hate the English establishment even more than I already did, and I’ve just finished a series on Irish involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

There’s over 350 episodes in the archive.  Episodes are released (more or less) weekly and tend to be 30-40 minutes long.

Our Fake History

A podcast about “what’s fact, what’s fiction, and what’s such a good story that it simply must be told”.  It’s a really interesting podcast deconstructing historical myths, looking for the truth behind the fiction.  Subjects in the past have included Cleopatra, the Salem witch trials, the origins of modern wrestling and the history of martial arts.  The host, Sebastian Major, is engaging and he researches his topics well, making clear what sources he’s drawing from.  It’s very wide ranging, and often in depth.  Some topics will be covered in a single episode, but some will extend to series of up to three episodes.  He’ll not go beyond three episodes on a single topic, but that means that some of the episodes can run really long, if he’s got a lot to say.

There’s over 200 episodes in the archive.  Episodes are released fortnightly and tend to be about 60-80 minutes long.

Be the Serpent

Be the Serpent is a podcast of “extremely deep literary merit”.  And from that, you can imagine how seriously the hosts take themselves.  They spend a lot of time discussing the craft of writing and storytelling, looking at aspects such as cities, character deaths, witches, monster sex, and an awful lot of dick jokes!  The three hosts are all fantasy authors (I’ve managed to read novels by two of them so far) and listening to three people deep in the thick of it discussing aspects of their craft is fascinating.  They also very much respect fanfic and tend to include a fanfic story as one of their “tentpoles” around which to discuss the topic of the episode.  I think I picked this up because I was looking for new SF-related podcasts and was looking at nominations for Best Fancast over the last few years and picked this one to give a go.

This podcast is actually over.  They decided to wind it up at episode 100 (I’m about half way through the archive so far) and episodes tend to be about an hour long.

There’s other podcasts I’ve picked up since my last post, but these are my favourites.  Not that I need any more, but do you have any recommendations of podcasts that you’ve enjoyed?

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