Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Fancast

Adventures in SF Publishing Brent Bower (Executive Producer), Kristi Charish, Timothy C. Ward & Moses Siregar III (Co-Hosts, Interviewers and Producers)
Dungeon Crawlers Radio Daniel Swenson (Producer/Host), Travis Alexander & Scott Tomlin (Hosts), Dale Newton (Host/Tech), Damien Swenson (Audio/Video Tech)
Galactic Suburbia Podcast Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
The Sci Phi Show Jason Rennie
Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman & Peter Newman

It is quite obvious to me that I am not the intended audience for most podcasts. I tend to only listen to one when the subject or the guest strongly interests me, and even then, I seem to be limited by just how much I can take. I do listen, semi-regularly, to Rocket Talk (one of my Hugo nominees for Related Work), occasionally a sports or wrestling related podcast, and then even yet more rarely, stuff like Star Talk, the Agony Column, or the other one I listen to which completely escapes me. 

So, "fancasts". 

As a general rule, for me, shorter is better. I listened to each of the works included in the Hugo voter's packet and am judging solely on that. If there were better examples of each podcast, that's unfortunate, because while all of them have their merits, none are ones I intend to return to.

But listening to two hours of Dungeon Crawlers talking about building role playing campaigns is just too much for me. It's not my thing. It is reasonably competent, but the podcast seemed to be too busy with too many people trying to speak. 

The Sci Phi show should be commended for simply having a very different and specific topic, which is the melding of science fiction and philosophy. Again, not my thing, but except for the really awful fake laughs that are used as transitions (or markers for jokes), Jason Rennie has a decent thing going with this show.  Added bonus, this was a very short episode, less than 30 minutes.

Adventures in SF Publishing is a bit more up my alley, though it ran a full hour, but was otherwise unremarkable.  Galactic Suburbia was a bit better, but still neither truly could grab my interest. It's not you, folks, it's me. Listening to podcasts are just not my thing, but I don't wish to ignore the category completely and some of the work being done here is rather good - for those who appreciate it.

Tea and Jeopardy appears to be in a class by itself. It is very slickly produced and seems to take place in the midst of a proper tea party. Again, this was one of the shorter episodes included and the limited run time accentuates what is cool and quirky about it while never letting what works run for too long.  It is the most worthy of the nominees, I think.

My vote:
1. Tea and Jeopardy
2. Galactic Suburbia
3. Adventures in SF Publishing
4. The Sci Phi Show
5. Dungeon Crawlers Radio

Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.

I may re-post this message on each article I write about the nominees, just so that we're clear in such a contentious year.


Paul Weimer said...

I'm not a nominee this year, alas. Given my friendships with a couple of these shows, I am hard pressed to vote fairly this year.

Joe said...

That could be hard, though if you legitimately like some of the podcasts better than others, despite friendship, you should vote that way.

It's maybe easier if you're not voting in public like I am.