7 Tips for Podcasters

Keep it short

Most people don’t have the time to listen to long podcasts. Chances are, they’re listening while travelling to work, or late at night. If your podcast is longer than ten minutes, provide an index to topics, so listeners can start at a particular spot.

Record somewhere quiet

Unless you need a specific atmosphere (eg waves, seagulls, theatre foyer), avoid recording in noisy areas: they are hard to listen to, and a pain to edit. Record the podcast in WAV format for best quality.

Use The Levelator to balance voices

This free software balances audio levels between different voices. The Levelator automatically balances various audio levels, such as multiple microphone levels in an interview or panel discussion, or segments combined from multiple sessions that were recorded at different levels.

details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levelator 
downloads: http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator

Note: you will require a PCM recording, such as WAV or AIFF, for The Levelator to work.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 6.32.07 amAudacity showing the Effect of Running The Levelator on a recording with varying voice levels (TOP) to create a more balanced output file (Bottom)

Do a basic edit on the recording before publishing

Always worth doingto ensure you’ve got a good recording. Means you can edit out unexpected noises, remove coughs, false starts and so on. Most importantly, it means you can listen to what’s been said and make sure you want to publish (all) of it.

Audacity is free, cross platform and easy to use editing software for audio files.

details: http://www.audacityteam.org

Tumblr will let you store audio posts for free

Audio files can be quite large, even if you’ve saved the recording in mp3 format. There are several podcast oriented website hosts which will not only provide additional storage each month — so you can continue store all of your podcasts — but also provide convenient templates, tools, and online audio players.

One of the few places you can publish audio files for free is Tumblr. They limit files to be under 10MB, and cap the amount you can upload each day, but they do have an audio micro-format, and let you upload audio to their site, or link to audio files stored elsewhere.   

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The Environment Show at http://enviroshow3d.tumblr.com

Get a good podcast player

If you’re going to listen to a range of podcasts, pick a good podcast player: It’s much easier to organise your subscriptions and episodes with a good player, which will also let you

    • subscribe to new episodes
    • change playback speed
    • play parts of episodes and let you resume where you left off
    • provide feedback to the podcasters

Zencastr will record both sides of a discussion

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If you can’t both be present in the same room, you can record podcasts across the web using Zencastr.

Zencastr is built to run in a modern web browser. This makes it super easy to invite guests or record from anywhere with internet access. It records each guest locally on their machine, then combines the recordings and stores it in your dropbox.

More details: https://zencastr.com

Arthur C Clarke Award 2017

The Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature has announced its 2017 winner.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Fleet)
The winner received a prize of £2017.00 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend.

The complete shortlist was:

A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
After Atlas, Emma Newman (Roc)
Occupy Me, Tricia Sullivan (Gollancz)
Central Station, Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Fleet)

The Orville: new SF show from Fox

THE ORVILLE is a one-hour science fiction series set 400 years in the future that follows the adventures of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory vessel. Its crew, both human and alien, faces the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of regular people in a workplace…even though some of those people are from other planets, and the workplace is a faster-than-light spaceship. In the 25th century, Earth is part of the Planetary Union, a far-reaching, advanced and mostly peaceful civilization with a fleet of 3,000 ships.

Fox showed this version of their trailer for The Orville at Comic-Con:

 

While we’re at it, here’s the trailer for the new Star Trek series, Discovery,  on NetFlix

August 2nd Crit Mass: Margaret Cavendish’s “Description of a New World…”

Adam’s going to talk about this utopian feminist fantasy. 7pm at Kappy’s, 22 Compton St, Adelaide. Don’t miss it!

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First published in 1666, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle’s Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World is the first fictional portrayal of women and the new science. Blazing World is the first science-fiction novel known to have been written and published by a woman, and represents a pioneering female scientific utopia.

While you can download the original edition from project Gutenberg, the 2016 edition by Sara Mendelson includes additional critical material and is considered the preferred edition (available online from broadview press).

 

“Sara Mendelson’s edition of Blazing World is a major contribution to the ever-increasing scholarship on the works of this remarkable woman. Cavendish’s utopian romance, which also functions as a critique of the new experimental science, is becoming one of the canonical texts of the Scientific Revolution.”
— Lisa Sarasohn, Oregon State University

Jodie Whittaker is the new Doctor

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Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who’s new head writer and executive producer, said: “We’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.
“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for the Doctor simply blew us all away.
“Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The 13th Doctor is on her way.”

Whittaker said: “It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

Capaldi said: “Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”

Onward and Upward

“I just didn’t know what to do with my stuff until I stumbled into science fiction and fantasy,” Le Guin says. “And then, of course, they knew what to do with it.” “They” were the editors, fans, and fellow-authors who gave her an audience for her work. If science fiction was down-market, it was at least a market. More than that, genre supplied a ready-made set of tools, including spaceships, planets, and aliens, plus a realm—the future—that set no limits on the imagination. She found that science fiction suited what she called, in a letter to her mother, her “peculiar” talent, and she felt a lightheartedness in her writing that had to do with letting go of ambitions and constraints. In the fall of 1966, when she was thirty-seven, Le Guin began “A Wizard of Earthsea.” In the next few years—which also saw her march against the Vietnam War and dance in a conga line with Allen Ginsberg, when he came to Portland to read Vedas for peace—she produced her great early work, including, in quick succession, “The Left Hand of Darkness,” “The Lathe of Heaven,” “The Farthest Shore,” and “The Dispossessed,” her ambitious novel of anarchist utopia.
—  The Fantastic Ursula K leGuin, Julie Philips, New Yorker Oct 17, 2016

Electronic fanzine reprints

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Dave Langford has been assembling ebooks from fannish writings, including TAFF trip reports, columns from Walt Willis and John Berry, back issues of Ansible and elsewhere.

All free, though a donation to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) is suggested.

These ebooks include some of the funniest pieces written in a long time. I particularly enjoyed the Walt Willis  Fanorama columns from Nebula in the 50s.

ebooks at  http://taff.org.uk/ebooks.php

2017 Locus Awards

The winners of the 2017 Locus Awards were announced at Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle on June 24.

  • SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL: Death’s End, Cixin Liu (Tor; Head of Zeus)
  • FANTASY NOVEL: All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • HORROR NOVEL: The Fireman, Joe Hill (Morrow)
  • YOUNG ADULT BOOK: Revenger, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz; Orbit US ’17)
  • FIRST NOVEL: Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • NOVELLA: Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • NOVELETTE“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny 5-6/16)
  • SHORT STORY: “Seasons of Glass and Iron“, Amal el-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • ANTHOLOGY: The Big Book of Science Fiction, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, eds. (Vintage)
  • COLLECTION: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga; Head of Zeus)
  • EDITOR: Ellen Datlow
  • ARTIST: Julie Dillon
  • NON-FICTION: The Geek Feminist Revolution, Kameron Hurley (Tor)
  • ART BOOK: Charles Vess, Walking Through the Landscape of Faerie (Faerie Magazine)

Full list of all awards, winners and nominees, on the Locus Online site.

The Locus Awards are chosen by a survey of readers in an open online poll that runs from February 1 to April 15.

“Real” Zombies

“It turns out the idea of living dead—depending how you define both “living” and “dead”—may not be as far-fetched as it might seem. Some science fiction writers have found inspiration—and trepidation—in real-life parasites. We talked to two of them, Mira Grant and M.R. Carey, about their newest books and the concept of scientific zombies.

…Carey searched for a pathogen that met his criteria for the cause of the hungry epidemic, and realized that Cordyceps fit perfectly. It was also a unique choice. “At the time nobody had ever used a fungus as the vector for a zombie plague,” he says, though the creators of a console game called The Last of Us came up with the same idea independently, around the same time.

… Besides reading, Grant also “spent a lot of time on the phone with the CDC, which was an incredible amount of fun.” Grant savored the information she gleaned that way, but her friends “had to make new rules about what I was allowed to discuss over food,” so they didn’t lose their appetites.”

— excerpts from  Omnivorcious interview of “Mira Grant” and M.R. Carey in “The Scientific Case for Zombies”. thanks to File 770’s Pixel Scroll