Galactic Suburbia – A Podcast Review by Daniel Simpson

… and coming to you from the galactic suburbs is (pause) Tansy from Hobart (pause, different voice), Alex from Melbourne (pause, different voice again), and Alisa from Perth.

With those hallowed words, the ceremony begins.

Galactic Suburbia is a fortnightly podcast dealing with all things speculative fiction, particularly (but not limited to) spec fiction of the written variety. It is recorded by three Australian women – Tansy, Alex, and Alisa – from different locations around the country, who take to the airwaves fortnightly, despite the challenges (such as puppies and babies) thrown at them by “real life”.

Structure

To give the podcast structure, each episode has a designated chairperson; a ringmaster. A different one of the three each week guides the proceedings and ensures that the podcast stays on track. Having three podcasters works well; it takes the podcast beyond a conversation and into a panel-like discussion. I think this is proven in the episodes when someone is missing. The episodes with just two Galactic Suburbanites seem a little flatter. The energy, passion, and often competing opinions of three people is frantic, and fun.

This is proof that these women take this podcast very seriously. With three people – three friends – trying to talk, the opportunity for chaos is enormous. But they always stay on track. They have an informal tone, with the conversation being light and often jokey but there is a line that doesn’t get crossed. All the obvious one-liners are left unsaid.

It’s an important element to the podcast’s success. I’ve been listening lately to a few podcasts where the topics are interesting and the knowledge of the podcasters is obvious but the conversation is a little too casual to hold my interest. Often I find myself thinking just let that joke go unsaid, finish what you were talking about!

The conversation you have over a few beers (or wines, or coffees) doesn’t translate to the disconnected listener. Galactic Suburbia creates the intent of those conversations held between close friends, but translates them into a language that outsiders can listen to and appreciate.

Feminism

A strong feminist streak runs through the podcast. The Suburbanites are intimately concerned with the portrayal, treatment and history of both female characters in speculative fiction, and the women who write speculative fiction.

It is an enticing opportunity for people like me, who wouldn’t necessarily approach speculative fiction from this point of view. It is an insight into alternative interpretation, much as a Marxist reading of SF might be.

I value the opportunity the podcast offers; to look at something from an angle that is not my default view. I feel it working on my expectations of the literature I consume. It seems to me that this goes to the heart of speculative fiction’s appeal and value.

Part of a Larger Family

Be prepared to seek out a range of podcasts that feed off and in to Galactic Suburbia. Since tuning in I have begun listening to Fablecroft, Bad Film Diaries, Coode Street, Pangalactic Interwebs, and ThrillerCast.

The True Cost of a Free Podcast

Look, iTunes will tell you it costs nothing to subscribe to Galactic Suburbia, but I need to disabuse you of this fact. Get ready to spend, people … on books.

In the six months that I’ve been listening to the podcast I have bought (on their recommendation, or at least mention):

* Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
* Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
* The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigulupi
* The City and the City by China Mieville
* Liar by Justine Larbalestier
* Eclipse 2 by Jonathan Strahan (ed)
* Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts
* The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer
* All the Twelfth Planet Press Books
* Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

You’re going to be poorer, and your “books to read” pile will grow to dangerous heights. But if you like spec fiction you’re going to have your reading range widened, I promise.

In summary, Galactic Suburbia will appeal to those who:

1. Are passionate readers;
2. Are passionate speculative fiction fans;
3. Want to know more about speculative fiction;
4. Want to know more about fandom;
5. Like hearing Tansy say ‘crunchy’ (it can’t just be me);
6. Crave insight from industry insiders;
7. Want to know more about feminism in spec fic;
8. Have spare money and spare bookshelves;
9. Like liberal barking with their podcasts.

These three women are passionate, organised members of Australia’s speculative fiction scene. They know their stuff and are articulate and thoughtful. There’s nothing to dislike here. Download them now.

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