The Coode Street Podcast

Discussion and digression on science fiction and fantasy with Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan.

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Sunday Mar 27, 2022

With Gary just back from ICFA in Florida, he discussed whether this will really be the year of re-emergence, with both the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago and World Fantasy Convention in New Orleans in the offing. This led, as it does, to discussion of the Hugos, whether small categories with few nominations should be dropped, whether other categories should be added, and whether major historical studies such as Mike Ashley’s five-volume The History of the Science-Fiction Magazines really have a chance of being seen because of availability issues, as compared to the increasingly broad definition of “related work.” Inevitably, we chatted about new or forthcoming books we’re excited about. We both liked Guy Gavriel Kay’s All the Seas of the World, Alix E. Harrow’s A Mirror Mended, and Christopher Rowe’s These Prisoning Hills, while Jonathan is tempted by Karen Joy Fowler’s new novel Booth and Gary’s about to start Samit Basu’s The City Inside.  Of course, there are lots of digressions in between, including the nature of historical fiction and nostalgia for printed books in the age of e-books (at least for reviewers and critics).

Sunday Mar 06, 2022

After reminding listeners that the deadline for Hugo nominations is fast approaching on March 15 (and reminding them once again of the eligibility of this podcast for Best Fancast and of Jonathan for Best Editor, Short Form), we move on to the much-discussed, record-setting Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter, and the question of whether it really matters to anyone other than Sanderson and his readers. Acknowledging that Sanderson readers are fully likely to get exactly what they are expecting, this led us into a brief discussion of reader expectations, also the topic of a recent essay by Molly Templeton on While occasionally we come across a book with almost no prior knowledge or publicity, most books come with expectations based on the author’s previous work, or even the publisher’s reputation. Some of the authors discussed here, and some that Jonathan and Gary are currently reading or expecting to read, include Guy Gavriel Kay, R.F. Kuang, Kelly Barnhill, Nghi Vo, John Crowley, and Karen Joy Fowler. At the end, we touch briefly upon the question of history in fiction, and the different strategies of using entirely fictional characters, almost entirely historical figures, or a mixture of both.

Sunday Feb 20, 2022

This week, in our more-or-less annual discussion of the Locus Recommended Reading List, we are delighted to be joined by Locus Editor-in-Chief Liza Groen Trombi. We talk about the purpose of the list, how it has changed over the years, how books or stories get on the list, and a few thorny questions about how to decide whether a novel is SF or fantasy if it contains substantial elements of both. In addition to mentioning some of our own favourite works of the year, we touch upon the importance of the First Novels list, which might be a harbinger of what's to come, and how story collections and YA novels have grown in importance over the years. Toward the end, we pay a brief tribute to two Locus Magazine pioneers, reviewer Faren Miller (who was also the magazine's first full-time employee), and bibliographer William G. Contento, who helped establish resources that remain crucial to anyone interested in the SFF field.

Sunday Feb 13, 2022

This week (episode 3 of season 13) we return to our tradition of almost entirely unstructured rambling. Jonathan and Gary consider such questions as to whether a novel can be good SF, but not much good in literary terms, or a good literary novel not much good as SF. While we recognize that many popular subgenres, from military SF to heroic fantasy, have plenty of readers loyal to the old traditions, we muse about whether many of today’s writers feel some pressure to meet both traditional literary and SF standards, and Jonathan namechecks R.F. Kuang. Some writers we mention, such as Arkady Martine, seem to effortlessly do both. On the other hand, why were several genre mystery readers of the 1930s and 1940s, like Hammett and Chandler, were later recognized as major literary figures, the same didn’t seem to have to SF writers of the same period. Toward the end, we touch upon Paul Kincaid's provocative new essay, "A Taxonomy of Reviewing" and his book on Brian W. Aldiss, amongst other things.  As always, we hope you enjoy the episode. 

Monday Jan 24, 2022

This week Jonathan and Gary are back, a little early, to talk about the annual science fiction calendar, the awards season, how there are so many awards, what books they’re reading, and what books they’ve worked on.  Oh, and for a short moment, they touch on movies and TV too. All in all, episode two of season 13, sounds pretty much like most of the other episodes we've recorded over the past twelve years, so if they were your jam, this might be too.  As always, we hope you enjoy it and are very grateful to everyone for listening in...

Saturday Jan 15, 2022

Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast. With 2021 barely in the rearview mirror, it's time to kick off season 13 with a brand new episode. A little over a month ago we sat down with James Bradley, Alix E. Harrow, and Ian Mond to discuss 2021: The Year in Review in Episode 568. At the end of that chat, we all said we'd back to discuss the books we're looking forward to in 2022, and here we are! This week we discuss 25 or so books that we are looking forward to or, maybe, have read already and can recommend that you check out (along with a few strays). Pre-order links are below. We also are clear we've definitely missed books we'll end up loving. As always, our sincere thanks to James, Alix, and Ian for making time to chat with us.  We hope you enjoy the episode and that you'll see us again in a couple weeks.   JAMES The Candy House, Jennifer Egan To Paradise, Hanya Yanigihara Goliath, Tochi Onyebuchi Sea of Tranquility, Emily St John Mandel A History of Dreams, Jane Rawson ALIX Siren Queen, Nghi Vo Saint Death's Daughter, C.S.E. Cooney How High We Go in the Dark, Sequoia Nagamatsu Nona the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir Spear, Nicola Griffith IAN The This, Adam Roberts Dark Breakers, C.S.E Cooney The Last Blade Priest, Will Wiles Booth, Karen Joy Fowler Hard Places(1), Kirstyn McDermott JONATHAN The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest, Felix Salten (trans. Jack Zipes) Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,  R.F. Kuang The Landing, Mary Gentle All the Seas of the World, Guy Gavriel Kay Devil House, John Darnielle GARYA Mirror Mended, Alix E. Harrow Aspects, John M. Ford High Times in the Low Parliament, Kelly Robson The Daughter of Dr. Moreau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia Boys, Beasts, and Men, Sam J. Miller (1) Pre-order not yet available.

Friday Dec 24, 2021

The Coode Street Podcast kicked off in May 2010.  Over the next 568 episodes Jonathan and Gary, and far too many friends of the podcast to be named here individually, talked about a shared love of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in all of their many forms.  Just a week ago, the members of the World Science Fiction Convention awarded the Coode Street Podcast with the Hugo Award for Best Fancast.  This time out we take a moment, on the very edge of the holidays, to say thank you. Thank you to everyone out there involved, no matter how small or how large your contribution to our ongoing conversation. We will ever be in deeply in your debt for your support. We'll be back in 2022, but for now we'd like to wish you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season and a thoroughly magical New Year. See you again soon!

Sunday Dec 05, 2021

The holiday season is upon us, another strange, unforgettable year is almost done, and here at Coode Street it's time for our annual gift guide/year in review, where we recommend some books we loved during the year. This time out we invited special guests and good friends James Bradley, Alix E. Harrow, and Ian Mond to join us to recommend just a few of the books we'd loved the most during 2021. Perhaps more than in any other year, this was a time when we all were almost surprised at how much great reading we found. Because this is Coode Street, traditions are traditions and we had some technical issues. All is good for most of the hour of the recording, but there's a jump or two towards the end. We hope you'll excuse this, and that the recommendations will prove of interest. As always, our thanks to Alix, James, and Ian for making time to talk to us. We hope you enjoy the podcast and that the guide is of some use. To help, the recommendations are below. And we're in talks to maybe return in January for a books we're looking forward to chat as well... James Bradley recommended: Jennifer Mills, The Airways Elizabeth Knox, The Absolute Book Nina Allan, The Good Neighbours Olga Ravn, The Employees: A workplace novel of the 22nd century and also mentioned: Alexandra Kleeman, Something New Under the Sun Laura Jean McKay, The Animals in That Country Marion Engel, Bear Garth Nix, Terciel and Elinor Sim Kern, Depart, Depart Hari Kunzru, Red Pill Alix E. Harrow recommended: Lee Mandelo, Summer Sons Shelley Parker-Chan, She Who Became the Sun Ava Reid, The Wolf and the Woodsman Nghi Vo, The Chosen and the Beautiful And I also loved/mentioned/endorsed: Becky Chambers, A Psalm for the Wild-BuiltAngela Slatter, All the Murmuring Bones Ian Mond recommended: Build Your House Around My Body, Violet Kupersmith The Thing Between Us, Gus Moreno The Confessions of Copeland Cane, Keenan Norris All the Murmuring Bones, Angela Slatter Dead Souls, Sam Rivière The Angels of L19, Jonathan Walker Mrs Death: Misses Death, Salena Godden The Employees, Olga Ravn (translated by Martin Aitken) Jonathan recommended: The Hood, Lavie Tidhar A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers The Wisdom of Crowds, Joe Abercrombie and passingly mentioned The Detective Up Late by Adrian McKinty. Gary recommended: Karin Tidbeck, The Memory Theatre M. Rickert, The Shipbuilder of Belfairie E. Lily Yu, On Fragile Waves Nina Allan, The Art of Space Travel and Other Stories P. Djèlí Clark, A Master of Djinn Pus a couple of titles that were also on other folks’ lists, like The Hood and The Chosen and the Beautiful.

Sunday Nov 21, 2021

Welcome to episode 25 of Season 12 of The Coode Street Podcast. This week Jonathan and Gary sit down with the very talented and extremely busy Sheree Renée Thomas to discuss her award-winning collection Nine Bar Blues, her first year editing the venerable Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, the lasting impact of her Dark Matter anthologies, her forthcoming anthologies Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue (co-edited with Pan Morrigan and Troy L. Wiggins) and Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction (co-edited with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Zelda Knight, her own experiences growing up as an SF and horror reader, and the new age of recognizing African and African diaspora SFF.  It’s a pretty lively conversation. As always, our sincere thanks to Sheree Renée Thomas, and we hope you enjoy the episode.   Order now!   

Monday Nov 08, 2021

Welcome to episode 24 of Season 12 of the Coode Street Podcast. As the year draws to a close and winter comes to Chicago and summer to Perth, Gary and Jonathan sit down for an unexpected and unplanned conversation about life achievement awards and their meaningfulness, a brief foreshadowing of a discussion about interrogating the sociopolitical assumptions of a work of fiction, and more. This time out there were a few technical issues in the final five minutes of the recording, but those have hopefully been addressed by editing. Two episodes remain in the season - a good time to be discussing the year in review and the best fiction of 2021 - before we go on hiatus, but for now we hope you enjoy the episode!

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