The audiobooks are in the middle of a boom. Last June, the Audio Publishers Association reported that the field grew an amazing 34 percent between 2015 and 2016, and by all accounts, that growth continues. Readers are increasingly listening to fiction, and some of the most successful science fiction magazines have begun recording audio adaptations of their stories. One of the best there is is the Clarkesworld Magazine Podcast narrated by Kate Baker.
Founded in 2006 by Neil Clarke, Clarkesworld Magazine publishes a wide range of science fiction, fantasy and nonfiction related authors like N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Rich Larson, Ian McDonald and others. (Disclaimer: Clarkesworld published a couple of non-fiction pieces that I wrote). Since then, he has won nominations and awards for the most important honors in the genre, including the Hugo and Nebula awards.
Recent episodes of the podcast have covered a wide range of stories. In "Not Now" by Chelsea Muzar, a Japanese girl faces the hostility of her neighborhood and her companions after the arm of a giant robot falls into her house from space, while in Eleanna's "Without Exile" Castroianni, a social worker named Nell, helps prosecute refugees from a world devastated by war. In "The Martian Blood" by Allen M. Steele, a Martian colonist leads an Egyptian-American astrobiology professor on a tour as he works to show that life on Earth originated on Mars.
As we have seen with other short fiction podcasts, short stories and novels lend themselves well to the medium of podcasting. Each episode lasts from 40 minutes to almost two hours, enough time for a trip or a walk. Because Clarkesworld uses a single narrator, Kate Baker, the magazine's podcast and non-fiction editor, and makes all her fiction available as a podcast, stands out as a long series of the best stories short of the field.
Listen to the Clarkesworld Magazine website and on Apple Podcasts, Beyond Pod, CastBox, Google Play, Pocket Casts, Player.FM, Podible, PodBean, PodBay, Stitcher, TuneIn and YouTube.
Baker said The Verge after Clarke and co-editor Sean Wallace founded the magazine in 2006, they decided to shoot the audio in a couple of years. "It was just another way to get these stories to the public." One of the first regular storytellers of the podcast was Mary Robinette Kowal, an award-winning author who served as vice president of America's science fiction and fantasy writers. (SFWA), but when he had a labor dispute in 2009, Baker joined him to complete, and later became the full-time narrator of the series.
In the years since becoming a full-time narrator for the podcast, Baker has become the de facto voice of the podcast, an experience he says is "surreal." "I see it as a great responsibility and an honor," she says. "Because I have to go and be within reach of someone, and I think it's an intimate power, and I never want to abuse that."
Baker does not read or rehearse the story before recording, and while she points out that this approach has burned her a couple of times, the "biggest attraction of all this work is the fact that I'm experiencing the story together with the listener for the first time, and I can experience those emotions with the listener. " If you hear my voice breaking or if I sound bad because I had to leave because I started crying, everything is very genuine "
That's something that shines: a recent episode presented Rich Larson's heartbreaking short story" Carouseling "", and you can hear his voice break after he finishes reading the story. This gesture, along with Baker's long-standing narrative for the podcast, provides a familiar and constant warmth that subtly improves every story the magazine produces. The result is not only a catalog of powerful short fiction, but also presented in a voice that makes them even better.