The Writer and the Critic: Episode 8

Writer and Critic at Podbean

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from our brand new Podbean website or via subscription from iTunes.

Due to ongoing technical problems at Posterous, we decided to move over to Podbean which is designed for exactly the sort of thing we do. We will leave the old Posterous site online for archiving purposes — especially as we haven’t as yet been able to import our lovely listener comments into the Podbean site — but if you’ve subscribed to our RSS feed there, it will no longer be updated. All iTunes subscriptions should continue without interruption, although you might find duplicate listings of Episodes 1-7 on your subscription. No need to download them again — the audio files haven’t changed.

Feedback on the new site or the podcast itself is most welcome!

And now, without further ado, here are the show notes for Episode 8:

This month The Writer and the Critic comes to you as a LIVE record from Continuum 7 — Melbourne’s own speculative fiction and pop culture convention — with the incomparable Catherynne M. Valente as special guest podcaster. Ian, Kirstyn and Cat discuss the problems and politics involved when writers review the work of friends and the need for honesty in online opinion. Cat talks about the popular and critical response to her own work, why sad pandas make everyone else sad as well, and why she is currently taking a break from writing negative reviews on her blog. Rose Fox’s recent article about the necessity for candour in reviews is also briefly mentioned.


(photo: Art Bébé Promotions)

The first two books up for discussion are Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (recommended by Kirstyn) and Among Others by Jo Walton (Ian’s pick). This review of Among Others is pointed as being one Jo Walton herself particularly likes, whereas these two became the subject of reader vitriol over at her LiveJournal — an incident which Cat, Ian and Kirstyn talk about at length in regards to the writing of memoir and authorial responses to critics. For those wishing to avoid spoilers and skip ahead, discussion of Full Dark, No Stars begins at 19:00, while Among Others starts around 40:50.


The trio then turn their attention to the newly released Embassytown by China Mieville — selected by Cat — which Ian and Kirstyn possibly manage to make sound a little more boring than it actually is. You don’t need a degree in linguistic theory, honest! (China himself has provided a far better summary of the book.) The discussion of Embassytown, including a rather heated debate between Ian and Kirstyn about post-colonialism, begins at 1:07:40.


Check back in at the 1:35:00 mark for some (very brief) final remarks.

Next month The Writer and the Critic will feature Melbourne author Cameron Rogers, who has chosen World War Z by Max Brooks for Ian and Kirstyn to read.

Ian’s recommended book will be a short story collection, Eclipse 4 edited by Jonathan Strahan, while Kirstyn’s pick is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Read ahead and join in the spoilerific fun!


The Writer and the Critic: Episode 3

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from the website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

Here are the show notes:

This episode of The Writer and the Critic, Ian Mond and Kirstyn McDermott speak briefly about listener feedback, in particular Cheryl Morgan’s musings about spoilers and the lack thereof in this podcast. They summarily decide to lift the ban on spoilers to allow more open discussion of all aspects of the books they are reviewing, including … gasp … endings and plot twists! Ian promises not to put his hands over his hands and make annoying humming noises while doing so.


Ahem. Don’t say you were never warned.

They also talk about the forthcoming Twelve Planets from Twelfth Planet Press and why a series of collections featuring Australian female spec fic writers is far from being a silly gesture. (And it’s not just because Kirstyn is writing one of those collections!)

Still on the topic of gender, the soon-to-be controversial guidelines of a new horror anthology from Ticonderoga Press are thrown on the autopsy table, with much made of the request for stories with a “masculine tone”.

This month books up for discussion are The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (recommended by Ian) and The City and The City by China Mieville (Kirstyn’s choice), both joint winners of last year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel. A review by Jonathan McCalmont by The Windup Girl is possibly badly paraphrased by Ian.

The City and the City / The Windup Girl

We hope you enjoy the podcast!

Next month, The Writer and the Critic travels into the world beyond Kirstyn’s dining room to feature a special guest: Melbourne writer of all things dark and deliciously nasty, Felicity Dowker. Yes, that’s right, a travelling podcast. Hey, it’s a niche and we’re claiming it. Felicity has chosen Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson for Ian and Kirstyn to read.

Ian’s recommended book for March is Last Days by Brian Evenson, while Kirstyn has picked White Cat by Holly Black.

And don’t forget, The Writer and the Critic has now adopted more of a book club approach to its discussion and will assume its listeners have either read the books in question or don’t care if they find out that the protagonist dies in a horrible rice threshing machine accident on the second to last page. There will almost certainly be spoilers, so you are encouraged to read the chosen titles ahead of time. It’ll be much more fun that way and Ian and Kirstyn won’t get near as many death threats!