If you haven't figured it out by now, I like audio fiction. There are few things I enjoy more than closing my eyes while someone reads me a story. Thanks to the recent "official" introduction of the Young Adult/New Adult genres there are now even more great stories to keep my ears entertained.
You don't need to be a young adult to enjoy YA fiction. Good YA touches on many of the same themes and ideas as more mature fiction, yet the voice is geared towards younger readers. Think less "immature" and more "exploration." One of my favorite podcasts happens to be CAST OF WONDERS, "a fiction audio magazine for young adults featuring stories of the fantastic". Started in 2011 as the brainchild of Barry J. Northern, it is now helmed by the splendiferous Marguerite Kenner and is part of the Escape Artists, Inc., family of podcasts. Where to start listening? Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
EPISODE 8 & 9: "Alienation" Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 by Katherine Sparrow, read by Graeme Dunlop. This story is a perfect example of the beauty of young adult fiction. It addresses the complexities of social interaction, blooming sexuality, and the pain and joy of learning hard lessons. Here is a story of alien first contact told with humor and insight from the aliens' points of view. Katherine's prose is straight forward, and Graeme's narration brings it to life. Well worth your time.
EPISODE 15: "Same Day Delivery" by Desmond Warzel, read by Graeme Dunlop. A wizard is hired to bring cargo into the city. It's taken him a lifetime to master the art of teleportation, but when things go sour his customer learns the wizard has more than a few tricks left up his sleeve. This is my favorite CoW episode. Graeme's narration cinches everything together and presents the story in a tight, vivid, read. Highly recommended.
EPISODE 43: "The Great Game, Part 1 - Khyber" by James Vachowski, read by Barry J. Northern. This is the first of a series of seven stories told as "honest, there I was" tall tales. I didn't know what to think of them at first, but it didn't take long for them to engage me with their pacing and high adventure. Barry's narration is spot on, and Graeme's appearance for one episode in the series isn't bad at all. Take the time to hunt these stories down. You won't be disappointed.
EPISODE 71: "Now Cydonia" by Rick Kennett, read by Marguerite Kenner. Tight, vivid, science fiction tale of exploration and loss on Mars. This won the 2013 Parsec Award in the Small Cast, Short Form category. Well worth your time if you like darker science fiction.
EPISODE 94: "The Drove of Maris-Charlottes" by David Turnbull, read by Stephanie Morris. Herding wild potatoes! Fending off a bunch of wild celery! I giggled all the way through this.
EPISODE 170: "Princesses Do Not Breathe Fire" by Sarina Dorie, read by Jeff Hite and his children. Here is another fine example of reaching out to all ages. A princess wants to be good, honest!, but she keeps breathing fire and, well. . .
There you go! CAST OF WONDERS offers a selection of stories that are great for all ages. Take a listen, and if you like what you hear consider making a donation to keep the stories coming.
Have a favorite podcast? Let me know in the comments. And until next time, gentle listeners, keep your ears open!