The only way that I can describe Jonah Sutton-Morse’s podcast, Cabbages and Kings, is as amateurish — but in the best possible way.
To my knowledge this is his first attempt at podcasting and he has only produced twenty-three episodes so far. The program’s format is a welcome change from the usual podcast format in SFF and gaming, where two or more friends meet regularly to discuss the things that have excited them in the time between episodes. Here instead, we have Jonah talking with a guest about literary science fiction & fantasy. His opinions expressed through speech and editing are undiluted and this is refreshing.
My start with the podcast came with Maureen Kincaid Speller’s appearance in two parts to discuss The Buried Giant, and after that I subscribed and have listened to one or two more episodes from the archive. In places the editing is jagged and there are signs that Jonah is still fumbling to find his way. However, he is enthusiastic and apparently interested in the topics under discussion and the opinions of the people who he converses with. This is charming and the lack of polish does nothing to obscure that: in fact, it might well highlight it.
If anything, the rawness gives the podcast and the opinions expressed on it an added authenticity, but this is another, longer conversation
Now I have given Jonah some gentle criticism and comments in the past, so there’s nothing for me to repeat here, except as a lead into praising his openness towards improvement. This progressive drive is well evidenced by the last episode which I listened to while driving home from work, where he gave an end of year review of the podcast and thoughts on how it could be improved. (And yes, Jonah, I could have skipped forward to the next podcast in my playlist, but I didn’t.) This introspection and commitment to playful experimentation is a Good Thing!
As an episode to start with, try the two mentioned above about the Buried Giant. They are in the show archive around last November.
So Cabbages and Kings is roughly produced and by someone who’s still learning how and what they are making. There is a voice that’s determined to try new things that’s only going to get more distinct. Go on, give it a chance.
Go here: http://www.cabbagesandkings.audio/
HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is Aliette de Bodard’s fourth novel and is the start of a series called Dominion of the Fallen. The cover copy describes it a murder mystery, which means I’m sympathetic to it from the start. However, although there are murders and a mystery running through the spine of the novel, the answering of these questions is of secondary importance to the novel’s high politicking between the houses that run Paris. It’s the arguments and the back and forth between the Houses which vie for control of Paris, which make HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS a pleasure to read. Personally, I found the novel slightly too long, but that’s forgivable because what it trades away in pace it pays back in mood and intelligence.
To me it seems to be one of the defining fictional devices of our time — charting the conflicts of gangs. We’ve seen this before in Game of Thrones. And, of course, it also forms one of the foundations of the Harry Potter series. This focus gives us two things: firstly, a deliberate reduction of the world into the smaller, identifiable groups, and, secondly, other perspectives to narrate in a potentially continuing narrative.
But once we’ve found our flavor of gangland fiction then we’re hooked and waiting for the next volume. With HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS I’ve found an experience that I want a repeated hit of when the next volume is released.