In an earlier blog I talked about the guys over at The Legendarium podcast and what a great job they do covering some of my favorite books. If you missed that post and want to check it out I am always looking to get these guys some more publicity so they keep making podcasts to make my work day go by faster.
However, as awesome as those guys are, it is only one podcast and as the drudgery of work takes its toll on me I find myself seeking more distractions. After some searching I stumbled across another fantasy book podcast that held my interest.
Science Fiction Book Review Podcast
The science fiction book review podcast at the appropriately named http://www.sfbrp.com/ is a little bit different than the previous podcast I wrote about. First off, it is generally one man reviewing a book that he reads. There is no set schedule of when an episode will be released, its just whenever he finishes reading a book he records his thoughts and puts them up on the website. Secondly, while other podcasts go into great detail assuming the listener has already read the book this podcast generally goes out of its way to avoid major spoilers. Finally, the title has "Science Fiction" in it but he does review plenty of fantasy books as well.
So who is this guy?
The podcast is run by a guy named Luke Burrage. Part of the appeal of the podcast (in my opinion) is that the host seems to be a really interesting character. Luke is a British guy who makes his living as a professional juggler, most often on cruise ships it seems as he travels the world. I've listened to probably around 20 episodes so far and while there are well over 300 in total it has been enough to pick up a few other interesting facts about him as well. Professional juggler and fantasy book podcast gig aside, he is also an aspiring author working on his own fantasy series. On top of juggler/author/podcast host I am pretty sure there was an episode where he mentioned he had an album coming out, so lets throw musician in there as well.
The large amount of travel involved in being a world hopping professional juggler apparently leaves a lot of time for reading. So now we have a little background on the man and the format, lets get into what I like and dislike about the podcast.
Things I like
There are a number of things I do really enjoy about this podcast, here are a few of the ones that stand out to me.
The podcast focuses on just one book and you get about an hour of in depth discussion on the topic
You would be surprised how hard it is to find a podcast that just focuses on one thing at a time. There are plenty of other podcasts out there that focus on fantasy books but it seems like they meander through a number of different topics all in the same episode. I am interested in finding a topic I like and focusing exclusively on that and this podcast definitely delivers in that aspect.
He isn't afraid to be critical
He rates every book he reads on a 0-5 scale and I feel like he does a really good job of being (mostly) objective. There are very few zeroes and very few 5's. He doesn't let his feelings about one particular part in a book distract him from critically evaluating it as a whole. Just because a book had a fantastic ending it doesn't always justify the slog you had to go through to get there and he seems to get that.
Sets a general structure for each book review
He will make sure to touch on and evaluate all of the different elements of the book. Plot, characters, world building, magic system, etc... each one is generally broken down and he highlights what he felt the author did well or what could use a little work
Things I don't like
Overall there are many more things I like rather than dislike, but there are a few things I feel could be done a little better.
It seems like the majority of books he reviews are audio books. While I am not a fan myself I do understand the appeal of being able to put one on and have it playing in the background while you get things done. My issue with him on this point is that there are number of times where I feel he is judging a book based on the narrator. I find that to be a little unfair to the book/author. The author really controls what he puts on the page and just because that doesn't always translate well to the spoken word that shouldn't be held against the author. I don't think a good narrator should bump up a rating just like a poor narrator shouldn't knock it down.
A little rambling sometimes
It feels like he is non-stop whirlwind of thoughts jumping from one topic to the next. This does make it feel more organic and authentic but it can be a bit hard to follow sometimes. I suppose a bit of restlessness is to be expected, the same instincts that lead a person to be a juggler/author/musician probably have your thoughts jumping around as well.
Format (very minor complaint)
It would be nice if there were some sort of set schedule when a new episode would be released but when you lead a busy life I suppose it makes sense to just fit these episodes in when you can. The downside to this is that sometimes it feels like the information isn't very fresh and you'll have the host not quite remembering all the details of a book/getting character names wrong, things along those lines.
Well there you have it, if you are in the market for a podcast to check out that covers a few of your favorite books this one is definitely worth a listen. As with every post I make on here, I would be happy for recommendations on any podcast/fantasy books I should check out. I am always on the lookout for the next great book.