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21 January 2012 @ 08:44 pm
Podfic Recs - Favorites from 2011  
I started listening to podfic in autumn/winter 2009. Most of what I listened to then was in SPN fandom, and my listening introduced me to writers and readers whose work I've followed ever since. I started recording my own in 2010, posting the majority of it in 2011. Engaging more fully in podfic fandom opened all kinds of doors for me. It encouraged my multi-fannishness, especially when it comes to small fandoms. I listened to and recorded SPN podfic in 2011, but the vast majority of my listening and recording happened in other (mostly smaller) fandoms. Some of them I knew well, others I had almost no familiarity with. That's one of the things I like best about podfic - when I really trust a reader's skill and taste, I'll follow them anywhere. I've discovered more than one new fandom and/or pairing that way, and it's always such a pleasure.

Listed below are ten of my favorite podfics from 2011. That's podfics I listened to in 2011, not necessarily podfics that were posted in 2011. I really struggled in picking just ten - I picked up a lot of new favorites last year, and this list is by no means comprehensive. Most of these podfics exemplify what I've been talking about - they're mostly in smaller, under-podficced fandoms, and in several of them I only sort-of knew the canon, but didn't care because the reading transported me. I highly recommend all of these, whether or not you're familiar with the canon.

Here goes:

1) The Winter of Banked Fires, written by yahtzee, read by podcath, crinklysolution, luzula, helens78, rhea314, and reena_jenkins. It's an X-Men movie-verse fic, set in the aftermath of X-Men: The Last Stand and inclusive of X-Men: First Class. Erik/Charles, Marie/Logan, Raven/Hank. Prior to listening to this, I could not imagine anything redeeming the horrible, offensive, hot mess that was X-Men: The Last Stand, but somehow this podfic does it, and it does it gloriously. This fic gets right to the heart of the Erik/Charles relationship, and rights the wrong Brett Ratner did to Mystique in a way that feels right and true. There's romance, action, angst, activism, and so much beauty in this story. I teared up several times. The writing is fantastic, and the podfic is beautifully read and very skillfully edited. Each reader narrates chapters from a specific character's POV, and while they all have their own unique voices and styles, they complement each other perfectly. I wanted this podfic to go on forever.

2) Exile, written by thehoyden, read by twilight_angel. Star Trek DS9, Garak/Bashir. I listened to twilight's reading of Letters from the Northern Continent in an amplificathon collection some time ago and liked it very much, but didn't pursue it further because I didn't feel familiar enough with the canon. I grew up on Star Trek, and saw a lot of DS9 when it originally aired, but I was a little too young to understand what was going on or how awesome it really was. I remembered most of the characters, but forgot nearly everything else. Then I listened to Exile. The story is an AU in which the Cardassians still occupy Bajor and retain control of Terok Nor (Deep Space Nine), and Bashir is working as a doctor there, in exile from the Federation as a result of his genetic modification. I didn't know what the fuck was going on, but I loved every second of it. Because of this podfic, I'm re-watching all of DS9 from the very beginning (I'm currently in the middle of S3) so that I can listen to all of twilight's DS9 podfics again with full appreciation. twilight has such a wonderful way of capturing both humor and gravity in dialogue. She gets Garak's wry, smirking sense of humor, and perfectly captures Bashir's exhaustion and slow journey to hope.I can't recommend this podfic highly enough.

3) Ghosts, written by [personal profile] torch, read by podcath. X-Files, Mulder/Krycek. This is another where I know I'm missing some canon context, but I just don't care. I watched the X-Files when it aired, but not often after season 5 or 6, and it's been a long time. From what I understand, this fic is considered a classic in X-Files fandom. When I started listening to it, I realized I'd read about it in Fan Fiction and Fan Communities In the Age of the Internet. It's a case fic, and the narrative alternates between Krycek's POV (told in the 1st person), and Mulder's (told in the 3rd). cath's reading is perfect - slow and meditative in some places, urgent and active in others, exactly as needed. It also includes one of my favorite uses of music, ever. I made excuses to go on walks or run errands just to create more opportunities to listen to this podfic, and I was so sad when it was over!

4) Angelmaker, written by shena8, read by cantarina1. SGU, Kiva-centric. This is continuing with the theme of me not knowing the canon prior to listening to the podfic, because I still don't know who Kiva is. I saw the first three episodes of SGU and two or three other random episodes in S1 and S2, and I liked everything I saw, but I can only follow so many shows at once, you know? SGU is on my list. Anyway. I don't know who Kiva is in the context of SGU canon, but the character in this story is compelling and beautiful and terrifying, and cantarina reads her with a quiet ferocity that etches her into your brain in the best possible way. It's haunting and lovely and completely unforgettable.

5) Homework and Fieldwork, written by busaikko (Homework) and rheanna27 (Fieldwork), read by susan_voight. SGA, John/Ronon.These are accessible separately as mp3's, but I prefer m4b's, so I listened to them in the combined podbook. I'm not in SGA fandom, but I like an occasional SGA podfic, and I actually saw the relevant episode for these fics.  ;) Together, these fics form each side of an unexpected penpal relationship between Ronon and John's brother, Dave. They're sweet and a little sad, and Ronon in both fics is straightforward and funny. susan_voight reads them wonderfully, in a clear voice with an easy, relaxed pace. She captures Ronon and McKay especially well, and allows Dave to emerge as a fully developed character in his own right, with a sense of character that emerges above and beyond the (lovely) writing. I don't listen to much SGA podfic, but I really enjoyed these.

6) Pathogenesis and Intervention, written by astolat, read by twilight_angel. House, House/Wilson. I listened to this on my commute home one day when the El was shut down due to a hostage situation near a stop and the bus I had to take instead was jam packed and crawling at a snail's pace through the traffic that developed as a result of the situation. It was an odd podfic for the occasion for two reasons: 1) the story involves a smallpox outbreak, and I was packed sardine-style in with 80-100 coughing, sneezing, breathing people, and 2) I was still smooshed in among all those people when House and Wilson decided to get intimate. Even so, this podfic transported me. I didn't care how long I had to be on that bus as long as the story kept on going. I really like twilight's voice, and I love the way she captures House's snarkiness and Wilson's tired, put-upon patience with him. twilight's talent for vocally embodying character's voices in both narration and dialogue shines through beautifully in this podfic.

7) Rich Dirt, written bytheohara, read by podklb. Veronica Mars, Logan/Veronica. The story is an AU version of Shelley Pomeroy's party, which is referenced often in canon but takes place pre-series. It's fantastic. The story helps bridge the gap between the shy-sweet Veronica who was so scandalized and envigorated by Lilly Kane and the sharp-tough Veronica we meet in the first episode, and brings in the reality of her inexperience and adolescence. I love klb's voice - there's a depth and richness to it that lets her get right into Veronica's insecurity and rage without ever making her sound hysterical or shrill. She taps right into Veronica's helpless fury, and it's that much better in contrast to her pitch-perfect reading of Logan's laconic, bitter humor.

8) Backup Copies, written by etothepii, read by lunchy_munchy. Sherlock BBC & Dollhouse crossover, John/Sherlock. Holy shit, this podfic disturbed me. This is the summary: "When John dies, Sherlock doesn't know what to do. But Mycroft does." I mean, okay - Dollhouse is pretty disturbing all by itself, but then if you factor in John dying, and the circumstances of that death, and how Sherlock reacts to the whole ordeal...and John-the-Doll gamely adjusting and trying to move on with life, as John would do. It's dark and messy and dangerous-feeling, and lunchee manages to balance that haunting, uncomfortable feeling with John's natural calmness in a way that feels just right. She also reads a hilarious Topher Brink. Her Topher is what makes the incredibly disturbing nature of the opening section bearable. And in the midst of all the death and loss and grief in this story, there's the story of John and Sherlock finally coming together, cementing a relationship strong enough to transcend death. It's a delicate balance, and lunchee nails it.

9) Improbable Scenes From An Impracticle Courtship, written by faviconMolly, read by kalakirya. Vorkosigan Saga, Miles/Gregor. I haven't read all of the Vorkosigan books yet, but I've read enough to appreciate this story. Miles finds a way to get Gregor to take a vacation, and of course he goes with him. The story is told from Gregor's POV, and kalakirya really demonstrates her skill at animating completely different voices within the same podfic. Miles is manic and a little bit nasal, while Gregor is thoughtful and bemused, narrated in a lower, slower voice. It's a lovely story, and kalakirya's reading brings it alive in a really wonderful way. I suppose Miles/Gregor is a pretty intuitive ship if you know the canon, but this podfic was my first interaction with Vorkosigan fandom, and I hadn't had any shippy thoughts about the series before. Oh well. This podfic has me completely sold on Miles/Gregor.

10) Deguello, written by oselle, read by riverbella. SPN, gen. This last rec is bringing it home to my first podfic love - SPN pre-series gen h/c. Oselle's fic and riverbella's podfic both loom large in my early podfic listening, but I only listened to this one for the first time five or six months ago. It's everything I love in this kind of story - John Winchester trying in all good faith to be a decent parent while fucking everything up, Dean getting caught in the crossfire of John's love and obsession, and Sam paying for it all by getting too little from John and too little for himself, especially when Dean gets hurt. I love the tension within the family - John is pulled between his obsession with Mary's killer and his love for his sons, Dean is pulled between his unwavering faith in John and his love for Sam, and Sam is pulled between his anger at John for keeping them all in that life and his devotion to Dean. It all just hurts so good, and riverbella reads it all so beautifully. There's a calmness to her reading that I always really like, and she's got a fantastic ear for dialogue. I love to listen to her read the Winchesters, and this podfic is a great example why.

I need to get in the habit of posting podfic recs. Not to mention leaving comments. Why is that so hard, y'all? *shakes head sadly* If you listen to any of these - which you totally should, they're all awesome - be stronger and braver than I am and leave some feedback for the readers. They deserve some serious love.
Fire Jugglerfire_juggler on January 22nd, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
I'm so happy to see a rec post!! (they seem to be few and far between in podfic fandom). I will definitely check these out. I don't think that I've heard any of them, but I'm always game for new fandoms/pairings/readers. Thanks!!! ♥
nickelmountain: podfic is lovenickelmountain on January 24th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I agree, podfic fandom needs to rec more often. I've downloaded podfics in fandoms I had no familiarity/interest in just on the basis of an enthusiastic rec, and it almost always pays off. I mean, that's how I came to listen to Written By The Victors, which I never would have done if all I knew about it was that it was an SGA fic. That podfic was a paradigm-changer for me - it really opened my eyes to how creative podfic truly is as a medium. So grateful for that rec!

I really like the chain format you used on your recent podfic rec post. I may have to try that next time, if you don't mind my copying! ;)

Anyway. I hope you like these as much as I did!
Fire Jugglerfire_juggler on January 25th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)
Oh. shoot. Apparently I wasn't signed in. Now I have no idea if that comment went through or not. *headdesk*
cantarina: friends have your backcantarina1 on January 22nd, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
You're wonderful. And that it was Angelmaker, of all of them, which barely has a dozen downloads to its name! I love that one and I'm so tickled to see it getting such positive attention. Thank you for the praise!

I've already gone and downloaded nearly all of the rest; looking forward to them :)
nickelmountainnickelmountain on January 24th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed all the SG1/A/U podfics from the batch Angelmaker was posted with, but there was just something electric about that particular podfic - it grabbed me. I'm happy to boost the signal however I can!

...also, I only just now recognized where your icon comes from. I'd assumed Inception, but it's Whip It, isn't it? I may or may not appear in a documentary about the Texas Rollergirls. Probably not. Anyway. I like your icon! ;D
cantarina: Anna!cantarina1 on January 29th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
Now I'm really tempted to watch the documentary about the Texas Rollergirls, if only for the Nickel-shaped blur in the background :D
hardboiledbaby: headsethardboiledbaby on January 22nd, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
Thank you for the recs! So helpful to find podfics for fandoms I'm familiar with but not really into yet, you know? DL'ing the House and the SPN fics. ♥
nickelmountainnickelmountain on January 24th, 2012 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I hope you like them! I don't know about you, but I find I'm much more willing to sample new fandoms through podfic than I am through straight-up fic. Podfic is totally a gateway drug!
crinklysolutioncrinklysolution on January 23rd, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
I really love these recs, and it makes me particularly happy to see Ghosts referenced here, I betaed that story by podcath and thought it was so very, very good, and so very, very long. She's working on the sequel, too, y'know? Anyway, I like your taste in podfic.
nickelmountainnickelmountain on January 24th, 2012 04:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, I loved Ghosts a lot. It is very, very good and very, very long - an excellent combination for a commute-based listener like myself. Kudos to you on the beta for it - it sounds fantastic. I didn't know there was a sequel, but I'm glad to have it to look forward to!
podcathpodcath on January 24th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
Hey Nickelmountain, this is a wonderful rec list. I love that you tell us why you enjoyed the fic and why you enjoyed the reading. Because in podfic BOTH need to work, don't they?

of course I'm tickled pink that you recced both my big collaboration (which i started collecting people before Yahtzee had even finished posting, bc like you I felt that this was the best XM3 redemption fic we could ever hope for!) and my reading of Ghost. In fact, as Crinklysolution mentioned, I've been trying to record the sequel for a year now, and it's slow going. It's hard to record a long fic and it's hard to record in long ago fandoms. Your rec not only made my day but made me get back on that file and do some editing :) thank you so much!

And, like you, i'll listen to fandoms i don't know all that well, so I think i'll give that DS9 one a try....

nickelmountain: podfic is lovenickelmountain on January 24th, 2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think it's easy sometimes to explain why we like a certain story, but harder to articulate what we like about the reading of it. You're right, both are necessary for a good podfic. I'm trying to expand my own vocabulary to give more reader-focused feedback.

I'm really happy to hear that you're working on the sequel to Ghost! I didn't know there was one, but now I'm filled with anticipation. I hear you about recording long fics in long-ago fandoms. I've been working very slowly on one like that myself. It certainly is hard. But Ghost was so lovely - in your case, I think it definitely paid off!

Exile is a great choice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Lunchee: kyaalunchy_munchy on January 25th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
This is such a fun list! I will definitely be checking some of these out!!

Thanks so much for the shout out ♥ Funnily enough, you and fire_juggler both made a rec list at the exact same time, and you both put backup copies on them! I thought it was a pretty cool story, but I must have done something right to have both of you mention it. Topher was so fun to emulate, and like you said, he was the much needed comedic relief throughout the whole story - I think I might have died if I had to do the entire thing like I did for the Sherlock's section of it!
nickelmountainnickelmountain on January 29th, 2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
I don't know how, but I missed seeing backup copies on fire_juggler's list. I would have kept it on my list anyway, though - you did such a wonderful job with it. That podfic left me feeling so uncomfortable, but in a really good way (if that makes sense). And yeah, I can see how Topher would have been a relief on your end, too!
podklbpodklb on January 25th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the beautiful rec! I have a lot of ~feelings~ about Veronica Mars and about that story and about that podfic, and it feels really good when other people share my feelings about those things.

I'm tempted by your other recs, though most of my podfic listening lately has been comfort re-listening to my favorites. Still, I do love Star Trek, and I would like a reason to be pulled into watching more DS9...
nickelmountainnickelmountain on January 29th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
I love Veronica Mars so much - I was so happy when I found your podfic of Rich Dirt. It's just such a rich canon, with so much opportunity for fannish transformation. I wish there were more of both.

I really like all of twilight's DS9 podfics. There are 4 of them (that I know of). If you're not up for a darkish AU like Exile right now, Letters From The Northern Continent is a great place to start. And I think Literacy has some interesting meta-textual stuff going on - it's about reading to others/being read to, and different interpretations of a text based on cultural context. And also, you know, Garak and Bashir having sex. ;)