GSN PODCAST: Scrolls: World Fantasy Con Special

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls: World Fantasy Con Special

7 Dec, 2013

If you have an abiding love for Fantasy, SF and Horror, you could do far worse than get yourself to one of the book conventions that crop up around the country on a regular basis.  In 2013 the World Fantasy Con returned to our fair shores after a long absence, bringing with it a raft of international authors, book launches, intimate Q&As, large-scale panels and literary awards.  Folk from all areas of the publishing industry were brought together with fans to celebrate and promote the ongoing explosion of imaginative fiction into mainstream life. Direct Download:Scrolls: World Fantasy Con Special Listen Online: The Scrolls team was sadly unable to attend this event en mass but we wererepresented by Phil Ambler, who’s here to tell Dion all about it.  Joining us are a group of authors and bloggers to share their experiences, have a laugh and digress into some disturbing areas.  They are: Karen Davies, a.k.a KTScribbles author of The Red Knight, reviewer at SF Crowsnest and blogger. Paul Holmes a.k.a PabloCheesecake, blogger and reviewer at The Eloquent Page Stephen Aryan, a.k.a SteveAryan very-nearly-published author, podcaster, bloggerand probably a bloomin’ rocket scientist too. In the episode we chew over first impressions; talk personal highlights, general vibes and unfortunate issues; then give out some prime tips for people who are new to the convention scene.  Along the way we hear of the perils of looking out of a bedroom window, discover an academic use for genitalia, get utterly lost in a toilet, and (finally!) learn where they keep all the free booze. Want to track down that elusive best seller from Fox Spirit?  Head over to their home-page. Wish you could watch John Llewellyn Probert’s ghost stories, as recorded at the con?  Here you go! Last but not least, if the episode has whetted your appetite for future cons, here are the links to Bristol Con, Nine Worlds and the Fantasy Con in York. We hope to see some of you there in 2014! Until then, keep...

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls V.2, Chapter 2: Off-Kilter

Hello there, thanks for joining us again on our jaunt through the joyous worlds of fantasy, science fiction and horror.  Who knows what we may find?  (Well I do, I suppose.) Direct Download:Scrolls V.2, Chapter 2: Off-Kilter Listen Online: Here’s a quick run down – News Bites: Before any journey it’s always best to fortify yourself, so we take a bit of time to chew over the latest literary events. Author’s Delight: We begin with a short stroll in the company of a seasoned explorer – a chance to chat with an author about one of their all-time favourite reads.  On this occasion we’re joined by Adam Christopher from Angry Robot, to discuss Veronica. The Flash Fiction Challenge: Our listeners take a short dash up the creative slope each month in our writing challenge.  In this segment we read out the top tales and talk about them. Night at the Round Table: The picnic blankets out and the wine has begun to flow.  Must be time to take in the view, show down and indulge in a rambling discussion. Author Interview: Finally, we metaphorically hole-up in a pub, get drunk and talk to strangers until the taxi turns up.  Fortunately, James Treadwell is a congenial companion, as well as a damned fine writer. Competition time: On the way home we rashly offer up not one, but two great books in a dead easy competition, because you’re our Best Friend and we Love you.  No, no, we really Do!  (Ooh.  Is it me or has the world gone a bit spinny?) Contact us via e-mail at [email protected] / tweet @Dion_Scrolls @Phlambler or @Gouldshire or leave us your thoughts with your actual voice by Skyping me at dion.winton.polak Scrolls is looking for a lighter and more agile format, so listen in horrified fascination as the very hungry caterpillars continue their metamorphosis.  Feedback is welcomed in the Comments section below (as are author recommendations and ways to squeeze more reading time out of a jam-packed...

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls Book Group: American Gods

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls Book Group: American Gods

22 May, 2013

Welcome back to our cosy nook.  Pull up an armchair, pour yourself a soothing drink and join us for a good chat.  These episodes are always special to me because we get to delve into the books under discussion in a much fuller way than our usual episodes allow.  Needless to say this means spoilers, so we recommend that listeners read the book in advance.  This episode we explore Neil Gaiman’s mythical masterpiece, American Gods.  This is a toughie to describe.  In some ways it’s a road-trip around the hidden highways of the USA, in others it’s a meditation on belief.  The book is wildly unpredictable, utterly charming and chilling in equal measures. Direct Download:   GSN PODCAST: Scrolls Book Group: American Gods Listen Online: Scrolls Book Group: American Gods  As ever, two of the Scrolls team have stepped aside to make space for two of You.  Joining Dion and Clover in the discussion are avid readers Jenny Williams and Bernice Watson.  Congratulations to Jenny, who has just been signed by Headline.  Her first book with them is called The Copper Promise and it is due to be published in the Spring of 2014.  An e-book of the first part of this story is available on Kindle and, having read it, I’m eagerly awaiting the the rest of the tale.  You may recognise Bernice from theChildren of the Atom podcast, here on the Geek Syndicate Network.  She also makes audio and video appearances at Liberation Frequency, a site dedicated to bringing exposure to ‘new bands, artists and comedians.’  Check them out.  One last plug – Clover appears on the latest episode of Stacey’s Pop Culture Parlour for a chilled out chat about… bazongas?! So, line that up after the Book Group for a change of pace. If you want to carry on the conversation you can post your comments down below.  We’d love to hear from you.  Our August episode will be on Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith.  The final Book Group this year will (rather appropriately) be Terminus by Adam Baker: a zombie thriller with a difference.  We have room for one more guest on both of these episodes so get in touch if you want to be involved.  E-mail us at [email protected] or tweet straight...

COMPETITION: Scrolls Flash Fiction Challenge 1.2

COMPETITION: Scrolls Flash Fiction Challenge 1.2

12 May, 2013

Huge thanks to all of those who entered our Flash Fiction Challenge last month.  If you’ve listened to the latest episode of Scrolls, then you will already have heard the winning entries.  Newbies will perhaps now have a better idea of the breadth and variety of writing that can be used in these tiny tales, while experienced folk may be chomping at the bit to show us what they’ve got.  As this is a monthly challenge, the chance to do so will come round again and again.  If you missed it before, the rules are simple… All you need to do is write an original story/poem in the broad genres of fantasy, science fiction or horror.  The word limit is just 100, but your imagination can be boundless.  To help inspire you, we’ll give you 4 words that you must use (in whatever context you see fit).  The rest is up to you.   The four key words for the next challenge are as follows: Scan, Marrow, Heart, Chuck. As always, we will read out the best three pieces on the Scrolls podcast and publish them here on the Geek Syndicate website.  The winner gets a book, too.  We aim to have all the best stories collected together in one place on the site, but until we figure out how to do that, here are last month’s top trio… Siren by John Xero (Runner Up)  Heed the siren’s call.  It heralds salvation, the bliss of ignorance, the sweet succour of death. Do not thrash as she takes you into her arms, sweet child, as she presses her lips to yours.  Let her steal your breath as if it were her own. Do not cry out as she cracks your bones for the marrow within.  Instead forget what pain is, let her devour that too. What has free will ever brought you?  Let the siren take charge and plant her black flag in your soul. Soon you will be nothing more than tears in the ocean. Man Vs Food by Lizzie Boyle (Runner Up) Ray-ray was starting to flag.  He’d charged ahead, chomping through the first leg in ten minutes, pausing only for breath and black pepper. The...

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls V.2, Chapter 1: New Beginnings

Scrolls is dead. Long live Scrolls! Direct Download:Scrolls V.2, Chapter 1: New Beginnings Listen Online: We’ve had a hell of a lot of fun burbling away about various topics over the last three years, but its time for a fresh start. The gang are all here still, and the focus of the podcast remains on our favourite genres of books but we’ve shifted format in an effort to become more listener friendly and provide you with more books worth reading. What does that mean? In a nutshell, we’ve split the programme into segments and gone out of our way to get contributions from a much wider group of people. Some features will be regular, others will drop in and out as the mood takes us, but our ever constant guide will be the love of and discussion about books. And cake. Obviously. This first episode kicks off with a general round up of what we’re Reading Right Now, including input from our Twitter followers. You can use the hash-tag #RRNow to contribute to this infrequent but ongoing conversation. It doesn’t have to be an essay, just let us know what you’re reading, who it’s by and why you think other listeners would like to read it. Alternatively, if you’d like to submit a longer review, send it to [email protected] and we’ll read it out. Next up is the Author Interview, in which Phil talks with dark fantasist and environmental horror supremo Joseph D’Lacey about his career – past, present and future. If you have an author you would like us to interview in the future, e-mail your suggestions to [email protected] and we’ll see what we can do. We then unveil the results of our first Flash Fiction competition – a monthly challenge open to all-comers. The best three entries are read out, we discuss their merits and choose a winner. Listen out also for next month’s challenge. Your deadline will be 8:30 pm, Thursday 16th May. The top three will be published on the Geek Syndicate website each month and the winner will receive a book. Need your fix more regularly? Pop along to Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chaos or join Colleen Foley at the...

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls Chapter 21: Journey’s End

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls Chapter 21: Journey’s End

9 Apr, 2013

 It’s been a long road from where we began, but Scrolls as we know it has come to an end.  On our final ramble through the genres the team reflect upon the ever-present motif of the Journey – What exactly do authors get from dragging us all over their worlds, why do we travel anyway and how does the experience inform our lives?  When we manage to stick to the topic we wander through The Thirteen and a Half Lives of Captain Bluebear, The Long Earth, The Hollowing, Neuromancer and Double Dead, among others.  When we stumble off the path you’ll hear little vignettes about life at Waterstone’s, love custard, curried chocolates, hairy arses and the inevitable destruction of life on Earth.  Don’t panic. Direct Donwload:  Scrolls Chapter 21: Journey’s End Listen Online:  Journey’s End is dedicated to Mattie’s dear friend Charlotte Lamb and Phil’s beloved grandmother who both sadly passed away around the time The Journey (aka Journey’s End) was recorded. One notable absence from our discussions is the divine road-novel American Gods but don’t worry, we’ll be doing a Book Group podcast on that pretty darn soon.  Oh yeah, the Book Group will continue, never fear.  We’ll still be doing Scrolls, for that matter but our format is changing considerably.  We are becoming more focused and more interactive, which means we need YOU!  Here are a few ways that you can help add content to our future episodes. As well as talking about what we’re currently reading we want to hear from YOU.  Tweet mini reviews of what you’re reading right now [using the hashtag #RRNow ] and we will read them out on air.  Alternatively you can e-mail mini-reviews to us at [email protected] and again, we’ll read them out in the podcast. We’re always up for a debate, so toss some topics at us to chew over.  Do YOU think Dragons are rubbish?  That the short story is dead?  Do you have a problem with gender politics in horror?  Ask us a question or challenge our opinions and we will argue with each other for your entertainment.  E-mail [email protected] We want to tell people about the Best books out there, but we...

GSN PODCAST: Dissecting Scrolls Solves Christmas

GSN PODCAST: Dissecting Scrolls Solves Christmas

18 Jan, 2013

Late? What do you mean, late? We’ve been here for ages, honest! (Okay, it’s a fair cop – but better late than never, eh?) Once again the Geek Syndicate Network presents our annual array of panel games and silly banter. Listen Online: Direct Download: Dissecting Scrolls Solves Christmas The First Lady of Scrolls starts things off with her version of Just A Minute, in which the contestants struggle to speak on a given topic without deviation, hesitation or repetition. Clover’s subjects range from grumpy dragons to horny time-travellers, while the clock ticks ever downwards. You can practically hear the sweat. Next up is newcomer Tim Swann with Pointless, in which the contestants vie to find the most obscure but accurate answers. For folk unfamiliar with the quiz show, think Family Fortunes in reverse. Under the microscope are Firefly, Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars. but what everybody really wants to know is how did Tim managed to split his brain in two? We follow up with chameleonic truths and outrageous lies as Dion chairs the classic game of Call My Bluff. Each contestant presents three definitions of a word or phrase related to film, tv, radio, book, comic, or game. Their opponents must ask them questions and try to work out the facts from the fibs. Technical difficulties hit us at this point, but we’ve preserved most of the show. Finally, Matt Farr (the otherwise genial Grampus) dons his alter-ego as Lord Alan Sidious, weeding out the wastrels in his sour-faced search for the next Sith Apprentice. The contestants each take on the role of a villain from anywhere in space and time, pitching their plans for domination to Lord Alan. Who will impress the Enterprising Emperor and who will be summarily executed? We lost Mr Ambler’s game of Geeking Talk to gremlins, but two hours ought to be enough for you all. So, grab some nibbles, pop your party hat on and help us drain the last dregs of Christmas spirit as Dissecting Scrolls Solves Christmas! [Musical snatches come from Eddi Reader’s album The Songs Of Robert Burns. I think she’s fab. You should buy all her stuff.] Stay In Touch. You...

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls Book Group: The Heroes

GSN PODCAST: Scrolls Book Group: The Heroes

4 Dec, 2012

Time is ticking away, the latest ‘normal’ episode in in editorial limbo and we haven’t yet recorded our usual Christmas mayhem, so here’s another Book Group episode to keep you all going. Direct Download:  Scrolls Book Group: The Heroes Listen Online:  The Heroes could perhaps be described as Sharpe’s Waterloo done fantasy-style.  Joe Abercrombie uses it to explore the subject of heroism with all its wrinkles and contradictions.  Set in the same world as the acclaimed First Law Trilogy, Abercrombie introduces a whole new batch characters in such a way that enables new readers to get straight into it, whilst rewarding long-time fans with a few familiar faces.  If you haven’t read his stuff before, we’re talking a gritty fantasy adventure, full of dark humour and harsh justice.  The focus is always on the characters (a particular strength of this author), with vigorous prose and a suitably cynical tone. We recommend you read the book before listening to this episode as Spoilers were pretty much unavoidable.  The programme is hosted by Scrolls regulars Dion and Clover, who are joined by Geek Syndicate’s very own co-founder Barry Nugent and long-time listener Louise Maskill.  Louise is an avid reader of Fantasy fiction, works as a free-lance editor and has just published her own book about Sussex Dialect (with a similar Norfolk one on the way.)  She is currently working on her first novel.  Publishers, take note. If you want to carry on the conversation, you can post your comments, thoughts and alternative viewpoints under this article.  We welcome your feedback.  Taking a leaf from the Comic Book Outsiders, we’re actually going to start letting you all know in advance what books are coming up.  (Yes, we have been THAT stupid)  With that in mind, you may wish to pick up or re-read American Gods by Neil Gaiman in time for our February episode.  We always like to involve YOU in the book group, so let us know if you want to take part in that episode.  Don’t fancy that one?  Then put on your thinking cap and send us the name of the book you would like to discuss.  You can e-mail us directly at [email protected] or tweet @Dion_Scrolls if you prefer.  Who knows, it could be you...

SCROLLS – FULL READING: Lost Hearts. A ghost story, by MR James.

SCROLLS – FULL READING: Lost Hearts. A ghost story, by MR James.

31 Oct, 2012

 Just in time for Halloween we bring you Lost Hearts’ written by Montague Rhodes James and performed by Dion Winton-Polak, from the Scrolls podcast Direct Donwload:  Lost Hearts. A ghost story Listen Online:  Hello there, come in, come in.  Yes, it is dark isn’t it?  The nights draw in ever so quickly these days.  There’s a real bite in the air now – you’d almost think it was Winter!  Here, let me take that coat from you.  You must be freezing.  Blowing quite a gale out there, by the sounds of it.  You know, I remember a night like this oh.., many years back, when I was at school with old Monty.  Hah!  Now, there was a character and no mistake.  Famed for his fireside stories.  There’s one he told me that fair set the hairs on the back of my neck a-rising (back when I was a wee lad, you understand.)  He wrote it down later and, do you know, I believe I have a copy of it somewhere.  Let me see… Come, fetch yourself a warm drink, if you haven’t one already.  Take your ease.  There’s warm cocoa in the pan, and I’m sure I can find something a little stronger to slip in, to help warm your bones.  Lovely.  Ah, here’s the tale!  It’s called ‘Lost Hearts.’  Got yer drink?  Marvellous. Oh dear, the cat’s jumped up on me now, and she does so hate to be disturbed. Be a good fellow will you, and turn the lights down.  The fire’s picking up, and I do like to see it in it’s glory. Ahhh, there’s nothing more companiable… Now then, ‘It was, as far as I can ascertain, in September of the year 1811…’ Lost Hearts’ was written by Montague Rhodes James.  It is performed here by Dion Winton-Polak, from the Scrolls podcast. This reading incorporates the following sounds, downloaded from freesound: 127254 howling-wind-real-02 and 127253 howling-wind-real-01 by klankbeeld (http://www.freesound.org/people/klankbeeld/) 27862 061226-fire-ms957 by ermine (http://www.freesound.org/people/ermine/) 156970 fireplace by martats (http://www.freesound.org/people/martats/) 44322 fireplace by inchadney (http://www.freesound.org/people/inchadney/) 151346 creaking-floor-upstairs by alienxxx (http://www.freesound.org/people/AlienXXX/) If you enjoyed ‘Lost Hearts’ I can highly recommend seeking out the work of Robert Lloyd Parry, a performer who puts my humble effort to shame.  His theatrical schedule can...

Scrolls Book Group: The Lifecycle Of Software Objects

Scrolls Book Group: The Lifecycle Of Software Objects

4 Sep, 2012

The Life-cycle of Software Objects is a story by Ted Chiang about our relationship with artificial intelligence and what it means to be alive.  It’s kind of a peculiar read but well worth it, as we quickly discovered.  Joining Dion and Phil to discuss the tale is our guest host, the delightful Dee – otherwise known as ‘Faint Dreams.’ Direct Donwload:   Scrolls Book Group: The Life-cycle Of Software Objects Listen Online: Scrolls Book Group: The Life-cycle Of Software Objects  Now, don’t go skipping straight past.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking ‘I’ve never heard of it, never read it, so why listen to the podcast?’  Well, Firstly we’re bloody brilliant.  Honest, guv’nor.  Secondly, it’s actually a pretty quick read – a novella rather than a book (Around 60 pages.)  Thirdly, The Life-cycle Of Software Objects is available right here for free, and Fourthly it’s an absolute corker.  We’ve all had ideas and questions exploding in our brains long after we finished reading it. So you’re not going anywhere, right? Right 😀 You snuggle down and start reading, I’ll just sit here and… I dunno, tweet or something. Dum de dum…  de dum…  de dum… Ready?  Brilliant. For those of you interested in reading more of Ted Chiang’s work, there is a round-up of his stories at Metafilter, all free and perfectly legal.  Some are in text, some are audiobooks.  Here also is a separate link for the story that Dee mentions right at the end of the podcast, called ‘Liking What You See: A Documentary.‘ ‘ Want to know a little more about Artificial Intelligence?  You could listen to Dissecting Worlds (cheap shot) or have a look at this wikipedia entry.  Most edifying. As ever, feedback is appreciated. You can tweet @Dion_Scrolls, @Phlambler or @FaintDreams, e-mail us at [email protected] or share your views with everyone in the Comments section below. We hope you enjoy listening to this as much as we enjoyed making...