The Coode Street Podcast

Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe

Discussion and digression on science fiction and fantasy with Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan.

  • 58 minutes 14 seconds
    Episode 653: Lev Grossman and The Bright Sword

    We’re delighted to welcome to Coode Street Lev Grossman, bestselling author of The Magicians trilogy, to discuss his major new Arthurian novel The Bright Sword, which appears from Viking in July.

    We touch upon earlier versions of Arthurian fiction by T.H. White, John Steinbeck, Bernard Cornwell, Nicola Griffith, and others, the balance between historical research and pure fantasy invention, the development of characters based on little or no historical evidence, and even Lev’s earlier career as a critic for Time magazine, when he helped bring fantasy literature into the mainstream.

    Order it here:

    8 June 2024, 3:51 am
  • 19 minutes 42 seconds
    Episode 652: Ellen Klages and the Ham in Jeopardy

    For this special short episode, Jonathan and Gary are joined by an old friend, Nebula and World Fantasy winner Ellen Klages, who recently gained an entirely new kind of recognition when she appeared on the long-running TV quiz show Jeopardy and recalled the “scary ham” story, which she first improvised at a Nebula ceremony ten years ago, when called upon to fill time during a technical glitch.

    We not only touch upon the venerable history of the anecdote, but upon some other midwestern family memoirs, the use of autobiographical material in fiction, and the possibility of future memoirs. As usual, Ellen is a delight.



    3 June 2024, 2:18 am
  • 57 minutes 10 seconds
    Episode 651: Vajra Chandrasekera and The Saint of Bright Doors

    This episode is a wide-ranging discussion with two important guests: the brilliant Vajra Chandrasekera, whose amazing first novel The Saint of Bright Doors is currently nominated for both Hugo and Nebula Awards, and whose even more adventurous Rakesfall will be published in June, and our old friend, the excellent critic, reviewer and fellow podcaster (The Writer and the Critic) Ian Mond.

    We touch upon some of the sources of Vajra’s fiction, the notion of science fantasy, and how his novels incorporate a wide variety of styles and themes, from almost documentary realism about the brutality of colonialism—especially in his native Sri Lanka—to mythic tales and far-future SF. It’s a pretty lively chat!


    Note: We experienced some technical difficulties towards the end of the recording so it does end somewhat abruptly.  We do hope you enjoy the recording and we'll come back to some of the topics soon in another podcast.

    25 May 2024, 5:01 am
  • 57 minutes 44 seconds
    Episode 650: Tobi Ogundiran and the Guardian of the Gods

    Gary and Jonathan are joined by Tobi Ogundiran, whose novella In the Shadow of the Fall is the first of the “Guardian of the Gods,” and whose first story collection Jackal, Jackal, was published to considerable acclaim last year.

    Winner of the Ignyte and nominee for the BSFA, and Shirley Jackson awards, Tobi discusses growing up in Nigeria reading what SFF he could come across, the importance of discovering FIYAH as a place for his fiction, the relationship between Western and African storytelling traditions, managing viewpoints and voices, and his own plans for the future.

    As always, our thanks to Tobi for making time to talk to us. We hope you enjoy the podcast!

    18 May 2024, 2:31 am
  • 55 minutes 54 seconds
    Episode 649: Nghi Vo and The Brides of High Hill

    This week, we’re joined by the wonderful Nghi Vo, whose The Brides of High Hill is out this week. It’s the fifth of her ongoing “Singing Hills” sequence of novellas about the peripatetic Cleric Chih and their sharp-tongued companion hoopoe, Almost Brilliant.

    We discuss how Nghi has made use of different storytelling modes throughout the series, her novels The Chosen and the Beautiful and Siren Queen, a forthcoming novella (again alluding to the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a very intriguing novel due in the fall, The City in Glass, which involves doing very interesting things with libraries. There are also, as usual, some totally irrelevant digressions involving everything from writing blurbs to The Clan of the Cave Bear.

    5 May 2024, 3:08 am
  • 1 hour 4 minutes
    Episode 648: Genre, marketing, and more

    This week Jonathan and Gary start out with something resembling a topic: the proliferation of subgenres, movements, and marketing categories in SF and fantasy: from the evolution of space opera in SF to the rise of epic fantasy (and Ballantine’s earlier term “adult fantasy”), as well as consciously developed movements such as the New Wave, cyberpunk, or Africanfuturism and new market categories such as “romantasy".

    After a wide-ranging discussion of the various ways of slicing up genres, we spend some time musing about the hot market for collectible, special, limited, and subscriber editions from publishers such as the Folio Society or Subterranean Press.

    27 April 2024, 3:54 am
  • 1 hour 37 seconds
    Episode 647: Oh no, not us again...

    Once again with no guest to give us focus, Jonathan and Gary return to rambling mode, spurred on by the observation that voting for the 2024 Hugo Awards is now open.

    This leads to our ongoing discussion of what the Hugo Awards do and do not represent, why voting for your favorite works is important even if you haven’t read all the nominees, what makes a genuine SFF classic, and how the Hugo procedures and categories differ from those of the World Fantasy Awards—which are also accepting nominations from members of the 2022, 2023, and 2024 conventions.

    We suggest you take a look at Jo Walton's An Informal History of the Hugos if you're interested in a history of the Hugos, and point out that nominations for the 2024 World Fantasy Awards are now open too.

    21 April 2024, 4:06 am
  • 1 hour 37 seconds
    Episode 646: Peter S. Beagle and a Life Filled With Story

    This week we are joined by the  legendary author of The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle, who discusses his new novel I'm Afraid You've Got Dragons (published next month by Saga Press & Gollancz), as well as his storied career, his pals from childhood, influential writers such as Robert Nathan and Avram Davidson, and last year’s important retrospective collection The Essential Peter S. Beagle.

    As always, our thanks to Peter for making time to talk to us, and we hope you enjoy the podcast.

    14 April 2024, 5:44 am
  • 54 minutes 36 seconds
    Episode 645: Jack Dann and Fifty Years of Wandering Stars

    On the fiftieth anniversary of his groundbreaking anthology Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy, we’re joined by the terrific author and editor Jack Dann.

    During our conversation, we mention his new collection Islands of Time—published almost exactly 50 years after his first book— as well as his The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Alternate History and some of his classic novels like The Memory Cathedral and The Rebel.

    Mostly, though, we discuss how that classic anthology evolved, in part from his friendship with Pamela Sargent and George Zebrowski, what the anthology meant in 1974, and how the nature of Jewish science fiction has evolved over the decades.

    7 April 2024, 9:34 am
  • 1 hour 6 minutes
    Episode 644: Cozy books and a prickly writer

    This time out, Jonathan and Gary consider the meaning of "cozy" (or "cosy") SF and fantasy, and whether cozy horror is even a thing. We trace the term back to cozy mystery novels and Brian W. Aldiss’s characterization of certain British writers of the 1950s—especially John Wyndham—as "cozy catastrophes".

    Not surprisingly, this doesn’t lead to any meaningful conclusions, but we do touch upon whether the notion of cozy has to do with the fiction itself, or just the reader's experience of it. Authors mentioned include Travis Baldree, Becky Chambers, Peter S. Beagle, Martha Wells, and Terry Pratchett.

    Then, with our usual lack of grace, we transition awkwardly into a discussion of the new Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits, how well Ellison’s fiction holds up, and some brief previews of forthcoming episodes.

    23 March 2024, 11:46 pm
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    Episode 643: All Time Top 5s

    Somewhat hesitantly, Jonathan and Gary return to the mics, sans guests, and somehow get into a discussion of various SFF listicles—partly because of Gary’s recent contribution to of a list of five novels about science fiction. Why are such lists so appealing and so ubiquitous these days, and who are they for?

    By the time we're done, Jonathan begins musing on a possible list of the top five most disappointing SF novels of all time. You'll have to tune in to see what’s at the top of that list—and get ready to argue!

    4 March 2024, 7:40 am
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