This might be better done as two posts, but FUCK IT, my furnace just crapped out today and I am (once again) on a laptop in my in-laws dining room, under a blanket staying up and writing until well past when I should go to sleep.
First off, about this audio that you see up there:
That is episode 1 of my new podcast (I talk about the podcast more in-depth in the second section) that is all about the awesome Sci-Fi from the subreddit that calls itself “Humanity, FUCK YEAH!” (or HFY! for short).
This first episode is the story The Longest Game, written by reddit user Dachande663, also known in the ‘real’ world as Luke Lanchester. I wanted to use this particular story as an introduction for a few reasons: it is the right length – which means that it’s a really good one to set expectations with. It tells a story with all the trimmings of good Sci-Fi in the past-tense – which allow the story to take it’s time, from a storytelling perspective. It also addresses some of the hardest struggles that we deal with as a society today – getting over old bitterness in ways that are imperfect, bumpy, and frightening. One thing that I think is very important – the author isn’t a gigantic celebrity, even on the subreddit: he’s just an average joe with a techie background and a penchant for writing some stuff.
If you can’t tell, I recorded this when I was in the depths of a nasty cold. I can tell, *every single time I hear it*. But for the majority of people coming from the subreddit – it’s just a stranger’s voice that will change a little as more episodes come out.
I am just going to say: please listen to the episode, and thanks for visiting my site. Here are the links if you want to follow along or find some other writing or further information on the author, the subreddit, the genre, or the podcast. There should be another episode in 2 weeks.
reddit.com/r/HFY for more stories without audio.
Lukelanchester.com for more about the author.
You’re already on my website, or I would be linking you there, as well.
Here comes the second section…
And Here’s the second section, in defense of running a podcast full of amateur authors and sometimes-hokey Sci-Fi.
So, a little while back I had to dismantle my Nerd Fort, because bedbugs had chased me out of my home (see previous posts, starting around November 2016) . I no longer had a primary source of audio for my D&D actual-play podcast. That sucked.
I still didn’t (and still don’t) have time to maintain a consistent D&D group, but I still did (and still do) have a desire to maintain a tangible link to the nerd world and I absolutely love the podcast format.
I also maintain that storytelling is one of the oldest and most important technologies that humans have ever come up with – even rivaling fire for it’s early date of adoption, its usefulness, and its ability to warm people’s hearts. I want to learn it, I want to foster it in others, and I want it to be something that people value tremendously.
Put these things together – 1) the value of storytelling, 2) the desire to keep up a nerdy podcast, and 3) just enough time on my hands to run a podcast, and add one final element – I came across a community of people called Humanity, FUCK YEAH!
The idea is that there are many stories (especially within the sci-fi genre) that emphasize humans as being an immense thing as they start exploring the universe – at times an insatiable predator, a diamond-hard freedom fighter, or even just a species capable of compassion towards those we could easily kill in a short fight. In these stories, humans buck the trend that already exists among the interesting alien species. Humans show amazing levels of courage and compassion, frightening fury, or just simply an ability to shrug off wounds that mwouldight fell a great beast on our own planet – and we just keep walking around later missing an arm or a leg (that’s pretty fucking metal).
These stories showcase the amazing things that humanity is capable of (We have put humans in to space at all, for god’s sake! We have sent our machines to the void beyond our own solar system! Talk about accomplishments!), and sometimes they showcase the awful horrors that we try to rise above.
One of my favorite early examples of this kind of story is in Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Captain Jean-Luc Picard is encountering and dueling wits with the apparently-omnipotent being known as “Q”. Picard is for some reason chosen by Q to answer for the awful things that humanity has inflicted upon one another (and we all have to admit – we have done some really messed up stuff). Picard, when confronted with some of the horrors of the Star Trek past and told to explain himself, says: the fact that they still exist at all after such abominable actions against each other shows that, while we may have some deeply-wrought wrong capable of bubbling up within our hearts, we are also constantly aware that this dark streak lives within our being, seeking an escape. In the Star Trek universe Picard asserts that we have learned as a species how to curtail those things within us – to rise above them, and fight them, and beat them back time and time again. In addition, we keep finding the motivation to do fight it, time and time again – even in those awful times that we don’t have the strength to see our will through to the end.
Star Trek was written by Gene Roddenberry as a love letter to humanity. Praising all of it’s strengths and forgiving weaknesses of his love while we figured things out. Star Trek was Gene Roddenberry saying to 20th century humanity, “Goddamit, you have GREATNESS in you, if you would just let it out!”
I believe that the Humanity, FUCK YEAH! sub-sub-genre is a wonderful celebration of these things that people like Roddenberry saw in us.
Currently, HFY has a home on reddit – at reddit.com/r/HFY. This subreddit asks authors to post stories there that match the HFY genre, and quite importantly, this subreddit praises honest attempt as much as it praises technical writing skills. The subreddit is filled to the brim with amateur writers. Several stories are posted every day from people saying “please be gentle with your critique, this is the first time I’ve published anything.” And I think that is amazing, especially since people in the sub find things to praise in those works right alongside the authors that have made a vocation doing fiction writing – some even having gotten a start on the sub!
So, I am now running a podcast that specializes in this sort of story, and mostly sourced directly from the subreddit. This means that there is going to be bad writing, cheesy transitions, and all the things that make amateur writing a wonderful mess. It also includes well-polished stories that honestly belong in bigger venues and deserve to be paid. Some have a larger word count than many full-length novels, some are written by someone that writes professionally, as their full time job! It includes some stories that are no longer than a few paragraphs. It includes a few series that would be an entire serial podcast start to finish. There is a huge wealth of styles, lengths, and viewpoints, and I think that everyone would be better for spending some time there.
To that end, I’m running a podcast that is going to have severely amateur-level writing, and I’m going to have extremely well-crafted stories. I am going to have stories that take less than 10 minutes to tell, and I’m going to have stories that will take several episodes, 30 minutes a piece. I’m going to have stories that are all about how awesome humans are, and I’m gong to have stories about humans making up for their specie’s sins for the rest of eternity.
I hope you enjoy it.