Other listening


On the other hand, a string of stories at Podcastle left me feeling alienated, being centred as they were so strongly on US self-mythologising. A very distinct sense, which I have the privilege of experiencing relatively rarely, that I was not and never could be the audience for these stories.

The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale by Benjamin Rosenbaum is as the title suggests a fairy tale of California. More particularly of capitalism, California, and self-identified geekdom. Self-conscious quirkiness blended with corporate surrealism; there is a trans woman and a genderqueer kid in the story for what appears to be ‘people do gender non-normatively in California’ reasons. Support groups and mercenary hackers and monetising all the things.

Hotel Astarte by M. K. Hobson is a broader anthropomorphised mythology of the Three Americas - the Rural Midwest, the Business of the East, and the upstart Hollywood of the far west - and their deep magical conflicts with each other for pre-eminence or survival in the early 20th century.

These are not necessarily bad stories. Hotel Astarte especially I thought well done. But they are very much of the USA, stories told by that people of its history and its nature. ‘America’, talking about itself to itself, no space in the telling for an audience that is not on the inside, not so soaked in this mythology of the great and human nation.