“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen

Source: StarShipSofa (mp3)
Length: 1 hr, 3 min (total episode is 1 hr, 47 min)
Reader: Simon Hildebrandt

The story: Like this week’s audiobook review, this story harkens back to the 19th century, when balloons and steam engines were the cutting edge of technology. The “Eight Miles” in the title refers not to Eminem’s movie, but the unheard-of distance into the air that a client wishes a balloonist to take him. Accompanying the two will be the client’s unusual guest, Angelica.

You may have heard of the speculative fiction subgenre of Steampunk, or perhaps seen movies or comic books based on the genre. Steampunk combines science fiction with alternate history set in the Victorian Era, as in the works of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. “Eight Miles” is nominated for a 2011 Hugo Award in the “Best Novellette” category, so it makes for a great introduction to Steampunk.

Rating: 7 / 10

The reader: Simon Hildebrant has a marvelous voice for narration. He performs English and French accents with great skill. StarShipSofa’s podcast is envisioned as an audio magazine, usually with multiple short articles and fiction leading up to the main fiction for the episode. The whole Hugo-Award winning podcast is hosted by the cheerful Scottish host Tony C. Smith. For this episode, the main fiction, “Eight Mile” starts at 43 minutes, following a few author interviews and an article on romance and speculative fiction author Ella Scrymsour.

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