Six Books Best Enjoyed on Your iPod

Reading isn't just for your eyes any more. Many authors are podcasting their stories long before they ever go to print. If you want to hear what you've been missing, we have a few recommendations to get your ears started.

Many of these books are available at Podiobooks, where creators have uploaded hundreds of self-published and public domain audiobooks. Some of have also been published in print after a successful podcasting run — although sometimes the printed version is substantially different from the audio version. All of the books below are available for download, free of charge (although donations are generally appreciated):


If you're looking for a thriller:

7th Son by JC Hutchins: Hutchins' 7th Son series, which begins with 7th Son: Descent (although there is also a prequel anthology), focuses on seven men who are suddenly ripped from their lives and discover that they are cloned from a single man. As if adjusting to that world-shattering revelation weren't enough, they're also told that their genetic donor has just assassinated the president of the United States, and they might be the only men who can stop him before he unleashes a destructive technology on the world. There are actually two versions of 7th Son: Descent: the original "beta" version, and an audio version of the print novel.

If you're looking for some alien-induced horror:

Infected by Scott Sigler: Alien parasites travel to Earth and make a nice, cozy home inside a handful of human bodies. The unlucky hosts develop uncomfortable, triangular growths on their skin and their unbalanced hormones drive them to homicidal madness (and that's even before the little critters turn out to be sentient). A CIA agent and an epidemiologist are trying to get to the root of the people gone mad, while an already temperamental ex-linebacker tries to hold it together before the parasites drive him to murder.


If you're looking for supernatural worldbuilding:

FETIDUS by James Durham: Set in a supernatural Washington, DC, in 2034, FETIDUS stands for Foundation for the Ethical Treatment of the Innocently Damned, Undead, and Supernatural. FETIDUS is an advocacy group that provides services for and lobbies on behalf of the meta-human community — and after the Undead Outbreaks of the 2020s, the organization as its work cut out for it. Art Blanchard is an attorney for FETIDUS with a dark past and the inner monologue of the Mickey Spillane character. The podcast drips with humorously self-aware noir, but its real strength is its exploration of the social and political issues facing supernatural beings.


If you're looking for an unconventional superhero story:

Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty: Mur Lafferty is an incredibly prolific podcaster (be sure to check out her Lessons from a Geek Fu Master), and Playing for Keeps became her first print novel — after she podcasted it. Set in the same universe as Lafferty's short story, "Barry Koleman, Hero," Playing for Keeps follows a group of meta-humans whose abilities, while interesting and occasionally useful, aren't powerful enough to qualify them as superheroes. Keepsie Branson is one such non-hero; anything that belongs to her can never be taken from her. Instead of being a hero, though, Keepsie owns a local watering hole where others with minimal powers gather to bitch and moan about the city's superheroes. But when the villain Doodad thrusts a mysterious orb into Keepsie's hands, she and her friends are caught in a battle between the heroes and the villains — and they're not sure whose side they should take.


If you're looking for an unconventional supervillain story:

How to Succeed in Evil by Patrick E. McLean: Edwin Windsor is an efficiency consultant for supervillains, ensuring that their nefarious deeds are as fruitful as possible. One day, Edwin gets sick of his clients' inefficient ways, and decides he could make more money — and piss off the local supervillain contingent — if he strikes out on his own to become the ultimate supervillain. After the podcast's initial run, McLean turned How to Succeed in Evil into a full-length audiobook.


If you prefer short stories:

Voices: New Media Fiction edited by Mur Lafferty: There are tons of excellent places to find podcasted short speculative fiction. Clarkesworld Magazine has an excellent podcast, and the Escape Pod and Pseudopod podast magazines provide a steady stream of science fiction and horror stories, respectively. But a great place to start on short podcasted fiction is with Voices. The anthology includes stories from familiar names like James Patrick Kelly and Cory Doctorow, as well as several other writers deeply involved in the podcasting community. It's a fun set of stories, as well as a handy introduction to some of the more prolific writers asking you to listen to their novels.


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