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I love Radio Plays and Audio Books, and wanted to mention these for anyone who does not already know of them. Escape Pod is a podcast that delivers a weekly free Sci-Fi audio story, and has been doing so since 2005. It is so successful at it that it is listed as a qualifying professional sale at the SFWA. In addition it has generated two spinoffs, Pseudopod for Horror fiction, and PodCastle for Fantasy fiction. You can subscribe to their podcasts, download the MP3 files from their sites, or got to the Escape Pod Archives searchable collection at Wikipedia.

The finalists have been announced for the 2011 Parsec Awards. These awards are given out to honor the best in speculative fiction podcasting in each of a number of categories. Part of the requirements to be eligible include being available for free through an RSS feed, so if you are the ind of person who likes a good audio book or radio drama, this is a great source of new programming to add to your mobile player and personal collections. And for each representative program linked on the list you can subscribe to the feeds and get a ton of additional programs. The awards themselves will be handed out in about a month.

A few groups have posted their award nominees this week. Obviously the one everyone is paying attention to is the Hugo Awards, and you can find the complete list of the nominees at the Renovation SF site. As always, the choices are between some amazing works, but my favorite bits are the ones I don’t recognize, since that means brand new wonders to read, watch, and discover. I have a few favorites I am cheering for (like Cryoburn, Chicks Dig Time Lords, and Girl Genius), but in most categories which work I prefer changes depending on my mood; they are just that close!

The Parsec Awards Nominees for 2011 are broken into a number of categories, but they all have one thing in common; they are audio based speculative fiction that was released in the course of the year as a free, feed driven Podcast. Categories this time around include Best Speculative Fiction Story in Short Form, Novella Form, and Long Form formats, Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama in Short Form and Long Form subcategories, and several categories that are news about speculative fiction Podcasting. While a number of my favorites are missing from the nominations lists, everything that is there includes links to the Podcasts so you can listen to them yourself, always a good thing.

From Japan comes word that the 2011 Seiun Award nominees have been announced. For those not already aware, the Seiun Awards are Japan’s equivalent of the Hugo’s, and most of each year’s media nominees (TV, Movies, and Manga) become available in the US within a year or so, although novels and short stories often take longer because of the more complex translation job involved. The English Nominees list has been posted by the good folks at Anime News Network. The ones I am looking forward to seeing are the 2010 version of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time live action (this is the third time this story has been turned into a live action movie, and that is not counting the Anime movie or either the live action or animated TV shows), and The Tatami Galaxy animated TV series.

The title may sound like an Anime program, but it isn’t. The team that brought you Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes have a new project in the works which may be just as interesting. The new series, called Eternal Law, is the story of two angels who are assigned to be lawyers to help a community and learn a bit more about humans. This departs from reality on so many levels (to start, have you met any lawyers? Did they seem very angelic to you?) it has to be total fantasy, but has the potential to create some amazing stories, especially in the hands of two writers of such quality. Of course, it also has the potential to fall flat on its face; I look forward to finding out which way it goes.

I was recently invited by Fancy Fembot to join the fine collection of folks aggregated over at the Sci-Fi Party Line News Network. Of course I said yes (I am not as brain dead as I look), and you should stop by there and check out all the fine articles, podcasts, and vlogs. Unless your already reading this from there, in which case Hello! How are you? Thanks, Cat, I appreciate being invited to play in your sandbox.

Avatar finally comes out this weekend! The trailers have been amazing, the interactive app has been fun, and the hype has been overwhelming. I have pretty much been waiting all year for this film, and I am glad it is finally time to watch it.

Also showing on the big screen this week is RiffTrax: Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza, with special guest Wierd Al Yankovic. The program is live on the 16th, with an encore replay on the 17th; feed your zip code into each date to find the closest theaters to you.

Appearing live in Virtual Reality this week is Cory Doctorow on Copper Robot, doing a real time interview in the Second Life Seaside Theater, over at World2Worlds Island. That happens on Wednesday, the 16th, 8PM SL time (11PM EST, since 2nd Life time is California time). If you already have the free 2nd Life software installed, this is the SLURL that will launch it and take you straight to the event. If you are trapped behind an office firewall and can’t get into the metaverse, you can watch it in real time at Copper Robot, or grab the podcast after the event to listen to at your leisure.

Next week brings both The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Sherlock Holmes to the big screen. I’m going to have to see each of them, and maybe swoop back for a second pass at Avatar.

Starship Sofa Aural Delights has hit its 100th episode, and to celebrate they have released Starship Sofa Stories, Volume 1. Some of the authors include Elizabeth Bear, Michael Bishop, Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds, and Spider Robinson, and all of these tales were featured as a radio play or reading in an Aural Delights episode. You can download it here, or you can use a widget for online access.

When I go hang out in a virtual environment, I often listen to music and go dancing. One of my favorite bands to party with is Australia’s Space Junky, 3 world-class musicians who play a wide range of music. Drop by Space Junky Island the next time you are in Second Life, and meanwhile here are a few tunes to listen to until then.