Nominations for the 2022 Hugo Awards are open, so I will be continuing the Fanzine and Fancast Spotlights. For more about the Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project, go here. You can also check out the other great fanzines and fancasts featured by clicking here.
Therefore, I’m pleased to welcome David Agranoff of The Dickheads Podcast and Postcards from a Dying World to my blog:
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
I am involved in two fancasts. First and foremost is The Dickheads Podcast. We are in the 5th and maybe the final year of covering all of Philip K. Dick’s books in publication order. He has over forty novels published and at the time of this interview, we are about to record A Scanner Darkly the novel released in 1977. So, you can imagine we have covered thirty or so novels. It has been a long process. We have also covered various other Science Fiction of the era including most of the Hugo winners of the 60s (some still in the bank), the works of John Brunner, Barry Malzberg, and Norman Spinrad. The last two we interviewed.
We also did tribute panel episodes to his early editors Tony Boucher, and Don Wollheim that included an interview with his daughter. We have done panels on Judith Merrill and Asian Sci-fi in Translation. Interviews with many related guests even experts on time, and physics. We have had Lisa Yaszek the professor from Georgia Tech on 5 times she is one of our favorite guests. One of my favorite Panels was on Phil’s VALIS incident that included his wife at the time Tessa, his good friend William Sarill and Gnostic and PKD expert Ted Hand.
The novel breakdown episodes are the heart of the show. We read the novels, break down the writing and publication history, the story, the themes, and how we would adapt it. We have had some really cool guests on the book episodes. Publisher and crime author J. David Osbourne was great on Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Stephen Graham Jones on Ubik, and John Shirley is coming on A Scanner Darkly. I am super proud of the work we have done on Dickheads.It has been a journey, when we started I didn’t know much, now I consider myself an expert.
On my own, I do a podcast called Postcards from a Dying World. In this show, I do whatever I want. I interview more modern authors with new releases like Josh Malerman (Bird Box), Sarah Langan (Good Neighbors) Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indians) and S.B. Divya (Machinehood) for example. I don’t just do authors on this show. I have interviewed Astronomers, punk rockers, basically anything I want. I have also done panels on Hong Kong cinema, Richard Matheson, best horror novels, and short stories.
Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?
Postcards is just me. As for Dickheads, it was originally my co-host Anthony Trevino’s idea. He and I honestly met when author Cody Goodfellow (Unamerica) invited us in 2014 to counterprotest the Westboro Baptist church. He was going a pro-Cthulhu counter-rally with signs and bullhorns. It was hilarious. Anthony and I ended up talking and realizing we had similar tastes. A year later I asked Anthony to write a novel with me, that novel is coming out this year from Grand Mal press called Nightmare City.
The other co-host Langhorne J. Tweed is one of my most trusted readers. The Tweeder and I have been friends for many years and he is the best at giving feedback. He is a stay-at-home Dad to a host of shitty chronic issues so he handles ALL of the editing, uploading, and grunt work. He is the MVP of the show in many ways. We intended to write a novel together, we developed the idea together but due to health issues, I ended up writing it.
My role is the researcher. I research all the background on Phil and the novels. I am the one that has dug through his papers at Cal-state Fullerton, visited his childhood homes and I find the guests. Anthony is mostly the hot-take machine.
Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?
Anthony had decided to read all the PKD books in publication order. He got 5 books in and started looking for a podcast. If he looked a little harder he may have found Evan Lampe’s read-through or the episodes of SFF Audio but thankfully he didn’t. He posted online “Why isn’t there a PKD podcast called Dickheads?” Langhorne and I both responded that was a great idea. At first, I said, “All I want to do is read the books and talk.” Anyone who knows me, knows that wass BS, when I dive into something I always go deep.
Even after the first couple of episodes, I expected us to have a dozen listeners tops. For one thing, we are brutally honest. If we think a book sucks like our infamous hated of the early PKD novel Cosmic Puppets we don’t sugar coat it. It took a while but between our YouTube channel and soundcloud we have many episodes that have hundreds of plays, and we are super grateful about that. We have some great loyal listeners who are stoked when we drop an episode. I know those are not the biggest numbers but for a book podcast about a long-dead author. The numbers are big for us.
That is awesome because that was not the intention at the start. We are three good friends who like to debate movies, books, and media. The intention was to just have fun doing that and learn about PKD so we could apply it to our own fiction.
What format do you use for your podcast or channel and why did you choose this format?
We use the same format for all the book episodes. PKD news, writing and publication history, story breakdown, Review, and themes, how would we adapt it, final thoughts, and then each episode we make a Dick-like suggestion. That can be books, movies, video games, or whatever.
For panels, I like to think of it as moderating a panel at a con, which I have done many times. It is important to involve the whole panel. I keep track of who has been quiet, who is talking a lot. I normally have very detailed notes prepared for interviews. If you check out our Norman Spinrad episode the interview is hilarious, He was very angry about the technology and I think he expected me to be a PKD nerd who nothing about his work. He settled when he realized that I am a fan of his work and knew it very well.
The fan categories at the Hugos were there at the very beginning, but they are also the categories which consistently gets the lowest number of votes and nominations. So why do you think fanzines, fancasts and other fan projects are important?
That is how the scene began. If you look back on the history of the scene many of the biggest names from Judith Merril, Fredrick Pohl, and Don Wollheim in New York, or John Brunner and Michael Moorcock in England did zines. In fact, Philip K Dick’s first science Fiction was a comic strip in a zine he did called TRUTH in middle school. I think this category getting a low number of votes may have to do with the reality that these outlets are popular with the most die-hard of fans but novels and movies for example in the entry for everyone.
I think fancasts are important because it is where we teach and pass on the history of the genre. While I would like to think that the early years of the genre were important to others as it is to me I think putting it in people’s ears is easier than getting people to read history books. I think people should read Astounding by Alec Nelva Lee or Divine Invasions by Lawrence Sutin but if they won’t the podcasts become more important.
I think the long-form interview and online panels are great because it gives the fan such great access to writers and historians of the genre. All the great interviews with Lisa Yaszek for example give access that was once exclusive to her students. Coode Street Podcast giving us all the Gary Wolfe, I mean you can’t possibly put a number on how valuable that is for historians of the genre. Imagine if we had a recording of the rap sessions at the Thursday writing groups at Tony Boucher’s house in the 50s or Heinlein’s house in the 40s. Just to hear the voices of Henry Kuttner and CL Moore alone. This generation is recording those voices. That is so great.
In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online and fancasts have sprung up. What do you think the future of fan media looks like?
I think podcasts are a smart bet, they are easy to do if you teach yourself the skills. The reality is there will come new media we can’t predict. For all, we know the future of fandom could be creating immersive online conventions and or simulated virtual cosplay.
The four fan categories of the Hugos (best fanzine, fan writer, fan artist and fancast) tend to get less attention than the fiction and dramatic presentation categories. Are there any awesome fanzines, fancasts, fan writers and fan artists you’d like to recommend?
Sure, I have crossed over with many of my favorites. Seth Heasley is my dude over at Hugo Goes There and Take Me to Your Reader. Both are fantastic podcasts. He is smart and brings a really sensitive thoughtful look to the genre. Evan Lampe did full read-throughs of PKD and Lovecraft on his American Writers 100 pages at a time. We had Evan on twice to do the early PKD books, but he had moved on to Lovecraft. Evan is great. He was also a guest on SFF Audio and I love what Jesse does over there. I was on an episode on World of Null- A. Jesse and I disagree constantly I wish our schedules matched up better because I love debating with him.
Hugo,Girl is a fantastic must-listen podcast. Coode Street, I love Joachim Boaz’s reviews (@SFRuminations ) and get lots of books from him. One of my absolute favorite fancasts is Trekking Through Time and Space. It is a podcast hosted by two of my most trusted film critics Jacob Hall and Hoai-Tran Bui. It is a really special podcast where two friends with smart and entertaining takes teach each other Star Trek and Doctor Who. As a fan of both, I enjoy watching HT teach Who to Jacob and he teaches her Trek. It is fun living the discovery over again through their eyes. I look forward to it each week.
I also listen to Anarchy SF, Flash Forward, Androids, and Assets, the longest-running listens for me are Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, and Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy. I hope I didn’t miss anybody.
Where can people find you?
There is a trick to that. The best hub for Dickheads is our Soundcloud page. We are on Spotify, and Apple podcasts but there we are called PKDheads because they didn’t like the name. We suggest following the Soundcloud, and YouTube as they have almost all the episodes. Some of the interviews and bonus episodes are not up on the other platforms. We are on Twitter, insta all that. We could use some more reviews from our fans who dig us.
As for Postcards from a Dying World, I am on all the pod catchers, and I have YouTube channel just under my name David Agranoff. We are as grassroots as it gets so please any help subscribe, re-posting episodes, reviews, comments or links we value it all.
I am most active on Facebook but you can follow me on Twitter.
Thank you, David, for stopping by and answering my questions.
Do check out The Dickheads Podcast and Postcards from a Dying World, cause they’re great podcasts. I’m also a guest on an upcoming episode of The Dickheads Podcast, talking about The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett, which had the distinction of being published as an Ace Double together with Philip K. Dick’s debut novel Solar Lottery.
Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine/-site or fancast or a semiprozine and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.