Science fiction fans had something to cheer about when a new podcast devoted to sci-fi, fantasy and horror made the scene last year.
Variant Frequencies, which features a monthly podcast of original fiction, is produced by Traverse City's Rick Stringer. He created the site as a way to get the writing of his wife Anne and friend Matt Wallace noticed.
Variant Frequencies won a Parsec award in the best short story category this year for "No World Warriors," written by Wallace and produced by Stringer. They won in the best short story category in 2006 as well. The Parsec awards, which began in 2006, are dedicated to rewarding excellence in various aspects of Speculative Fiction Podcasting. They are presented at Dragon*con, a popular culture convention with a focus that includes science fiction, fantasy and gaming that is held on Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, GA.
Stringer, who is technology savvy, came up with the idea of starting his own podcast a couple of years ago. A podcast is an audio program distributed over the Internet that can be downloaded to portable media players like an iPod or to a personal computer.
Variant Frequencies features stories "blending gothic horror with space adventure, dark fantasy with sci-fi, recalling the reality-bending vibes of 'The Twilight Zone' and offering something wholly unique that fits in between and outside," reads the site.
Stringer's original plan was to feature just one monthly short story, then Wallace decided he wanted to run a series between the monthly features called "The Failed City Monologues." Stringer liked the idea.
"What came out was a novel-length story with each chapter told from the perspective of different characters," he explained.
The site, which Stringer produces and maintains as a hobby, is taking on a life of its own. He couldn't be happier.
Since it began, Wallace has been hired to write several film scripts and a book publisher is also looking at "Failed City Monologues."
Anne Stringer has retired from her nursing career and is now able to concentrate on writing, which includes a series of short stories featured on the podcast. Titled "Amarant," it is a collection of tales that explore the notion of immorality, she explains on her blog.
"We've also expanded to other authors with them sending their work regularly, like author James P. Hogan," said Stringer. Hogan is a well-known British science fiction writer and the author of many novels and several collections of short stories.
All of the stories are fully produced featuring dramatically read fiction accompanied by original music. The imaginary tales showcase the voices of local actors and voice talent from as far away as England and Australia, said Stringer. His son Neil has read stories as well.
"I have local friends read and we get together at the office and record them for the podcast," said Stringer. "The other thing that is so cool about Variant Frequencies is the number of people that I have gotten to know all over the world that I consider friends."
Stringer said that there's no income involved in his venture, although someday advertising may find its way to the podcast community.
"I certainly don't expect to get rich off of podcasting," said Stringer, who is also the vice president at Corbin Design in Traverse City. "The goal was to get Anne and Matt noticed and as that happens then I will have achieved my goal."
Visit Variant Frequencies at www.variantfrequencies.com.