Spider on the Web

Those of you who know Vickie and I pretty well know that we’re both fans of a science fiction author called Spider Robinson, mainly because his works are almost always (a) fun and (b) filled with honest to god hope for the future of our species. We’re not sure whether we’ve managed to successfully hip others to his work, but I’m hoping that those we’ve not managed to snare the interest of so far will get hooked on his weekly podcast called “Spider on the Web”. It’s a combination of readings from his books – Spider has a great, mellow speaking voice, and he even puts up several chapters of his professional audio recording of his latest book, Variable Star, a posthumous collaboration with Robert A. Heinlein – and some excellent music; he’s already hipped me to New Orleans sax player Breeze Cayolle, given me my first taste of John Coltrane and introduced his in-laws, who are bloody great musos too.

The main reason why I’m posting about Spider on the Web is because, in the closing of his February 2nd podcast, Spider makes an appeal to his audience. The Spider on the Web podcast is technically free, but as any Heinlein fan will tell you, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Making a podcast, especially one with a regular schedule, takes time, and hosting it takes money, which he’s set up a PayPal donation system in the hopes of covering.

Once the overheads come out, though, Spider’s getting at the moment amount to $2 per hour of work he puts into the podcasts. Even though they’re a labour of love, Spider has to carefully manage his free vs. earnings time – in the writing industry, you’re either in the leagues of Stephen King, Tom Clancy and James Paterson or you’re broke, and $2 per hour means that he’s going to start winding Spider on the Web down after his Feb 16th podcast (yes, I know that’s effectively tomorrow – I only just heard all of his Feb 2 podcast today).

I’m not asking you to do something I wouldn’t myself: A few days before I heard Spider’s appeal I started up a $2 per month contribution via PayPal. It’s pretty much all Vickie and I can squeeze out of our budgets at the moment, and I know a lot of people on the board are in similar or worse circumstances, but if you can spare a few, could you chuck ’em Spider’s way, please?

If you have any question as to why, just download a couple of his podcasts, sit yourself somewhere comfy and listen; I heartily recommend #28, with its extract from Mindkiller, or #19, where he reads a couple of his articles from his newspaper column The Crazy Years, or #21, which features an eye-opening, up-waking, foot-tapping, joy-making number called “The Blackbird Special” by the New Orleans Jazz Ramblers (with Breeze Cayolle on sax). If our tastes are anything alike – and yes, yes, I know I have tastes that even my pack of friends considers odd, but trust me here – you’ll realise that Spider on the Web is worth your money.