If you love science fiction, thoughtful commentary on writing, and complainers (I have no idea why I have such a soft spot for complainers, but I do!), then please may I direct you to Luke Burrage’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast.

OK, maybe it’s a little unfair to call him a complainer, since he gives many books very warm reviews. It’s just that when he doesn’t like a book, there’s no holding back. No polite little “oh no, it’s just not for me” comments over a cup of tea and scones. He’ll explain with complete and sometimes brutal honesty exactly what he disliked and why.

When the book’s especially bad, you might even get a quite magnificent rant (these are some of his listeners’ favorite episodes).

Full disclosure! Luke’s a friend of mine… but we only met because I wrote to him as a fan of his podcast, so my recommendation is a little biased… but not really.

I’ve been meaning to recommend the SFBR podcast for a while since it’s so good for writers as well as readers. It doesn’t just go into the story but also writing techniques from plot and character to sentence construction and voice.

Luke and I don’t always agree on which books are good — and we find different things tolerable/intolerable — but his insights are always pretty much spot-on.

I enjoy his reviews even more now that he sometimes has his girlfriend Juliane on the podcast with him. They do that amazing thing long-term couples do, which is to become overtly exasperated with each other’s annoying quirks and habits (although always affectionately, of course). It’s beautiful and funny, plus you get this great multi-angle book review with two usually quite different perspectives.

The latest episode on Ready Player One is what inspired me to finally get around to writing this post. I read the book ages ago and enjoyed it but could never bring myself to recommend it to anyone. Despite the great premise and many fun elements, there were many “meh” moments too.

Well, when you want someone to slice a book open and perform a live vivisection on it, holding each wriggling piece of its guts up to the light while shouting, “THIS! Who put THIS in here?” then Luke Burrage is your man.

As expected, Ready Player One was torn apart with great joyous frustration. Even though he didn’t read it properly, it’s an insightful review (complete with a great Life Experience at the end).

Go listen, or peer into the archives for all kinds of goodies. There are more than 250 episodes in there now!