Patrick McLean – The Seanachai

A particularly good podcast I have been listening is the Seanachai, by Patrick McLean.

The one uniting factor of all Seanachai episodes is the telling of a story. Fiction, Fact, Fantastic, Feasible – McLean delivers, in a wonderful reading style, brief tales which are original, interesting and very, very funny.

A copy editor, McLean has an innate grasp of the short form I greatly envy. These narrations of his might extend to ten, fifteen minutes, often less, where some quality storytelling is delivered in prose not only economic, but articulate and insinuating. Meaning is clean and powerful in a way that evades me and some writers I have read.

The stories also take on a hint of essay – much like Mur Lafftery’s Lessons of a Geek Fu Master – taking an entertaining premise to explore matters such as extraordinary rendition & funding of international terrorism to Mexican Show Trucks & Vampires in the Attic.

The stories themselves would be enough. But they’ve been wonderfully presented as podcasts. Not a podiobook; sound effects, and not a podio drama; one voice.  Brief, they are run through with the smooth narrative voice of McLean, with a skill for funny accents and insinuation, lending depth beyond the printed form.

This form has evolved to a new project – How to Succeed in Evil.

HTSIE began as a series of short pieces in the Seanachai podcast. It follows Edwin Windsor, a consultant to supervillains, constantly frustated at his clients inability to follow the smart path to a controlling interest in the world rather than trying to arbitrarily take it over.

Eventually, in the original shorts, Edwin enters supervillainy himself – the smart way. He sets up a multi-billion dollar insurance company, the only one that will insure against metahumans of all kinds. He creates the demand by harnessing particularly destructive villains as a threat, then training ‘adjustors’ to take care of incompetent heroes.

Betrayal occurs, and Edwin slips away neatly into the night with an uncountable fortune and thoughts of the future.

This has been resurrected.

How to Succeed in Evil, The Novel, is now being podcasted. Greatly revised, greatly expanded, still going up as I speak, my first impressions were mixed.

Firstly, there was a certain nostalgia regarding the several plot changes – nothing truly earthshattering on the negative side, and taking care of all the comedy-based points that didn’t sit right – but still was unsure of the changes.

Secondly, another character is introduced. Not a minor one – its  a hero, sharing no scenes with Edwin and no direct obvious plot connection. The scenes are clever and funny – but one hopes they’ll be tied into the main story by the end of the novel. Parallel narratives with indirect relation do tend to get on my nerves – particularly in books like Shadowmarch by Tad Williams, where there is an entire parallel plot that isn’t explained in that novel. Ah well.

But, overall, it won me over resoundingly. Great expansion into all characters, far more development in the plot changes, lots of great new ideas – the former work was a sketch, this is the masterpiece.

As to when I was converted to the Novel – Mr McLean had me at “Barry ate the kitten”. That is all.


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