I have a second review to make about Wildbow’s Worm and Ward, but this one isn’t about the story. This is about a podcast about the story. It’s called We’ve Got Worm, followed, of course, by We’ve Got Ward, and it’s produced by Scott Daly and Matt Freeman of The Daly Planet, a more general podcast where they review and analyze lots of books, TV shows, movies, and more. Worm is so big that they decided it needed its own podcast, and thus, We’ve Got Worm was born.
You can listen to We’ve Got Worm on the Daly Planet’s website, but I find it easier to listen on YouTube. The original podcast involved Scott, a newcomer to Worm reading one Arc per week and then talking about it with Matt, a “Worm expert” on the show. Now that Ward has started, both Scott and Matt are reading in real time, with shorter episodes on the two or three chapters Wildbow releases each week. I’d recommend you start at the beginning, though. The podcast is a great companion to go along with your reading of Worm whether it’s your first time or a reread.
I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts, but this is one of the best I’ve seen, and better than other review-type podcasts I’ve listened to. This is not a fluff podcast just to praise Wildbow, despite the number of times Scott says, “I love this!” Nor is it a boring, beat-by-beat summary of the story like some I’ve seen. This is serious literary analysis, but at the same time, this isn’t your high school English class. In fact, if high school English class were more like We’ve Got Worm, the world would be a slightly, but measurably better place.
I think the highest praise I can give this podcast is that I really enjoyed it, and it’s made me a better writer. The analysis goes down to the line-by-line level, showing how a single sentence can do a huge amount of work at characterization, among other things. It goes up to the overall structural level, exploring the whole scope of the story and the vastness of Wildbow’s worldbuilding. And it has everything in between: proper use of the Rule of Three, how to build up tension and set up reveals in a satisfying way, how the failure to communicate or withholding of information can be done well, and when it isn’t, and so on. To keep with the English class comparison, instead of the shallow “themes” and “symbols” you get in easy books like Lord of the Flies (and nothing against Lord of the Flies), this is a much deeper look into dramatic parallels, character arcs, psychology, sociology, “writing the other” both with other humans and non-human perspectives, and much more.
And above all it’s a lot of fun. My rating: 5 out of 5.