no shrinking violet

words by e. spalding

audio-drama podcasts: recommended listening

We’re actors–we’re the opposite of people!”

– ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD

I throw stupid amounts of money at follow a number of different audio-drama podcasts, and rather than sort them into “horror” or “weird” or “spec-fic” fiction categories, I figured it would be more useful to group them together on their own page and sort them here by genre. I’ll also note whether the show is complete or ongoing.

Moonbase Theta, Out

science fiction; queerseasons: 2
status: ongoing

In the year 2098, the corporate oligarchs of Earth have decided that the Moonbase program is unprofitable, and have decided to discontinue it. Communications Officer Roger Bragado-Fischer sends brief reports back to corporate leadership on Earth regarding project shut-down processes and procedures as Moonbase Theta prepares to close up for good. Within each of his brief broadcasts home, he covets fifteen seconds of time to send personal messages to his husband, Alexandre, as he counts down the weeks until they’ll get to see each other again.

In this late-stage capitalist dystopia, however, nothing goes according to plan.

Wolf 359

science fiction; some horror elementsseasons: 4
status: complete

Follow the skeleton crew responsible for maintaining the remote U.S.S. Hephaestus, a space station orbiting red dwarf star Wolf 359, as they try to live their lives while searching for evidence of alien life in the interstellar middle-of-nowhere. Central protagonist and communications officer Doug Eiffel has very little to do with his time when he’s not intercepting old broadcasts from Earth or trying to make meaning out of static, and so the show begins as a catalogue of his shenanigans as he subjects his beleaguered co-workers (and frequently malfunctioning AI system, HERA), to his unique brand of irritating commentary. Nothing out here is as it seems, however, and everyone has secrets they’d rather keep hidden–even from themselves.

The Magnus Archives

weird; horror; queerseasons: 4
status: ongoing

No one working in the Magnus Institute’s impressive supernatural archive seems to understand (or care about) the importance of respect des fonds, or appears to have an information science degree of any kind, but a lack of archival best practices does not prevent this diverse cast of characters from working to catalogue and comprehend the eldritch mysteries that are brought to the institute. Initially appearing to follow the monster-of-the-week storytelling trope, Magnus Institute Archivist and central protagonist Jonathan Simms slowly finds the threads connecting the experiences of so many disparate strangers together, and the dark underbelly of horrors lurking within the world–and the Magnus Institute itself.

Welcome to Night Vale

weird; horror; queerseasons: 🤷
status: ongoing

Welcome to Night Vale was my introduction to podcasts as entertainment back in 2012, and is probably one of the best known audio-dramas on the internet at this point. Sporting well over 150 episodes and 7 liveshows detailing the life and adventures of small community radio host Cecil Gerschwin Palmer as he reports on the bizarre and bizarrely normal events of the little desert community of Night Vale, jumping into this show can be an intimidating prospect. Thankfully co-creators Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink have put together a Starter’s Guide page on the show’s website, with recommended episodes to help new listeners get a feel for the regular characters and show’s flavour. Jump right in from any of these, as the show does not need to be listened to in chronological order–although I personally find the pilot episode to be the most charming of all.

The White Vault

horrorseasons: 3
status: ongoing

The White Vault audio-drama is constructed as an extended post-mortem investigation into the fate of a repair team sent to remote Outpost Fristed, located in remote and frozen Svalbard. Each member of the team left behind audio logs reporting their experiences on the expedition, and these logs are the only real evidence that can shed any light on what ultimately befell them, deep below the ice. Deeply atmospheric and psychological, the relationships between the characters are complex and fraught, and their circumstances bring out their best, and their worst, as they struggle to survive.

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