Audio fiction podcasts are finally getting their comeuppance thanks largely to the success of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. Serialized fiction podcasts are an engaging storytelling medium that is drawing the attention of teens and listeners of all ages. Since its start in June of 2012, this darkly funny podcast with its premise of local radio news show has been enchanting listeners. Set in the sleepy desert town of Night Vale, it has all the government conspiracies and unexplained phenomena of X Files, but are explored with a “News from Lake Wobegon” flavor ala Prairie Home Companion.
The 2015 book Welcome to Night Vale debuted in the top ten on the New York Time’s best seller list and continues to be a teen favorite. The podcast was first produced by Commonplace Books, but is now being produced by the creators own company Night Vale Presents. Night Vale Presents also produces other podcasts “both from the Night Vale artistic team and from other artists with a similar vision for independent, original podcasting.” Be sure to check out Alice Isn’t Dead, The Orbiting Human Circus, and Within the Wires.
Here are five other audio fiction podcasts that are also worth checking out:
Written and directed by Lauren Shippen, this science fiction podcast takes the audio drama format as it follows the therapy sessions of Dr. Joan Bryant a.k.a. Dr. Bright. The struggles of Dr. Bright’s patients are a little atypical as each has their own supernatural ability such as time travel, hearing other people’s thoughts, or feeling other people’s emotions. Each 10-20 minute episode follows one session with recurring characters.
Created by children’s author/illustrator, Ursula Vernon (Dragonbreath, Hamster Princess, and Castle Hangnail), it has a Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac feel to it mixed with science fiction and horror. Released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, this 5-minute podcast gives alternative histories of “what happened on this date” told by the immortal plague doctor Reverend Mord. Saint’s feasts days play a prominent role as well as a note of what is happening in the garden which will have everything from flowers, slugs to vetch.
This seven-part science fiction docudrama series from the fictionalize “American Public Radio” has the feel of an NPR produced show such as This American Life or Radiolab. It follows journalist Lia Haddock as she investigates the unexplained disappearances of over three hundred men, women and children from a small town in Tennessee near the Limetown research facility ten-years prior.
A science fiction podcast is set on Earth’s man-made second moon, Typhon. The monotone Sayer is an artificial intelligence being that is self-aware and highly intelligent. Sayer was created to help the new residents of Typhon acclimate to their new lives on the planet and their work at the research facility Ærolith Dynamics. Eerily funny, the world is created as Sayer communicates to a different members of the community, and we learn about a world where there are no bees, but many ways to die.
Full of dark humor and snark, this sitcom-like podcast is the story of two rivaling undertakers on the fictional Channel Island of Piffling. Rudyard Funn, who has been running his family’s failing funeral parlour now has competition when a new, and much sexier, undertaker Eric Chapman moves into town setting up shop across the town square. Funn will do what it takes to stay in business.
— Danielle Jones is currently reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden