Happy December! Inspired by the best-of lists that make the rounds this time of year (especially the Bello 100), I decided to put together my own list of my 20 favourite fiction podcasts that debuted this year. So many great shows launched this year, and it was so difficult getting the list down to only 20! Here’s the first half of my list, in alphabetical order.
The second part of my list is here!
An urban fantasy podcast created by Samy Souissi. Three death gods get on a boat and join the circus, what more could you want? Okay, so that’s an oversimplification of the plot of Desperado; but in the show we meet Elio, Shinji, and Talia, who recount their journeys from different parts of the world, and how they ended up being invited to join the Nova Circus, a place where people like them could hide. Each of the three has been chosen by their respective culture to fight the Old Man In The Sky and his crusaders. Over the course of their journey they will have to fight and hide from these crusaders, and protect their heritage.
Dos: After you
Released in both Spanish and English, Dos: After You is a horror/urban fantasy podcast by David Orión Pena. Deck is a human, who fell in love with Sil, a god. Set in a world which has also been dealing with a pandemic, Deck starts on a journey as lockdowns start to ease across Europe. He leaves his home in Haarlem, in the Netherlands, to go to London, to find Sil, and he has very sinister intentions for when he finally finds him. Each episode is a message that Deck records for Sil, he’ll never send them to Sil, but he talks to him as if he’s listening. As he crosses Western Europe and gets closer to his destination, we learn more about Deck and his past, and just how much of a threat he is to Sil.
I featured Dos: After You in a post in November.
Fireside Folktales – Whispering
Fireside Folktales is a series created by Dallas Wheatley, with the aim of making mythology queer again. Each season brings a new interpretation of a tale from folklore or mythology; and the first season, titled Whispering, is the story of the Greek goddess Kore, the Goddess of Cultivation, who is also known as Persephone. Over six episodes, we follow Kore as the story begins with her first entering the Underworld and meeting Hades. The show features some great performances – including a Zeus who will make your skin crawl! – and some gorgeous sound design.
Jar of Rebuke
A midwestern gothic created by Casper Oliver, Jar of Rebuke is a series of audio journals recorded by Dr Jared Hel, who is also voiced by Oliver. Set in a small farm town, Jared works for a mysterious organisation called The Enclosure, which investigates supernatural activities. We hear Jared talk about the beings he encounters on a daily basis – some of which get a little too close for comfort. The show draws on real-life midwestern legends and folklore, and there are creatures that are not quite what they seem – I especially love the depiction of the creature that Jared meets in episode 6, who knew he was such a good boy? Jared also has to deal with a mysterious past of his own, trying to make sense of missing memories, and his own supernatural powers.
Less is Morgue
A comedy horror from the Praeps Collective, set in an alternate Florida. Riley is a ghoul, and Evelyn is a ghost, and together they are unconventional roommates – Riley lives in their parents’ basement, and Evelyn is stuck with them. Evelyn was a huge Nickelback fan, who died in 2004 at one of their concerts, and has to now spend the rest of her afterlife with Riley. They decide to make a podcast together featuring guests, but episodes don’t always go to plan. This is a world where supernatural beings and creatures from urban legends live among humans – there are vampires, demons, and of course, being set in Florida, there’s Florida Man. There’s also Todd, a shady entrepreneur who has created a new afterlife – named Todd’s Heaven, of course – who wants to buy some ad space on the show. It’s not all paranormal shenanigans though, there’s one episode in particular which deals with Evelyn’s life before her death in such a tender way, and a recent episode deals with mental health.
Co-created by Caroline Mincks, Tal Minear, and Evan Tess Murray (who also voice the main characters of Janine, Kale, and Ryan), Light Hearts is a light-hearted sitcom set in Prism, a new queer community space. Janine opens Prism, and has to deal with the pressures of opening and running a new business, and things aren’t going well at the beginning, but luckily she meets Ryan and Kale who help her out. They also have to deal with the building’s ‘significant ghosts’, who are mostly harmless, but enjoy playing jokes on patrons. Oh, and they aren’t keen on people swearing. Light Hearts also features some wonderful cameos from other creators and voice actors from the audio fiction community, with episodes focusing on friendship, collaboration, and community.
Lost Terminal is created by NAMTAO, and is set an unspecified amount of years in the future. Seth is the AI on Station 6, satellite orbiting Earth. Seth was created by the human team on Station 6 to run all the systems on the satellite, but now, the humans are no longer with him. Every episode is a message from Seth, down to Earth, but no human ever responds to him. Earth has gone very quiet in the time he’s been operational. As Seth tries to figure out what has happened on Earth, he has to deal with the satellite reaching the end of its life. He’s been up in orbit for a long time, and has to deal with the effects of this. There’s a very human aspect to Seth, and this show also deals with mental health, especially in its second season.
I featured Lost Terminal in a post last week.
Me and AU
Created by Andrea Klassen and part of the Procyon Podcast Network, Me and AU is the story of two queer women who become friends through fanfiction. Kate and Ella are huge fans of the show Selkirk, and when they first meet, the show’s fandom is very small. They bond over the fanfic they write and send each other, theories about the show, and live reactions to episodes, and it’s so heartwarming to watch their friendship evolve and grow into something deeper. I’ve never been much of a fanfic writer myself, but I can certainly relate to forming friendships and even a relationship through a shared love of a form of media; and it’s been delightful to see this depicted in a podcast.
Midst is an immersive sci-fi show from Third Person. The story is narrated by three omnipresent and mysterious figures, who take turns narrating the story, and also voice the characters they see along the way. Incredibly, Midst is improvised, and the narrators seamlessly jump from one to another, interacting with each other, the story weaving and flowing, as they take us around Stationary Hill. In the first episode, we meet Lark and her pet dog, who are hunting a strange animal; but even before we’re introduced to any characters, we’re immediately thrown into the world, with the threat of the moon falling from the sky – and that is just the introduction to this otherworldly place.
January feels like a lifetime ago, but that’s when Murmurs was launched on BBC sounds. A reality bending anthology series, and I was so excited to see a BBC podcast featuring some of the best indie fiction podcast writers around – such as Beth Crane of We Fix Space Junk, and Chris and Jen Sugden of Victoriocity. Strange things are happening to ordinary people in our world, with elements from another universe breaking through, and turning their lives upside down. There’s a queue in the North of England that’s so long, people wait in it for years; there’s a forest that takes over a flat; and something is listening in to phone conversations between a mum and a daughter.
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