It’s a new month, which means I’m back with some audio fiction milestones for June, including debuts, shows returning for new seasons, and season finales. As always, this list isn’t a comprehensive one of everything out there, but I’ve tried to include all the relevant shows I listened to during the month of June.
Beneath The Copper Dunes
In episode one of Beneath The Copper Dunes, we meet Quinn O’Connell, as they settle into their new role as the overseer of Mining Oversight Station 13 on Mars. Through their recordings, we learn some details about this universe, including how Earth is now a ‘junkyard’; and about Invicta, the shady organisation they work for. As they work their way through the station, cleaning up what the last employee left behind, they make some very strange and dangerous discoveries.
Breathing Space, Fading Frontier
Breathing Space, Fading Frontier is a sci-fi anthology series which has released three full episodes to date. So far, this series has presented a more gritty future in space for humanity; featuring characters from three different cultures which have evolved after humans left Earth. As the title of the series suggests, the focus is on characters who are trying to create a breathing space for themselves in a vast universe, and who are trying to create a livelihood and find a home for themselves, when the odds may be stacked against them.
One episode of Epsilon has been released so far, in which we meet revolutionaries Tessa and Nero. The Last Line is their rebel radio station, which they broadcast in order to fight the Nova Lords, who have ruled over the city of Epsilon for six years. Through Tessa and Nero, and their field agent Barren, we learn about their city and their fight for freedom from an oppressive regime, which has taken so much from the citizens of Epsilon. The dangers they face are made clear in this first episode, Barren risks his life, and as a reward is put out for Tessa and Nero’s capture.
Omen is a fantasy podcast from the producers of Girl in Space, which was adapted from a series of Pathfinder TTRPG campaigns. Gwen, Toby, and Quent are on a mission to find a missing girl, a blacksmith’s daughter, but their quest soon takes a dangerous turn. The three come from different backgrounds, and elements of this fantasy world are gradually introduced to the audience, as we follow our three adventurers.
Crime Scene Arcanum
The Investigators Arcanum investigate strange crimes in the city of Aldren, and in the pilot episode of Crime Scene Arcanum they’re called upon when a carriage carrying two nobles crashes. The investigators soon discover that there was more to this than a simple accident, and we follow their investigation to discover what really happened. A crowdfunding campaign for the first season is currently running.
Escaping Denver is a found footage mystery, which definitely gives me some Maze Runner vibes. The anonymous Narrator presents recordings that he’s been sent from Noah and Sara, two people who have been kidnapped. The story takes the conspiracy theories about Denver Airport as inspiration, as it seems that the two are being held in some kind of facility beneath the airport, with no recollection of how they ended up there.
Fathom is a prequel series to sci-fi show Derelict, which had to be put on pause due to the pandemic. Derelict is set in space, far in the future, whereas Fathom is set on Earth, 19,000 feet under the sea. The story focuses on Dr Eva Graff, who co-leads a team which is investigating an ancient vault on the ocean floor – the first proof of extraterrestrial life. The vault is emitting a signal, but nobody has been able to decipher it as yet. Two episodes have been released so far, and things have gone very wrong for Eva and her team.
Tartarus follows Dr Brie Lake, an astrophysicist who takes an off-the-books job at a mysterious facility in Antarctica, after she loses her job in academia. On arrival at the facility, she meets the station manager, the resident AI …and the many terrifying creatures that the facility contains. She’s thrown directly into the fire on her first day, and must rely on AI Ellis to keep her alive. The show’s four episodes which were planned for release during 2021 are now available, but there are still many secrets that the facility is still to reveal.
Look Up is a new queer coming of age story from Atypical Artists. Lincoln and Emmet, two high school students, are brought back together, as they await their parents’ return from a NASA mission to Mars. They had been friends in middle school, but haven’t spoken to each other in years, and things are understandably uncomfortable between them when they first meet up on the beach at Cape Canaveral late one night.
Vermont Ave. is an audio short which was one an Official Selection at this year’s Tribeca Festival. James goes for a walk alone down Vermont Avenue, to clear his head, and we follow him in real time. There’s no internal monologue here, as we listen to what James hears along his walk – music, part of a podcast, and of course there’s the ambient sound of a busy street. It’s a really interesting examination of introspection and isolation, and how lives, friendships, and relationships have been affected by the pandemic.
In episode one of Homeward, Ben is woken up on Rubicon, a huge spaceship which has left Earth carrying 100,000 people. He is the pilot, the sole crew for the rest of his lifetime, who only has an AI for company. The ship’s mission is to find a new home for all the people who were fortunate enough to gain a place on board, but that’s unlikely to happen during Ben’s lifetime. With only two voices in the vastness of space, it’s an interesting concept.
The Waystation is a sci-fi horror, which follows Hannah Dahl’s investigaton into what happened on waystation Concord in 2152. The station had been orbiting above a wormhole since 2145, but a couple of months after the arrival of the 13th crew, the station was found destroyed by an explosion. Dahl presents a chronological series of recordings from the crew, which had been salvaged from the station itself or from other sources; starting from before they even arrived at the station, in order to document and investigate what went wrong.
VAST Horizon returned for its third and final season with a very tense season opener. Much like back in season one, Nolira is almost alone again; but this time, we now know who Ally really is, and there’s also Sargeant Lawrence who has refused to leave her side. There’s so much at stake this season, now that we know what Ally’s true intentions are, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this story wraps up.
Jar of Rebuke
Horror/mystery podcast Jar of Rebuke returned for its second season, and after the season one finale, the audience has a whole new perspective into Dr Jared Hel and his identity. Jared, on the other hand, still has a lot to figure out about himself, and this season’s opener sees him restarting his audio journal, after a few months’ break. We catch up with him, and how his relationship with Jared is going, as he talks through some big things about his life that he still doesn’t understand.
Out of Place
Out of Place’s second season brings a change in format and perspective, as protagonist Andrew Moss has new responsibilities. In season one, we saw him receive a number of strange artifacts from alternate timelines, sent by a mysterious Mr Havisham; in this season, he is part of a team that investigates how the world might end. He records the EXTANT team’s findings from their visits to Earth in different timelines, and includes recordings from the soldiers who are part of the team; and the first alternate Earth we hear about is a world destroyed by nuclear explosions.
In Lost Terminal‘s fourth season, there was a big focus on Seth’s development, and his understanding of life as an AI on Earth, interacting with both humans and other AIs. His world has greatly increased, and through him we learn more about the world he finds himself in, and how global warming forced many of the remaining humans on Earth to migrate to the Arctic Circle. As a whole, it’s a lot more calm than previous seasons, as far as catastrophic events threatening Seth’s survival are concerned; but the season finale is a very emotional episode from the start, wrapping up an arc which had developed during the course of the season.
Interactive horror podcast Witchever Path wrapped up its Dross story with the sixth and final episode. The story began with an old earring and one person’s very unusual ability, and through the help of the audience’s votes, turned into something much more sinister. Even though Witchever Path is an anthology series, I loved how this story brought back some familiar characters from past stories, and what their part was in this particular one.