This list is a blend of both shows that I’ve really been enjoying recently and shows that got me into fiction podcasts, eventually inspiring me and my co-creator Ryan to write our own. Thrillers, science-fiction, horror, romance, mysteries—the breadth of genre and creativity in the audio drama community continues to be exciting to witness.
Another excellent horror podcast that traverses the globe, the first two seasons of The White Vault follow a repair team sent to investigate a mysterious signal emanating from a remote arctic research station. Backed by an amazing cast, the plot kept me on the edge of my seat, filled with a growing sense of dread as the story descended into darker and stranger territory with each passing episode.
Written, produced, and narrated by Sunny Moraine, Gone tells the story of a woman who wakes up to an empty world where everyone has suddenly vanished overnight, leaving no clue as to what happened or why. To me, Gone really proves what one person can do with just a great premise and a microphone. Also featuring themes of mental illness, isolation, and loneliness, Moraine brings the protagonist to life in compelling, human detail as she tries to cope with her increasingly desperate situation and the dark that is closing in. Season two is scheduled for release in May of 2022.
My most vivid memory of listening to Moonface is having to go to the bathroom in my office building so I could cry in peace. This is the kind of fiction podcast that stays with you, that burrows itself inside of you. Created, produced, and narrated by Joel Kim Booster, Moonface is a six-episode podcast about a son who is struggling to come out to his mother because they don’t speak the same language. Funny, moving, poetic, and incredibly human—I recommend Moonface to anyone who wants to feel a lot of things. Just have tissues ready.
I first heard about this show because of its star, Mark Fishbasch, mainly known as the popular YouTuber, Markiplier. The premise also hooked me: a night watchman finishes his shift and discovers that everyone who went to sleep the previous night has mysteriously died. He falls in with a band of survivors, struggling to stay awake and figure out the source of the epidemic. Created by QCODE, the plot of The Edge of Sleep will keep you on edge of your seat and the cast is excellent, prepare for a real nailbiter.
Created, produced, and predominantly narrated by Sarah Rhea Warner, Girl in Space starts off a quiet affair, as the eponymous Girl muses on her current circumstances (trapped on a dying ship in the far-flung reaches of space). Even as the story expands, the cast grows, and the stakes raise, we always stay close to the Girl. I loved the warm tone of the show and the way it was able to blend plot and introspection, mixing sweeping themes such as what it means to be human with stream-of-consciousness musing on cheese. Season two is apparently coming soon!
I think few podcasts do horror quite like Old Gods of Appalachia—I often couldn’t listen to it home alone at night. An eldritch horror anthology set in the Appalachian Mountains (though a version slightly different than the mountains we might know), brace yourself for some very unsettling, but gripping stories about madness, darkness, monsters sleeping inside the earth, and monsters living inside of us—all featuring a stellar cast and stunning soundtrack. Please heed the content warnings on each episode, though.
The premise of Midnight Burger instantly intrigued me. A time-traveling, dimensions-spanning diner? I had to know more. And the creators of Midnight Burger absolutely deliver in this strange, funny, and often heartwarming show. Follow the eclectic cast from 1934 Kentucky to a dystopian future to an ice age as they confront everything from supermassive black holes to their own pasts, and brace yourself for an incredible ride.