As the Nights Get Longer, What Is Better Than Weird Audio Dramas?
October 7, 2017 1:05 PM   Subscribe

A couple of years ago, it seemed like there were only a few paranormal podcast audio dramas (with Welcome to Nightvale Website Previously FanFare, the most visible), but more and more creators have decided to share their visions. Here’s a round up of audio dramas with paranormal elements for the spooky fall season. Most aim for chills, sometimes leavened with humor.

Links to the podcast homepage, previous FPPs on MetaFilter, and FanFare pages are included where available. All the podcasts are accessible on iTunes or via most podcast apps and aggregators. Unless otherwise noted, the series appear to be ongoing. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Archive 81
Dan Powell gets hired by a company to catalog a collection of old interviews of inhabitants of a peculiar building. There are… conditions… on his employment, and both the tapes and the work situation get increasingly strange. Dan may be losing his mind or something worse may be going on. Tone: eerie, with the second season more whimsical. Two seasons (20 episodes), plus bonus material.

ars Paradoxica
Dr. Sally Grissom accidently creates a time machine that strands her in 1943. Like any physicist would, she tries to use her device to help the war effort. However, her device has unexpected implications, and she may have changed integrity of the future. The story keeps expanding out, looking at aspects of its story from different perspectives and times. Tone: drama and time travel speculation. Two seasons (22 episodes total), plus bonus material.

The Black Tapes
Alex Regan, a radio interviewer starts a new podcast series working with a paranormal debunker to investigate some of his ”unsolved” cases. Connections and coincidences begin to pile up, and the interviewer begins to find signs of a conspiracy linking the cases. Her sanity also begins to suffer. Tone: eerie and dramatic. Two seasons (24 episodes total) plus bonus material. The third (and final?) season just started.

The Bridge
Life in Watchtower 10 on the Transcontinental Bridge is pretty boring, since the bridge is almost completely abandoned, due to a series of bizarre occurrences, disappearances, and monster sightings. One of the crew, Etta, amuses herself by telling stories of events in the bridge’s past. She may be making some of them up. Tone: eerie and whimsical. Two seasons (~20 episodes), plus a lot of short episodes telling stories outside the main narration.

The Bright Sessions
Dr. Joan Bright is a psychologist who specializes in working with “atypicals,” people with superpowers. At first, she’s just helping them adjust to their powers and live their lives. However, Dr. Bright used to work for an agency with an interest in atypicals, and her efforts to keep her patients safe may draw them into more danger. Tone: drama and superpowers, with some speculation on professional ethics. 40 episodes to date (no clear seasons, although there are some breaks with cliffhangers), plus bonus material.

The Deep Vault
A side project by the Archive 81 team, this is a “start of the apocalypse” story about small group of people looking for safety in an abandoned underground government complex. Needless to say, things do not go as planned. Tone: spooky and dramatic with some humor/whimsy. Complete story in one season (7 episodes).

The Far Meridian
Peri is a young agoraphobic woman who lives alone in her old house. Then, one day, without explanation, the house begins to travel. To survive, and maybe understand her situation, Peri is forced to go out at each new stop and interact with the people she finds, some friendly and some frightening, with somewhat mixed results. A project from some of the ars Paradoxica crew. Tone: whimsical, eerie, and thoughtful. 8 episodes into the first season.

Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared from the research community in Limetown TN without a trace. Reporter Lia Haddock intends to find out what happened, but nothing is clear, nor what it seems, nor safe to investigate. Tone: eerie and conspiracy. One season (6 episodes), plus some bonus material. Despite ending on a cliffhanger, the series does not seem likely to continue.

Anna Limone is a live-in caretaker for an elderly woman. When a disturbing event occurs, Anna decides to phone Mabel Martin, the woman’s only surviving relative. Anna leaves messages on Mabel’s voicemail, first professionally, then distraught, as the mysteries begin to grow in intensity. There is a lot going on, and this series requires close attention to get the most out of it. Tone: eerie. Three seasons (24 episodes total). Produced and written by women.

Podcaster Carly Parker’s best friend has disappeared under extremely mysterious circumstances. As Parker investigates, she begins to realize that her friend was playing a game, part online, part in real life, with possibly deadly stakes. Following clues from early arcade games to modern research, Parker finds herself going down the rabbit hole. Tone: eerie and conspiracy. One season (10 episodes).

Small Town Horror
When his father dies, Ryan Jennings heads back to his hometown of Crayton, MN to tie up affairs. The trip dredges up traumatic memories from his teen years, memories that are, apparently, not done with him. Tone: conspiracy and creepypasta. Three seasons (30 episodes to date) plus some bonus material.

Wren woke up a few months ago. In a kiddie pool in an attic. Covered in blood and surrounded by other people, including a man in a skull mask with a knife. She escaped and is now trying to find out what happened, hampered by sketchy memories, some of which might not be hers. Tone: weird/superpowers, with the second season more superpower-y. Two seasons (16 episodes).

Subject: Found
A series about people hunting cryptids and what that costs them, with each season focusing on a separate hunter and cryptid. Season 1 follows Jared Strong as he closes in on Bigfoot while his marriage and personal life disintegrate. His fellow Bigfoot hunters may be as great a danger as his hypothetical prey. Tone: drama and eerie. One season (10 episodes).

Nic Silver (who appears as a character in The Black Tapes and Rabbits, although it may not be the same Nic Silver) is a podcaster who is chasing down what he thinks is the last real legend of the internet age: a lost city called Tanis where wonderful and dangerous things await. As he pursues his vision, Nic encounters stranger and stranger events, untrustworthy allies and ambivalent enemies. Tone: drama and conspiracy, with a touch of creepypasta. Three seasons (36 episodes), plus bonus material.

The Tunnels
Robert Chauncey lives in a small town in Georgia. He wants to do a podcast, and figures that researching the stories about a supposed set of tunnels under the town would make for good material. That was before he had to face survivalists, scheming reporters, a possible doomsday cult, and more than one murderer. Oh, and possible ravenous underground monsters. Tone: eerie and conspiracy. Two seasons (12 episodes), plus bonus material.
posted by GenjiandProust (46 comments total) 109 users marked this as a favorite
I deliberately omitted some podcasts where the drama was a frame for short stories and purely science fiction audio dramas (we could argue about ars Paradoxica and The Bright Sessions, I suppose), mostly because I had to stop somewhere.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:07 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wow. This is exactly what I have been looking for. Thanks!
posted by kikaider01 at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the round-up! These are going on my list. You forgot one of my favourites:

The Stroma Sessions - BBC
Found footage drama charting the time a group of musicians spent on Stroma, an abandoned island off the north coast of Scotland, five years after their disappearance.
posted by adept256 at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

Yeah, this is killer. I've been kinda meh on Nightvale for a while, but I really enjoyed Alice Isn't Dead up until the finale of the most recent season, which I didn't think made much sense. I've been wanting other creepy podcasts like that, so this is excellent. I liked Limetown, and was disappointed it never came back. A bunch of these sound like promising premises, particularly the Bridge, The Deep Vault, and The Far Meridian.
posted by Caduceus at 1:36 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of The Magnus Archives, which starts out as mostly short horror stories linked by the 'archives', but now has a meta-story involving the archive employees and some recurring figures in the stories.
posted by lovecrafty at 1:36 PM on October 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

You forgot one of my favourites:

That's embarrassing, because I did an FPP on it last year, and I actually thought about it when I was formatting the list. My excuse is that I was doing it in between grading student projects.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:42 PM on October 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

In that case all is forgiven, that's how I heard about it in the first place!
posted by adept256 at 1:44 PM on October 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

A little more threadsitting, sorry. Here's some more subjective comments:

Mabel really requires and rewards close listening. It is mostly told as a set of voice mails, and you often have to pay close attention to begin to notice when the characters change (and none of it is by accident). It's a dark, twisty story of unreliable narrators (and the only one on the list to be an all-women project (outside of a few voices).

I started off really enjoying ars Paradoxica, got bogged down, almost deleted it in the second season, then soldiered on through and now I'm on board again. So if you find it a bit of a slog, you might try pushing through for a bit.

I liked the first season of Spines much better than the second, but I have hopes it will turn around in its third season. There's nothing wrong with the third season; it's just the first is so much weirder. The more that gets explained, the more it levels off. YMMV.

The Tunnelshas pretty amateurish voice acting, but they get better, and I enjoy the story. If you want really skilled actors, however, go elsewhere.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:14 PM on October 7, 2017

The Magnus Archives

I gave it a listen a few weeks ago and was startled to hear that the main narrator has my voice. I'm completely serious. He sounds exactly like me affecting a light RP accent. I had to hit pause and ask myself if I'd somehow produced and recorded a horror fiction podcast without remembering it. (I don't think so, though it does seem like something I would do.)

The resemblance was eerie at first, but eventually it just became distracting, and I've not been able to continue listening. Instead I've been getting my RDA of spook from Knifepoint Horror. It's an older podcast, first released in 2010, but it's new to me: a deliberate, dispassionate narrator relating a stand-alone story, with only sparse music and no introduction, advertisements, or credits. The style and tropes of the horror in a given episode can vary widely, from M.R. James to Joe R. Lansdale, but the writer, one Soren Narnia, seems to favor small Virginia towns scarred to the psychic bedrock by inexplicable tragedies.
posted by Iridic at 2:22 PM on October 7, 2017 [10 favorites]

Limetown: ... Despite ending on a cliffhanger, the series does not seem likely to continue.

Here's a lengthy update on r/limetown from April 2016, with much more information.

I contacted them in early August 2017 to ask if I could buy some pins, and instead they sent me a couple little ones for free, and said "Lots more coming down the road for Limetown. Stay tuned!"

I'm hopeful, and looking forward to whatever they come up with next.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:54 PM on October 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm currently making my way through "Sayer", which is strange and engaging. It's a little bit creepy.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 3:23 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks for this! Every Halloween I get in the mood for this sort of stuff. I've already listened to a few of these, so here's my completely subjective opinion.

Archive 81 had a fantastic 1st season, but I kind of got bored with the turn it took in season 2. It went from "creepy and unknowable evil seemingly tied to a Satanic doomsday cult" to "scifi apocalyptic Event Horizon scenario with a secret society who studies weird shit." It also dragged a lot more as it tried to worldbuild. I stopped listening mid-season, but if someone wants to let me know if it goes back to the unnerving horror of S1 let me know.

The Black Tapes also started out really good, but its voice acting quality is very mixed. Too many voices sounded forced, like they were reading from a script instead of the naturalistic affect you need for the conceit of the whole thing. The guy who plays the main male "skeptic" character has especially bad issues with this. Eventually it became a dealbreaker, which is a shame because some episodes genuinely creeped me out, like the one about the "death" noise.

The Deep Vault was fantastic! I'm a little sad it doesn't seem to be getting a second season, but it works well as a cohesive, creepy narrative, and the voice acting is generally up to snuff. There's also a queer relationship central to the narrative that's integrated well (though as with the nature of horror, don't expect a happily ever after). Unfortunately a lot of horror audio drama doesn't seem to be very good at incorporating queer or POC voices, other than Nightvale at least.

If Limetown doesn't get a second season I will be so disappointed. This is the best of the genre: a creepy story, succint worldbuilding that doesn't drag, and stellar voice acting. ARGH, GIVE ME SEASON 2!!!

On a side note, it's not an audio drama, but Knifepoint Horror is the best horror podcast you will ever listen to. It's a collection of short stories (usually) read by the same narrator, Soren Narnia, whose voice is like smooth, terrifying butter, and whose ability to weave a tense narrative that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire half hour is astounding. He occasionally plays with the format in terms of length and bringing in additional voice acting, but frankly he's at his best when it's just his voice hanging heavy in your ears, nothing but static silence between each line, with an occasional sound effect to heighten the psychological horror of what's being revealed. It's what The No Sleep Podcast only wishes it could be.
posted by ProtectoroftheSmall at 3:31 PM on October 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

I seem to have committed myself to a much larger knitting project right now than I'd originally intended, so I need to stock up on listening material, so this is perfect. I cast on roughly 50% more stitches for this scarf than I'd originally intended because it didn't look like enough, and then it turned out to be way more than enough, except that I really like it so apparently this is just going to be a really big scarf. Creepy listening plus Slytherin knitting seems like an ideal combination.
posted by Sequence at 3:59 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

> I gave it a listen a few weeks ago and was startled to hear that the main narrator has my voice. I'm completely serious. He sounds exactly like me affecting a light RP accent. I had to hit pause and ask myself if I'd somehow produced and recorded a horror fiction podcast without remembering it. (I don't think so, though it does seem like something I would do.)

Sounds like the beginning of an archive entry to me...
posted by lovecrafty at 4:10 PM on October 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

Want something quick and easy? An American Werewolf In London is under 2 hours, and it's excellent.
posted by hippybear at 4:28 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Snap Judgment has launched a spinoff series, Spooked, built around listener submitted stories about paranormal experiences. It isn't long form but has good production quality and is quite creepy.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:36 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm going to recommend Pseudopod, and suggest your start your creep on with Where the Summer Ends, because well - it's 90 degrees here today, plus this story is very well produced. And also it is spooky time.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 4:41 PM on October 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oh sweet heckin yeah this is kind of my wheelhouse!

I host two audio drama podcasts (the first; the second), and we're devoting October on Radio Drama Revival to horror shows.

All of GenjiAndProust's recommendations are stellar. I'm much stronger with sci-fi or comedy audio fiction recommendations than I am with horror, so I'll keep those to myself for now.

May I also add John Dryden's stunning adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, starring Marsha Dietlein as Offred.

While not a *horror* piece per se, Lance Dann's Blood Culture is a chilling, engaging techno-thriller about a biotech firm whose interns keep mysteriously dying.

And I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that October 30th is World Audio Drama Day. My friends run an end-of-October production marathon called 11th Hour, where teams have 72 hours to produce a piece of horror fiction. Here are two of the entrants from last year.
posted by IcarusFloats at 5:08 PM on October 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

ProtectoroftheSmall, the voice acting was the dealbreaker for me too with The Black Tapes. Tanis is maybe a little better, but not much. Tanis using the Elisa Lam story as so much creepypasta also really left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not sure I'll ever catch up on my backlog of either of them. At its best though, The Black Tapes really was delightfully creepy.

There's also Lore, Aaron Mahnke's scary stories folklore podcast. The Amazon Prime anthology show for that is starting next week. Some episodes are a miss for me, but I really like that Mahnke digs into small, scary stories from history.
posted by yasaman at 6:25 PM on October 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I just want to add Within The Wires from Nightvale Presents:

Season One, "Relaxation Cassettes," takes the form of an audio course on full body relaxation issued by The Institute to you, (the listener) a nameless medical inmate. Who is this narrator? Is she relaying something more than just relaxation techniques, and is she to be trusted? And are there subliminal messages hidden within the music? As listeners move through the relaxation curriculum a deeper and more personal story unravels.
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 6:29 PM on October 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Gone, by the inestimable Sunny Moraine.
posted by newdaddy at 7:03 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh man I love this stuff. Good post.

##Thoughts on podcasts already mentioned##

The Bright Sessions is quite good, but not really spooky. It's more of a superhero drama.

The Deep Vault is great! Not as creepy so much as it is action adventure-y with added monsters.

I liked Archive 81, even when it goes down the rabbithole in Season 2 (though trying to truly understand how that world works is probably more work than necessary... just let it wash over you). Vibe is creepy in a Lovecraftian way, with added body horror.

Tanis and Rabbits are slight variations on the same theme. That team definitely has a specific style that I can't decide if I'm getting tired of.

Alice Isn't Dead is excellent, especially the first season. Creepy monsters, gov't conspiracies, and a mentally tough but physically vulnerable narrator who is given life by a great voiceactor.


Run, don't walk, to We're Alive (and the sequel, We're Alive: Lockdown). I grant that not all the voice actors are masters of their craft, but most are very good. Yes, it's a zombie apocalypse story, but it's a well-told one--the real monsters, of course, are the people.

Darkest Night (featuring Denis O'Hare!) is for those of you who like extra knife sounds and blood spurts.

Also thanks to IcarusFloats for Radio Drama Revival--they have good stuff in general, with a healthy serving of spooky ones.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 7:48 PM on October 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

yasaman, I didn't know Tanis used Elisa's story, and now I'm definitely not touching that one. And yes, totally agree about The Black Tapes. The first few episodes hooked me, if only the voice acting had improved over time. I think the actors for the side characters they brought in got worse over time tbh.

YES on Lore, I love Lore! I can't wait for the TV show.
posted by ProtectoroftheSmall at 7:55 PM on October 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

We're Alive

I listened through the whole thing, so I'm not the one to totally discount it, but there are some aspects that seriously bothered me to the point that I angrily stopped a couple times.

Mostly it's the fact the protagonist is a total Marty Stu. Everything he does is right, and even when he does fuck up, the rest of the characters are there to assuage his ego and tell him he tried his best. And besides, he'll turn out to be right in the end.

Wrapped up in this is that it is basically canon on the podcast that being in the military makes you an objectively better person. All the useless civilians have to get up to speed with all the awesome badass, cool and level-headedness of the army guys. I mean for chrissakes, those normies can't even shoot guns!

The thing that made me delete the whole show a couple times though (even if curiosity brought me back), was the treatment of the female characters. If civilians are useless in the We're Alive world, them women are extra useless. The protagonist's love interest is the epitome of this. She's whiny, dumb, weak, and vacillating -- a misogynistic stereotype -- but we are told to like her because Marty Stu does, and he's never wrong.

Good voice acting and sound production, and interesting enough works and plot that it reeled me back in, but it does come with a "brotastic" trigger warning.

Also, it does the whole "someone got shot, so now we have to dig around and get the bullet out" thing.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:37 PM on October 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Darkest Night (featuring Denis O'Hare!) is for those of you who like extra knife sounds and blood spurts

Lee Pace and Missi Pyle, too! I've only listened to about three episodes so far, but i'm really enjoying it. Really great production values, though I wish the sections with the podcast creators chatting were separate, they pull me out of the atmosphere in a big way.
posted by pseudonymph at 4:07 AM on October 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Re: We're Alive


I looked back through the wiki after reading your comment. It's true that the female characters are less useful than the trio of mostly calm, driven military men for lots of survival tasks and Pegs definitely did not handle the apocalypse well, especially at first. She does display a certain toughness and functions as a better part of the team once she's been through some shit, though. Lizzy and that lawyer parent are mostly useless and/or counterproductive.

In Lockdown, things get a bit better. There is a female doctor who essentially holds the team together, a smart and resourceful woman who survived nearly alone for a long time, and the main villain is a tough, in-charge woman.

You've changed my view of the series a bit. I'm not into military worship and they could certainly have more women being badass and POC in general (there are a couple important ones). I guess I'll see what We're Alive: Goldrush looks like.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 7:06 AM on October 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

IcarusFloats , Radio Drama Revival is a real pleasure. Thank you for creating it.
posted by doctornemo at 8:13 AM on October 8, 2017

I'm baffled when people complain about the voices on The Black Tapes and Tanis and then go on to praise Lore, when Mahnke delivers his lines with such weird intonations that I suspect he doesn't actually speak English but is just doing the script phonetically.

My biggest problem with The Black Tapes and Tanis (although I still listen to them) is a problem common to a lot of podcasts -- they clearly didn't have a specific idea of where they were going at the beginning of the series, throwing out ideas found kind of randomly on the internet in the hopes that they will stick. I felt that the Elisa Lam bit in Tanis was worse because it literally doesn't matter to the story; you can skip that episode and the plot reads exactly the same. So they all could benefit from trimming a couple of episodes worth of material per season. It's interesting that Rabbits is generally a little tighter, so maybe they (or the new writers) are learning.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:11 AM on October 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

Lore gets a pass from me because Mahnke's not acting. With The Black Tapes and Tanis, it constantly fucked with my suspension of disbelief when I was cringing at bad voice acting. I could roll with it when the characters were "narrating" a la Mahnke or any other radio host who's reading a story, but when they were supposed to just be in conversation with each other or with an interview subject, the voice acting would always stand out as painfully stilted. Nic Silver especially came off as a total "how do you do, fellow human" weirdo between the stilted voice acting and his obliviousness as a character.
posted by yasaman at 12:56 PM on October 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

My biggest problem with The Black Tapes and Tanis (although I still listen to them) is a problem common to a lot of podcasts -- they clearly didn't have a specific idea of where they were going at the beginning of the series, throwing out ideas found kind of randomly on the internet in the hopes that they will stick. I felt that the Elisa Lam bit in Tanis was worse because it literally doesn't matter to the story; you can skip that episode and the plot reads exactly the same. So they all could benefit from trimming a couple of episodes worth of material per season. It's interesting that Rabbits is generally a little tighter, so maybe they (or the new writers) are learning.

I really, really ought to love The Black Tapes, and did for a good while. The toys it's playing with are many of my favorites. But they don't know what they're doing with those toys, and it became more and more painfully obvious as time went on.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:50 PM on October 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thank you for this post, GenjiandProust . It's great to see weird fiction take on such a large presence in podcasts.

I wrote about some of these for the most recent edition of my digital storytelling book - and now there's more for the next!

A few notes:
-Black Tapes, Tanis, Rabbits: I've followed them from the start, and enjoy them very much for their mix of weird cultural nuggets, looping plotting, and a nice balance between charm and dread.
-Archive 81: the first season was terrific, a densely layered audio production with a nice interplay of frame and embedded stories. I couldn't get far in s2.
-Limetown: possibly my favorite from the past few years. So ambitious, so well acted. I admire its willingness to take time to circle around its plot. The ends of some episodes, notably the last, are superb.

A couple of potential additions to suggest:
-LifeAfter isn't a weird story, but draws on life after death as a central plot device - for starters. Then it gets worse.
-NoSleep is anthology horror, and maybe breaks this post's frame. But I include it because it's a fun romp through the campfire story/urban legend kind of horror, and because they are having a blast turning ad spots into comic horror shorts.
-Wolf 359 is science fiction comedy, yet it flirts with weirdness and even horror often enough.
posted by doctornemo at 1:50 PM on October 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Aw thank you grimp0teuthis and doctornemo. I didn't create the show; I inherited the hosting chair in early 2016 from the inestimable Fred Greenhalgh.

Definitely agree that there's some serious classic horror influence in Wolf 359. I talked to creator Gabriel Urbina about his very favorite classic horror drama. A goofy time was had by all.
posted by IcarusFloats at 1:58 PM on October 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Grimp0teuthis, that sounds like it's addresses a lot of my concerns with the original series. I and my love of schlock horror will give it a listen.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:40 PM on October 8, 2017

I got through the first season of Mabel as of tonight, and I can't even describe how much this is perfectly my brand. The kind of writing where at some point you realize that you don't quite know what's going to happen next, but you strongly suspect that the creator's favorite books and poems are all your favorite books and poems, and that her wandering thoughts go the same places that your wandering thoughts go. I never have high hopes for things like this being able to come around to an ending that satisfies, but in this case I really don't care. I wouldn't have said that finding woman-created work in this area would matter, but then I listen to this and realize that it totally does.

I am now trying to get basically all my friends to listen to it, but struggling because I feel like even one season in, all the comparisons I'd make about it constitute spoilers.

I am very glad, listening to it after 2am, that I live (alone) in a nice modern apartment complex and not, say, the big old house I grew up in.
posted by Sequence at 1:20 AM on October 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have liked a lot of stories on NoSleep (that one about the ogre-thing stalking a remote farm was a fave) but the main host reads every story in this absolutely terrible overwrought voice and it kills it for me. The rest of the readers are pretty good, though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 AM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tanis using the Elisa Lam story as so much creepypasta also really left a bad taste in my mouth.

I listened to the first episode of Rabbits last night, and they pulled some similar shit with Byron Preiss, insinuating that his very real death in a car accident was arranged by some sort of ancient secret society. They also take the time to mention that they've "been unable to contact his widow," which in context could be interpreted as a suggestion that his (very real) widow is involved in the conspiracy. How hard would it be to make up a fictional analogue of Preiss instead of dragging his corpse and his family into the story?
posted by Iridic at 12:59 PM on October 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

How hard would it be to make up a fictional analogue of Preiss instead of dragging his corpse and his family into the story?

I imagine the idea is to make the story more real by rooting it in actual events. The more real-world events and people you can work into a narrative, the more real your fiction seems. Compare the way that Lovecraft bolstered the 'verisimilitude" of the Necronomicon by hiding it in a list of real books, while his later admirers often got the opposite effect by throwing together a long list of fictional books with maybe one real title as garnish.

I get why people find using human tragedy distasteful, but... I don't know. A reasonably-close cousin of mine was shot (non-fatally) by Charles Whitman in Austin, and, while I lived there, I felt a uncomfortable about the number of jokes and off-hand references to the event, but it's not like I have some kind of ownership, so I kind of let it go. I felt the Byron Preiss reference in Rabbits was handled better than the Elisa Lam reference in Tanis because it was far more central to the story and therefore less gratuitous.

If actual events are suspect, what's the cutoff? Lam was definitely a personal tragedy made public by the internet, but Priess was a public figure, and Whitman's victims more so, so is that the fair guideline? Lam died about 4 years ago, Priess about 12, and my cousin was shot more than 50 years ago; is there a statute of limitations? Real people's tragedies get used all the time in fiction; when does it go form "bad taste" to OK? I'm not saying your feelings are wrong, but I've been wrestling with this for a while, and all I've found is that sense of "gratuitousness" is the line between "yeah, no" and "OK, fine."
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:15 PM on October 9, 2017

I was just asking myself why I'm okay with Tim Powers writing the death of T.E. Lawrence into Declare while Rabbit's similar treatment of Preiss rubs me the wrong way. I think partially it's a matter of the deceased residing within living memory. Preiss' wife and kids are still around, and this does not seem a kind thing to do to them. (For that matter, I would find a "What If It Was Actually Demons Or Something?" treatment of the tower massacre distasteful, particularly after reading this heartbreaking but respectful story on Claire Wilson, one of Whitman's victims.)

Also: the "Serial, but fictional" conceit of the show reminds me of my issues with Serial, which I found more than a little ghoulish and voyeuristic. Doing a made-up version gave the producers an opportunity to question the unsavory aspects of Serial, or at least elide them by substituting a wholly fictional narrative for a real-life tragedy. Instead, they went out of their way to replicate those aspects by turning a person's actual death into a puzzle clue.
posted by Iridic at 3:02 PM on October 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Iridic. It’s still a vexing problem for me, but I appreciate your take on it.

In case anyone is still reading this, I’m quite enjoying the Magnus Archives (linked above by lovecrafty); it has pretty much the same conceit as Darkest Night — both are horror anthologies embedded in “frame stories,” but I like both the stories and the frame better in the former. MA has more creepiness and mystery and less gore and cruelty, at least 10 episodes in.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:40 AM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm just going to dump a bunch of titles I enjoyed (some fully complete, some still ongoing) - sorry for the lack of time to write descriptions:

* 36 Questions
* Alba Salix
* The Cleansed
* Deadly Manners
* The Earth Collective
* Edict Zero FIS
* EOS 10
* Girl in Space
* Homecomming
* In Darkness Vast
* The Lovecraft Covenant
* MarsCorp
* Marsfall
* A New Winter
* Ostium
* Otherverse
* Passage
* Radiation World
* A Scottish Podcast
* Slumberland
* Small Town Horror
* Splintered Caravan
* Station to Station
* Synesthesia Theatre (produced two: Iron Horses Can't be Broken and Cold Reboot)
* The Strange Case of Starship Iris
* Steal the Stars
* Terms
*The White Vault
posted by infinitemonkey at 8:14 AM on October 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

IcarusFloats, "The Thing on the Fourble Board" is one of my favorites. Oh, those finals sounds.
posted by doctornemo at 5:13 PM on October 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's interesting that Rabbits is generally a little tighter, so maybe they (or the new writers) are learning.

So I just finished listening to Rabbits and man, if that's "a little tighter" then Tanis is probably a bridge too far for me. My problems with Rabbits are basically the following:
  • the amount of dead air caused by Carly's "Roman Mars meets William Shatner" impression
  • tired pop-sci cliches presented as if they were inscrutably deep (chaos theory! strange attractors! and I'm not even spoiling anything because invoking these phrases adds literally nothing to the plot besides "eau de science")
  • repetitive dialogue where people:
    • rephrase what the other person just said as a question
    • endlessly lampshade how they can't believe they're going to say something
    • repeatedly fail to understand a completely obvious point the other person is making, despite the characters being written as intelligent and perceptive
  • so much telling and not showing, even down to people's personality traits
lol, sorry that ended up being so salty, but I needed to vent a little. I guess it's reasonably "tight" in that there is actually a narrative arc over the course of the season without a ton of shaggy "monster of the week" business, and the season does feel pretty self-contained. And I did remain curious to hear what happened, enough so that I finished it. It just frustrated me because I thought that there were actually some neat moments and ideas along the way that were let down by such clunky writing and acting. (It did suffer a bit because the last fiction podcast I listened to was Homecoming, but even without the unfair comparison to Catherine Keener and Eli Horowitz it still felt amateurish in a bad way.)

Interestingly, based on the positive reviews of the beginning of the Black Tapes, I loaded that up. And it really is significantly better! At least in the episodes I've heard so far, the narrator feels like a very plausible new-media presence, the dialogue doesn't immediately take me out of the story, etc. If Rabbits had been done that skillfully I'd have probably had quite a different review.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:14 PM on October 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

On a more positive note, though, Limetown is WAY better. It's not just a cool premise; the authors actually thought through the plot and characterization, from the macro to the micro level, and it shows in the quality of the writing. Instead of leaning on cliches and then lampshading them (cough, Rabbits), I thought the authors of Limetown ended up subverting them to reveal something more original, and yet more horrifying (trying to avoid spoilers). As GenjiandProust mentioned it does end on a cliffhanger, but I actually found myself not caring -- it's not that things are tied up in a bow, but a lot of stuff is resolved, stuff isn't left vague for no reason, and there's an emotional arc that feels complete... as opposed to the totally deferred payoff in, say, S1 of The Black Tapes, which I also recently finished.

(...podcasts are my "doing chores"/"commuting" treat and I've been blowing through a lot of them lately so this post has been awesome)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:43 PM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

On a more positive note, though, Limetown is WAY better.

I dunno; I felt really betrayed by Limetown. I admit it had a lot of good stuff going on, but it seems it was really a lure to try and get TV funding, which... I'd rather listen to a worse-produced production that really wants me as a listener rather than a highly-produced one that treats me as evidence of their proof of concept. On the other hadn, I listed it, so who am I to judge?

In other news, run, do not walk, to the Magnus Archives. I just finished a week-long binge (which left me vaguely suspicious of the chair in my back bedroom), and I am relistening to key episodes almost as we speak. It's really well done as spooky as all get out, and I really appreciate that the writer leans heavily on the Weird and very little on the violence (and said in one of the Q&A episodes that he wasn't going to do sexual violence, which... thank heavens). It's really the best thing I've found in a while.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:54 PM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I feel like Mabel isn't getting enough praise. I actually applauded at the end of season 3. It's seriously that good, and completely different sort of weird than any of the others here that I've listened to.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:02 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had the same feeling about Limetown being really aimed at a TV deal, except...

Limetown Season Two coming 2018!
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:42 AM on October 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

« Older Step 1. Acquire a corpse.   |   What is this "doot" thing, with the skeletons? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments