Command Performance: Weird Anthology Podcasts!
July 2, 2021 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Have the audio drama FPPs caused you to ask “but what about weird fiction anthologies? Why do you hate anthologies so much?” Despite 200 episodes of the Magnus Archives , which is, if we are honest, an anthology show with a very robust frame, here is a selection of weird fiction anthology podcasts to while away your hours while waiting for that vaccination.

Stories with significant LGBTQ characters and elements are identified. Podcasts with frequent or severe content warnings are noted when possible (although, with anthologies, check the content warnings for every episode since the subject material can vary greatly) as are those which provide transcripts. Average running times are also listed. All the podcasts are accessible via most podcast apps and aggregators and usually streamed from the websites.

While subject matter and tone tend to change for each episode in each podcast, overall approaches mostly don’t. So, if you listen to the first half-dozen, you usually have a pretty good idea how the show is going to proceed.

The Chronicles of Clovis
The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson

A bit of a cheat on the theme, but these two collections of Edwardian weird (and sometimes humorous) stories, the first by Saki, the second (rather obviously) by E. F. Benson, are read in an extremely engaging way by Richard Crowest It’s a good way to experience these two classic weird writers long hidden by the shadow of M. R. James. No transcripts, but the books are on Gutenberg.
Length: Saki: 5-15 minutes Benson: ~30 minutes
Tone: spooky and moody, often with a “Jamesian wallop”
LGBTQ: Queerness is extremely coded
Complete collections (Saki 28 stories; Benson 27 stories)
Websites: Clovis Benson

John Grilz of the audio drama Small Town Horror, retells and dramatizes creepypastas and other amateur online horror writing. Some of the episodes feature multiple voices, but most are a single narrator. They are tonally a very mixed bag, but fairly short (especially early on), so there is always something new coming.
Length: most are 10-30 minutes; recently they have started doing 2 stories at a time
Tone: creepypasta
LGBTQ: few to none
One season (400+ episodes; ongoing)

A Darker Tale
A relatively recent collection of mysterious stories focused on regional horror, generally not terribly graphic but intense and focused on isolation and helplessness.
Length: ~20-40 minutes
Tone: Mysterious and cruel
LGBTQ: none significant
One seasons (8 episodes; on hiatus?)
They don’t seem to have a dedicated website

Queer horror in Glasgow by and for queer people. The stories start out as stand-alone small moments of horror, but they are mostly intertwined by the end of the season (although it’s going to require a second season to explain how and why). A short summary” there is a building in Glasgow where terrible things have been happening for decades. A variegated cast experiences and researches the horror, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible. The cast seems to be entirely LGBT+, leaning heavily on the T. Transcripts available. Individual episodes have content warnings, but most episodes deal with homophobia and/or transphobia in fairly visceral (but never gratuitous ways).
Length: 10-30 minutes
Tone: weird and visceral with growing connections
LGBTQ: A variety of queer characters in every episode
One season (12 episodes; ongoing)

The Hauntings of Elgin Barrett
A UK-based horror anthology that tends to build stories around a narrator with additional voices (mostly professional voice actors). Most of the stories are set in the modern day but reach back to a Jamesian style of horror.
Length: ~45 minutes
Tone: regional horror with a “Jamesian wallop”
LGBTQ: none
One Season (9 episodes; ongoing)

The King in Yellow
The famous horror collection with the 4 core “Carcosa” stories, plus some rather dreamy ghost stories, all read by the hidden gem Peter Yearsley, who has the good sense to play more to the sadness than the madness, as it were.
Length: 20-50 minutes
Tone: weird and moody
LGBTQ: none
Complete collection (9 stories)

Knifepoint Horror
This podcast has been releasing episodes every few months for more than a decade. Written (and often read) by Soren Narnia, the stories vary wildly in setting and plot, but always with great inventiveness and a deep and growing sense of dread, often ending in uncertainty (for the listener, if not the characters), which is somewhat balanced by the wealth of everyday detail in the narration. “town,” “fields,” and “elements” give a good sense of the range and flavor.
Length: mostly 30-60 minutes
Tone: uncertainty and dread
LGBTQ: none significant
One season (58 episodes; ongoing)

Liberty Podcast
Science Fiction dystopia horror. Liberty is a settlement on an alien planet where nothing inside or outside is as it seems. There is an ongoing narrative, but it is mostly stand along stories.
Length: ~30-40 minutes
Tone: dystopian isolation
LGBTQ: extremely rare
Four Seasons? (maybe 50 episodes, plus supplements. Honestly, the numbering is very confusing)

Nightlight; The Black Horror Podcast
Short stories from professional and semi-professional Black writers. Almost all stories are single-narrator. Most have follow up interviews with the writer, sometimes in the episode, sometimes as separate episodes.
Length: ~30-45 minutes + interview
Tone: The entire horror spectrum, all rooted in the Black experience
LGBTQ: Occasional queer characters
Two seasons (21 episodes + supplements; ongoing)

On the Threshold
There is a bit of a frame story, but these are mostly stories of cosmic horror that are not particularly connected as of yet.
Length: ~30 minutes
Tone: Grasping toward Lovecraftian cosmic horror
LGBTQ: none
One Season (9 episodes + supplements; ongoing)

A professional audio magazine that covers the entirety of horror. Some of the episodes are original to the podcast, some are recordings of recent horror stories, some are readings of stories from the Pulps. There is literally something for everyone here.
Length: ~45-60 minutes
Tone: The entire horror spectrum
LGBTQ: Occasional gay characters
Hundreds of episodes, usually only the last 100 or so available to non-patrons

Shadows at the Door
An collection of “quiet horror” organized and edited by Mark Nixon and mostly read by David Ault (both have appeared on NoSleep), this anthology is a mix of adaptions of older stories (e.g. Dickens, James) and original work. Each episode has a story, then approximately half an hour of discussion of the story, its themes, and the process of adaption and creation. The hosts don’t particularly stay on topic and discuss Dr. Who rather a lot. Bonus material includes “Drunk Ghost Stories” where the hosts take turns drinking quite a lot and then explaining the plot of a lengthy ghost story.
Length: ~60 minutes, increasing in Season 2
Tone: spooky and moody, often with a “Jamesian whallop”
LGBTQ: Occasional gay characters
Two seasons (21 episodes + supplements; ongoing)

Simon Graves Presents
Short horror stories mostly written by the eponymous “Simon Graves” and read by Noah DeBIase. All the stories focus on gay characters; most feature some sort of gore, usually, nut not always mild. The stories often build around emotional relationships or the desire for such, a few are rather sweet and tender nestled in the inevitable doom. CW: One story leans heavily on fat shaming, and the series as a whole flirts with an “idealized male image” which may be off-putting to some.
Length: 20-30 minutes
Tone: gay Tales from the Crypt
LGBTQ: Pretty much all characters are gay
Two seasons (8 episodes; on hiatus)

SCP Archives
Dramatizations (usually single reader; occasionally multiple actors) of SPC Foundation stories and lore. Often narrated by John Grilz of the audio drama Small Town Horror. If you are unfamiliar with SPC, think creepypastas about cursed or otherwise dangerous objects in a mysterious organization’s holding facilities. Or, possibly, the videogame Control without the narrative bits.
Length: most are 20-30 minutes with a few much shorter or longer
Tone: creepypasta
LGBTQ: few to none
One season (80 episodes; ongoing)
They don’t seem to have a dedicated website

These are longer-form stories that release on the 13th of each month. They feature people with personal turmoil who experience (mostly) “gentle horror,” with about equal weight on both elements. Some of the stories may take place in fictional places. Generally a single narrator with voice actors for other characters.
Length: ~60 minutes (some stories divided into parts)
Tone: spooky and mournful
LGBTQ: At least one gay protagonist
One season (15 episodes; ongoing)

This Present Darkness
Short horror with very different settings and tones, all informed by a Christian worldview, but it is not particularly intrusive.
Length: ~30-60 minutes
Tone: spooky and moody, with a Christian religious bent
LGBTQ: none
One season (4 episodes; ongoing)
They don’t seem to have a dedicated website

Not quite horror, this is a series of unconnected stories set in the same Urban Fantasy setting. Stories of magic and mystery, sometimes wonderful and sometimes horrible.
Length: ~45-60 minutes
Tone: Urban Fantasy
LGBTQ: Occasional gay characters
One season (10 episodes + supplements; ongoing)
posted by GenjiandProust (13 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Shout out to Knifepoint Horror. Soren Narnia is an amazing narrator, and I include Knifepoint Horror as one of my favorite podcasts of all time. Also highly recommend “The Crack”, and “Legend”.
posted by triage_lazarus at 5:08 PM on July 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

At the risk of self-promotion, I feel compelled to point out that I run a weird anthology series and ran one serial -- "Paths Not Taken" -- that follows two lesbians from 1994 through 2023 in two parallel universes over the course of seven parts. Think of a queer "Sliding Doors," but with New York City grit, strangely exuberant aliens that are fond of hot dogs, giant winged creatures named Chester, interdimensional portals, and a bizarre alternative universe. I spent six weeks interviewing dozens of women for this to ensure that I could write the most authentic LGBTQ story possible. Part Five of the serial featured such elaborate sound design that I spent months painstakingly assembling 300 tracks. And with that episode, I may have even invented a new genre called "screwball cyberpunk." Anyway, check out The Gray Area. I just started releasing six new episodes this summer. And I have a new story set just before World War I that will be released on Tuesday.
posted by ed at 6:09 PM on July 2, 2021 [11 favorites]

Old Gods of Appalachia?
posted by Foosnark at 6:20 PM on July 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Hooray! Thank you!
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:06 PM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm catching up on Tales to Terrify lately and it's been pretty solid for the most recent few dozen episodes. There have been several LGBTQ stories that I can recall, with the caveat that I wasn't counting at the time and thus cannot say what percentage they actually make up. They also seem to be making an effort to get nonwhite ethnicities up in things, too.

I also went and listened to all of Bad Vibes after Justin McElroy mentioned his narrator/host gig on MBMBaM. Not great, honestly, but they're all pretty short, and if you enjoy Justin's penchant for character voice and a good Southern drawl, you'll enjoy the host segments enough to justify the listen. I don't remember any specifically LGBTQ content, but it might well be there and I just found a lot of them kind of forgettable overall.
posted by Scattercat at 7:35 PM on July 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Thanks for including time estimates!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:51 PM on July 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oh my goodness, there's been a hole in my life since The Magnus Archives ended. These all look amazing, thank you!
posted by Braeburn at 11:42 PM on July 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Old Gods of Appalachia?

I guess I didn’t explain the framing very well. These are specifically horror/weird anthology series, where individual episodes aren’t related to each other, except maybe through a framing device (think Tales from the Crypt), so Old Gods belongs in one of my horror/weird audio drama FPPs (it’s in the one from 2020), most of which are linked in this FanFare comment on Passenger List, a good two-season audio drama that is more thriller than horror, so didn’t make my lists, but I was tempted.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:33 AM on July 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I apologize if that sounded snippy — I love to hear what people are enjoying listening to, whether it fits the criteria of the FPP or not. I can only plead that I’m typing this after being woken up by a very early morning hairball incident….
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:50 AM on July 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

"Very Early Morning Hairball Incident" is the name of my new weird anthology podcast!
posted by taz at 1:18 AM on July 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

Let me know when its live, taz; I will faithfully subscribe. As Lovecraft said "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown stepping on a hairball in the dark.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:06 PM on July 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've always held that hairballs are naturally invisible and only become perceptible to the eye after some curious reaction involving contact with a bare human foot.
posted by Scattercat at 4:21 PM on July 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

I can't like this post enough. Thank you, GenjiandProust!
posted by doctornemo at 11:46 AM on July 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

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