Podcasts have proliferated in popularity over the last few years, sparked by the success of Serial’s first season. But audio dramas were popular long before the notable true-crime show; we’ve all heard about how the radio production of War of the Worlds, which aired on October 30, 1938, caused a panic because listeners thought they were listening to actual news events.
With the newfound interest in podcasts has come a new surge in popularity for original fiction in this episodic form. There are so many different genre podcasts to explore, and new original stories being released every day. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up six different podcasts — some new, some older, all awesome — that you should definitely check out if you’re interested in listening to some high-quality original sci-fi and fantasy stories.
This podcast (written by Mac Rogers) focuses on two different government officials, Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, who are hiding knowledge of a UFO crash. As the podcast opens (it’s currently on its sixth episode, with a total of 13), the two are working at Quill Marine compound, which is run by a defense contractor. Matt’s new on the job, and when he meets Dakota, sparks fly instantly, despite the fact that fraternization is forbidden. As the two fall in love, they hatch a desperate plan to be together, but it involves the secrets they guard and could have devastating consequences.
This podcast may have only run for six episodes, but it made quite the splash. It made its debut shortly after the conclusion of Serial, when everyone was hungry for more true-crime podcasts. This was the next-best thing — the fictional story of a place called Limetown. Ten years ago, 300 people disappeared from a research facility without a trace, and it’s up to a journalist to figure out what happened to the residents of Limetown and why. People have been clamoring for a second season of this podcast, billed as Serial meets The X-Files, since it debuted. Now’s your chance to find out why.
Sally Grissom is a physicist with a big problem: She’s sent herself back in time to 1943. And if that’s not bad enough, she appeared in the middle of a top-secret military test, and the people in charge think she’s an enemy spy sent to sabotage. Sally must convince everyone of her true intentions, while also figuring out what happened and how to return home. This mix of science, time travel, and political machinations is incredibly popular; it’s had two full seasons, and the third is set to bow this year.
If dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories are your jam, then you should know about the Rover Red podcast. It focuses on a young girl named Leah, who lives on a distant Earth where humanity has been destroyed. Her compound contains the last enclave of humans in the world. But when her brother disappears, Leah decides she must go in search of him. It turns out (SHOCKER) that her people aren’t the only humans left, though, and there’s a lot more going on outside its walls than Leah ever suspected. This podcast’s first episode was at the end of November, and it’s still going strong.
What would happen if our world was actually filled with superheroes? People who had powers beyond anything that science could explain? They’d have the weight of the world on their shoulders ... so, of course, they’d need a good shrink. That’s the premise of The Bright Sessions, a podcast that’s been running since the end of 2015. Listeners are granted the opportunity to eavesdrop on therapy sessions between a mental health professional named Dr. Bright and her superpowered patients. Now, the question is, does Dr. Bright have an agenda of her own by recording all these therapy sessions?
Welcome to Night Vale is an insanely popular part sci-fi, part-fantasy, part-supernatural, and entirely strange podcast that is difficult to describe. It’s told in the form of twice-weekly updates transmitted to the town of Night Vale about the regular goings-on in the community ... but this is a town like no other. From strange hooded figures to bright lights in the night sky, it’s unclear what’s happening in Night Vale, but it’s as if every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard has come to life on a podcast. If you enjoy the show, you can pick up the book Welcome to Night Vale, told from the point of view of two people who live in the town.