A Listener Reviews: January 2020 Roundup
Happy New Year! January is off to some kind of start, for sure, and now that we’re solidly into 2020, let’s talk a bit about podcasts. So many new things have been released, and even more shows are starting back up with new seasons. It’s great and definitely keeping my ears busy.
I thought I’d put together a few briefer thoughts on some new podcasts that have come out this month. There are so many good ones, so I’m only going to showcase a few here. If I missed one of your favorite new shows, comment so I can check them out, too! Also, especially since these shows are just getting started I’m including links to donations or Patreon (when available) so that you can easily support them if you find yourself enjoying the hard work they’ve put in.
This comes from Goose Thunder Network, a podcasting group I’ve had good past experience with. This podcast focuses on Princess Cesaleza, who has run into some royal trouble. When her ship is raided, she and the raiders develop a partnership to hopefully solve everyone’s woes. Episode one is out, and it is nicely put together for all it is trying to accomplish. It primarily focuses on introducing the core cast of characters, establishing the scene, initial worldbuilding, and the usual introductory stuff. The plot is intriguing, and there is some nice foreshadowing set up through the trailer and first episode, which can be a challenge to do well in such a short space. There are a lot of familiar voices, so I know the cast they have assembled is strong. If you want an adventurous space heist podcast, I’d jump in while it’s getting started.
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In all transparency, the creators of this podcast reached out and asked me to take a listen. And I was happy to, especially since I had already loaded episode one into my queue when I stumbled across them on Twitter. The concept is 110% up my alley–sci-fi, mystery, supernatural, and all rolled into a nice Southern landscape. Topher and Simone’s father has gone missing under unusual circumstances. In episode one, they retrace his last steps and try to find him, spending time at the optometrist, his office, and, oh yeah, the Louisiana palm reader, Etsy, he was scheduled to meet. Within the first two episodes released so far, some of the strange circumstances become clear, but doing so only serves to introduce a host of questions for the remaining episodes. It is set to be a 9-episode arc following Topher and Etsy as they explore something impossibly supernatural in the swamps of New Orleans. The first episodes hooked me, and it seems like a great addition to the tradition of supernatural Southern horror.
Support Them: Call of the Void Donation Page
Let’s keep the genre hopping alive! Y2K is fictional drama following the lives of two friends through voicemails recovered from the year 2000. As someone who was alive then, I got a little bit of a shock when the narrator, the student who found and is publishing the voicemails, mentions she was not alive then. I feel old. But, 2000 is a time full of nostalgia and some great memories for me, so this little time capsule back is great. The story is mostly following the lives of Kat and Jess through moves and romance and friendship and all the twists and turns life can bring. The conversations, for the most part, feel very authentic. It sounds like the kind of audio journals two friends separated by time zones might truly leave. There are definitely some unknowns that are slowly being filled in over the course of the episodes, and I’m really curious to see where all 52-weeks of this story will lead us.
Support Them: Y2K Patreon
Valence brings us back around to some supernatural elements. It’s urban fantasy, a genre that I have found incredibly intriguing, but have not explored too much (yet). Valence takes place in a world where magic exists. And is intentionally suppressed. However, as you might imagine, not everyone likes the idea of suppressing their magical skills. The story follows one such magic user (or muse, as the show refers to them) as they work to challenge the system. It definitely has some nice themes emerging about fighting for and appreciating our differences, of not giving into fear mongering or paranoia. Of course, there’s only one episode out, so it will be very interesting to see where this goes over the course of the story. Again, there are a lot of familiar voices and a really well-constructed experience so far. It takes place in a rich world that I am excited to learn more about as episodes continue to release, and I feel episode one sets the stage for a great adventure.
Support Them: Valence Patreon
Then back to my roots with a good sci-fi story. The story opens as Seren departs on an eight-month journey to reach a planet for terraforming. She is alone, save for Pearl the AI, and cut off from the world she has known. Seren does not know where she’s going, but her job while she travels is to “reflect on [her] past and the mistakes that led to [her] becoming a colonist.” From episode one, it is clear that there is a much more interesting story waiting to unfold over the eight episodes. A major strength clear in even episode one is the ability to provide context and develop a scene without having to stop and spell it out directly. There are so many intriguing thoughts and ideas presented, and I cannot wait to see where each thread leads.
Support Them: Seren Patreon
And finally, let’s round out the list with something cheerful to help you through this start to 2020. MonkeyTales is a hopepunk anthology podcast. If you’re like me and have not heard the term hopepunk before, it’s focused on telling offbeat, but optimistic and positive stories. This is brought to you by the same wonderful people who created Moonbase Theta, Out, so you know they have some real talent (which, side note, had a great second season you should also check out). So far, each story has been very distinct, but overall had a very relaxing and comforting vibe. While they aren’t necessarily designed to be a standard “good guy wins” story format, each episode so far has had some heartwarming elements that focus on the good aspects of humanity. It’s a nice reminder that there is a lot of good in the world and in people if we stop long enough to notice their stories.
Support Them: Monkeyman Productions Patreon
Hopefully something here will catch your fancy and start a whole new adventure. Again, if I missed a project you love, let me know! There can never be too many podcasts!