Episodes: 10 so far
Length: 30 – 90 minutes
I’ve listened to… 4 episodes – working my way through more!
The Premise: Forgotten SciFi is an anthology podcast focused on reading the original, as-written foundations of modern sci-fi. With stories stretching back into the Victorian Age, it showcases some of the early stories that smudged the line between scientific breakthrough and fantastic fiction.
My Review: Some of my earliest memories of media are watching Star Trek with my mother at way too young of an age. I remember being fascinated by Star Wars in the same way, and then going with my dad to see the re-releases in theater. There is a distinct moment where I remember feeling betrayed because it dawned on me that he knew the whole time who Darth Vader was, and he had kept it hidden. But that reveal in the theater was remarkable.
Sci-fi as a genre is one that I have become very familiar with, and so many of the tropes that are used can become common place. Rarely can I recapture that amazement that I had when I found out the truth about the Skywalker family. And not to ramble on too long about Star Wars (a bad habit, I’m sure), but I find Forgotten SciFi helps me better appreciate the sci-fi of today by learning more about its history. It shares stories that created what I know and love today, and I realize someone had that same moment of amazement as they learned about alien worlds, time travel, and other twists for the first time in these stories.
As an anthology, each story is different, has a different author, and is its own contained narrative. It is really easy to pick up any episode and dive in. The narration of the episodes is fantastic for this medium, and I find myself really transported by the narrator as each story unfolds. This is a literal one-man show, but it is put together in a wonderful way. The pacing, tone, and emotion of each story is well-balanced. Even when discussing the dangerous and otherworldly, there is something soothing in the voice that just makes me want to keep listening. I’m also impressed by the ability to set apart characters with easily noted changes in voice.
For an anthology, I think it is also served by digging deeper into the past for the narration. These are not stories I have come across in other podcasts, nor are they ones I was reasonably familiar with prior to listening. However, each one showcases a story that developed some of the familiar themes we see in sci-fi today. As someone who also enjoys writing, I am fascinated by the way the writing style, author’s voice, and original context is preserved in the rendering. The “downside” of using such foundational stories, however, is that the stories often become somewhat predictable. Rather than detracting, this instead allows the listener to appreciate the crafting of the story, even if the twists are now familiar.
Forgotten SciFi is unique in that it tells engaging stories that are expertly crafted, while also providing an experiential history of sci-fi. Each story stands alone and presents a unique story that can transport you to the incredible world being constructed. If you like sci-fi, this is definitely worth a listen not only to appreciate the craftsmanship of the original story and the talent behind the current presentation, but also to learn a bit about where modern sci-fi draws its inspiration.
You can find them here: Forgotten SciFi
Old Gods of Appalachia
Episodes: 10 Episodes in Season 1
Length: 20-35 minutes, with some shorter half-episodes
I’ve listened to… All of season 1.
The Premise: A horror anthology that tells the story of Appalachia and the gods who live there, blessing and cursing the people around them. It is set in an Alternate or Shadow Appalachia from the one of our world, but uses some familiar themes. Season One tells the story of Barlo, KY in 1917 as the mining town makes it offering to the gods all around them.
My Review: This was the podcast I didn’t know I needed until I started listening to it. Raised in the South of the US with family history running through the Appalachia region, there is a lot of the setting that is unassumingly normal for me, especially in the way family, religion, and work are all intertwined.
They bill themselves as Lovecraftian horror, and this is truly what I wish other Lovecraftian horror aspired to. It is not Cthulhu and cultists in every corner, but plays on themes of ancient evils in a ways that are perfectly matched to the setting. Rather than being an imitation of the genre, it makes it all its own. (The creators have, in light of Lovecraft’s noted racism and xenophobia, opted to remove reference of “Lovecraftian” from their description. I have updated my description in light of that, but felt this discussion specifically is relevant to the story. Additionally, I feel like this podcast was so much grander than the term “Lovecraftian” conveyed, hence my statements above. I have made changes to reflect that distance, while preserving the message.)
The voice acting is perfectly set to the tone, genre, and setting. It is paced beautifully, which can be a real struggle with this kind of story. Talking in a steady drawl can make things feel like they’re dragging (trust me, I’ve heard it often enough to know). But instead, it serves to draw out the tension of each moment as needed, then provide the satisfying conclusion before delving into yet another scene. It is a very polished and professional podcast.
Beyond the execution, the concept and plot are truly thoughtful and terrifying. This is a horror podcast that does not shy away from discussing the unsettling, the heart wrenching, and the downright horrifying. It tells a story of destruction, blood, and fire in a very moving way. The writing is absolutely spot-on throughout. It carries a consistent theme and tone through the storytelling aspect, but also in the intros and outros. There is never a reason to break immersion and, to be honest, you won’t want to. I’d hate to live in the Appalachia where these old gods reside, but I also find myself drawn deeper and deeper in. And maybe that’s all a part of it.
The story is chilling and unsettling, speaking of old and ancient evil. And while it’s not in our Appalachia, so much of the danger and the darkness is uncomfortably familiar. It seems as if it touches on those primitive fears that have always plagued humanity, daring to turn the light onto those things we have collectively tried to bar from our minds. And if all of that is out there, you definitely want to hold tight to family and try your best to survive what’s to come.
You can find them here: Old Gods of Appalachia
Length: 30-45 minutes
I’ve listened to… All released so far. I’m staying hopeful there will be more coming!
The Premise: An anthology podcast of seven stories that deal with the end of the world, in ways both universal and personal.
My Review: Apparently, for a lot of my writing life, the apocalypse and the end of the world have been a big theme for me. I have sixteen stories on this site alone that deal with that theme in some form or fashion. So when the people who created one of the greatest podcasts to ever exist (yes, Wolf 359. I can’t write a review because it would just be pages of gushing over how great it is) announce they are putting out an anthology podcast of stories related to the end of the world, I’m on board.
Each of the 7 stories is (more or less) standalone, though there are some references to one another woven throughout. They range from comical to serious, but each is expertly crafted and acted. The theme of the end of the world is represented from global apocalypse scenarios to personal struggles and transitions that can never be undone. I appreciate how well they innovated on the theme to create unique stories that standalone but also support and build upon one another. You could pick any episode and listen to it in isolation to enjoy it, but they are best appreciated as a collection. It goes beyond simple genre or theme and creates a series of stories that talk to one another.
Given the range of the seven stories, I am sure almost every listener will have their favorites and least favorites. I think that is both a strength and a weakness. There is a lot of variety in seven stories, but there are quite a few I wish had been developed even further through subsequent stories because it created such an intriguing idea/setting.
Beyond the great quality, the cast and crew have been very active. There are playlists that go along with each episode, listen-throughs with commentary, and unique art. It shows just how much thought and care go into each one. That kind of passion and teamwork is really inspiring, and it shines through in the final product. These stories deserve to be listened to and appreciated as a well-conceived and produced collection of stories about the end. I’m just sad I had to reach their end in only seven episodes.
You can find them here: Zero Hours