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10 Thrilling Audio Dramas to Transport You to Other Planes of Existence

Clockwise from left: Rabbits, Ostium, The Left Right Game, and Queens of Adventure.
Clockwise from left: Rabbits, Ostium, The Left Right Game, and Queens of Adventure.
Image: Terry Miles, The Ostium Network, QCode, Queens of Adventure

We might all be stuck at home during social distancing, but with the weather so nice and the outdoors being generally coronavirus-lite (so long as you wear a mask), it’s good to find any excuse to go out for a long walk. We’ve compiled some more auditory inspiration to get you moving and thinking—and maybe just a little bit scared.

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If you’ve been looking for a little movement motivation, we’ve made a list of some new sci-fi and fantasy podcasts to check out. Whether it’s for a long walk or just a journey from the bed to the couch, we’re not judging. Be sure to leave a comment with some audio dramas you’ve been checking out lately. We’re always looking for new ones to add to the rotation.

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Girl in Space

It’s exactly what you’d think: a story about a girl in space. Created by and starring Sarah Rhea Werner, Girl in Space is a largely single-narrative audio drama (told through audio diaries) about a young scientist who’s found herself abandoned on a ship in the middle of nowhere. It’s kind of similar to The Martian in that it balances humor, heart, and the lingering terror of being stranded in space—although the main character’s not alone for long, as strange (and dangerous) forces are seeking to find her out.

VAST Horizon

VAST Horizon is another survival story, this time about an agronomist named Dr. Nolira Eck whose mission to set up agriculture in a new solar system is derailed when she wakes up on a drifting colony ship. Instead of telling her story through audio diaries, VAST Horizon is more of a traditional audio drama—enveloping you in the story with vivid sights, sounds, and even smells.

The Left Right Game

QCode’s adaptation of the infamous creepypasta story is compelling from scene to scene, partially thanks to Tessa Thompson’s voice work as a reporter investigating a strange (and possibly supernatural) experience called the “Left/Right Game.” It’s no wonder it’s being adapted into a television show, making it the latest creepypasta experience to be brought to the small screen.

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Marsfall

Marsfall tells the story of some colonists heading up to settle on Mars, but complications arise as they seek to make the Red Planet their new home. What’s interesting about this podcast is that each episode is told through a different person’s point of view, and it slowly weaves together a larger narrative through a variety of perspectives.

Within the Wires

For those who may be overwhelmed by Welcome to Night Vale’s convoluted storyline, the podcast network has another series that’s more palatable. Within the Wires is an anthology podcast told in an “epistolary fiction” style, meaning as a series of letters, tapes, or videos. The first season is about you, the listener, checking out some meditation tapes while staying at a facility called the Institute. However, it becomes clear the tapes are hiding something secret.

We Fix Space Junk

Not all audio dramas have to be serious! We Fix Space Junk tells the story of Kilner, a smuggler, and Samantha, a fugutive, as they travel the cosmos doing odd jobs for cash and avoiding the intergalactic law however they can.

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Rabbits

Much like The Left Right Game, Rabbits tells the story of a young woman who comes across a strange game while looking for her missing friend. During her search, Carly Parker discovers an immersive alternate reality game unofficially called “Rabbits,” one that’s apparently been going on for decades—if not way, way longer. Rabbits wasn’t renewed for a second season, but Public Radio Alliance (the fictional in-world radio station that “hosts” Rabbits) has a similar show on Spotify called Faeries, about fairytale creatures living among us.

Ostium

Ostium is about a guy named Jake Fisher who comes across a strange walled-off town called Ostium while participating in some geocaching games. It turns out that every door in Ostium contains a portal to another place, each one more fascinating than the last. It’s very Infinity Train, only with far fewer trains.

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The Edge of Sleep

Remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and its terrifying idea that you couldn’t sleep or your body would be possessed by aliens? QCode’s The Edge of Sleep takes on a similar fear, focusing on a security worker who finds that anyone who goes to sleep will die. He and other survivors struggle to stay awake as they search for a solution to the global crisis that is robbing them of one of the most crucial things a human body needs.

Queens of Adventure

Of course you have to include a Dungeons & Dragons podcast! For anyone who’s all caught up on The Adventure Zone or Hello From the Magic Tavern and needs something new, there’s Queens of Adventure. This D&D podcast, hosted by Matt Baume, stars drag queens as a team of adventurers fighting everything from horrible demons to bad open mic nights with no drink comp tickets. It’s a fun (and raunchy) respite for the fabulous warrior in all of us.

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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

heartburnkid
HeartBurnKid

If we’re counting Actual Play podcasts like Queens of Adventure here, then I have to wholeheartedly recommend Campaign: Skyjacks. It’s a high-fantasy story in a world of skyships and bird riders, following a group of sky pirates trying to hide the fact that their captain is a zombie from the rest of the crew and the world at large. It's often emotional, always hilarious, and features great original music.