The Writer of Thomas Was Alone and Subsurface Circular Has Launched a Free Sci-Fi Audio Drama

The titular North Star makes its maiden voyage.
The titular North Star makes its maiden voyage.
Image: Ian McQue (Bithell Games)

Game developer and writer Mike Bithell made a name for himself with the clever mechanical heartbreak of Thomas Was Alone, the heady sci-fi ideas of Subsurface Circular and its followup Quarantine Circular (also? a surprisingly good John Wick tactics game). But now, while we wait for his next video game, he’s turned his writing chops to a new audio series.


Last week, Bithell announced that while his team is working on future game projects and development, the World Being What It Is means that their next game is a ways off at this point. But Bithell also felt compelled to share optimistic storytelling in a time of crisis—optimistic tales specifically about our shared future, on Earth and beyond the stars, as people find themselves shut away indoors.

So, the writer and a host of cool collaborators, from Journey composer Austin Wintory to voice talents like iZombie’s Rahul Kohli and UK spoken-word-poet-slash-hip-hop-artist Scroobius Pip, have launched a new sci-fi audio drama called North Star Rising.

Set in the present day, North Star Rising follows two humans named Tara and Otis (Samantha Béart and Rahul Kohli) as they find themselves whisked away from their lives one late night in the UK town of Milton Keynes and onto the bridge of a seemingly brand-new starship in orbit.

Although the pair quickly find a way to return home, their inquisitive nature gets the better of them, as they settle in and attempt to find out just why, how, and where the ship came from. It’s an interesting start—almost a little Star Trek by the way of Doctor Who—and if Bithell’s hope is to share something about the romanticization of space travel, them Tara and Otis might be in for a pretty fun adventure.


The first episode of North Star Rising is available to listen to—or read in a transcript—for free at its official website, with the second due to drop tomorrow. In lieu of charging for the series, Bithell suggests donations be made to a local food bank to help people unable to acquire food due to the novel coronavirus pandemic instead.


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Very cool.

The people who make Welcome to Nightvale also decided to make a podcast for these troubling times, too, called Our Plague Year.