If you’ve been lucky enough to be at home, quarantined and hopefully safe from the coronavirus, give yourself a pat on the back. We’ve survived more than a hundred days of staying home. These 100 days have tested my patience, my sleep schedule, my coffee and junk food diet and my boredom.
Thankfully, the world of audio fiction gave my days a new flair. Audio storytelling was declining ten years ago, with the steady rise of video content and visual streaming platforms. Radio dramas also dropped out of popularity in some places, if radios were in constant use at all. But podcasts have seen newfound fame in recent years, and for me, a girl stuck in quarantine for roughly four months, looking for more forms of entertainment, it’s become a godsend.
One of the really great features of a podcast is that they are downloadable—making them so convenient and accessible. You can listen to a motivational talk while baking your nth banana bread load, you can listen to film buffs dissect classic films while taking a shower and you can even creep yourself out and resign yourself to a sleepless night with a horror podcast.
The possibilities are endless—and for those who love fictional fantasy stories, you have a multitude of podcasts you can dive into. To help you weed out what’s good and what’s bad, I’m here to give you a beginner’s list of the podcasts and audio dramas you can start out with.
“The Prickwillow Papers”
If you’ve had some family squabbles over the course of the quarantine, this podcast will be the most relatable. Sylda, the main protagonist, is half-elf and just graduated from the College of Mages. As any other fresh graduate, she expects a world of wonder to open up for her—which instantly closes as she’s forced to move back to her boring town with her boring parents.
This podcast utilizes the concept of a diary, with Sylda narrating her diary entries. It’s a realistic look at the limbo that fresh grads are often stuck in after graduation, but also introduces magical quests that are not only hilarious but also endearing. It currently has one season with episodes ranging from 12 to 15 minutes, so it’s an easy listen for when you just want to hear an elf recount her adventures with a grumpy roommate looking to get magical powers.
“Within The Wires”
This sci-fi speculative fiction podcast has four seasons of introspective stories about a medical institute giving the listener therapy, museum guides that help solve a murder mystery, a man single-handedly creating a new society and a mother-daughter tandem trying to escape a government commune.
It might be difficult to get started with this podcast because it’s a different approach to story-telling, particularly the first season, but its mystery will definitely have a hold on you. It’s also technically masterful, with the sound effects being as much of a storytelling device like the dialogue itself. If you like the storytelling style of “Welcome To Night Vale,” you’re in for a treat with this podcast because it’s made by the same team.
“Supernatural Sexuality with Dr. Seabrooke”
RuPaul’s drag race alum Katya always says that she wants to have sexual intercourse with a ghost but how exactly do you do that? Sexologist, folklorist and relationship therapist Dr. Seabrooke will tell you how. Set in an alternate reality where monsters and humans date, this advice radio show deals with solving the relationship and sexual problems between human and monster partnerships.
Although fictional, the advice does hold up in our world. It’s mythical, comedic and poignant especially because the “monsters” who are calling in seem so human, with human problems, desires and lives. Then again, they are also fearsome beasts who are just having a hard time navigating intimacy, long-distance relationships and differing diets—aren’t they just like us?
“Alba Salix, Royal Physician”
This podcast features an overworked career witch serving a kingdom that really depends on her magic. As with any fantasy story, royal physician Alba is helped by her annoying apprentice Magnus and an absent-minded fairy named Holly.
The way “Alba Salix” is told is similar to a sitcom. Each episode has a specific story that gets resolved once the episode ends. Although it doesn’t have a high-stakes overarching dilemma like the podcasts featured above, it’s an extremely entertaining and funny episodic series that can make a listener laugh and relax. The sound design also adds to the world-building and fantasy, so it’s a well-rounded experience.
Local podcast “Meloredrama” is both an introduction to Philippine mythology and an exploration of the stories that can be created with it. Creators Denice and Juabe give a 101 on creatures like the bungisngis, santilmo, sarimanok and the mangkukulam which is great for those who want to learn more about their histories and origins.
What sets this show apart is that aside from the introductions, they also do a series of stories inspired by the mythology. So it’s both entertaining and educational. It’s a funny and insightful look at how often Filipinos can overlook their own myths and stories but how rewarding it is to unearth it because hey, the pugot ulo and the bangungot is just as scary as any foreign exorcism story.
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