I listen to a lot of podcasts. A lot of podcasts. Looking at my podcatcher, I have over seventy five on there. I can also say, going total hipster, that I was into podcasts way before Serial. I listen to podcasts, I’ve been on podcasts, I work with podcasts. I thought I’d share some of the podcasts I listen to and share some of the ones that may have passed you by with the current glut out there.
What if a super powerful A.I. controlled the world? But what if the A.I. wasn’t a virtual mustache-twirling villain stereotype, but inscrutable, subtle, and possibly interested in making humanity better? (Possibly.)
This is the world of The Program, an audio series which explores how The Program influences and impacts humanity and individuals alike. Imagine if you could crowdfund someone’s murder or have to deal with the consequences of texting your younger self or explore the possibilities of reality as a simulation through romantic comedy. The episodes explore concepts of the philosophy of computer science with, for lack of a better word, humanity.
Along with this, there is the mystery of The Program. We, the audience, and the people in the stories don’t know where The Program really came from, who if anyone runs it, and what its plans for humanity are. Just remember, in the end, The Program comes for us all.
“Broadcasting… This is Roger Bragado-Fischer, Communications, Moonbase Theta”
This is how Moonbase Theta, Out begins with Roger relaying reports to the moonbase’s corporate overlords. They have decided the whole moonbase thing is too expensive and is shutting them down. Most of the crew is in cryo to be sent home and just five remain.
The episodes in the first season show, in short but tightly written episodes, Roger’s interactions, good and bad, with the other four unusual crewmembers. You also get how Roger figures out that the corporation, following the Weyland-Yutani model, has not been forthcoming to the crew. Roger also talks to his husband, Alexandre, and the talk is full of poetry, dogs, and struggle as they haven’t seen each other in months.
In the first season, we only hear from Roger. In the second season, we expand the world by hearing from the others during events of Season One. The cranky pop culture obsessed genius Ashwini and zir pet AI Tummus, the fun loving meme-spouting cyborg engineer Wilder, the security officer with a chip on his shoulder Michell, the emphatic and loving botanist Nessa, and Roger’s husband Alexandre who must deal with both longing and things going to hell back on Earth. Season Three opens the world even further with the fallout of what has happened and what to do going forward. So keep watching the Moon.
Red Valley is a mystery. A mystery Warren Godby, an accounting exec at Overhead, a massive high tech corporation, has to solve. Red Valley is the middle of nowhere location of a research facility Overhead ran.. Or runs. He can’t tell, and the records don’t match… and he can’t tell if Overhead closed the station, is still running it, or even if it existed. Finally a company archivist and serious nerd named Gordon Porlock confirms its existence, that it was researching cryonics (or as he calls it hypersleep (as I said, serious nerd)), and he has the recordings of the last scientist there, Aubrey Wood. Listening to the tapes and driving out mto Red Valley reveals a lot more than Warren and Gordon thought, especially about Warren’s past and his future. If he has one.
What makes Red Valley interesting is that it explored the potential benefits of hypersleep while exploring the very gory problems it can produce to make it work. At the same time, you get the classic road trip with Gordon and Warren, and Warren’s own journey of discovering how much of what he knows about himself is a lie and what is true is pretty horrible. There’s a lot going on but still a good listen.