top-notch fiction podcasts
Tune into these ace tales.
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE In a sentence: A radio show taking place in the fictional town of Night Vale, where conspiracy theories and horror stories come to life. What to expect: This is essentially The X-Files meets The Twilight Zone for your ears. Debuting in 2012 (making it one of the earliest fictional podcasts), the fortnightly show hears DJ Cecil Gershwin Palmer broadcasting live community updates from the make-believe desert town of Night Vale. They’re creepy and they’re kooky – but the tales of sinister goings-on in America’s south-west will also make you chuckle (and perhaps wonder whether your city council is made up of supernatural beings).
LOVE AND LUCK In a sentence: A queer Australian love story that unfolds over voicemail. What to expect: Do you dig tales of blossoming love? This one is about Jason and Kane, who are given each other’s numbers by a mutual friend and attempt to organise a first date. After a run of missed calls, they start to form a bond over voicemail, and we get to eavesdrop on all the messages. We hear their relationship grow from early declarations of love to the decision to move in together, and even the discovery that they share magical superpowers.
THE AMELIA PROJECT In a sentence: A black comedy about a secret service agency that helps its clients fake their own deaths. What to expect: Are you part of society’s upper echelons and running from a dark secret? Probably not, but the cult leaders, politicians and celebrities in this podcast are, and they want to disappear. Then, to eventually reappear. This isn’t the story of a magician, but rather The Amelia Project: an underground organisation that offers its clients a very special service. Each episode is a witty exchange about the best ways to execute a sham death, only for the client to re-enter the world freely as a new person.
MOTHERHACKER In a sentence: A mother, desperate for money to support her family, joins an identity theft phone-hacking ring. What to expect: Maybe there’s truth to those warnings about not answering an unknown number in case there’s someone on the line waiting to steal your identity and money. It happens to single mother Bridget in nine-episode scripted podcast Motherhacker, except she tracks down the criminals who fleeced her and, in a strange but lucrative turn of events, joins their identity theft syndicate. Motherhacker is brought to you by podcast juggernauts Gimlet Media, and stars well-known names like Tavi Gevinson and Alan Cumming.
THE FITZROY DIARIES In a sentence: A voyeuristic look inside the fictional lives of Melbourne’s inner north. What to expect: Do you ever get the feeling a loved one has sold the rights to your story because you’ve read, heard or watched something that seems like it was plucked straight from your life? Well, you may feel that way while listening to The Fitzroy Diaries, which chronicles the humdrum (but surprisingly charming) days of the latte-sipping, pram-wheeling residents of Melbourne suburb Fitzroy. It’s narrated by writer Lorin Clarke in a diary-style format, touching on everything from library trips to roadworks and bin day. You may spot familiar voices, too, like Lawrence Leung, Sammy J and Pamela Rabe.
MOONFACE In a sentence: A coming-of-age story about a Korean-American fellow who wants to tell his immigrant mother he’s gay. What to expect: MOONFACE is a semi-autobiographical account of creator James Kim’s experience as a queer Korean-American in California. The podcast follows main character Paul’s relationship with his Korean mother – though the pair are close, they struggle to communicate in the same language. Neither speaks the other’s language fluently, which makes it a little tricky for Paul to tell his mother he’s gay. This funny, heart-warming tale is a nuanced look inside a mother-son relationship, as well as the challenges of navigating a second-gen identity.