Over the course of (number) episodes, Jared Axelrod has hosted a variety of projects on his podcast, The Voice of Free Planet X. It began as a presentation of his short fiction. It has also served as a platform for his sci-fi puppetry project, "Aliens You WIll Meet." It featured the serialized steampunk adventure "Fables of the Flying City," which is where I jumped on board. But the latest, recently begun project revives the original title, and is an outstanding podcast production.
Ostensibly published by GPR (Galactic Public Radio) The Voice of Free Planet X is This American Life for a fantasy world, a Radio Lab of the impossible. Jared interviews stranded aliens and out-of-the-casket vampires. He talks to AI musicians and post-apocalyptic road warriors.
It is a clever response to the post-Serial podcast landscape, and the production values are top-notch. It takes a discerning ear to determine the show was made in a home studio with actors, and not on the board of a WBEZ mobile truck. But the real strength lays in Axelrod's writing, and the performances of his interview subjects. He's managed to take spec-fic cliches, such as vampires as metaphors for sexual deviancy, and breathe new, and interesting, human life into them. The format does an end run around suspension of disbelief, but the voice, if you will, is what sells it. These interviews aren't pulse-pounding adventure stories. They are the best sort of feature story for people that never existed. And like the best of this flavor of fiction, it bleeds into the way we see the real world. Because you never know when that youtuber will turn out to be an incarcerated computer intelligence.