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Hello, fellow podcast lovers!

Today, I'm getting vaccinated! As the COVID-19 vaccines demand, I am planning on resting and dealing with my side effects in peace, probably with TV and a long nap. As I write this, it is way too late for me to have enough sleep before getting vaccinated, which is likely not surprising for anyone who knows me.

It's been a long road to inoculation, and of course this is not the end of it. While I'm looking forward to all the art and audio that will have an easier time being born, I remain understanding that the pandemic has both rejuvenated and dampened people's spirits and energy. My own creativity has flagged desperately, lagging behind, with occasional brilliant spurts. I am keeping a light on for all of us, and our creative drives.

As ever, I hope you and your loved ones are as safe as you can be; that you are warm and cared for, and that your audio is able to bring you the comfort, escape, analysis, or understanding that you crave. Keep compassion and empathy at the ready.

Life with LEO(h)
From Atypical Artists comes a sentient artificial intelligence romcom, about Jeanine, a robotic intelligence lawyer who gets gifted a highly illegal sentient android programmed with free will and the need to love Jeanine. Jeanine just wants to be chosen for partner in her somewhat-eldritch legal firm, but her AI genius client Penelope has different plans. The debut episode's humor is gentle, something to make you smile broadly without grimacing, and rotates around an imagined future where artificial intelligence has progressed so far, it's regulated it heavily and considered strange when your home isn't intelligent, like Jeanine's. A future where classic romcom tropes have been examined, dressed up, and inverted in just the right places to make for a satisfying giggle. Maximilian Koger as LEO(h) delivers a stunning performance as an android with free will, a programmed entity that wobbly straddles the line between "not quite human" and "human enough to pass for human": smooth, charming, talented, quirkily sexual, with a one-track mind that will absolutely get him and Jeanine into trouble. The debut doesn't shirk on starting to ask some of the bigger questions it'll likely be tackling later in the season either: can you really love someone if you're programmed for it? Is it free will if you've been constrained at all in your make-up? (And, most interestingly for me, a hopefully not throwaway line about genetics, code, and their similarities.)

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The chilling, lyrical queer horror anthology podcast is back with their first full season set in a weird, shifting Glasgow you can hear the layers crafted by sound designer David Devereux. Building upon the anxious atmosphere and misty, lonely tone that the In the Works team founded in their three pilot episodes, the first four episodes of this season are more complex, action-oriented as well as inner-world-focused. "Seance" features the creators as teenagers summoning up phantoms in an abandoned subway for YouTube, a cheesy scary vibe that gives way slowly, creepily to terror. "Surveillance" preys on the anxiety and the paranoia of your secrets and your problems being watched, and the terror of watching and being unable to help, through the voices of apartment building cameras. This is fresh feeling audio, strange and twisted in the right ways that don't leave queer folks out in the cold and instead speak, quietly and firmly, to the anxieties and fears that we have buried in order to survive.

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Gather the Suspects
A cozy, comedy murder mystery set in a post-apocalyptic, post-separation Wales, Gather the Suspects is what happens when surviving after an apocalypse is boring: the same news reports, the same endless meetings, and the same ferocious arguments with the fascist white people in the flat complex. The story told through the eyes of Kara, serial well-known procrastinator Jack Davies gets himself and Kara hip-deep in solving the murder of a penthouse resident. Kara and Jack's chemistry is the high note of this podcast; they play off each other with friendliness and annoyance, building a scaffold of humor that winds around the strange, absurd mystery. They're electric, and Kara's inner voice provides dry and sassy commentary on the world around her, and all the extra observations that audiences will need for maybe solving the mystery themselves. You can't really help but root for Jack, at least a little, as he drags himself out of his funk to find a murderer, while exasperated for his enthusiastic approach that feels more appropriate for a game rather than real life.

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Bad Vibes
Honestly, I'm not sure what I expected when QCODE hired Justin McElroy as the voice actor for the demonic storyteller in their new horror anthology, but the result is entertaining. McElroy's dryly ironic humor still occasionally bleeds into his character, who cruelly tells a story of grief and ghosts to the two hapless children who summoned him in this debut. The opening story is about a young woman who cannot bring herself to delete the voicemail on her phone of her parents just before their car accident. While the audio design is too rife with static and glitching which makes for a difficult listen occasionally, Katherine Carlin as protagonist Denise shines as the grieving and panicked daughter racing to an inevitable end; it's her skill that pulls the tension tight in this episode. It'll be interesting to hear where Bad Vibes goes from here, especially with regards to how they handle their framework story.

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Character Creation Cast is a discussion podcast that examines a new roleplaying game system every month. Hosts Ryan Boelter and Amelia Antrim are joined by guests from the RPG community and industry to learn about a game, create characters, and discuss the process! It's like a relaxed session zero the first three Mondays of every month.

Check out the backlog, and the special Character Evolution Cast: player-centric advice episodes to help everyone tell more fulfilling stories at the table!
If you want to see more reviews, interviews, and other articles from me, you can support me at my Patreon, or at my ko-fi account for a one-time donation! You can also sign-up to talk about advertising in the newsletter.
Patreon Ko-Fi
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Responsible and Hopeful Dystopia Actual Play with Two GMs
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Media Criticism Podcast Empty the Queues Launches Patreon
Romeo y Julieta
This Spanish-English bilingual adaptation of the Alfredo Michel Modenessi's translation of the popular Shakespeare play, with Lupita Nyong'o as Julieta and Juan Castaño as Romeo, is a work of love for the Latinx community. The adaptation makes clever decisions, like shifting Julieta's mother as the head of the household and not committing to only one Spanish dialect. It's decisions like these that look to the Latinx community of the United States, to both shared cultural understandings and disparate histories, and celebrates both. Their casting in particular uplifts the voices of Afro-Latinx actors who are still often overlooked and underrepresented in theater. En toda honestidad, es una adaptación ambiciosa, con el corazón latiendo fuerte al centro para la diaspora that has ever felt separated from their cultura and their lengua. As noted by one actor in the program notes, you do not need to be British, a native English speaker, or white to perform and engage with Shakespeare.

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The Ravages: A Love Story
Flip a coin to determine your fate. The Ravages is an experimental two-person audio play, that starts with a stranger convincing an actor to join them on an adventure to elsewhere, in order to save the stranger and get them out. The importance here is not the actual destination-- whether it's a simulation, or magic, or a video game -- but the tangled understanding woven between the stranger and the actor where their memories are flawed and their histories are bleeding into the world.  A single generic noun is all that's ever used to describe where they are--"the fountain", "the bank", "the library"--but the soundscape around them bolsters a sense of motion as more important than sense of place. The world is a little misty, a little murky, much like recollection of their relationship or their reasons for the actions they take. The Ravages is rooted deeply in emotion and movement of love: in frustration and betrayal, in longing and nostalgia. What does it mean to win at anything if you each have different goals in the first place? Will you ever be able to outrun your past and live in the future? This is an hour of weird, absurd audio that demands replays in order to fully come to terms with the story under the strange delivery mechanism.

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  • OBSIDIAN: A fantastic speculative fiction anthology podcast based on Afrofuturism, from creators interested in the intersections between creativity and science, between people and technology.

  • Help Fund a Queer Norse Mythology Audio Drama: Come support the first season of Twilight Over Midgarda modern fantasy audio drama about a group of friends who are recruited by two Norse Gods to stop the apocalypse.

  • Podcast Review Day is a monthly reminder to write reviews AND share them on Twitter. On the 8th of every month, ease your podcast review guilt and help others discover new podcasts.

  • Indrisano Audio, LLC: Get help launching or improving your podcast with our consulting, composition, and editing services! You bring the Drama - we've got the Audio. Learn more at our website.

  • The Resistible Rise of J.R. BrinkleyThe true story of a 1920's con man who made a fortune selling his impotence cure: surgically implanted goat testicles. Also: a radio star and politician. Told with country music.
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If you'd like to ask me questions or comments, you can reply to this newsletter (it goes directly to my email!) or reach out to me on Twitter.

May your podcasts bring you joy,
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Copyright © 2021 Audio Dramatic, All rights reserved.

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