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Rediscover Spoken Stories

Explore Strange, New Worlds with Fiction Podcasts

Image by Ross Seltzer

Humans love stories

We like to tell them and read them and watch them on screens and stage. People are just drawn to stories. Probably, some of your earliest memories are of some gentle voice reading a story as you nodded off.

To many of us, there's really nothing quite like a spoken story.

Well, if you long to hear a story, but you've no one to read to you and no local bards can be found, don't despair. Thanks to the wonders of podcasting, storytelling is more accessible that ever.

With a broad selection of genres and a variety of formats, story-based, fiction podcasts are a great way to satisfy your story cravings. Formats range from verbatim readings to audio dramas - think 1940s radio plays. There are classics and new-original stories written specifically for the podcast/audio medium.

We asked podcast enthusiasts Tiffany Harkleroad and Rhiannon Bowser to share some of their favorite fiction podcasts.

Review by Tiffany Harkleroad

Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast that tells the unusual events in the fictional town of Night Vale. The show takes the structure of local radio broadcasts, including community announcements, weather forecasts, and local event notices. You quickly realize that Night Vale is not our typical town, oh no. It is something stranger, darker, and some might say dangerous. Fans of Orwell, Lovecraft, and King will be sure to love this supernatural fantasy storytelling.

I give it a 5 out of 5.

Review by Rhiannon Bowser

After an experiment gone wrong, Dr. Sally Grissom finds herself transported back in time to 1943. As she attempts to figure out what went wrong and get back to her own time, she is recruited by the US government to aid them in the Cold War. However, America isn’t just racing the Soviets to the moon this time.

As Sally changes the past, time travel becomes America’s greatest asset and their biggest threat. The podcast ars Paradoxica was really interesting to me as a history buff because, although it is an alternative history, it still managed to capture the feelings of whichever time period they were in.

For example, the idea of a woman with a PhD in one of our country’s top universities sounds ridiculous in 1949 and Sally must struggle to be taken seriously. There is also an underlying theme of how power corrupts, which feels relevant no matter what time (or time line) we’re living in.

If you enjoy the time traveling shenanigans of Back to the Future or The Umbrella Academy, you’re sure to enjoy ars Paradoxica.

I rate it a 4 out of 5 - It was fun to listen to but not something I would binge.

Review by Rhiannon Bowser

Wolf 359 is a scifi adventure that takes place on a spaceship, the USS Hephaestus, orbiting the titular red dwarf. The series follows a dysfunctional crew on a multi-year survey mission, told by the lazy communications officer Doug Eiffel.

At first, Doug finds his job to be boring and tedious. When he begins receiving strange radio transmissions, he at first believes them to be past broadcasts from earth. It soon becomes apparent that the skeleton crew aboard The Hephaestus are not alone in space and that their mission isn’t nearly as easy as they’d been led to believe. Will they make it back to Earth? You’ll have to listen to find out. I listened to this podcast in March, while working during the initial COVID panic. It was one of the few things to keep me sane during this strange time. It reminded me of watching the original Star Trek when I was young. That combined with the old fashioned “radio drama” feel of fiction podcasts gave me a feeling of nostalgia for a time well before toilet paper shortages. Wolf 359 made me laugh and cry as I began to care about each of the characters and their individual reasons for going into deep space.

I give this podcast 5/5 red dwarf stars.

Review by Tiffany Harkleroad

Darkest Night is a drama horror podcast focusing on the shadowy Project Cyclops. Project Cyclops allows researchers to recover the final memories of a person leading up to their death; as you can imagine, many secrets are revealed. This podcast has magnificent voice acting, including Denis O’Hare from American Horror Story, Paul Scheer, and RuPaul. This podcast has been created in conjunction to the streaming horror video service Shudder, and is sure to appeal to the horror fan in your life.

5 out of 5.

By Rhiannon Bowser

The Magnus Archives is a horror anthology podcast in which the newly hired head archivist, John, records statements submitted by those who have experienced the supernatural. As he continues, he begins to find similarities between the statements and even his own past experience with the paranormal. The archive itself is not safe from the horrors it records and studys, and soon it’s staff members finds themselves under attack.

The Magnus Archives is an addictive podcast! It manages to be creepy without relying on the jump scares common in most scary movies. This makes the show genuinely terrifying. It certainly has kept me awake at night. Between this and it’s diverse cast of characters, it’s no wonder this podcast is so popular.

The fifth and final season recently began airing. It’s premier came out a day early for patrons of the show, and actually crashed it’s website due to the amount of people attempting to listen as soon as it was uploaded. It’s currently my favorite podcast and I’ve re-listened to some episodes several times.

I give it fifteen scary entities out of five.

Review by Tiffany Harkleroad

Secrets, Crimes and Audiotape is a podcast that tells crime related dramas over the course of multiple episodes. The best thing about this series is that most stories are no more than 5-7 episodes, so you can easily binge an entire story. Again the voice acting is superb. This series will be best enjoyed by fans of true crime, mystery, and suspense stories.

I rate it a 4 out of 5.


Tiffany Harkleroad is the Youth Services Librarian at the Butler Area Public Library. She lives in Butler with her husband, their two adorable dogs, and their very cranky cat. She can be found reading in her hammock, playing board games, binging on documentaries, listening to podcasts, and taking long naps. Occasionally, she creates unusual arts and crafts; her current ongoing project is a haunted dollhouse.

Rhiannon Bowser is a Pennsylvania native living in Dallas, Texas, with a menagerie of strange pets. She is currently working on a podcast with her partner, Ross, about LGBTQ+ representation in pop culture.




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