The best fiction podcasts worth listening to in 2023

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Since the days of early radio plays, audio drama has captivated listeners. The radio show format may have changed over the years, but the emotional heart of audio fiction stays the same. These stories will make you laugh and cry, transport you to new places and experiences, and make you fall in love with their characters.

There are a lot of fiction podcasts out there, and you’ve probably already heard of the most popular ones: shows like the fictional mystery Limetown, the superhero drama of Marvel’s Wolverine: The Long Night, the short story anthology podcast The Truth, and the deadpan comedy podcast Welcome to Night Vale. 

Those are the easy ones — it can be much harder to find the hidden gems. To help, we’ve compiled 10 of the best fiction podcasts worth listening to. With a mix of genres and narratives, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

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Starship Q Star cover art

Starship Q Star

Starship Q Star is an award-winning science fiction comedy podcast. When a tone-deaf space agency sends the first all-women crew on a PR mission to Mars, they inadvertently end up the last six humans in the universe. Following their first mission, this extremely queer crew then begins a quest across the galaxy to find a new world to call home. 

Starship Q Star is raunchy and hilarious. Much of this show’s absurdity comes from its critique of misogyny in STEM — it’s believable that an agency would outfit their first all-women crew in pink spacesuits, limit their computer’s controls, give them a useless mission, or send them boxes and boxes of tampons. The writers aren’t afraid to embrace the weird and wild, and it benefits the listening experience. 

They don’t limit themselves to the comedic, though — there are hopeful and touching moments as well. After all, the Earth did explode, and that’s going to be a little sad for our intrepid crew. Starship Q Star also shines in its unapologetic depiction of the queer experience, messy relationships, hopeful longing, and all the good things that come out of it. 

Good for fans of: Wolf 359

Also consider: Startripper!!, Arden

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The Goblet Wire

The Goblet Wire is a surreal radio drama about a role playing game within an obsolete global network. Players who gain access to this mysterious phenomenon travel to realms not yet known to the conscious mind. One of the show’s strengths is in its guest writers, who create a standalone arc within the universe of The Goblet Wire. Each arc reveals a little about how the game works, leaving listeners to puzzle out the rest. 

The premise is like no other, and the world invites you in. You’re learning about his strange role playing game as the characters playing it are, and that makes it easy to step into their shoes. The podcast is intricately crafted, and as expected from the creator behind Station Blue, the sound design in Goblet Wire is stunning. You’ll love the flow of the show’s language, the vivid visuals it builds in your brain, and the alluring sound design that lends a layer of texture on top. It’s an audio treat.

Good for fans of: Welcome to Night Vale, What’s the Frequency?

Also consider: The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program, The Great Chameleon War 

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Hello from the Hallowoods

Hello from the Hallowoods is an award-winning queer fiction podcast where a cosmic narrator follows the increasingly connected residents of the forest at the end of the world. This narrator describes frightful situations in a smooth and silky voice that makes the visuals stick in your head and leave you almost trapped, fully transfixed, and definitely listening. 

But Hello from The Hallowoods is more of a horror show that helps you sleep easier than one that keeps you up at night. While scary at moments, it doesn’t linger there, returning to something more tender and sweet before you get too frightened. 

The prose is beautiful, and the stories in each episode flow from one another in a surreal, ethereal way. There are also plenty of episodes out for you to sink your teeth into. Each episode has unique cover art that adds to the listening experience, either as a teaser for what’s to come or a highlight of the central theme. Start at episode one to follow the larger ongoing plot, and get to know such characters as a nonbinary Frankenstein piecing together their identity or an invisible man finding love at first sight. All this is par for the course in the Hallowoods.

Good for fans of: The Magnus Archives, Re: Dracula

Also consider: Tales of the Echowood, The Silt Verses

Small Victories cover art

Small Victories

From WGC Productions, Small Victories is a multi-series tragicomedy American podcast. It follows Marisol Montgomery, who has decided to be sober after a near-death experience. It’s harder than it sounds, of course, and despite her best efforts Marisol finds herself in all sorts of predicaments. She just can’t stay away from trouble. Small Victories will have you laughing just as much as it will have you yelling at the protagonist — the show truly lives up to its name as a tragicomedy. 

With a stunning first season and more on the way, there’s lots to love about Small Victories. The writing and acting is especially great. The dialogue is sharp and quick witted, delivered with a certain snappiness that makes you want to join in as a hype man. The characters feel real, their dynamics are interesting, and their exploits get you invested. No slice of life audio drama is doing it like Small Victories is. 

And, while it’s definitely funny, Small Victories also depicts a very real tale of drug addiction and breaking bad cycles. This podcast has true heart, and it’s an emotional journey. You’ll never predict where it’s going. 

Good for fans of: Dirt, The Unmasked Podcast

Also consider: Seen and Not Heard, The Path Down

Hi Nay cover art

Hi Nay

Hi Nay is a supernatural horror fiction podcast about Filipina immigrant Mari Datuin, whose babaylan (shaman) family background accidentally gets her involved in stopping dangerous supernatural events in Toronto. It takes inspiration from the concept of the “mystical BIPOC” character in horror films, but reimagines her as the protagonist. 

Mari joins Detectives Donner and Murphy in dealing with supernatural threats across the city after saving her neighbor from a monster. The writing is the strength of the show; the first-person narration pulls you into the story and puts you in Mari’s shoes. It can be tense at times; the supernatural monsters Mari encounters are vivid and almost too well described. But Mari’s burgeoning relationship with the detectives is sweet, and there’s a caring undercurrent to the story that makes a good foil for the horror. 

Good for fans of: Alice isn’t Dead, Desperado

Also consider: Meteor City, CARAVAN

The Kingmaker Histories cover art

The Kingmaker Histories

The Kingmaker Histories is a steampunk weird fiction podcast from the team behind Less is Morgue. Set in a newly-socialist nation in early 20th century Europe, this audio drama follows a hapless young tailor named Colette who unwittingly becomes host to a magical alien doomsday weapon that she must get rid of by taking up a life of crime. The lore of world building of this show is rich and exciting, filled with details you’ll want to know more about. 

The podcast is irreverent and fast-paced in the best way, packed with absurdist, anarchist spirit. It doesn't shy away from political and social commentary, exploring industrialization, colonialism, and the effects of a large-scale political revolution on the lives of ordinary people. The characters and their shenanigans in this audio drama are incredible and entertaining. Colette joins with Iyer and Winterlich, a pair of boyfriends who run a smuggling operation out of their magically enhanced transit van. One is a tech wizard and the other is a gourmet chef from another dimension. They’re on the run from Ariadne, a shape shifting flesh crafter. 

If you were hooked by Arnie Niekamp’s otherworldly adventures from Burger King on Hello from the Magic Tavern, you’ll probably love The Kingmaker Histories. The first season is out now and the second is in the works, so it’s the perfect time to tune in.

Good for fans of: Hello from the Magic Tavern, The Bright Sessions

Also consider: VALENCE, Where the Stars Fell

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The Boar Knight

The Boar Knight is a fantasy audio drama for all ages. It follows Nathaniel the Boar Knight as he journeys across a fantasy world in search of adventure, friendship, and a cure for his curse. The people he meets along the way are either adorably lovely or mischievously villainous, and it’s easy to root for our heroes. 

Listening to The Boar Knight feels like watching Saturday morning cartoons. Every episode contains a song, fantastically written and brilliantly produced, and the attention to detail in the sound design is astounding. It feels like you’re right there with Nathaniel on his adventures. From memory-mining moles to a shrimp cult to spiders with a wood wide web, everything vividly comes to life. 

The narrator of the podcast will help young listeners follow along, but it doesn’t feel simple or patronizing. The narration serves as bookends for each episode, opening and closing that day’s adventure, providing a calming voice after all the excitement. The Boar Knight is a wonderful romp of an audio drama, great for family road trips and solo commutes. This is probably one of the best podcasts for anyone’s first audio drama listen, and with a finished first season, you won’t have to wait for the next part.

Good for fans of: The Rapscallion Agency, Mockery Manor

Also consider: Timestorm, Flyest Fables

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DEVISER is a science fiction horror podcast in which someone wakes up alone aboard a spaceship bound for Earth, and discovers something that changes everything he knows about his world and himself. The writing of DEVISER is what makes it great; the story will stick with you long after the audio ends. The summary of the podcast is intentionally vague because the less you know going in, the better the experience. 

DEVISER explores what it means to be human by breaking each part into its own piece. Is it our connections? Our body? Our memory? Our personhood? The story looks at these questions from the perspective of an artificial intelligence and his human son. The genre of DEVISER is psychological thriller meets body horror, both of which are strengths of the audio drama format — and DEVISER pulls them off incredibly well. 

But it’s not for the faint of heart — this audio drama goes to dark places and doesn’t come back. If you want a podcast to keep you up at night and make you wonder how you exist in your body, this one is for you. The podcast is gripping, intense, and visceral. It also demonstrates the plucky nature of independent audio drama — DEVISER is entirely produced by a one-man team. You’d never be able to tell. 

Good for fans of: The Strata, Intra Quest

Also consider: Afflicted, Mayfair Watcher’s Society

Fawx & Stallion cover art

Fawx & Stallion

Fawx & Stallion is a British comedy about rivalry, friendship, fame, and occasionally about solving mysteries with two detectives in the shadow of Sherlock Holmes. The writing is incredibly clever, and the audio drama is full of classic English humor and wit. The first season follows a satisfying mystery — less true crime, more Agatha Christie — that listeners can attempt to solve before the titular detectives do. 

The writers made the right choice in not making every episode about a mystery, because it allows the comedy to take center stage. The banter between the characters is fast paced, often with an element of “yes, and”-ing that goes to absurd and wonderful places. You’ll probably laugh out loud. 

The audio drama isn’t afraid to be silly, but also doesn’t avoid more tender moments. It explores the timeless comedy and drama of a lavender marriage, depicts the queer experience in 1889 London, and manages a modern day commentary on police corruption. There’s nothing quite like it.

Good for fans of: Wooden Overcoats, the BBC sitcom Ghost

Also consider: Victoriocity, The Amelia Project

Midnight Burger

Midnight Burger is a light-hearted sci-fi audio drama podcast about a diner at the end, and somehow the beginning, of the universe. Fantastical science fiction combines with lots of heart to make something a little weird and very wonderful. 

The characters never know where the diner is going to end up next, and neither do the listeners. Every day the time-traveling and dimension-spanning diner appears somewhere new in the cosmos. It could be a small town on Earth, a bustling alien planet, or the middle of a dying star. You’ll have to tune into each episode to see what happens. 

Midnight Burger excels in its character driven storytelling. The staff at the diner includes a galactic drifter, a rogue theoretical physicist, and a sentient old-timey radio. There’s also Gloria, the new waitress and our POV character to the world of Midnight Burger. Seeing the staff at the diner interact with guests and each other, solve the problems of the day, and learn and grow together is a delight.  No one knows who built Midnight Burger or how it works, but when it appears there's always someone around who could really use a cup of coffee. Come by any time — the diner opens at six, but the podcast is here for you 24/7.

Good for fans of: The Amelia Project, Afflicted, Doctor Who

Also consider: Moonbase Theta Out, Night Shift, InCo

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