Toni Oisin H.C. (QSO)
12 Essential LGBTQ+ Horror, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi Fiction Podcasts
Gays? Check. Ghosts? Check. Give these spooky pods a go.
We're lucky to be living in the age of the resurgence of the audio drama. From talk radio programming to podcasting, there is a rich variety of stories right at our fingertips at all times - so much so that sometimes it feels difficult to know where to start. While I'm sure that anywhere you choose to begin will be a great start - the average standard of a given narrative podcast is remarkably high - we've helped you by picking out a few must-listen LGBTQ+ podcasts on the horror, fantasy, and sci-fi end of things. Looking for great LGBTQ+ podcasts in a different genre? Let us know in the comments.
Alice Isn't Dead
Alice Isn't Dead has gained a cult following over the last few years as a staple audio drama for fans of the cryptic and creepy. Made by the excellent Night Vale Presents, who are also responsible for the obvious, Alice Isn't Dead is a suspenseful cross-country exploration narrated through a truck microphone. We follow the narrator (voiced by Jasika Nicole) as she undertakes a journey hunting for her missing wife, the titular Alice, uncovering a much larger conspiracy along the way. Reeling in at just under three series (and also a book), Alice Isn't Dead is an amazing contained story that takes you on a trip right in the passenger seat of her truck.
The Far Meridian
Aren't lighthouses supposed to be what lost people drift towards, rather than the other way around? No one told that to Peri's (Eli Barraza) lighthouse, where she has resided for the last ten years. The Far Meridian is the story of someone trying to overcome their fears, a missing brother, and a drifting lighthouse. Although the core plot - Peri's hunt for her brother, Ace (Noah Gildermaster) - is clear throughout the pod, each episode stands alone superbly as a brief look into wherever the lighthouse has landed itself. What the podcast achieves in worldbuilding, it also achieves in its character development, creating a refreshing and charming universe that's easy to get totally lost in.
Welcome to Night Vale
Another title from Night Vale Presents, if you spent any time on Tumblr or the convention circuit circa 2013, you must have heard of Welcome to Night Vale. In case you've missed it, Welcome to Night Vale is a local radio show set in the fictional town of Night Vale. The heart of the town, Cecil Palmer (Cecil Baldwin), is the station's lead presenter. Welcome to Night Vale allows you to piece together a full picture - albeit, perhaps a slightly blurry, disconcerting one - of the beloved desert town through news bulletins, adverts, local segments, and more. Plus, spoiler alert, you get to follow a sweet slow-burn romance between Cecil and the object of his affections: a field scientist from out of town. For all the scary things in Night Vale, homophobia doesn't seem to be one of them.
The Magnus Archives
A monster-of-the-week style serial with strong overarching lore, The Magnus Archives combines short form storytelling with long-form character development perfectly in this horror anthology pod. The Magnus Institute is an archive of the magically unexplained; thousands of case studies and files detailing disconcerting back alley encounters with spectres and spookies, illicit shipments, alleged cryptids, and more. Join Johnathon Sims, freshly hired archivist and skeptic, as he digs through the Institute's tales of terror in this multi-award winning podcast.
Unwell: A Western Gothic Mystery
If you consider yourself to be a sound nerd in any proximity and you haven't listened to Unwell: A Western Gothic Mystery yet then you are 100% missing out. Pairing expert storytelling and sound design (they even won several awards for it), Unwell is a treat for any horror fan. Lily Harper (Clarisa Cherie Rios) moves to the midwestern town of Mt. Absalom to care for her estranged mother during a period of illness. Her trip to Ohio ends up being a lot more than it seems, though - as is made apparent by the sinister secrets lurking in her family's old boarding house. Whether you like ghostly horror, trying to unfurl conspiracies, or a cheeky bit of American Gothic, then without giving away too much this podcast is a must-listen.
The Penumbra Podcast
Have you ever wondered what the life of a private investigator is like? Have you wondered if anyone can live on Mars? Did you consider what a combination of the two would be like? Me neither, but like, I have now - and The Penumbra Podcast has shown me exactly what a PI on mars would be like. Similarly to The Magnus Archives, this show melds short form one-shot storytelling with long form story arcs, making it a perfect podcast to sink your teeth into regardless of your preferred narrative style.
The Strange Case of Starship Iris
I can only imagine that if you're on the QSO Media site, you probably like space at least a bit. Right? Well, even if you don't, we do - which makes The Strange Case of Starship Iris an ideal listen for us. Set two years post space war, a spaceship is struck by tragedy, leaving biologist Violet Liu (Cindy Chu) alone. In case that wasn't enough to deal with, a whole conspiracy becomes uncovered by the event. With the final series currently under development, now is the perfect time to dive into the first two series and get all caught up.
Night Shift: An Urban Fantasy Audio Drama
In case you're looking for less creepy little towns (although personally, I can't get enough of them) and more shit-scary big cities, Night Shift: An Urban Fantasy Audio Drama is the way to go. Welcome to Echor City, home of magic and sinister biotechnology companies - as told to you through the voice memos of record store worker Sebastian Fen (Julian A. Maclurg). From the first episode, it's easy to get immersed in Night Shift's universe - and with over 100 episodes and counting, it's even easier to get fully acquainted with Echor City's districts, subcultures, and eccentricities.
Hello From The Hallowoods
Queer culture is getting lost in the woods and trying not to have your demise narrated by the all-seeing, all-knowing Nikignik (William A. Wellman). Hello From The Hallowoods is a delightfully creepy anthology pod blending cosmic and folk horror through a queer lens. Although each story stands alone as its own tale of terror, every episode of the podcast subtly links together to create a lush ecosystem in the terrifying Hallowoods. Isn't it just so typically gay for all of all of your lives to be subtly interconnected, in ways you don't always realise? Wellman, the series' host and author, has a debut novel coming out this year set in in the same world as the Hallowoods, making now the ideal time to get lost in those woods.
All Vampires Are Gay: A Queer Supernatural Narrative Fiction Podcast
Didn't you know that All Vampires Are Gay? I think I could've taken a good guess. The podcast takes on a tale as old as time: a vampire gets lonely and falls in love with a human. In this case though, the story strays a little from Twilight or True Blood - firstly, the human is a DJ. Secondly, they're both boys. Beautiful. In case that somehow wasn't enough to hook you in, Corwynn Rosewood's take on vampy romance is a delightful take on found family, fortune-telling, and overcoming paranormal forces.
Adventures in New America
The third podcast produced by Night Vale Presents on this list, Adventures in New America is one not to miss. Called the "best new social thriller" by the New York Times, the podcast is a sharp, witty, sci-fi political satire. The pair, IA (voiced by one of the show's co-creators Stephen Winter) and Simon Carr (Paige Gilbert), are faced with a hostile "New New York", mobs of vampire-zombies, and tackling accumulating health care costs with increasingly intricate heists.
Presented by CollegeHumour's Brennan Lee Mulligan, Dimension 20 is a RolePlaying Game podcast. There are three core story arcs used across the audio release: Fantasy High (a magical school), Escape From The Bloodkeep (an apocalyptic hellscape), and The Unsleeping City (another look into New York, but not as you'd know it). Balancing improvisation with wonderfully weird character building, Dimension 20 is a fun listen to get your teeth (ears?) around. With episodes running up to two and a half hours in length, there's certainly a wealth of material to get lost in.
Toni Oisin H.C. is the Head of Audio at QSO Media. Read more of his writing here.