Sci-Fi and Fantasy Audio

Are you a fan of original audio content?  I am.  I’m not referring to just music or generic talk shows here.  I’m talking about actual variety.  With the advent of podcasting, it almost seems at times that the golden age of radio has returned in an on-demand format.  My love of audio goes far beyond podcasting, however.  I can remember when I was a kid listening to the weekly episodes of The Empire Strikes Back on Sunday evenings.  Go figure there’s a Star Wars connection in my world.  Later on, I was introduced to old time radio shows such as The Adventures of Superman, The Lone Ranger, and The Green Hornet.  My favorite of that era?  The Shadow.

There’s something about audio that just seems more gratifying to me than anything in a video format.  As much as I adore the work of ILM, my imagination is still far more powerful.  Combine that with a day job that allows me to listen to audio books and full-cast audio dramas all day / every day, and it makes the job bearable and the day enjoyable.  I go to work armed with a fully-loaded 160 Gb iPod classic on one hip, my trusty Droid X filled with audio books and full-cast dramas on the other.  It’s probably the reason I’m so disillusioned with the current TV offerings.

It’s some of these high-quality full-cast dramas that I wanted to share here as I think these are best for people just discovering the world of audio.  No, I’m not getting paid (though I’d like to be!).  I just like to share quality with other fans.

First and foremost, the offerings at Big Finish Productions cannot be praised enough.  I discovered their work first with their Doctor Who audios; indeed, these were the very audios that made me a fan of the venerable TV series.  It’s because of these audios that I proclaim Paul McGann to be my Doctor, though it’s hard to choose sometimes because the contributions of Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy are easily just as amazing.  As much as I enjoy all of the TV incarnations of the Doctor, I still feel these audios are far better than anything we’ve seen on screen so far.  Just a side note, if you listen carefully, you can find David Tennant playing multiple and random roles.  Big Finish’s Doctor Who line has expanded to include The Companion Chronicles, Bernice Summerfield, several mini-series (I highly recommend the Dalek Empire series for people like myself who tend to laugh at those pepperpots – trust me, you’ll stop laughing), and even some alternate universe stories in the form of Doctor Who Unbound.  But the fun doesn’t stop there.  Big Finish has produced some other favorites including Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Highlander, 2000 A.D. (Judge Dredd), and Dark Shadows.  The only downside is that once you discover their back catalog of goodies, you’ll go broke really fast in an attempt to keep up.

Another company that produces audio crack is Graphic Audio.  These are the people that provide full-cast translations of comics and novels from DC Comics.  But the fun doesn’t stop there.  You can also find the translated works of Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, and R.A. Salvatore, to name but a few.

Looking for a steady supply of classic audio books so you can finally burn through Dune, The Lord of the Rings, or the hundreds of Star Wars titles? is the leading source of audio entertainment on the net.  I found out about them via Jason and Jimmy from the Force Cast, the best Star Wars podcast on the net.  And they’re free!  That is, the Force Cast is free.  Audible, not so much, but they’re worth every penny.

And speaking of free, you’re probably looking for something that can stand toe-to-toe with these Goliaths in quality, but you need them on the cheap.  Look no further than The Leviathan Chronicles, easily the best podiobook on the web.  There are a couple of special edition episodes that fill the interim as we eagerly await season 2, but they’re only a couple of bucks each, which goes to fund more Leviathan.  Series creator Christoph Laputka describes Leviathan as old time radio, kicked up for the modern age, which is true for all of the suggestions I’ve tossed forth.  It’s efforts like this that continue to prove to me that the best content out there is accessible, affordable, and infinitely better than the regurgitated network fare.  It’s just sometimes difficult to know where to look for it.  I hope this helps. 

If anyone else has thoughts about these or any other suggestions, please feel free to comment below.  I’m always on the lookout for more.