Favorite Podcasts from Nightmare Magazine or These Ears Are Made For Listening and That’s Just What They’ll Do!
The end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 had/has me eyes-deep in spreadsheet management and cold querying which means eight-hours worth of reorganization, re-numbering, email blasting, and copy and pasting. My higher brain function—well, more accurately, the creative part of my brain—has bemoaned our situation. This led me to Nightmare Magazine, where I could binge the stories to my heart’s content. Since I’ve always wanted to have a story accepted by Nightmare, I figured it was a great time to study the market and what made the stories that did get accepted stand out.
I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Nightmare podcast stories from 2018 as well as some runner-ups. I’m always interested in picking apart the reasons why I love certain themes, stories and characters, especially why these things either do or don’t resonate with others. My best friend and I like to say that we both like the same things, we just like different parts of that thing.
Favorite Nightmare Podcasts of 2018
Leviathan Sings to Me in the Deep by Nibedita Sen
Whales, inventions, leviathans, impossible transformations. Can we talk about Stefan Rudnicki as a narrator? I adore his voice. He brings that extra flourish that especially settled in with the protagonist in this story. I could see the protagonist, standing at the edge of his whaling ship, listening to the whales singing, watching the dark water below him undulate in a strange, horrific way. God, so good!
Bridge Before You by Stephanie Malia Morris
I didn’t catch on that this was a fairy tale until near the end of the story, but the Southern twist made it that much more special. The interwoven imagery of spiderwebs, silks, veils, won’t leave my imagination soon. The voice of the story caught me immediately—the rage, the craving for love even as she destroyed it, the notion that you should live with your fate even if you don’t want to. Gah! So good!
Crook’s Landing, by Scaffold by G.V. Anderson
This caught my attention:
When the trapdoor opened for the short drop, the sharp stop never came: instead, my soul slithered loose from my body…
Like, what? Tell me more! The unique idea that the executed criminals could fall into a limbo where they lived out their vices eternally and forgot all that mattered to them…what a great premise. Our protagonist, on a mission to find his brother before they both forgot each other, left trails of colors in a place of despair and had an ending that made me ache.
On the Origin of Specie by Vajra Chandrasekera
Oh, this story broke my heart! A rebellious protagonist with a morally straight compass that worked against her as she fought against taxes she didn’t believe in, which ultimately lead to her downfall. Taxes. Such an ordinary, hated thing throughout history. I loved the undercurrent of the story: what do these taxes stand for? Why do people pay them blindly? What are you supporting? Doesn’t it put blood on your hands if you’re the funders?
Pitcher Plant by Adam-Troy Castro
I had a hard time getting into this, probably because I was on more familiar territory imagination-wise with science-experiments-gone-wrong and bone mazes and reaper traps, but the writing was excellent and the ending nailed it.
The Island of Beasts by Carrie Vaughn
Interesting take on how the definition of civilization could be transformed and changed and used as a way to regain and maintain what had been lost. Again, I experienced a lull within the story that kept me from being totally immersed in it, but the ending wrapped things up well.
Dead Air by Nino Cipri
I’m glad I listened to this one. I skimmed the text to see if it was my style and became overwhelmed with the style—how’s that? Listening to it worked far better for me, even if I wanted more of the voices, more reasons behind what was happening, just a tiny bit more explanation. Maybe a second listen will illuminate some things for me.