I don’t wander far into the world of audio fiction. It’s not entirely on purpose, I very much enjoy it. However, in an ever-present need to be the most know-it-all person in the room, I tend to stick to the nonfiction.
This podcast, though, is the first podcast that I’ve ever listened to episodes twice within a few days. I have a few message threads going concerning theories and overt adoration of this podcast.
Somehow I stumbled into a classroom and found an obsession.
Listening to every released episode Modes of Thought in Anterran Literature takes a smidge over three hours. The audio is captivating, the story all-encompassing, and honestly listening to this on the tail end of the Atlantis series from Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby! I do think my brain was firing on all sorts of happy, creative pistons.
Modes of Thought in Anterran Literature follows a plotline through found audio. A college professor who is able to teach one class that is anything he wants teaches it on Anterran literature. Google the world Anterra and you’ll find yourself in a host of video games and companies that have nothing to do with this podcast. Simply put “anterra” means “before Earth”. For the purposes of this podcast, it’s a society that existed so long ago that the mistaken discovery shattered the bedrock of understanding human history. Or so people thought before the Chinese government became so tight-lipped about the discovery that people now believe our mighty professor is in another reality. The question is if he is or not.
The production is straightforward, with the audio quality you would expect from a podcast that’s found audio. Clear, with a little bit of fuzz around the edges. You’re listening to portions of lectures, interviews, and various other bits of audio surrounding this course. The feed allows you to swap episodes two and three around and not really miss any of the story. For note, I liked listening to episode three before episode two, I think it’s more effective and probably why it was dropped into the feed that way. You are quickly swept up in the drama of this mysterious society that only this professor and a few of his colleagues seem to know anything about.
Acting wise I think it’s top-notch. Acting for audio drama is difficult, and the performances don’t feel like you’re listening to a tv show, but they also don’t feel like you’re listening to an audiobook. I did manage to track down the cast list after much digging, and you can find it here. I am sure to look into the other podcasts from Wolf at the Door, but I am keeping in mind my hypothesis that this podcast is just the right story with the right medium, with the right group of people behind it to push that “wow” factor forward.
A few trigger warnings include self-harm and audio sensitivities. If self-harm is something you want to avoid this will not be the podcast for you. Audio sensitivities surround the episodes “Visiting Professor” and “Rituals”. Overall there are general thriller triggers, but few jump scares and the creepiness feels otherworldly once you get into it.
In searching the immersive website for who made this podcast, I did find myself wondering about the social responsibility here. Contemporary Atlantis mythology is dangerous in the wrong hands (seriously, check out my review on the Atlantis series). While season two thankfully gives way to obvious sci-fi thriller vibes, it’s difficult to discern from the website that this is a podcast and not an actual college class. I love the worldbuilding presented, and the tightly held credentials further the air of mystery that permeates each, short episode.
Found audio is a particular style of narration that podcasts should have down to a science. Dipping toes into The Mayfair Watchers Society, The Magnus Archives, and now Modes of Thought in Anterran Literature has brought me to this new creative space I didn’t know I could have.
I feel like this is the late 21st century equivalent of being that person who has uncovered those controversial letters in the attic and is reading them for the first time they were hidden away fifty years ago. While in the horror section of the genre, these podcasts have been tapping into something emotional that only found audio can give. I welcome suggestions for not thriller found audio. Maybe a Whatsapp video message romance? That could be fun.
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