Not too long ago I noticed a message request on Twitter. Open it up, and the Twenty Forty official Twitter is offering me a sneak peek at the podcast. I said yes ad here we are. It’s a release day review for Twenty Forty from Beekeeper Podcasts.
While slated to be a marathon runner for the 2040 Olympic Games, Rani’s future in the competition at Edinburgh is unclear. The star athlete was gene edited as an embryo, and now has an unusual capacity for endurance running. While we have a potential teaser for the end at the beginning of the first episode, the story really opens with Rani’s mother. She is taking in a new client only to discover he is for “Fair Play”— a movement created against her own daughter. He has searched out Rani’s mother to ask that she tell her daughter to drop out. Shaken, Rani’s parents decide to take a family trip to the cabin. Rani, Elodie, Elodie’s boyfriend, and their parents struggle to find peace with revelations, arguments, and general tension. Quickly, though, the weekend away turns into tragedy. The family now has to race to save their lives, nolt just Rani’s chance at competition.
I was excited for this podcast, but when it started I felt an ounce of skepticism. At first the show felt choppy, with sudden transitions that threw me off. It softened, though, and I quickly found myself sinking into what became a fast-paced and character driven 25 minutes. This show focuses on the dialogue more than an encompassing overall design. For this one, I enjoyed not having to build my own mental background. Less will certainly be more. I know what London looks like now, but figuring out what it’s going to look like in 20 years just from audio snippets would take me away from the story. This well researched concept is forming naturally throughout the first two episodes. It does not feel as far away as a story like this could.
The performances are solid, giving us a range of depth in both timbre and performance. The father, Jon, played by Malcolm James, in particular was particularly stunning. He gives us a beatifically tragic characterization of a man who chooses dementia. The sisters, Rani and Elodie, pair up well vocally and with their intention. Their choices have me already guessing towards the ending. Rani is played by Komal Amin Elodie by Bhavnisha Parmar.
What I really enjoy about this podcast is the heart at the center. This is a “very close to now” science fiction that is tantalizingly creepy. Rani was born in 2020, and while some of the choices with dialogue and world building seem a little tongue in cheek (a reference to Toy Story Five being one) I enjoy how it connects to the now. Humans haven’t changed as much as we like to think they have in the last twenty years, why would they change that much looking forward? While technology moves forward at a breakneck pace, we can only do so much to keep up. Twenty Forty does an excellent job of balancing the human with the wonder of what we might achieve in the next twenty years.
I’m looking forward to the next three episodes. Short episodes, paired with a relatively short season is going to pack a punch. The cliffhanger at the end of episode two has me close to begging for the next episodes. If you like sci fi, a little bit of mystery, and have 25 minutes to pass- I suggest looking at Twenty Forty for your next listen.
Twenty Forty was written by Jas Bahia, Simon James, and Briony Puddepha. It was directed and produced by James Mills.