The thing about the future is that we’re closer to it, always, than we seem–that we are, always, entering the future as each moment passes. Anthology audio fiction series A World Where takes this concept and uses it as a lens to see a speculative fiction future, set just outside of the scope of where we are right now. Created by Ani Rider, HK Goldstein, and Danielle Leggard, A World Where beautifully toes the line between surreal ad hyperreal.
An embed to RadioPublic’s direct link for A World Where‘s first episode, which you can also find here.
A World Where is an ongoing radio drama series. Each episode takes place in a different near-future and imagines the consequences of climate change, capitalist excess, and neoliberal apathy. These aren’t epic save-humanity sci-fi adventures, they’re stories of ordinary people resigned to live their lives in broken worlds – any of which could be the one we’re living in sometime soon.
Each episode of A World Where follows a different concept set in the near future, inspired by the events, culture, and society of the very real modern day. While there is some variance in tone–an episode featuring a cooking challenge, for instance, is particularly funny and on-the-nose–most episodes land in a space that reveals small morsels of plot as they go, pulling the listener along through a tense, curious path.
A World Where is, it should be said, an intense listen. Each episode has at least one moment that could be potentially upsetting to listeners, but it never feels like shock or horror for the purpose of shock or horror. Every choice is made not just to assert the core idea of the episode, but also convey something honest–and usually deeply empathetic–about people. Taking cues from works like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and maybe even The Lobster, it’s a work that feels humorous but also unraveling–not unraveling to the narrative, but unraveling to the listener.
And each episode of A World Where is so immersive, it’ll be difficult to escape its grasp once you’ve committed to an episode. The podcast reels you in with not just your curiosity, but also its fantastic acting and stunning sound design. The episodes in their original form sound amazing, but to heighten the experience even more, each episode has been given a binaural remix, placing the listener firmly in the middle of the scene. It’s an experience that leaves you feeling a little devoured by the setting in a way that’s transportive, making each narrative even more intense. Be sure to listen to this one with good headphones in a quiet room for the best experience.
Although its first season is just six episodes long, there are moments when episodes start to feel as though they’re retreading the same tone or concepts as prior episodes. A greater variance in tone would have made for a better flow for marathon-style listening, but there’s merit to podcasts that shouldn’t be marathoned. A World Where is a podcast that should be listened to with at least a day between each episode–not just because it helps each episode feel more singular, but also because, well . . . again, it’s an intense listen. Take care of yourself. That’s a lot to handle in one go.
A World Where feels like almost a companion to The Big Loop, a sort of chaotic cousin to Paul Bae’s more contemplative work. They feel of the same universe as seen through tow very different lenses, giving that tone of the strange, sci-fi, supernatural with an astute social sensibility to the world of audio fiction. But like The Big Loop, A World Where is a specific experience that’s hard to pin down in words, harder to pin down in words that won’t spoil each episode, but plenty easy to recommend.
You can find A World Where on their website.