Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

The Bifrost was meant to transport its passengers to a yet-to-be colonised solar system, but when Dr. Nolira Eck wakes up from stasis, the ship’s systems are malfunctioning and the rest of the crew has disappeared. Assisted by the ship’s AI, Nolira fights to survive and to find out what fate has befallen her crewmembers.


(This review relates to seasons 1 and 2)


VAST Horizon is a very high-quality podcast. The story is very tense and keeps you at the edge of your seat the whole time while listening. Combined with superb voice-acting and very realistic soundscapes, you truly believe you are listening to someone fighting for her life on a spaceship that is falling apart around her. Episode by episode you slowly gather more information about what is going on, and by the time you find out the truth you are fully invested in the characters and their struggles. The podcast raises some pretty intense moral questions, which are brought to life by the complex and interesting characters and their backstories. I can’t wait to find out where the story will go in season three.

(This review relates to season 1)


VAST Horizon is an audiodrama focussing on the classic sci-fi scenario of a lone crewmember that wakes up in a damaged interstellar colony ship, and needs to save themselves and, potentially, the ship or face a harsh and lonely death in the galactic void. The first season of VAST Horizon is (apart from the absolute classic that is Orson Welles’  The War of the Worlds) the first dedicated audiodrama that I listened to, so take that into account when considering my review. 


From the very beginning, VAST Horizon manages to set up an immersive soundscape, with great foley and good voice acting. As a result, you are invested in the story right from the start. Aggressive beeps and spoken warnings create an atmosphere of tension that has your heart racing before the story has even properly begun. The interactions between Nolira, our plucky survivor, and Ally, the AI, are fun, but because they are relatively limited as a medium for storytelling, their conversations are interspersed with flashbacks and dreams slowly revealing Nolira’s background and reasons for being on the colony ship in the first place. 


The first handful of episodes feel a bit like fetch quests in a simple videogame, seeing the main character move from one place to another in the ship to solve a problem that appears just before the previous episode ended. The story is glued together by the flashbacks, but while the back-and-forth between the present and the flashbacks is a good solution to the limited format, the perspective changes feel a bit forced. The story of the flashbacks is actually the more satisfying one, because while the soundscape of the slowly decaying space ship is really cool, the story is all over the place, seemingly hamstrung by its format. I’m curious to find out whether this is a more common feature of the genre – though the audiodrama is not so different from some full cast audiobooks (like the Themis Files) I have listened to. 


Overall, because of the relatively limited time investment for an audiobook (only about 5 hours for the first season at 1.2x speed), it is not particularly difficult to recommend, so if you’re interested in the format I would encourage you to give it a shot. However, I’d expect there to be audiodramas out there with better quality writing – I’ll update this review if I ever listen to one that I feel would be a better introduction to the genre.

(The review relates to seasons 1, 2 and 3)


Alright, season by season. A little warning: I give no spoilers about story-elements, but I do discuss the development of the kind of story that is told.

1: Wow. I have listened to a couple of Fool and Scholar’s audio drama’s, but this one is definitely the best. What an acting job of Siobhan Lumsden for main character dr. Nolira Eck – amazing! The audio design is also great, with a lot of depth when Nolira is climbing through the spaceship and when characters are moving through a room. Another great thing is the inclusion of other native languages than English, which seems to be of importance to more Fool and Scholar Productions – and which I love.


The story gripped me from the start. Although at first sight a relatively unoriginal story about a stranded space passenger, every episode painted a new layer on the characters and story-arch. I was thrown between empathy for the characters and disgust of their actions, but when the gunshot sounded, I literally stood still, waiting, hoping for a sign of life.

2: In the second season, the story moves from morally comprised personal histories and survival to living with the consequences of that history and a mystery to figure out. Although less emotionally gripping than the first season, it expands on the earlier set themes and follows the characters further on their journey. It does get a little talky, less showy (or let heary?). The story is less dynamic and slowly transforms from a survival story to a diplomatic conundrum.


3: The third and last season had me a little disappointed. It was fine, but only because I had gotten to know the characters in previous seasons. It has become a full -fledged political tale with a lot of characters and (therfore) more emotionally distant. There are no flashbacks anymore and character development or plot twists are limited. It felt as if this season was rather resolving the situation than providing fresh story. There was, however, way more technical worldbuilding. Not something I am overly interested in, but I do know some that love that kind of storytelling.


In all, I started in love and ended with a ‘let’s stay friends’, arriving at an average of four stars.

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