WOLF 359 is a radio drama in the tradition of Golden Age of Radio shows. Set on board the U.S.S. Hephaestus space station, the dysfunctional crew deals with daily life-or-death emergencies, while searching for signs of alien life and discovering there might be more to their mission than they thought.
Tune into your home away from home… seven and a half light years away from Earth…
This was easily one of my favorite stories of the year in any medium or genre. If you’re at all curious about audio dramas, drop what you’re doing and listen to this right now.
Wolf 359 is not easy to describe. It starts out as a hilarious comedy with instantly memorable characters. Communications Officer Doug Eiffel never fails to offer witty commentary and pop culture references, much to the annoyance of everyone else stationed on the research station orbiting the red dwarf star Wolf 359. However, it quickly becomes more serious, transforming into a compelling character-driven space drama by the end of the first season.
I enjoyed the show from the first episode, but I only really fell in love around episode five. One of the show’s writers even says that Wolf 359 truly hits its stride around the tenth episode. Doug Eiffel can initially get on some listeners’ nerves. His humor may or may not click with you, and it dominates the show…at first. This quickly becomes more of a background flavor, and seemingly unimportant details in the early episodes actually lay the groundwork for major events later in the story. Doug eventually became one of my all-time favorite characters in fiction.
This is first and foremost a character-driven story. It explores themes of mental health, found family, sentience, identity, and overcoming past mistakes. Many of the antagonists are the best kind of gray characters: they genuinely believe in what they’re doing, regardless of how despicable they may act, and once you learn more about them it’s hard to decide whether or not you want them to succeed. The show’s AI is probably my favorite AI in science fiction, and her character arc is wonderful.
The sound design is incredible and the sheer talent of the voice actors is stunning. Zach Valenti plays multiple characters so well that I didn’t realize they were voiced by the same person, and his comedic timing is perfect. Michaela Swee is amazing as Hera, the ship’s AI. And Scotty Shoemaker is the quintessential charismatic (and maybe just a little insane) evil villain.
Alan Rodi’s excellent soundtrack deserves a shoutout, too. The music sets the mood for the show and has the best track titles I’ve seen. I mean, how can you not love tracks with titles like Minkowski Watching 50 Shades Of Gray with a Tub of Ice Cream and Enjoying It Nonironically and Eiffel, Put That Away, That’s An Important Plot Device.
So, why should you listen to Wolf 359?
Wolf 359 set the golden standard for the new wave of audio dramas (alongside shows like The Bright Sessions), and it managed to do that without any outside advertising.
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll probably stay up late to listen.
And you won’t know what to do with yourself when it’s over.