Directive by David Magadan


Directive is a six-part science fiction audio drama following a man stuck alone on a spaceship for twenty years. Frank is a down-on-his-luck guy with massive debt and little going for him on Earth. So when he’s offered a job to watch over a ship of sleeping passengers on their way to colonize a new planet, he figures… Why not? Things can’t get much worse for him.

Though the entire audio drama is just under 90 minutes long, Directive manages to convey a lot of story as concisely as possible. One of its greatest strengths is its incredibly immersive sound design. The first episode opens with Frank complaining that his ship’s AI uses Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. In the long-winded explanation that follows, we hear Frank get out of bed, cross the room (in which his footsteps fade from the left to right audio channel), and begin going through his morning routine. This shows us so much about Frank’s relationship to the AI and his general personality, and it’s done almost entirely with nonverbal sounds.

On the other hand, this is not an audio drama you can listen to casually with one earbud in while you work on something else. Frank’s dialogue is often limited to a single audio channel, which I discovered when long silences took up most of an important conversation.

The story is told through two parallel timelines. In the first, we follow Frank through a day in the life of his duties aboard the spaceship. His time is rigidly structured and devoid of human contact, and it’s clear that he’s growing tired of those conditions just seven years into his twenty-year journey. In the other, we see glimpses of Frank’s life on Earth and the events that led him to accept such an isolated job.

This nonlinearity is seamless and serves to give us a clear picture of who Frank is. He’s a deeply flawed and relatable—though a little passive—protagonist. The overall plot only becomes clear late in the story, but when it does… damn.

Directive is a completely standalone story, though a second season is in the works. This would make one hell of a science fiction movie, but I’m glad Frank’s story was told through audio. Give it a listen, and you’ll see what I mean.

Directive is a free science fiction audio drama created by David Magadan. This audio drama is available through iTunes or wherever you find podcasts. Check out its website for more information or listen to the first episode now:

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