Originally published on Suburban Conspiracy by Dex Trenchcoat
(Edited for content and clarity)
Hello again dear readers and welcome to another drama filled edition of Have You Heard. No, no, not that kind of drama… audio drama. Today I am here to review and highlight outstanding examples of modern audio dramas for your auditory imaginary pleasure. Let me assure first time readers that these radio plays are not old rebroadcasts of aging shows from the 1930’s, but modern, vibrant shows with modern viewpoints, shows actively being produced today, with today’s audience in mind.
The subject this time around is The Byron Chronicles, a solid example of an urban fantasy story similar to movies like Hellboy or the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels. Now its time to settle in, pull down the shades, and open our ears to the hidden world around us.
Have You Heard?…
“Imagine if the world as you know it… was nothing more than an illusion. What if creatures like elves, dragons, vampires, zombies and werewolves walk amongst you every day… But you never see them.”
“This is the world I walk in.
I am called Byron
And these are my chronicles…“
– From The Byron Chronicles Introduction.
The Byron Chronicles is a dark urban fantasy written and produced by Darker Projects, an audio drama company with an extensive website. The site is well laid out and all of their shows can be heard free of charge direct from the website or as podcasts, while your on the go. The Darker Projects website hosts many shows, but I have chosen to focus on The Byron Chronicles for this review.
The Byron chronicles center around a being simply called Byron, who is something “other than human”. Byron lives in the shadows of our modern world, where vampires, werewolves and other creatures of fantasy are very real, but kept hidden from human eyes. The separation of the supernatural world from the human world is an important element through out the entire series. We quickly find out that when the two worlds mix violence seems to ensue, usually leading to bad things for humans and supernaturals alike. In fact, the only person who seems to think humans and supernatural beings can get along is Byron himself, who tends to act as a mediator between the two.
Joining Byron on these adventures is Miss Chris Sparrow, who once led a “normal life” as a Barrista at a local Portland Oregon coffee shop before being turned into a half vampire in a freak accident. Chris turned to Byron reluctantly at first, but the pair quickly became fast friends as Chris came to rely on Byron for guidance while supernatural world revealed itself to her. Byron in turn, seemed to rely on Chris in helping him better understand humans as a whole. There were several plot lines in the first season, including Byron saving the life of Lazarus the First Zombie, and preventing a worldwide zombie outbreak in the process. Then Byron had to hunt down a vampire lord named Branlaven, who was selling a super drug called “rush” on the streets of Portland. It was the drug Rush which caused Chris to become a half vampire, and it was here that Chris Sparrow made her first appearance in the series. Next, Byron was taken hostage by two different secret societies; each one trying to save the world from “monsters” like Byron.
The first season was cleverly written and the technical aspects were well executed. The audio was clear and polished. Sound effects were used sparingly, which helped emphasize various parts of the story without causing sensory overload. The voice acting was solid, even exceptional, and only over-done in a few rare instances. I only have a few complaints about the series. For all its dark tones, I never really felt fear while listening to The Byron Chronicles. Its more of a dark mystery, than a fear-filled horror show. Then there’s the set up for Episode six. In all other ways episode six is great, with interesting characters like Za’Gan the fallen angel, and this episode reveals a huge plot to literally destroy the world, which carries over into season two. All of these plot elements I liked, but before episode six even starts, Chris gets kidnapped.
It wasn’t the kidnapping that bothered me, but the whole event happened off screen (or off mic, to be more accurate) and it just seemed like a huge omission from the plot. I think it would have been far more compelling to let us hear what was happening to Chris at various points, and it would have made the group that kidnapped her all the more menacing and compelling. The fact that Chris was kidnapped and is barely mentioned again; replaced by a new sidekick for the remainder of the season just seemed rather odd to me. However I didn’t let one or two missteps deter me from listening to the series, and neither should you! Its still worthwhile show, and the Season One cliffhanger is quite good. If you think the first season sounds compelling, wait till you hear season two!
Don’t just take my word that this is an interesting, engaging and well executed series with lots of twists and turns… always listen for yourself!
Now comes the part where I ask for feedback from you fine readers and listeners. Throughout the entire show, Byron never fully explains what he really is. He has no fear of sunlight or silver, so he’s not a vampire or werewolf. He can be killed, so Byron’s not immortal; not in the usual sense at least. He’s certainly no wizard, but he does have powers which could be called magical. While he met a dragon once, Byron is not a dragon either. Even I don’t know for sure, which is why I am asking all of you, who (or what) do you think Byron is?…