The five fiction podcasts that'll get you through the holiday season.

If there’s one time of year a gal really needs to stock up on good podcasts, it’s the silly season.

Let’s face it – the combination of Christmas shopping, Christmas cooking and Christmas cleaning is enough to drive anyone deep into their headphones.

The bad news? A lot of your favourite podcasts will stop putting out new episodes around December.

The good news? It’s the perfect time to delve into the vast back-catalogue of fiction podcasts available on iTunes or your favourite podcast app.

If you haven’t heard of fiction podcasts before, you’re not alone. It’s a small but growing market, elbowing its way into the podcast space alongside your favourite true crime, politics and current affairs shows. Think Serial but fiction – gripping stories, twists and turns, mysteries to be solved and secret plots to be uncovered.

Fiction podcasts cover any genre you can think of – mystery, sci-fi, romance – but unlike audiobooks, they’re broken up into bite-sized episodes perfect for a short trip to Westfield.

(Just kidding. There’s no such thing as a short trip to Westfield in December. I recommend downloading the entire season of your chosen podcast before leaving the house in preparation.)

Here are some of the best fiction podcasts to get stuck into this summer.

1. The Black Tapes

When podcaster Alex Reagan first heard about Dr. Richard Strand, infamous paranormal skeptic, she was keen to get his perspective for a one-off podcast about paranormal professions. Dr. Strand maintains he’s never found a paranormal case he couldn’t disprove – that is, until Alex asks him about a series of black video tapes in a corner of his office.

It turns out, there are some cases where even Dr. Strand can’t conclusively rule out paranormal activity; cases that defy science and logic completely.

The podcast follows Alex as she and Dr. Strand explore the “black tapes” cases, and begin to realise that the events are linked in ways science could never have predicted.

Image via The Black Tapes podcast.

The whole thing is spooky as hell, and even though I know it's fiction, I still couldn't quite bring myself to listen to the demon "unsound" they discover in episode three. Just in case. Don't want to accidentally conjure any demons.

2. Limetown

In 2005, everyone in the small town of Limetown in Tennessee disappeared without a trace - every single man, woman and child. Since then, nobody has heard from a single survivor... until now.

Limetown follows a journalist who pledges to discover once and for all what happened to the people of Limetown ten years ago. It's so well-made, and the story so believable, that I didn't realise it was fiction for the entire first episode. It was only when I Googled the Limetown disappearances, wondering how I'd managed to miss such an enormous piece of news, that I realised it hasn't actually happened.

It's not just me, either - one of the top results when you search for Limetown is "Is Limetown real?"

It's not, but it could be.

Once you get through these fiction podcasts, Mamamia Out Loud's Jessie recommends (non)fiction podcast The Berlin Patient. 

3. Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale is a fictional radio show for the small American town of Night Vale, covering "news, announcements and advertisements". Sound boring? In any other town, it might be, but Night Vale isn't just any town - it's a place where conspiracy theories come to party.

Each episode is a stand-alone story, but the stories run together in a loose narrative arc, with in-jokes for longtime listeners at every turn. It's funny, dark and incredibly clever, reminiscent of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. For an idea of the tone, here's a tweet from the Welcome to Night Vale Twitter account:

4. The Message

For sci-fi lovers, look no further than The Message, which follows amateur grad student Nicky Tomalin attempting to decode a message sent to Earth 70 years ago by aliens. He quickly realises the message contains a virus - one that causes those who listen to it to stop breathing.

Think War Of The Worlds meets The Da Vinci Code meets Serial - it's full of super-smart cryptology, a whole lot of mystery and of course, ~life on other planets~.

5. Alice Isn't Dead

Everyone is convinced Alice is dead, except her wife. She embarks on a cross-country journey across the American country-side, determined to find her one true love - but it quickly becomes apparent there's something more sinister going on. Is Alice dead? If not, does Alice even want to be found?

From the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, new podcast Alice Isn't Dead reads (listens?) like a crime thriller. It's full of twists, turns and cliffhangers, and it's perfect for a long cross-country drive.

Except for the part where it makes you fear for your life.

Do you have a fantastic fiction podcast to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!

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