The Cambridge Geek


Jake Fisher is geo-guessing one day, when he spots a sign for a town at the end of a long abandoned road, telling him he's found "Ostium: Population, zero".

Of course, since this is a spooky story, a moment later the site glitches out, and all he's left with is his memory of the rough location of the town on google maps. Luckily, his memory is photographic, so he has quite a good idea where it was.

Did someone say "road trip"?

So off he pops, and with a bit of mystical brain-compass checking, he finds himself outside of the town, facing a padlocked gate and a massive wall encircling everything that isn't the gate. Since he's a law-abiding citizen, he takes a couple of photos and wanders off.

However, he's sufficiently nosy to come back the next day, when he discovers that the padlock has been removed, and the town is all his to explore. And explore it he does, finding that it is huge and full of buildings containing doors. Loads of them, each with a number, none of which are in order. All of these doors are positioned around a watch tower, which holds a sculpted map of the town, with each building given its number. The door to the watchtower is number one.

Jake begins to go through the doors, and finds himself in different times and places, all of which he has some connection to. There's the lost colony of Roanoke, the Mary Celeste and Mars. There's also Monica, a soldier who went AWOL when she discovered Ostium, who was slightly ahead of him and knows a little bit more about the town and what it all means.

Just to skip ahead a step, it's effectively an enormous fetch quest. Each world behind a door contains something they must bring back to the map in order to activate it, while surviving whatever threats exist and the ever-encroaching crackly black horizon that swallows the landscape around them. Parallels can be drawn with the Holders Series, another one of those ancient myths from a lost society that the internet invents every ten minutes.

It's told primarily through monologues, with both Jake and Monica recording their own audio logs of the events they go through, with the occasional crossover when they directly record conversations. This can result in a bit more tell than show at times, which can feel repetitive, especially when they cover the same event from their two viewpoints. The other problem with the writing is the fact that the two main character's "voices" are somewhat similar for the first few episodes, though that does get better with time.

What doesn't get better is the flirting. Thus far (I've listened up to the end of Season One, and Season Three is just beginning) the two of them have slobbered over each other more or less constantly and I'm hoping they stop soon.

Thankfully, the story itself is interesting enough that the slightly painful characters don't overpower it, and the various twists and turns have me more than a bit curious about what we're going to find at the end of the string of numbers. Will keep going.

Score 3

Tagged: Audio fiction Drama Two hander Personal recording Urban fantasy Serial