Have not yet listened to the first series of Dust, but luckily that doesn't mean I can't listen to the second, as they're standalone. This second series follows the adventures of the passengers of Flight ANA008, who were travelling from Tokyo to San Francisco in 2020, when they found themselves dropping into a space-time rift. And coming back out in 2040.
Each episode follows a different passenger, and whatever difficulty they've experienced having missed 20 years of their life. Some of them have spouses who've gone on without them. Others have seen family and friends die, or been thought dead themselves, and not had any wealth or property to come back to. And even more have simply seen society jumped ahead and not known how to cope with the future shock, in the vein of Transmetropolitan's Mary.
Each problem however tends to be linked to some form of technological jump. That's where the corporate sponshorship of this podcast comes in.
It's got two sponsors. The first is All Nippon Airways, who get their advertising by being the operators of the plane that gets flung through time. It's an odd way to raise awareness, but there you go.
The second sponsor is XPRIZE, who are a non-profit that organises technology competitions, to improve innovation and so on, and get sprinkled through the show. You could think of this series as a way of briefly exploring some of the changes in technology that we might see in the next twenty years. There's relatively minor character conflict in each episode, and no wide cross-episode plot, but each individual episode acts as a think piece for a future possibility.
This might involve AI, which runs all of future society's interactions, and often has that slightly superior tone you expect from a "greater intelligence". Or a wide range of medical solutions, curing cancer, alzheimers, and other age-related problems. Or a re-visit of Google glass, in a version that actually works (and isn't for creepy "glassholes"). There's not really a lot of time to explore all of these ideas, episodes being in the 20-30 minute mark, but it's not a bad breadth of possibilities. That's something that I think this consortium are continuuing with, as they're currently putting together a written anthology about telepresence, "Avatars".
It's very much an aspirational series, rather than dystopian. There's only really one episode, early on, that has a downer ending of sorts, as all of the others tend to have a massive leap in technology that's solved the narrators problem. (Occasionally a technology that they started inventing themselves, 20 years ago.)
Presented mostly through narration, with interjections of dialogue, and a few snippets of music or sound effects to accentuate the tale being told. The narrators are likely people you've heard of, and one of the major draws. Quite enjoyed Alfred Molina, but have to admit, once again, Martin Jarvis is my favourite. He's simply a wonderful storyteller (as you may recall from his work on Jeeves and Just William. All of them are decent, however.
All in all, it's an interesting exploration of future ideas, and worth a listen.