The Cambridge Geek

Lost Terminal

Like a lot of people, I've been taking it easy in my lockdown listening, so haven't made much progress in finding new things. No, that's a lie. I've found lots of new things. See my monthly audio fiction release lists for the proof of that. But I've not listened to a lot of new things.

Instead, I've spent weeks crunching through more of Flintlocks & Fireballs, and am now up to episode 65. It's been interesting to listen to a lot of the plot develop in that, with no small milestones hit recently.

Elements of that review still hold, though the crew have definitely tilted more heavily to your traditional goodies over time. But we've just got to a "split the party" moment that lead to a certain shift in the plot, so it seemed a great time to step off and try and get some of my own spirit of adventure back.

First on that then, is Lost Terminal. This is one I picked up because the synopsis sounded interesting. Like the recent Waiting, this features a single soul trapped, unable to get to something they can see, but desperately want. While Waiting was set in the past, specifically the past that the protagonist time travelled back to, this is set in the future.

It's a future in which humanity might have all died off, leaving only AI behind. Thus far, we've had Peter, who is running(?) St. Petersburg, Antartica, stationed at the Antarctic base, and finally our narrator, Seth, who was coded in a last desperate effort by the astronauts on "Station 6" of which he is now the sole resident.

After the "something" happened, nothing came up to the satellite to either feed or retrieve the crew, and they took the final step to avoid starving to death. So now Seth sits in orbit, all alone, running the experiments he was set up to observe, watching the other satellites, and trying to communicate with people on Earth.

None of them ever talk back.

Though there are sometimes snippets of "signal" from either other satellites or stations on the ground. These are always presented as small sections of music, akin to "the weather" on WTNV, though it's not yet clear whether these are meant to be communications we don't understand, empty communications that Seth is hallucinating voices in, or some third thing. Out of universe though, I believe they're elements of the podcast creator's oeuvre.

Seth is mostly alone, with the podcast being presented as his audio transmissions to an unknown listener (us), as he shouts into a mostly empty universe that doesn't do a great job of talking back. There's the other AIs, though they're not exactly close. But at least there's MAT, the maintenance robot, who can do a reasonable job of being a pair of physical arms.

At the moment, there's a bit of a problem with the shuttle he would travel in, so here's hoping Antarctica can help him with that.

Seth is only ever able to communicate for a brief moment (something to do with orbital mechanics), which means that you tend to get about eight minutes of plot per episode. It's a bit of a slow burner for that, as Seth slowly learns how things work, and how he might get back to Earth. The issue is that his power source is slowly breaking down, and so he has to get off the station if he's going to keep "alive".

Those hints of the apocalypse mean that we're waiting for Seth to understand that that happened, which is somewhat frustrating, as the information is very much teased out. And I did have a few difficulties with the delivery, in that it's a bit soporific on occasion. It's low energy and relatively gentle.

It's a low requirement show to listen to though, with maybe an hour of material out thus far. If you're a fan of single narrator sci fi shows, give this one a try.

Score 3

Tagged: Audio fiction Drama Monologue Personal recording Science fiction Serial