Back in 2015, Panoply and GE worked together to create the podcast, The Message. A year later, the two companies worked together again to produce and release another podcast called Life After. This show follows FBI clerk Ross Barnes as he tries to get through everyday life and work after losing his wife in a car accident several months before. Listening to his late wife’s posts on an audio social media platform is often all that gets him through – that is, until he hears something new and rather weird.
There are only 10 episodes in the podcast, with each one about 25 minutes long. The production and sound of this show are incredibly well done and while there were times in which it fell a bit flat, the voice acting was convincingly real. According to one of the creators of the show, they would record the show outside the studio and on location, allowing for the show to be more authentic. And this is such a tiny detail and such a weird comment but the fact that they had a specific sound for VoiceTree posts made it seem more like a believable platform.
Life After is filled with suspense, grief, humanity, and chilling comments on potential pitfalls of artificial intelligence. There were a few times after an episode, including the final one, where I ended up having to sit down in silence and just process what had happened. There are twists and turns in the story and while a few were predictable, there were some moments that I was just not anticipating. But the best part of the show was that the story had a clear narrative and precise way of telling it; the writers and creators knew exactly where they wanted the story to go and that really showed.
Like The Message, Life After comes from a partnership between Panoply and GE Podcast Theater and yet, there are no ads or overt references back to General Electric. In a time and place where podcasts are free to listen to but can often cost money to produce, this is a different trend than many other popular podcasts. Rather than having ads or having a rather obvious and repeated message pointing right back at GE, both The Message and Life After point back in more subtle ways. The ultrasound technology in The Message, for example, harks back to a GE product without ever being called out as such.
Overall, I definitely recommend listening to this podcast if you can, especially if you liked The Message or other science fiction podcasts. Life After speaks on grief, humanity, and losing a loved one in ways that were heartbreaking and real, while also bringing up the idea of the digital self that people leave behind after death and possible problems with some forms of artificial intelligence. This show had me sitting on the edge of my seat, desperately wondering what would happen next and completely intrigued the entire time.
You can find the episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.