First of all, what is Metamor City? A braided anthology podcast of short stories, novellas, and full-on novels set in a post-industrial fantasy, a world of sword and sorcery all grown up. From the very first episode we are introduced to a universe where vampires, elves, communist psychics, and people transformed by an ancient curse that still lingers on the city live side by side, and become embroiled in corporate intrigues, police dramas, and occult investigations. Some of the stories are produced in the traditional single-reader style, but many of the stories and all of the novels are full-cast audio productions, complete with sound effects and music. The production values are incredibly high, on par with anything else I've heard on the internet and better than most.
Metamor City's writing is also very good. In my highly amateur opinion, Chris Lester is a promising up-and-comer; like yours truly, he's got some work to do to hone his craft to professional levels, but he's definitely fun to listen to in the meantime. His stories are fun, his characters are compelling, and the world they live in is incredibly deep, dense, and dynamic (as well as other good words beginning with the letter "d").
Another interesting thing to consider about Metamor City is the "braided" in "braided anthology." Not all the stories here are by Chris Lester! So far, the podcast has run at least one story by others in the podcast community - as well as a story that Chris Lester wrote for another podcast - and promises to run more stories set in Metamor City (in fact, I've got an idea I've been kicking around my head and might eventually get to writing down and sending to Lester... eventually). It isn't that a Metamor City listener needs or wants a break from Lester's writing, but the change of style and perspective is definitely refreshing, and brings a lot to the podcast.
One warning: Metamor City is not for the faint of earbuds. There's a definite adult spin to many of the stories. The inhabitants of Metamor City have sex, use foul language, and end up in some extremely unpleasant and disturbing situations. There are scenes that some people will call pornographic, and at least two stories (one a Metamor City story written by a contributor) are openly fantasy erotica. Lester does a very good job of making the degree of explicit content clear in the intro, so the self-censoring can go to town. Nonetheless, I don't recommend Metamor City to anyone who would be bothered by writers getting sex in their fantasy, or fantasy in their sex.
I was going somewhere with all this: the recent production of Chris Lester's A Lightbringer Carol, a Metamor City novella that began shortly after Christmas and continues to this day (alas, due to slow release rather than length). I'm singling A Lightbringer Carol out for special attention because it showcases Lester's talent for making the old and tired new and fresh. I had begun to think that A Christmas Carol - never the closest to my heart, Jew that I am - had lost all power to effect me. I've seen the movie version(s), and the muppet movie version, and listened to the Escape Pod version, and all in all, it was beginning to yawn me. But Chris Lester, with his modern fantasy tale of a hard-bitten and hard-boiled inter-dimensional priest-cop learning the true meaning of Christmas has managed to really touch me. I've listened to Stave One, Stave Two, Stave Three, and I'm eagerly awaiting Stave Four.
And you should be, as well.
Until next time, folks, watch out for vampire street gangs and remember that implantable amulets are definitely the way to go.