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Fallout New Vegas in Space: Additional Postage Required

The first season of this audio drama from the Moonshot Podcast Network at 10 episodes long has an inviting structure, but is perhaps too focused on the larger picture. This makes micro-level of the podcast feel not as polished as the macro-level. “Additional Postage Required” is what it might look like if “Fallout: New Vegas” had a space side quest told partially in an episodic format.

Additional Context Required: The Pony Express in Space?

While the story makes sense with its premise of a postal service in space, if you stop to think about why such a service exists in a world with interstellar travel on ships, this might not be for you. At least for non-packaged mail where it makes sense. The writers — Jay Petrequin and Chris Hutton — give the setting a Wild West in space vibe. However, it’s not a western in the genre sense of the word. Seeing as how infinitely vast the universe is, the comparisons to the 19th century American west can’t help but be made. It’s the pony express in space, treating the size of outer space as the wild west for an effective metaphor.

The setup of “Fallout: New Vegas” is where you (a courier) are shot and presumed dead before you can make a delivery. Additional Postage Require goes a different route. The main character (also a courier) has more personality than a character you get to choose how they interact with the world. That ability to choose is what separates films from video games.

Our protagonist, Clementina Bianchi, doesn’t change in this story. There’s no arc for them, nor does there have to be one. One of the reasons to latch on to them as a character comes from the level of snark the writer Jay Petrequin writes and Kai Swanson puts into the performance. Swanson’s delivery may not be for everyone. It’s macabre in a way that it doesn’t need to be. Sometimes it sounds like Swanson is phoning it in, but that juxtaposition of a snarky character who doesn’t act the least bit snarky was an interesting creative choice to say the least. Something that felt unintentional was the different modes of speech Petrequin wrote for his main character.

To Whom are you Talking? Fallout New Vegas and Video Game Plotting

There were more than a few times where I wasn’t sure if Bianchi was talking to the audience, themself, someone else or the artificial intelligence from the present acting like a springboard for their character. All three sounded very similar. If there were effects to differentiate them, they weren’t as present in the mix. You could pick most of who Bianchi was talking to through context.

The rest of the cast outside of a few characters are one and done due to the dual plot structure of having a self-contained adventure. The basics of the overarching plot’s macro structure are two-part adventures (Episodes 1 and 2, and 4 and 5) acting as the sandwich bread for a single-episode story. One of these episodes is a highlight and the midpoint for the season. The other is forgettable and doesn’t add much as far as I can tell. After the episode focused on pizza delivery where something trivial in the grand scheme of things is comedically blown out of proportion, we get back-to-back two parters. The first of these feels like it doesn’t need to happen. More than a month passes between it and the two-part finale and is only brought up once. The penultimate story arc could’ve been cut and the plot wouldn’t need to change much.

Discovering the Middle and End

In fact most of the middle episodes could’ve been cut or reworked to better connect to the end. If you’re into more episodic storytelling, this probably won’t bother you. For me, only one episode caught my interest. The two-part episode called “Gone Fishing” felt like treading water while the second adventure “The Haunting of Autumn Manor” is easily the most forgettable.

The first season of “Additional Postage Required” at the very least sets up the groundwork for what I hope will be a more cohesive second season. I didn’t even mention the master plan of the two-part finale. I don’t think the writer even knew what it was, as it changes at the end of the first part. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the second season. If I had to guess, I’d say Jay Petrequin is more a pantser than a plotter as a writer. That would certainly explain the meandering plot, but great characterization.

7.5/10+ Stars