Sometimes you just want to hear a good story.
No bad CGI to distract you. Nothing being visually held back to earn a PG-13 rating. No re-edits that add goofy musical scenes and undermine the characters.
That's where captivating audio dramas come in.
Audio dramas don't have any of the common annoyances that we often have to deal with in movies and TV shows—because most of the story in an audio drama happens in your own mind.
And no amount of careful cinematography and infinite-budget CGI can match the magic of one's own imagination.
If you're a fan of sci-fi tales, here are the best sci-fi audio dramas you should listen to—and they're available on YouTube. You'll love these riveting takes on science fiction drama.
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1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
This innovative BBC radio series is where it all started. It inspired all of the books, the TV series, the notoriously difficult video game, and the movie that came after.
The story follows the reluctant hero Arthur Dent—one of the last surviving human beings in the universe. He careens from one unlikely adventure to the next aboard the reality-manipulating spaceship "The Heart of Gold."
There are six individual series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy audio drama. The most recent installment was released in 2018. The first episode from 1978 is recognized as a pioneer in the realm of radio. Its experimental use of sound and innovative recording techniques still hold up today.
2. Star Wars: A New Hope
This series has a lot of cool extra stuff for Star Wars fans looking for a deeper dive into the universe.
Each episode is based on its corresponding movie, but there are a lot of added scenes and altered dialogue. You hear conversations and witness events that are peripheral to the movies.
You hear how Leia ended up on that Corellian Cruiser getting shot up by the Empire. You hear Luke whine more about stuff on Tatooine. You hear Han tell Chewbacca to get his toe out of his ear when they hide in his smuggling compartments.
The production quality is excellent and it's all set to John Williams' iconic score. The result is a satisfying and immersive Star Wars experience unlike any other.
3. Alien: Out of the Shadows
This installment of the Alien franchise features an outstanding cast that includes the great Rutger Hauer, who you may remember as the philosophizing replicant in Blade Runner.
The plot is about what you would expect from an Alien property. It has spaceships, it has mining, Ripley makes an appearance—and of course, it has Xenomorphs.
Out of the Shadows is an Audible original and as a result the production quality is fantastic. The sound effects are on par with the movies, and the story will hook you.
Fans will recognize the signature beeps and clicks of the crude retro-futuristic tech that gave the original its distinctive atmosphere. The overall vibe is really similar to the original Alien.
4. X-Files: Cold Cases
X-Files: Cold Cases is another Audible original and features the full cast, including the Cigarette Smoking Man and The Lone Gunmen.
The audio drama version of The X-Files is almost as good as having a few brand new episodes to watch—which is excellent news for anyone who was disappointed by the reboot.
Cold Cases takes place between the unforgivingly boring movie I Want To Believe and the rebooted season.
The story catches up to Mulder and Scully, who are living as a couple under assumed identities. They learn that the FBI has been hacked by an unknown group, leaving them no choice but to return to their former world of conspiracy and horror.
This sci-fi audio drama is broken into four one-hour episodes and ties in nicely with the overall series. Definitely a worthwhile supplement to any X-Files fan's diet.
5. Star Wars: Dark Empire
The Sith thrive and they're terrorizing the galaxy once again! The emperor has survived the events of Return of the Jedi and Luke turns to the dark side.
Based on the Dark Horse comic book series of the same name, this audio drama features John Williams' score and all of the original Star Wars sound effects that fans know and love.
The production quality is top notch, and the story is so good that many Star Wars fans prefer this to the direction the franchise ended up taking in recent years.
6. Brave New World
This adaptation of Aldous Huxley's classic dystopian novel is an engaging way to experience his vision of a society gone wrong.
The performances give a sense of realness to his ideas of a future consumed by a dehumanizing system of aggressive genetic engineering, order, and control.
7. The Martian Chronicles
This BBC radio drama is based on the Ray Bradbury classic. The plot involves an astronaut trying to prevent man's colonization of Mars. The combination of excellent acting with Bradbury's thoughtful, haunting story telling really bring this one to life.
8. I, Robot
BBC's I, Robot radio play is an adaptation of an almost 80-year-old Isaac Asimov short story collection. Each story is presented in a short 15-minute episode.
The tales involve the usual Asimov themes examining the nature of artificial intelligence and humanity's ever-evolving relationship with its mechanical creations.
The acting and sound quality make it worthwhile for any fan of classic sci-fi. Truly one of the great sci-fi audio dramas.