Podcast Review: Democracy Jones

By Sarah Millstein for Podcast Review, A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel

Fans of Science Fiction great William Gibson, and movie series like Mad Max, Alien, Blade Runner and horror TV series like The Walking Dead are experiencing something like a resurgence in Democracy Jones Podcast, a science fiction-horror audio drama podcast by author Eamon Loingsigh. 

Listen on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify, or your preferred pod-catcher like
Pocket Casts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Overcast, Castro or Podcast Addict

First released on Halloween 2021, Democracy Jones has gained a broad audience since then. With a big universe, quality sound design and bite-sized 20-minute episodes, Democracy Jones focuses on character-driven jump scares, satire and dark humor that pushes the boundaries. 

Its Hans Zimmer-esque ambient soundtrack along with the theme of neural chip software technology in a near-future USA where the fringes have taken control of both political parties, reminds listeners that this is classic speculative fiction in the vein of Margaret Atwood, but with the type of deadpan humor found in the works of Kurt Vonnegut. Each episode kicks off with spacious music and Loingsigh’s quirky reminder that this audio drama is to be taken with a grain of salt evidenced by its subtitle: “Adventures in Late Phase American Democracy.” 

“A brilliant fiction podcast that mixes hard realism with satire. Voltaire meets Mad Max!”

The serial drama starts on the day a rightwing military coup takes place and follows each of the characters’ morning and afternoon as rumors begin to spread about a possible violent coup d’etat. The suspense builds as the characters find out more until they are physically confronted in their small town of Ellington, Florida with the grim reality that their lives will be forever altered. 

As the narrator describes, 7/13 will live in infamy. 7/13 being a reference to Friday July 13, 2040, the date the military coup overthrows American democracy and General Alexander Schenk in named “Consul in the Interim,” which essentially means he appointed himself to step in as a short-term dictator in order guide the country back to “democracy,” though we have a sneaking feeling democracy will forever be placed between quotation marks in the US of A. 

The production quality of Democracy Jones is superb. The show cuts no corners in underscoring the emotional impact the characters feel through the lush and disturbing soundtrack. And there are no false alarms either. When the music makes you feel as though you are on pins and needles, it’s only a matter of time before the entire scene falls apart and characters are murdered, executed or die during friendly fire. Anything goes in this audio drama, which can trigger some. 
The story follows six point of view characters (3 female, 3 male) as if we are on their shoulder, watching events, similar to the character perspective seen in the Game of Thrones book series, A Song of Ice and Fire

Haisley Jones, a mixed race woman in her 20s, is the hero, though she does not want to be. Similar to Jon Snow’s humility and unwillingness to accept his fate, Haisley repeats herself multiple times in saying, “I just want to be normal.” Since she is pregnant, we can understand why. But she has been chosen, due to the software in her neural chip, which is inauspiciously called “Rhetoric.” But if military coups have no regard for the safety of innocent children and pregnant women in real life, why should they in art? Everything is a threat to all characters in this world. 

Haisley’s husband De’ontay is Black, but speaks a little bit like Steve Urkel. He wants to protect Haisley, but can’t as he is targeted by the MAGA-styled followers of General Schenk, known as BATAs. They want him dead not only for being Black but because he was involved in The Crowned, a leftwing group that organized guerrilla-type protest tactics in the years before the coup. Unfortunately he can’t help Haisley as he is forced to run for his life from Ellington and into the Everglades, where a hundred other people from his upscale neighborhood ran. 
Captain Dick, Ellington’s former Chief of Police, is a war veteran and BATA follower of General Schenk who is named “Magistrate” of the township after the coup. Captain Dick provides unlimited opportunities to be both inappropriate and hilarious, similar to Negan in TWD. 

Abra is a sweet five year-old Jewish girl who, by the end of season 1, has already seen too much death and whose beliefs become sadly wayward afterward. 
Zeke is a redneck BATA who killed Abra’s father and whose beliefs are challenged by prevailing BATA mentality. 

Listen on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify.

Sabina Xu Manzana was the (very!) liberal President of the United States who was overthrown. Hers is a harrowing story and currently she is floating somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean after the coup. 

Some listeners may find the topic triggering, but Loingsigh does a great job in evening the criticism and spreads it out among both liberals and conservatives. In fact, that’s the main point of the series. Per the author, the story was inspired by the fall of the Roman Republic before it turned into an Empire. Democracy Jones is more of a warning than it is pure entertainment. It takes two to tango, but we still have time to repair the deep partisanship that pervades American politics today. And as Loingsigh says in the tagline for Democracy Jones Podcast, “It’s not too late.” 

The review was written for Podcast Review, A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel. Email Sarah at sahmills@gmail.com

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artofneed Productions is a sound studio for podcasts and audio dramas Shanachie51 Press is a publishing house for cutting edge fiction Production & Published Works Psychological thriller An Affair of Concoctions (Shanachie51 Press, 2009). Book of poetry Love and Maladies (Shanachie51 Press, 2010). Historical novel Divide the Dawn (Shanachie51 Press, 2020). Young Adult Novel Chin Music Rhubarb (Shanachie51 Press, 2021). Scifi-Horror AudioDrama Democracy Jones Podcast (artofneed Productions, 2022). Coming Soon! Fiction Podcast Chin Music Rhubarb (artofneed Productions, 2023) artofneed@gmail.com

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