“ARS Paradoxica” follows Dr. Sally Grissom as she accidentally sends herself back several decades onto a Cold War-era battleship. She is taken hostage by the U.S. Military and forced to aid them in the Cold War. With the ability of time travel, the U.S.A. gains a large advantage in the war, but it does come with certain restrictions. Firstly, they can only make minuscule changes in history in order to not completely derail the course of humanity, and secondly, they cannot allow the Soviets to find out they can manipulate time. If the Soviets knew time travel was possible, they would find a way to develop their own version of it. The Cold War conflict serves as a juxtaposition to the conflict of the characters. Power corrupts everyone, and the power to alter the past is too complex for anyone to rationally control. Each use of time travel has unforeseen consequences that range from insubstantial to apocalyptic.
I love the concept of “ARS Paradoxica.” The idea of mixing the intricacies of time travel with the intricacies of the Cold War is so riveting. With twists at every turn, the reader has no idea what may happen next. It is fast paced and often thrilling. The podcast has everything from war tactics to string theory. It is an excellent choice for any sci-fi nerd or Cold War enthusiast.
Doctor Sally Grissom is one of the most accurate strong female leads I have ever encountered. She is always the smartest person in the room, but she isn’t some emotionless shell of a person. She is witty, charismatic and often downright hilarious. Even when she is thrown into an entirely different society, she has her core beliefs and she sticks to them. She is never sexualized or forced into a relationship in order to please the fans. In fact, she is one of the few openly asexual characters to which I am aware. She’s not perfect; she makes plenty of mistakes and often gets herself into dangerous situations. She never breaks, even when faced with possible death, and is never reduced into some pathetic damsel in distress. She is written like an actual human being and she is amazing.
Another aspect I truly enjoy about “ARS Paradoxica” is the format. Everything the listener hears is some type of audio recording taken in their universe. This allows the writers to restrict the flow of information to the readers. They only know what happened to be recorded. This creates suspense and mystery during several major moments of the show. One of my favorite episodes is when this is implemented to set up a murder mystery. It also adds a layer of realism. It causes the podcast to feel less like a show and more like a message sent to you from some alternate past.
“ARS Paradoxica” is an above average podcast, but it is riddled with flaws. Firstly, the character development was weak. Other than Sally Grissom and Anthony Partridge, the characters were somewhat stale. Some did have some interesting story arcs, but I could not seem to force myself to care about them. Especially in the later episodes, character development seemed to take a backseat to the War conflict. I would have been fine with that if I had any idea what was happening. By the end of the series, the storyline was filled with so much convoluted time nonsense that I was too confused to enjoy it. In my opinion, the plot of the third season was an utter mess and I struggled to convince myself to listen to each weekly episode.
Overall, “ARS Paradoxica” is worth trying. The first two seasons were a great balance of fun and mystery. Seeing Sally attempt to adjust to life in the 1950s is both hilarious and eye-opening. She is truly an excellent character and compensates for a significant amount of the shortcomings of the other characters. The version of time travel is full of depth and intricacies that make it so enjoyable to explore. I was truly in love with this podcast when I could understand it. I recommend at least giving the first two seasons a try, and maybe you will be able to understand and enjoy season three more than I could.
“ARS Paradoxica” is streamable on Spotify, iTunes and most larger audio streaming websites. You can visit https://arsparadoxica.com/ to check if it is available on your preferred application.