Episode 30: On Monsters
You could pretty much play "fuck, marry, kill" with the beasts in our lineup for this podcast; whether we flirt with danger or run from it, whether we pick up our pitchforks or our binoculars, beasts and monsters have done a lot more for us than jump around corners or haunt dark alleys. Here we discuss ways and means of understanding these archetypes, and how they fit into and inform the science fiction we know and love!
Episode 29: The Hunt
What is it about the hunt for books--in used bookstores and new--that draws us in and feeds us? In this episode, we discuss the bookstores we love (and a few that we don't) and how we go about finding the books we need to satisfy our science fictional needs.
Episode 28: Social Science Fiction
What is social science fiction? Is social scifi just scifi with a social novum? Is any book with a critical focus at least partially social scifi? Or is there something else going on there? We have lots of thoughts. SO MANY THOUGHTS.
Episode 27: Unpopular Opinions
And we’re not talking “banana flavored muffins and Kraft singles are delicious” unpopular! (Although those might also be true.) We're talking "Prometheus isn't such a bad film" and "smash the patriarchy" level unpopular, or divisive.
People feel strongly about science fiction, and that is both a great strength and a potential weakness. In this podcast, we dig into the particulars. What does it mean to have an unpopular opinion, and why are unpopular opinions so important? We have thoughts. And feelings.
Episode 26: Queering Science Fiction
Writing and reading queer lit is a tough proposition. There are lots of ways to get it wrong, just as many to get it right, and plenty of complicated convolutions in between. We start this week's podcast with a discussion of the recent 2016 Nebula Awards results (trust us, it makes sense when you listen) and use them as a springboard into the larger topic of queer representation and our reception thereof--as queer readers and writers ourselves--in the genre of science fiction.
If you want the CliffsNotes version: It's complicated.
Episode 25: What’s So Hard About Hard Sci-Fi, Anyway?
The term "hard sci-fi" has been percolating through our conversations for a while now, but what does it really mean? Is it, as we first assumed, science fiction which the authors see as already on the horizon, as Kim Stanley Robinson sees rising sea levels and “rewilding” in his books, science fiction as a blend of what’s already happening, what the author sees as necessary or inevitable to happen, and just enough fiction to use that possible or probable future as a teaching tool? Or is "hard sci-fi" about believability, and how can that be quantified? Does "hard sci-fi" privilege the physical sciences at the expense of other sciences? Or is it mostly a way of saying "this book is better than that book"? We take a good hard look at the term and its underpinnings in this messiest and most glorious of podcasts.
Episode 24: Artificial Intelligences
Are YOU an artificial intelligence? In this podcast, we debate some of the finer points of what it means to talk about the other in the context of something made or manufactured for sentience. We tackle everything from Data and the Borg in Star Trek to Marvin the delightful depressed robot in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to HAL in 2001 to the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica to Frankenstein's monster thanks to the brilliant Mary Shelley. We also throw in references to Jeff VanderMeer's Area X trilogy, to Iain M. Banks's Culture series, The Day the Earth Stood Still, "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream," Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora, the movie Her, and the various incarnations of the Animorphs. As you might have guessed, it's rather a wide-ranging discussion, and a whole lot of fun!
Episode 23: Novellas
It may seem like a non sequitur to move from the Tucson Festival of Books into talking about the recent spate of excellent novellas (including Binti and The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe) but ... bear with us. We have a lot of thoughts about the history of the form, its role in contemporary sci-fi, and perhaps ... where to go from here.
Episode 22: Octavia Butler
Yeah, we'd been talking about how we should talk about her for so long, we decided it was time to finally do something about that. Here it is: The Octavia Butler Episode!
Episode 21: The Expanse, Season 1
We're nuts for Syfy's breakout The Expanse! This show and its inspiration, the books written by the authors calling themselves James S.A. Corey, have proven to be rich ground for a number of conversations--including ours! We're excited to nerd out about this show, and hope you'll join us.
Episode 20: Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X Trilogy
In which we discuss the stellar--and truly Weird with a capital "W"--trilogy from Jeff VanderMeer, variously known as The Southern Reach and the Area X trilogy. It leads us down rabbit holes about science fiction critics and criticism, the Fairy Tale Affect (thanks, Kate Bernheimer), and intersections with the modern field of human geography and the search for self.
Episode 19: N.K. Jemisin
So, here it is: We've been talking about N.K. Jemisin a LOT over previous episodes, so we went ahead and gave her a full episode to herself. And it's awesome. On tap: nerdy conversations about the world, characters, science, and diversity of representation in The Fifth Season, as well as why we love what Jemisin means for the future of science fiction & fantasy. If you haven't yet read The Fifth Season or its sequel The Obelisk Gate ... well, get thee to your local independent bookstore. Or a library. They're cool too.
Episode 18: Burn, Baby, Burn
In this episode, we tackle dystopias--those evergreen staples of Young Adult literature as it currently runs, and a linch-pin of social commentaries since the dawn of the novel, all the way back during the Restoration period of English history. But what about today? Do we have permission to hate them? Tony wants to know, especially, and Kendra is just a nerd so it works out just fine. Come for the questions, stay for the nerds.
Episode 17: Magical Systems
In this episode, we discuss magic and magical systems in a whole slew of worlds, including of course Harry Potter and the Everythings as well as Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicles, and Lev Grossman's The Magicians, among others. Oh, and we can't neglect to mention Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, because they are mentionable.
Episode 16: Contagious, Contagion, and Outbreak Narratives
with special guest Scott Selisker
Ever heard of zombies? We thought so. But more importantly, we're here to talk about the "outbreak narrative," as set forth in the book Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative by Priscilla Wald. Tony interviews University of Arizona Assistant Professor Scott Selisker, author of Human Programming: Brainwashing, Automatons, and American Unfreedom on social contagion, othering, marginalization, and basically everything interesting under the sun. Afterward, Tony and Kendra discuss the movies Contagion and World War Z (we're so, so sorry) as well as a slew of nonfiction books which touch on things that we know and love in science and science fiction.
Episode 15: Creature Features (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Jungle Book)
In this episode, we talk about Tony's foray into the world of cinema to pick up the latest JK Rowling flick, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, as well as Kendra's angst over appropriation & whitewashing in The Jungle Book. These are books that have made it to screen, and that presents us with some serious questions--none of them so simple as "Which is better, book or movie?" And what does it mean to become adults who watch this kind of movie versus the movies we watched when we were young(er)? The Imaginaries goes to the movies, and it's kind of a mess, in the best possible way. We always are.
Episode 14: Pilots That Failed to Hook Us
We're talking television, here, specifically science fiction shows which somehow failed to capitalize on their promise. We go after everything from supposedly "blockbuster" shows to SyFy channel one-offs, and we invite you to help us parse some of the nitty gritty details.
Episode 13: Rogue One
The Imaginaries Podcast goes to the movies, this time to see Rogue One, a Star Wars one-shot film that in many ways departs from the franchise's oft-heralded traditions. Is it any good? We have thoughts and feelings on the matter, as no doubt you do too.
Episode 12: The Novum: The Second Beauty of Science Fiction
Riffing once more off of Istvan Csicsery-Ronay's The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, we examine the second of these: the novum. It isn't a macguffin, we promise!
Episode 11: Mother of Eden
Here we spend some time digging into Chris Beckett's Mother of Eden, sequel to Dark Eden, which we reviewed several episodes earlier. If we had feelings about the first book, we have even more now after having read book two, and never fear--we will review the third and final book in the trilogy (Daughter of Eden) once it becomes available to US readers in bookstores.
Episode 9: Dark Eden
Here we take a look at the revelatory work of science fiction by British author Chris Beckett. Dark Eden takes place on a rogue planet in which trees are also lava, and patriarchy is ... what, inevitable? There's a lot to dig into, and we go for it.
Episode 8: Arrival
Arrival hit theaters in late 2016, and at the time of this upload has been nominated for numerous Academy Awards. But more importantly, was it any good? Here we talk shop about linguistics, adaptation, and cinema. This is a good episode. You should listen to this one, for sure.
Episode 7: Politics in Science Fiction
Here we discuss Star Trek extensively, of course, but so too Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and a number of other worlds of science fiction which might yield insights about the way things go in our world and elsewhere. Else-when? We recorded this episode during the tempestuous climate of the US Presidential Election in late 2016, so be aware personal views DO intrude occasionally. We are interested in this topic because we are politically active and have personal stakes in how things go (or have gone, really).
Episode 6: What Makes Science Fiction Cinematic?
Here we discuss what it takes for a book, specifically, to translate well to the big or small screen. We go through a whole slew of favorite texts, to hang in there--it's a bit of a wild ride!
Episode 5: Fictive Neology: The First Beauty of Science Fiction
Inspired by Csicsery-Ronay's The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, we make an attempt to discuss the first of these: Fictive Neology. Not sure what that is, or what it has to do with science fiction? Listen to find out!
Episode 4: Luna: New Moon
Decent audio quality at last! Here we talk in Tucson about one of the newer additions to the "hard sci-fi" canon, Ian McDonald's "Game-of-Thrones-in-space" novel, Luna: New Moon. But is it really, though? Tony & Kendra duke it out over what this novel does well ... and yeah, gripe about a few things too. Writers, man.
Episode 3: A Wrinkle in Time
Just in case you thought we were all serious, all the time, we tackle Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. One of the last backlist episodes to feature terrible audio!
Episode 2: Shutter & Star Trek
We may have made a mistake. This episode is so long, who could possibly finish it? We had a blast, though, and despite the still-distractingly-terrible audio, we hope you do too. (If the audio proves too distracting, however, skip ahead to Episode 4. That's the turning point.)
Episode 1: The Alien Franchise
Listen to us ramble on about Alien, Aliens, and Alien^3, which Kendra insists on calling Alien To The Power of Three or Alien Cubed. You get a general sense of how seriously we all take life ... with terrible audio, still. Apologies. We do get past the bad audio eventually, we promise.
Episode 0: Meet the Imaginaries
Backlist episode from mid-2016 in which we interrogate each other a bit on the imaginary worlds we love best. The audio was terrible for the first little while, so I recommend handling with caution and possibly from a great distance. It gets better, we promise.