Welcome! If you’re new to The Imaginaries, you’re definitely in the right place. Whether you have yet to listen to your first episode, or if you’ve listened to one or a couple, hopefully this page will answer all of your questions.
FAQs for New Listeners
Why science fiction and fantasy?
There’s the assumption, still, even after all these years, that certain genres/modes/cats (and if you wonder what we mean by “genres/modes/cats,” read on!) are somehow more fitting or even deserving of our discussion, critical engagement, and enjoyment. The good ones already know this isn’t true. It just so happens we were both pretty starved of conversation about one of our favorite things, this favorite thing, when we first got to know each other well. A better question would be “Why not science fiction and fantasy?”
Plus, you know, we both really like science fiction and fantasy!
Why a podcast and not, like, YouTube videos or book reviews or articles for media websites?
We were already talking about science fiction and fantasy all the damn time. And we knew we wanted to collaborate, somehow, even though our individual lives and work always spin off in totally different directions. A podcast seemed sustainable and interesting, and we were both foolish enough to suppose it would be easy. SPOILER: It turns out starting a podcast with no prior experience isn’t easy, but it is rewarding and fun.
We had considered, too, that we might start something like a journey for new science fiction and fantasy (and, actually, we’d done just that in grad school, for about a month!). But we wanted to get to the root of that desire—to draw attention to the sort of work that we like and provide some small amplifying voice—and we decided that a podcast was the better way to do that.
What does a new listener need to know about The Imaginaries before digging in?
We’re very, very gay. By which we mean: Tony’s gay and Kend is the triple threat (agender, asexual, and aromantic). We’re both really interested in science fiction and fantasy as a genre/mode/cat that active shapes and provides a space to explore queer narratives—and maybe even acts as a queer force itself. Does science fiction and fantasy inherently queer a thing?
What episodes do you recommend for new listeners?
An excellent question! We’ve selected half-a-dozen-ish (okay, seven—the most magical number!) to help new listeners ease into what we do. Check these out for what we’re all about!
FAQs for New-ish Listeners
(aka “I’ve listened to an episode or two, and I want to know wtf you’re talking about”)
Wait, what’s up with the whole genre/mode/cats thing?
Yeah. Who the hell knows? That is, who the hell knows what science fiction and fantasy really are? Genres are partly a byproduct of marketing and promotion, as well as a necessary categorization function that libraries and bookstores depend on. But “genre” isn’t really a useful term once you start to recognize that science fiction and fantasy have extremely permeable boundaries. Science fiction and fantasy are as much a position or a mode of approaching story as they are genres or subgenres or categories. Have you ever seen a cat fit itself into a bunch of different containers? It’s still a cat. But it’s also both solid and liquid. It defies understanding, categorization, and the litter box.
What about the other things you talk about a lot, like queering, affect, the SFF spectrum, the novum, weird…?
So as we were putting this question together, we realized that we do have quite a few concepts we use that might be hard to jump into. Whenever we remember in an episode, we do try to define those concepts! But if we don’t, we also have a few episodes directed to those concepts, including queering (Episode 26), the novum (Episode 12), and weird (Episode 40).
As for the rest? Affect is easiest—we tend to treat affect as what happens when a piece of SFF works on you (the reader of a book or the viewer of a show and so forth). Well, the SFF spectrum is a big one for us, because we disagree with the idea that science fiction and fantasy (and horror, and alternate history, and and and…) are all necessarily separate genres (and also see our thoughts on genre, above). After all, you can have works of science fiction where a lot of the science is loosey-goosey (lookin’ at you, our beloved Star Trek), and you can have works of fantasy where new universal laws are rigorous and as defined as our own physical laws (The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller is one of our favorite examples here). That’s just one pair of examples, of course, but we generally think it’s much more fun to think about how to build SFF into something robustly fluid rather than insisting on strict borders.