a podcast about science fiction & fantasy
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Shows pt 2


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Episode 60: Cats! In Space!


You know they're there. On spaceships. In your Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Army crawling under roller coasters. Sleeping in your bathroom sink that ONE TIME you forget to turn the light on when you want to wash your hands at night. And they're coming for you. They are ... CATS.

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Episode 59: Worlds We’d Actually Want to Live In

Sometimes, when you read a really good book or watch a really good bit of media, you find yourself wanting to INHABIT the world you find there. Right? Everyone who grew up in the 90s wanted to go to Hogwarts. To go riding across the rolling hills of Rohan. To yell at Scotty (a bit unnecessarily, mind) to beam aboard the Enterprise.

In this episode of the Imaginaries Podcast, we take a long look at the top worlds we'd actually want to live in, and some of the reasons why they appeal so much to us as heart-homes. Here's a hint: Tony uses the worlds to get into thet whys, and Kend uses the whys to get into the worlds. Whether it's found families, points of view we connect with, characters we'd actually want to spend time with, post-capitalist utopias where we could actually afford medical care, or worlds where benevolent AIs take care of all the difficult stuff and leave us free to create, every world has a why, and every why has a world!

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Episode 58: Gays! In SPACE! (… & elsewhere)

What does it mean to be gay in science fiction and fantasy? The question can be broken down into three major components: 1) What magic happens when SFF works include characters with same-sex attraction? 2) What magic happens when SFF works are written BY authors who experience same-sex attraction? And 3) what can we expect to see in texts both historical and contemporary when it comes to representation?

The history of same-sex attraction in SFF is, as you probably already know, fraught. In this episode, we discuss matters ranging from the Bury Your Gays trope to queerbaiting to "slash" pairings and fanfiction to the lack of representation in SFF anthologies to a whole long-ass list of books, comics, films, and television shows to watch out for (for both good and bad reasons, that is). It's a lot! And it's messy!

WARNING: This episode is VERY gay! It specifically tackles characters and authors from minority sexual orientations who have same-sex-oriented romantic and/or sexual attractions, not the full LGBTQIA+ rainbow community ... but that just means there's more to come.

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Episode 57: Religion

What role does religion play in science fiction and fantasy? What do we read into and what do we read *out* of a book written by an author of a known religious bent (think Orson Scott Card, C.S. Lewis, or Tolkien), or which features characters of a religious bent (think Mary Doria Russell or Tristan Palmgren)? Religion is something we can't get away from in 2018, whether we're talking about contemporary politics or science fiction or our own personal histories.

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Episode 56: Orientalism

What is orientalism, and why is it ... not a great thing to keep stumbling across in science fiction and fantasy? Better yet, what are some signs to watch out for that indicate you're writing orientalism into your latest book? We're here to talk about the history, the definition, the manifestations, and the long fight to combat orientalism in our most favorite of genres. But be ready! We don't exactly go easy on prized favorites of the genre.

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Episode 55: The Fifth Beauty of Science Fiction: The Sublime

Once upon a time two years ago, we started a podcast series tackling Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr's "The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction," a work of actually readable literary theory which attempts to find new ways at describing and understanding what even this science fiction thing IS, anyway. The fifth beauty has everything to do with the science fictional sublime. What IS the sublime? Can it be ... playful? Or is it always grotesque? What is the DEAL with inverted expectations? CAN WE EVEN SURVIVE THIS EPISODE OH MY GOD.

First Beauty (Episode 5): Fictive Neology
Second Beauty (Episode 12): The Novum
Fourth Beauty (Episode 34): Imaginary Science

Unfortunately, the third Beauty, on Future History, remains lost in a smudge of data due to a crapped-out hard drive. We still have hope for it, but you'll just have to hang in there for that one.

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Episode 54: Invasions (invaMOOSEN!)

They happen, and they're not always great, but they ARE always worth investigating. What forms do they take? What do they say about humanity or at least what an author or creator thinks of humanity? What happens when WE are the bad guys? What then, HUH??

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Episode 53: Space Operaaaaa

What are space operas, and what is their relationship to science fiction? Join us this episode for a long talk on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and the future significance of this--what, subgenre? Mode? Cat?


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Episode 52: The Best SFF of 2018 (so far)!

Want to know what we've been reading this year? A lot. A lot of books. So many books. TOO MANY BOOKS HELP

No, just kidding. About needing help. We have indeed read many, *many* books in the first seven months of 2018, and we're here to give you the highlights of the top half of the year, as well as a bit of a preview of what's to come. After all, not every book can win an Imaginary Award ... but every good book deserves its moment. And here we are. Giving moments away. Like funnel cakes at a fair. Or perhaps kettle corn, depending on your preference.

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Episode 51: BEIGE. So Much Beige Writing!

Summer brings a lot of things, including a brief hiatus as Tony travels and Kend wraps up a summer of intensive graduate classes. While you wait for their return in the coming weeks, enjoy this episode on "beige" writing in science fiction and fantasy ... and some authors who seem to know what they're about, with nary a whiff of beige to be found.

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Episode 50: On Cities in SFF

In this, the third and final installment of our "Enclosed Spaces in SFF" series, we tackle the city. The city on our planet, the city on other planets, the city in worlds of strange makings. Cities have long been a construct familiar to the reader of science fiction as well as the reader of fantasy, just as they have been familiar to the authors who put them to many diverse purposes.

Here, we discuss the city in such texts as Lord of the Rings, Nnedi Okorafor's "Akata" series, in City of Stairs, Harry Potter, Crossroads of Canopy, the works of China Mieville and Adrian Tchaikovsky, Kim Stanley Robinson and Omar El Akkad, Nicola Griffith and Patrick Rothfuss, Chris Beckett and Octavia Butler ... among many, many others.

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Episode 49: International #TowelDay 2018 (aka Whales in Space!)

We are so excited to celebrate #TowelDay this year with a special episode dedicated to Douglas Adams ... and, more importantly, whales. Whales in space, space whales, whales with attitude. All the whales! We also make mention of dolphins and petunias, because, well, they've earned it, poor sods. 

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Episode 48: Campy Camp Camp

What exactly IS camp, and why does it matter to those of us who love science fiction and fantasy? What role does camp play in the queering of the genre, and why are we talking about it now? If you grew up loving The Fifth Element and Doctor Who, you're already an expert on camp, and you're probably also used to defending the campy against those who equate camp with "poorly made" or "low budget" or "lowbrow." We're here to enliven that struggle, to advocate for camp and all campy things, and to uncover what exactly it is which makes it so important, now and always.

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Episode 47: On Space Stations

What's the big deal about space stations? What's the big deal about any locked room mystery? What's the big deal with any science fictional thing that is also a SCIENCE FACTUAL thing? They're hospitals in space. They're prisons in space. They're cities in space. They're ... in space. Which is pretty cool. 

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Episode 46: The Legacy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Plenty authors of science fiction trace their literary DNA back to Mary Shelley and her masterwork, "Frankenstein." What does it mean for science fiction to trace its origins back to a woman? What does it mean for these authors we know and love (or don’t) today to bring her back into the conversation? What does it mean to claim Mary Shelley as an influence at all? These are just some of the questions we set out to answer in this week's podcast.

You can find a list of works inspired by Frankenstein HERE (our thanks to the list's creator) as well as some thought-provoking essays on Shelley's legacy HERE and HERE. Many thanks to those authors as well! 

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Episode 45: SPACESHIPS

Yes, *those* ships! Welcome to our new latest miniseries on enclosed spaces in science fiction and fantasy, wherein we nerd out about all things ship, inside and out. Ye shall hear many things about design and function here, as well as laments, and diverse cheers.

Do you have a favorite spaceship design? Or a least favorite? We'd love to hear from you.

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Episode 44: Disco! (aka Star Trek: Discovery)

Buckle up: it's time for our review of Star Trek: Discovery, the latest addition to the Trek franchise. Did we love it? Yes. Unreservedly? No. There's a lot to shop talk, from representation to technology to plot mechanics ... and much, much more.

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Episode 43: Ursula K. Le Guin (In Memoriam)

This was a hard episode to record. As you'll probably be aware, the incredible Ursula K. Le Guin passed away early this year, and in this podcast we set out to untangle just what it was that she did. Did she change science fiction? What will her legacy be?

Full disclosure: this will probably be just as difficult to listen to as it was to record. But it's worth it. Ursula K. Le Guin deserved it. She earned the right to demand our sincerity.

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Episode 42: Part Two of the 2017 Imaginary Awards

Looking for the absolute BEST in science fiction and fantasy released in 2017? We've got you covered. Join us for this, the first of two podcasts covering everything from best SFF novel of 2017 to best television show to best book cover art as determined by our *totally impartial* (and *totally humble*) dynamic duo. We are posting these two episodes simultaneously!

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Episode 41: Part One of the 2017 Imaginary Awards

Looking for the absolute BEST in science fiction and fantasy released in 2017? We've got you covered. Join us for this, the first of two podcasts covering everything from best SFF novel of 2017 to best television show to best book cover art as determined by our *totally impartial* (and *totally humble*) dynamic duo. We are posting these two episodes simultaneously!

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Episode 40: The Weird

Welcome to our final podcast of 2017! Yes, yes, we know it's showing up in 2018, and we apologize for the delay. This week, we're talking about the Weird in science fiction and fantasy, its intersections with Lovecraftian and other murders/unkindnesses/tribes/categories of SFF, and what to look for as we move into a future populated by Jeff VanderMeers and China Mievilles. It's a good future. It's a bit odd, but we like it that way.

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Episode 39: The Planets, Far Afield

This is the third and final installment of our "planetary bodies" series, which began with the Moon (Ep. 37) and middled with Mars (Ep. 38). Here we cover a LOT of ground--everything from Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora to Sheri Tepper's Grass to Nicola Griffith's Ammonite to Cixen Liu's The Three-Body Problem. How do we present planetary bodies in science fiction as a landscape and a function? And what's this about cli-fi, or climate-change exploratoriums, in science fiction? We have a lot of questions, and a lot of thoughts, and cats. WHAAAAT.

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Episode 38: On Mars

Mars has long been the focus of our science fictional imagination. So what's the deal? How is setting a book or a colony on the red planet different from setting it elsewhere in our solar system? We get into the nitty gritty of Percival Lowell, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Expanse, Mariner 1, Mark Watney's potatoes, and much much more. While you're reading this, you should look up K. Maria D. Lane's Geographies of Mars and Carl Abbott's Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West. We promise you won't regret it!

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Episode 37: On the Moon

What does a lunar society give us that another society anywhere else can't? Is there something about the moon as a setting that makes for looney sci-fi? Join us as we double down on lunar settings, from Ian McDonald to Ursula K. Le Guin to N.K. Jemisin to James S.A. Corey--there's plenty to explore, and that's what we do! Thar's where we go!

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Episode 36: Problematic Favorites

Oh yes, we all have them. Whether we're talking problematic *authors* who still somehow manage to write favorites (like Orson Scott Card), *fandoms* who manage to the poison the things we might otherwise have loved (here's looking at you, Rick and Morty), or works which have become become problematic *over time* (like poor Sheri Tepper) ... well, there's probably a couple of problematic faves on your bookshelf right now. RIGHT NOW. No, seriously, go look.

When you're done, come back and listen to the podcast! We cover a lot of ground here, including some ways in which to discuss (or not discuss) contentious works of SFF with contentious people.



Episode 35: Libraries and Librarians in SFF

Ever wonder what Batman & Star Trek have in common? LIBRARIANS. What about Garth Nix & Buffy the Vampire Slayer? LIBRARIANS. Ever wonder what science fiction & fantasy do with Data from TNG? LIBRARIANS. (Oh yes, we could go on.) Needless to say, this could have been a pretty self-soothing podcast about Kend's job (which is--well, we'll give you 5 guesses), but it was actually Tony's idea. Blame him.

Once you're finished with that, take a listen to this great podcast in which we discuss libraries in the real world and on the page, screen, and brain--and cross reference them with each other, our own personal experiences, and current movements in library science as the image evolves to fit an equally-evolving reality.

Oh, and we should note: There's totally a stereotypical librarian in Stranger Things 2 but the show only went live after we recorded this episode. So, sorry dear Duffy Brothers fans. We didn't know!



Episode 34: The Fourth Beauty of Science Fiction: Imaginary Science

We're back with more science fictional magesties as we work our way through the Fourth Beauty of Science Fiction (according to Istvan Csicsery-Ronay in his book The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, that is): Imaginary Science! What role does the "science" in "science fiction" actually MEAN? What sciences count? When do all of our definitions start breaking down into one giant soup of goo? You be the judge! Or we can be the judge. After all, we're pretty fantastic.

You can find the first two Beauties in our backlist:

First Beauty (Episode 5): Fictive Neology
Second Beauty (Episode 12): The Novum

Unfortunately, the third Beauty, on Future History, remains lost in a smudge of data due to a crapped-out hard drive. We still have hope for it, but you'll just have to hang in there for that one.



Episode 33: War! What is it good for?

Do we NEED war? Many scifi creators seem to argue that war is inevitable, or an inherent human need or dominion. Thinking of Omar El Akkad's American War and Jeff VanderMeer's Area X trilogy and Octavia Butler’s various series, among many others, we seek to reframe these questions: Do we need it? On a human level? Or on a science fictional level? What does war look like when we move beyond militarized conflicts to a more psychological battleground?

Does writing war into scifi allow us to do things we simply couldn’t do otherwise?



Episode 32: Spiders

Why does it have to be spiders?! Well, we can't give you a neat and tidy one-sentence answer, but we *can* give you 45 minutes of crazy spiders in space and in your face. In this podcast, we talk Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time and throw some love at Arachnophobia (despite being two card-carrying arachnophobes), "Anansi Boys," Zelda, and a number of other seminal scifi and fantasy texts. Including mythology. Shit gets real.


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Episode 31: Spaceman of Bohemia

with special guest Parke Cooper

We may not know Jaroslav Kalfar, author of the groundbreaking Spaceman of Bohemia, personally ... but we DO know someone who knows him, and all of our acquaintanceships go south quickly. So we brought Parke, an excellent human being as well as an author and inhaler of all things speculative fiction, on our show. What resulted was great, and includes a personal apology to Italian ESA astronaut Sam Cristoforetti, a shout-out to Burrow Press in Orlando, Florida, and weird discussions about gender, politics, gender politics, when it's appropriate to murder one's shipmate rescuers, and why it's so important to see genre-defying works like Spaceman of Bohemia on bookstore shelves in 2017. Eat your heart out, scifi lovers!