Our Opinions Are Correct

By Our Opinions Are Correct

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 Sep 15, 2019


Explore the meaning of science fiction, and how it's relevant to real-life science and society. Your hosts are Annalee Newitz, a science journalist who writes science fiction, and Charlie Jane Anders, a science fiction writer who is obsessed with science. Every two weeks, we take deep dives into science fiction books, movies, television, and comics that will expand your mind -- and maybe change your life

Episode Date
Episode 49: What's the matter with Star Wars?

The nonology is over. Baby Yoda ate the internet. Fans are screaming about everything. How did Star Wars go from a campy space opera to a trigger for political conflict? We talk to guests Annalise Ophelian, director of the new Syfy documentary series Looking for Leia, and Elena Rose Vera, minister and activist, about the meaning of Star Wars in 2020. 

Shownotes here: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Jan 16, 2020
Episode 48: How Pulp Magazines Conquered Publishing

The phrase "Pulp Fiction" brings to mind Quentin Tarantino's movie of the same name. But real-life pulp fiction is much stranger, and more colorful, than you ever realized. We talk to pulp historian and author Jess Nevins about the weird and sometimes problematic history of the pulps.

Jan 02, 2020
Episode 47: The legacy of scientific racism

Scientific racism means using science to justify racist beliefs or ideas, and it has a long history. In this episode, we explore the origins of scientific racism, and how it's still affecting both evolutionary biology and fantastical stories about "other species" like the X-men's Homo superior or Underworld's vampires. Plus, we've got an interview with journalist Angela Saini, author of the recent book Superior: The Return of Race Science.

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Dec 19, 2019
Episode 46: Four Technologies That Nobody Realizes Will Change the Future

Everybody obsesses about A.I., nanotech, space travel and robots. But the technologies nobody pays much attention to could have an equally significant impact on our world. Like artificial wombs, smart toilets, new forms of public transportation, and new cleaning machines.

Dec 06, 2019
Episode 45: Worldbuilding For Beginners

Speculative fiction writers talk endlessly about worldbuilding, which sounds like it ought to involve a near-infinite amount of drywall. What is worldbuilding? And why is it so important? Plus we talk to author K. Tempest Bradford about the Writing the Other workshops and her brand new genre, Pyramidpunk!

Nov 21, 2019
Episode 44: What Killed the Terminator?

Terminator: Dark Fate barely made a dent in the world of pop culture, despite the fact that Terminator 2 changed the course of blockbuster cinema back in 1992. What made this series so electrifying in the twentieth century, and what's different now? Why did the new Star Wars trilogy reboot succeed using the same formula that made Terminator: Dark Fate fail? Also, what are the kinds of robot uprising stories we'd like to see in 2019 and beyond? 

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Nov 07, 2019
Episode 43: The Myth of Rugged Individualism

The idea of the "rugged individual" is all over the place in science fiction--especially in the United States. Who is this loner hero, and why are there so many stories about how personal freedom is more important than the public good? We explore the idea of rugged individuals in science fiction, and talk about how this myth has shaped everything from how we make technology, to why we value privacy.

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Oct 24, 2019
Episode 42: It's time to stop quoting Clarke's Third Law

We've all heard Arthur C. Clarke's third law, which states that sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic. What did Clarke mean by this, and how are people using his law to take the mystery out of fantasy stories? Plus we look at popular stories where magic is explained by science, including Star Wars and Dune.

Oct 10, 2019
Episode 41: The Multiverse Problem!

Multiverses are everywhere lately, from superheroes to fantasy novels. But there’s one huge downside to multiple realities: you can’t change the past, and if you try, you just create a new universe. Also, we talk about The Future of Another Timeline, Annalee’s brand new time-travel novel, in which there’s only ONE universe, and everyone plays for keeps.

Sep 26, 2019
Episode 40: What is TV criticism, anyway?

People have a lot of opinions about what it means to have opinions about TV. Who is allowed to criticize TV, and how do you do it well? In this episode, we talk to TV critics Inkoo King (Slate) and Nina Shen Rastogi (Vulture) about what it means to analyze TV in 2019. We're at Peak TV, everything is political, and we are still processing our feelings about Game of Thrones. Also, recaps are dead. Let's talk about TV!

Shownotes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Sep 12, 2019
Episode 39: Monstrous Women and Women Who Make Monsters

Why do so many horror movies and stories feature terrifying women? Why do male creators treat female bodies and women’s sexuality as intrinsically terrifying? And what happens when women get to create their own monsters and horror narratives? Plus we talk to Mallory O’Meara about her new book The Lady from the Black Lagoon.

Aug 29, 2019
Episode 38: The new anti-capitalist science fiction

There’s been a renaissance of anti-capitalist stories in science fiction and fantasy in the U.S. But these aren't tales of violent revolution or faceless corporations. We discuss Utopia, community, and how group therapy is the opposite of authoritarianism. Also, we’re joined by K.M. Szpara, who talks to us about his steamy forthcoming novel Docile, whose tagline is, “There is no consent under capitalism.”

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Aug 15, 2019
Episode 37: The history of Afro-futurism

Afro-futurism is on the rise again, thanks to the popularity of movies like Black Panther, and creators such as Janelle Monae and N.K. Jemisin. But Black-centered futurism has a long history in the U.S., and it's changed a lot over the past century. We sit down with critic and scholar Shawn Taylor, co-founder of TheNerdsOfColor.org, to talk about Afro-futurisms of yesterday and tomorrow.

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Aug 01, 2019
Episode 36: The Laws of the Future!

Real-world law is becoming science fictional. We talk about the future of surveillance and digital policing with guest Cyrus Farivar, a journalist who covers law and technology for NBC News. He's also the author of Habeas Data, a book about landmark privacy cases. We discuss where our current laws are going, and what science fiction has to say about it -- especially Star Trek, a show lawyers love for a reason.

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Jul 18, 2019
Episode 35: When science fiction gets censored

There's nothing quite so dystopian as censorship: the suppression of knowledge, or works of art, that challenge the ruling order. We look at how science fiction, fantasy and horror have been censored. But also, what does science fiction teach us about how to resist censorship? And we talk to Ron Turner, publisher of Last Gasp, about the underground comics scene and his struggles with official censorship.

Show notes: https://www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes/

Jul 04, 2019
Episode 34: How to Write a Good Ending

Everybody knows that endings are hard, and we all love to complain about the way our favorite TV show or movie ended. But with both Game of Thrones and the Avengers movies coming to an end, this is a perfect time to think about what makes for a good ending. And how the heck do you write one?

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Jun 20, 2019
Episode 33: Science fiction explains our messed-up economy

We talk to economist Noah Smith about how different theories of economics show up in science fiction -- and how economics is also an exercise in speculative worldbuilding. How do ideas about "rational actors" make their way into space operas, and why is everyone so obsessed with game theory? Plus what is the deal with Ayn Rand? 

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Jun 06, 2019
You're doing camp wrong!

Lately the camp-themed Met Gala got us talking about camp again. What is camp? And how is it different in 2019 than in 1969? And most importantly, why is science fiction so deathly terrified of seeming campy? We're going to have a Kiki about this.

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

May 21, 2019
Episode 31: Getting out of the Utopia/dystopia binary

We're living in an age of dystopian stories, while real-life social issues are getting pretty dystopian too. What's the point of telling dark stories in a dark time? Also, we discuss how Utopian stories and dystopian stories are actually quite similar -- just two opposite extremes -- and how the best science fiction exists in the nuanced gray area between the binary poles. Plus: what stories are giving us hope right now? 

Check out show notes and transcripts: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

May 09, 2019
Episode 30: Social media must die!

Social media has become one of the biggest problems of our time. How does science fiction deal with the rise of social networks---and how is this different from the way the real-life news media talks about it? And what does the future look like after social media dies?

Shownotes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes
Apr 26, 2019
Episode 29: Real talk about the end of the universe

For our first-ever live podcast, recorded in March on the JoCo Cruise, we talked to cosmologist Katie Mack about how the universe will end. Will it be heat death or vacuum decay? We also talk about how rarely science fiction deals with the end of the universe, as opposed to the end of our planet or species. Also, why do we think the ultimate apocalypse is so funny, and will we survive it?

For works cited, see our show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Apr 11, 2019
Episode 28: What's the Matter With Westeros?

Game of Thrones comes back in a couple of weeks, so we're thinking about the politics of George R.R. Martin's fantasy world. What would a satisfying ending to this show look like? Can our heroes defeat the ice zombies AND solve Westeros' crisis of governance? And how exactly does the Iron Bank function?

Mar 28, 2019
Episode 27: The future of futurism

Is there a way to predict the future accurately, using data and science? In this episode, we talk to Rose Eveleth, host of the Flash Forward podcast, about the idea of futurism. We explore its history and dark roots in fascism, as well as its connection to environmental politics and the tech industry. And we talk about how Afrofuturism is changing the way we imagine tomorrow. Show notes are here: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Mar 14, 2019
Episode 26: The Bomb is back

Back during the Cold War era, we were awash in stories about nuclear armageddon: either living through it, or trying to prevent it. And now, experts say the threat of nuclear holocaust is the worst it's been in over two decades. So how will pop culture respond? We talk about what a 21st century nuclear-war story might look like. 

Show notes: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Feb 28, 2019
Episode 25: Peering into the deep future of humanity

A lot of science fiction takes place in the near future, somewhere in the next century or so. But what about the far future in 10,000 years, or a million? How do writers and creators imagine deep time and make it plausible? We discuss our favorites and some misfires. Then Charlie Jane talks about her new novel, The City in the Middle of the Night (out now!), which explores a human society thousands of years from now. Citations and links are here: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes.

Feb 14, 2019
Episode 24: We Have Many Feelings About Steven Universe

We love the show Steven Universe now, more than ever. This cartoon about a magical child has gone through a lot of changes in the past couple of years, and now its cosmic mythos has become a lot more complex—and the theme of identity has only gotten stronger. In this episode, we pull apart the show's themes, including colonization, non-toxic masculinity, and the power of families.

Show notes here: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Jan 31, 2019
Sex, Lies, and Science Fiction

Let's talk about sex! In this episode we explore sci-fi tropes about where sex is going in the future, where it seems that we're doomed to become aromantic hedonists or asexual drones. We also talk about the greatest hits of scifi and fantasy sex. Special guest Lux Alptraum talks about her new book, Faking It, about the lies women tell about sex in real life, and where we see those lies popping up in science fiction too.

See links and show notes at: www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Jan 17, 2019
Episode 22: Can science fiction still give us hope for the future?

We need hope now, more than ever. So it's a good thing that more and more SF creators are trying to write hopeful stories---but what does it mean to be hopeful? Is hope a genre, or just a theme? And what the heck is "hopepunk" anyway? We talk about the books, movies and TV shows that are giving us hope, and what it's like to write a story about striving for a better tomorrow.

Jan 03, 2019
Episode 21: Pop culture nostalgia, or branding your memories

We know you just want to curl up by the fire and bask in pop culture of yesteryear this holiday season. But too bad. We're here with special guest Katharine Trendacosta to interrogate the meaning of nostalgia in science fiction. We discuss remakes, reboots, rebranding, historical references, and traumatic memories--and how all of these are shaping the future of the genre. Plus Disney. We have many thoughts on Disney.

As always, you can find show notes, references, and transcripts on www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Dec 20, 2018
Why we're excited about Doctor Who again

Doctor Who is a brand new show this year. Not only is there a lady Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker, but the show's whole format feels totally different. Three companions! All new monsters! But even more than that, the show has a new, more upbeat attitude. And it's tackling new themes, including the meaning of family and the dangers of capitalism. Join us as we go deep into the time vortex to unravel the meaning of Doctor Who in 2018.

Dec 06, 2018
Episode 19: What's so bad about cultural appropriation?

This holiday season, let's add everyone's biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Or hey--let's not! In this episode, we talk with scholar and editor Jaymee Goh, whose doctoral research focused on cultural appropriation and steampunk. She tells us what cultural appropriation is, and why it's become a source of political debate in fantasy and science fiction. Also: we discuss that one terrible scene in Back to the Future. You know the one.

Nov 22, 2018
Episode 18: Alien minds

It's easy to stick prosthetics on someone's face and call them an alien. But how do we represent a truly alien form of consciousness? In this episode, we talk about science fiction that succeeds (or fails) to evoke alien minds--whether they hail from other planets, or evolve inside our computers. Plus, we talk to guest Lisa Margonelli about her new book Underbug, which explores termite society. Did you know that termites socialize using butt juice? Learn all about that and more! 

See our full show notes at www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com

Nov 08, 2018
Episode 17: Democracy and its discontents

With the U.S. midterm election coming up, it's time to look at representations of democracy in science fiction. The genre is often skeptical or satirical when it comes to democracy--you can see this in everything from episodes of The Prisoner to the movie Idiocracy. But science fiction is also a testbed for dramatic re-imagingings of this political system, offering a hopeful look at a more egalitarian world. Our guest Malka Older, a human rights worker and author of the novel Infomocracy, talks to us about how to improve democracy with storytelling.

Full show notes and links at www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com.

Oct 25, 2018
Episode 16: Can we survive capitalism?

Anti-capitalism is having a moment in the West, and especially in the U.S. political scene. But science fiction has been grappling with the promises and savage realities of capitalism since its very inception. In this episode, we talk about anti-capitalism in stories like The Matrix and The Space Merchants. We wonder why it’s so hard to imagine what comes after capitalism. Are our only options a post-scarcity Star Trek wonderland vs. Hunger Games’ neo-Feudalist nightmare?

Links on www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com/shownotes

Oct 11, 2018
Episode 15: The future of the city

Cities lurk in the background of many futuristic stories, but they can also be characters in them. In this episode, we talk about how cities might evolve, and whether it's inevitable that they'll become cyber-noir dystopias. Also on our minds: Why social scientists are talking about the rise of "global cities," and how Wakanda is one of the few Utopian metropolises on screen. Plus: Sci-fi mapmaker Burrito Justice joins us and explains how he crunched the GIS data to make an accurate map of San Francisco after 100 feet of sea level rise.

Sep 27, 2018
Episode 14: The rise of transgender science fiction

Transgender people have always been part of science fiction and fantasy, but the past few years have seen a whole new generation of trans creators bursting onto the scene. Why are so many trans people flocking to SF and what kind of stories are they telling? Also, we delve into the controversy over Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, and explain why so many people are questioning the science behind this concept. Why can't teenagers shape their own identities without being accused of some mysterious new malady?

Sep 13, 2018
Episode 13: The Wiki-ization of television

Binge watching. Peak TV. Water-cooler shows. We have many names for it, but they all mean that we've got way too much television. There were 487 scripted shows on the air in 2017, and 2018 is just as packed. In this episode, we talk about the history of peak TV, and what it's done to the way we tell stories. Some TV shows have been Wiki-ized, getting so complex that you need multiple fan wikis to keep up. Others have gotten ultra-bland or egregiously weird just to stand out. Is everything terrible, or is there a silver lining?

Aug 30, 2018
Episode 12: Why Are Utopias So Hard To Imagine?

In this episode, we look at Sense8, the globe-spanning show about mentally linked psychics from Lana and Lily Wachowski, and we celebrate its uplifting vision of people coming together and letting go of ego. But one of the most fascinating things about Sense8 is that its vision is fundamentally utopian. Why are utopias so rare in speculative fiction—and what makes them so hard to do well?

Aug 14, 2018
Episode 11: We're in the wrong timeline

We've all been feeling like something is wrong with the timeline. In this episode, we ask what alternate history, fake history, and secondary world history can teach us about the present. Does exploring the past in fiction help us learn from history or are we doomed to repeat it? History-obsessed authors Connie Willis (Blackout, Doomsday Book) and R.F. Kuang (The Poppy War) offer their thoughts too. Episode notes at www.ouropinionsarecorrect.com

Aug 02, 2018
Episode 10: Deep in the heart of fandom

We've all witnessed the awesome power of fandom: saving beloved TV shows from cancellation, creating beautiful fan art and fan-fiction, and creating brilliant communities. But the dark side of fandom is also powerful, and can lead to actors and creators being harassed and driven off the internet. How is fandom changing as science fiction and fantasy go mainstream, and how can we keep interactions between creators and fans constructive? We talked to authors Delilah Dawson and Naomi Novik about their experiences with fandom, and what it's like to go from geeking out about stories to creating their own canon.

Jul 19, 2018
Episode 9: Horror of the One Percent

Rich people want to eat you. That's the literal plot in a lot of horror movies, and the subtext of many more. Inspired by The Purge saga, we're talking about movies and TV where class warfare becomes a blood-soaked battleground. From recent standouts Get Out and Crimson Peak, to cult classics Human Centipede and Society, these stories evoke a very real fear, which is that the ultra-rich are predators and everyone else is prey.

Jul 05, 2018
Episode 8: Science fiction has always been queer

It's queer pride month, and we're talking about how LGBTQIA+ got into our SFF. We time warp back to the lesbian vampires of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla and the utopian world of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, and catch you up on modern classics. Plus, we explore Torchwood, Sense8, Battlestar Galactica, and more! Along the way we ask why vampires and time travelers are so gay, and how queerness crept into fandom. Do fantastical stories help queer people cope with dark times? Yes! So much yes!

Jun 21, 2018
Episode 7: Imaginary immigrants and time-traveling refugees

Immigration is a major theme in science fiction, both in subtext and straightforward plot arcs. Creators often tell stories about new arrivals on Earth from other worlds, other dimensions, and other timelines. Poet and performer Baruch Porras-Hernandez joins us to discuss what these stories say about the fears and aspirations of real-life immigrants. Can scifi help people accept neighbors from far away, or are we doomed to live in a world where mutants are exiled to distant islands?


Jun 07, 2018
Episode 6: Animal companions and magical beasts

Special guest Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of the children's book Also An Octopus, joins us to talk about what happens when animals become characters in science fiction and fantasy. Animals get to speak in fairy tales, Disney movies, and stories of "uplift." But are we really listening?

May 24, 2018
Episode 5: Fear of robots

Fear of robots is on the rise -- in science fiction and the tech industry. What causes this anxiety in real life, and how does science fiction imagine the future of human/robot relationships? Are we going to be raw materials for a future AI civilization, or become robots ourselves? It's possible that our fantasies of robots are getting in the way of understanding the true risks and rewards of new technology.

May 10, 2018
Episode 4: Crisis on infinite superheroes

With Avengers: Infinity War about to hit theaters, we needed to talk about superheroes. What is it about these larger-than-life characters that fascinates us so much? Why can't we eliminate campiness and silliness from superhero epics? And have the ginormous superhero crossovers and shared universes finally gone too far?

Apr 27, 2018
Episode 3: Books that stand the test of time

Some science fiction books are still fascinating after 200 years, while others make us wince after just a decade on the shelf. What makes an SF book stay relevant? Hint: it's not the book's ability to predict the future. Your hosts Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders talk about the themes and ideas that make books last, and offer lots of suggestions for your summer reading lists!

Apr 12, 2018
Propaganda and mind control in science fiction

There's something distinctly science fictional about how Facebook has been used by governments, politicians, and private companies to manipulate people's perceptions--and even affect the outcomes of elections. In this episode, we talk about how science fiction stories from 1984 to They Live deal with the idea of digital propaganda. Often, stories about propaganda merge with stories about mind control. Indeed, the concept of psychological warfare was invented by a science fiction author, while he was working for the US military. What does scifi tell us about how propaganda works, and how we can stop it?

Mar 29, 2018
Episode 1: Hope, dread, and Star Trek: Discovery

Join authors Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz to explore storytelling, science, and cultural meaning in science fiction. In our first episode, we discuss the inaugural season of Star Trek: Discovery.

Is Michael Burnham the greatest hero? Why did we have to stay in the Mirror Universe so long? How does this show fit into the Star Trek pantheon? Is there too much fan service in this series? What is a Klingducken and why do we care? All these questions and more will be answered, or at least asked, and possibly mocked.


Mar 15, 2018