Imaginary Worlds

By Eric Molinsky

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 Mar 20, 2019


 Mar 6, 2019

itsryanbarnett
 Feb 21, 2019
Been a listener for years.


 Jan 5, 2019

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 Dec 12, 2018

Description

Imaginary Worlds is a bi-weekly podcast about science fiction and other fantasy genres. Host Eric Molinsky talks with novelists, screenwriters, comic book artists, filmmakers, and game designers about their craft of creating fictional worlds. The show also looks at the fan experience, exploring what makes us suspend our disbelief, and what happens when that spell is broken. Fantasy worlds may be set in distant planets or parallel dimensions, but they are crafted here on Earth and on some level relate to our daily lives. Employing his years of experience in public radio, Eric brings a sophisticated, thoughtfully produced voice to the far-out and fantastical.

To access the full archive of Imaginary Worlds episodes, go to www.stitcher.com/premium and use the promo code Imaginary.


Episode Date
Nerdlesque
00:26:09

Burlesque has merged with geek culture to form nerdlesque – where characters from Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and other fantasy franchises strip down to pasties and g-strings. Nerdlesque is also a form of storytelling, similar to fanfiction or cosplay in the way it encompasses a diverse range of fans, and re-imagines the power dynamics of the original stories. We talk with pioneering nerdlesque performers Fem Appeal and Nasty Canasta, and we get a back stage tour of The Empire Strips Back with Russall Beattie, Lisa Toyer and Kael Murray. Needless to say, this episode contains adult content with adult language. 

Jun 12, 2019
Sidekicks: Harley Quinn
00:27:25

In the conclusion of our mini-series on sidekicks, we look at how Harley Quinn began as a sidekick to a villain, and found her way to the heart of the DC canon and fandoms around the world. Nicole Herviou of ComicsVerse and journalist Lux Alptraum discuss how the relationship between Harley Quinn and The Joker mirrors abusive relationships in real life. And I talk with comic book creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner about how they separated Harley from her toxic boyfriend, and set the character on a new path. 

May 29, 2019
Sidekicks: Tonto and Kato
00:30:25

As part of our mini series on sidekicks, we look at two characters that have travelled in parallel since they came out of the same radio station in the 1930s – Tonto and Kato. There wasn’t anything authentically Native American or Asian about these sidekicks, but that didn’t matter to the audiences who enjoyed their team-ups with The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet. Embodying Tonto and Kato was a lot more challenging for the actors Jay Silverheels and Bruce Lee, who struggled to find humanity within the stereotypes, and respect behind the scenes. Featuring Dustin Tahmahkera of the University of Illinois, Chadwick Allen of the University of Washington, Daryl Maeda of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Zig Misiak author of “Tonto: The Man in Front of the Mask”, and Matthew Polly author of “Bruce Lee: A Life.”

May 15, 2019
Sidekicks: Watson
00:28:42

Sidekicks are often taken for granted because they’re so loyal. We assume they’ll always be there to back up our heroes. Why? What’s in it for them? Who gets to be a sidekick, and do they want to stay in that role? To kick off our mini-series on sidekicks, we look at the most iconic and long-standing sidekick in pop culture: Doctor Watson. From The Steam Age to The Information Age, Watson has always found a place next to Sherlock Holmes. But as contemporary storytellers play with Watson’s race, gender, and nationality, new facets of the character have emerged that shed light on why Watson is indispensable not just for Holmes, but for the audience as well. Shedding light on this mystery are Professor Neil McCaw of the University of Winchester, Professor Pamela Bedore of UConn, and the novelist Lyndsay Faye.

May 01, 2019
Rod Serling's Key of Imagination
00:35:33

Witness if you will a writer: Rod Serling. This is the story of a man with a vision -- a vision of what television could be if only men ceased to operate out of fear and greed. But Rod Serling has a plan. He will use the camouflage of monsters, both real and imagined, to reveal what cannot be said about society, and what Mr. Serling himself cannot say about his own fears and regrets. And those monsters dwell in a state of mind called The Twilight Zone. The cast of characters: Nicholas Parisi, author of “Rod Serling: His Life, Work, and Imagination,” Amy Boyle Johnston, author of “Unknown Serling: An Episodic History vol. 1,” and Mike Pipher, archivist of the Rod Serling archive at The Bundy Museum of History and Art in Binghamton, NY. Also a recommendation: “As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling,” by Anne Serling. 

Apr 17, 2019
The Hero's Journey Endgame
00:32:35

When something goes wrong in an ordinary world, an unlikely hero emerges to go on a quest….and you know the rest. Ever since George Lucas cited Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” as the inspiration for Star Wars, Hollywood screenwriters have used Campbell’s theory of The Hero’s Journey as the blueprint for making movies, especially stories about epic protagonists. But as we reach a saturation point of sci-fi fantasy and superhero franchises, has The Hero’s Journey outstayed its welcome? I talk with pop culture journalist Abraham Riesman, and musical composer Peter J. Casey, who explains how The Hero’s Journey took over Broadway. 

Apr 03, 2019
Slaughterhouse at Fifty
00:30:52

Time doesn’t work the same for Billy Pilgrim as it does for the rest of us. He keeps jumping from one moment in his life to the next -- and always back to the bombing of Dresden. 50 years ago this month, Kurt Vonnegut introduced Billy Pilgrim and the aliens who gave him strange time traveling powers in his novel "Slaughterhouse Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death." Many critics were baffled as to why Vonnegut used sci-fi tropes to explore the horrors of World War II. But the novel was deeply personal to Vonnegut, who struggled for years to figure out how to talk about his wartime experiences. Vonnegut scholars Marc Leeds, William Rodney Allen and Julia Whitehead of the Vonnegut Museum and Library connect the dots from the author’s real traumas to the fantastical adventures of Billy Pilgrim. And professor Philip Beidler explains why the novel speaks to him as a Vietnam veteran. 

Mar 20, 2019
Tales of Margaret Brundage
00:26:37

She’s mostly forgotten today, but in the 1930s Margaret Brundage was the hottest pulp fiction magazine illustrator. She created covers for Weird Tales magazine, which published the works of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft and other pioneering genre writers. But Brundage herself was something of a mystery. I talk with experts George Hagenauer, Lauren Stump and Steve Korshak about why Brundage’s art was so alluring, and how it taps into current questions about how women are depicted in fantasy worlds. And I visit tattoo artist Mary Joy Scott, who believes that Brundage also had an influence on the art of tattooing.  

Click here to see images of Brundage's Weird Tales covers.

Mar 07, 2019
The Man Behind the Sword
00:29:57

Conan the Barbarian doesn't get much respect. He's generally thought of as a muscle-bound brute who fights his way through a made-up ancient world. But the character actually has a deep, rich history -- and his creator, Robert E. Howard, was a misunderstood genius. I talk with experts Rusty Burke, David C. Smith, Jeffrey Shanks, Jonas Prida, and Nicole Emmelhainz about why Conan the Barbarian is more relevant than ever, and how the character's journey reflects real world issues that Robert E. Howard struggled with in his own lifetime.  

Feb 21, 2019
The Power of the Makeover Mage
00:29:28

In some video games, you can choose which characters you want to play, and you can customize the look of those characters -- including changing their gender. For many transgender players, that option has played a significant role in their lives. Reporter and podcaster Jaye McAuliffe co-hosts this episode, as she reflects on her own gender transition and the experience of others who discovered that they can use video game avatars to begin reimagining themselves in the real world. Also featuring Julie Tjalas, Brynmore Ruiz, Anne Bazarnic and Bonnie Ruberg. 

Feb 07, 2019
Choose Your Own Adventure
00:31:56

One of the unique aspects of video games is that you can control the characters. But game developers are often torn between wanting to give the players as much freedom as possible, and wanting to guide the players through a strong story. Adam Hines tries to crack the code with his indie game Oxen Free. Ryan Kaufman and Alyssa Finley discuss why the Telltale games were more like Choose Your Own Emotions. And Jamie Madigan of The Psychology of Video Games explains how clicking dialogue options can help strength our sense of morality. 

Jan 24, 2019
Reimagining the Gods
00:31:00

Madeline Miller received critical acclaim for her novels The Song of Achilles and Circe – which reimagine The Iliad and The Odyssey told from the perspective of minor characters in the original texts by Homer. As someone who grew up loving Greek mythology, Madeline wanted to capture the sense of wonder she felt about gods and monsters, and the raw emotional truth inside those very human tales of immortal beings. But she struggled for years to find a modern voice for these classical characters, and rewriting Homer was daunting task. Luckily her fear of being caught by the "classics police" didn't come to pass, and her novels tap into a bigger debate happening in the culture at large. Who gets to tell their story?

And please fill out the survey at https://www.podsurvey.com/imaginary -- which will help my new network find advertisers for the show.

Jan 10, 2019
A Visit by Three Ghosts
00:23:56
In a special stocking stuffer of an episode, Stephanie Billman and I discuss why A Christmas Carol set the template for SF stories to come -- from Back to the Future to X=Men. Plus, we have a special announcement about the future of Imaginary Worlds!  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 24, 2018
Imaginary Deaths
00:28:40
Have you ever mourned the loss of a fictional character? It can be tough to get over, and difficult to convince people not caught up in that fictional world that your sense of mourning is valid. I talk with Tim Burke, Dawn Fancher, Maria Clara Santarosa, Megan Knox, Stephanie Billman, Leigh Foster and Daniel Skorka about how they've grieved the loss of their favorite characters from video games, novels, TV shows and movies. Plus Professor Jennifer Barnes explains the psychology behind why we feel a deep connection to make believe people. To hear more of Leigh Foster discussing the death of Tara and other LGBT characters on her podcast: https://lezhangoutpod.com/blog/2018/4/2/episode-15-bury-your-gaysTo watch Jennifer Barnes give a TEDx Talk on parasocial relationships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22yoaiLYb7MLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 12, 2018
Doctor Who?
00:33:14
We don't know his real name. We don't know who he was before he stole the TARDIS -- a spaceship/time machine that looks like a police box on the outside, but is really a cavernous ship on the inside. He's thousands of years old, but wears a different face every few years. He calls himself The Doctor, but Doctor who? In the first of my three-part series, I look at how a restless intergalactic time traveller became a global pop culture icon, and why The Doctor's knack for physical regeneration resonates with fans on a more personal level. Featuring Andy Heidel, Nick Randell, Robin Bunce, Mac Rogers, Emily Asher-Perrin, Riley Silverman and Kelsey Jefferson Barrett. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 25, 2018
Fan Fiction (Don't Judge)
00:28:15
Sci-fi and fantasy have always been a big part of fan fiction, but fan fiction hasn't always gotten respect in return. My former colleague at WNYC Stephanie Billman guides me through the landscape of fan fiction, debunking many of my preconceptions. We talk with Francesca Coppa, author of The Fanfiction Reader and one of the creators of the fan fic site Archive of Our Own. Britta Lundin, a writer on the CW's Riverdale, explains why writing fan fiction was a great way to train for writing TV. And fan fiction writer Savannah Stoehr explains why Kirk/Spock is the great love story of our time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 02, 2017
The Book of Dune
00:26:28
Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune and its sequels tackled a lot of big themes. The books are about ecology. They're about journeys of self-realization through mind-altering substances. But religion is at the core of the series, since the main character Paul Atreides transforms from a teenage aristocrat into a messianic revolutionary leader of a nomadic desert tribe. And the real world religion that Frank Herbert borrows from the most is Islam. Khalid Baheyeldin, Salman Sayyid, and Sami Shah discuss why the book resonated deeply with them, despite the fact that Frank Herbert wasn't Muslim. And Liel Liebowitz explains why the novel even spoke to him as an Israeli.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 12, 2017
Beyond the Iron Curtain
00:26:01
Comrades! The USSR pioneered the craft of science fiction long before the decadent West. This is not an opinion - this is a scientific fact. Noted intellectuals Anindita Banerjee, Sibelan Forrester, Asif Siddiqi, Gregory Afinogenov and the author's father Steven Molinsky discuss how the glorious Soviet people brought the Revolution to Mars, and used science fiction such as Aelita and Solaris to explore existential questions. Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live forever in outer space!Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 23, 2017
28 Days of Black Cosplay
00:20:21
Cosplay has gotten huge in the age of social media, but when websites feature their ComicCon slides shows, they often don't reflect the true diversity of the fans. So black Cosplayers created their own hashtag #28DaysofBlackCosplay (although it was #29DaysofBlackCosplay on the leap year.) Harry and Gina Crosland of Pop Culture Uncovered talk about why they like putting an original spins on classic characters. Cosplayers Suqi and Brittnay N. Williams of the site Black Nerd Problems talk about finding their community, and having to call out Cosplayers who don't understand why blackface shouldn't be part of any costume. Special thanks to Monica Hunasikatti.blacknerdproblems.com popcultureuncovered.cominstagram.com/BrittanyActs instagram.com/mssuqiyomifacebook.com/BishopCosplay Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 22, 2017
The Year Without a Summer
00:17:30
June 16, 2016 is the 200th anniversary of the night Mary Shelley began to write, "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus." Scholars have long speculated what Frankenstein can tell us about scientific hubris or "playing God." But Professors Gillen D'Arcy Wood and Ron Broglio think the book has just as much to say about how we adapt to "acts of God." In other words, Frankenstein was imagined in a year when the Earth's climate was thrown off balance and the weather was wildly unpredictable. Sound familiar? With biographer Charlotte Gordon and readings by Lily Dorment.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 15, 2016
Rolling the Twenty Sided Dice
00:31:09
SEASON 2 PREMIERE: I spent the last two months learning how to play Dungeons & Dragons. That's right, I never played as a kid. But I've been reading so many interviews with interesting creative people who credit D&D with their success, I kept wondering what I missed out on -- and whether it was too late to figure it out. Helping me on my quest are Lev Grossman (author of The Magicians trilogy), Paul La Farge, Richard Valazquez and the staff of The Brooklyn Strategist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 23, 2015
The Mysterious James Tiptree
00:24:11
Science fiction writer James Tiptree Jr. wouldn't talk on the phone or appear in person. He developed friendships with contemporaries like Ursula le Guin and Philip K. Dick purely through letters. And he became a mentor to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro when she was an up-in-coming writer. But James Tiptree Jr. didn't really exist. He was the pen name of a 60-year old suburban housewife named Alice Sheldon. Biogrpaher Julie Philips says Sheldon's real life story was even more surreal than her alter ego. With readings by Erik Bergmann. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 11, 2015
Origin Stories
00:15:27
What makes a good origin story? University of Oregon professor Benjamin Saunders explains how retelling origin stories is a way of returning to childhood wonder. The best origin stories are not a one shot deal, they transform characters like Spider-Man or Buffy – and keep transforming them. I see a psychologist, Dr. Robin Rosenberg, who specializes in helping her patients figure out their powers and their mission. And I unpack my own origin story, or at least a story that explains how I got from animation to public radio -- hoping it's not just a contrived piece of fiction.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 10, 2014
Find Full Archive of Imaginary Worlds on Stitcher Premium
00:01:10
May 25, 1977