By Eric Molinsky
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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.
||CleanSlaughterhouse at Fifty||Kurt Vonnegut had a unique way of processing his wartime trauma -- he used science fiction. But why did the aliens in Slaughterhouse Five look like green toilet plungers with hands instead of heads? We explore that and much more on the book’s 50th anniversary.||3/20/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitTales of Margaret Brundage||How a pioneering pulp fiction magazine illustrator reimagined women for fantasy and horror genres.||3/6/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Man Behind the Sword||Few people know the rich history behind Conan the Barbarian, and his creator Robert E. Howard.||2/20/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitThe Power of the Makeover Mage||Video games can give you the option of customizing the look of your character -- and even change their gender. For many transgender players, that option played a significant role in their lives.||2/6/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanChoose Your Own Adventure||How much control do we really want over the characters we play in video games?||1/23/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanReimagining the Gods||In Madeline Miller's critically acclaimed novels The Song of Achilles and Circe, she reimagines Homer's classic tales of gods, monsters and mortals from the point of view of minor characters in the original texts.||1/9/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanA Visit by Three Ghosts||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||12/24/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBoard Games Go Indie||We all grow up playing board games and card games, and now those games are growing up as well. I check out BostonFIG (festival of independent games), where a new generation of indie board game designers is reimagining what we can do with dice, cards and plastic game pieces. I also talk with Shari and Jenni Spiro of AdMagic -- the company that can make unorthodox games like Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens into household names. Plus, Dylan McKeefe at NYU's Game Incubator, and Luke Crane at Kickstarter explain why this is the perfect time for indie games to thrive.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices||12/12/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanHow I Won the Larp||In my 2017 episode Winning the Larp, I looked at the history of larps (live action role plays) and how the larping experience is deeply personal for each of the players. But I hadn’t done any larps myself. So this year, I delved deep into larping, where I discovered the thrill of stepping into someone else’s world, and the out-of-body experience of feeling emotions that aren’t yours. Featuring Ashwick Planation, DexCon and Sinking Ship Creations, along with readings by George Morafetis, Nicole Greevy and Luisa Tripoli. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices||11/28/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanAlternate Movie Posters||Long ago, before we found out about new movies from tweets about teaser trailers that advertised full-length trailers – the first glimpse of a new movie would be the poster. Movie posters used to be hand-drawn illustrations, and many of them became iconic. Not so much anymore. But a growing movement of artists, galleries and print companies are creating alternative movie posters that re-imagine ad campaigns for current and former blockbusters of sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres. I talk with Rob Jones and Eric Garza of Mondo, author Matthew Chojnacki and artists Matt Taylor, Sara Deck, Tracie Ching, and Tim Doyle about the art of alternative movie posters, and a business model that has become controversial. Here is the link to the episode page with a slideshow.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices||11/14/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanFaith in Fantasy||Science fiction has not always been compatible with religion -- in fact many futuristic settings imagine no religion at all. But sci-fi and fantasy have long fascinated people of different faiths because the genres wrestle with the big questions of life. I recently moderated a discussion between Minister Oscar Sinclair, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Alwaez Hussein Rashid about why SF worlds intrigue and inspire them. List of References: "Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. TolkienX-Men comicsDoctor Who Season 6 Episode 13 “The Big Bang” “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley Isaac Asimov, novelist“Speaker for the Dead” by Orson Scott Card “Rendezvous with Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke“Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein “Record of a Spaceborn Few” from The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers“Small Gods” by Terry Pratchett Octavia Butler, novelistStar Trek: Deep Space Nine- Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin Monstress comics by Marjorie Liu “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Larry NivenMelancholia, film by Lars von Trier The Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman The Bloodprint Series by Ausma Khan“City of Brass” from The Daevabad series by S.A. Chakraborty Sabaa Tahir, novelistNarnia series by C.S. Lewis "Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land" by Ruthanna Emrys"The Sparrow" by Mary Doria RussellFirefly TV series “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” play by Jack Thorne Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices||10/31/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitDon't Mess with the Fairies||Forget Tinkerbell or those Victorian paintings of spritely pixies with wings. Traditional fairy folklore is much darker and weirder. Irish storytellers Philip Byrne, Helena Byrne, Eddie Lenihan, and professor Martha Bayless explore how fairy folklore dominated Celtic culture for centuries, and why belief in fairies is not an unreasonable way of understanding the world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices||10/17/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMovies for the Mind||There has been a renaissance of audio drama podcasts over the last several years, so picking up where I left off in the previous episode, I bring the history of audio dramas up to date with the help of Ann Heppermann, creator of The Sarah Awards for audio fiction. I also talk with Jonathan Mitchell of The Truth about the quest for realism and the pitfalls of fake interviews. Plus we hear the third audio drama that I wrote with The Truth, called "Nuclear Winter," about a pair of missile launch officers working in a silo that may be haunted. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices||10/3/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanImaginary Deaths||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||7/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanDoctor Who?||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||1/24/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitFan Fiction (Don't Judge)||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||11/1/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Book of Dune||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||7/12/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBeyond the Iron Curtain||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||3/22/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit28 Days of Black Cosplay||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||2/22/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitThe Year Without a Summer||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||6/15/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitRolling the Twenty Sided Dice||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||9/22/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Mysterious James Tiptree||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||3/11/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanOrigin Stories||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||9/10/2014||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitFind Full Archive of Imaginary Worlds on Stitcher Premium||--||5/25/1977||Free||View in iTunes|
As a big fan of fiction and fandom and all things pop culture, I love learning about the history and the behind-the-scenes of fantasy and science fiction. The analysis of what goes into good storytelling is fascinating, and everything Eric says is well-thought-out and interesting. The interviews with people actually in the industries that this podcasts covers are a great way to get educated on such fun topics - I highly recommend it!
Profound and practical
This podcast is fabulous. I discovered it recently and cannot get enough. It is an escape but also shares profound and practical wisdom. It is always entertaining and well done.
Thee space of Imaginary Worlds is a library!
I've listened to Imaginary Worlds since it began, and what made it immediately appealing to me is the space I felt I was in when I listened to it. Despite being about fantasy worlds, I never felt I was in them, really. (A good thing, I think.) Instead, I felt like I was in a place from which I could safely observe these worlds. And just recently, it clicked for me: the space of Imaginary Worlds is a library. It's a quiet, interior space - itself a symbol for other worlds, mental, physical, and fantastic - but still a place with definite qualities of its own. Warmth. Quiet. Safety. But especially potential. Being in a library is to be wrapped in a neutral plane between paradox: mystery and discovery; the unknown and illumination; stillness and expansion; Etc. This is a wonderful show.