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Can science fiction save the world? Author and filmmaker, Mikel J. Wisler, explores the themes and ideas presented in a wide range of sci-fi movies and books from various time periods. Convinced that sci-fi is the most naturally philosophical genre, Wisler invites everyone from die-hard fans to casual observers to dive into meaningful conversations about how sci-fi helps us think about our future, brings up challenging scenarios, and forces us to ask big questions. Support this podcast: http ...
 
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Because I love science fiction, I don't just talk about it. Occasionally, I write sci-fi stories. And because I used to be a narrative filmmaker, I still pick up and camera and do a little cinematography. In this episode, I invite actor and director Diana Porter to discuss with me why she agreed to direct and star in "Subscribed," this short film I…
 
The Tomorrow War offers us big-budget sci-fi with hand-wavy time travel and deadly aliens. What's not to love? On this episode, I invite a couple of friends who also love a good sci-fi flick to join me for a lively discussion about the merits and flaws of this tropy action movie. Be warned, we discuss the move at length, so expect a lot of spoilers…
 
Author and science communication specialist Octavia Cade joins me for an important conversation about climate change, effective communication of science to the public, and protecting data and scientific integrity in a world driven by politics and profit margins. In this challenging and eye-opening episode, Cade and I discuss the real-world inspirat…
 
Author Terri Favro joins me to discuss her non-fiction book, Generation Robot, which gives us a look back at the history of robotics and AI and a well-researched look forward into what lies ahead in the coming decades. Science fiction has given us a wide range of views on robots. But has sci-fi really got it right? What will happen if we succeed in…
 
Andy Weir, author of The Martian, has a new novel out, Project Hail Mary. In this episode, I dive into what works and what doesn't about this book, how Weir has given us a better character journey, and more. Weir returns to some familiar territory with this plausible hard SF adventure. First 20-minutes are spoiler free. Join the discussion on Disco…
 
Author Alec Nevala-Lee stops by to discuss his monumental biography of the early days of science fiction. His book, Astounding, details the rise of SF through the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. This was the age of a magazine called Astounding, today known as Analog Science Fiction and Fact. In those early decades, John W. Campbell served as editor of Astound…
 
Orson Scott Card and the late Ben Bova are two giants of the science fiction literary world. Bova has long been one of my favorite authors and his Grand Tour books have been an enormous influence on me. I recently dug up some solid advice from established professionals in the SF writing world and I found Card and Bova had both written books on writ…
 
Sherryl Vint teaches Science Fiction Media Studies at the University of California, Riverside and has written several books exploring the various philosophical and cultural aspects of science fiction. Her latest book, Science Fiction, published as part of the MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series. This latest book is a guide for the casual sci-fi fa…
 
Have you seen the new Netflix sci-fi thriller, Stowaway? In this episode, I review the movie and discuss what worked and what didn't about it and why I want to see more movies like this made. The first portion of the episode is spoiler free, so even if you haven't seen the movie, you can listen to the first part and get a sense of whether this is s…
 
S.B. Divya's debut novel, Machinehood, is a thrill ride of plausible future conflict between developing AI and augmented human beings who have given up privacy and now rely on daily updates to their medication to combat designer viruses and remain competitive in the gig marketplace. Divya is also the co-editor of Escape Pod, which is a science fict…
 
We didn't reverse climate change. The world is a barren husk of what it once was. And yet, humanity persists. Traveling between towns, villages, and cities, a circus cuts through Europe, delivering entertainment. But much there is a darker reality to this circus, and their trek to Asia is either hopeless venture or will be the spark of a new humani…
 
This past weekend I got to attend (virtually) the Flights of Foundry 2021 con. It was fantastic and I feel so energized by it. Why is that? Well, grab a coffee or tea, and let's chat. From networking with fellow speculative fiction creators to jointly launching a new subgenre of science fiction, Flight of Foundry was a remarkable experience, and it…
 
Sci-fi author and artist, Frank Wu, joins me for a lively, hilarious, and very informative conversation about how he got his first story published in one of my favorite science fiction magazines, Analog. We also dive into how his award-winning story, "In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary," which truly one of the best short stories I've ev…
 
What can we learn from neuroscience and psychology about the narratives we create, how mailable memories are, and how our drive for survival shapes our response to life? Chris Wong, therapist and adult education specialist, joins me for a lively follow-up discussion to episode 014 about the neuroscience of storytelling. We explore how trauma shapes…
 
When my coworker, Mike Palumbo, told me I needed to check out Devs on Hulu because it was "my kind of sci-fi" that stuck with me. Well, I finally checked it out and boy, was he right. So I invited Mike to come on to the podcast to discuss this twisted, suspenseful, deeply philosophical mini series. This is a long discussion meant for folks who have…
 
This hard sci-fi thriller stares unflinchingly into the political ramifications of discovering we are not alone in this universe. The discovery launches a new space race with a winner-takes-all approach to securing alien tech and science. What can we learn from this novel and why do I wish more politicians were reading Saturn Run? Check out my rece…
 
Yes, I love science fiction. But even more foundational than my affinity for this wonderful genre is the fact that I love storytelling. It's what I do for my day job (documentary film) and my side hustle (sci-fi novels and this podcast). So yes, I love storytelling. But turns out that there are deep reasons storytelling has been an integral part of…
 
The Loop by Ben Oliver has been called "the new Hunger Games" by some. But does it live up to this bold claim? I checked out this brand new young adult dystopian futuristic thriller. In this episode, I dive into The Loop and discuss what works and what doesn't. I also discuss a couple of graphic novels I just read: Mooncop and Wonder Woman: Tempest…
 
In one of the most epic sci-fi novels I've come across, Neal Stephenson takes on the long-term survival of the species after a freak event destroys the moon and dooms the planet to an eventual catastrophic rain of fire from the sky that will render the Earth unhabitable for thousands of years. At the core of this type of science fiction are questio…
 
Have you checked out the new George Clooney directed film released on Netflix? The movie seems to split audiences. What can we learn from this film? Is it good sci-fi? Is it meaningful? What is the story really trying to get at, anyway? This contemplative sci-fi drama offers more than many of seem to dismiss it have recognized. But is it really an …
 
Rob Hart's novel, The Warehouse, got me thinking about a lot of things when I first checked it out last year. It has become even more relevant this year as we have had to hunker down and do most, if not all, of our shopping online. Are we thinking clearly about the corporate and economic future we are fostering with each purchase? What does Hart's …
 
In 1999, this crazy cyberpunk action movie came out, and it blew my mind. Not only that, it has withstood the test of time (and two subpar sequels). It is one of the most philosophically astute action films ever made, and it might just be more plausible than we're willing to admit (the whole "humans as batteries" thing aside). This hilarious episod…
 
Let's talk about the movie and book that started it tall for me. Does it still stand up all these years later? Where does Jurassic Park fit into the world of sci-fi? What question is at the heart of Michael Crichton's classic book? How do the book and movie differ in a key way? Take a peek at my novels, which have definitely been influenced by Cric…
 
I light of the tragic collapse of the large radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory, I'm needing a bit of a pick-me-up. It can be quite difficult as a science fiction author to remain hopeful about human progress when we allow such an amazing tool for scientific discovery to literally fall apart. In this episode, I go digging for some suggestion…
 
When I first heard of Valerie Valdes' Latinx Space Opera novel, called Chilling Effect, I just had to check it out. Now that the sequel, Prime Deceptions, is out too, of course I had to dive in and continue soaking in Valdes' interstellar, off-beat, hilarious and yet heart-felt saga. Plus, there're psychic kittens. So there's that. In this episode,…
 
Why do Sci-Fi and Fantasy get lumped together? Should they be lumped together? In this episode, I bring an old friend and Fantasy expert Andrew Gilbert. From his work teaching humanities and philosophy at Colorado University to playing D&D on his podcast with Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost) Gilbert knows a thing or two about Fantasy, Sci…
 
Why is The Martian a breath of fresh air to sci-fi? Is it really a love letter to science? Who's the bad guy in this story? This novel and movie helped me survive one of the toughest seasons of my life. Why is that? Well, let me tell you all about it and why I keep coming back to the character of Mark Watney as a role model for perseverance and cre…
 
Let's dive into one of the best science fiction movies ever made, Arrival. It's parallel stories unfolding outside of linear time give us a lot to unpack as I reflect on why it meant so much to me to see this film the moment it came out and dive into why it remains utterly relevant in uncertain times. What will we let dictate our choices? Fear? Lov…
 
How can a novel written by a scientist during the Cold War still be so moving and incredible? How could it give birth to a lasting science fiction movie that has aged well? Let's dive into Carl Sagan's "Contant." This authentically rendered exploration of humans coming into contact with intelligent life from beyond our solar system was one of the f…
 
Let's explore the first two novels by Annalee Newitz. From a big-pharma-controlled futuristic world with autonomous robots to a twisted tale of time travel, Newitz is a fresh voice in science fiction literature that is worth check out. Whether addressing corporate greed, ethical questions around human-robot coexistence, or giving us a deep glimpse …
 
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