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Imaginary Worlds

Panoply

Imaginary Worlds is a bi-weekly podcast about science fiction and other fantasy genres -- how we create them and why we suspend our disbelief. These are the backstories to our stories.

Imaginary Worlds is a bi-weekly podcast about science fiction and other fantasy genres -- how we create them and why we suspend our disbelief. These are the backstories to our stories.
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Location:

United States

Networks:

Panoply

Description:

Imaginary Worlds is a bi-weekly podcast about science fiction and other fantasy genres -- how we create them and why we suspend our disbelief. These are the backstories to our stories.

Language:

English


Episodes

Superheroes in the Ring

8/7/2019
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Masks, capes, secret identities – Mexican wrestling (aka Lucha Libre) has a lot in common with the superhero genre. But trying to be a superhero in real life has its own set of challenges. I visit two Lucha Libre matches in New York City and talk with wrestlers (aka luchadors) about the joy of being famous and anonymous at the same time. Photographer Lourdes Grobet reveals how she went behind-the-scenes with luchadors without exposing their identities, and professor Heather Levi reveals the...

Duration:00:29:26

Dirk Maggs

7/24/2019
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I talked with legendary audio drama producer Dirk Maggs for an episode about the history of radio dramas last year-- but a lot of great material ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. So I’m presenting a full version of our conversation, where we discuss how he brought major franchises like Batman, Alien and The X-Files to life with audio drama, and how he brought The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy back to radio. He also reveals a few secrets of audio production on how to trick the...

Duration:00:30:31

The Undertaker

7/10/2019
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He’s undead. He’s shot lightening out of his hands. He’s thrown his enemies into coffins. He's one of the most popular pro-wrestlers of all time. But Mark Calaway’s character The Undertaker is also an anachronism from a different era of wrestling. Today WWE performers rely more on their real life personalities than invented personas, and yet The Undertaker has continued his supernatural reign in the ring for nearly three decades. Journalist Chad Dundas and professors Charles Westmoreland of...

Duration:00:32:43

Hero Props vs. Fake Props

6/26/2019
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Imagine walking into your living room, and alongside your couch is a prop from one of your favorite childhood movies. Sure, it was costly but this is a piece of pop culture history, and it's right here in your home. Now imagine you found out that prop was a fake. I talk with prop collectors Tiana Armstrong of Hero Prop, Wesley Cannon of Hollywood History Online, prop appraiser Laura Woolley of Antiques Roadshow, prop designer Ross MacDonald, and Museum of Pop Culture curator Jacob McMurray...

Duration:00:29:34

Nerdlesque

6/12/2019
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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...

Duration:00:26:09

Sidekicks: Harley Quinn

5/29/2019
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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...

Duration:00:27:25

Sidekicks: Tonto and Kato

5/15/2019
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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...

Duration:00:30:25

Sidekicks: Watson

5/1/2019
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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...

Duration:00:28:42

Rod Serling's Key of Imagination

4/17/2019
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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...

Duration:00:35:33

The Hero's Journey Endgame

4/3/2019
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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...

Duration:00:32:35

Slaughterhouse at Fifty

3/20/2019
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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...

Duration:00:30:52

Tales of Margaret Brundage

3/6/2019
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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...

Duration:00:26:37

The Man Behind the Sword

2/20/2019
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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...

Duration:00:29:57

A Visit by Three Ghosts

12/24/2018
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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

Duration:00:23:56

Board Games Go Indie

12/12/2018
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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...

Duration:00:26:55

How I Won the Larp

11/28/2018
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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,...

Duration:00:39:59

Alternate Movie Posters

11/14/2018
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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...

Duration:00:26:14

Faith in Fantasy

10/31/2018
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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...

Duration:00:31:18

Don't Mess with the Fairies

10/17/2018
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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

Duration:00:29:12

Movies for the Mind

10/3/2018
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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...

Duration:00:29:45