Imaginary Worlds

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.

http://imaginaryworldspodcast.org

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      Gathering the Magic


      At its core, Magic the Gathering is a card game and your goal is to knock your opponent down to zero points. But Magic the Gathering also has a deep mythology about an infinite number of parallel worlds. As Magic celebrates its 25th anniversary, I look at why this handheld card game has survived the onslaught of competition from digital games, and how the designers at Wizards of the Coast create a sense of character and worldbuilding within a non-sequential card game. Featuring Mark...


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      The First Three Lives of Catherine Webb


      You may know her as Claire North, author of the best-selling novel "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August." You might also know her as Kate Griffin, author of the urban fantasy series about modern day sorcerer Matthew Swift. You may have read her Horatio Lyle detective novels, which she published under her real name, Catherine Webb. But even if you haven't read any of her novels, you're in for a treat. I talk with Catherine Webb about being a wunderkind author who got published in high...


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      The Westworld Experience


      To promote season 2 of Westworld, HBO recreated the fictional Wild West town from the TV show just outside Austin at the SXSW festival, and they hired actors to play androids who think they're living in the Old West -- just like the androids on the TV show. The SXSW Westworld Experience was advertised as "Live Without Limits." Unfortunately, some of the guests took that slogan to heart. Featuring actors Alan Nelson, Liz Waters and Courtney Rose Kline. Also professors Noson Yonofsky, James...


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       2018-05-17  35m
       
       

      Jack Kirby's Marvels


      Avengers: Infinity War brought together characters from across the Marvel universe, but many of them already shared a common bond -- their creator Jack Kirby. While Kirby is best known for his intense drawing style, he was also a great storyteller who worked with Stan Lee to redefine what a comic book character could be. But their relationship was fraught. I talk with comic book experts Charles Hatfield, Mark Evanier, Randolph Hoppe, and Arlen Schumer about where we can see Jack Kirby's...


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       2018-05-03  34m
       
       

      Living in Space


      People have fantasized for ages about what it would be like to live in space -- whether it's living on the moon or Mars or on a space station. And if Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos achieve their goals with Space X and Blue Origin, life in space might not be science fiction any more. I look at two different dreams of living outside the Earth and how close they are to becoming reality, from the impossibly curved space habitats of Gerard K. O'Neill to a city on the moon that might split apart....


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       2018-04-19  33m
       
       

      Visions of Philip K. Dick


      Philip K. Dick is best known for his fiction that have been adapted to movies and TV shows like Blade Runner, Minority Report and Man in the High Castle. He wrote about multiple realities and fantastic worlds beyond the scope of our mundane everyday lives. But he also believed that he experienced one of those alternate realities in the winter of 1974.  The problem is, he couldn't figure out which paranormal experience he had. Professor Richard Doyle, author Erik Davis and playwright...


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       2018-04-05  28m
       
       

      Stuck in the Uncanny Valley


      The holy grail for many animators is to create digital humans that can pass for the real thing -- in other words to cross the "uncanny valley."  The problem is that the closer they get to realism, the more those almost-real humans repulse us. Blame evolution for that. I talk with Hal Hickel from ILM who brought Peter Cushing to life on Rogue One, Marianne Hayden who worked on games like The Last of Us and Uncharted for Naughty Dog studios, Vladimir Mastilovic from 3Lateral studios who...


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       2018-03-22  29m
       
       

      Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin


      Ursula K. Le Guin was a master storyteller who was best known for her "thought experiments" -- like what if there were a planet in which the inhabitants had no fixed gender? Or what if a man's dreams could alter reality around him? She was also a fearless critic, and a trailblazer. But she wasn't all that comfortable being on camera. That was the first of many challenges facing filmmaker Arwen Curry, who was determined to make a documentary about the author. I talked with Arwen about her...


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       2018-03-08  26m
       
       

      Behind the Daleks


      They may not look scary to you, but the monsters on Doctor Who have scared generations of children to the point where hiding "behind the sofa" has become a meme in the UK. When I first started watching the show, I was baffled by one particular villain -- The Daleks. I didn't understand why they were The Doctor's arch nemesis, or why they were such a cultural phenomenon. After I learned more about their backstory, I began to realize that Doctor Who wouldn't work without them. Featuring Robin...


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       2018-02-22  31m
       
       

      Traveling in The TARDIS


      If The Doctor offered you a spot traveling with him on his spaceship/time machine The TARDIS, would you go? Would you still go if you knew what happened to all his previous companions? For many Doctor Who fans the answer to both questions is unequivocally yes. Traveling in the TARDIS will blow open your knowledge of the universe -- but you'll change in ways you can't begin to predict. In the second of my three-part series on Doctor Who, I look at whether The Doctor's companions are better...


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       2018-02-08  29m