199 episodes

Imaginary Worlds sounds like what would happen if NPR went to ComicCon and decided that’s all they ever wanted to cover. Host Eric Molinsky spent over a decade working as a public radio reporter and producer, and he uses those skills to create thoughtful, sound-rich episodes about science fiction, fantasy, and other genres of speculative fiction. Every other week, he talks with comic book artists, game designers, novelists, screenwriters, filmmakers, and fans about how they craft their worlds, why we suspend our disbelief, and what happens if the spell is broken. Imaginary worlds may be set on distant planets or parallel dimensions, but they are crafted here on Earth, and they’re always about us and our lived experiences.

Imaginary Worlds Eric Molinsky

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 1.8K Ratings

Imaginary Worlds sounds like what would happen if NPR went to ComicCon and decided that’s all they ever wanted to cover. Host Eric Molinsky spent over a decade working as a public radio reporter and producer, and he uses those skills to create thoughtful, sound-rich episodes about science fiction, fantasy, and other genres of speculative fiction. Every other week, he talks with comic book artists, game designers, novelists, screenwriters, filmmakers, and fans about how they craft their worlds, why we suspend our disbelief, and what happens if the spell is broken. Imaginary worlds may be set on distant planets or parallel dimensions, but they are crafted here on Earth, and they’re always about us and our lived experiences.

    Mystery Science Theater Reopens

    Mystery Science Theater Reopens

    Mystery Science Theater 3000 or MST3K is back once again. The show was first created by Joel Hodgson, then a stand-up comedian who was ambivalent about the career path laid out in clubs or maybe a sitcom. His premise -- that he and a few robot pals are trapped by mad scientists on a spaceship and forced to watch bad movies – turned the show into a cult classic and helped define a snarky, self-aware sense of humor for pop culture in the ‘90s. I talk with Joel about why he left the initial run of the series, and how he's brought it back on his own streaming service called Gizmoplex. We also explore how his sense of humor has changed, and whether he might have been too harsh on some of the films they lampooned.
    This episode is sponsored by Mint Mobile and Squarespace. Our ad partner is Multitude. If you’re interested in advertising on Imaginary Worlds, you can contact them here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 28 min
    Snow Crashing Into The Metaverse

    Snow Crashing Into The Metaverse

    For the last 30 years, the real world has been catching up to Neal Stephenson’s vision of the future in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, which influenced the creators of Google Earth, Second Life, Oculus Rift and more. Now the centerpiece of the novel, a virtual world called The Metaverse, may become a daily part of our lives thanks to Facebook (renamed Meta) and other big tech companies. I talk with Meta’s director of A.I. policy Kevin Bankston, Silicon Valley engineer Stephen Pimentel, Australian National University School of Cybernetics director Genevieve Bell, Yale professor Lisa Messeri, and Grace Ng of the DAO Crash Punks about whether it’s a good idea to use a satirical cyberpunk novel as a blueprint for the future. Plus, actor Varick Boyd reads from Snow Crash.
    ‪Our 200th Episode is coming up! We’d love to hear from you, especially if you have listened to Imaginary Worlds in a place that's evocative of imaginary worlds, or if a particular episode spoke to you and maybe inspired a creative work. Leave us a voice mail at 732-743-8255, and we might use your audio in the 200th episode. You can also send a voice memo to the show’s Facebook or Instagram accounts. 
    This episode is sponsored by Backblaze, VAST Horizon, and Squarespace. Our ad partner is Multitude. If you’re interested in advertising on Imaginary Worlds, you can contact them here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 31 min
    De-Aging Well

    De-Aging Well

    There’s an old saying that everyone wants to live long, but no one wants to get old. The same can be applied to our favorite sci-fi fantasy franchises. As familiar faces return to Star Wars, Star Trek, and other movies and shows, some franchises have embraced stories about aging and mortality, while others have used digital technology to erase those issues with mixed results. In a roundtable discussion, I talk with Christina Valeo of Eastern Washington University, Shawn Taylor of San Francisco State University and podcaster and pastor JR Forasteros about who is aging well, or de-aging poorly. Spoiler alert, we discuss the Picard series and older Star Trek movies, The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Black Mirror, and Upload.
    This episode is sponsored by Mint Mobile, Podboard and Squarespace. Our ad partner is Multitude. If you’re interested in advertising on Imaginary Worlds, you can contact them here.
     
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 37 min
    Neurodivergent Futures

    Neurodivergent Futures

    One of the most common requests I've gotten over the years has been to do an episode about why so many autistic people are drawn towards science fiction, and these suggestions have come from listeners who are autistic or have autistic children. Fiction writer Ada Hoffmann, writer and professor Dora Raymaker, YouTube presenter Quinn Dexter, and author and professor Nick Walker, who co-runs the publishing company Autonomous Press, have each given this subject a lot of thought. Their experiences and perspectives as autistic sci-fi fans and creators overlapped in many ways, from the joy of complex worldbuilding, to identifying with fictional characters like Data or Spock, to wanting to imagine a future where aliens, humans and A.I. can coexist without a hierarchy of neurotypical perspectives. Featuring actress Shannon Tyo reading passages from Ada and Dora’s novels.
    Dora Raymaker’s new novel Resonance has just been published through Autonomous Press. Dora and Ada have also contributed short stories to Autonomous’ anthology series Spoon Knife. Quinn Dexter’s YouTube channel is Autistamtic.
    This episode is sponsored by Backblaze, Echoes of History: Ragnarök and Squarespace. Our ad partner is Multitude. If you’re interested in advertising on Imaginary Worlds, you can contact them here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 30 min
    Nosferatu Live

    Nosferatu Live

    100 years ago this month, the vampire film Nosferatu was released in Germany. Not long after, it was hit with a lawsuit – which the filmmakers lost – and every copy of the film was to be destroyed. At least one copy managed to survive, and decades later, Nosferatu became a worldwide classic. Part of what’s kept the film alive has been live orchestras who infuse this old vampire film with fresh blood and original scores. I talk with Philip Shorey of The Curse of the Vampire orchestra and Josh Robins of Invincible Czars about their different approaches to writing music for Nosferatu and how audiences have reacted to them. I also talk with Carnegie-Mellon professor Stephen Brockmann about which aspects of vampire lore originally came from Nosferatu as the filmmakers tried to change the Dracula story enough so they could avoid blood-sucking lawsuits.  
    This episode is sponsored by Inked Gaming. Our ad partner is Multitude. If you’re interested in advertising on Imaginary Worlds, you can contact them here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 32 min
    A Nation Dreams of Itself

    A Nation Dreams of Itself

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine shocked the world, but this conflict was foreshadowed in Ukrainian and Russian speculative fiction. I talk with several fantasy writers in Ukraine about how they’ve used speculative fiction to break away from Russia’s sphere of influence, and why magic and folklore can be valuable tools to explore and defend their sense of national identity. I also talk with Ukrainian ex-pats in the U.S. about how Russian fantasy and sci-fi has grown increasingly imperialistic in recent years with fantasies of restoring a lost empire. Featuring Maria Galina, Borys Sydiuk, Volodymir Arenev, Svitlana Taratorina, Alex Shvartsman, and Anatoly Belilovsky.
    You can help donate to organizations resettling refugees like Direct Relief, Mercy Corps, International Medical Corps and Save the Children.
    This episode is sponsored by Brooklinen. Our ad partner is Multitude. If you’re interested in advertising on Imaginary Worlds, you can contact them here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.8K Ratings

1.8K Ratings

DarleneCoppe ,

Truly 5 stars

The quality of work is so insanely consistent. I find myself interested in a new topic every week, and the way Eric explores those topics feels very genuine and earnest.

Marce Claremont ,

Imaginary Worlds

I value this podcast. Interesting topics, with surprising intersections/connections to the non fictional world. Well done Mr Molinsky!

S Close ,

Thank you Eric

This is one of the few I listen to. It’s really good and Eric does a great job

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