246 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 Imaginary Worlds Ad-Free

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 1.9K Ratings

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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.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Class of '84: When Cyber Was Punk

    Class of '84: When Cyber Was Punk

    In the second episode of our mini-series on groundbreaking works from 1984, we jack into the system and upload our minds into Neuromancer. William Gibson’s novel became a seminal work of cyberpunk, where he introduced words like “cyberspace” and storylines that would become tropes of the genre. Sci-fi writer Eileen Gunn, and professors Sherryl Vint of UC Riverside and Hugh O’Connell of UMass Boston discuss how Neuromancer not only predicted the future of technology with surprising accuracy, but it also imagined the way that high tech would help fuel a new type of hyper capitalism. I also talk with Chris Miller aka Silver Spook, creator of the game Neofeud, and Gareth Damian Martin, creator of the game Citizen Sleeper, about how they used indie games to bring cyberpunk back to its roots in Neuromancer. Also, Lincoln Michel discusses why in his novel The Body Scout, he wanted to bring cyberpunk out of cyberspace. Featuring readings by actor Varick Boyd.
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    • 41 min
    Bonus: Rise of The Villains Outtakes

    Bonus: Rise of The Villains Outtakes

    When I interviewed special effects artist Shannon Shea about The Terminator and other villains of ’84, we also discussed his experiences working on Terminator 2. He tells me about the many life-sized puppets of Arnold Schwarzenegger they built and how the industry has changed in the last 40 years. We also hear an outtake from my conversation with Neill Gorton about why the industry is moving away from depicting villains with scars and disabilities.
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    • 22 min
    Class of '84: Rise of The Villains

    Class of '84: Rise of The Villains

    This year marks the 40th anniversary of a lot of landmarks in pop culture, especially sci-fi and fantasy. So many franchises were born in 1984. Some came to define their genre or invent new genres. In this three-part mini-series, we look at how The Class of ’84 made their mark on the world. First up: the bad guys. 1984 was a great year for villains from The Terminator to Freddy Krueger to Gremlins and Ghostbusters. I talk with make-up and creature designers Neill Gorton and Shannon Shea (who worked on Terminator and Nightmare On Elm Street sequels) about why the '80s was a golden age of monsters. Criminal psychology professor Yannie ten Brooke analyzes the ’84 villains and why they scared us. And I talk with pastor and podcaster JR Forasteros about why they don’t make villains like they used to – for better and for worse. You can also find Shannon at Two Chez on Etsy.
    Today’s episode is sponsored by Magic Spoon and Green Chef.
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    • 37 min
    Making Blue Eye Samurai

    Making Blue Eye Samurai

    I was blown away by the Netflix animated series Blue Eye Samurai. I’m not alone, it has 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the supervising director and producer of the show, Jane Wu, began her career as an animation storyboard artist. In fact, we were working at different animation studios at the same time in L.A. We talk about why she took a live action approach to planning animated sequences in Blue Eye Samurai, and how she wanted to represent Japanese culture in a way that’s never been done in Western animation. Jane also discusses how her background in martial arts and how her personal history helped her understand the main character Mizu, a woman with dual identities on a quest for revenge 17th century Japan.
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    • 40 min
    Prologue to Ursula K. le Guin

    Prologue to Ursula K. le Guin

    In the 1960s, Ursula K. le Guin represented a changing of the guard in science fiction literature. She was part of a generation of novelists who questioned the colonist mindset which had influenced American sci-fi for most of the 20th century. Le Guin came to this understanding not just as a moral stance or an intellectual exercise. Issues of racism and colonialism were personal to her. This episode, originally titled “The Word For Man Is Ishi,” comes from the podcast The Last Archive from Pushkin Industries hosted by Jill Lepore and Ben Naddaff-Hafrey.
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    • 48 min
    @ChristmasCarol: A Holiday Tale

    @ChristmasCarol: A Holiday Tale

    This week's episode is an original audio drama. In previous episodes, I’ve interviewed Captain Hook, vampires, colonists on the moon, and H.P. Lovecraft’s brain in a jar -- or at least actors playing those characters. Now I’ve expanded my roster of fictional interviews to include iconic characters from Christmas tales. In this 21st century holiday tale, I am visited by supernatural entities who warn me that humanity is in danger because we no longer believe they’re real. Featuring performances from Torian Brackett, Alexandra Reed and Bill Lobley.
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    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.9K Ratings

1.9K Ratings

sarahelize ,

Dec. 6, 2023 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Eric, thank you so much for your best episode yet! As an older woman who has lived many lives in many locations with many occupations and many ever-changing groups of friends, this episode spoke directly to me. You made me appreciate both Doctor Who and your insightful podcast even more deeply than I already had. And you made me appreciate my own way of being in the world too! Keep doing what you do 🤩👏🥰

RoarMck ,

Fun and interesting

Great podcast to listen to with my teenage kids gives us something to talk about and they don’t think I’m totally an old person.

thiswillkillthat ,

Love this spectacular show!

What a fun podcast. I had been looking for something like this and It's done incredibly well. If you are even a little bit into science fiction this is the podcast for you! :) thank you!!

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