255 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

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

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

    Books Under Fire

    Books Under Fire

    Book banning is hitting libraries across America, and many of the titles being banned or challenged are fantasy books or graphic novels – especially LGBTQ content. Malinda Lo has been tracking how her work is being targeted, like her novel Ash which is a queer reimagining of Cinderella. I talk with Malinda about how she’s been tracking the attacks on her work and fighting back. Plus, we hear a version of my 2018 episode Fahrenheit 451 Still Burns featuring Neil Gaiman, whose work is currently banned in several states. 
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    • 43 min
    The George Lucas Talk Show

    The George Lucas Talk Show

    Did you know that in retirement, George Lucas decided to host a live talk show with his sidekick Watto? That’s the conceit of The George Lucas Talk Show starring Connor Ratliff (from the podcast Dead Eyes) as Lucas, and Griffin Newman (from The Tick) playing the alien character Watto. They’ve had famous guests on the show, including people who know Lucas in real life. The guests have to pretend that Connor is George. Over the past 10 years, the show had grown into a cult phenomenon to the point where there’s now a documentary about it called, I’m “George Lucas”: A Connor Ratliff Story. Connor and I talk about why he’s fascinated with what defines success or failure, and how it’s become a theme in his work. We also discuss his new podcast Tiny Dinos, which is like a combination of Jurassic Park and The Tonight Show on a micro-scale.
    This episode is sponsored by TodayTix, Incogni and Henson Shaving.

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    • 45 min
    How Nintendo Leveled Up

    How Nintendo Leveled Up

    Over the past 40 years, Shigeru Miyamoto has been inventing the modern video game one pixel at a time. From Donkey Kong to Super Mario Bros to The Legend of Zelda, Miyamoto turned wonder and exploration into game mechanics, and incorporated his personal experiences into his games. I talk with Illinois Institute of Technology dean Jennifer deWinter and Oakland University professor Sam Srauy about how Miyamoto changed Nintendo, and where his influence can be seen in big budget and indie video games today.
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    • 39 min
    You Are Lone Wolf: A Father/Son Quest

    You Are Lone Wolf: A Father/Son Quest

    When Joe Dever died in 2016, he hadn’t written the last several books in his Lone Wolf series. The Lone Wolf books take place in a deeply rich fantasy universe, and they’re written as a combination of choose-your-own-adventure stories and role playing games like D&D. Joe’s final wish was that his son Ben would finish the series for him. However, Ben was unfamiliar with his father’s books, and the legions of Lone Wolf fans he would have to please. I talked with Ben Devere (who spells his last name differently) about the creative, practical, and personal struggles he went through as a writer, and how he was able to get to know his late father by immersing himself in his father’s fantasy world. Jonathan Stark, co-host of the official Lone Wolf podcast Journeys Through Magnamund, explains why Lone Wolf means so much to fans like him, and how he ended up fulfilling his own dreams of writing a Lone Wolf book.
    Today's episode is sponsored by Henson Shaving, Magic Spoon and Miracle Made.
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    • 35 min
    African Sci-Fi Looks to a Future Climate

    African Sci-Fi Looks to a Future Climate

    When the writer Nnedi Okorafor coined the term Africanfuturism, she wanted to distinguish sci-fi written about Africa from Afrofuturism, which is focuses on the experiences of Black people in the diaspora. Africanfuturism mixes the traditional with the futuristic in a way that resembles modern life in Africa, and many of these stories grapple with climate change. Although the writer Chinelo Onwualu says cli-fi isn’t a subgenre for African writers. It’s often baked into a lot of Africanfuturism because the continent is already at the forefront of climate emergencies. And the writers Suyi Davies Okungbowa and Wole Talabi explain that Africanfuturist cli-fi isn’t as dystopian as Western cli-fi. These visions of the future may feel daunting but there is often a sense of hope and the solutions are more community focused. The actress Nneka Okoye reads from their stories, and other works by African writers.
    This episode is sponsored by Babbel, Surf Shark and Magic Spoon
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    Reading list from this episode:

    Works of Nnedi Okorafor


    Wole Talabi’s anthology Convergence Problems


    Suyi Davies Okungbowa's novella Lost Ark Dreaming


    Chinelo Onwualu’s short story Letters to My Mother



    Dilman Dila’s story The Leafy Man from the book A Killing in the Sun



    Mame Bougouma’s story Lekki Lekki from Africanfuturism: An Anthology


    Omenana Magazine


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    • 41 min
    When All Is Said in Dune

    When All Is Said in Dune

    Back in 2018, I interviewed language creator David J. Peterson about how he invented Dothraki for Game of Thrones and other fictional languages in fantasy worlds. David and his wife Jessie just finished a huge project – developing the Fremen language for Dune: Part Two. I talk with the couple about their creative process and the challenge of imagining simple English phrases in the Chakobsa language that Frank Herbert imagined in his Dune novels. We also hear my 2018 episode, “Do You Speak Conlang?” where I also talked with Marc Okrand, inventor of the Klingon language, and Robyn Stewart, a language consultant for Star Trek: Discovery. Plus, Jen Usellis -- a.k.a. Klingon Pop Warrior -- will give you a serious case of earworms (not the kind from Wrath of Khan.)
    For more episodes about Dune, check out my 2017 episode The Book of Dune, where I talked with Muslim fans of the series about the way Frank Herbert incorporated aspects of Islam into the books. And in 2021, I did an episode called The Ecology of Dune where I looked at the environmental messages in the books and whether Frank Herbert’s environmental sensibilities still hold up today.
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    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.9K Ratings

1.9K Ratings

Josh the choral director ,

“Toyetic” = awesome

Thanks for introducing me to the world behind the turtles!

No Noobs Please ,

Very Poor Ad Placement/Design

I normally do not write reviews for podcasts unless they are positive- this podcast has decent subject matter and a good narrative style, but the ad placement is invasive, where they work ads into the show right into content rather than have dedicated breaks. Very obtrusive.

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 🤩👏🥰

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