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A Reader's History of Science Fiction

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A biweekly podcast exploring the history of science fiction from the Renaissance to the present day. Astrophysicist and sci-fi enthusiast Alex Howe explores how the classic books, movies, and TV shows influenced the development of the genre and continue to do so today, with book recommendations for each episode. Continue Reading >>
A biweekly podcast exploring the history of science fiction from the Renaissance to the present day. Astrophysicist and sci-fi enthusiast Alex Howe explores how the classic books, movies, and TV shows influenced the development of the genre and continue to do so today, with book recommendations for each episode. << Show Less
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S2E4: Catch-Up Episode #2: Monster Movies In this second catch-up episode, I talk about the most recent monster movies (and one novel) to come out and their place in science fiction as a whole. Movie recommendation: Love and Monsters My YouTube video on the physics of giant monsters. Other works discussed: The Color out of Space (2019) Underwater (2020) Godzilla vs. Kong Jurassic World Dominion Monster Hunter (2020) The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
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S2E4: Catch-Up Episode #2: Monster Movies In this second catch-up episode, I talk about the most recent monster movies (and one novel) to come out and their place in science fiction as a whole. Movie recommendation: Love and Monsters My YouTube video on the physics of giant monsters. Other works discussed: The Color out of Space (2019) Underwater (2020) Godzilla vs. Kong Jurassic World Dominion Monster Hunter (2020) The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
S2E3: Constructed Languages in Science Fiction Science fiction frequently plays with language in different ways to explore the concepts of philosophy, culture, and cognition; and constructed languages (or conlangs) are a big part of that. In this episode, I highlight how conlangs have contributed to the genre over its history. TV recommendation: Defiance (Kastithanu, L'Irathi, Indojisnen, and Kinuk'aaz, by David J. Peterson) My blog posts about language in Creationism. jan Misali’s Conlang Critic playlist. Other languages discussed: Newspeak (Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell) Láadan (Native Tongue, by Suzette Elgin) Klingon (Star Trek, by Marc Okrand) Na’vi (Avatar, by Paul Frommer)
S2E2: Catch-Up Episode #1 My first episode catching up both on classic works of sci-fi that I passed over before, and new works from the past 2 years. These are "short" episodes that will continue intermittently with longer ones. Book recommendation: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini Other book discussed: Cities in Flight by James Blish My review of A Case of Conscience by James Blish
S2E1: Farah Mendlesohn Interview I interview Farah Mendlesohn, a scholar of children's sci-fi and fantasy literature and author of The Intergalactic Playground. Farah's website. Farah's book recommendations: The Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve The Year's Best African Speculative Fiction (free online)
#46 - Science Fiction Today In the final episode of Season 1, we explore the state of the science fiction genre in the present day. Book recommendation: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin Worlds Without End's list of sci-fi classics Worlds Without End's customizable list N. K. Jemisin on the Broken Earth trilogy Edit: corrected links. Other books discussed: The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
Bonus Episode: More Alternate History I missed a few important books in the previous episode on alternate history. Here is an overview of those works. Recommendation: "If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg" by Winston Churchill (yes, really). Other works discussed: The Grasshopper Lies Heavy from The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick Fallen Axis from this Onion article. The United Colonies Triumphant from The Two Georges by Harry Turtledove. Proposed book by Abraham Lincoln from The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, along with remarks in the Southern Victory series. Insane alternate World War II from this XKCD comic.
#45 - Young Adult Dystopias Dystopian fiction has been the core of young adult sci-fi for the past 15 years. In this episode, we explore how they got their start and what makes them so popular. Book recommendation: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins My analysis of Mortal Engines. Other books discussed: Unwind by Neal Shusterman The Maze Runner by James Dashner The Selection by Kiera Cass Uglies by Scott Westerfeld Maximum Ride by James Patterson The Chrysalids by John Wyndham The Giver by Lois Lowry Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
#44 - The Children's Sci-Fi Renaissance Children's science fiction was pretty sparse historically, but it began to take off in the 1990s. In this episode, we explore how sci-fi for kids has changed and expanded over the most recent generation. Book recommendations: Middle grade (ages 8-12): Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke Chapter books (ages 6-10): Aliens for Breakfast by Stephanie Spinner and Jonathan Etra Picture books: How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk Farah Mendelsohn on children’s sci-fi. 1984 NYTimes article on book fairs. Frankie Thomas on Animorphs.K. A. Applegate on reposting her books. Other books discussed: My Teacher Is an Alien by Bruce Coville Animorphs by K. A. Applegate The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
#43 - Solar System Exploration Hard sci-fi stories about the exploration of our solar system became more popular beginning in the 1990s. In this episode, we explore how these ideas rose to prominence and have developed over the years. Book recommendation: The Martian by Andy Weir. The Mundane Manifesto by Geoff Ryman et al. Kim Stanley Robinson on the Mars Trilogy. Other works mentioned: The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson The Grand Tour Series by Ben Bova The Expanse by James S. A. Corey Artemis by Andy Weir Gravity Interstellar Ad Astra
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