Imaginary Worlds

Imaginary Worlds
Imaginary Worlds is a bi-weekly podcast about science fiction and other fantasy genres. Host Eric Molinsky talks with novelists, screenwriters, comic book artists, filmmakers, and game designers about their craft of creating fictional worlds. The show also looks at the fan experience, exploring what makes us suspend our disbelief, and what happens when that spell is broken. Fantasy worlds may be set in distant planets or parallel dimensions, but they are crafted here on Earth and on some level relate to our daily lives. Employing his years of experience in public radio, Eric brings a sophisticated, thoughtfully produced voice to the far-out and fantastical.To access the full archive of Imaginary Worlds episodes, go to and use the promo code Imaginary.

My So Called Evil Plan
Nov 27 • 22 min
Taking over the world is so passé. The most popular villains want to save the world –- at a cost. What does the rise of the woke villain say about our frustrations with the real world?
Under a Red Moon
Nov 13 • 34 min
Ron Moore’s new show For All Mankind imagines what if the Soviet Union landed a man on the moon first — and what if that nightmare scenario forced NASA to be more inclusive than it was in real history?
From Outer Space
Oct 30 • 34 min
Think of an alien abduction. Humanoid creatures. Medical experiments. Missing time. Hypnosis. But years before The X-Files, that narrative was largely unknown until Betty and Barney Hill went public about their alien abduction.
Talking to the Dead
Oct 16 • 29 min
In Jason Suran’s show The Other Side, he keeps reminding the audience that he cannot talk to the dead. Then why does he do such a good job of convincing us that he can?
Scoring Godzilla
Oct 2 • 26 min
In 1954, director Ishiro Honda and composer Akira Ifukube disagreed about what Godzilla represented, but their collaboration added layers of depth that helped turn a monster into an icon.
Ends of Evangelion
Sep 18 • 35 min
Neon Genesis Evangelion ran only one year in Japan but more than 20 years later, the series and its subsequent movies are still creating ripple effects across global pop culture.
Actors with Pencils
Sep 4 • 29 min
Disney’s “live action” remakes of their classic films are a box office bonanza. But will they spark nostalgia not only for the originals, but for the lost art of hand drawn feature animation in Hollywood?
The Booj
Aug 21 • 24 min
After listening to this episode, you’ll never watch movie trailers the same way again.
Superheroes in the Ring
Aug 7 • 29 min
Mexican wrestling (aka Lucha Libre) has a lot in common with the superhero genre. But trying to be a superhero has its own set of challenges in real life.
Dirk Maggs
Jul 24 • 30 min
Legendary audio drama producer Dirk Maggs reveals tricks of the trade he used to bring The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Alien, The X-Files and other stories to life.
The Undertaker
Jul 10 • 32 min
The Undertaker has dominated the WWE for decades — but he’s also a throwback to a different era of wrestling when a supernatural character could reign supreme. So what is the secret to The Deadman’s appeal?
Hero Props vs. Fake Props
Jun 26 • 29 min
The sci-fi fantasy market is a hot commodity, but it’s also drawn in swindlers with the skills to create fake props and believable backstories about who made them – robbing the fans financially and emotionally.
Jun 12 • 26 min
Burlesque and geek culture have merged to create a new art form.
Rod Serling’s Key of Imagination
Apr 17 • 35 min
Rod Serling’s voice is still speaking to us well beyond The Twilight Zone.
Imaginary Deaths
Jul 11, 2018 • 28 min
Have you ever mourned the loss of a fictional character? It can be tough to get over, and difficult to convince people not caught up in that fictional world that your sense of mourning is valid. I talk with Tim Burke, Dawn Fancher, Maria Clara Santarosa,…
Fan Fiction (Don’t Judge)
Nov 1, 2017 • 28 min
Sci-fi and fantasy have always been a big part of fan fiction, but fan fiction hasn’t always gotten respect in return. My former colleague at WNYC Stephanie Billman guides me through the landscape of fan fiction, debunking many of my preconceptions. We…
The Book of Dune
Jul 12, 2017 • 26 min
Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune and its sequels tackled a lot of big themes. The books are about ecology. They’re about journeys of self-realization through mind-altering substances. But religion is at the core of the series, since the main character Paul…
Beyond the Iron Curtain
Mar 22, 2017 • 26 min
Comrades! The USSR pioneered the craft of science fiction long before the decadent West. This is not an opinion - this is a scientific fact. Noted intellectuals Anindita Banerjee, Sibelan Forrester, Asif Siddiqi, Gregory Afinogenov and the author’s father…
28 Days of Black Cosplay
Feb 22, 2017 • 20 min
Cosplay has gotten huge in the age of social media, but when websites feature their ComicCon slides shows, they often don’t reflect the true diversity of the fans. So black Cosplayers created their own hashtag #28DaysofBlackCosplay (although it was…
The Year Without a Summer
Jun 15, 2016 • 17 min
June 16, 2016 is the 200th anniversary of the night Mary Shelley began to write, “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.” Scholars have long speculated what Frankenstein can tell us about scientific hubris or “playing God.” But Professors Gillen D’Arcy…
Rolling the Twenty Sided Dice
Sep 22, 2015 • 31 min
SEASON 2 PREMIERE: I spent the last two months learning how to play Dungeons & Dragons. That’s right, I never played as a kid. But I’ve been reading so many interviews with interesting creative people who credit D&D with their success, I kept wondering…
The Mysterious James Tiptree
Mar 11, 2015 • 24 min
Science fiction writer James Tiptree Jr. wouldn’t talk on the phone or appear in person. He developed friendships with contemporaries like Ursula le Guin and Philip K. Dick purely through letters. And he became a mentor to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro when she…
Origin Stories
Sep 10, 2014 • 15 min
What makes a good origin story? University of Oregon professor Benjamin Saunders explains how retelling origin stories is a way of returning to childhood wonder. The best origin stories are not a one shot deal, they transform characters like Spider-Man or…
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May 25, 1977 • 1 min