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Eating the Fantastic

I’ve been going to science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic book conventions since I was 15, and I’ve found that while the con which takes place within the walls of a hotel or convention center is always fun, the con away from the con—which takes place when I wander off-site with friends for a meal—can often be more fun. In fact, my love of tracking down good food while traveling the world attending conventions has apparently become so well known that one blogger even dubbed me “science fiction’s Anthony Bourdain.” So after toying for quite awhile with the idea of attempting to replicate in podcast form one of my favorite parts of any convention—good conversation with good friends over good food—it’s finally happening. During each episode, I’ll share a meal with someone whose opinions I think you’ll want to hear, and we’ll talk about science fiction, fantasy, horror, writing, comics, movies, fandom … whatever happens to come to mind. (There’ll also be food talk, of course.) Please note—this will not be a pristine studio-recorded podcast, but one which will always occur in a restaurant setting, meaning that mixed in with our conversation will be the sounds of eating and drinking and reviewing of menus and slurping and background chatter and the servers popping in … in other words, it’ll be as messy as life. And hopefully as entertaining, too. And now … please pull up a chair to the table and get ready to dig in.
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Eating the Fantastic
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Now displaying: 2020
Nov 20, 2020

Loaf around with award-winning writer A.C. Wise as we discuss how her first professionally published fiction ended up printed on a coffee can, the 24-hour challenge which led to the creation of her Lambda Award-nominated collection, which comic book character obsesses her the most, how individual stories can act as commentary on all stories, why she enjoys wielding the power of ambiguity, how workshopping with other writers can help make stories better, what <em>The Queen's Gambit</em> can teach us about dealing with reader expectations, the unexpected way a flash fiction piece turned into her first novel, and much more.

Nov 6, 2020

Share Sachertorte with Steve Toase as we discuss how his COVID-19 lifestyle has been both an inspiration for and a distraction from his writing, the way reading his stories at open mic nights helped him hone his craft, the importance of dread in horror, how his background in landscape archeology helps make his fiction more visceral, the challenge of scripting a planetarium show for the visually impaired, what gave birth to his fascination with Forteana, his advice for those who'd like to improve their flash fiction, the short story sale which told him he'd made it, our shared love of the great Italo Calvino, which of his creations brings him the greatest pride, the advice he wishes he could give his younger self about writing, and much more.

Oct 23, 2020

Things get crunchy with award-winning writer Robert Shearman as we discuss the reason we're lucky we each survived to adulthood, how he almost talked his way out of selling his first short story, the way he starts every story thinking it's funny even as things turn horrific, why some readers find his new collection offensive and others uplifting, how he's following up that three-volume, 2,000-page, 650,000-word, 101-story collection, the way his brush with COVID-19 has affected his writing, and much more.

Oct 9, 2020

Cross the pond for pappardelle with Priya Sharma as we discuss the best decision she made about her debut short story collection <em>All the Fabulous Beasts</em>, how the cover to that book conveys a different message in our COVID-19 world, why we each destroyed much of our early writing, a surprising revelation about the changed ending to one of her stories, who told her as a child "your soul is cracked," the two of us being both longhand writers and defenders of ambiguity, what it's like writing (and not writing) for theme anthologies, the most difficult story for her to write, how the pandemic has affected our writing, and much more.

Sep 25, 2020

Uh-oh! It's Spider-Man SpaghettiOs with comics writer/editor/historian Danny Fingeroth as we discuss his start (like mine) in the Marvel British reprint department, what was wrong with the early letters he wrote to comics as a kid, his admittedly over-generalized theory that there were only two kinds of people on staff at Marvel, our differing reactions to the same first comic book convention in 1970, our somewhat similar regrets about the old-timers we worked beside during our early days in comics, why working in comics was wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time, why he wanted to be not only Stan Lee, but both Stan <em>and</em> Jack Kirby, how he was able to interview Stan and get "The Man" to say things he'd never said before, why comics was the perfect medium for Stan Lee, and much more.

Sep 14, 2020

Down dumplings with the legendary Irene Vartanoff as we discuss how she'd never have gotten into comics if not for her father's cigar habit, what made a comic book reader become a comic book fan become a comic book professional, the "heartbreaking" advice given to her by Julie Schwartz during her teen visit to DC Comics, why her reputation as a famed letterhack meant she didn't face the same sexism as other women in comics, what it was like working for Roy Thomas at Marvel and Paul Levitz at DC (and why she respected them both), how critiquing romance manuscripts for 25 years was like being at Marvel all over again, the secret origins of her Temporary Superheroine character, how politics changed Hollywood Superheroine, the final novel in her trilogy, why pantsing works better for her than plotting, the reason she decided to go the indie publishing route, and much more.

Aug 28, 2020

Join Farah Mendlesohn for tea and scones as we discuss the reasons Robert A. Heinlein resonated with her, how her early and current readings of Heinlein differ, why the science fiction of the '30s was far more politically radical than that of the '40s and '50s, her deliberately controversial comment about Ursula K. Le Guin, the circumstances under which she's more interested in the typical rather than the groundbreaking, that period during the '20s when everyone was fascinated by glands, the one Heinlein book she wishes we'd go back and reread, our joint distaste for fan policing, and much more.

Aug 15, 2020

Polish off prawn pizza with Stephen Dedman as we discuss how the Apollo 11 moon landing introduced him to science fiction, what his father told him which changed his plan to become a cartoonist, the huge difference the Internet made in the lives of Australian writers, his creative trick for getting his first poem published, what acting taught him about being funny in the midst of tragedy, his former job as a used dinosaur parts salesman, the way page one tells him whether he's got a short story or novel idea, how Harlan Ellison became the first American editor to buy one of his stories, and much more.

Jul 22, 2020

Join award-winning writer Lee Murray for lunch <em>and</em> dinner as we discuss how she crafted her first short story collection, the importance of mentoring our next generation of genre writers, why we're unlikely to ever go spelunking together, whether she prefers her zombies fast or slow, the unique awards club of which we're both members, the way her use of New Zealand culture might be perceived differently by readers in and out of her country, the difficulties some seem to have with stories written in the present tense, the thrill of being the first New Zealander to appear in <em>Weird Tales</em> magazine, how the experiences of reading <em>The Hobbit</em> and <em>The Lord of the Rings</em> aloud differ, and much more.

Jun 14, 2020

Binge on bagels while sequestering with writer, editor, and Eating the Fantastic host Scott Edelman as he answers questions about whether his early days in fandom and early writing success helped his career, which anthology he'd like to edit if given the chance, what different choices he wishes he'd made over his lifetime, what he predicts for the future of food, how the pandemic has affected his writing, if anything he's written has ever scared him, whether writer's block is a reality or a myth, which single comic book he'd want to own if he could only have one, how often he's surprised by something a guest says, the life lessons he learned from Harlan Ellison, and much more.

May 28, 2020

Join <em>New York Times</em> best-selling novelist Justina Ireland as we discuss whether having written zombie novels has helped her deal with the pandemic, her biggest pet peeve when she hears other writers talk about writing, where she falls in the fast vs. slow zombies debate (and how she's managed to have the best of both worlds), our very different reasons for not having read <em>Harry Potter</em>, the way she avoided sequelitis in <em>Dark Divide</em>, what it was like playing in the <em>Star Wars</em> sandbox, why it's easier to lie when writing from a first person point of view, the franchise character she most wishes she could write a novel about, the main difference between science fiction and YA communities, how <em>Law & Order</em> gives comfort during these trying times, and much more.

May 14, 2020

Practice social distancing with Scott Edelman, host of Eating the Fantastic, as he answers listener questions about his early days in the Marvel Comics Bullpen, the many things he and legendary editor Gardner Dozois shoved up their noses, when his food and fandom interests began to overlap, what he would have said to Harlan Ellison had he been in Barry Malzberg's shoes, whether experiencing personal tragedy helps or harms a writer, the cognitive dissonance he feel about comics having taken over the world, which characters caused him to start writing (hint: it was Conan the Barbarian), what he wishes he knew less about, who he was the most thrilled to have met in his life, whether he still gets a kick out of his favorite childhood treats, what a terrible collaborator he is, and much, much more.

Apr 26, 2020

Catch up with the award-winning Sarah Pinsker &#8212; this podcast's first guest &#8212; as we discuss how relieved she was her pandemic novel <em>A Song for a New Day</em> was published in 2019 rather than 2020, why she originally wrote that book in a song format (and why that had to change), how she loves being surprised by her own characters, why neither of us can bear listening to music while we write, the extremely scientific, color-coded process she came up with for organizing her first short story collection, how one of her favorite fictional tropes led to the creation of the original story she wrote specifically for that collection, why the thing that most interests her is the way people cope with what's put in front of them rather than why those things happen, the reason she prefers leaving interpretations to readers rather than providing answers, her terrible habit when reading collections and anthologies, how she's coping with the surreal feeling of living in the world of her novel, and much more.

Apr 10, 2020

Shelter in place for lunch with Scott Edelman, host of Eating the Fantastic, as he answers questions from listeners and former guests of the podcast, revealing his love for The Twilight Zone (and the negative effect it had on him as a beginning writer), the origins of the Scarecrow character he created for Marvel in 1975, what it was like editing a professional wrestling magazine, whether the difficulties he faced in getting his Lambda Award-nominated novel The Gift published during the ‘80s still hold true today, the embarrassing things he wishes he hadn’t done as editor and publisher of Last Wave magazine, how it felt seeing one of his comic book creations on the big screen in Captain Marvel, his opinion on the James Tiptree Jr. Award controversy, and much more.

Mar 27, 2020

Time travel to 1995 with scientist/science fiction writers Geoffrey A. Landis, Jr. and Yoji Kondo as we chew over the question of the age of the universe. We discuss how the idea of the universe even having a beginning is a relatively new concept, the way we choose between the many competing theories of its age, how the phrase "Big Bang" was a joke which stuck, the paradox of some stars appearing to be older than the universe itself, how a science fiction writer’s imagination might solve unanswered questions, whether knowing when the universe was born will help us calculate when it will end, and more.

Mar 13, 2020

Chow down on crab cakes with Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda as we discuss the convention at which he thought he was about to be punched out by Harlan Ellison, the book he wants to write but which he realizes he could probably never publish, how discovering E. F. Bleiler's <em>Guide to Supernatural Fiction</em> opened a whole new world for him, whether he faced judgment from his peers for believing Georgette Heyer is as important as George Eliot, why he wants to be buried with a copy of <em>The Count of Monte Cristo</em>, how Beverly Cleary's <em>Henry Huggins</em> is like a Proustian madeleine, the way he navigates the tricky act of reviewing the fiction of friends, the word he used which annoyed Gene Wolfe, and much more.

Feb 28, 2020

Brunch on biscuits and gravy with Keith R.A. DeCandido as we discuss how the kids TV show <em>The Electric Company</em> made him a Marvel fan, the serendipitous way he sold his first short story (and how it was all thanks to Spider-Man), what we each learned from working with Stan Lee, how he was given the chance to write his first novel in lieu of being given a raise, which of the more than 30 franchises he's written tickled his inner child the most, whether the bias against writers of tie-in work has lessened, the novel which put more money in his pocket than any other, what surprised him the most during his <em>Next Generation</em> rewatch, the debt he owes fan wikis, his advice on crowdfunding and for those who want to join him in the world of tie-in writing, plus much more.

Feb 15, 2020

Nibble fried noodles with John Edward Lawson as we discuss the birth of the bizarro horror subgenre (and the surprisingly democratic way in which it was named), the reason <em>Alien</em> both repelled and attracted him, how trying to sell screenplays led to him publishing his first short fiction instead, the story of his which was the most emotionally difficult to write, how he won a poetry award only after giving up on poetry, the unexpected gift he was given when starting his own publishing company, his initial doubts about naming his press Raw Dog Screaming, how he survived the 2008 financial meltdown which sank so many small presses, why he loves watching people bicker, the reason he became known as "the forgotten black man of horror," and much more.

Jan 30, 2020

Join Alfie Award-winning writer Alexandra Erin for waffle fries (but no waffling) as we discuss the way Mark Twain gave her permission to comment satirically on science fiction, the thoughts which went through her mind the night George R. R. Martin handed her that Alfie Award, her preferred role when playing <em>Dungeons and Dragons</em>, how she knew her <em>Tales of MU</em> saga was meant to go on for several million words, the way in which she's transformed herself into a cyborg, how she knows when an idea is a poem vs. a short story vs. a serial, the one question I felt I could not ask her, advice for how not to get caught up in social media controversies, and much more.

Jan 10, 2020

Eavesdrop on my lunch with L. Penelope as we discuss why <em>The Neverending Story</em> was her favorite childhood movie, which Octavia Butler quote inspired one of her tattoos, why she decided to go the self-publishing route (and how her indie success resulted in her first novel getting picked up by a traditional publisher), the catalytic scene which sparked her <em>Earthsinger Chronicles</em> series, how she manages to meet the expectations of both fantasy readers <em>and</em> paranormal romance readers, her advice for breaking out of writers block, and much more.

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