Dive into Vietnamese Seafood Noodle Soup with Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning writer Rachel Pollack as we discuss why Ursula K. Le Guin was such an inspiration, the reason celebrating young writers over older ones can skew sexist, what Tarot cards and comic books have in common, how <em>2001: A Space Odyssey</em> isn't a science fiction movie but an occult movie, why Captain Marvel was her favorite comic as a kid (Shazam!), the serendipitous encounter which led to her writing <em>Doom Patrol</em>, how she used DC's <em>Tomahawk</em> to comment on old Western racial stereotypes, the problems that killed her <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</em> Tarot deck, how she intends to bring back her shaman-for-hire character Jack Shade, and much more.
Join Bram Stoker Award-winning writer John Langan for fish and chips as we discuss how reading <em>Conan the Barbarian</em> comic books as a kid made him hope he'd grow up to be a comic book artist, why his evolution as a writer owes as much to William Faulkner as it does to Peter Straub, what he learned about storytelling from watching James Bond with his father and Buffy the Vampire Slayer with his wife, the best way to deal with the problematic life and literature of H. P. Lovecraft, the reason his first story featured a battle between King Kong and Godzilla, his process for plotting out a shark story unlike all other shark stories, why a writer should never fear to be ridiculous, what a science experiment in chemistry class taught him about writing, his love affair with semicolons, that time Lucius Shepard taught him how to box, the reason the Shirley Jackson Awards were created, and much more.
Eavesdrop on a Sunday brunch with JY Yang as we discuss why they consider themselves "a master of hermitry,” the catalyst that gave birth to their award-nominated Tensorate Universe, why they think of themselves as terrible at world-building, how their dislike of the Matt Damon movie <em>The Great Wall</em> gave them an idea for a novel, the surprising results after they polled fans on which of their works was most award-worthy, their beginnings writing <em>Star Trek</em> and <em>Star Wars</em> fan fiction, why they never played video games until their 30s, the Samuel R. Delany writing advice they hesitated to share, and much more.
It's time to taste Toad in the Hole with Ellen Klages as we discuss why it took 40 years from the time she wrote the first sentence of her Nebula Award-nominated story "Passing Strange" to finish the tale, what a truck filled with zebras taught her about the difference between storytelling and real life, how cosplaying helped give birth to her characters, what she finds so fascinating about creating historical science fiction, why revising is her favorite part of writing, the reason she's the best auctioneer I've seen in my lifetime of con-going, what she teaches students is the worst mistake a writer can make, how her collaboration with Andy Duncan gave birth to an award-winning novella, whether she still feels like "a round peg in genre’s polyhedral hole" as she wrote in the afterword to her first short story collection, and much more.
Time travel to 1993 for lunch with Arlan Andrews, Sr., Gregory Benford, Geoffrey A. Landis, and Charles Sheffield as we discuss how <em>Gilligan's Island</em> gave TV viewers the wrong idea about scientists, the ways in which most science fiction isn't actually science fiction at all, but rather <em>engineering</em> fiction, what's wrong with portraying scientists as if they're any different than non-scientists, why Stephen King's <em>The Stand</em> gave such a negative picture of science and technology, the dangers of letting governments control science, why real science, like real art, is work, the reason scientists need to be more aggressive about the ways in which they're portrayed, and more.
Share BBQ brisket with Matthew Kressel as we discuss the story of his accepted by an editor within an hour and then praised by Joyce Carol Oates, the ways in which famed editor Alice Turner was the catalyst which helped turn him into a writer, why after publishing only short stories for 10 years he eventually published a novel, how comments from his Altered Fluid writing workshop helped make his Nebula-nominated "The Sounds of Old Earth" a better story, why a writing self-help book made him swear off those kinds of self-help books, the secrets to having a happy, heathy writing career, why he's grown to be OK with reading bad reviews, what he learned from reading slush at <em>Sybil’s Garage</em>, and much more.
Eavesdrop on an Italian lunch with award-winning science fiction author A. M. Dellamonica as we discuss how a long list of random things she liked eventually grew into her first novel, the intricate magic system she created for her series, how her novel <em>Child of a Hidden Sea</em> taught her she was less of a plotter and more of a pantser than she'd thought, the doggerel she wrote when she was five years old (which you'll get to hear her recite), how discovering Suzy McKee Charnas at age 15 was incendiary, which run of comics made her a Marvel fan, what it was like attempting to live up to the pioneering vision of Joanna Russ while editing the anthology <em>Heiresses of Russ</em>, which YouTube series happens to be one of her favorite things in the world, the way John Crowley's teachings might have been misinterpreted by her class during the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, the three mystery novels of hers you'll hopefully be reading in the future, and much more.
Nebula Award-winning writer Kelly Robson had a little lamb (and you can eavesdrop) as we discuss how the first Connie Willis story she read changed her brain, the way a provocative photo got her a gig as a wine reviewer at a top national magazine, what she learned from the initial Taos Toolbox writers workshop, why completing <em>Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach</em> was like giving birth to a watermelon, how reading a <em>Battlestar Galactica</em> tie-in novel helped teach her how to write, where she would head if time travel were real, why she's contemplating writing a "frivolous" trilogy (and what that really means), the reason the story of hers she most likes to reread is a professionally published James Bond fanfic, and much, much more.
It's time for a special lightning-round episode of Eating the Fantastic as 15 guests devour a dozen donuts while recounting their favorite Nebula Awards memories. Michael Swanwick explains how his love of Isaac Asimov impelled him to walk out on guest speaker Newt Gingrich, David D. Levine remembers catching the penultimate Space Shuttle launch, Daryl Gregory recalls the compliment which caused him to get yelled at by Harlan Ellison, Barry Goldblatt reveals what cabdrivers do when they find out he's an agent, Cat Rambo puts in a pitch for SFFWA membership, Fran Wilde confesses a moment of squee which was also a moment of ooops, Steven H. Silver shares how he caused Anne McCaffrey to receive a Pern threadfall, Annalee Flower Horne tells of the time John Hodgman stood up for her onstage during the awards banquet, and much, much more!
Chow down on chive dumplings with horror writer Mary SanGiovanni as we discuss H. P. Lovecraft's racism and sexuality (or lack thereof), how having grown up in New Jersey might have given her the toughness she needed to survive her early short story rejections, why she ended up writing horror instead of science fiction even though her father read her Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert when she was a kid, which novella she wrote that will never see the light of day, how watching <em>The Exorcist III</em> changed her life, why she's no longer afraid of vampires, the reason her motto if she founded a religious cult would be "doorways are meant to be opened," the first writer she met who treated her like an equal, the identity of "the George Carlin of Horror," and much, much more.
Share a pastrami sandwich with critically acclaimed horror writer/editor T. E. D. Klein as we discuss what he hated most about editing <em>The Twilight Zone</em> magazine, how he ended up scripting the screenplay for "the worst movie Dario Argento ever made," what eldritch action he took after buying a letter written by H. P. Lovecraft, which movie monster gave him the most nightmares, what he'll likely title his future autobiography, why he feels cheated by most horror movies, the secret origin of the T. E. D. Klein byline, his parents' friendship with (and the nickname they gave to) Stan Lee and his wife, what he learned (and what he didn't) when taught by Anthony Burgess, the bittersweet autograph he once obtained from John Updike, whether we're likely to see his long-awaited novel <em>Nighttown</em> any time soon, and much more.
Share spring rolls with Elizabeth Massie as we discuss why <em>Bionic Woman</em> Lindsay Wagner is the one to thank for her Stoker Award-winning first novel <em>Sineater</em>, how reading Robert Bloch's <em>Psycho</em> at a young age was like a knife to her heart, which episode of <em>Twilight Zone</em> scared the crap out of her, why you'll probably never get to read her <em>Millennium</em> and <em>Law & Order</em> novels, her nearly impossible task of writing one spooky book for each of the 50 states in the U.S, why <em>Kolchak: The Night Stalker</em> was her favorite franchise to play in, the great-great grandfather who cut off his own head with a homemade guillotine, which <em>Dark Shadows</em> secret was only revealed in her tie-in novel, and much more.
Polish off Portuguese in Providence with Victor LaValle as we discuss the lunch during which his editor and publisher helped make <em>The Changeling</em> a better book, the graphic novel which made him fall in love with the X-Men, which magazine sent him the best rejection letter he ever received, why reading Clive Barker's "Midnight Meat Train" for the first time was glorious, the differing reactions his readers have depending on whether they come from genre or literary backgrounds, the unusual way a short story collection became his first publication, why he was so uncertain of his critically acclaimed "The Ballad of Black Tom" that he almost published it online for free, the reason so many writers are suddenly reassessing H. P. Lovecraft, how his graphic novel <em>The Destroyer</em> came to be, and much more.
Chow down on calamari with Paul Di Filippo — author of more than 200 works of fiction — as we discuss why the first story he ever wrote was <em>Man from U.N.C.L.E.</em> fan fiction, the pact he made with a childhood friend which explains why he owns none of the Marvel Comics he read as a kid, what caused the editor who printed his debut story to make the bold claim it would be both his first <em>and</em> last published piece of fiction, how his life changed once he started following Ray Bradbury's rule of writing at least 1,000 words per day, why he's written so much alternate history and for which famous person he's had the most fun imagining a different life, why after a career in science fiction and fantasy he's begun a series of mystery novels, what happened to the never-published Batman story he sold DC Comics which we never got to see, and much more.
Polish off a Persian dinner with David Mack as we discuss the weird ways his life entwined with the famed comic book artist who shares his name, how worrying about the details of <em>Star Trek</em> canon helped him when it came time to unravel the secret history of WWII, how a near-death experience led to him working for the Syfy Channel, why it was so important for necromancers to pay a heavy price for the magic they choose to wield in his new novel <em>The Midnight Front</em>, how <em>not</em> making a pitch to a book editor resulted in him selling TV scripts to <em>Star Trek</em>, his unabashed love for the Beat author Richard Brautigan, the reason that after 27 <em>Trek</em> novels and a ton of other tie-in work he's chosen to publish his non-franchise breakout book <em>now</em>, and much more.
Gobble fried green tomatoes with Bram Stoker Award-winning writer/editor Thomas F. Monteleone as we discuss the tricks he teaches to transform writers at his famed Borderlands Bootcamp, the 200+ rejections he received before he finally made his first fiction sale, how Theodore Sturgeon helped him realize it was possible for him to become a writer, why he ended up as a horror icon after his big start in science fiction, which horror writers you'd want on your team when you're choosing sides for softball, the reason his live readings have become legendary, the way Peter Straub reacted when Tom put him on a list of most overrated writers, how a challenge from Damon Knight changed his life, and much more.
Scarf down Szechuan crispy beef with two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Norman Prentiss as we discuss the day he wowed the other kids on his school playground by reading them Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," the movies a Catholic Church newsletter's warnings made him want to see even more, the supernatural superhero comic that led to a lawsuit against Harlan Ellison, the upside and (surprising) downside of having won a $35,000 college writing prize, how the freebies he got at a Horrorfind convention goosed him to start writing fiction again, why he wrote the last part of his novel <em>Odd Adventures with Your Other Father</em> first, how he's been able to collaborate with other authors without killing them, what can be taught about writing and what can only be learned, why he ended up writing horror instead of science fiction, and much, much more.
Sink your teeth into Sicilian with Barry Goldblatt as we discuss why he ended up as an agent rather than an astronaut, the happy accident that led to him being taught by the legendary science fiction writer James Gunn, the time Lloyd Alexander caused him to burst into squee-filled tears, J. K. Rowling's first U.S. book signing and how she changed children's publishing forever, what everybody thinks they know about agents that's totally wrong, the sorts of things he's told authors to help take their work to the next level, why it sometimes makes sense for him to submit a less than perfect book, whether the YA market is doing a better job with diversity than adult fiction, what he's been looking for that he hasn't been getting, and much more.
Share flash-fried cauliflower with <em>Asimov's</em> editor Sheila Williams as we chat about her first day on the job more than a third of a century ago, meeting Isaac Asimov at an early <em>Star Trek</em> convention when she was only 16, which writer intimidated her the most when she first got into the business, what she learned from working with previous <em>Asimov's</em> editors Shawna McCarthy and Gardner Dozois, the most common problems she sees in the more than 7,000 stories that cross her desk each year, the identities of the only writers she's never rejected, what goes through her mind in that moment she reads a manuscript and arrives at "yes," and much more.
Share cannoli with Charles Sheffield and Arlan Andrews, Sr. in a 1994 flashback episode as we discuss the end of the world, including the (then) coming millennium and whether that would be thing which took us out (hint: it wasn't), whether the only way to survive might be for our species to evolve into something more, how strange it is that we worry more about changing the past than changing the future, whether we're likely to destroy the planet ourselves before nature does it for us, why personal extinction might be all that really matters, whether cryonics will be the thing that saves us, why the process of dying is more frightening than death itself, why aliens coming to kill us is not a likely end, whether even if we do survive the end of the world, we can survive the heat death of the universe, why it makes no difference whether we choose to live as pessimists or optimists, and more.
Eavesdrop on lunch with Tor Books art director Irene Gallo as we discuss what it was like the first time she realized she wasn't the only one in the world who cared so strongly about art, how she felt the day she discovered Harlan Ellison as well as the title of his that made her go "whoa," why seeing book covers as thumbnails started long before the trend of Internet bookselling, how a manuscript moves from cover concept through to final cover, whether the cliche that an author is the worst possible designer of their own book cover is true, how self-published authors who create their own books can get the best possible covers, and much more.
Lunch on lasagna with legendary comic book writer/editor Marv Wolfman as we discuss his horrifying early job as a DC Comics intern destroying (and in some cases rescuing) original art, why he loves the science fiction writer Alfred Bester, how his writing back when he started out was a blend of John Broome and Stan Lee, what he learned from binge-reading 181 issues of <em>Spider-Man</em> before starting to script it himself, what it was like returning to DC after his years at Marvel, why he felt he could write <em>Tomb of Dracula</em> even though when he was handed the assignment he'd never read the Bram Stoker novel or seen any of the movies, his secret to making the Teen Titans seem like actual teens, why he owes his career to Gene Colan, and much, more.
Nibble frozen cranberries with award-winning author Amal El-Mohtar as we discuss the importance of female friendship, the first poem she wrote at age 6 1/2 (which you'll hear her recite), how Charles de Lint helped her get her first bookstore job, the importance of welcoming newcomers into the tent of science fiction and fantasy, what she learned about empathy from Nalo Hopkinson, the only time she ever cosplayed, which book made her a writer, why Storm is her favorite member of the X-Men, the delicious magic of honey, the difficulties of reviewing books in a field where everybody knows everybody, and more.
Sink your teeth into samosa with Karin Tidbeck as we discuss the serious nature of Live Action Role-Playing games in Nordic countries, the way pretending to be a 150-year-old vampire changed her life, how discovering Neil Gaiman's <em>Sandman</em> comics made her forget time and space, the most important lesson she learned from the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop, how she uses improvisational exercises to teach beginning writers, why <em>Amatka</em> grew from a poetry collection into a novel, what made her say, "I'm not here to answer questions, I'm here to ask them," and more.