It’s been two weeks since Jonathan and Gary sat down to chat for the podcast. In the interests of social distancing, they’ve had a replica of the Gershwin Room built a socially responsible distance away from the original so they can talk safely. This time out they chat about science fiction, what they’re reading, a theoretical fictional clade that encompasses the work of Philip Jose Farmer, Jack Chalker and Lavie Tidhar, and more.
This week, returning to our customary format of rambling aimlessly for an hour or so, Jonathan and Gary share observations on what we are learning from our series of Ten Minutes With… podcasts, how the current crisis may or may not be reflected in tomorrow’s SF, the increasing relevance of Kim Stanley Robinson and others who have addressed global issues in the Before Times, the question of whether SF serves more as a mirror or a lamp (to borrow and cheerfully misuse a phrase from M.H. Abrams’s classic study of Romantic literary theory), and. of course, what we’ve been reading and hoping to read in the next few months.
Well, that was unexpected, wasn’t it? After kicking off the Coode Street Podcast in May 2010 with no plans, no skills, and no technical knowledge, Gary and Jonathan race towards their 10th anniversary with no real plans, no skills, and pretty much no technical knowledge at all.
And yet, despite being invited to desist on several occasions, they persist. Four hundred episodes. Enough rambling to get you across England and back again! Probably across Australia and back again. And along the way over 150 wonderful guests, some new friends made and old ones lost, a dubious proposition or two taken about the state of the science fiction and fantasy, seven Hugo Award nominations, and enough incredible memories to fill at least an hour of rambling and possibly a couple of lifetimes. Someone should write a book.
So, with no fanfare but a lot of thanks, a guest-free 400th episode recorded in the time of Pandemic, with some thoughts on what might happen next, a short discussion of books being read, coming to you, as always, from the socially-distanced Gershwin Room, high above a temporarily shuttered Motel Six, with thanks to each and every one of you.
This week, Jonathan and Gary are back together (with no guests) for the first time in several weeks, and we discuss the inevitable: the current pandemic, and the various ways in which it was and was not anticipated by past science fiction narratives—not only of worldwide plagues but of alien invasion stories and tales of isolation.
We find time to touch upon the reading we’ve both been up to, including Gene Wolfe’s final novel, Lavie Tidhar’s reinvention of the Arthurian tales By Force Alone and some recent titles edited by Jonathan himself, including Zen Cho’s The Order of the Full Moon Reflected in Water and Alex Irvine’s Anthropocene Rag. We also encourage listeners to check out our newly launched series of short “Ten Minutes With . . .” podcasts, and to support not only their local bookstores, but independent publishers, including our beloved Locus magazine, who like so many people are facing unprecedented stresses in the current economic environment.
This week Jonathan and Gary have a lively discussion with the wonderful N.K. Jemisin, mostly about her new novel The City We Became (you can read the short story that inspired the novel at Tor.com), but with fascinating side discussions about living in New York and trying to capture and celebrate it in fiction; the vices and virtues of H.P. Lovecraft and his difficulties in dealing with Brooklyn; the comparative challenges of world-building in an invented versus a recognizable world; how her work as a psychologist has informed her fiction; and a couple of side trips about the short stories in her recent short story collection How Long Til Black Future Month?
With most book tours cancelled (including hers), this is a good way to spend some time with one of our most interesting and innovative writers. As always, our thanks to Nora for making time to join us, and we hope you enjoy the episode. See you in two weeks (and stay safe and well!)