How Do You Like It So Far uses pop culture to take soundings of a society in transition, exploring intersections with civic imagination and engagement, and social and political change. Henry Jenkins and Colin Maclay are your guides on this adventure.

Episode 66: The Legacy of Octavia E. Butler with Damian E. Duffy, John Jennings, and Shelley Streeby

We are sad to inform you all that this is our last episode for this season, How Do You Like it So Far? crew!  We’ve had a lovely run this year with countless, unforgettable guests, wonderful, thought-provoking conservations, and an amazing fanbase.  We could not have asked for anything more and we are so thankful you have stuck with us during a global pandemic.  If anything, we know we can do this podcast whenever, wherever, and however and we will keep doing just that!  

This week (tears our FINAL week), we continue our series on how science fiction thinks about disaster, especially in our new normal surrounding COVID-19 and the global pandemic.  We examine the work and legacy of Octavia E. Butler, an exceptional science fiction writer who wrote about gender and sexuality in bold new ways.  Henry and Colin welcome Shelley Streeby, Professor of Literature and Ethnic Studies at UC – San Diego, Director of Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, and author of The Future of Climate Change: World Making Through Science Fiction and Activism, John Jennings, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and a Collaborating Faculty Member in the Department of Creative Writing at UC – Riverside, and Damian E. Duffy, a Cartoonist, Scholar, Lecturer, Writer, Curator, Teacher, #1 New York Times Bestseller Graphic Novelist.  Jennings and Duffy are collaborating on a project to adapt Butler’s Kindred and Parable of the Sower to graphic novels.  They discuss their decision to choose Parable of the Sower as their next graphic novel after the election of Donald Trump and their process of translating the novel into graphic images (Spoiler: Jennings does the art and Duffy crafts the story points).  Each of our guests tells us about their first encounter with Butler’s work and how they found her to be a buried treasure and became lifelong fans of her work.  They dive deep into the Parable of the Sower as a cautionary tale if we as a society do not change our behavior.  They talk about Butler as a writer who focuses on what connects us rather than what makes us different.  Listen in as Streeby, Duffy, Jennings, Henry and Colin discuss the ways Parable of the Sower can make us think of our current moment involving the coronavirus.  They also discuss in great detail Butler’s legacy and the influence she has had on the next crop of African-American science fiction writers.  Also, looking for something to read while stuck inside?  Check out the notes section for a list of Octavia E. Butler’s work, along with other great African-American writers! 

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Octavia E. Butler’s work referenced in this podcast:
Wild Seed
Xenogenesis Trilogy
Parable of the Sower
“Speech sounds”

African-American authors referenced in this podcast:  
W.E.B. DuBoisThe Comet
Toni Morrison
Pauline Hopkins – One Blood
Sheree R. Thomas – Dark Matter

Movies Mentioned in this Podcast:
Harry BelafonteThe World,The Flesh, and the Devil
Z for Zackariah

Aimee Bahng – Butler as a feminst philosopher of science

1992 LA Uprisings

Octavia got her start at Clarion

Butler left 350 boxes of material to the Huntington Library

How she was thinking of indigenous people and people of color

Rob Nixon – Slow Violence and Environmentalism of the Poor


Streeby’s piece on Butler as a histo-featurist

Afro-Futurism – Butler is directly connected to it
Mark Dery – Black to the Future (1993)

Parable of the Sower:
Global warming is a character
Robert Heinlein type of fiction
Cautionary Tale
More about how prescient the book is
1991 interview where she talks about writing the book 
Prop 182 at that time in the 1990s

Bruce Sterling and design-fiction
How Do You Like it So Far? Bruce Sterling Episode

Walidah Imarisha – definition of visionary fiction in Octavia’s Brood

Tom Moylan’s definition of critical dystopias

Obama – empathy gap in America
Trump lacks any sort of empathy 
Empathy under neoliberalism

Stacey Robinson – imagines Black-centric spaces

Henry’s Science Fiction Talks at MIT:
Butler’s Talk at MIT
Henry’s Essay on Butler at MIT
Samuel Delaney
Joe Halderman
Michael A. Burstein

Importance of libraries to Butler

Damian Duffy’s Essay – interstitial literacy

Black Monday Murders by Tomm Coker and Jonathan Hickman

Octavia’s E. Butler’s Legacy:
Octavia E. Butler Scholarship
Octavia’s Brood 
Radio Imagination Program (2016) 
Julia Meltzer and Clockshop Arts Collective
Adrienne Maree Brown – Co-Editor of Octavia’s Brood
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption
Black Angel
Dani McClain A Homing Instinct 
Ayana Jamison – Founder of Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network
Toshi ReagonParable of the Sower opera

Octavia E. Butler Scholars:
Mothership by Bill Campbell and Edward Hall
N.K. Jemisin
Nalo Hopkinson
Nnedi Okorafor
MegaScope –  new graphic novel on speculative fiction from people of color

Scott McCloud episode

Nick SousanisUnflattening

The Space MerchantsCyril M. Kornbluth and Frederick Pohl

Henry’s essay on the book 

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry and Colin and also through email at [email protected]!

Episode 65: Design Fiction and the Pandemic with Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tešanović

Welcome to another quarant-week How Do You Like it So Far? team!  We are still super lucky to be able to stay safe with our friends and loved ones right now and hope you are all hanging in there.  We know it is a tough time and we appreciate you making this podcast a part of your quarantin-ing.  Basically, thank you for not socially-distancing yourselves from this podcast.  We are continuing our sequence on science fiction during the COVID-19 crisis.  This week, Colin and Henry welcome Bruce Sterling, author, futurist, and one of the founders of Cyberpunk movement along with his partner Jasmina Tešanović, Serbian activist, author, feminist, and filmmaker.  Sterling and Tešanović offer their perspective on what is going on in Belgrade, Serbia (where they are currently under a rigid lockdown) that perhaps can shed light on the pandemic.  Sterling brings (slightly terrifying) insight on speculative world-building in response to our current reality.  Sterling, well known for developing the concept of “design fiction,” discusses how companies and political organizations engage with world-building to anticipate problems and social change. Sterling dives deep into the potential policy changes that may happen, such as the rise of surveillance and technology companies becoming the new power brokers.  He describes how the current world order emerged post-9/11 as policy decisions reacted to perceived and anticipated threats and suggests that the pandemic is apt to bring new shifts in power.  Sterling provocatively suggests that when the pandemic ends, we may be living with its consequences but we will forget, as other generations have, the health threat itself.  Sterling discusses the role of Chinese soft power, specifically in the Balkan region, and suggests that China is gaining global influence even as the American Belle Epoque is ending.  Most surprisingly, Sterling dismantles the Cyberpunk ethos he helped create (mind blown right?) as science fiction writers are playing a different role in response to the changed environment in which they are working.  A silver lining Sterling does provide is an enthusiasm over Twitter (who would have thought?)!  Listen in as Sterling discusses a progression of pulp writers to contemporary ones like Cory Doctorow!  The list of those writers will be in the notes section, if you’re looking to expand your pandemic reading list.

Bruce Sterling:
Regional science fiction novel set in Italy – Bruno Argento pen name
Globalhead – collection of short stories
Holy Fire
The Task Lamp – Bruno Argento 
Social critique similar to H.G. Wells through the Martians in
War of the Worlds
Reason Magazine Interview — America’s belle époque 
Design Fiction
Mirrorshades anthology

Struggle between Science, Technology, Politics, Religion, Ethnicity and Sports in Serbia: 
Ahead of the curve in Coronavirus
Political struggle between Church + State regarding Easter 
Rigidly locking people in their homes 
Novak Djokovic and his wife blame 5G for coronavirus, Djokovic resistance to vaccination

Nikola Tesla

Ethnic enclaves within LA:
Little Armenia
Little Tokyo

Secret of the society → people are divided inside

Connettivisti fantascienza

Chinese have a high profile in Europe:
Soft power surging in the Balkans
Large medical presence in Serbia and Italy
Fire Eye – new coronavirus testing lab in Serbia
European Union didn’t help ItalyChina helped first

Jack Ma sending masks to Wall Street

Wuhan herbalists comforting the dying

Google investment in life extension – Calico | Buck Institute

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Star Trek episodes about alien virus

AIDS epidemic and the coronavirus

Coronavirus reminiscent of Black Death in Italy

Big tech platforms have the world at their feet

Trump’s trade war on Huawei

Narcos role in Mexico – giving out masks and food

Conflict in Italy between north and south with coronavirus

Organized crime in Italy helping with the virus

Yugoslavia was allowed to do what they were not supposed to do 

Big tech going to mutate into utilities

Big tech monopolies can become arms of power

Moore’s Law

Slobodan Milosevic

Contemporary Sci-Fi Writers (new digitally erudite group of people):
Hannu Rajaniemi
Cory Doctorow
Malka Older

Older Sci-Fi Writers who wouldn’t be in contemporary politics:
Robert Heinlein
Arthur C. Clarke
Isaac Asimov

Kim Stanley Robinson

Tom Wolfe

Douglas Coupland

Multimedia people:
Neil Gaiman
Harlan Ellison
George R.R. Martin

Other Cyberpunk Writers Mentioned:
William GibsonRastas in Neuromancer
Neal StephensonChina’s Role in The Diamond Age


Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry and Colin and also through email at [email protected]!

Episode 64: Japanese Science Fiction with William O. Gardner

Thanks for joining us this week, How Do You Like it So Far? crew!  It’s day thirty-fifty-ten of the quarantine, right?  Who knows at this point, but we do know that we’re getting cabin fever and sorely missing the studio.  Though, we are thankful for our health and loved ones right now.  We know it is a privilege to be able to stay indoors and are grateful every single day.  As we close out the year, we look at how science fiction may help us process the current moment and make sense of the world around us (read: global pandemic is like something out of the movies!).  This week, Colin and Henry welcome William O. Gardner, a Professor of Japanese at Swarthmore College whose work has looked at the response of Japanese popular culture to real world disasters such as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Garder, who is releasing a new book called The Metabolist Imagination: Visions of the City in Postwar Japanese Architecture and Science Fiction, puts together architecture and science fiction.  He dives deep into the origins of architects in post-WWII Japan called The Metabolists.  He asserts that they evolved the rules of modern Japanese architecture and visioned their city spaces as organic beings that can grow, decay. and adapt to their surroundings.  He explains that architecture to them is a process of change and many of the buildings that emerged after WWII were forward-thinking conceptions of an adaptable and flexible living environment after the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Gardner even reads a portion out of his book which hits home on what is happening right now!  Many of the environments they made are somewhat relatable to how we are living right now.  He also discusses how the visions of our “new normal” of deserted streets and people wearing masks is the embodiment of the tropes of apocalyptic speculative fiction.  Listen in as Gardner dives deep into how some Japanese Anime, Manga and book authors created scarily prescient visions of the future.  He also gives us some recommendations on what he’s reading right now!  Check out the notes section for those. 

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Movies Mentioned in this Episode:
NetworkI’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Godzilla (1954) – Iconic apocalyptic narrative out of Japan

Books Mentioned in this Episode:
Komatsu SakyoJapan Sinks, Japan Sinks Sequel (2006), Virus: The Day of Resurrection 
American depictions of outbreaks — The Andromeda Strain and Contagion

Celebration of Healthcare Workers (8pm everyday in LA)

Brazil protesting on pots and pans what the government is doing

Earth Abides – old radio drama from Escape

Twitter videos of nature reasserting itselfBears wandering around

Drone footage of no one out on the streets – apocalyptic science fiction

Firebombing that leveled Tokyo and Osaka

Atomic Bombs that levels Nagasaki and Hiroshima

The MetabolistsManifesto in 1960

Capsule → structural form that Metabolists were drawn to
Kisho Kurokawa
Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo
Cyborg architecture that can be plugged into a network

Susan Sontag’s essay “Imagination of Disaster

Japanese Anime, Mangas, and Animated Films Mentioned in this Episode: 
Otomo KatsuhiroAkira (1988)
Otomo predicted the coming Olympics to the year
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Princess Mononoke
Shinkai MakotoYour Name, Weathering with You, Voices of a Distant Star, A Place Promised in Our Early Years
Hayao Miyazaki Spirited Away

Just “cancel it” related to Akira and the Olympics

Studio Ghibli — “the best anime for coronavirus lockdown days”

Sekai kei

Azuma Hiroki

Hugo Gernsback 

Gardner’s Recommendations:
Shinkai Makoto — Weathering with You
Liu Cixin — Three-Body Trilogy
Eugene Vodolazkin – Laurus

How Do You Like it So Far? episode with Sangita Shresthova

Instructions to participate in the global story-telling initiative

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry and Colin and also through email at [email protected]!