Pretty Much Pop #80: Reliving Groundhog Day (and Palm Springs, Russian Doll, etc.)

Happy Groundhog Day! The ’93 film has had dozens of imitators spanning various genres in recent years, but the idea goes back more than a century. Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Ken Gerber touch on popular and obscure examples examples from film and TV to explore the philosophical themes and storytelling techniques. 

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Pretty Much Pop #68: Raised by Wolves: Biblical Sci-Fi

Brian, Erica, and Mark reflect on this weird sci-fi HBO Max series by Aaron Guzikowski and Ridley Scott. How much are we supposed to understand? Can we identify with any of the android and/or wild child and/or murdering characters? Is the imagery too heavy handed? How does it compare with Westworld, The Walking Dead, etc.? Warning: Spoilers ahoy! So watch it yourself or let us reveal its craziness to you.

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Pretty Much Pop #56: Black + Nerd = BLERD w/ Anthony LeBlanc

The Interim Executive Producer of The Second City joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss the scope of black nerd-dom: what nerdy properties provide to those who feel “othered,” using sci-fi to talk about race, Black Panther, afrofuturism, black anime fans, Star Trek, Key & Peele, Get Out vs. Us, and more.

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Pretty Much Pop #42: Star Trek Lives Long and Prospers (Intermittently)

In light of Star Trek: Picard, Brian, Erica, Mark, and Drew Jackson discuss our most philosophical sci-fi franchise. What makes a Trek story? How do you world-build over generations? How did Picard measure up? Plus Trek vs. Wars and step-children like The Orville and Galaxy Quest.

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Pretty Much Pop #27: For the Love of Star Wars Play in new window | Download (Duration: 47:45 — 44.9MB) Mark, Erica, and Brian grasp the low-hanging fruit in pop culture to talk about Star Wars: The unique place that these films have in the brains of people of a certain age, how we grappled with the prequels, and why we feel the need to fill in and argue Continue Reading …

Saints & Simulators 12: #BadAI

In 1989, Star Trek: The Next Generation, the second major iteration of the durable televised Star Trek science fiction franchise, introduced a terrifying new villain called “the Borg.” An unhallowed melding of a humanlike life form with cybernetic technology, the individual members of the Borg were born, raised, lived, and presumably died entirely surrounded by technological innovations. There was no such thing as “natural childbirth” for them, they were cloned mechanically, nurtured in artificial wombs, and raised to maturity in pods. An implacable collective intelligence, they mercilessly converted any creatures they encountered into extensions of themselves, cannibalizing their planets for raw materials, and sucking other intelligent lifeforms into the inescapable machine.

Historical File 12-1

“The Second Renaissance” is a must watch for Sci-fi and philosophy nerds alike. It’s the perfect gateway drug for discussions of human intelligence, ego, historic recurrence, phenomenology, and a dozen other philosophical topics that are not hurt by their inclusion in a robot war.

Episode 91: Transhumanism (Plus More on Brin)

Continuing discussion of David Brin’s novel Existence (without him) and adding Nick Bostrom’s essay “Why I Want to Be a Posthuman When I Grow Up” (2006). Are our present human capabilities sufficient for meeting the challenges our civilization will face? Should we devote our technology to artificially enhancing our abilities, or would that be a crime against nature, a God-play that would probably lead to disaster? With guest Brian Casey.

End song: “Waygo” from The MayTricks (1992).

Topic for #90: Science Fiction and Philosophy with Guest David Brin

Listen to Mark’s Precognition framing our discussion now. We talked on the evening of Tuesday 2/25 with David Brin, one of our most philosophical science fiction authors, whose most recent novel Existence (2012) certainly has a philosophical sounding name. But no, it’s not about ontology, about Being, or about existentialism, but about our continued existence as a species on the Continue Reading …

Better Philosophy through Science Fiction?

For your weekend podcast-listening pleasure, a friend of the podcast pointed me to the most recent episode of the Rationally Speaking podcast in which the hosts take up science fiction and chew on what kinds of philosophical insight might garnered from such speculative fiction. (Beware those who, like Seth, abhor the thought experiment!) In the words of the podcasters themselves: Continue Reading …