Words To That Effect is a literary podcast of the intriguing, the curious, and the unexplored. It’s a research-based, story-telling show which wanders through the fields of fiction, popular culture, science, and history, drawing on the knowledge of a diverse cast of experts. Topics are wide-ranging but every episode is grounded in the same dedication to telling an engaging story about a less well-known aspect of history or culture

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44 Words Dunnit WTTE Shedunnit Live

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Last year Caroline Crampton of Shedunnit https shedunnitshow com and I teamed up to create a joint live show called Words Dunnit a 200-year history of detective fiction in an hour We performed the show live at the Dublin Podcast Festival https dublinpodcastfestival ie in November 2019 and then again at Pod UK https www rocksaltevents com poduk2020 in Birmingham in Feb of this year We had a lot of fun making and performing it so here it is in full For notes links pictures and more head to the WTTE website https wttepodcast com wordsdunnit Support the show on Patreon https patreon com wtte

Released 4/03/2020

43 Lost Books

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There are countless great works of literature we have tantalizing glimpses of works we know existed but are as far as anyone can tell lost to history Huge swathes of ancient Greek literature for example or a lost Shakespeare play based on the story of Don Quixote And then there are the works we rescue Kate Macdonald at Handheld Press specialises in finding and reprinting lost classics works that have fallen out of print but deserve another chance and a new audience In this episode I chat to her about lost literature the intricacies of reprinting old books and authors who will never go out of print

Released 3/11/2020

42 The Missing Link

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Sasquatch Bigfoot The Abominable Snowman Yeti The Yowie the Yeren the Almas Ape-men cave men wild men The Missing Link The idea of the missing link came about in the mid-19th century with the rise of Charles Darwin s Theory of Evolution In 1859 Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection and it was radical revolutionary and highly contentious The problem though was that the mechanism by which it all worked wasn t really understood yet and there was a need for some hard evidence that would clinch his theory If evolution really did work as Darwin described it if most controversially of all humans chimpanzees gorillas and other apes all had a common ancestor it should all be there in the fossil record There was a missing link in the theory Support WTTE on at https patreon com wtte and get bonus episodes and more

Released 2/26/2020

41 Romance Novels

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Mills and Boon to bodice rippers Johanna Lindsey to Nora Robers and a little bit of Fabio Why read romance novels

Released 2/11/2020

40 Time Travel Tales

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Time travel fiction is a small subgenre of science fiction Science fiction is a small subset of all the many genres and types of literature Time machines and time travellers are a niche interest And yet in many ways all fiction is time travel fiction On this week s episode I chart the history and development of time travel with Prof David Wittenberg from utopia to hot tubs Support the show on patreon https patreon com wtte and get bonus episodes and more For full show notes links transcripts and more head to wttepodcast com https wttepodcast com timetravel

Released 1/29/2020

39 Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Edgar Rice Burroughs is no longer a familiar name Like many other authors the fame of his greatest creation in his case Tarzan has long eclipsed his own But Burroughs was far more than the creator of Tarzan He was an early pioneer of science fiction a master of the pulp fiction magazines of the early 20th century an author whose books across his lifetime and beyond sold tens of millions of copies He was also among a bewildering array of other things a journalist a soldier and war correspondent a businessman and even a real estate investor the ranch he bought and developed in the 1920s is today the aptly named neighbourhood of Tarzana California So who was Edgar Rice Burroughs Why were his books so popular And has his work had any real lasting legacy on our culture today For notes links transcripts and more head to https wttepodcast com burroughs Join the WTTE community and support the show at https patreon com wtte

Released 12/10/2019

38 Children s Picture Books

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Unlike modernist poetry or Shakespearean drama when it comes to children s literature everyone has an opinion Most of us are exposed to kids books in some shape or form and crucially 100 of us have been children For an academic working with children s literature this can have its rewards and its frustrations Yes I love that classic childhood book too But also Sorry I don t know why your child doesn t like this one particular book This week I m joined by Dr Jane Carroll to chat about the children s picture book How do text and image work together to create books that can spark wonder and imagination that young children can completely lose themselves in What s happening in children s fiction today and what s the best children s picture book of all time Find out how you can support the show and get bonus episodes at https patreon com wtte For full show notes head to https wttepodcast com

Released 11/26/2019

37 The Golden Age Of Piracy

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Pirates have been around for a very long time In fact as far as the historical record seems to show they have been around for as long as there have been property and boats What is it that attracts us to pirates and why have we got such a well-developed set of pirate tropes We all have the same picture when we think of pirates peg legs and eyepatches parrots and pirate accents walking the plank buried treasure the jolly roger Prof Manushag Powell joins me to discuss the Golden Age of Piracy pirate literature and the history behind the pirates of popular culture For shownotes links transcripts and more head to https wttepodcast com Join the WTTE pirate crew and support the show at https patreon com wtte

Released 11/12/2019

36 Blood Death And Varney The Vampire

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There is no pop culture monster more written about more critiqued and analysed more portrayed and adapted and reimagined than the vampire So this episode is not about most vampires There are no discussions of Dracula or Nosferatu no True Blood or Twilight or Buffy no Anne Rice or Stephen King no Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee Instead there is a single vampire one you may well never have heard of A vampire that in Victorian times was far more popular than even Charles Dickens at the height of his fame A vampire that established many of the tropes of later vampire mythology and fiction His name is Sir Francis Varney Varney the Vampire Find out how you can support the show and get bonus episodes at https patreon com wtte For full show notes head to https wttepodcast com

Released 10/29/2019

35 Jekyll Hyde

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For most people today the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has been reduced to a fairly straightforward allegory of the potential dark side within us all But if you read Robert Louis Stevenson s original tale a short 80-odd page novella you immediately realise there is so much to this masterpiece of 19th century fiction There are so many reasons the story has become embedded in popular culture It has everything dreams and reality psychology and medicine good and evil degeneracy and criminality sexuality and self-identity blackmail murder addiction religion Have I missed anything For more details links and transcripts head to wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com fantasy Join the WTTE community and support the show on Patreon http www patreon com wtte

Released 10/15/2019

Season 4 Preview

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Season 4 returns on Tuesday 15th October Have a listen to what s in store

Released 10/08/2019

34 The Art Of The Short Story

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There are the celebrated authors Checkov Joyce Mansfield Munro There are the big questions What makes a truly great short story Where does the form originate What can short stories do that other forms of literature can t But before any of this there s a question that s not that easy to answer at all What is a short story This week I m joined by Dr Paul March-Russell Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Kent and author of The Short Story An Introduction and Colin Walsh an award-winning short story writer from Galway Ireland We discuss whether you can really define what a short story is some great examples of the form and what short stories can do that other forms of literature simply can t For more details links and transcripts head to wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com fantasy Join the WTTE community and support the show on Patreon http www patreon com wtte

Released 6/04/2019

33 The Noun Of Nouns The Rise Of Modern Fantasy

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What do you think of when you think of the genre of fantasy Whether it s fiction TV cinema or games are there certain elements you need to have for something to be considered fantasy Well you might say fantasy is medieval or at least set in a time of swords and sorcery Or that fantasy has to be epic in scale there are always grand and noble characters Or maybe fantasy has to be set in an imaginary world Or at the very least there should be some magic But as I explore on this episode Some or all or none of these might be present in a work of fantasy There s more to fantasy than you might expect This week I chat to Dr Gerard Hynes to try to get the core of fantasy We explore Game of Thrones Lord of the Rings and the pop culture behemoth that is fantasy right now We also look at a hugely diverse array of fantasy that goes far beyond what many people imagine when they think of the genre For more details links and transcripts head to wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com fantasy Join the WTTE community and support the show on Patreon http www patreon com wtte

Released 5/21/2019

32 Golden Age Detective Fiction

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An English country estate A detective pacing the room explaining how they have solved the crime revealing the solution to a puzzle and the clues which were there all along It s so easy to parody this scene because it s so familiar It s Reverend Green in the billiard room with the candlestick It s a shocking murder in a cosy English village or the country estate of a well-off family where everyone is as suspect It s the locked room mystery where the puzzle is always the centre of the story So where do all these familiar ideas come from exactly What do we mean when we talk about Golden Age Detective Fiction And are our assumptions about the tropes and rules of this fiction really all the accurate For full transcripts links pictures and more head to the wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com golden Find out how you can support WTTE at http www patreon com wtte

Released 5/07/2019

31 Steampunk Pt 2 Even Greater London

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One way of thinking about steampunk is to divide it into two parts the steam and the punk The steam is the Victorian element the fascination and engagement with the 19th century whether satirizing or poking fun at Victorian conventions and ideas dealing with problematic aspects of empire and colonialism celebrating the people and places or utterly rethinking the science and technology of the era The punk on the other hand is very much about building collaborative communities in resistance to contemporary capitalist consumer culture and technology It s about maker culture and a DIY aesthetic about fan groups conventions and meetups There s a strong connection as we ll see with other non-mainstream areas of performance culture cosplay circus arts street performance burlesque And all of these different areas come together in the rapidly growing number of guests I ve spoken to about this topic For full details links transcripts and more head to wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com steampunk2

Released 4/23/2019

30 Steampunk Pt1 Fetch Me My Fighting Trousers

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Note This episode is Part 1 of a double episode on steampunk There are cultures and subcultures and sub sub sub cultures There s science fiction there s alternative history there s steampunk There s hip hop and there s chaphop There s an anachronistic Victorian gentleman wearing a pith helmet with an orangutan butler dissing a fellow chaphop artist for parodying rather than engaging with the genre What you may quite reasonably ask is going on Well over this episode and the next because this is part one of a double episode - I m going to take a really really deep dive into the world of steampunk Steampunk is a lot of things an aesthetic a genre a fashion a lifestyle And to really understand it and to see how influential it is on mainstream popular culture and a whole host of different areas you need to look at it from several different angles Which is why I have some very exciting guests lined up across these two episodes In this instalment I ll be talking to two very different professors Dr Rachel Bowser is Associate Professor of English at Georgia Gwinnett College in the U S and has written extensively about steampunk Professor Elemental is the Victorian gentleman whose music you ve just heard the chap in the chaphop He s a hiphop musician performer and voice-over artist and he provides a another very different angle in looking at the world of steampunk This podcast tries to answer the question what exactly is steampunk and how has it become so popular For links pictures transcripts and more head to https wttepodcast com steampunk

Released 4/08/2019

29 Travels In Four-Dimensional Space

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We have no problem thinking mathematically about four-dimensional space Where a 3-d cube has 8 vertices a 4-d hypercube has 16 vertices Where a cube has 6 faces like a dice a 4-d hypercube has 24 faces The problem is imagining what that actually looks like We live in a three-dimensional world We can t see a fourth dimension We simply can t imagine what a 4-D world would look like However that doesn t mean that lots and lots of people haven t tried to in a huge variety of ways mathematicians and physicists philosophers and theologians occultists and mystics artists architects designers authors The fourth dimension when you start to look for it is everywhere On this week s episode I m joined by Professor Christopher White who has just written a book with a fascinating central premise in the U S and in many parts of the Western world the number of people identifying as Christian has been consistently falling for about 30 years now Yet the number of people who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious people who still believe in a god of some sort has remained very high So if people believe in spirits or angels in God or life after death in heaven or another world of some sort but not in traditional religious institutions how are they constructing these supernatural worlds Well in many ways as Professor White explains they are relying on science and maths On other dimensions multiverses quantum entanglement string theory parallel universes There is and has been for well over a century now a type of scientific supernatural For links pictures full transcripts and more head to wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com 4d

Released 3/11/2019

28 Pulp Fiction Amazing Stories Of The Sisters Of Tomorrow

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If you want to understand how we ended up with anything from Star Wars to Star Trek Superman to Batman intergalactic travel to microscopic worlds profound meditations on the nature of being human to thrilling tales about Martian princesses you have to look at pulp fiction Argosy Blue Book Adventure Black Mask Horror Stories Flying Aces there was a lot of it The 1920s and 30s was the age of pulp fiction the time when genres truly became genres Science fiction detective stories war stories horror westerns fantasy Everything All those categories that we use to divide up fiction and film and TV came together in the pulps at this time But what I want to do in this episode in particular is to look at some of the commonly held ideas about pulp fiction and about science fiction more particularly So here are a few things that we all know 1 Science fiction was and continues to be mostly consumed by men 2 Science fiction is for the most part aimed at 12-year-old boys 3 There were very few women writers of science fiction between Mary Shelley s Frankenstein and the new feminist sf of the 60s and 70s 4 Those few women who did write SF were forced to write under male or androgynous pseudonyms in order to make it in an utterly male-dominated industry So you can probably guess where I m going with Yes all of these are myths They re ideas that are completely demonstrably false This week Professor Lisa Yaszek joins me to discuss the history of the pulps and the many myths around early women s science fiction For links pictures full transcripts and more head to http wttepodcast com pulpfiction

Released 2/25/2019

27 Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

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What would happen if humanity ceased to exist Well assuming of course that earth itself has not been destroyed in this hypothetical apocalypse the world would continue quite happily without us People have long speculated about what would happen in the weeks months and years after the end of humanity There is an obvious perverse pleasure in seeing the world we have destroyed and continue to destroy getting its revenge There s a misanthropy in this type of speculation what s sometimes called catastrophe porn but there s also a humble recognition that ultimately we are as humans largely insignificant in the vast scale of things Whatever we feel we are definitely attracted to exploring the idea apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction has been around for a long time We like to imagine the end of the world but it s quite hard to write a narrative with no people so what we also like to do is to imagine what would happen if just a small number of people remained Not quite the end of the world but the end of world as we know it Post-apocalyptic stories combine so many fascinating elements there s the speculation about the future the frequent sense of adventure and problem solving in a new and dangerous world the science fictional world building the appeal to our curiosity about the future of our species And the profound complex questions about us about our relationship with our planet and with each other and the huge societal issues that we face In conversation with Professor Heather Hicks from Villanova University this episode explores the end of the world from plagues to nuclear war drought to zombie hordes Mary Shelley s The Last Man to the best contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction For links pictures a full transcript and more head to wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com apocalypse

Released 2/11/2019

26 Unwrapping The Egyptian Mummy

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In the 19th century a very popular form of entertainment was the mummy unwrapping party Yes you could go to a private or public event at which an ancient Egyptian mummy would be unrolled and examined Bandages would be passed around touched and smelled ancient jewellery would be admired and a the dead body of an Egyptian would be revealed at the end So how did this bizarre and macabre spectacle come to be Where did the Victorians get all these mummies Were they all comfortable with this gruesome spectacle Are we happy today to continue to display these mummies in museums And how did all this feed into the enduring fascinating with Egypt from mummies curses to the Tomb of Tutankhamun mummy fiction to Brendan Fraser romping around Egypt For more details links transcripts and more head to the Words To That Effect Website http wttepodcast com mummy

Released 1/28/2019

25 Dinosaurs Palaeontology To Pyjamas

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1n 1842 a Victorian anatomist looked at some unusual fossils and noticing they had something in common he decided we needed a word to describe these strange creatures He called them dinosaurs Cut to the present day and there are dinosaur films TV shows books songs toys and anything else you can possibly think of Dinosaurs are beloved by children across the world they form the centrepieces of internationally renowned museums and there is nobody who doesn t have an idea of what a dinosaur looks like How did we get here Episode 25 of Words To That Effect draws together science and fiction palaeontology and children s pyjamas Jurassic Park and Gertie the Dinosaur to explore the cultural history of dinosaurs Full details links pictures and more at the Words To That Effect website http wttepodcast com dinosaur

Released 1/14/2019

Season 3 Preview

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Words To That Effect is back Season 3 kicks off next Monday Jan 14th In the meantime have a listen to a preview of what s in store for the season The music heard in this episode was Polydrug by Forrests You can check out their music here https forrests bandcamp com Words To That Effect is a member of the Headstuff Podcast Network You can listen to previous episodes and lots of other great podcasts here https www headstuff org words-to-that-effect

Released 1/10/2019

24 WTTE Live At Liberty Hall

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Words To That Effect is back Episode 24 is a recording of September s live show for the Dublin Podcast Festival This episode is a story about a long-forgotten nervous disease But it s also a story of science and culture psychology and mental health feminism and creativity war and masculinity It s about ghost stories science fiction and cowboy novels Featuring live music composed and performed by Ken McCabe

Released 12/31/2018

23 Adaptation How Does A Book Become A Film

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The book is always better than the film Or so they say But there are obviously quite a few problems with this as there tends to be with any sweeping generalisation For some the book is always better than the film because books are just better than films which is something I would mostly agree with Fiction creates and draws us into a world entirely inside our own imagination At its best fiction is far more immersive and engaging than a film can ever be But of course there are plenty of truly fantastic films adapted from utterly mediocre books And yet it s not a competition even if it can sometimes seem that way Literature and film are two completely different forms of creative expression two wholly different ways of telling a story But the reason they tend to get placed in opposition so often is precisely because of this They are two different ways of telling a story two different ways to reach an audience and ultimately two different ways to make money from the same story Film producers love literary adaptation They are constantly looking to fiction for great stories or better yet for stories with built-in fan bases And it s not one-way traffic Successful films and TV shows are routinely repackaged as novelizations or extended with the further fictional adventures of popular characters Book to screen and screen to book So how exactly does a book become a film or a TV show What makes for a great literary adaptation and how do you go about it How many times have you read a great novel and thought how has this author s work never been adapted And what about the other way around Novelizations and book spin-offs Where do they fit into all this This week I answer all these questions and more in a conversation about literary adaptation with authors Paul FitzSimons and Carmel Harrington Find out more at https wttepodcast com Support the show and get bonus episodes and more on Patreon https patreon com wtte

Released 7/30/2018

Two Announcements And An Update

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No episode this week unfortunately but I do have two exciting announcements Have a listen and find out More at https wttepodcast com

Released 7/16/2018

22 Book Clubs Revolution And Politics

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The Rick O Shea Bookclub is Ireland s largest bookclub It has 17 000 members and is growing fast Book clubs have never been more popular But where did they begin and what role have they played in literary history Quite a large role it turns out culturally politically and commercially In this episode I talk to Rick O Shea about the success of his bookclub and to Prof DeNel Rehberg Sedo and Dr Amy Prendergast two experts in the history of books clubs and reading groups More at wttepodcast com bookclub Support Words To That Effect at https www patreon com wtte and get bonus episodes and more

Released 7/02/2018

21 The Invention Of Time

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Time as we understand it today was only really invented in the Victorian era We take it for granted today that our phones and watches and other devices are accurate to the second That time zones are clear and fixed when it s 3pm in Dublin it s also 3pm in London and 4pm in Paris or 10am in New York We don t think twice about the fact that a train can be scheduled to leave at precisely 11 04 and when it arrives passengers will be clear as what time it is at their destination We know that time travel is a trope of science fiction but not a scientific reality We are aware that the sun is a star that s burning through a finite store of hydrogen and will eventually burn out and die But all of these ideas about time things we just don t think very much about today - were not fixed at all in the nineteenth century It was in the Victorian era particularly from the middle of the 19th century onward that time moved to the forefront of public consciousness The concept of time was pondered over debated and discussed by everyone from factory workers to scientists tradespeople to academics Time found its way into novels by the authors of the age from the renowned and to the long-forgotten It was investigated and interrogated across scientific disciplines by geographers geologists naturalists and many others And it caused fierce debate among those charged with regulating and organising trade transport and communications All across the world time was a hugely important facet of life in the Victorian era For full shownotes links and more visit https wttepodcast com time Support the show get bonus episodes and more at Patreon https patreon com wtte

Released 6/18/2018

20 Domestic Noir

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Why Are There So Many Crime Thrillers With Girl in the Title Gone Girl The Girl on the Train Luckiest Girl Alive Final Girls There s no shortage of crime novels with girl in the title since the huge success of Gillian Flynn s 2012 thriller Gone Girl But what do these novels have in common what explains their success and why are classified as domestic noir Domestic Noir is a term first applied to fiction of this type by the author Julia Crouch and it has stuck Crime novels concerned with the female experience with the ordinary lives of women who are faced with danger from within the home or from their own past Novels which involve murder and mystery but not of the serial killer and FBI procedural variety This episode explores the rise of domestic noir from the success of Gone Girl onward In the wake of the recent MeToo movement the focus has somewhat changed but the subgenre has developed to reflect this The episode also looks back at the history of crime novels concerned with very similar themes going right back to the 19th century How does domestic noir reflect the realities of violence against women and our perceptions of female victimhood Is our cultural perversely preoccupied with the deaths and disappearances of young pretty white girls For links and more head to https wttepodcast com noir To support the show and for bonus episodes and more head to Patreon https patreon com wtte

Released 6/04/2018

19 Climate Change Fiction Utopia Pt2

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This week s episode continues on from the last episode So if you haven t listened to that head on over to Episode 18 first From the history of utopia in the last episode we move to the future of the planet and the climate change fiction that addresses it For me utopianism is the creative attempt by a group of people to respond to the great challenges of any age and to do so in a way that s visionary it s not limited it s not following a set recipe that has an end point it s an open ended future This episode is about creating utopias real and imaginary and the need for utopian thinking as we are faced with the greatest threat to the future of our planet climate change I talk to Prof Peadar Kirby a member of the Cloughjordan Ecovillage in Tipperary Ireland What is life actually like in a community like this Is daily life very different from your average life in a small Irish town How do you join and does someone decide if you get in or not And what exactly is ecological about the ecovillage We then move from an ecovillage to climate change fiction or clifi a whole subgenre of literature that explores the possibilities of a future affected by climate change Writers are imagining dystopian futures with water scarcity or rising sea levels with desertification agricultural catastrophes or the spread of new diseases Others are highlighting the utopian thinking needed to mitigate against many of these issues With guest Prof Tom Moylan the show travels from Kim Stanley Robinson s Mars trilogy and his many utopian works to Frank Sch tzing s best-selling novel The Swarm to films like The Day After Tomorrow there are many ways of representing and exploring climate change What is clear though is that this is most certainly an issue that needs to be explored and climate change fiction is a particularly good way of representing the timescales involved For more head to http wttepodcast com utopia2Support the show and get bonus episodes and more at Patreon com wtte https patreon com wtte http wttepodcast com utopia2

Released 5/21/2018

18 What Is Utopia Utopia Pt 1

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This is a story of three journeys by three people in three very different times But each of the journeys ends in the same area in the west of Ireland And each journey is founded on a search for a more perfect world a search for utopia Episode 18 part one of a two-part episode on utopian literature explores the utopia in fiction and in reality in the past present and future What is a utopia exactly and why do we create them Are they idle dreaming pointless thought experiments fantasy worlds we can never reach Or do utopias serve a more functional political purpose blueprints for a more perfect future As this episode explores utopian literature has taken many forms in its 500-year history and the journey towards utopia is just as important as the destination itself Utopian and Dystopian Fiction Utopian literature however has fallen out of favour in the last century or so It has been largely abandoned in favour of the dystopia From novels and TV shows like The Handmaid s Tale or Black Mirror to Young Adult YA fiction such as The Hunger Games dystopian fiction is a mainstay of popular culture today Utopian Literature Today But there are still plenty of utopias being written today if you know where to look This episode takes us from Thomas More s foundational work Utopia first published in 1516 all the way to modern-day YA dystopias From Edward Bellamy s 1888 best-seller Looking Backward to the novels of Margaret Atwood and Ursula LeGuin But of course the utopia is a call to change the world and in this episode I also explore real-life attempts to create utopian communities Ralahine an early 19th-century experiment to establish a socialist co-operative and the Cloughjordan Ecovillage in Tipperary This modern-day intentional community is modelling a more co-operative and environmentally conscious way of living at a time when the earth faces the profound problems associated with climate change For more visit wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com utopia To support the show and for bonus episodes and lots more head to Patreon https patreon com wtte http wttepodcast com utopia

Released 5/07/2018

17 The 10 Brain Myth

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Do we use only 10 of our brain capacity Hint No It is estimated that most human beings only use 10 of the brain s capacity Imagine if we could access more of our cerebral capacity This is the central question of the 2014 Scarlett Johannson film Lucy And it is not exactly an original idea Exploring the extraordinary powers gained by accessing the untapped potential of our brains is a ubiquitous trope in popular culture It s the premise of the Bradley Cooper film Limitless and the more recent TV version and the idea appears in TV shows from Star Trek to Heroes to Fringe and beyond This is the 10 brain myth the idea that we somehow use only 10 of our brain capacity and that somehow unlocking or accessing the remaining 90 will result in vastly increased mental capacities Sometimes the idea is fully believed and earnestly repeated Sometimes it is very knowingly appropriated for the purposes of a good plot Sometimes it s confidently asserted to back up dubious claims of psychic abilities Either way the idea is everywhere So where did this stubbornly enduring myth come from in the first place How has it permeated our culture And what does it say about our understanding of intelligence and the brain This week s episode explores the 10 brain myth tracing its roots in early 20th century science the self-help movement and following its adoption into popular culture via pulp fiction magazines To support the show and for bonus episodes and more head to Patreon https patreon com wtte Check out the show notes for this and every episode at wttepodcast com https wttepodcast com

Released 3/26/2018

WTTE - 016 - Transhumanism Fiction And Immortality

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This is an episode about who we are as humans And more importantly where we are going About a future in which technology and biology have merged in ways that are in equal part fascinating and terrifying A future of unparalleled technological ingenuity but one with deeply problematic ethical concerns It s a future that sounds like science fiction because in some ways it is But it s a world that s being designed right now Transhumanism is a social movement which aims to use technology to push out the boundaries of the human condition It aims to move humanity beyond what we are today It takes in a huge range of ideas from the wildly speculative like uploading our consciousness to computers to the more low tech like DIY tech implants and biohacking It s a movement which tries to transcend the human condition and ultimately to achieve immortality It s also a movement which has been heavily influenced by a century of science fiction writing about these ideas In this episode I talk to Dr Mark O Connell author of To Be a Machine a fascinating new book which explores the world of transhumanism The book as its subtitle outlines is about O Connell s Adventures Among Cyborgs Utopians Hackers and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death I also chat to Dr Thomas Connolly who helps situate the transhumanist movement in the context of a long history of science fiction writing We talk about genetically engineered mice scifi dystopias Silicon Valley immortality human consciousness and quite a bit in between For more details links and more head to the Words To That Effect website http wttepodcast com transhumanism

Released 3/12/2018

WTTE - 015 - The Scarlet Pimpernel Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel is a character now long disconnected from his origins in a 1903 novel The Pimpernel is a mysterious Englishman who uses elaborate disguises to heroically rescue French aristocrats from the guillotine during the French Revolution Naming himself after a small red flower the enigmatic hero s identity is known only to a select few In reality he is a wealthy English aristocrat Sir Percy Blakeney The Scarlet Pimpernel has appeared in films TV series stage plays spin-offs and parodies He is in fact the original masked hero - the prototype for Batman Zorro the Lone Ranger or any number of other superheroes with secret identities Yet the Scarlet Pimpernel was originally the creation of Baroness Orczy a fascinating figure in literary history A Hungarian aristocrat who found fame as an English novelist a conservative who was nevertheless very progressive in her depiction of female characters a novelist remembered for a single character but who produced a huge body of work Orczy was an accomplished writer of detective fiction Her Old Man in the Corner stories harked back to Edgar Allan Poe s Auguste Dupin while anticipating the Miss Marple tales of Agatha Christie Orczy was also the creator of Lady Molly one of the earliest examples of a female detective Lady Molly is a detective in the Holmesian mould with her Watson-like sidekick solving crimes in her capacity as a detective for Scotland Yard In this episode I explore the life and writings of Baroness Orczy following her journey from her childhood home in Hungary to international fame and fortune I m joined by Dr Clare Clarke to assess her impact on detective fiction and popular literature more widely We talk Victorian periodicals Sherlock Holmes feminism and a mysterious murder in Dublin For shownotes links and more head to wttepodcast com http wttepodcast com scarlet

Released 2/26/2018

WTTE - 014 - Weird Fiction HP Lovecraft

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The American writer H P Lovecraft wrote weird fiction His work is both weird in the conventional sense of the word and Weird in a more specific sense His tales are not typical horror stories but instead invoke a type of cosmic terror a slow realization that humanity is an insignificant afterthought in a vast universe of indescribably horrific creatures Protagonists tend to write their stories on the verge of madness or just before they commit suicide having uncovered an unspeakable truth His writing is all about atmosphere not plot Lovecraft has been enormously influential on the development of genre fiction science fiction fantasy and particularly horror His is a world a mythos in which cosmic entities such as Cthulhu are terrifyingly revealed This all may seem incredibly niche but Lovecraft has permeated popular culture in every form Lovecraft s work is referenced supplemented parodied critiqued documented and dissected Cthulhu along with a pantheon of other cosmic creatures is a source of fascination for huge numbers of people especially online It s pretty safe to say the internet is a bit obsessed with HP Lovecraft And it is also all a bit well weird if you haven t really come across it before This episode explores the world of Lovecraft Lovecraftian writing and weird fiction My guest is Dr Tim Jarvis lecturer in English literature at the University of Bedfordshire and an author of weird fiction himself The story takes us from early 20th century America to contemporary writers such as Jeff Vandermeer and China Mieville writing weird fiction today

Released 2/12/2018

Season 2 Preview

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A preview of what s to come on Season 2 of Words To That Effect There will be utopias immortality secret superhero identities weird fiction and lots more For a full description and all the links head to the Words To That Effect website http wttepodcast com

Released 2/06/2018

WTTE - 013 - The Ghost Stories Of MR James

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Words To That Effect Down Below The Reservoir This week s episode the end of Season 1 is a Christmas Special It s a collaboration with the disturbingly good horror podcast Down Below The Reservoir The result is an episode about the ghost stories of MR James followed by an audio-drama read more The post Episode 13 The Ghost Stories of MR James appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 12/18/2017

WTTE - 012 - The Horrifically Complicated History Of Zombies

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The History of Zombies from Haiti to Hollywood Whether we like it or not the zombies are coming for us all Films books computer games comics and TV shows From historical and mythical zombies to claims to have proven the scientific truth behind zombification From the gruesome cannibalistic monsters of read more The post Episode 12 The Horrifically Complicated History of Zombies appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 11/27/2017

WTTE - 011 - Cesare Lombroso The Born Criminal

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Turin in the 19th Century The northern Italian city of Turin is quite distinctive as Italian cities go It is still Italy so of course it has its grand piazzas and ornate churches and pasta and pizza and cappuccinos But whereas in so many Italian cities it is read more The post Episode 11 Cesare Lombroso The Born Criminal appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 11/13/2017

WTTE - 010 - Robinson Crusoe To Survivor The Robinsonade

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Daniel Defoe s classic novel The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is without doubt one of the most recognizable stories in our culture It is a book which has had hundreds if not thousands of editions It has been translated into over 100 languages adapted for stage and read more The post Episode 10 From Robinson Crusoe to Survivor The Robinsonade appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 10/30/2017

WTTE - 009 - Imaginary Countries And The Ruritanian Romance

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Imaginary Countries Writers make up imaginary countries all the time and for a variety of reasons It s relatively straightforward to slip in a familiar-sounding name into a part of the world your reader or viewer may not be too familiar with Livonia Wallaria Tazbekistan They could be countries right But read more The post Episode 9 Imaginary Countries and the Ruritanian Romance appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 10/16/2017

WTTE - 008 - A Lawyer An Author And A Murderer

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The most horrible crime of the 1920s The case of William Edward Hickman went to trial in Los Angeles in 1928 The accused was charged with the gruesome murder of a 12-year-old girl and he faced the death penalty The trial was reported all across the U S because it was read more The post Episode 8 A Lawyer an Author and a Murderer The Trial of William Edward Hickman appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 10/02/2017

WTTE - 007 - Overpopulation From Malthus To Manila

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7 Billion People A baby girl was born in a hospital in the Philippines on 30th October 2011 However unlike all the other children born that day the arrival of Danica May Camacho was witnessed by a crowd of photographers and journalists The world s media were gathered in a read more The post Episode 7 Overpopulation from Malthus to Manila appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 9/18/2017

WTTE - 006 - Neurasthenia Cowboys And Feminists

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Neurasthenia The National Disease of America In 1881 an American neurologist named George Miller Beard published a hugely influential book American Nervousness In it he laid out the symptoms cures and implications of what he called neurasthenia essentially what one might call nervous exhaustion Beard didn t coin the term but read more The post Episode 6 Neurasthenia Cowboys and Feminists appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 9/04/2017

WTTE - 005 - Canals On Mars

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Percival Lowell Science Fiction and the Canals on Mars c ESO M Kornmesser Artist s impression of Mars about four billion years ago For as long as humans have been looking at the night sky the planet Mars has fascinated us But while astronomers had charted the movements of read more The post Episode 5 Canals on Mars appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 8/20/2017

WTTE - 004 - Popular Literature

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What is popular literature Walk into most bookshops and you will find fiction categories like Crime Science Fiction and Horror You will also tend to find a section called Literature But how does a book get placed here Is there really such a thing as Literature with a capital L read more The post Episode 4 Popular Literature appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 8/06/2017

WTTE - 003 - Irish Science Fiction

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What is Irish Science Fiction Ireland is not it is fair to say the first country that springs to mind when you think science fiction When aliens land on Earth we tend to assume they ll land in New York or London or Tokyo Definitely not Dublin or Cork But then read more The post Episode 3 Irish Science Fiction appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 7/20/2017

WTTE - 002 - Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes And Spiritualism

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Sherlock Holmes is the most rational and scientific detective of them all So why did his creator Arthur Conan Doyle passionately believe in ghosts fairies and telepathy Arthur Conan Doyle Arthur Conan Doyle is now best remembered as the creator of Sherlock Holmes In fact his creation has long taken read more The post Episode 2 Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes and Spiritualism appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 7/10/2017

WTTE - 001 - Invasion Fiction William Le Queux And Fake News

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What is invasion fiction Who was the mysterious William Le Queux Why did a group of famous British authors secretly meet at the outbreak of World War I And what did fake news look like a century ago Episode 1 of Words To That Effect explores the power of read more The post Episode 1 Invasion Fiction William Le Queux and Fake News appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 6/25/2017

WTTE - 000 - Introduction

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An Introduction and a Preview Welcome to Words To That Effect a new podcast of the intriguing the curious and the unexplored This is Episode 0 really just a short introduction to the podcast telling you a little bit about the format the guests and what you can expect read more The post Episode 0 Introduction appeared first on Words To That Effect

Released 6/22/2017