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Paolo Bacigalupi Gets Dystopic in Episode 2 of The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy

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Paolo Bacigalupi, author of The Windup Girl and Ship Breaker, talks global warming, literature for boys, and how SF can cause change in the real world in this rerun of episode two of The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy.

Image via Atlas Obscura

The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy is hosted by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley.


You can download the MP3 for this episode here, subscribe to The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast feed here, and browse other episodes here.


Read on for this episode's fabulous SHOW NOTES! (Note: Show note time signatures may me slightly off, as the show was re-edited prior to this rebroadcast—it's the director's cut! This episode originally aired on January 11, 2010, on


0:00 Introduction by

00:38 Dave and John introduce the show

Dave and John discuss this week's guest, Paolo Bacigalupi

01:00 About Paolo and his work

Interview with Paolo Bacigalupi

06:35 Interview with Paolo Bacigalupi

06:55 How Paolo became a science fiction fan, beginning with Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy

08:09 Becoming a science fiction writer, and the advice William Gibson gave him on breaking in

09:17 The pitfalls of instant success, and emerging from a slump

11:05 Developing his writing skills

13:23 Other books and authors that influenced his writing, From Hemingway to Cormac McCarthy.


15:24 About The Windup Girl

17:38 Researching The Windup Girl: why Thailand, and how the SARS epidemic influenced the development of the story


21:26 Paolo on travel: "Almost all of my travel experiences are horrifying."

22:49 On global warming, geo-engineering, and what we can do

25:54 Will Paolo's YA novel Ship Breaker be the "sweetness and light" story that reviewers predicted he would never write? "What I thought was an upbeat adventure story other people seem to find fairly devastating anyway."


27:11 Bringing up the next generation and reasons to write for young adults

28:28 Science fiction as a predictive medium and a vehicle for inspiring progress and change


29:54 Finding gateways to reading for boys, and which medium is fulling the role of 'boys' narrative' today

33:08 Paolo gives advice to John, editor of the new online magazine Lightspeed

35:20 Paolo talks about what's out, and what's next: Pump Six and Other Stories, The Windup Girl trade paperback release, release of Ship Breaker in May of 2010, the sequel, and the secret project he won't tell us about (but if we're lucky maybe he'll return to the show to tell us soon?)


Dave and John on science fiction at home and in schools

36:17 Dave and John talk about their families' reading choices and how they influenced them as science fiction readers.


38:19 Dave talks about science fiction as a social adhesive among fans, and how collections get passed down

40:21 Further discussion of boys' literature and the guys' experiences of reading science fiction and fantasy in school


44:11 The storytelling lesson of Narnia's lamp post

46:16 An example of passion for fantasy literature changing a person's life

47:53 Literature in schools, the present and future of education, and the role the internet may play


52:32 The importance of supporting a passion for genre literature in kids

54:22 John and Dave give their recommendations for kids: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld; the works of Tamara Pearce, Holly Black, and Timothy Zahn; Robert Aspirin's Myth Series; William Sleater's Interstellar Pig, The Green Futures of Tycho, and Singularity


Other works mentioned in this podcast

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Empire of the Sun, by J. G. Ballard

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway

The White Mountains by John Christopher

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Short Story: "The Fun They Had" by Isaac Asimov

Thanks for listening!


John Joseph Adams is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the bestselling editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, andWastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. His most recent books are The Living Dead 2 and The Way of the Wizard, and he is currently assembling several other anthologies, including Brave New Worlds and The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination. Barnes & named him "the reigning king of the anthology world," and his books have been named to numerous best of the year lists. In addition to his anthology work, he worked for more than eight years as an editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,and is currently the editor of Lightspeed Magazine and Fantasy Magazine.


David Barr Kirtley has published fiction in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, Lightspeed,Intergalactic Medicine Show, On Spec, and Cicada, and in anthologies such as New Voices in Science Fiction,Fantasy: The Best of the Year, and The Dragon Done It. Recently he's contributed stories to several of John's anthologies, including The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, and The Way of the Wizard. He's attended numerous writing workshops, including Clarion, Odyssey, Viable Paradise, James Gunn's Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and Orson Scott Card's Writers Bootcamp, and he holds an MFA in screenwriting and fiction from the University of Southern California. He also teaches regularly at Alpha, a Pittsburgh-area science fiction workshop for young writers. He lives in New York.

Shownotes compiled by podtern Aidan Moher

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