When you’re watching a fantasy or science fiction show, and the characters are speaking a language that does not exist in this world but sounds like it could - that doesn’t happen by accident, or improvisation. A lot - a LOT! - of work goes into inventing new languages that sound real. Conlanger David Peterson talks about how he created languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones.Read More
Throughout the year, the people who appear on the Allusionist tell me a lot of interesting stuff. Not all of which is relevant to the episode they initially appeared in, so I stash it away in preparation for this moment: the annual bonus episode! Get ready for gory 19th century London slang, the rise and fall of superhero capes, the post-WW1 trend for nudism, and more.Read More
When you're feeling unwell, what's the book you read to make yourself feel better? And why does it work?
Clinical psychologist Jane Gregory explains why she sometimes prescribes novel-reading to her patients; and academic Guy Cuthbertson tells how post-WW1 Britain was soothed by Agatha Christie's murder mysteries.Read More
Charles Dickens wrote about the plight of the impoverished and destitute members of British society. So how come his name is a synonym for rosy-cheeked, full-stomached, fattened-goose, hearty merry "God bless us every one" Christmas?
Avery Trufelman and Katie Mingle of 99% Invisible report from the streets of Victorian London at the annual Dickens Christmas Fair in Daly City, California, while historian Greg Jenner explains the origins of the festive traditions for which Dickens gets the credit, without even wanting the credit - in fact, his motivation for writing A Christmas Carol was far from a cash-in on Christmas.Read More
You've encountered technobabble when Doc Brown is shouting about flux capacitors in Back To The Future, or when Isaac Asimov writes about positronic brains. Astrophysicist Katie Mack and NASA JPL technologist Manan Arya discuss how science fact relates to science fiction.Read More
Escape into the loving embrace of a romance novel - although don't think you'll be able to escape gender politics while you're in there. Bea and Leah Koch, proprietors of the romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice, consider the genre; and publisher Lisa Milton scrolls through the 109-year history of the imprint that epitomises romance novels, Mills & Boon.Read More
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'Step-', as in stepparents or stepchildren, originated in grief. Family structures have evolved, but are stepmothers now so tainted by fairytale associations with the word 'wicked' that we need new terminology? Lore's Aaron Mahnke stops by to describe the lovelessness, literary tropes and life expectancy around 'step-'.
- Diagnose yourself with novercaphobia, if you must.
- But according to Neil Gaiman, in early versions of many of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales, the evil stepmothers were actually evil bilogical mothers...
- Here's information about the study Aaron mentioned about 'The Cinderella Effect' upon stepchild mortality; there are some curious findings.
- Read about the ancient prototypes for Cinderella, and then some analysis of some of the newer spins on the tale.
- Or perhaps you'd prefer an annotated version of Hansel and Gretel, plus a load of different illustrators' takes on it.
- Have you seen the film Wicked Stepmother? No, nor have I. It is distinguished by being Bette Davis's final film, and seems to average around two stars out of five from what I've read about it.
- The transcript of this episode is here.
On Tuesday 4th August 2015 at 8pm UK time, 3pm ET, 12pm PT, I'll be doing a live discussion about this episode at spoken.am. Please come along to tell me what you think, divulge about your own steprelatives, and to ask me anything about the show.
Go to spoken.am to request your invite* and I'll see you there, yes? (Or you can catch up afterwards, if you must.)
UPDATE: Now that we are living in the post-live chat era, you can catch up at spoken.am/allusionist/step-away
*My school English teacher used to HATE people using 'invite' as a noun. I feel both guilty and slyly delighted to have done so just now.
This episode was sponsored by HelloFresh, who'll deliver fresh, healthy meal kits to your door. And they've got very tasty special offers for you Allusionist listeners in the USA if you visit hellofresh.com/allusion.
MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Aaron Mahnke hosts Lore podcast, about scary stories and folklore. Visit lorepodcast.com, and find more of Aaron's work including his books at aaronmahnke.com.
- Big sloppy thanks are served to all the listeners who answered my plea and kindly contributed their thoughts about step-terms.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. All the music is by Martin Austwick. Hear and/or download more - WITH LYRICS! - at thesoundoftheladies.bandcamp.com.
- Say hello to me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.