Witness if you will a writer: Rod Serling. This is the story of a man with a vision -- a vision of what television could be if only men ceased to operate out of fear and greed. But Rod Serling has a plan. He will use the camouflage of monsters, both real and imagined, to reveal what cannot be said about society, and what Mr. Serling himself cannot say about his own fears and regrets. And those monsters dwell in a state of mind called The Twilight Zone. The cast of characters: Nicholas Parisi, author of “ ,” by Anne Serling.
The Hero's Journey Endgame
When something goes wrong in an ordinary world, an unlikely hero emerges to go on a quest….and you know the rest. Ever since George Lucas cited Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” as the inspiration for Star Wars, Hollywood screenwriters have used Campbell’s theory of The Hero’s Journey as the blueprint for making movies, especially stories about epic protagonists. But as we reach a saturation point of sci-fi fantasy and superhero franchises, has The Hero’s Journey outstayed its welcome? I talk with pop culture journalist Abraham Riesman, and musical composer Peter J. Casey, who explains how The Hero’s Journey took over Broadway.
Slaughterhouse at Fifty
Time doesn’t work the same for Billy Pilgrim as it does for the rest of us. He keeps jumping from one moment in his life to the next -- and always back to the bombing of Dresden. 50 years ago this month, Kurt Vonnegut introduced Billy Pilgrim and the aliens who gave him strange time traveling powers in his novel "Slaughterhouse Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death." Many critics were baffled as to why Vonnegut used sci-fi tropes to explore the horrors of World War II. But the novel was deeply personal to Vonnegut, who struggled for years to figure out how to talk about his wartime experiences. Vonnegut scholars Marc Leeds, William Rodney Allen and Julia Whitehead of the connect the dots from the author’s real traumas to the fantastical adventures of Billy Pilgrim. And professor Philip Beidler explains why the novel speaks to him as a Vietnam veteran.
Tales of Margaret Brundage
She’s mostly forgotten today, but in the 1930s Margaret Brundage was the hottest pulp fiction magazine illustrator. She created covers for Weird Tales magazine, which published the works of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft and other pioneering genre writers. But Brundage herself was something of a mystery. I talk with experts George Hagenauer, Lauren Stump and Steve Korshak about why Brundage’s art was so alluring, and how it taps into current questions about how women are depicted in fantasy worlds. And I visit tattoo artist Mary Joy Scott, who believes that Brundage also had an influence on the art of tattooing. Click to see images of Brundage's Weird Tales covers.
The Man Behind the Sword
Conan the Barbarian doesn't get much respect. He's generally thought of as a muscle-bound brute who fights his way through a made-up ancient world. But the character actually has a deep, rich history -- and his creator, Robert E. Howard, was a misunderstood genius. I talk with experts Rusty Burke, David C. Smith, Jeffrey Shanks, Jonas Prida, and Nicole Emmelhainz about why Conan the Barbarian is more relevant than ever, and how the character's journey reflects real world issues that Robert E. Howard struggled with in his own lifetime.