The Fancast Spotlights are coming thick and fast these day, cause here is the next entry in the Fancast Spotlight project. For more about the Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project, go here. You can also check out the other great fanzines and fancasts featured by clicking here.
Today, I’m pleased to feature Seldon Crisis, a podcast devoted to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and the current TV adaptation.
Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Joel McKinnon of Seldon Crisis to my blog today:
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
Seldon Crisis –the podcast, is a loving tribute to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, in which I bring to life each chapter in audio form through summary, excerpted dialog, and analysis. Official story episodes come out every few weeks with intermediate updates appearing occasionally where I am still experimenting with the format. So far I’ve included essays, personal notes, and a primer on Foundation for Newbies targeted to watchers of the new series from Apple TV+.
I also have a YouTube channel with a video introducing the podcast, promo shorts featuring the custom intros for each episode, and video versions of each episode. My son, Jeremy MacKinnon creates the videos and does sound design on the official story episodes starting with The General, Part I in Season 2.
Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?
I’ve mentioned my most significant collaborator in Jeremy, who also acts as a sounding board and quality control for all episodes. The theme music was orchestrated by my old friend and bandmate Tom Barnes from a simple melody I provided. The logo art comes from a UK artist named Mike Topping who also created a whole series of classic cover art for Foundation and the Robots series. My most recent collaborator is Amanda Kreitler who saves me from having to voice female characters. She also performs on the RPG podcasts Severed Fate and Dimension Door.
Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?
I read the full Foundation series for the first time last summer during lockdown. I had read the trilogy in my youth but had forgotten most of it and it was pure joy to re-read it. I had that common feeling after reading a great work of literature of wanting to share it with others, and decided the easiest way to share it with the world was in podcast form. I had no knowledge of the AppleTV series until after I’d written the first several scripts.
What format do you use for your podcast or channel and why did you choose this format?
It’s kind of a unique hybrid of multiple formats. I usually start out with setting some context in the larger story and often include cultural context in which Asimov wrote it. Then I get into the story itself and try to make it stand on its own. I do a fair amount of summary, but the heart of it is the dialog, which I voice as I interpret the personalities of the characters. As you know, Asimov didn’t do a lot of physical description of his characters or the scenes they inhabit, so I just go by the content and try to imagine the real person who would say these lines. Often I don’t know what they’ll sound like until I voice them. Among my favorites – besides the big ones Hari Seldon, Salvor Hardin, and Hober Mallow, are lesser known characters like Limmar Ponyets from the Traders and Commdor Asper from The Merchant Princes. Right now I’m having the time of my life doing Magnifico in The Mule.
When I wrap up the story part I include more analysis including how I think the themes and ideas are relevant to our current societal context. A good example is the comparison of Seldon’s predictions of coming catastrophe for the Empire with our current predictions of climate catastrophe and suggest that it might be a good idea to come up with a coherent plan to tackle it.
The fan categories at the Hugos were there at the very beginning, but they are also the categories which consistently gets the lowest number of votes and nominations. So why do you think fanzines, fancasts and other fan projects are important?
Fan art of all kinds is a wonderful source of new creativity building on the stories that often leave a lot of loose ends and unanswered questions. Asimov provided lots of grist for this by the nature of his creative process. He claimed to never use an outline, but to have a clear idea of the eventual resolution. What happened along the way was totally by the seat of his pants. A great example is the Siwenna revolt that is mentioned as background in The Merchant Princes and again in The General. Among the unanswered questions is what happened to Onum Barr’s daughter who he thought might have survived the Empire’s bombardment that killed all but one of his six sons. In The General we are told she committed suicide, but nothing about the surrounding circumstances. There are enough fragments of this tale to create a whole novel. It’s really temping to take a crack at it some day.
In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online and fancasts have sprung up. What do you think the future of fan media looks like?
I haven’t thought a lot about this to be honest, but I can imagine new platforms appearing to organize fan content. VR should be a great format for immersive experiences of stories that have been told but not particularly well described – as with Asimov’s settings – along with entirely newly created worlds. I can imagine people populating these virtual environments and reliving old stories and encountering new worlds as actual participants. Imagine being completely immersed in a realistic experience of taking a space elevator trip down into Trantor as Gaal Dornick does in the first episode of the TV show. Hardier fans might want to be on it when it is is destroyed and ride one of the flaming carriages down to oblivion. Another cool thing might be to choose your own plot developments from within the story, possibly with the help of AI algorithms facilitating creation of random scenarios.
The four fan categories of the Hugos (best fanzine, fan writer, fan artist and fancast) tend to get less attention than the fiction and dramatic presentation categories. Are there any awesome fanzines, fancasts, fan writers and fan artists you’d like to recommend?
I’m mostly aware of the podcasting space right now, and since starting my own it’s been all about Foundation. One of my favorites is one we both did a guest appearance on, Stars End Podcast (https://starsendpodcast.wordpress.com/). The three hosts are very knowledgeable about the source material and open to new expressions of it like the TV show and I really enjoy their discussions. Another of their recent guests, named Morgan, writes some pretty decent fan fiction herself, along with some awesome memes, and spends a lot of time on the Galactic Empire Discord server as Dors Venabili. I’ve encouraged her to start her own podcast and hope she does.
I’ve encountered some amazing indy sci-fi writers in the last few years, and I’ll call out Tobias Cabral for his sensational novel New Eyes set on Mars a century or so from now and Erasmo Acosta for his extremely ambitious K3+ about the future of humanity set just a billion or so years in the future. An entirely different and probably more realistic vision of a galaxy filled to the brim with humanity – should we succeed in getting through our great filters and launch a diaspora to the stars.
Where can people find you?
Seldon Crisis is at seldoncrisis.transistor.fm and on all of the major podcasting platforms and at the official YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCSnydc0fSf0zQJ91IxoVmQ). I engage on twitter @joegmckinnon and as Max Wyvern on Discord at Galactic Empire (https://discord.gg/S3FtSXJC). I also have an earlier podcast called Planet and Sky which is an original science fiction story combined with a creation myth. It’s based on a rock opera I wrote and both the album and podcast details can be found at PlanetAndSky.com. My old band JupiterSheep – where I got the name Max Wyvern – has a website at jupitersheep.com. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Joel, for stopping by and answering my questions.
Do check out Seldon Crisis, cause it’s a great podcast.
Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine/-site or fancast or a semiprozine and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.