Show Notes for Ep. 18 "Cadwell Turnbull"

In movies, shows, and books, the aliens often invade the biggest, most iconic cities in our world. But what if the aliens chose to inhabit a place like the US Virgin Islands? In this episode, Mary Anne and Ben interview Cadwell Turnbull on his sci-fi book, The Lesson, and what its representations of aliens, violence, language, and culture says about our own troubled history with colonialism.

Recorded 29 November 2020 / Published 9 August 2021


  • 0:00: Cold open on deceptive ages
  • 1:40: Official start of podcast and introducing Cadwell
  • 3:20: Diving into discussion on The Lesson
  • 8:05: On the history of The US Virgin Islands
  • 19:05: On why the alien invasion happens in the US Virgin Islands
  • 26:50: On the literary fiction tropes of The Lesson
  • 31:10: On the portrayal of violence in The Lesson
  • 39:50: Connecting the alien violence to gender violence
  • 46:45: On how race relates
  • 57:10: Intermission and ad
  • 57:52: On the role of religion in The Lesson and the importance of aliens being alien
  • 1:11:35: On a suburban reading of The Lesson
  • 1:13:52: On the evolution of the cultural conversation
  • 1:24:40: On Cadwell’s MFA experience
  • 1:27:20: On the use of language and dialect in The Lesson
  • 1:47:20: Ending thoughts and Cadwell promo
  • 1:52:40: Cadwell on his comparisons to Butler, and his author influences