Show Notes for Ep. 2 "The Toilet Seat Con Hook-Up"

How does examining the rules and structures of relationships help define genres such as magical realism and science fiction? In this episode, Mohanraj and Rosenbaum humorously discuss their romantic experiences and the surprising connections to how we examine and shape genres… And leaving the toilet seat up might be more significant than you think.

Content note for mention of race play and of pedophilia. Also discussion of cheating on spouses and spousal abuse and murder. And a potentially ableist remark about brain tumors and personality change.

Recorded 13 May and 17 May 2020 / Published 29 March 2021


  • 0:30: In which our hosts announce the title of the podcast.
  • 1:40: Things Mary Anne and Ben will likely talk about in the podcast: writing, community, ethics, culture.
  • 2:10 What counts as science fiction/fantasy? Genre is (among other things) a way of talking about reader experience.
  • 7:10: Different angles that works can be seen from: fantastical, religious, magical realism, etc.
  • 13:45: Orthodoxy as a response to modernity. Also, differences in cultural default ideas about “magical” things and occurrences.
  • 22:05: Using certain signals and frameworks to evoke reader expectations and sources of reader pleasure.
  • 29:55: People’s statements about what counts as being in a genre, vs what they treat as being in the genre.
  • 35:55: Stories that are published in a given genre but don’t have some of the usual genre signals and attributes.
  • 44:00: Dethroning the norm.
  • 45:40: Figuring out what game you’re playing.
  • 47:50: People who approach relationships as a set of rules, and people who think in terms of having a fundamental trust and regard for each other.
  • 55:55: Rules can be an indication of things that are hard to do.
  • 1:00:35: Jealousy, insecurity, and feeling alien.
  • 1:06:30: Treating people as they want to be treated, not as you would want to be treated.
  • 1:09:35: Ongoing irritants in a relationship, which may not be fixed by being married.
  • 1:14:50: Don’t pretend to let something go if you can’t really.
  • 1:17:35: In a relationship, fights about a lot of little things may signal bigger structural issues.
  • 1:24:35: Darius explains that Mary Anne’s laptop ran out of power.
  • 1:24:55: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
  • 1:25:30: Rules (for sonnets, genres, etc), and how hard we hold ourselves to those rules.
  • 1:28:15: Marriage can make a relationship much harder, and society doesn’t give us good roadmaps for what happens in a relationship after people get married.
  • 1:33:10: The relative dearth of narrative about longterm close relationships. (Mary Anne and Ben both talk in this segment in terms of “married” vs “dating,” but I’m pretty sure they really mostly mean longterm-and-deep vs new-and-shallow, which isn’t the same distinction.)
  • 1:45:10: Sf is trying to do more different kinds of things than literary fiction, which sometimes leaves sf a little thin on literary values like complex relationships between characters.
  • 1:48:10: Verve and weirdness can make a story enjoyable even if the prose isn’t great.
  • 1:53:05: Credits.

Works Mentioned

Alphabetically by author surname, or by title of work in cases where authorship isn’t simple.

Other Clarifying or Explanatory Links