Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans: Episodes

This page provides episodes and show notes for the SLF podcast Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans.

List of episodes

Episode 1: “Introductions”

In this inaugural episode, Mary Anne and Ben promise to introduce themselves in ten minutes, then immediately veer off into a tangle of tangents—parenting, religion, writing—setting a tone for the wild ride to come. From their beginnings as writers, to the far future extrapolations of their work, Mary Anne and Ben begin the discussion of who they are as humans.

To view the video version of the first episode, check out our YouTube channel.

Episode recorded 10 May 2020.

Episode published 22 March 2021.

Show Notes

Contents

  1. 0:10: Introduction to the podcast.
  2. 0:30: Starting to introduce Ben: Youth and Clarion West.
  3. 2:30: How Mary Anne and Ben met, in Seattle.
  4. 3:50: Strange Horizons, and staff not getting paid.
  5. 5:15: Identities, and gendered differences in how people identify themselves.
  6. 6:45: Parenthood, Switzerland, parenting paradigms.
  7. 9:55: Religion and community.
  8. 14:55: Starting to introduce Mary Anne. “This is not going to be a long intro.”
  9. 31:05: Mary Anne’s role and voice in the community, including Strange Horizons.
  10. 33:20: One area where Mary Anne and Ben overlap: a strong interest in community.
  11. 34:20: “When I see a problem, … my immediate impulse is to fix it.”
  12. 39:05: More differences in Mary Anne’s and Ben’s approaches, such as their different reactions to MoonFail.
  13. 46:45: Forgiveness and recovery and redemption after failures and mistakes. Also racism in sf and horror.
  14. 52:35: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
  15. 53:15: Continuing the discussion of forgiveness and redemption.
  16. 1:08:00: What you’re likely to hear in episodes of this podcast, and some possible titles for the podcast. (This episode was recorded before the podcast had a title.)
  17. 1:13:50: Approaches to science fiction vs literary fiction, and plausibility, and Dr. Who.
  18. 1:23:20: Star Trek: Picard: realistic characterization and fantastical plots.
  19. 1:27:30: Ben’s rule of thumb about things persisting into the future; also cognitive estrangement and operationalizing strangeness.
  20. 1:40:20: Wrapup and credits.

Works mentioned

Alphabetically by author surname.

Other clarifying or explanatory links


Bonus Episode 1: “The Capitol and the Cafe”

In this episode, the hosts of MRAH explore questions of violence, pacifism, ethics, and empathy while juxtaposing a local incident against an event of national proportions.

Content warning: This episode discusses a racist attack on a business, the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, an Islamophobic insult, fascism, and other related political topics.

For the video version of the episode check out our YouTube channel.

Episode recorded 10 January 2021.

Episode published 25 March 2021.

Show Notes

Contents

  1. 0:35: Introducing the topics: A racist incident in Oak Park; the January 6 attack on the US Capitol; and Mary Anne running for office.
  2. 1:10: Disclaimer: This is a hot take on (among other things) the January 6 attacks, and Mary Anne and Ben may have changed their minds since they recorded this.
  3. 2:35: The ongoing dialogue about how we have these conversations, and how people react to misbehavior.
  4. 3:55: Background about Oak Park, the suburb of Chicago where Mary Anne lives.
  5. 5:05: L!VE Cafe, in Oak Park, which hosts events. (It’s owned by Black entrepreneur Reesheda Graham Washington.)
  6. 6:25: The racist message attached to a brick thrown at L!VE Cafe, in the context of Black candidates running for local office.
  7. 9:05: Oak Park is a liberal bastion, but this can still happen.
  8. 12:50: Venues that are willing to try to address issues openly end up looking like they’re always having social justice fights.
  9. 15:10: Connecting the L!VE Cafe attack to the Capitol attack.
  10. 16:45: The dangers of beefing up security.
  11. 18:10: Nazi-punching as one option among several.
  12. 22:45: Fanon, King, and Gandhi. Pragmatic and strategic pacifism vs philosophical pacifism.
  13. 27:10: Every time Frodo puts on the ring, it strengthens Sauron and weakens Frodo; but sometimes it also helps Frodo get away.
  14. 30:35: Violence in the name of greater good: what does it cost you long term? And is the gain worth the cost?
  15. 33:15: Deplatforming, silencing, and freedom of speech.
  16. 35:05: A distinction between conservative and liberal worldviews.
  17. 38:05: Where you allocate money says something about the society you’re trying to build.
  18. 38:30: The word liberal means very different things in the US and Switzerland.
  19. 40:25: The people who attacked the Capitol were not trying to preserve something; they wanted to tear down the system.
  20. 41:25: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
  21. 42:00: Edmund Burke.
  22. 44:30: The Faustian bargain made by statist conservative Republicans.
  23. 51:30: We need a more sophisticated taxonomy.
  24. 54:35: Lots of disenfranchised people believe that the system is corrupt, and that they can’t improve it by voting.
  25. 56:55: The populist impulse to radically overthrow, and a distinction between conservatism and fascism.
  26. 1:04:30: Oak Park high school board member Matt Baron, who used a terrorism metaphor in talking about Dima Ali, a Muslim woman.
  27. 1:12:25: Fascism poses a specific unique problem, because of its attitude toward language and thinking.
  28. 1:14:45: Cancel culture, free speech, empathy, and the tendency of the internet to fall on people’s heads.
  29. 1:24:05: How Mary Anne convinced people that the library should get rid of fines.
  30. 1:29:00: Closing thoughts: You never have to excuse someone’s bad behavior to be a good ally to them. Hold them accountable.

Works mentioned

Alphabetically by author surname.

Other clarifying or explanatory links


Episode 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.

For the video version of the episode visit our YouTube channel.

Episode recorded 13 May and 17 May 2020.

Episode published 29 March 2021.

Show Notes

Contents

  1. 0:30: In which our hosts announce the title of the podcast.
  2. 1:40: Things Mary Anne and Ben will likely talk about in the podcast: writing, community, ethics, culture.
  3. 2:10 What counts as science fiction/fantasy? Genre is (among other things) a way of talking about reader experience.
  4. 7:10: Different angles that works can be seen from: fantastical, religious, magical realism, etc.
  5. 13:45: Orthodoxy as a response to modernity. Also, differences in cultural default ideas about “magical” things and occurrences.
  6. 22:05: Using certain signals and frameworks to evoke reader expectations and sources of reader pleasure.
  7. 29:55: People’s statements about what counts as being in a genre, vs what they treat as being in the genre.
  8. 35:55: Stories that are published in a given genre but don’t have some of the usual genre signals and attributes.
  9. 44:00: Dethroning the norm.
  10. 45:40: Figuring out what game you’re playing.
  11. 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.
  12. 55:55: Rules can be an indication of things that are hard to do.
  13. 1:00:35: Jealousy, insecurity, and feeling alien.
  14. 1:06:30: Treating people as they want to be treated, not as you would want to be treated.
  15. 1:09:35: Ongoing irritants in a relationship, which may not be fixed by being married.
  16. 1:14:50: Don’t pretend to let something go if you can’t really.
  17. 1:17:35: In a relationship, fights about a lot of little things may signal bigger structural issues.
  18. 1:24:35: Darius explains that Mary Anne’s laptop ran out of power.
  19. 1:24:55: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
  20. 1:25:30: Rules (for sonnets, genres, etc), and how hard we hold ourselves to those rules.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.)
  23. 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.
  24. 1:48:10: Verve and weirdness can make a story enjoyable even if the prose isn’t great.
  25. 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


Episode 3: An Interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mary Anne interviews Silvia Moreno-Garcia about her experiences with sci-fi and fantasy growing up in Mexico, and how it’s shaped her own work.

Content note for discussion of dictatorships in Latin America.

For the video version of the episode visit the SLF’s YouTube channel. You can also read the interview here.

Episode recorded ?.

Episode published 5 April 2021.

Show Notes

Contents

  1. 0:30: Introducing this episode’s guest, Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
  2. 1:30: Silvia’s childhood in Mexico, reading her mother’s copies of sf books.
  3. 4:35: The sf scene in Latin America and Spain, then and now.
  4. 5:40: Cosmos Latinos, an anthology of Latin American sf, and other venues where Latin American sf has been published.
  5. 8:05: More-recent Latin American sf writers, and some of their tropes and themes and anxieties and modes.
  6. 12:55: Representation in publishing, and what US Anglophone editors are likely to focus on.
  7. 14:00: Into the Spider-Verse and demanding a wider variety of stories.
  8. 14:45: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
  9. 15:20: Silvia’s life in Canada, and the Canadian sf-publishing scene.
  10. 20:05: Silvia’s novel Gods of Jade and Shadow, a quest story set in 1920s Mexico.
  11. 22:15: The value of oral history, spoken knowledge-sharing, and folktales.
  12. 24:30: Omniscient narrators and Latin American culture.
  13. 27:19: Silvia’s then-forthcoming novels Untamed Shore and Mexican Gothic.
  14. 29:40: Credits.

Works mentioned

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

Other clarifying or explanatory links

Episode 4: “What Are… Humans”

What does it mean to be human? What do we mean when we call ourselves humanist? And what does secularism and the idea of God have to do with it all? This episode represents Mary Anne and Ben’s attempts at clarifying what they mean by being humans.

Content note for a comparison (in passing) of meat-eating to baby-killing.

For the video version of the episode visit: https://youtu.be/JZFe0UaE2gk

Episode recorded 24 May 2020.

Episode published 12 April 2021.

Show Notes

Contents

  1. 0:30: This episode’s intended topics: humanity and humanism.
  2. 1:35: Sri Lanka’s colonial religious history and Mary Anne’s family’s Catholicism.
  3. 7:15: The problem of evil, and free will. “Omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent: choose two.”
  4. 11:00: Mary Anne’s Confirmation and St. Kateri.
  5. 13:00: Mary Anne is now agnostic.
  6. 13:40: Ben is not a secular humanist.
  7. 16:10: The realist world and the supernatural world, and science as a tool for predicting recurring patterns in nature.
  8. 19:50: Diane Duane’s Star Trek novel The Wounded Sky, in which the characters encounter a “protoGod.”
  9. 24:45: Supposedly-but-not-really secular aspects of Christian-focused cultures.
  10. 27:00: What counts as supernatural.
  11. 31:10: More on the supernatural, and on God and science.
  12. 37:05: Humans telling stories to try to make sense of things.
  13. 38:35: The rise of subjectivity; understanding the universe as subjective reality; our mediated/filtered view of the universe.
  14. 41:45: Ben doesn’t mind having many worldviews, as long as they’re useful.
  15. 46:30: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
  16. 47:05: An addition from Ben in April, summarizing his earlier argument.
  17. 47:50: Treating humans as more important than animals. [Mary Anne and Ben seem to be using the word humanism here to refer to this concept, though that’s not the usual meaning of humanism.]
  18. 52:05: The ethics of animal testing and human testing.
  19. 1:00:30: Willingness to sacrifice far-away people for the benefit of oneself or people one is close to; also, the trolley problem.
  20. 1:05:45: Trolley problems, the Kobayashi Maru, and Cold Equations; and how oversimplifying can get in the way of considering complexity.
  21. 1:13:50: What kind of person do I want to be? “What is the next right action?” Setting up structures that produce habits.
  22. 1:20:10: Benjamin Franklin’s plan to establish better habits.
  23. 1:21:50: Posthumanism and bodies. “Do I want to be uploaded? I don’t even want to be on Twitter!”
  24. 1:28:25: The effects of human bodies on human systems.
  25. 1:31:15: Credits.

Works mentioned

Other clarifying or explanatory links