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 of Mohanraj and Rosenbaum are Humans, 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.

For the edited, audio-only podcast, click here.

Episode recorded 29 November 2020

Episode published 9 August 2021

Show Notes


  1. 0:00: Cold open on deceptive ages
  2. 1:40: Official start of podcast and introducing Cadwell
  3. 3:20: Diving into discussion on The Lesson
  4. 8:05: On the history of The US Virgin Islands
  5. 19:05: On why the alien invasion happens in the US Virgin Islands
  6. 26:50: On the literary fiction tropes of The Lesson
  7. 31:10: On the portrayal of violence in The Lesson
  8. 39:50: Connecting the alien violence to gender violence
  9. 46:45: On how race relates
  10. 57:10: Intermission and ad
  11. 57:52: On the role of religion in The Lesson and the importance of aliens being alien
  12. 1:11:35: On a suburban reading of The Lesson
  13. 1:13:52: On the evolution of the cultural conversation
  14. 1:24:40: On Cadwell’s MFA experience
  15. 1:27:20: On the use of language and dialect in The Lesson
  16. 1:47:20: Ending thoughts and Cadwell promo
  17. 1:52:40: Cadwell on his comparisons to Butler, and his author influences

Notes and Links