Monthly Archives: April 2015

NerdCast: E.J. Fischer and “The New Mother” Part 2

E.J. wraps up the conversation about “The New Mother.” We also get into tangent-land, including the Spurs, John Scalzi’s “Red Shirts”, and how Nintendo is a lot like professional wrestling.



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Video Show

Show Notes

Asimov April/May

If you can’t find Asimov’s April/May magazine at your local store, you can buy the back issue online here.

We start by talking more about “The New Mother”, warning, spoilers!

I talk some of the implications of E.J’s premise. Genetic algorithms, how evolution happens with cloning, and eugenics come up. E.J. spoils that eugenics will play a major part in his upcoming book.

We discuss the freakiness of Men’s Rights groups. E.J. also examines some trends in these groups in his upcoming book. As before, he’s done research on terrorism, including the work of Louise Richardson.

I love this quote by Anita Sarkeesian:

It’s possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy a piece of media while also being critical of some of the more problematic aspects of that same media.

We talk a little about the book Red Shirts. E.J. and I may discuss it on a future podcast. Given our schedule and my overall busy-ness, expect that in a year or so!

We talk about Cracked’s podcast on how documentarians lie. They do so with the “best of intentions” but doing so makes a meaningful argument more difficult.

We talk how difficult it is to be unbiased as a writer. In fact, it’s impossible. Every writer in some way or other has political work.

E.J. won a contest where he wrote a Haiku for John Scalzi’s book Red Shirts.

E.J. is in the book as a character. Of course, E.J. stopped reading after his character died, so he doesn’t know how the book ends. I compare this to a Jim Gaffigan bit about owning a book you haven’t read.

I certainly can’t point fingers. This post is up about two weeks later than I hoped it would be. But E.J. was supposed to be mentioned in the author’s notes…

E.J. points out that there is a blanket thank you in the author’s note. So he did get his thanks in the sense we were all Time Magazine’s person of the year in 2008.

The Audible version of Red Shirts is great. Will Wheaton is the narrator, and he’s amazing.

E.J. mentions 100% of books that use him (or his namesake) as a character have won the Hugo award. Just food for thought.

We want to be 100% clear; there is no bad blood between E.J. and John Scalzi.

E.J. says he’ll get around to finishing Red Shirts, but wants to read John Scalzi’s “Lock-In” first.

E.J. is making sure to keep his reading more gender balanced this year. As such, 50% of the books he reads need to have female authors. Definitely an awesome idea.

E.J. has read Kelly Sue Deconick’s Bitch Planet as well as Sex Criminals by her husband Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky. We have a weird genealogical discussion of works or something. Tune in!

E.J. is reading “Two Girls Fat and Thing” by Mary Gaitskill right now — or was when we recorded.

E.J. is also reading “Persona” by Genevieve Valentine. He really liked “The Girls at the Kingfisher Club“, also by Genevieve Valentine. He’s mentioned it on the podcast two times now.

E.J. also has “The Angel of Losses” by Stephanie Feldman on his radar. It won the Crawford Award, which is basically a “Fantasy Rookie of the Year Award.” Zen Cho tied for the award.

As you might be able to derive from the above list, E.J. is trying to hit two books a week. It’s an absurd schedule.

We briefly talk the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. When we recorded this, I hadn’t seen it. Next time.

Me and E.J. both loved 30 Rock.

We talk a little about House and Kal Penn leaving the show, in part because he had been on the Nerdist podcast right near the recording.

We talk a little about “Slacktivism” and the idea of how it’s hard to impact stuff. I think it’s a good thing actually.

We also talk a bit about fate vs. narrative fate.

E.J. brings up “Blame” by Michelle Huneven as an excellent book with themes of fate.

We talk a bit about how real life narrative is hardly structured and as cohesive as stories. In short, lay off the Lost finale!

In narratives, we get used to tropes and devices. This primes us for story types. This can be good and bad. For instance, I felt the New Mother was a horror after reading the intro.

I compare the narrative priming of “The New Mother” to Wrestlemania 31. I’m proud of this.

I’m not sure if I’d seen it yet, but I use a phrase that smacks of Max Landis. His movie on wrestling is a must watch.

Born Standing Up” by Steve Martin is a must read. It’s great in how he discusses joke construction.

Of course, we reference Red State as it’s the epitome of the idea of a creepy Reverend and subverted tropes in horror films.

We compare Nintendo to the WWE. Both rely heavily on nostalgia and older properties that were much more popular in the 80s and 90s.

I mention Sheik’s tale from Ocarina of Time would be a fantastic premise for a game. Or we could let Link be the protagonist for the millionth time.

Aaron Diaz did a premise for a Zelda themed game based on Anita Sarkeesian’s video series. It’s called Clockwork Empire.

We prove our nerd cred by discussing the origins of Mario/Jumpman/Donkey Kong.

We bring up the famous Henry Ford “faster horse” quote in reference to why innovation is an excellent idea. Of course, he may not have said this.

We talk the Suns and Spurs rivalries in the NBA playoffs. E.J. still thinks the winningest team in recent NBA history should have won more.

The Phoenix Suns are an example of a team that tried something new but didn’t get the success people wanted. We question why more teams didn’t try to emulate it.

E.J. uses the Spurs as an example of a team that “couldn’t win” until they did…

We wrap up comparing the Spurs to Apple.

Phew! Lots of notes. Hope you enjoyed the discussions. We’ll see you next time!

NerdCast: Eugene Fischer and “The New Mother” Part 1

Eugene Fischer joins the NerdCast to talk about his novella “The New Mother.”



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Video Show

Show Notes

You can find Eugene, or E.J. as I’ll call him the rest of this post at

E.J. has now been on 100% of the NerdCasts, including the Nerdcast Reboot

I briefly thought I would be starting up my own podcast. Of course, I haven’t had the time as you can find me weekly on the Boxscore Geeks Show.

E.J’s novella “The New Mother” appeared as the title story in Asimov’s Magazine. Here’s where you can pick it up. Some of these are out of date. That’s on me, sorry!

Gary Freeman did the fantastic cover art for the story.

“Communicable Parthenogenesis” is the exact condition E.J. focuses on in his story.

Wolbachia is the original condition that got him thinking about the premise behind “The New Mother.

Other messed up conditions are toxoplasmosis and ophiocordyceps unilateralis.

While E.J’s biology knowledge is stellar, he says a lot of his research for his novella had to do with social aspects. For instance, the reaction to the A.I.D.S epidemic in the 80s and 90s.

We recorded this during March Madness. During that time, Indiana passed a religious freedom law, which essentially was anti-gay-marriage. Even the NCAA was against it.

Prominent NBA names like Charles Barkley denounced Indiana.

I’ll actually give Charles Barkley some credit, he was much more understanding at the time than other athletes.

However, it’s just worth noting the stigma in the NBA against gay people, even 20 years ago, has changed dramatically.

E.J. says the idea of a fundamentalist religious sect starting the story came from a fundamentalist group of Mormons in Texas doing child marriage!

This is E.J’s “one” writer writing about a writer. I’d be fine with more, see Stephen King!

This book hits on the implication of women gaining more control in a patriarchal society. Books like “Lean In” –  and “The End of Men” (by Hannah Roslin, I forget her name in the show) have pointed out some of the demographic shifts.

We talk a bit about being a biased news source near minute twenty-two. It’s a fun listen.

The specific trope I mention for Winston in the Ghostbusters is Audience Surrogate. If E.J. was a lazy writer, his main character Tess could have been this. Luckily, E.J. makes sure to develop her as a fully fleshed out character with agency, motivation, and a story arc.

E.J. went to graduate school at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It was actually featured on Girls. He did a lot of the New Mother as part of his M.F.A

E.J. points out his story does not pass the “Reverse Bechdel Test” — no two men speak to one another.

We’ve discussed how Star Trek — the original series – was progressive for the time. It’s not the same in today’s era.

We talk a bit about how a work can be feminist while having “non-feminist” characters. Part of making females a bigger part of pop-culture is allowing them to have agency in stories. This means letting them screw up!

We talk the notion that all writing is political. Dan Olson had a great video on this.

I talk a bit about how just having a minority character can be huge for representation. E.J’s main character is a bi-racial. The movie Chef intentionally includes Hispanic characters.

E.J. has an exclusive reveal about Judy in this podcast. You’ll have to listen to hear it though!

E.J. ends part one with a reading of the ending of “The New Mother”, obviously I should state, spoilers.

And guess what? That’s only part one! Part two will be up Wednesday. Or, if you’re reading this in the future, it’s already up, lucky you!