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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You can find Eugene, or E.J. as I’ll call him the rest of this post at http://www.eugenefischer.com

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 Some of these are out of date.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!