Skip to main content
Fiction Science

Fiction Science

By Alan Boyle
Cosmic Log's podcast from the place where science and technology intersect with science fiction and popular culture, hosted by science writer Alan Boyle.
Listen on Spotify
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo


Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


Currently playing episode

The master of alternate history rewrites the '70s

Fiction Science

The master of alternate history rewrites the '70s
Science-fiction author Harry Turtledove delves into "Three MIles Down," his novel about Watergate, a real-life spy thriller ... and don't forget the aliens!
July 22, 2022
How Star Trek changed the world, and vice versa
Ryan Britt, the author of "Phasers on Stun," discusses how the Star Trek saga influenced the course of science fiction and space exploration - including the roles of space billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
July 03, 2022
'Maurice on Mars': A black comedy on the Red Planet
Comedian Tim Barnes, the creator of a new Comedy Central animated series called "Maurice on Mars," discusses his show about a struggling barista on the Red Planet and touches upon the controversies surrounding race and science fiction.
June 13, 2022
Futurist lays out utopian vision for 2084
Michael Rogers, a futurist who advises startups and Fortune 500 companies, uses a sci-fi novel titled "Email From the Future" to point to technologies and trends that could solve the climate crisis and end wealth inequality.
May 21, 2022
Brian Greene explains the multiverse
Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist at Columbia University, delves into the physics of parallel universes - a plot point featured in a Marvel superhero movie titled "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."
May 06, 2022
Sci-fi with the flavor of Bangladesh
Bangladeshi author Saad Z. Hossain talks about the mythical and modern influences that go into his science fiction tales - including his latest novel, "Kundo Wakes Up," which works the godly powers of AI agents and djinns into the plot. 
March 26, 2022
How realistic is it to leave Earth behind?
German filmmaker Rudolph Herzog talks about "Last Exit: Space" - a quirky documentary that focuses on space settlement efforts (and features his father, Werner Herzog, as narrator).
March 10, 2022
Mika McKinnon on the science of 'Moonfall'
Geophysicist Mika McKinnon talks about her efforts to add a smidgen of scientific plausibility to "Moonfall," a big-budget disaster movie about the moon falling out of orbit and wreaking havoc on Earth.
February 01, 2022
Fear the fungus in 'Unfamiliar Garden'
Benjamin Percy, author of "The Unfamiliar Garden," talks about his Seattle-centric, science-centric update of the classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" plotline - plus, how writing for comic books made him a better novelist.
January 18, 2022
'Don't Look Up': A comedy about cosmic threats
Amy Mainzer, the science adviser for "Don't Look Up," talks about the real-life astronomy behind the movie's fictional killer comet. 
December 06, 2021
Cat Rambo explains how to launch a space opera
Award-winning science-fiction writer Cat Rambo talks about their new novel, "You Sexy Thing," a tale about space pirates, a sentient starship and gourmet mercenaries that's been called a cross between "Farscape" and "The Great British Baking Show."
November 11, 2021
Neal Stephenson on the metaverse and the climate crisis
Science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson discusses his new climate-change thriller, "Termination Shock," and the status of the metaverse - a concept he came up with nearly 30 years ago.
November 06, 2021
Christof Koch on the mysteries of consciousness
Allen Institute neuroscientist Christof Koch talks about his quest to understand the nature of consciousness, his magic mushroom experience and his role in the documentary film "Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness."
October 31, 2021
Fact and fiction in the billionaire space race
Jeffrey Kluger, editor at large for Time magazine and author of the sci-fi novel "Holdout," talks about the fact and the fiction surrounding commercial spaceflight and NASA exploration.
July 26, 2021
Octavia E. Butler's classic sci-fi reborn as graphic novel
Damian Duffy and John Jennings talk about how they transformed Octavia E. Butler's prescient science-fiction tale, "Parable of the Sower," into a graphic novel.
July 17, 2021
The meaning of life, death ... and black holes
Radio astronomer Heino Falcke, one of the leaders of the Event Horizon Telescope project, discusses how the first image of a black hole's shadow was captured - and why it's so intriguing.
June 06, 2021
Outer space gets stripped down in 'Voyagers'
Veteran production designer Scott Chambliss says he took a page from SpaceX's playbook when he created the look of the multi-generational spaceship for the movie "Voyagers."
April 08, 2021
Why Michio Kaku believes the God Equation will be our salvation
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku talks about his latest book, "The God Equation," and explains how we might be able to use the theory of everything to escape the eventual death of our own universe.
April 06, 2021
Bonus: Talking fiction with Nathaniel Rich
Nathaniel Rich, author of "Second Nature," "Losing Earth" and the sci-fi novel "Odds Against Tomorrow," discusses the state of contemporary fiction with Fiction Science co-hosts Dominica Phetteplace and Alan Boyle.
March 30, 2021
Are we killing nature, or creating a 'Second Nature'?
Nathaniel Rich, the author of "Second Nature: Scenes From a World Remade," lays out his vision of a post-natural world.
March 30, 2021
Is 'Machinehood' in our future?
In her debut novel, "Machinehood," S.B. Divya foresees a future where we merge with the machines through AI, nanotech pills and robotic implants. Would she want to be part of that future? Get the answer in this episode of Fiction Science, co-hosted by Alan Boyle and Dominica Phetteplace.
February 28, 2021
Annalee Newitz on 'Four Lost Cities'
Science journalist/author Annalee Newitz discusses her new book, "Four Lost Cities," and the evolution of past and present urban centers with Fiction Science hosts Alan Boyle and Dominica Phetteplace.
February 05, 2021
Michael Mann on 'The New Climate War'
Penn State climatologist Michael Mann, the outspoken author of "The New Climate War," talks about what Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and the rest of us can do to help the world avert the coming climate catastrophe.
January 11, 2021
'Greenland' spotlights cosmic doom
A new movie titled "Greenland" calls attention to potential threats from comets and asteroids. Visual effects supervisor Marc Massicotte and Danica Remy, president of the B612 Foundation, discuss the science behind the spectacle.
December 18, 2020
Sci-fi master Ted Chiang on AI, time travel and more
Science-fiction author Ted Chiang delves into thought experiments on artificial intelligence and time travel - and talks about how his involvement in the movie "Arrival" changed his life.
November 08, 2020
Kim Stanley Robinson on 'Ministry for the Future'
Science-fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson talks about his latest novel, "The Ministry for the Future," and the climate science behind it.
October 29, 2020
'Cyber Republic' and democracy's future
George Zarkadakis, author of "Cyber Republic," discusses ways to reinvent democracy with Fiction Science hosts Alan Boyle and Dominica Phetteplace.
October 12, 2020
How the stars gave birth to 'The Human Cosmos'
Jo Marchant, author of "The Human Cosmos," talks about the growing disconnect between humanity and the heavens - and how to fix it.
September 19, 2020
Twin Peaks star Kyle MacLachlan talks about Tesla
Kyle MacLachlan looks back at "Dune" and "Twin Peaks," discusses his portrayal of Thomas Edison in "Tesla" and reveals which present-day tech titan intrigues him the most. Hosted by Cosmic Log's Alan Boyle.
August 17, 2020