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Xenophobes and xenomorphs: A look back at Cold War science fiction
In a time when intergalactic superheroes dominate global box offices and capture the imaginations of millions of people around the world, what do we see when we look back at the science fiction of the Cold War? What is gained and what is obscured by comparing the films and literature created by the two superpowers of the early Space Age? And what did it feel like to watch those movies and read those books back then? What’s the legacy of these remarkable creations?
To explore this subject and attempt some answers, “The Naked Pravda” turned to Anindita Banerjee, an associate professor of comparative literature at Cornell University, where she chairs the humanities concentration in the Environment and Sustainability Program and wears several other academic and administrative hats. Dr. Banerjee explained the pitfalls of Americans’ Hollywood obsession and described her own introduction to Alexander Belayev’s 1928 science fiction adventure novel, “Amphibian Man,” which Soviet filmmaker Vladimir Chebotaryov later adapted into the 1962 Soviet blockbuster motion picture. Journalist Slava Malamud, who’s entertained and educated mass audiences on Twitter with long threads about Soviet themes in cinema, also returns to the podcast to recall his experiences as a viewer of domestic and Hollywood sci-fi movies in the USSR in the 1980s.
“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Saturdays (or sometimes Fridays). Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”
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