Rank #1: The Hero's Journey Endgame
When something goes wrong in an ordinary world, an unlikely hero emerges to go on a quest….and you know the rest. Ever since George Lucas cited Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” as the inspiration for Star Wars, Hollywood screenwriters have used Campbell’s theory of The Hero’s Journey as the blueprint for making movies, especially stories about epic protagonists. But as we reach a saturation point of sci-fi fantasy and superhero franchises, has The Hero’s Journey outstayed its welcome? I talk with pop culture journalist Abraham Riesman, and musical composer Peter J. Casey, who explains how The Hero’s Journey took over Broadway.
Rank #2: The Book of Dune
Rank #3: Slaughterhouse at Fifty
Time doesn’t work the same for Billy Pilgrim as it does for the rest of us. He keeps jumping from one moment in his life to the next -- and always back to the bombing of Dresden. 50 years ago this month, Kurt Vonnegut introduced Billy Pilgrim and the aliens who gave him strange time traveling powers in his novel "Slaughterhouse Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death." Many critics were baffled as to why Vonnegut used sci-fi tropes to explore the horrors of World War II. But the novel was deeply personal to Vonnegut, who struggled for years to figure out how to talk about his wartime experiences. Vonnegut scholars Marc Leeds, William Rodney Allen and Julia Whitehead of the Vonnegut Museum and Library connect the dots from the author’s real traumas to the fantastical adventures of Billy Pilgrim. And professor Philip Beidler explains why the novel speaks to him as a Vietnam veteran.