Rank #1: They gave the g*damn thing a name. (The Expanse S02E01-2)
In this episode of Decrypted: The Expanse, we join the Syfy show in its second season. Ars Technica's Annalee Newitz and Jonathan Gitlin talk about the show's many layers, themes and the adaptation from the books. Jonathan also talks to Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the authors of the books (under the pen name James SA Corey), about the challenges of adapting for the screen. NOTE: there is a minor spoiler from one of the later books in this podcast.
Rank #2: There has to be a blood sacrifice. (Westworld S01E07)
Topics discussed: Metafiction (AKA fiction about fiction), what the hell with the Bernard reveal (really, what the hell), the challenge of telling a story that feels familiar yet surprising (and how Westworld did it), whether the robots are just like humans or radically different (yes and no), Ford's real motivations (it's complicated), how intellectual property might be the enemy of storytelling (or maybe not), whether stories can be dangerous (sometimes), what characters and ideas got Yu excited about writing for Westworld (hint: Bernard and metafiction), and why Felix is so important (he shows us a side of Westworld that no one else can).
Rank #3: Here there be dragons. (The Expanse S02E11)
On this week's podcast, Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin recaps The Expanse S02 Episode 11: things go from bad to worse for the Roci crew on Ganymede, Bobbi Draper takes a stand against Mars by defecting to Earth, as things heat up in the Mars/Earth conflict. Then Ars Technica science editor John Timmer talks with authors Amanda Hendrix and Charles Wohlforth about their new book Beyond Earth, which details the challenges of space colonization.
Rank #4: It's part of the equation now. (The Expanse S02E13)
In this week's podcast, Jonathan Gitlin talks with Ars Techinca culture editor Annalee Newitz about this season's finale: how the future of the series will relate to the books; what will Fred Johnson's next move be; what is Avasarala's fate on Mao's ship; and what in the universe is Project Caliban up to?
Rank #5: I don’t believe in anything I can’t see. (American Gods S01E01)
The Ars Decrypted podcast continues with the new Starz series American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman's popular novel. In this week’s show, Ars Technica's tech culture editor/host Annalee Newitz talks with Ars culture reporter Sam Machkovech about how the show compares to the novel: the characters, the tone, and what the showrunners got right, or not-so-right, in the adaptation.
Rank #6: The shout came from Ganymede. (The Expanse S02E08)
In this week's podcast, Jonathan Gitlin talks with Ars Technica's space editor Eric Berger about NASA and the possibilities of space travel and colonization. Jonathan also recaps this week's episode: we meet Praxideke Meng, a refugee scientist from Ganymede who becomes key to finding out what happened there; the Belters rebel against Fred Johnson after Anderson Dawes kidnaps his "secret" (Cortizar, the scientist working on the protomolecule). Later on in the podcast, Ars Technica's science editor John Timmer talks with Steven Strait from NBC's 30 Rock about his character James Holden.
Rank #7: Miller finds his groove. (The Expanse S02E03)
In this episode of Decrypted: The Expanse, Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin recaps season 2 episode 3: The Rocinante crew and Fred Johnson deal with the aftermath of Miller's decision, Mars soldiers gear up for a fight, and Earth's government tries to figure out the OPA's motives. Jonathan also talks with showrunner Naren Shankar about creating the show, his studies to be a PHD-level engineer, and why he decided to take the Hollywood career route.
Rank #8: Oi, pampaw! You starting to like space now? (The Expanse S02E04)
In this week's podcast, Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin recaps season 2, episode 4 of The Expanse, as we join the crew as they commence their plan to take the Nauvoo on its mission to Eros, and the noose tightens on Protogen and its allies back on Earth, thanks to everyone's favorite UN badass, Avasarala. Jonathan also talks with award-winning sci-fi author Kameron Hurley about space opera in general, biotech in science fiction, and some of the politics in The Expanse.
Rank #9: You might say that you know me. (S01E07)
In this week's podcast host Annalee Newitz talks with fantasy author Claire Light about this week's unusual subjects: Irish folklore, Mad Sweeney and historical figure (and possible ancestor of Laura Moon), Essie. Also in this podcast, Ars features editor Nathan Mattise interviews actor Bruce Langley about his character Technical Boy.
Rank #10: You could use a blood sacrifice. (American Gods S01E06)
In this week's double-mega-sized podcast, host Annalee Newitz first recaps episode six with Ars senior editor and gun enthusiast Lee Hutchinson. Then we join writer Genevieve Valentine in New York City for her interviews with actors Orlando Jones (Mr. Nancy) and Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon) as they discuss all things American Gods.
Rank #11: Drengr! (American Gods S01E05)
In this week's podcast, host Annalee Newitz talks with author and UC Berkeley / U. Colorado at Boulder professor Jackson Crawford, who writes, translates (e.g. "drengr" = "badass") and teaches old Norse. They talk viking lore, Odin and the gods, and how the show depicts (or deviates from) old Norse mythology and poetry.
Rank #12: I do not grant wishes. (American Gods S01E03)
In this week's podcast, host Annalee Newitz talks with Locus and Rhysling award-winning writer and critic Amal El-Mohtar about episode 3 of American Gods. They also discuss the portrayal of middle-eastern characters in fiction/tv, and the integration of fantasy elements in narrative storytelling.
Rank #13: Definitely not light as a feather. (American Gods S01E04)
In this week's podcast, host Annalee Newitz talks with Paula Gaetos, author at The Tokusatsu Network, about American Gods episode 4. Subjects discussed: Laura's backstory and resurrection, her awful personality, her relationship with Shadow, the insane blood-fight, and how she and her story differ from the book (hint: lots).
Rank #14: You really do make a terrible human being. (Westworld S01E10)
Topics discussed: We just don't care that William and MIB are the same person (seriously why is this such a big deal); how Maeve's final revelation completely sold her character short (and also made no sense given her past actions); why Bernard why (you were our favorite character and now you're a blob); the differences between Arnold and Ford's ideas about consciousness (or lack thereof); W.E.B. Dubois' idea of double consciousness (and why it completely fits robot consciousness in this story); robots and slavery (and some of the not-so-subtle racial subtexts); the trouble with Dolores (it's still not clear why she's leading the rebellion); and how much we want Felix to be promoted (go Felix go!).
Rank #15: We can not afford to be enemies anymore. (The Expanse S02E10)
On this week's podcast, Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin talks with Ars Business Editor Cyrus Farivar, who is a huge fan of the show. Last year, Cyrus held a live talk with Nick Farmer, the linguist who invented the Belter language for the TV show and became intrigued. Cyrus talks about how his interest grew out of being a fan of shows like BSG, and how he's impressed with the tech, culture and science of The Expanse. Later in the show, Ars Technica's John Timmer sits down with actress Frankie Adams to talk about her Martian character Bobbie Draper.