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Adam Savage Explores What Makes Great Science Fiction in New SYFY Podcast Series

Adam Savage Explores What Makes Great Science Fiction in New SYFY Podcast Series

Hardcore fans of science fiction know that what makes a great sci-fi story isn’t laser guns, or rockets, or villains who are sentient computers (although that helps)–it’s the love and care creators put into their stories. To celebrate 25 years as a repository for all things science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and superhero, the SYFY network is releasing a new podcast series highlighting the showrunners, writers, and designers who’ve had a hand in making some of the best of these stories of the last few generations. And who better to explore their work than maker, science communicator, and super-fan Adam Savage?

“I find interviewing people simultaneously invigorating and terrifying,” Savage told Nerdist. “[But] I love the wide-ranging conversations that can happen when you’re interviewing without a time limit.”

Across the 15-part podcast series hitting SYFY.com, iTunes, and Google Play on September 8, Savage will be digging deep with science fiction and geek culture royalty. The guests on the series–all episodes drop at once–include: Chris Hardwick, David X. Cohen, DC Fontana, Doug Chiang, Frank Oz, John Knoll, Jonathan Frakes, Kevin Kelly, Kevin Smith, Natasha Vita-More, Neil Gaiman, Nnedi Okorafor, Rick Baker, Ron Moore, and Sana Amanat. (Animated shorts depicting excerpts of each podcast will also roll out on SYFY.com.)

It’s a who’s who of great writers, makers, and nerds, all of whom Savage helped select. “When SYFY asked me to do 15 interviews, they didn’t have a list of people for me to interview, which I loved,” Savage exclaimed. “It meant that we could develop that list together, which is exactly how a project like this go.”

“[An important story] makes their output exciting to us, I think, not just the bells and whistles and rockets and laser guns…although those help.”

After MythBusters ended and Tested.com began, Savage has taken himself on a whirlwind tour of everything he geeks out about, from The Expanse to Alien: Covenant, and so the podcast is a logical and ideal expansion of that undying curiosity. “I’m really always fascinated to hear from creators how one runs a large creative endeavor with any kind of integrity and consistency,” Savage says. “When someone like Ron [Moore] writes hundreds of scripts for Battlestar Galactica, it’s incredible to me that he builds a band of merry storytellers all the way down to the set dressers to tell those stories.”

“I could keep doing this podcast for years, to be honest.”

One thing that came across very clearly to Savage from the 15 interviews was something all Trekkies may suspect, but he was able to confirm first-hand: how the vision of Gene Roddenberry defined modern science fiction.

“Doing this podcast helped me deeply understand the lineage and import of Gene Roddenberry on everything–he built a family of actors and also of writers…Out of that writers room come both Ron Moore of Battlestar and Naren Shankar, the showrunner of The Expanse, and both of those shows operate very similarly, i.e., they are deeply family-oriented, and they’re covering complicated social stories in ways that science fiction has always been a great Trojan horse for.”

“…None of these enterprises work unless it is storytellers all the way down…”

The series was almost a revelation for Savage, who himself has worked in the science fiction industry for decades. By talking to the creators and designers and writers that shaped the greatest stories of our time, the unifying element was a dedication to telling a great story, first and foremost. “[The podcast] helped me understand that the best stories are the ones that are super important to their creators. These aren’t people just punching the clock, they are really fulfilling their lives’ vision. That makes their output exciting to us, I think, not just the bells and whistles and rockets and laser guns…although those help.”

Making a great science fiction show, or movie, or book, or game isn’t about the most recognizable components of the genre, like spaceships and lasers, Savage says. The properties that really move us do so because science fiction just happens to be the best way to tell a story the creators, actors, designers, and writers believe in and truly understand. “Whether a television show, or a comic book, or a movie, none of these enterprises work unless it is storytellers all the way down, that everybody from the set painters to the showrunners understand the story they are helping to guide,” Savage explained.

“It’s not about whether the story has spaceships in it, it’s whether the story itself resonates with us as people.”

SYFY 25: Origin Stories podcasts will be available September 8 via SYFY.com, iTunes, and Google Play.

Images: Norman Chan/Tested; Zoic Studios/SyFy

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