The Syfy channel has spent most of summer 2017 doubling down on the idea that it should be the go-to place for geek culture with an extensive rebranding effort. One of its latest efforts has been launching a podcast called Origin Stories, which features a wide range of personalities from the science fiction and fantasy world, hosted by former Mythbusters star Adam Savage.
Syfy is known for its genre shows like The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica or low-budget B-films like Sharknado. But the network is trying to expand its coverage to appeal to even more superfans. The 15-episode podcast launches today, and features people you’ll probably recognize: Lucasfilm creative executive Doug Chiang, Futurama writer David X. Cohen, Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore, as well as science fiction and fantasy authors such as Nnedi Okorafor and Neil Gaiman. The podcast series is also accompanied by a series of animated shorts that will adapt some of the stories. Syfy EVP of marketing and digital Alexandra Shapiro noted that there’s been an “explosion in podcast storytelling, especially among millennials” in recent years, going on to say that the medium allows them to present an “authentic exchange of ideas without artifice or heavy post production.” The series is explicitly designed to tie in with Syfy’s anniversary, but Shapiro notes that they’ll continue to experiment with the medium in the future.
The podcast is familiar geek comfort food: science fiction and fantasy creators telling science fiction and fantasy fans why they like science fiction and fantasy. There’s an earnest quality to the episodes: Kevin Smith waxes nostalgic about falling in love with science fiction through TV broadcasts of Planet of the Apes and Star Wars, Neil Gaiman espouses the impact that Neuromancer had on the genre, and Nerdist’s Chris Harwick geeks out about watching Star Wars and its impact on movie theaters and fandom.
Ultimately, in a world where news about The Last Jedi or the finale of Game of Thrones comes at fans at a relentless pace, these episodes provide a nice distraction that moves away from the news cycle, and gets to the root of why people love genre fiction.