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The other day I was at a kid’s birthday party and a fellow dad was joking that “When we were kids, it was all ‘bang-bang-bang!’ and now it’s all ‘pew-pew-pew!’”He was talking about video games and lasers as opposed to, I’m guessing, cowboys? Actually, as I remember childhood, it was all “wowm…wowm!” The sound of lightsabers. I was 5 years old when Star Wars: A New Hope came out, and like everyone who grew up back then, I had sci-fi seeping into my very pores. Alien civilizations. Cyborg killers. The dark, unfeeling menace of advanced technology…

Because there can never be too many Jasons, my guest today is the Hugo-award winning writer Jason Heller.  He’s here to tell the eerie and fascinating tale of how sci-fi seeped into the pores of popular music in the 1970s, and how, along with psychedelic drugs and electronic instruments, it produced and was transformed by David Bowie and others into something rich and strange. Something that changed the face of music and pop culture forever. His new book is Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci Fi Exploded.

Jason Heller Quote: David Bowie, by cultivating this inauthenticity and superficiality in his persona was able to bypass what to me seems like a very superficial, hollow, and false trend toward “authenticity.” Because who really is that one person? You write a song and capture your emotions, and five minutes later you’re no longer that same person. We’re in flux constantly, so authenticity to me is something that is not only misguided…it’s impossible.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Reza Aslan on how religious believers describe god

Dambisa Moyo on 3 ways to make American politicians better

About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.


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