Imaginary Worlds on Asian Futures, Without Asians

Episode 193: Asian Futures Without Asians

Eric Molinsky 
March 3, 2022

The sci-fi/fantasy podcast Imaginary Worlds focused an episode on Asian futures, without Asians, with interviews with Astria Suparak, Jason Concepcion (host of the pop culture podcast X-Ray Vision), and David S. Roh (co-editor of the anthology Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media).


“Part of what makes up a genre, like science fiction or fantasy, is that certain tropes are repeated. And as a fan, it’s fun to recognize tropes when they come up and appreciate how they’ve been adapted. But I recently learned about a genre within a genre that’s been hiding in plain sight – or at least it was for me.

I was invited to watch a presentation called ‘Asian futures, without Asians‘ by the artist Astria Suparak. Her talk looks at how science fiction often depicts a future full of Asian iconography that’s mixed-up and taken out of context. But there aren’t many Asian people in these futures. And this is a talk she’s given in person and virtually. And her presentation has been paired with exhibits at museums and galleries.

I expected her to cover obviously offensive things like Flash Gordon serials from the 1930s and Ming the Merciless. And that’s there, but she wanted to concentrate on more recent history. It was an eye-opener for me because I had seen most of the movies and shows she referenced, but I was suddenly seeing them in a whole new light. Apparently, a lot of people feel that way after seeing her presentation.”

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The admin of Industrial Light & Magic’s Facebook group recommended the episode and Suparak’s work to their membership of 10,4000 current and former employees and fans. That’s the visual effects company founded by George Lucas in 1975 and responsible for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, and many of the Star Trek films.