COMING IN JUNE 2017!
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I’m putting together a podcast about Nikola Tesla’s life, inventions, and legacy.
- Tesla is awesome and we should all know more about his incredible real life and accomplishments, not just the myths that have sprung up about him
- Why me as your host? I’m an award winning author and editor, and a trained historian of science and technology–I got this
- Why read all those biographies of Tesla when I’ve read them for you?
- Each episode will be 20-30mins long, and the series will run weekly for at least a year (well into 2018)
- I’ll likely run a Patreon (and maybe a Kickstarter) once the podcast is up and running
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
While still not a household name like Thomas Edison is, Nikola Tesla–once virtually forgotten despite his tremendous contributions to engineering in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries–has gained folk-hero status and a cult following since the birth of the Internet, and particularly in recent years. In 2003, Elon Musk founded his revolutionary electric car company using Tesla’s name. In 2012 the comic strip, The Oatmeal, ran a hugely successful campaign to purchase and preserve what remains of Tesla’s laboratory complex at Wardenclyffe. And, of course, there are any number of websites (fringe and otherwise) devoted to Tesla’s inventions, including his famed wireless energy transmission system.
But, despite all this, there’s actually very little that most people–even fans of his work!–know about the man, his life, and times. If people know Tesla at all, it’s usually for inventing alternating current and helping to electrify the modern world. Or they know that he had a lot of phobias and was obsessive-compulsive. Or that he loved pigeons. So much of what we think we know about Tesla is based on rumor or tall tales; has been foisted on Tesla’s memory by mystics or charlatans; or is just the most sensational aspects of a life which was already a remarkable and noteworthy one without any embellishment.
So to remedy this, I’m putting together a podcast about his life, his inventions, and his legacy.
I plan to release a new episode every other week for at least a year (and maybe even a bit longer). There’s plenty of material on the life and times of Tesla, and truthfully a number of topics may warrant a couple of episodes (the War of the Currents, for example). I could see the number of episodes easily climbing to 60+ as we go.
Each episode will be 20-30mins long. I, for one, listen to podcasts as a commute to the office, and I want to make their lengths commuter-friendly.
The episodes will also be recorded far enough in advance that if something IRL comes up and I have to miss a week or two of working on the podcast then there won’t be huge delays while you wait for the next episode (I HATE when that happens to my favorite podcasts–“What the hell am I supposed to listen to now!?”)
WHO IS THIS GUY, ANYWAY?
Now, you might be wondering: “Who is this guy and why should I trust him to be telling me anything about Tesla?”
Both good questions!
First, I’m an award-winning author, as well as an editor by profession so I’m able to string words together effectively, and tell a clear and compelling story (I got you to read this far, didn’t I?) I’ve already published a novella involving Tesla as a character (it’s an alternate history murder mystery, and one of the rewards below!) and I’m currently at work completing a novel (a supernatural secret history) focused on the real-life friendship between Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain.
Second, before I was a writer and editor I was a graduate student who completed a Masters degree in the history of science and technology at the University of Toronto. So I can present a well-researched, factually grounded history of Tesla’s life and works, one that lauds the man for his actual achievements, but one which also won’t shy away from his failings and shortcomings, either, as so many Tesla biographers do.
Don’t misunderstand: this won’t be a hatchet job–but it’s not going to be hagiography, either. Both do a disservice to Tesla’s memory, and to you, the listener. This podcast will be as complete and honest a biography of Tesla’s life and work as I can make it, one that strips away the layers of myth and exaggeration that Tesla’s memory is so often freighted with, and one that shows us his tremendous accomplishments.
(Incidentally, my grad studies were also where I first encountered Tesla in a serious way, as an offshoot of my research into the history of the early recording industry in the United States and what is perhaps the earliest format war–between the phonograph and the gramophone–and Tesla’s old frenemy Thomas Edison figured prominently in my research).
What does all that mean? Well, it means I’ve done an awful lot of research about Tesla already. And while I’m as guilty as anyone of using him in my fiction as the kind of sci-fi supergenius we have come to expect, it also means that I’m absolutely fascinated by Tesla’s real life and I’m desperate to tell people about the man behind the myth.
Tesla was a deeply human (and, yes, deeply flawed) character who led an incredible real life. His story deserves be told honestly, without hype or mythology, so that everyone can appreciate this underrated genius. There are several books that do this (and many that don’t) but this will be to my knowledge the first podcast aimed at doing so.
And I find that really, really exciting to be involved with!
This is my first stab at podcasting, though I have ideas for others, so if this one works out and your like it–who knows? This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…