I went a little bit left-field with the introduction to this episode, but I was weirdly excited by the fact that there was a major event in politics on the day I’d planned to discuss politics on the podcast! So please just bear with me, I promise it is all related to speculative fiction!

On the day we recorded this episode, the death of Silvio Berlusconi was announced. Having been indicted over 30 times during his long career, he was the longest-serving Italian post-war Prime Minister. He changed the political game in Italy. A schemer, political ‘kingmaker’, and playboy, Berlusconi is the perfect example of the kind of corrupt politician that we love to hate. His story fascinated us as much as it horrified us.

It’s no wonder such scheming and political power plays pop up so often in our speculative fiction. These stories have all the melodrama we could possibly want!

We spoke to Andrea Stewart, author of The Drowning Kingdom series, about tropes, magic, and, of course, the ever-fascinating political machinations of fantasy stories.


Texts and authors mentioned in this episode include:

  • The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Robin Hobb
  • House of the Dragon
  • Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
  • The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee
  • Star Trek
  • Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Andrea Stewart (Photo credit: Lei Gong)

Andrea Stewart is the daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. Stewart is a Sunday Times Bestselling author whose short stories can be found in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Galaxyโ€™s Edge, and others. Her debut epic fantasy novel, The Bone Shard Daughter, was a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel, the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel, the Goodreads Choice Award for Fantasy and Debut Novel, and the BookNest Award for Best Traditionally Published Novel. She now lives in sunny California, and in addition to writing, can be found herding cats, looking at birds, and falling down research rabbit holes