It’s a standard rule of writing that if you want your protagonist to look heroic and competent, you’ve got to get a powerful and menacing antagonist. In the past, writers have used AI as an overwhelming and hostile force, while others have chosen gods.

But Emma Mieko Candon has taken the unusual step of pairing the two. She has created a world where, according to the official blurb, war machines and AI gods run amok. And when a robot god dies, it kills everything it touches… with a few important exceptions.

Emma joins us in this episode to talk about her flawed characters, her amazing worldbuilding, and an AI apocalypse with a difference.

Texts and authors mentioned in this episode include:

  • Jurassic Park
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Witch from Mercury (and Gundam franchise)
  • Evangelion: Neon Genesis
  • Shakespeare
  • Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh

Emma Mieko Candon

Emma Mieko Candon (she/they) is a best-selling queer author and escaped academic drawn to tales of devouring ghosts, cursed linguistics, and mediocre robots. Her forthcoming work includes Star Wars Visions: Ronin (2021), a Japanese reimagining of the Star Wars mythos, and The Archive Undying (2023), an original speculative novel about sad giant robots and funny-mean queers dragged screaming toward revolution.

As an actual cyborg whose blood has been taken for science, Emma’s grateful to be stationed at home in Hawaii, where they were born and raised as a fourth-generation Japanese settler. By day, they edit anime nonsense for Seven Seas, and by night they remain academically haunted by identity, ideology, and imperialism. At all hours of the day, they are beholden to the whims of two lopsided cats and relieved by the support of an enviably handsome wife.

Find Emma airing unimpeachable anime opinions on Twitter at @EmmaCandon or wailing about video games under the bushes in front of the nearest boba tea joint.