11.17.16: Westworld, Classic Movies, & the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop

Nov 17, 2016

In HBO's new series Westworld, a futuristic amusement park is populated with androids who look and sound convincingly human. So in the age of 3D printed organs and advanced artificial intelligence, how close are we to making realistic robots? Today, we compare science fact with science fiction.

Then, Netflix and Amazon Prime make it a breeze to watch their content, but a movie critic worries young people can't easily find films from Hollywood's golden age. Can a new streaming service save classic movies?

Plus National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead shares his creative process with the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop

Listen to the full show. 

How Far Are We From Westworld?

HBO's new series Westworld is based on a 1973 movie written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. In both versions, the premise is a futuristic western-themed adult amusement park populated with android hosts designed to offer wealthy guests a way to indulge in sexual and violent fantasies. But there is - no surprise - trouble brewing in paradise.

The slick design and visuals of the show are getting high praise from audiences and critics alike and begs the question: in the age of 3D printing and  advanced artificial intelligence, are the cutting-edge host robots from Westworld just around the bend?

Lux Alptraum is a writer, consultant, and sex educator and she looked into that very question in a recent piece for Motherboard.

Saving Classic Movies

The information age means everything is just a Google search away: news, services, tools, products, instructions, communities...and of course media. The age of streaming gives us instant access to millions of songs, movies, and TV shows, and squeezes out video store chains, tiny art house cinemas and traditional television channels which once seeded and nurtured generations classic film buffs. So, where to find movies not on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu?

Todd VanDerWerff is critic at large for Vox, who worries that classic movies - and the avid film buffs who love them - may be one casualty of leaving physical media behind.

Related: The Age of Streaming is Killing Classic Film. Can Turner Classic Movies be its Salvation? 

Saints and Indians

Between 1954 and 1996, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sponsored the Indian Student Placement Program. It had two aims: to provide Native American children with an education and to help the church fulfill one of its central prophecies.

According to Mormon teachings, Native Americans are descendants of the ancient house of Israel, and church members have a responsibility to help bring them back to the kingdom of God. More than 20,000 children from more than 60 tribes were baptized and enrolled in the placement program.

Producer Kate Davidson spent a year talking with people involved in placement. The story that emerges is a complicated one - about culture, power, identity and belief. The piece won the 2006 Edward R. Murrow award for best radio news documentary.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

10-Minute Writer's Workshop: Colson Whitehead

This week, Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award for his novel The Underground Railroad.  In his acceptance speech, he advised “be kind to everybody, make art and fight the power." We got some advice on his creative process for the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop.

Virginia caught up with him backstage at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire before a reading with novelist Ben Winters hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore.