Feb 9th 2017 by YakkoPinky • 37 Questions • 1444 Points
UPDATE: Thanks everyone for all the questions. We really enjoyed chatting with you today! Signing off for now, but may be back to later to answer a few more questions!
Hi, we're scientists and science fiction writers Catherine Asaro and David Brin. In a recent conversation about the legacy of nuclear weapons, we talked about the history and future of warfare - and how growing up in the era of "Duck and Cover" affected our books. Together, we make the case that science fiction - especially apocalyptic science fiction - can make the world safer.
David Brin is an astrophysicist whose international best-selling novels include The Postman, Earth, and recently Existence. Dr. Brin serves on advisory boards (e.g. NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program or NIAC) and speaks or consults on a wide range of topics. His nonfiction book about the information age, The Transparent Society, won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association.
Catherine Asaro is a critically acclaimed author of science fiction who has won the Nebula Award twice and been nominated for a Hugo multiple times. She has a doctorate in theoretical chemical physics from Harvard University and is the Director of the Chesapeake Math Program. Her next book is the science fiction mystery novel The Bronze Skies, set in her Skolian Empire universe. It is due out from Baen Books in the Fall.
We're also joined here by Natalie from PRI’s The World who will help us in answering your questions today. Read the recent piece The World wrote asking if science fiction can help prevent a nuclear war.
Ask Us Anything!
Here's our proof: https://twitter.com/pritheworld/status/829678212213010434
What's your take on the the time frame for practical fusion energy generation? Is it something that will be unnecessary by the time it's possible?
You know, Frajer, I was, about 11 minutes ago. But it turned out, it was just gas. Maybe the indian food I ate.
Actually, the scientific community has been talking about fusion as an energy source for over fifty years. We were discussing this in the 1970s, expecting it would be less than a decade away. We should have been able to develop it for practical use by now. I think what is holding it up are political concerns.
What was it like getting shot in the back of the head in the movie fight club?
To David ... First, what are your plans to continue books in the Uplift universe, and do you have plans for a sequel to Glory Season?
And second, how would you contrast your vision of near future Earth in 'Earth' with your view on near future now, especially after current election. I always loved your idea of requiring people to consume certain amount of news before they are allowed to vote, but in current (apparent) propaganda war, would this even be feasible, with all the echo chambers?
I see what you're doing!
"His name is Robert Paulsen".
I have definitely gotten a few cross-eyes when flashing my drivers license.
I do love the movie! I heard David Fincher is doing a sequel and its all about my character!
Hi Janareta. I am a little way into my big Uplift Book returning to Creideiki and the folks I abandoned on that planet long ago. (I am getting death threats from my 35 year old former self!) I have lots of sequel notes for Glory Season, Postman etc but none of those will happen till I get the self-duplicator from KILN PEOPLE! ;-) -- But I have two new books! INSISTENCE OF VISION and CHASING SHADOWS! See more at http://www.davidbrin.com -- db
When you finish your book, will the audiobook include appearances by the characters you voice(d)?
Probably. Thank you for asking!! I think I will be very comfortable doing an audio book (for obvious reasons), if for whatever reason my various characters made an appearance... I think that would make it very interesting.
I can't image a publisher who might want to do a book deal with me, wouldn't want me to take the time and have some of my characters show up.
Speaking of that, this book writing has been a remarkable experience. I have an awful lot of stuff to go through because I am like an old shoe, a lot of things to cover.
Hi. David Brin here, checking in. Let's talk nukes. Yay nukes. I am alive today because of them. (How's that for provocative?) -- DB
Hi Mr. Paulsen! Me and my family have been a huge fan of yours forever! Literally, one of my first memories was watching you play Mighty Max! what was it like working on Mighty Max, if I may ask? Thank you! (P.S. Could you say hi to Lee Quane, he got everyone started on the show lol.)
Thank you! :~)
Miniature nukes. How the heck can we not allow or, perhaps, contain them?
Great show by the way! Thank you!
Hellllloooo Lee Quane!
Might Max is great, talk about underrated. There are two shows I felt were missed by the public, Might Max, Tasmania, and Time Squad.
MM was GREAT fun, the late great Tony Jay, great voice. Tim Curry, who's doing much better, boy what an actor and a delightful sweet man. Kath Soucie, myself, so many people! Gary Harlow one of the creators, Rob Hudnaught, Mark Z, hired me on that show and boy was it good.
It was probably my son's favorite show to watch, such interesting animation.
I've posted pictures a few times from recordings during those days. OH! And Richard Moll, who could forget him? Bull on Night Court.
But the other two... TazMania, another amazing cast, John Astin (Sean's dad), Debi Derryberry who went on to be my best friend Jimmy Neutron.
I've had the fortune to be on some VERY good shows over the years.
Good bye Lee Quane!
Hello. Just wanted to say we aren't ignoring your comment, but rather, answering are appearing below, along with other comments. Thank you for your input! -- C.A>
Hi Rob!! I'm a huge fan of all your work. My husband and I both play "Find Rob" when watching cartoons. I usually catch your voice before he does. We've recently been watching Histeria! and Animaniacs so it's like a voice acting Where's Waldo.
My questions for you are:
1) At what point did you realize that you wanted to voice act? Like was making up silly voices part of your childhood?
2) Any chance Animaniacs Live will be doing a tour?!
I absolutely adore your podcast, and I'm so happy to hear that you're doing well!! You share such positive messages in your podcast, and it really brightens my day whenever I listen to an episode! Your podcast is the best cure for a long commute or a bad day.
That's really all I have to share. Keep being awesome!!!
Which is, objectively speaking, the best robot in Science fiction?
It was great fun and a huge part of my childhood. Loved Peter Sellers, Red Skelton, Carol Burnett.
I always wanted to be a singer and actor, not specifically a voice actor per se. I did it because it made me laugh and others laugh, purely a passion driven circumstance. I came to LA to be an actor/performer, the VO opportunities presented themselves to me and I took advantage of the opportunity.
The first ones I booked were Transformers and GI Joe, didn't take my long to realize how much I enjoyed it, because I wasn't limited by my physicality. As I get older, nobody cares what I look like, and I was hired to be a turtle 25 years later...again!
It was never a conscious choice, but following my passion lead me there.
TOUR? Yes! We have another 2 shows booked, and half a dozen in the pipeline. We sold our first show OUT, and that's a HUGE selling point to other venues, so we are in pretty good standing. More details will be released soon.
thank you for listening and TOONing in!
Subjectively, the robot in Asimov's BICENTENNIAL MAN was very moving. And the AI Mike in Heinlein's THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. -DB
Hey Rob! This may be the most common question in the history of common questions for you but what's advice for those aspiring to be voice actors?
Hmmm... The idea of compensation for... not unwarranted, but... proven to be unnecessary (do you have some better word to describe the concept? My internal thesaurus is failing me at the moment) snooping is interesting.
"We reserve the right to snoop on you, but if we find nothing, we have to pay you for breaching your privacy." I like it. You'd probably want to balance it so that large concentrations of power (i.e. government, corporations, etc.) are hit with a larger penalty/fine that is paid to the person being snooped, while private citizens (who can demonstrate that they are acting as private citizens) only suffer a minor to moderate fine.
Ha. You'd probably also then get people who deliberately go out of their way to make themselves seem suspicious, to invite people (and organizations) to snoop on them, only to find nothing worth snooping about, and have to pay for the privacy breach.
Well, it is small v, large A. voice ACTORS. The whole landscape has changed a bit, virtually everyone who are contemporary's of mine who came out to LA at the same time as me (70s80s), have a live performance background, mine was musical and theater.
For me, I would become an actor and really work on your chops as an actor. however, there are many people because of the ubiquity of things requiring voice actors, there are many opportunities for them now.
It will never hurt you to learn how to perform LIVE, to learn the ability to improv and create characters.
There are some great podcasts that you can hear from people who you've grown up listening to, tell their story. And I think theres very valuable info in there. Talkin Toons was designed for that reason, and Billy West's podcast is great as well.
small v, BIG A.
I see no reason for the gov't to pay huge amounts, if the agency snoops quietly, carefully, discreetly... then pays a nice little amount saying , you passed an audit, here you go. If the records are kept secure and neighbors don't have to be told, then how is it worse than an IRS audit?
But yes, the basic notion is one that could deter random snoopiness... and actually PROFIT those eccentrics who deliberately seem a little off! db
Hi Rob! How are you? (You probably get that a lot right now) So glad you are doing better! I have read some rumors that the new TMNT will finish after the 5th season; is that true? What new projects do you have coming up? Your work is amazing and you make me smile! Have an awesome day!
Oh! And I really wanted to thank you for Pinky. He holds a special place in my heart for the episode regarding how he thinks. I relate to his way of thinking but throw in some dyslexia on my end.
Oh, most definitely, biotech is going to be a HUGE potential danger in the near future, and that future is closer than most think! Autocad just released a new suite of gene editing/design software, that allows users to design and edit DNA. Alone, it's not much use without the lab equipment to insert those designed or edited genes, but with CRISPR and other technologies, common access to gene editing hardware is just around the corner.
What do you think we might be able to do (besides genetically enhancing ourselves to have stronger/more robust immune systems, which falls into the whole giant mess of a dilemma that is designer babies) to mitigate or counter the danger of a nasty bioweapon being released by a high school science project run amok, or by a terrorist group, or a government looking to undermine a competing nation without overtly engaging in conflict?
I am very good thank you! Thanks to the support I have received from you fans.
As to the rumor? Probably? Just my gut feeling.
I have a few, but I can't really talk about them! But stay TOON'd and I will let you know!
You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter to hear more about the projects as they happen.
And of course, Animaniacs LIVE! which opens in La Mirada on April 15th. Already SOLD OUT. Phew. More dates to be announced soon.
Twitter @yakkopinky Insta Rob_paulsen robpaulsenlive.com
I think we need to include education on the dangers and how to protect our population/country as a fundamental part of education starting at a young age. -- CA
Hey Rob! What do you think you would be doing if you weren't a voice actor?
I recall a few years ago you mentioned that Startide Rising was under consideration for a movie version. Is that still in the works and, if so, where in the process is it?
I read the book at 16 years old and absolutely loved it! A movie version with today's special effects would be fantastic.
Making license plates in some prison?
No.... hmm... if I weren't a voice actor? The only other thing thats driven me passion wise was hockey.
I played back home for many years and on a team with other actors out here in LA. If I had not been fortunate to make my way in acting, I probably would have attempted to make a living in the hockey business.
I may have gone back to school in business or marketing and get involved in the NHL, I certainly didn't have any business PLAYING hockey.
I would say maybe cars, because I love them, but not crazy about selling them.
Probably corporate NHL! Thank goodness we'll never know, because i am lucky enough to be doing this.
Coincidence. There are... nibbles... as we speak. No jinxing. It's ridiculous that anyone can resist the elevator pitch... "dolphins... in SPACE!"
Rob, thank you for doing this AMA, and more importantly, thank you for bringing me joy throughout my entire life. You are truly a gift to this world.
What is your approach to creating a voice for a new character?
Did you audition with other voices for Raphael before settling on one that's close to your normal speaking voice?
Thanks! Greg (@GregGonsky)
eep! David Brin! I loved the Uplift series.
I'm curious if you ever heard about this?: there's a 90's Artificial Life sim called "Creatures", where you take care of cute little pets with a virtual brain, genetics and biochemistry, in a virtual sandbox world with natural dangers.
In 1997, players of the game took to setting up a world and letting it run without helping the creatures to survive or interfering at all, to see how they would eventually improve after many generations of mutation and natural selection. They took to calling it a "Wolfling Run" after the Uplift novels. We still do today, 20 years later.
Please listen to this very verbose answer on the podcast I am recording while responding!
I don't really remember, it was about 30 years ago and I don't remember the audition specifically. I remember getting the call to read for TMNT, because Townsend and I were both working on Fraggle Rock and Stu Rosen, came in and said we were auditioning for TMNT. Sadly, I don't remember the audition itself, and I've had a LOT of recording sessions since (thankfully!)
But thank you for listening and these questions!
Born to write! Born to blather tales. I did good physics by dint of hard work and romanticism. The arts are wonderful, but science is changing us and giving us this one chance to actually actually grow up, at last. I wanted to be part of that! -- DB
Hi Rob! Thank you for answering all these questions! I have two for you, courtesy of the Danny Phantom Wiki:
What was your favorite (or one of your favorite) scenes to record during Danny Phantom?
What was your favorite Danny Phantom episode?
To enlisted personnel, the words "rely on the skill, calm temperament and professionalism of the... officer corps," don't exactly inspire confidence. Officers not having any idea what they're doing, and the enlisted guys being the ones who actually do all the work and get everything done is something of a half-joke/half-truth in the military.
All jokes aside, though, at least in the sub force (I can't speak for the surface fleet, nor the other branches), -most- officers who make it much past LTJG are usually pretty competent, capable, and generally very intelligent (though JOs having high intelligence is generally much more reliable than them having high competence). We also have the advantage, unlike the militaries of many other countries, of having a highly-trained, and usually well-educated enlisted corps, who are very active in both training the officers and providing back-up (sometimes "forceful back-up") when they try to do something particularly stupid.
Have you ever considered the possible outcomes of a civilization dominated by nations who take a much more old-school/traditional approach of having gentrified officers strictly from the nobility commanding uneducated and minimally-trained enlisted personnel, vs the model we use?
How different do you think the world might be today if the US military had stuck with the old-school approach of educated officers vs uneducated enlisted? How much of an impact on civilization do you think the differences between those two models has?
All of them. With all due respect Astro, thats very sweet to ask, but its been many years and I don't have a specific scene. Any time I got to do a scene as The Box Ghost, was a lot of fun. Sorry man, can't answer that
Sorry, again, I have had such good fortune in my career, I have trouble remembering all the things Ive been lucky enough to work on. Definitely the ones where the check cleared were good though! When you're lucky enough to work that much, its pretty difficult to pin a specific episode down.
From what I hear, you are describing the Russian and Chinese militaries and it is very scary. This is why the US military is both competent and somewhat wise. Because the Marshallian traditions include not only absolute loyalty to civilian leadership, but levels of professionalism and education that are among the highest in American life. Especially in the Navy. Our experience with subs and carriers... which any 19 year old recruit could blow up at any moment, has led to utter respect for the noncom petty officer caste. You guys are among the most mature humans ever produced by our species.
The most distressing - yet cheering - thing I have seen in the last 2 weeks has been DT's utter contempt for our military, intel, and law professional castes. It is scary! Yet, I take some comfort in knowing that they are being driven (silently and cautiously) toward recalling that their loyalty is to the Union.
Here is one helluva novel (frightening) about a new, hot American civil war: https://www.amazon.com/Tears-Abraham-Sean-T-Smith/dp/1618688197
What was it like to be part of Project Mayhem?
But seriously, which of your characters was most like the real you?
A bit more of a present-day question, on the subject of nuclear weapons and their use.
I have a number of family members (aunts, uncles, older cousins, etc.), and various friends and co-workers I've had over the years, who have all either agreed with, or actively argued for the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike to solve our problems, mostly in the Middle East.
Do you have any recommendations for what to say to these people, all of whom lived through the days of "Duck and Cover" and the threat of nuclear annihilation, to dissuade them from the notion that using nuclear weapons, let alone as a "first strike," is a good idea?
In addition to that, do you have any thoughts on why people who spent half or more of their lives living under the threat of global nuclear annihilation would think that the use of nukes at all would be a good idea?
Honestly, probably Raphael. Or Yakko. Because I am kind of a smart ass by nature. Those of you who have listened to my podcast probably know that by now. I enjoy sardonic/sarcastic humor so those two are right in my wheel house.
We have a severe problem that irrational people can take the American ethos of Suspicion of Authority (SoA) and be coaxed into turning it NOT against their oligarch oppressors, but against all the smartypants professionals who know stuff. Those professionals KNOW that crime has declined in America. We know that a hundred times more Americans died under George Bush as died under Obama from violence at the hands of Muslim antagonists. A hundred times. But you'll never get the New Confederates to look at the evidence. Indeed, facts only enrage them against us.
If every Middle Eastern nation declared war against us tomorrow, what could that alliance do to us? Fear of them is pathetic and cowardly. We outnumber them, even united! Their combined economies and militaries are a fingernail clipping, next to ours. Terrorism? Show me the terrorism! There's been almost none!
Our parents, in the Greatest Generation, endured more losses in any week of WWII than we have across the entire War on Terror, including 9/11! Yet the GGs never whimpered and whined and moaned and thrashed and threw tantrums the way confeds do, screeching "Islamic terrorists!"
Note it is folks who do NOT live in the cities who rail in fear. City folk - who are the targets - shrug and get on with business. -- db
I LOVED the analogy to the quantum effect in Quantum Rose. It was either the first or second chapter title I saw and I had a "Ohhh! I get it!!" Moment. :)
HI Linda! Hi Nick!
Love you too sweetie!
Probably not in the near future, nothing to do with the Improv. We love those people! But our initial reason for doing it there was to get it in some way live on tv, and I think the audience is very big out there who want to see it.
Not to say I don't love doing it there, its a fantastic ego stroke, but I am really hoping to get out to more people and we are trying some new things online on YouTube, and who knows there may be some one-off events at the Improv this year.
Such a joy to be there though!
Actually, it's "The Spacetime Pool." It won the nebula a few years ago.
Is it true that the Yakko's World song in Animaniacs was all done in one take? How did u guys pull that off?
Now you see his sacrifice.
Yes, I did it in one take, we recorded two. The one everyone's heard was the first take. I pulled it off because the song is a beautiful song. I live in Hollywood and there are a million great singers who could do the job. The genius is the song, thats the hard part, writing it. I got to have the words in front of me. Randy wrote it and put the genius into it. Boom. Sounds impressive, but its really about Mr. Rogel writing the song. And I NEVER get tired of singing it!
Me? I prefer -- as you saw in EARTH and in EXISTENCE, tales that mix warnings with... yes... idealism and optimism. -db
Who is your favorite current hockey player? Is this the year the Red Wings end up on the golf course instead of in the playoffs?
I'll check it out and look up your books. Thanks!
Yes, unfortunately I think this year you're right. I don't think they're going to make the playoffs.
There's so many great players, its such a fast game now. I really like Sidney Crosby, great on and off the ice and Alex L. I don't know man, there's so many great players.
Note that I am NOT complacent! I am militant about our need to defend and expand the Great Experiment that is humanity's only hope. --db
Do you have an old-timey favorite short-story sci-fi author? I think it's the toughest sci-fi out there - trying to convey an "abnormal" plot in a meaningful way in a short amount of time.
I really liked Joan D. Vinge when I was young. I agree with what you say about short stories. They are the hardest for me to write.