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The Churn: The Fungus Among Us - Chuck Wendig's Wanderers

Chuck Wendig Wanderers

What has two heads, four arms, and an unslakable desire for post-apocalyptic content? The hosts of SYFY’s The Expanse podcast, The Churn!

That’s right, while the premiere of Season 5 of The Expanse is still months away, Ana Marie Cox and Daniel W. Drezner could not stop thinking about how it might be diverting to apply their brand of political science-meets-science-fiction analysis to content that has, unfortunately, come very close to home: fiction that addresses world-threatening disease outbreaks. Thus was born The Churn: Pandemic Edition.

Now: What if a pandemic didn't mean being forced to wear a mask but growing a mask-like sheet of fungus out of your nose? (You are welcome for this reminder that things could always be worse!) That's the most visible symptom of "White Mask," an airborne respiratory disease that makes the zoonotic leap from bats to humans in Chuck Wendig's Wanderers, a doorstop book made all the more weighty by its prescient parallels to The Current Unpleasantness.

Ana and Dan delve into the specific ways that Wendig's description of both heroic disease hunters and willfully ignorant paranoiacs helps us understand what's happening today. Wendig undergirds his horrifying plot with lots of cool science and argot that will impress your epidemiologist friends ("apophenia"!). Still, the core of the book has to do with human connection and what we do when we are called to act on faith rather than reason; after all, the book's heroine isn’t an investigator but a young woman driven to protect her sisters even though she knows she's up against something she doesn't understand and will never defeat.

Wendig himself drops in for the second half of the episode, where we quiz him about walking in the footsteps of The Stand, what he had to leave out, and if he believes in God. Also: Is a sequel in the works?

Listen below!

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If you have questions for the cast and crew, tweet us @syfywire with the hashtag #TheChurn.