Read. Watch. Listen. with Danny Bednar

Read. Watch. Listen. introduces you to the personal side of our faculty, staff and alumni. Participants are asked to answer three simple questions about their reading, viewing and listening habits – what one book or newspaper/magazine article is grabbing your attention; what one movie or television show has caught your eye; and what album/song, podcast or radio show are you lending an ear to.

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) researcher Danny Bednar, PhD’19, has been teaching space exploration at Western since 2012.

Today, he takes a turn on Read. Watch. Listen.

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Black and white Illustration of astronaut on Moon


Apollo in the Age of Aquarius by Neil Maher. Frankly. As a space educator and someone who talks about space exploration, I couldn’t be bothered to read another generic interpretation of ‘the space race.’ This book, however, was a revelation – a thoroughly researched account of the events of the early Space Age with the global and socioeconomic context truly taken into account.

As a geographer, the lack of socio-political context in a lot of space exploration writing bugs me. Maher’s book convinced me that there were still interesting stories to tell about Apollo.

Shameless book plug: For All Humankind, my new book with Dr. Tanya Harrison, PhD’16, is, I think, one of only a few books to put an original spin on the space race.


Recently, I’ve been hooked on two shows.

The first is Q.I., a British chat show with wonderful dry humour and interesting trivia. It’s a bit of harmless fun in challenging times and I love trivia. For a bonus, the main contestant, Alan Davies, reminds me of my mentor and Western Professor Emeritus Dr. Phil Stooke who has a truly witty, but sometimes silly, sense of humour.

The other show is Metal Evolution, a wonderful documentary series that aired on VH1 a few years ago and explores the various sub-genres of metal. I love episodic storytelling when each episode or chapter changes subject. It’s the same format as our book, and something I’d like to do more of the in future. The show is hosted by a Canadian (Sam Dunn) who runs a great YouTube channel called BangerTV, which in my opinion is the top You Tube channel for metal fans.


Podcast-wise, I’d have to go with Sticky Notes by Joshua Wielerstien. Even though he hasn’t responded to my request for an interview, I still love his show – Ha! It’s also an episodic approach with each episode exploring a different composer or famous piece of classical music. Along with metal, classical is my true love when it comes to music. Without it, I don’t think I’d be able to write anything. For All Humankind was mostly written to the five Beethoven Piano Concertos and Symphonies 3 and 7. Interestingly, the first episode I ever listened to was on Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, one of my favorite pieces and something we even mention in our book as it came along for the ride on the first Moon landing mission, Apollo 11.

Music-wise, Metallica has been my favorite band since I was 11 years old. Recently, I’ve been diving into some of the bands that inspired them – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Iron Maiden.

But at the same time, I’ve been having some fun buying old vinyl of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal from the early 1980s, bands like Diamond Head, Blitzkrieg, and Savage that I wouldn’t know about if it wasn’t for Metallica covering them. It’s been really fun reverse engineering my music interests through the influences of my favorite band.

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