Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries Teams With BBC For Elon Musk Podcast Series

Elon Musk / Jill Lepore
Elon Musk / Jill Lepore Courtesy of Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer/AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

EXCLUSIVE: Malcolm Gladwell and his podcast production company Pushkin Industries have boarded a BBC audio series that tells the story of Elon Musk.

Gladwell, who is behind podcasts such as Revisionist History and Broken Record, has teamed with the British public broadcaster to release Elon Musk: The Evening Rocket in the U.S. and Canada.

It’s an interesting deal given that the show, which comes from Harvard historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore, was originally produced for BBC Radio 4, one of the BBC’s flagship radio stations, but Pushkin will be making it available as a podcast in North America for the first time.

The series aims to pierces the cloud of puffery around Elon Musk, who recently once again surpassed Jeff Bezo to become the richest man in the world, to examine a new kind of dangerous and destructive capitalism advanced by techno-billionaires, which Lepore calls “Muskism”.

BBC / Pushkin

It will look at the Tesla founder’s plans to save the world, and humanity itself, with ambitions to colonize Mars, create brain-hacking implants and avert an AI apocalypse, which all sound like something out of a sci-fi film.

The podcast series begins with Musk’s obsession with the letter X and its larger meaning and ends with an analysis on Muskism’s impact on global financial markets. Lepore untangles Silicon Valley’s sci-fi roots, the influence of apartheid on the South Africa-born Musk’s early life, and the connection between the history of colonialism and dreams of colonizing other planets. She excavates the origins of Musk’s ventures in science fiction, beginning with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a story that was meant as a critique of colonialism but that, in Musk’s re-telling, has been swept clean of that critique. The five-part series features guests, from environmentalists to science fiction writers to scholars of indigenous cultures.

The five-part series launches November 1.

“The bare facts of Musk’s life, the way they’re usually told, make him sound like a fictional character, a comic-book superhero,” said Lepore.

This article was printed from