Episode 530 - What is SciFi?

May 10, 2021

So what IS SciFi? Well it's a pretty wide umbrella term and contains a lot of different things. In some senses it's just an imaginative fiction story where science replaces magic. SciFi can simply be a sciencey setting where genre stories take place (romance, adventure, nior, horror). It can be a magical fantasy space opera with a futuristic skin (Star Wars), it can be “hard SciFi” where the story is set in the future but the science is completely plausible, it can be written with strong themes that examine philosophical questions and make interesting points about the nature of humanity, and it can be so many more things too. It's a broad church!

Topics and Show Notes

Where did SciFi begin? Basically it all started in the 1920s. The “pulp” magazines were super popular. People just couldn't get enough of them. Publisher Hugo Gernsback found a niche re-publishing old speculative fiction stories ( Jules Verne, HG Wells, Mary Shelly etc), in some of his publications, and single handedly created the “Science Fiction” genre as a way to sell them. Pretty soon a new crop of writers was producing new stories specially to be a part of this genre and to go in his magazines, these were the first SciFi writers… Among them EE Doc Smith, Isaac Asimov etc. And the genre was born.

It's currently popular to say that Mary Shelly was “the first SciFi writer”, I'd counter that and say not really… It was a big step on the road but what her Frankenstein character was most influential with was monster fiction, she created the “mad scientist” subgenre that has been hugely influential in horror fiction. But when you're talking about the “first” of something the problem is that you can ALWAYS come up with earlier examples, which is why I list Gernsback in the 1920s as the true creator of the genre.

For example, the stories of E. T. A. Hoffmann pre-date Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and out of them we have stories of a scientist creating a lifelike clockwork robot, becoming Operas and the famous ballet Coppélia. And if we want to go back to the earliest primordial SciFi origins what comes to my mind is many of the Greek myths: the famous Scientist Daedalus who created wearable flying wings, animated toys, the Labyrinth, even the ability for a woman to mate with a bull! Then there's Archimedes (a real person) with SciFi stories of his accomplishments like the creation of a sun-powered ray to destroy warships or a giant claw machine that plucked them out of the water… Or the stories of the ships built by the Phaeacians (in Homer's Odyssey), they're able to travel as fast as a falcon to any destination you can think of since they know all the cities of the world and can navigate automatically. SciFi has a LONG history for something that wasn't codified till the early 20th century.

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This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Starlights, Gunwallace says: “Had some time this morning. Here's a theme for Starlights. In my head I'm imagining you with your new guitar dressed in the white dandy costume playing the solo.”
My description: A dandy gent in bright white frock coat and tricorn hat festooned with giant ostrich feathers stands outlined against the stormy grey sky… He shoulders a cream coloured stratocaster, and shreds, ripping out a soaring solo against the growing winds of the coming storm -


Topics and shownotes

Kawaii's newspost on the Beauty of SciFi - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/may/02/the-beauty-of-science-fiction/

Featured comic:
Cupcake War Machine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/may/04/featured-comic-cupcake-war-machine/

Featured Music:
Starlights - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Starlights/ - by Kawaii Triangle, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Pitface - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes

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Episode 527 - Evil superheroes unneeded

Apr 19, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Evil superheroes are a stupid fad, that's my contention. My opinion. They've been around for a long time but now they're so popular it's becoming a bit of a fad and might turn into its own genre. I suppose Marvel and others have saturated the superhero market so to stay relevant other companies are doing “twists” on that traditional genre, hence the evil superheroes.

Episode 522 - The fall of a politician and a furry, The ballad of Grey Muzzle

Mar 14, 2021

5 likes, 0 comments

Today we chat about the disappearance of another Drunkducker. This fellow was a politician in his daily life and a furry in his downtime. On DD he was the author of the adult furry comic Tina's story, an exceptionally well written slice of life comedy comic with adult elements, staring an anthro poodle lady and her human partner. This man had his online activity taken and used to destroy his political career. The comic which was his passion was used as ammunition to ruin him. We chat about this in our Quackcast! In light of what happened to Gina Carano for her silly words this is interesting.

Episode 509 - Saltcast

Dec 13, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Escapist fiction Vs Gritty and real style fiction… Furwerk-Studio made an interesting post about this subject. They were annoyed at people who dismiss escapism as something lessor or inferior to more gritty and realistic work, so we decided to tackle both sides and take some extreme views on the subject, both for and against! A few years ago Simon Peg made some comments related to this very subject and got a bit of backlash (links in the notes). The idea is that escapist stuff keeps us infantile and malleable… It's actually a really old idea anything that isn't realistic is childish and bad for you while things that are heavier and more adult in tone (whether escapist or not), are far more worthy.

Episode 505 - Character Trajectory!

Nov 15, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

Character trajectories are really interesting- in terms of character alignment, like a good guy that slowly turns into a bad guy through a whole bunch of bad decisions and incidents. A great example from popular media is Walter White from Breaking Bad. He starts out as an ordinary guy, but soon sets out on a path that takes him down the road to becoming a super-villian. Characters can start out bad and go good or even good, go bad and then redeem themselves…

Episode 498 - Your culture is MINE now!

Sep 28, 2020

4 likes, 5 comments

This week we're talking about cultural appropriation, cultural adaption and adoption, also stereotypes and all sorts of related stuff. It was inspired by a newspost from Tantz discussing the recent live action Mulan movie by Disney. Cultural appropriation is when you take an aspect that is sacred or important to one culture and own it yourself: decontextualising it, stripping it off it's meaning, making a cartoon version of it, commodifying it, commercialising or cheapening it in some other way.

Episode 497 - It's just kid's stuff

Sep 21, 2020

4 likes, 5 comments

Today we're talking about the idea that entertainment aimed at kids can only be enjoyed by kids and the reason that adults often don't like kids things is because adults just don't “get” them. I contend that everyone, of all ages should be able to enjoy General or kid rated media and the true reason we don't is not because it “isn't meant for us”, it's because it's simply badly written - specifically, it's not the content that's annoying, it's the structure.

Episode 496 - titular titularity!

Sep 14, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Titles are surprisingly important for your comic! We don't often realise that when we first start them, but a title is one of the very first ways people come across your work. You have to sell it to them and give them an idea of what to expect in only a very few words. You can take a lot of different approaches to that, like teasing and intriguing them with a title that suggests something interesting or mysterious, character names are great for that. You can be completely literal and obvious. You can use a pun… you can take an existing popular title and alter it in a slight way… There are so many things you can do!


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