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 529 - Time loops!

May 2, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

Time loops in stories are a lot of fun, they can be really complicated and interesting. Groundhog day is the most famous version of this trope. Banes tells me it's a “trope codifier”. In a time loop story characters are caught reliving the same events over and over with the main character being the only one who's really aware of it, Sometimes the loop happens only once or a couple of times, or many, many times as in Groundhog Day and Palm Springs. We chat about some of the different time loop stories, their characteristics and why we like them.

Episode 526 A return to Mary Sue!

Apr 12, 2021

5 likes, 3 comments

Mary Sues are always a fun topic! There are some misconceptions about them though… Mary Sues aren't all female, they can be any gender. Being super powerful or super popular or super pretty etc doesn't equal a Mary Sue, not even if your character super stands out next to all the others, those things ONLY indicate they might possibly be one. What equals a Mary Sue is a character that doesn't have to struggle very hard for anything, a character that is almost universally admired, and or loved (even by the enemy), a character that masters hard skills with ease and ends up teaching the teachers and beating the masters, a character that's destined to succeed and does in spite of internal story logic… All these things and more can add up to make a Mary Sue.

Episode 525 - Sexual Tension

Apr 5, 2021

5 likes, 0 comments

Sexual tension between characters is a great way to augment the conflict that drives a story. The audience really wants that to resolve into a relationship or at least an assignation of some sort… The longer it goes on though, the bigger they want the coming together to be, which can be dangerous for the creator because it's so easy to disappoint. it's usually better to resolve the tension earlier than later, OR keep it going forever but keep it interesting and don't ever sour it or make it turn stale.

Episode 514 - how fiction gets your job wrong

Jan 18, 2021

3 likes, 4 comments

When our jobs are shown in fiction they usually get it wrong. We talk about HOW they get it wrong here… Pit tells us all how she's basically Indiana Jones and Lara Croft rolled into one LOL! …or the opposite of that, I can't remember. How does YOUR job differ from what they show in movies and TV? Special… -SEE the led Zeppelin shirt Pit harangues me for in our Patreon vid

Episode 513 - Mask of the Mandalorian

Jan 10, 2021

4 likes, 6 comments

The Mandalorian is pretty unique in that he keeps his face hidden almost the whole time. This is very rare in TV and movies, the rule is that we HAVE to see the actor's face, so they rarely even keep on hats let alone remain fully masked! Yes, there are examples of it but they're few and far between. It's very cool that they've allowed the character to remain hidden for most of the show and he's much cooler for it because it allows the audience to fill in what he really looks like or just imagine him as a cool faceless avatar of awesome.

Episode 512 - Fire and Ice Commentary

Jan 3, 2021

3 likes, 1 comment

Happy 2021 everybody!!!!! For this fun first of year Quackcast We do a commentary and reaction to the Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta classic sword and sorcery animated movie from 1983, Fire and Ice! Tantz and Banes have never, ever seen it before so it was a new experience to them and maybe to YOU as well? Fire and Ice is a simple fantasy story about evil prince Necron who wants to rule over all the lands using his control of a huge glacier. Brave Princess Teegra, Larn (mullet head), and Darkwolf (the Deathdealer), team up to battle to stop him destroying the southern lands. It was done with rotoscoped animation which made the figures look quite realistic. Rotoscoping is basically filming real actors and then taking out the background and painting over their bodies and turning them into cartoons. It's an analogue old fashion way of doing motion capture, like they do in modern 3D CGI animation.

Episode 510 - STUFF WE SPEND OUT MONEY ON

Dec 21, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

This is the time of year you typically spend your money on other people… but we wanted to talk about what we spend our money on when we're spending on ourselves and indulging our own passions… just because this is the time of year we can digress and get a bit less serious about things. I talk about my passion for collection unusual vintage hats and antique sabres from the Napoleonic era and on. Tantz talks about her vintage 1940s era newspapers and the history behind them. Pitface talks about her stainglass window skills and her warhammer figures. Banes gives us the lowdown on the amazing muppet band playsets and figures he collected!


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