Episode 479 - Big ideas in fiction

May 18, 2020

My original idea for this Quackcast was: “Genre fiction is the best place to explore ideas, straight fiction doesn't do it as well” What I meant was that diverting from straight reality in fiction makes it easier to conceptualise, simplify and explain complicated ideas to a general audience for a whole number of reasons. There was some disagreement between Tantz and I because I expressed myself poorly so she'd thought that I was saying it was much easier to write SciFi and fantasy (Genre fiction), and it was easier to write about big ideas, while straight fiction wasn't good for that- Which is fair enough! My initial statement is so badly worded that's a valid interpretation! Fortunately Banes and Pit were on hand to smooth things out and explain things properly. Pit mediated between us and Banes conceptualised my concept FAR, far better than I did! Unfortunately you don't get much of that disagreement on the Quackcast. You DO get a bit of it on the PATREON only video however ^_^

Topics and Show Notes

To get back to things though: Diverting from straight reality in fiction, whether that's into a full on genre style or just adding unrealistic elements, allows you to symbolically handle big ideas like death, mortality, racism, slavery, predestination, religion etc in a way where you can be very specific about what you want to say about those ideas, more so than in straight fiction because you have more control over the world you're presenting. That's not to say that all “genre” fiction tackles big ideas or is always good at doing it when it does, or that straight fiction doesn't tackle big ideas or does it badly when it tries to. “Genre” fiction also has the advantage of being able to separate its ideas from current realities of politics and culture which might get in the way of people being receptive to the ideas that it presents.

A Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood), is a good example of this: The big idea presented in the book is that women's place in society, their rights and humanity, can so easily be wiped out overnight, the experience is dehumanising and horrible, and it can happen anywhere at any time. It uses a Scifi setting to do this, which makes the scenario seem very possible but also accessible to a mass audience. There have been numerous realistic and true stories written about the experience of women when Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, or when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan in the 90s, and yet none have had the reach or the general acceptance of A Handmaid's Tale.
The closest would be Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi), but in it's case it still employs diversions from reality in its style, and since it's specifically about Iran people are far less likely to apply those ideas more generally.

Early Star Trek and Twilight Zone episodes were goldmines for “Big Ideas”! What're some of your fave “genre” fiction that tackles big idea better than other kinds of fiction?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Fated Feather: Come aboard me hearties! Cast off and sail away into the balmy tropical sunshine, as warm waters lap the hull, the bow wave glitters in the sunshine, the rigging creaks in the warm breeze, and seafoam floats by in our wake. Today is the time for adventure on the green seas.


Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
Tangkal English - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/may/12/featured-comic-tangkal-english/

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Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

Episode 431 - Political messages in your work

Jun 17, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast is about having political agendas in your work and expressing them well! We're talking about deliberately putting in ideas that you want to get across to people, NOT the idea that all work has agendas and ideas no matter what. That's not relevant to this discussion. When you want to want to get your ideas across there are good ways to do it and poor ways. When you do it poorly your work either has the opposite effect (people will laugh at your agenda or despise it), or it becomes propaganda. Propaganda is for preaching to the converted, it's terrible for changing minds. The only thing it's good for is motivating people who are already on-board with you.

Episode 425 - Pay-off or rip-off?

May 6, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

In this Quackcast we chat about set-ups. pay-offs, and rip-offs. To make your climaxes and endings more satisfying you have pay-offs for audience expectations: set them up in the story and pay them off at the end. If you fail to pay-off then you get a rip-off, it's pretty simple. Your audience will be really disappointed. That's not to say disappointing and unsatisfying ends to stories are wrong, not at all! Often those are fully intended. We're just talking about satisfying audiences, not “good” endings.

Episode 401 - Stan Lee, a stupid comedian, and the new prudes

Nov 19, 2018

3 likes, 4 comments

This is Quackcast 401! Error, error! Pitface and Tantz were absent so Banes and myself were left to go quietly off the rails and expostulate all sorts of radical, half formed, badly articulated thoughts. This is an interesting one! We cover the death of the great Stan Lee, titan of the comics and superhero world. Then we sidestream into talking about comedians trying to be political commentators (re: Bill Maher)… I must apologise for my Ad Hominems. And lastly our focus is on a “new puritanism” in some aspects of pop-culture. It all ties together, if a little awkwardly.

Episode 390 - Imprinting on your characters

Aug 15, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

We nicked the idea for this Quackcast from a newspost by Emma Clare. What we chat about is the unintentional process of giving your characters you own traits or even traits of people you know without realising it: Every time you draw an expression for your character you're not really creating a generic expression but basing it on yourself… when you character is being quizzical or irritated for example people may recognise that as you. It could be in other things too: their taste, the way they dress, what they like to eat, their furniture. things that annoy them, their hobbies etc. It's interesting how tied they are to us.

Episode 354 - Christmascast

Dec 25, 2017

3 likes, 2 comments

Merry Christmas! It's that time of year again… well, the end of the year. Banes was ill with the dreaded lurgi so Pit, Tantz and I were left to our own devices to chat about Christmas and our fave Christmas movies. What's yours? This week Gunwallce has given us the theme to The Portland Express: Come with us on an adventure on the high seas! This music is redolent with the exotic, action, and intrigue. Flavoured with the sounds of the east, this tune is clearly on a mission!

Episode 353 - Beautycast

Dec 18, 2017

3 likes, 0 comments

This is the Beautycast. We decided to have a chat about beauty. What IS beauty? is it universal? I would contend that it's not and that's what we tended to agree in the Quackcast. Beauty is a highly relative concept dependent on many factors like symmetry, rarity, ethnicity, time, geographical area, economic conditions, exoticism, what you're used to, aspiration, age, clothes, hair, health, fashion etc. Add to the fact that it's not really just based on what a person looks like but what they look like in relation to others around them. There's also the much derided old aphorism that “beauty comes from the inside” or that it's based on personality. We discus the fact that this is surprisingly actually quite true! Personality, expression and the way a person conducts themselves hugely influences your perception of their beauty or lack of it. This was a very interesting and enlightening discussion. This week Gunwallce has given us the theme to Mercenary Bound: This one has a slightly disco, early 1980s feel to it. It pumps along with the nice easy pace of a trained fighter, with a hint of threat and a touch of danger, like the music to a level of a side scrolling beat-em-up videogame. —————————————————————————— Don't forget our campaign to give YOU comment and reply notifications so that you can see who has commented on your comic pages easily, you can respond to them right away, then they'll KNOW you replied and they can respond back and so on. But before we can do that we need to raise money via Indiegogo to pay for it. YOU will be helping to pay for a feature that you want. That's how the site works these days, it's our site: yours and mine.

Episode 286 - Offence, walking on eggshells

Aug 29, 2016

4 likes, 6 comments

Do you worry about offending specific people with your writing? Where's your line between honest expression and regard for other people's feelings? This was Bane's brilliant idea for a Quackcast. We touch a little on the idea of a “culture of offence”, where it seems that people look for things to be offended by, perhaps on behalf of others, but also about things that really CAN cause offence and how to avoid that. On one hand you have people complaining that everything is too “PC” these days, but on the other it's really not OK to be a dick to people just because you like to cling to the old days when it was fine to put down people on the basis of ethnicity, skin-colour, gender, or sexuality… But we can also cause offence accidentally, unintentionally, unknowingly… Should you compromise your vision to appease people, or should you forge ahead regardless? Keep in mind that some things that are fine for SOME audiences are offensive to others, so rather than fight with your audience or appease them perhaps it's better to try and actively direct your work at the CORRECT audience it's intended for? - speaking in terms of sex scenes, politics, etc. Listen to the theme Gunwallace concocted for us THIS time! Geminni: Get down to the bad sounds of this classic funk rock tune! Danceable!


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