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 501 - Horrorcast

Oct 19, 2020

6 likes, 6 comments

We are the Pretty Things That Live in the House! We all dressed up for a Halloween themed cast today! You can see our weird looks in our Patreon video ($5 and up subscribers). Pitface was a yellowfaced corn vampire with amazing teeth (very midwest), Banes was an old, oooooold terrifying baldy vampire, Tantz was a beautiful, big eyed doctor vampire, and I was an 18th century Vamp (Lestat/Varny), with a face messy with the blood of my victims! And I had in rubber fangs held in by chewing gum, just like a REAL vampire, because the denture glue didn't hold in my good fangs… it just filled my mouth with disgusting glue that stuck all over my teeth XD

Episode 482 - 2n Guess

Jun 7, 2020

2 likes, 2 comments

Tantz's newspost on Saturday about the problems of second guessing yourself and the issues that can arise from that was the inspiration for this week's newspost. Second guessing yourself can have GOOD possibilities and negative ones. The good: it forces you to hone your creative work and improve it, you don't just put things out there, you evaluate them and improve them! The bad: you can get stuck in a loop where you keep on thinking your stuff is not good enough, you might get hung up on one little thing and never move past it.

Episode 473 - Genre vs Setting

Apr 5, 2020

3 likes, 3 comments

In this Quackcast we talk about the differences between genre and setting and what genre really is. For instance: Fantasy and SciFi aren't genres, they're settings… Mostly. It's complicated but they both pretty much USED to be genres, now they're mainly just settings for genre stories to take place in. What does that mean? Well, Fantasy wasn't even considered a genre back in the day, not really till after the success of Tolkien. Later on a lot of writers began using that same style and consumers really wanted it, so it became a “genre”. It was only later on when it graduated out of that to become a setting that has genre stories set within it.

Episode 469 - The cartoons that date us and Discord

Mar 9, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

We're talking about the cartoons that made us! This was inspired by kawaiidaigakusei's newspost from last week about Daria. Daria was a really cool cartoon from the late 90s. It was influential to her, to me as well, and I thought it would be a great idea for a Quackcast to talk about the other cartoons that were influential to us at certain points in our lives.

Episode 454 - Are Marvel movies "Despicable"?

Nov 24, 2019

2 likes, 0 comments

This week we look at the famous quote by respected film director Martin Scorsese that “Marvel movies aren't Cinema” and also the quote by fellow director Francis Ford Coppola that Marvel films are “despicable”. We try and look at the proper context of these remarks outside of the twitter garbage and social media outrage to see if either had any point or whether they're way off the mark and deserving of criticism.

Episode 442 - Death comes to all

Sep 2, 2019

2 likes, 0 comments

How about having it so anyone in your story can die? Let me explain: It's fake. NOT just anyone can die OK? Your main character will still survive until the end and all that, but what you do is set things up so it really truly looks like they're vulnerable and can die, this way it gives the story bigger stakes. If all the other characters are obvious redshirts then who cares? You KNOW the main character or characters will make it to the end so the threat of death or even injury isn't that important… But if you set things up right and have some clever fakeouts then the story will have much more impact!

Episode 421 - Dreamcast

Apr 8, 2019

2 likes, 8 comments

Today we're talking about all the ways nightmares can be used in stories. This is based on a newspost by our very own dreamboat Tantz Aerine. Nightmares are great for foreshadowing through premonitions, forcing characters to confront things and change their minds, ratcheting up tension in a story and all sorts of other useful things that you'd never consider.


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