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

4 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 528 - How tall are your characters?

Apr 26, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

Character height is not something we think about too much but it's actually a fairly big deal: in terms of what the height means, what it means contextually, how the character fits into their world, how they relate to others around them, and how it's like to draw them! A character can loom, they can shrink down, they can appear bigger than they are due to force of personality or smaller due to being shy and retiring, Largeness can equal power and strength, stupid docility, threat, potential, or it can be used to highlight the strength of a much smaller character that beats them as in many animes.

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 518 - Gina Carano, no more right to bare arms!

Feb 15, 2021

5 likes, 2 comments

Gina Carano who plays Cara Dune in the excellent Star Wars franchise Mandalorian has been fired, as we all know by now… It's a great series, really one of the best incarnations of Star Wars since the original trilogy, and Cara's character was pretty cool. Though I personally didn't really like her lunk-head costume- Fully dressed characters in SciFi with bare biceps always look stupid to me for some reason. Doesn't matter if they're men, women, anthros etc, it's just ugly, especially when they're wearing armour. UGH! Be that as it may Gina said some pretty silly things on social media, and kept saying them after she got in trouble for it aaaaaand then Disney booted her.

Episode 517 - money in Scifi Utopia

Feb 8, 2021

3 likes, 3 comments

Weird one this week! A monneyless system in a working Scifi utopia. This was based on an idea Banes came up with talking about Star Trek and how the federation has “evolved beyond money”, We discuss if this is possible, why it is and how it is. That means no need for money substitutes like credit or barter either. It's a really interesting topic and a brave choice for a world setting. The most common type of scifi world by FAR is a dystopia so the fact that Star Trek is a working utopia (at least in the original and 1990s series) is a very brave and unique choice and the idea that it functions without money is even more clever and interesting.

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 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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