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 506 - The fightcast

Nov 22, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Today we chat about fight scenes! This was spurred by a post in our forums about how bad fight choreography can spoil a film. Our Patron vid was mainly about fights in our comics, while the Quackcast is more about fights in movies. One of the things about REAL fights is that they're usually very fast, ugly, stupid looking, and not very exciting. It's important to remember that boxers and UFC fighters are entertainers and sports people, those people are performing for an audience - their fights are real but they're designed to be showy and exciting, whereas true fighting on the street or in war etc is very different, it's more deadly and more stupid looking.

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 484 - Background styles

Jun 22, 2020

3 likes, 4 comments

Backgrounds are part of a choice you make about to best show off your characters and how to present your comic. Plain white backgrounds aren't a very good choice for most comics but they are for some. Random, sketchy lines, pixel art tiles, fully drawn highly detailed landscapes, copy and pasted photos, halftone dots, speedlines etc, the choices are endless but it's important to know what works for you own particular comic! That's what we're talking about this week. Yes, an actual ART based subject on a webcomic site, who'd a guessed?

Episode 478 - Pity da fool!

May 11, 2020

3 likes, 3 comments

Fools are an iconic character trope and I wanted to explore them. They're a lot more varied and interesting than is readily apparent. There's a LOT more too a fool than what something like TV tropes suggests, unless you get into the subtypes… And that's what we explored in this free-form discussion. I introduced the idea in the Patreon only video where Tantz, Banes, Pt and I try and get a handle on the idea for the first time, so that's a good behind the scenes insight into what goes on!

Episode 472 - CoVid-19-cast

Mar 30, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

In this strange time of global pandemic it'd be crazy NOT to acknowledge what we're all experiencing together, so that's what we're talking about today: How the virus stuff is affecting us. Pitface joins us once again so today the quartet is complete: Pitz, Banes, Oz, and Tantz!

Episode 441 - Cooperation = cool

Aug 26, 2019

2 likes, 0 comments

Cooperation Vs Competition. For decades the mantra was competition is good: it produces progress and makes things better… Well that's actually false. Competition is what you're forced into as a response to limited resources, so you do what you have to to win, which mainly involves losing everything that doesn't serve that specific objective. Competition is massively harmful to progress in general, it ONLY helps you excel in one small area to massive cost. Think of it in terms of an Olympic sprinter: they become the fastest runner in the world, but to what point? Only the artificial structure of a sporting event… they spend years training, exercising, eating right, wasting a huge portion of their lives, creative, and intellectual potential on that one meaningless goal, and IF they achieve it they might get a bit of fame and money and a footnote in history because someone else will inevitably take their spot. More likely though they won't achieve the goal and instead be forgotten.

Episode 423 - Fave weapons in fiction?

Apr 22, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

What's your favourite weapon in fiction? Mine are ridiculously giant swords, huge anti-tank rifles, and mecha. There are a lot of complex reasons for weapon choices in fiction, a Kalashnikov assault rifles for example signals certain things about the person carrying it: They're usually a bad guy for a start. This originated during the cold war, with certain types of bad guys using AKs. First it was Soviet Bloc soldiers, then it was Viet Con and rebels from South East Asia, then it became the “terrorist” weapon. The sub machine gun is the weapon of the bad guy. Terrorists used to use Uzis (before they turned to AKs), bank robbers used to use Mac 10s, now it's the HK MP5. Good guys carry an M-16 or AR-15 rifle. In historical fiction traditionally the bad guys carries curved swords while the good guys had straight swords, this came from crusades. Minor characters carry spears and heroes carry swords. Women, weaker characters and rebels carry bows. Giant swords and guns are often given to smaller characters in anime (usually female), as an obvious contrast with their small size. It's meant to emphasis the fact they're sort of a “mighty mouse”.


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