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 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 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 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 468 - Online communities and the friendships that are part of them

Mar 1, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

The nature of online communities and making connections with people you meet in them is quite different from what happens with “social media”. The connections are deeper and longer lasting while social media is more about communication, staying in contact, and finding out what's popular at the time rather than sharing creations and forming strong bonds.

Episode 466 - And then What?

Feb 16, 2020

2 likes, 0 comments

What happens to characters after the big action scene or climactic moment? This could be anywhere in the story but it's usually close to the end. Do they process any of the things that have happened to them to lead them up to that point or do they just forget about everything and simply act as if nothing except the last 4 seconds matter? The later seems to be the trend in a lot of badly written fiction, and it's a notable trope in 80s style action films. Death of family members or lovers are irrelevant when you have a hot action star standing next to you!

Episode 386 - These are the books that made us

Aug 6, 2018

3 likes, 0 comments

In this Quackcast Tantz, Banes and I have a chat about the novels that influenced us when we were growing up. Each of us barely even touch on them but we do bring up some interesting titles… for Tantz it was the sexy comic Storm and the novel The gods of Foxcroft, for me it was the high fantasy of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, and later on SciFi by writer like Tanith Lee and her Don't bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine- both of which were very prophetic novels in the way they deal with hedonistic youth culture and the modern phenomenon of adults having extended childhoods while outsourcing more and more adult tasks to technology. What were some of your most influential novels when growing up?

Episode 340 - Reviews

Sep 18, 2017

6 likes, 3 comments

In this Drunk Duck Quackcast we chat about the importance and the process of reviews! Good ones, bad ones, why they all matter, and also why they often don't! ;) Reviews are an interesting animal, they're a parasitic form of entertainment. They rely wholly of other forms of entertainment for their existence, while those forms do not require reviews at all! But reviews also serve a good function, they tell us what's bad or good, what fits with our tastes and emotions, and lets us know what we may be interested in seeing. They can also save us from wasting time on horrors. Sometimes though they can drive us away from something magical… Here we discuss all that and more! Gunwallace's theme this week was for Reversion, This is a really dreamy, evocative tune about warm, faraway places, it’s squinting into the distance down a long dusty deserted highway and sighing.


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