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 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 499 - Life's worth?!

Oct 5, 2020

5 likes, 0 comments

What is the worth of human life in your stories? This isn't something people often consider, we just tend to have a fairly accurate guess based on our experience of the real world, but sometimes stories get it really wrong and that can harm suspension of disbelief.

Episode 490 - Genres of webcomics!

Aug 3, 2020

5 likes, 11 comments

Aren't genres great? They're so useful for categorising what we like and selling our work. Today we're chatting about all the genres that are popular in webcomics now, that we know of. Back in the day webcomics were mainly defined by TWO genres: slice of life, and gaming. And out of those two gaming was king! Actually a lot of comics combined the two. The biggest were things like 8 Bit Fantasy, PVP, Penny Arcade, and Ctrl Alt Delete.

Episode 487 - DD Anthology introduction!

Jul 13, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Boundbun joins us to talk about the plans for the upcoming Drunk Duck Anthology that the proud people of the DD Discord (Aggie and Mel), are talking about. It hopes to be a true mammoth of a project at something like 130 pages! So if you'd like to get in on this and have your work actually published then join the Discord and navigate to the correct chat. You can have your say on what form the anthology takes.

Episode 479 - Big ideas in fiction

May 18, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

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 ^_^

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.


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