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 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 524 - Empathy

Mar 28, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Image credit: There's Something About Mary, 20th Century Fox. Empathy is like sympathy but you don't think about it. It's what happens when you see someone get hurt and you wince in pain watching them, it's when you see a really uncomfortable moment in a sitcom like The Office and you cringe, It's when you feel sad when the characters are sad about something. Empathy is an important tool for audience immersion- if they're feeling that strongly for the characters then you've got them invested in your story! Funny story… the topic of this Quackcast was inspired by us talking about the risks of “going commando” and the fact that it can happen to women as well as men. This led us to go looking for photographic and video proof, as you do… and what we saw gave us instant empathy for the poor unfortunate. Hence the Quackcast topic ;) This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to PleaseRewind: Quiet threat, creepy, seeping, strumming, thrumbing, coming CLOSER, inside, peering around, waiting to begin. This is a quiet track filled with an undertone of urgency suggested by the constant quick rhythm and lonely guitar.

Episode 512 - Fire and Ice Commentary

Jan 3, 2021

3 likes, 1 comment

Happy 2021 everybody!!!!! For this fun first of year Quackcast We do a commentary and reaction to the Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta classic sword and sorcery animated movie from 1983, Fire and Ice! Tantz and Banes have never, ever seen it before so it was a new experience to them and maybe to YOU as well? Fire and Ice is a simple fantasy story about evil prince Necron who wants to rule over all the lands using his control of a huge glacier. Brave Princess Teegra, Larn (mullet head), and Darkwolf (the Deathdealer), team up to battle to stop him destroying the southern lands. It was done with rotoscoped animation which made the figures look quite realistic. Rotoscoping is basically filming real actors and then taking out the background and painting over their bodies and turning them into cartoons. It's an analogue old fashion way of doing motion capture, like they do in modern 3D CGI animation.

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!

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 483 - Burnt out

Jun 15, 2020

2 likes, 0 comments

Emma Clare posted about avoiding burnout on Friday and we thought we'd steal that subject to chat about it. Burnout is something that can affect all of us, most especially when you're stuck at home with lots of time to create, funnily enough. When there's a lot of pressure on you to create it often makes you STOP creating. But there are a lot of ways to void burn out and when it actually does happen to you there are a lot of ways to come back from it and rekindle those exhausted flames of creation. How do YOU come back after being burnt out? What was your longest burnout?

Episode 481 - Fun with history?

May 31, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Today we're chatting about using historical stuff in your story and knowing how to use it right! Sometimes it's good to change stuff and sometimes it's not. The thing is that you should ONLY change it if you know what you're doing and why you're doing it. A good example is A Knight's Tale- It has a historical setting and there are a lot of deliberate historical anachronisms in it, and they're all very obvious, they do not pretend to be anything but what they are.


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