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.
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/
Cupcake War Machine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/may/04/featured-comic-cupcake-war-machine/
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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May 2, 2021
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.
Apr 12, 2021
Mary Sues are always a fun topic! There are some misconceptions about them though… Mary Sues aren't all female, they can be any gender. Being super powerful or super popular or super pretty etc doesn't equal a Mary Sue, not even if your character super stands out next to all the others, those things ONLY indicate they might possibly be one. What equals a Mary Sue is a character that doesn't have to struggle very hard for anything, a character that is almost universally admired, and or loved (even by the enemy), a character that masters hard skills with ease and ends up teaching the teachers and beating the masters, a character that's destined to succeed and does in spite of internal story logic… All these things and more can add up to make a Mary Sue.
Mar 1, 2021
Today we're talking fans! Isn't it great to have them? We're all fans of something, but as webcomicers having fans means they're a dedicated audience who care about your creative output and send their love and appreciation to you- this really helps you stay motivated and inspired to keep on creating and producing new work. Here we talk about our experiences with fans and of BEING fans. It helps that we're fans of each other. But we also chat about some of the things we're fans off. What are your fan experiences and what are YOU a fan off?
Dec 13, 2020
Escapist fiction Vs Gritty and real style fiction… Furwerk-Studio made an interesting post about this subject. They were annoyed at people who dismiss escapism as something lessor or inferior to more gritty and realistic work, so we decided to tackle both sides and take some extreme views on the subject, both for and against! A few years ago Simon Peg made some comments related to this very subject and got a bit of backlash (links in the notes). The idea is that escapist stuff keeps us infantile and malleable… It's actually a really old idea anything that isn't realistic is childish and bad for you while things that are heavier and more adult in tone (whether escapist or not), are far more worthy.
Dec 6, 2020
The Mandalorian on Disney Plus is a very popular series, it's particularly known at the moment because of the “fanservice”, i.e. fan rewards in the second series. a couple of Clone Wars characters are in it now… but we won't spoil that. Tantz, Banes and I chat Fan Service! What IS Fan Service and why is it a thing? When did we first learn about it?
Nov 22, 2020
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.
Nov 15, 2020
Character trajectories are really interesting- in terms of character alignment, like a good guy that slowly turns into a bad guy through a whole bunch of bad decisions and incidents. A great example from popular media is Walter White from Breaking Bad. He starts out as an ordinary guy, but soon sets out on a path that takes him down the road to becoming a super-villian. Characters can start out bad and go good or even good, go bad and then redeem themselves…