Episode 499 - Life's worth?!

Oct 5, 2020

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.

Topics and Show Notes

A few prime examples are gritty SciFi stories, westerns, war stories, and hospital dramas.
The first three dramatically undervalue human life so it doesn't make logical sense within the world it depicts: In deep space human life would be extremely valuable because it's a rare and practically non-renewable resource. The only way that changes is when you run out of survival resources (air, water, food) or it's a life or death situation, a casual attitude to life though doesn't make sense. In the old west it was the same situation for other reasons, murderers would be tracked down for thousands of miles and across many decades, the only exception was native Americans who shamefully weren't considered people for all intents and purposes, even slaves had more value. In war stories, especially historical ones, typically soldiers have no real survival instinct or self worth, they're happy to always fight to the last and run headfirst to their deaths, which is silly since battles were usually won when one side broke and ran after only a few deaths. Full scale slaughter only happened rarely and that was usually when the fleeing side was caught or captured.

Finally, hospital dramas tend to overestimate the value of life, where all stops are pulled out to save people who society doesn't value and can't afford to pay for the expensive and experimental treatments (with hundreds of thousands dollars worth of care given to them), or people too sick or old are given care they'd never recover from.

There are a lot of complex factors that influence the value of life in a story actually (emotional attachment, status, class, caste, gender, religion, politics, scope etc), but it's important not to get it too badly wrong or your story won't work as well.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Era of Iridore - Come through the sweeping tapestry curtains of copper and silicone, into the vast techno hall, past lords and ladies bedecked in flashing LEDs of many colours, knights fencing with glowing plasma blades, jesters toying with antigrav balls, and watch the minstrels play their laser harps and electric lutes!

Topics and shownotes

Links
Life's worth thread - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/forum/topic/178520

Featured comic:
Raising Cain - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/sep/29/featured-comic-raising-cain/

Featured music:
Era of Iridore - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Era_of_Iridore/, by Deno 85, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

Remember to join us for Quackcast 500 on Saturday!!!
- https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/oct/04/quackcast-500-show-your-love-for-the-d/

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Episode 492 - Impermanence of the new digital age

Aug 17, 2020

7 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast is about the impermanence of online services and the lie that services are provided for fee and providers have no responsibility to the creators and viewers that use them. Hushicho posted in our forum about Tapas newly restricting nudity in comics which suddenly disenfranchises hundreds of creators who've built up followings on that site with comics that were well within the the Tapas content rules. With that one change these comics have been wiped out, destroying all the hard work by creators to build up their audiences over a long period of time. That can happen with ANY digital service, we are at the mercy of the corporations that provide them.

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.

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 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 442 - Death comes to all

Sep 2, 2019

2 likes, 0 comments

How about having it so anyone in your story can die? Let me explain: It's fake. NOT just anyone can die OK? Your main character will still survive until the end and all that, but what you do is set things up so it really truly looks like they're vulnerable and can die, this way it gives the story bigger stakes. If all the other characters are obvious redshirts then who cares? You KNOW the main character or characters will make it to the end so the threat of death or even injury isn't that important… But if you set things up right and have some clever fakeouts then the story will have much more impact!

Episode 437 - Old Warhorse

Jul 29, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

Today we cover the interesting trope of the “old warrior”. This was based upon a newspost Banes came up with last week. He was thinking of Captain Picard in the latest Star Trek series and he also brought up Luke Skywalker from the latest Star Wars movie. The “Old Warrior” makes a really cool protagonist, in this Quackcast we try and discover why that is…


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