Episode 479 - Big ideas in fiction

May 18, 2020

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 ^_^

Topics and Show Notes

To get back to things though: Diverting from straight reality in fiction, whether that's into a full on genre style or just adding unrealistic elements, allows you to symbolically handle big ideas like death, mortality, racism, slavery, predestination, religion etc in a way where you can be very specific about what you want to say about those ideas, more so than in straight fiction because you have more control over the world you're presenting. That's not to say that all “genre” fiction tackles big ideas or is always good at doing it when it does, or that straight fiction doesn't tackle big ideas or does it badly when it tries to. “Genre” fiction also has the advantage of being able to separate its ideas from current realities of politics and culture which might get in the way of people being receptive to the ideas that it presents.

A Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood), is a good example of this: The big idea presented in the book is that women's place in society, their rights and humanity, can so easily be wiped out overnight, the experience is dehumanising and horrible, and it can happen anywhere at any time. It uses a Scifi setting to do this, which makes the scenario seem very possible but also accessible to a mass audience. There have been numerous realistic and true stories written about the experience of women when Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, or when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan in the 90s, and yet none have had the reach or the general acceptance of A Handmaid's Tale.
The closest would be Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi), but in it's case it still employs diversions from reality in its style, and since it's specifically about Iran people are far less likely to apply those ideas more generally.

Early Star Trek and Twilight Zone episodes were goldmines for “Big Ideas”! What're some of your fave “genre” fiction that tackles big idea better than other kinds of fiction?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Fated Feather: Come aboard me hearties! Cast off and sail away into the balmy tropical sunshine, as warm waters lap the hull, the bow wave glitters in the sunshine, the rigging creaks in the warm breeze, and seafoam floats by in our wake. Today is the time for adventure on the green seas.


Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
Tangkal English - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/may/12/featured-comic-tangkal-english/

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Fated Feather - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Fated_Feather/, by Iagojester, rated T.

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
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

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.

Episode 471 - Fantasy

Mar 23, 2020

2 likes, 0 comments

Today we're having a chat about fantasy fiction! Mainly books and the fantasy writing that inspired us and that we love! Faves like Tolkien, Fritz Leiber and Piers Anthony! Just to define, we're talking swords, elves, armour, dragons etc, in a “medieval” context, generally European. As a subset there's native, Arabian, Asian, Mayan etc, also high fantasy, low fantasy, sword and sorcery, historical fantasy and even mythology…. And then techno fantasy, contemporary fantasy, steampunk, fantasy cyberpunk and so on… but we mainly stick to the mainstream stuff and only just touch on the weird little variations for now.

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 460 - Enough trope to hang yourself with

Jan 5, 2020

2 likes, 2 comments

Happy 2020 all you lovely people who listen to us! What we're talking about today are tropes in fiction that bother us because they don't exist in reality: they ONLY exist in fiction pretty much. In the cover pic we have an image from The Witcher: he has two big longswords on his back. In fantasy people always carry longswords on their backs. This is a trope that only exists in fiction because you can't draw a sword longer than about 60cm from your back. So people just didn't carry swords like this. Even if it was only to transport them (although ta transport only option makes a sort of sense). This was only even rarely done with Asian swords. We'd LOVE to hear about more of these that other people have noticed!

Episode 457 - Religion in fiction 2

Dec 16, 2019

5 likes, 4 comments

2 weeks ago we discussed the topic of religion in fiction: basicaly how we use real world religions to inform the perspectives of our characters and make the worlds more real, how we use religion in fiction, and how we make up religions for our worlds. We had so many great responses to this in the forum and about the Quackcast that we thought it'd be great to feature and chat about them! DD is a community after all and we love our community members to be a part of the Quackcast!

Episode 456 - Smackdown on Quackjeeves

Dec 8, 2019

6 likes, 4 comments

Smack Jeeves has been sold out from under its community to a Korean mobile content provider company NHN. The same company approached us last year but the deal didn't go through because we were too strict on retaining control of the site and protecting our community, SJ apparently didn't have those same concerns for the people that made the site so special and that is a huge shame. What's happened now is that NHN is streamlining the site, minimising the creative members who host their comics there and turning it into a content delivery site for its hand-picked pro work, turning it into another souless clone corporate of Webtoons or Tapas.

Episode 455 - Religion in fiction

Dec 2, 2019

4 likes, 2 comments

We're talking about how religion is portrayed in fiction and a bit about WHY. This was a surprisingly fascinating topic. I came up with the idea while watching the old 2000s SciFi series Andromeda: one of the alien characters there is sort of a space Buddhist, and I felt like that was a pretty common thing in American TV Scifi, so I wondered about what other kinds of religious tropes exist in contemporary fiction, fantasy and other SciFi worlds.


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