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

Episode 469 - The cartoons that date us and Discord

Mar 9, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

We're talking about the cartoons that made us! This was inspired by kawaiidaigakusei's newspost from last week about Daria. Daria was a really cool cartoon from the late 90s. It was influential to her, to me as well, and I thought it would be a great idea for a Quackcast to talk about the other cartoons that were influential to us at certain points in our lives.

Episode 465 - Planning Vs pantsing!

Feb 10, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

There are a couple of approaches when it comes to making a big creative project: planing it all out or working things out as you go i.e. flying by the seat of your pants. Well in reality it's a spectrum and those are the two extremes. Most of us work somewhere between those two, sometimes with more or less planning etc… I've tried a lot of different mixtures myself!

Episode 431 - Political messages in your work

Jun 17, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast is about having political agendas in your work and expressing them well! We're talking about deliberately putting in ideas that you want to get across to people, NOT the idea that all work has agendas and ideas no matter what. That's not relevant to this discussion. When you want to want to get your ideas across there are good ways to do it and poor ways. When you do it poorly your work either has the opposite effect (people will laugh at your agenda or despise it), or it becomes propaganda. Propaganda is for preaching to the converted, it's terrible for changing minds. The only thing it's good for is motivating people who are already on-board with you.

Episode 415 - lazy solutions cause plot-holes!

Feb 25, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast expands on my newspost from Friday about forgotten abilities causing plot holes, but now bunny Banes and Lady Tantz wade in to lend their genius to my silly ideas and we chat about what the real issues are: bad writing and laziness! This is when a character gains the ability to walk through walls or become bullet proof or go back in time and then forgets it for the rest of the story or in the sequel When basically 80% of the problems they encounter could be solved by it… And you're mentally screaming at them “Use your damn power that you got 20 pages ago… Remember that thing that would help you avoid all this trouble!?” Using easy solutions to get out of problems causes plot-holes! And your audience will hate you for it.

Episode 411 - The Right to Copy!

Jan 28, 2019

4 likes, 5 comments

Copyright is a huge thing! It allows us to make money from our creations and stops other people from stealing them. But culture isn't about a series of billions of totally original ideas invented from nothing- absolutely NOT. Culture grows from ideas that are recycled, reiterated, and reinvented. It's all quite derivative and mixed. So there has to be a balance between respect for rigid copyright and some flexibility to work with existing ideas.

Episode 408 - The imitation game

Jan 6, 2019

2 likes, 2 comments

Happy new year! This is the first Quackcast recorded in 2019! Pitface is back too, can you believe it? In this Quackcast we chat about Imitation, based on Amelius's newspost from last Sunday. How do you know if someone has copied your work, just been influenced by it or influenced from the same sources as you, or has actually stolen your work wholesale? And what do you DO about it? Is imitation or someone doing the same thing as your “original” idea, always a bad thing?

Episode 401 - Stan Lee, a stupid comedian, and the new prudes

Nov 19, 2018

3 likes, 4 comments

This is Quackcast 401! Error, error! Pitface and Tantz were absent so Banes and myself were left to go quietly off the rails and expostulate all sorts of radical, half formed, badly articulated thoughts. This is an interesting one! We cover the death of the great Stan Lee, titan of the comics and superhero world. Then we sidestream into talking about comedians trying to be political commentators (re: Bill Maher)… I must apologise for my Ad Hominems. And lastly our focus is on a “new puritanism” in some aspects of pop-culture. It all ties together, if a little awkwardly.


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