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 516 - comics and your mental state

Jan 31, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

Pitface asked people how doing webcomics has helped to shore up your teetering mental state this past year. We got some responses to that and we also added our own thoughts to it. It's an interesting question though isn't it? This is a webcomic focused site, we're all creative people so webcomics tend to be a big outlet for us. How does having personal control over something YOU create and that YOU are responsible for, help you stay stable and centered when the rest of the world has seems pretty chaotic, with the crazy virus and the even madder, childish politics coming from the top leadership of the world's biggest superpower?

Episode 436 - Master of none?

Jul 22, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

To become truly successful at one thing you need to focus on that alone. Is it worth it? There are MANY calls on our time with all the side things we like to do, ESPECIALLY webcomics. One of the few ways to become a really successful superstar at any one thing is to start dropping all the other things that call on your time and devote all your energy to that one thing! Then you can push past all limitations and devote the effort and time needed to properly succeed.

Episode 428 - Expectations of Male and female audiences

May 27, 2019

3 likes, 3 comments

What are the different expectations for female and male audiences? This almost entirely a culture based thing, it changes depending on where and WHEN you are from as well as your age and experience… but some obvious things are determined by our physiology: sex sells, but there are slight differences based on gender. I wasn't interested in the “why” (genetic predeterminisim or evolutionary psychology), just the “what”.

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.

Episode 389 - Intimidating Baddies

Aug 14, 2018

4 likes, 2 comments

What makes bad guy intimidating? Tantz Aerine made a great newspost about the question, carefully outlining various key bad-guy properties like confidence, composure, efficiency, and amorality. Banes, Pitface, Tantz and I stomp ALL over that, traipsing about like drunken, muddy rugby players, as we blather on about our opinions of the idea and finish up with no idea what we're talking about...

Episode 371 - PC GORN MAD!!

Apr 23, 2018

5 likes, 0 comments

Everyone tends to have a strong opinion on Political Correctness so I thought why don't we try and have a chat about that and ask what people think. Can it be a problem in comics and other creative works? I was inspired by a video by Youtuber Metaron. He was talking about the decision to put a black actor in the role of Greek mythical figure Achilles in a BBC series about the fall of Troy and questioning the reasoning for it given that being a blonde haired incarnation of the sun-god Apollo is a huge part of the character. My main issue is that the actor is as bald as an egg! At least give him a blonde wig, I don't care how silly it looks. To be fair Achilles has rarely been portrayed well on the big screen, there was Brad Pitt's petulant version in Troy and an even balder Joe Montana in Helen of Troy! Do we spoil creative works by trying to be too inclusive or not being inclusive enough? This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Wanted dead or dead: Welcome to a much cooler version of the old west… we open on a widescreen panorama shot of a dry, dusty desert scene and a lone cowboy all in black, kicking his toe in the dirt. This music is as warm as the hot desert breeze, the guitar is as hard as gunmetal.


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