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 527 - Evil superheroes unneeded

Apr 19, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Evil superheroes are a stupid fad, that's my contention. My opinion. They've been around for a long time but now they're so popular it's becoming a bit of a fad and might turn into its own genre. I suppose Marvel and others have saturated the superhero market so to stay relevant other companies are doing “twists” on that traditional genre, hence the evil superheroes.

Episode 526 A return to Mary Sue!

Apr 12, 2021

5 likes, 3 comments

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.

Episode 520 - Fans!

Mar 1, 2021

3 likes, 1 comment

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?

Episode 518 - Gina Carano, no more right to bare arms!

Feb 15, 2021

5 likes, 2 comments

Gina Carano who plays Cara Dune in the excellent Star Wars franchise Mandalorian has been fired, as we all know by now… It's a great series, really one of the best incarnations of Star Wars since the original trilogy, and Cara's character was pretty cool. Though I personally didn't really like her lunk-head costume- Fully dressed characters in SciFi with bare biceps always look stupid to me for some reason. Doesn't matter if they're men, women, anthros etc, it's just ugly, especially when they're wearing armour. UGH! Be that as it may Gina said some pretty silly things on social media, and kept saying them after she got in trouble for it aaaaaand then Disney booted her.

Episode 510 - STUFF WE SPEND OUT MONEY ON

Dec 21, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

This is the time of year you typically spend your money on other people… but we wanted to talk about what we spend our money on when we're spending on ourselves and indulging our own passions… just because this is the time of year we can digress and get a bit less serious about things. I talk about my passion for collection unusual vintage hats and antique sabres from the Napoleonic era and on. Tantz talks about her vintage 1940s era newspapers and the history behind them. Pitface talks about her stainglass window skills and her warhammer figures. Banes gives us the lowdown on the amazing muppet band playsets and figures he collected!

Episode 509 - Saltcast

Dec 13, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

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.

Episode 508 - Fan Service

Dec 6, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

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?


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