Dissecting Dragons: Episode 139: That is Illogical - Murderous, Wacky and Wise-cracking AI in Speculative Fiction

October 19, 2018

Episode 139: That is Illogical - Murderous, Wacky and Wise-cracking AI in Speculative Fiction

 

One of the staples of sci-fi - especially space opera - is the long suffering android or robot character. Later sci-fi presents these characters as less than the loyal created retainers they appeared to be in early sci-fi and more resentful, scheming or wise-cracking sidekicks. This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at the changing face of AI in speculative fiction. Making the list this week - Westworld, The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and many more. 

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 138: Streetwalkers, Courtesans and Companions - The World’s Oldest Profession in Speculative Fiction

October 12, 2018

Episode 138: Streetwalkers, Courtesans and Companions - The World's Oldest Profession in Speculative Fiction

 

Many sci-fi and fantasy worlds have incorporated their version of the sex industry into their world building. From the highly sought and exquisite companion to the lowly street walker trying to scape enough credits together to get off world, prostitution is rife in SFF. So is this a good thing, reclaiming sex and sex positivity? Is it exploitative, perpetuating bad steriotypes and encoraging a mindset of permissiveness toward the ill treatment of sex workers? Or is it merely a snapshot of life and human nature, falling into neither the positive or negative? This week the dragons delve into the sometimes seedy world of the SFF sex industry. On the slab this week - Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey, Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Firefly, The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora pierce and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 137: This Year’s God - The Human Need for Archetypes

October 5, 2018

 Episode 137: This Year's God - The Human Need for Archetypes

 

Carl Jung identified twelve basic archetypes that humans both engage with and ressonate with on a personal level because they find parts of hemselves reflected there. In reality, we have been engaging with archetypes long before Jung ever put a name to the phenomenon and this is reflected in our cultures, in our heroic myths and legends, in our histories and leaderships and ruling classes, in our art and literature, in our religions, and, most especially today, in our celebrity culture. What is it about archetypes and the personification of archetypes in figures of power and influence that draws us to them? How does this feed into writing? Or into the 'heroes' we choose to worship today? This week, the dragons delve down the rabbit hole of the human unconscious and attempt to find out.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 136: Remus Werewolf McWerewolf Lupin - The Importance of Character Names in Speculative Fiction

September 28, 2018

Episode 136: Remus Werewolf McWerewolf Lupin - The Importance of Character Names in Speculative Fiction

 

Many authors can and do have a lot of fun with their characters' names when writing. But is there any purpose behind this other than amusement for the author? SFF writers Jules and Madeleine consider the question, delving into works by authors who have used character names (and other references) to obscurely or obviously signal secondary and tertiary layers of theme in their books. From the outlandish and clearly apparent characters of Roald Dahl to the tongue in cheek but clearly accessible references of J.K.Rowling, to the careful minature work of Jane Austen and the subtler effect of phonic devices found in modern sci-fi and fantasy, the dragons look at 'what's in a name?' 

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Ep 135: Grimalkin, Mogget and Mr Kindly - Cats in Speculative Fiction

September 14, 2018

Ep 135: Grimalkin, Mogget and Mr Kindly - Cats in Speculative Fiction

 

There is possibly no animal so ubiquitous both in fiction and in real life as the domestic cat. (The term domestic is used with a large pinch of salt!) Popular pets, affectionate companions, independent hunters and cunning predators, the common moggy has traded little of its wildness in exchange for a comfortable home and regular meals - and it still carries an aura of mystery. This week the dragons look at the cat in myth and legend, in their personal experiences and in how the creature slinks into fiction. On the slab this week: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, Abhorsen by Garth Nix and Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat by Ursula Williams, and many more. Join us for a purr-fect episode.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 134: Love Ladies Lost! Revisiting Arthurian Legend

September 7, 2018

Episode 134: Love Ladies Lost! Revisiting Arthurian Legend

 

In the past, the dragons have looked at the magical system in Arthurian myth and legend. This week Maddeleine and Jules revisit the topic with the aim of extricating the female characters, who over the centuries have been depowered and buried under layers of reinterpretation of the stories. Drawing on the Celtic and pre-Celtic cycles, Irish, Welsh, Bretton and Scottish myth, the romances of the Middle Ages and the more recent retellings of the 18t and 19th centuries, the dragons give you the women who often formed the back bone of the story. These women are not lily-maids personifying purity and courtly ideals, nor are they witches and whores bent on mischief. In the end, the female characters are flawed but interesing humans who influence the narrative every bit as much as their male counterparts. Join us for a dissection of Arthurian myth.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 133: Every Hero Needs a Sam - The Unlikely Best Friend in Speculative Fiction

August 31, 2018

Episode 133:Every Hero Needs a Sam - The Unlikely Best Friend in Speculative Fiction

 

In previous episodes, the dragons have looked at various aspects of friendship. We've examined the cheeky boy wonder, the wise cracking sidekick and the sarcastic best friend. But what about all those friendships that start in an unpromising way? What about the unpreposessing, apparently untalented, unskilled potential companions that the hero starts off just feeling sorry with? Jule and Madeleine look at the 'Samwise Gamgees' of speculative fiction, examining how and why this archetype became popular, and how it's adapted or betrayed today. On the slab this week: The Gentleman Bastard sequence by Scott Lynch, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and many more. Join us for a discussion on the unlikely best friend.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic.

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 132: Stranger than Fiction - the Weird and Wonderful World of Writing

August 24, 2018

Episode 132: Stranger than Fiction - the Weird and Wonderful World of Writing

 

The writing world can be very small - various writers and agents and editors and publishers have often heard of each other for instance. The writing world can often be very weird, however. This week the dragons are taking a break from examining speculative fiction to discuss some of the weirdest, funniest and most troubling occurrences in writing and publishing during the last six months. From copyright theft to trademarking, from unusual bookish merchandise to approaching an agent, Jules and Madeleine draw on their personal experiences and on those of other writers and readers for an episode you have to laugh at. (With a few very serious issues at its core.) Join us for the stranger side of writing.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 131: Hobbit Holes, Burrows and Secret Lairs - the Concept of Home in Speculative Fiction

August 17, 2018

Episode 131: Hobbit Holes, Burrows and Secret Lairs - the Concept of Home in Speculative Fiction

 

Whether it's a tent in a corner of a field or a sprawling marble palace overlooking a lush valley, a home is a basic requirement for all creatures and therefore for all characters too. This week the dragons delve into what exactly home is both as a concept and as prevalent theme in fiction. Conversely what does homelessness mean both to individuals and huge groups of people? How does it affect how we are treated and how we think of ourselves? Join Jules and Madeleine to find out. Under the microscope this week - Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke, Louise Lawrence's Llandor trilogy and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 130: Masked Marauders - Double Lives and Secret Identities in Speculative Fiction

August 10, 2018

Episode 130: Masked Marauders - Double Lives and Secret Identities in Speculative Fiction

 

This week the dragons look at the enduring trope of the secret identity. Beloved by fans and writers of superhero stories, paranormal fiction and spy thrillers, the secret identity is almost a given for any mystery-adventure story. But what is it that makes the trpe so appealing? Jules and Madeleine examine how conflict is neatly created for the character forced or required to live a double life and lie to those they care about in order to protect them. On the slab this week Superman - and a plethora of other super heroes from both DC and Marvel universes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cult classic 80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms and many more. Join the dragons as they unmask the appeal of the double life in speculative fiction.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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