Dissecting Dragons: Episode 114: Queer Eye for the Straight Story - Reading Speculative Fiction through a Queer Filter

April 20, 2018

Episode 114: Queer Eye for the Straight Story - Reading Speculative Fiction through a Queer Filter

 

While diversity representation is slowly becoming more balanced in books, film and TV, the scales still tilt firmly towards a straight, white, cis-gendered, heterosexual and usually male default. This creates an expectation that all stories will default to this default setting which everyone to some degree ingests on a subconscious level. This week the dragons try an exercise whereby they deviate from the default and read fiction as though the standard is for a character to be 'queer' or non-cis gendered and non heterosexual, before exploring how shifting the default can enhance both reading experience and real worl perception. On the slab this week - The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch, Moby Dick - Hermann Melville, Dracula - Bram Stoker, The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 113: Decoy Ducks & Red Herrings - Sayings, Urban Legends and Aphorisms

April 13, 2018

Episode 113: Decoy Ducks and Red Herrings - Sayings, Urban Legends and Aphorisms

 

Language is a peculiar beast. We invent words for everything and then combine them in odd ways to describe circumstances. If language is odd then metaphor and simile is even odder. This week the dragons look at some of the most peculiar sayings and proverbs in English (with a fair smattering of French and Irish ones too.) Part of cracking the ability to write dialogue is understanding the mind set of a character and when or if they might use a particular saying. Jules and Madeleine also discuss creting your own sayings for dialogue in speculative fiction. Buckle in for some very peculiar proverb origin stories...

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 112: Spies, Traitors & Turncoats - Informants in Speculative Fiction

April 6, 2018

Episode 112: Spies, Traitors & Turncoats - Informants in Speculative Fiction

 

Spy thrillers provide some of the most twisting and suspenceful plots imaginable and it's not unusual to have a spy or traitor character in other settings. This week the dragons delve into the morally ambiguous world of spycraft, citing their own favourite examples in speculative fiction. On the slab this week Trickster's Choice - Tamora Pearce, Alias, The Night Manager, Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 111: Larger than Life - The Fictional World of Giants

March 30, 2018

Episode 111: Larger than Life - The Fictional World of Giants

 

Giants are some ways, one of the stranger mythological creatures, ubiquitous in almost all cultures as dragons and mermaids, but varying greatly in characteristics. Were their origins buried in history in cultural clashes? Are they metaphorical for natural cataclysms or people who possessed what seemed more than human ability? What is their lingering hold on our subconscious as archetypes? Tune in this week as the dragons delve into these mysteries. From Jack and the Beanstalk to Balor of the Fearsome Eye, giants have had an enormous foothold in our collective imaginations for some time.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 110: Saying What You Really Mean - The Importance of Theme in Speculative Fiction

March 23, 2018

Episode 110: Saying What You Really Mean - The Importance of Theme in Speculative Fiction

 

Spoiler Warning: We discuss Star Wars - The Last Jedi

 

Theme is one of those elusive things that experinced writers tell you you must have or at least be aware of, but that no one can really tell you how to do. Even if you have a really strong grasp on your theme, it can get away from you and deliver a message you didn't intend. Add to that themes can become out dated over time. So why is theme important? Why should you be mindful about what you're really saying with your book? This week the dragons delve into these questions using the Star Wars saga (films rather than expanded universe) to examine examples of theme - where it works, where it's a bit cringeworthy and how The Last Jedi has subverted and updated all these ideas.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 109: Into the East - Fantasy Settings Tolkien Never Used

March 16, 2018

Episode 109: Into the East - Fantasy Settings Tolkien Never Used

 

For most of us the word 'fantasy' conjures up a rugged, natural landscape with a more historical seeming setting (usually medieval) and possibly Alpine mountain ranges in the back ground. This is certainly one fantasy setting and thanks to the Grandfather of the fantasy genre, J.R.R.Tolkien, it's often the default setting. This week the dragons delve into fantasy worlds set elsewhere than the Western world. Exploring the questions of diversity and race in conjunction with setting and discussing what exactly makes a good fantasy setting, Madeleine and Jules talk about some of their favourite non-European set fantasy books. On the docket this week - Across the Nightingale Floor- Lian Hearne, Marvel's Black Panther, Shadows on the Moon - Zoe Marriott and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 108: It Must be the Weather - How Nature Reflects Art in Speculative Fiction

March 9, 2018

Episode 108: It Must be the Weather - How Nature Reflects Art in Speculative Fiction

 

Writers use various literary devices as shorthand - a way of saying as much as possible and building chains of association withou resorting to lengthly passages of unnecessary descriptive prose. One of these much used but largely undiscussed devices is the weather. This week the dragons delve in to scene setting using the natural worl, the weather and the seasons. From the fairy tale of Snow White to Disney's Frozen, from tornados in Stephen King's The Stand to mists, fogs and rain, Madeleine and Jules have got it covered on how to add an extra dimention and emotional depth to a scene using that most British of small talk topics - the weather.

 

Tite music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 107: The Balance of Power - Sexism and Sexual Harassment in the Publishing Industry

March 2, 2018

Episode 107: The Balance of Power - Sexism and sexual Harassment in the Publishing Industry

 

In the wake of campaigns such a #MeToo more and more industries are looking to their own ranks in a re-examination of how well they all navigate such murky waters. Recently Ann Ursu published the results of a survey on sexual harassment in children's publishing. The results were shocking, leading to the School Libraries Journal to publish a list of alledged offenders. Neither the survey nor the list make easy reading but the conversation is an important one and this week the dragons are joining it. From the SLJ list itself to general sexism in publishing, particularly speculative fiction, M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside present their viewpoint.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 106: Kali-ma, Inanna & Anath - The Creator-Destroyer in Myth and Speculative Fiction

February 23, 2018

Episode 106: Kali-ma, Inanna & Anath - The Creator-Destroyer in Myth and Speculative Fiction

 

This week the dragons delve back into the mists of time to unearth the archeype of the primorial earth goddess. Don't be decieved because these goddesses are depicted with sheaves of corn that they are all about fertility and free love - they really aren't. From the Semetic Goddess Anath to the Hindu Kali, from Sekhmet, goddess of slaughter and medicine and war to Ceridwyn, Welsh godess of poetry, wisdom and retribution, these are the great destroyers and their myths are often bloodier than that of their male counterparts. Looking at how these drak goddesses are enjoying a resurgence due in part to works such as Naomi Alderman's The Power, SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside talk about their favourite creator-destroyers.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 105: The Book Hangover - Fictional Worlds that won’t Let You Go

February 16, 2018

Episode 105: The Book Hangover - Fictional Worlds that won't Let you Go

Anniversary Episode!

Available for download now from Itunes, Googleplay and Podbean

Join the dragons as they celebrate their 2 year anniversary. This week SFF authors Jules and Madeleine take a look at an affliction suffered at some point by all lovers of speculative fiction - the book hangover. What happens when you love a book or film so much that you just can't entirely emerge from that world and deal with reality? Drawing on personal experience of both consumiung and creating speculative fiction, the dragons tackle the problem with their usual wit and incisiveness. On the slab this week Avatar, The Dresden Files, Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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