Dissecting Dragons: Episode 123: From the Deep - Mystery, Suspense and Sea Monsters in Historical Fantasy

June 22, 2018

Episode 123: From the Deep - Mystery, Suspense and Sea Monsters in Historical Fantasy

 

This week the dragons are delighted to welcome fellow fantasy writer, L.S. Johnson, who is the author of several books including the queer gothic romances, 'Harkworth Hall' and 'Leviathan'. Both the dragons and their guest take a look at what makes a mystery work from characterisation to suspense and tension. How do writers add aditional facets such as fantasy to mystery stories successfully? How do they know when to raise the stakes? Find out by joining us for this week's discussion. Under the microscope this time - Blackthorn and Grim by Juliet Marillier, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 122: Baby Doom - The Stork Visits in Speculative Fiction

June 15, 2018

Episode 122: Baby Doom - The Stork Visits in Speculative Fiction

 

A common plot device for female MCs, especially in fantasy, is for her to find herself pregant or, when a story arc is closed, make a happily ever after fixed and immutable by insisted the couple in question have children. The dragons have no issue with this per se but the problem is that many authors seem to through this in as shorthand or as a way of reviving a plot when they've got lost, and the characterisation often, if not always. suffers. This week Jules and Madeleine look at the strange case of the disappearing parent. On the slab this week - Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and many more.

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 121: If We Were Villains - What Shakespeare has to say to a Modern Audience

June 8, 2018

Episode 121: If We Were Villains - What Shakespeare has to say to a Modern Audience

 

It would be virtually impossible to be a fan of the written word and yet never to have come across the works of William Shakespeare. As well as craeting words and phrases that have been used in common vernacular so long that few people realise they are quoting the Bard when they say them, good old Will wrote some of the most compelling, weird, wonderful and emotionally intelligent plays in known literature. This week the dragons take a look at just why Shakespeare is still so relevant when many playwrights both before his time, contemporary to him and subsequent have faded into obscurity. What makes Shakespeare both accessible and relatable to a modern audience? Jules and Madeleine take a light hearted and by no means exhaustive, or even thourough, trip through the Complete Works. Join us for a discussion of our own experiences with the Bard.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 120: Bards, Troubadours and Skalds - The Musician Archetype in Speculative Fiction

June 1, 2018

Episode 120: Bards, Troubadours and Skalds - The Musician Archetype in Speculative Fiction

 

For fans of epic and high fantasy, the idea that there will nearly always be musician or bard character will come as no surprise. While not often the main character, no band of unlikely misfits is complete without a character who turns up for every quest toting a guitar, lyre, harp or  trombone. Such characters are disguised a little better in Sci-fi but they are still very much present - Gurney Halleck anyone? This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at exactly why the bard character is so ubiquitous. What is the purpose of the musician archetype and how does it feed into story telling? And just how strong is the relationship between music and politics? Taking examples from a wide range of myths, legends and other literary and films sources, the dragons set off to find out.

 

Title music: 'Ecstacy' by Smilin Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 119: Love Conquers All - Power Couples who destroyed the Story

May 25, 2018

Epiosde 119: Love Conquers All - Power Couples who destroyed the Story

 

Be warned: This Episode contains spoilers for both Sarah J, Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses series (especially A Court of Frost and Starlight). If you don't wish to be spoilified, it may be best to skip this one. 

 

The dragons have discussed the spec fic romantic subplot before. And the shipping of two characters. Let's face it we all want our ships to sail, don't we? But what if two characters getting together romantically is the absolute worst thing that could happen to a series? Narratives are driven by conflict. If you hope to write a six book series but the two MCs get together in book three, that conflict needs to come from somewhere else - and it had better have been set up in book two as a subplot! This week Jules and Madeleine look at favourite sff 'power couples' and where it worked for them to get together as opposed to where it spelled 'death' for the franchise. (There is some overly salty language from Jules here on the latest S.J. Maas novella so gird your loins.) Drawing from their own experience as writers, the dragons discuss how you can eat your cake and have it when it comes to resolving a romantic subplot, as well as the importance of retiring tier one characters to second or third tier in a series when it's time.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 118: You Fancy Me Mad - Renfield, Lear & Ophelia: Madness in Speculative Fiction

May 18, 2018

Episode 118: You Fancy Me Mad - Renfield, Lear and Ophelia: Madness in Speculative Fiction

 

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and as usual the dragons are coming at the subject from a slightly different angle. Fiction has - not to put it indelicately - misunderstood, misrepresented and often exploited mental illness. SFF authors Jules and Madeleine delve back into the origins of this rather toxic trope in gothic fiction. Just why was 'madness' such a popular component of the gothic novel? What was the relationship between madness and nature? And where did this chain of association begin? On the slab this week - Frankenstein - Mary Shelley. Dracual. Bram Stoker, The Moonstone and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte and of course, Edgar Allen Poe.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 117: Dinosaurs and Mega Cryptids - Man-made Monsters in Speculative Fiction

May 11, 2018

Episode 117: Dinosaurs and Mega Cryptids - Man-made Monsters in Speculative Fiction

 

The monster movie has held a certain amount of fond nostalgia for sff fans since the early advent of cinema. These creatures tend not to be direct correlations of creatures of myth, legend or history, and often embody both the capricious, phenominal power of nature, and the fatal curiosity of human kind. Obviously some of these films have aged slightly better than others! This week the dragons take a look at the origins of these creatures and how they feed our need to confront fear - even if only from a cosy armchair perspective. On the slab this week - Jurassic Park, King Kong, Alien, Jawsand many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 116: Cliches are Cliche for a Reason - Why Tropes aren’t bad, but Some Tropes need to Die

May 4, 2018

Episode 116: Cliches are Cliche for a Reason - Why Tropes aren't bad...but Some Tropes need to Die.

 

When writing for a target audience a writer will include and rework various tropes of the genre. There are only so man basic plots after all, so the freshness and originality of a story comes from how it's told. Contrary to certain opinions in the book review community, tropes aren't a bad thing - there's nothing wrong with giving your audience more of what thay want. However there are some tropes that continue and perpetuate a toxic stereotype of mindset when they are repeated in literature. And those tropes really need to be identified and stamped out. Looking at their own experiences in writing and taking examples from film, TV and books, the dragons attempt to untangle the worthy from  the unworthy in this weeks episode. On the slab this week Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Circle of Magic by Tamra Pearce, Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 115: Clothes Make the Man - Cross-dressing in Speculative Fiction

April 27, 2018

Episode 115: Clothes Make the Man - Cross-dressing in Speculative Fiction

 

Throughout history, there have been many documented cases of people donning the clothing of the opposite sex. The reasons for this are myriad and complex - wht would a cis-gendered person disguise themselves as another gender? Whether it's a woman dressing like a man to obtain a medical degree or a man dressing like a woman in order to escape violence, cross-dressing has been part of our history for thousands of years. Whether it's from the desire to create art and entertainment, or for necessity and freedom, the stories behind these cases are fascinating and have given rise to a sub genre of myth and speculative fiction. This week the dragons rummage through the dressing up box looking for answers. 

On the slab this week The Song of the Lioness - Tamora Pearce, Mulan, Robin Hood and the Bishop and many more.

 

(Please note that we are specifically talking about cis gendered people dressing in opoosition to their sex, not Trans people who are dressing to reflect who the are.)

 

Title music: Ecsyasy by Smiling Cynic

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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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