Dissecting Dragons: Episode 70: They Shall take up Serpents - Religious Cults in Speculative Fiction

June 9, 2017

Episode 70: They Shall take up Serpents - Religious Cults in Speculative Fiction

 

This week the dragons are pleased to welcome back fellow author, Amelia McKenzie, as they delve into the shadowy and often disturbing world of cults. What exactly is a cult? How do they opperate? And just how is this reflected in speculative fiction? (Hint; it actually comes up in Spec Fic far more than you'd expect!) Fiction usually represents the time it is produced in, so what does current fiction - especially current YA fantasy and sci-fi - say about the cult of self and of today's society?  On the slab this week; Samarai Jack, The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid and The Last Battle by C.S.Lewis. 

 

Title music: 'Ecstasy' - Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Ep 69: When you say Nothing at all - Sparkling Dialogue in Speculative Fiction

June 2, 2017

Episode 69: When you say Nothing at all - Sparkling Dialogue in Speculative Fiction

 

Dialogue forms a vital part of any narrative, breathing life into chracters, giving them distinctive voices and furthering the advance of the plot in books, stage and screen. So how do you go about writing it? What should you be looking for? What makes good dialogue and wht are the definite no-nos? This week the dragons delve into the art of conversation, examining examples from Joss Whedon, Good Will Hunting and more.

 

Title Music - 'Ecstasy' by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 68: Cautionary Tunes - The Fantasy & History behind Folksongs & Nursery Rhymes

May 26, 2017

Episode 68: Cautionary Tunes - The Fantasy & History behind Folksongs & Nursery Rhymes

 

Folksongs and Nursery Rhymes were doing speculative fiction before it even had a name, but what lies behind the seemingly banal and nice lyrics? This week SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside take a look at where folksongs and rhymes really come from. Examining a wide selection of both from Baa Baa Black Sheep to Doctor Foster, from Cam Ye O'er frae France to Scarborough Fair, you might be surprised at the historical, explicit and often political messages hiding in apparently innocent songs.

 

Title music: 'Ecstasy' by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 67: That Ship has Sailed - Happy Endings, Fan Service & the Appropriate Finale

May 19, 2017

Episode 67: That Ship has Sailed - Happy Endings, Fan Service & the Appropriate Finale

 

The clue is in the title - this episode will include spoilers!

 

In a previous episode, the dragons examined what made the endings of books and films disappointing. This week they'll be taking a look at Happy Endings and discussing where they are and are not appropriate. In other words, does the ending pay off? Or did there need to be more bitterness to balance out all that saccharine stuff? On the slab this week A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, The Last Unicorn by Peter S, Beagle, The Oaken Throne by Robin Jarvis, The High Lord by Trudi Canavan, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and many more.

 

Title music: 'Ecstasy' by Smiling Cynic

 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 66: Strange Familiarity - the Uncanny in Speculative Fiction

May 12, 2017

Episode 66: Strange Familiarity - the Uncanny in Speculative Fiction

 

From fairytales to mystery novels, the uncanny underpins a lot of suspense in speculative fiction. But what do we mean when we describe something as 'uncanny'? This week SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside delve into how a subtle change in the expected parameters of a narrative can create an underlying sense of tension and creepiness. On the slab this week Fortitude, The Twilight Zone, Jim Hensen's The Storyteller and a whole range of eerie Celtic fairytales. Join us for an episode dedicated to unravelling the 'otherness' of speculative fiction.

 

Title music: 'Ecstasy' by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 65: The Strange Case of Professor Lupin - the Subversive Power of Speculative Fiction

May 5, 2017

Episode 65: The Strange Case of Professor Lupin - the Subversive Power of Speculative Fiction

 

Speculative fiction has long been the home of those who seek to challenge societal norms and values - both as readers and as writers. Fiction - books especially - has the power to shift our perspectives and shape how we think. This week the dragons explore when this is generally good or occasionally bad, as well as looking at what readers now demand in terms of representation as well as when a representative example has come back to bite the unsuspecting author. Using examples such as Dumbledore and Professor Lupin, the X-men, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence and many others, SFF authors J.A.Ironside and M.E.Vaughn examine how speculative fiction can help us cross the divides.

 

Title music: 'Ecstasy' by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 64: Rogues, Renegades and Robin Hood - Our Favourite Outlaws in Speculative Fiction

April 28, 2017

Episode 63: Rogues, Renegades and Robin Hood - Our Favourite Outlaws in Speculative Fiction

 

This week SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside delve into the origins of one of the most enduring archetypes - the lovable rogue. Using Robin Hood as the prime example, the dragons examine the possible origins of the archetype and how reinterpretation inline with the historical events of times shifted the perspective from 'Jack-in-the-Green' to Robin Goodfellow to Robert of Lockesley aka Robin Hood. While virtually impossibe now to divide the possible existence of the historical figure - if any - from the legend that surrounds him, the staying power of the archetype is phenomenal. On the slab this week we have various Robin Hoods from a selection of adaptations - Kevin Costner to Cary Ewles, Errol Flynn to Michael Praed. As well as Robin Hood equivalents such as William Tell, Robert Roy McGreggor and Sir Walter Raleigh. Tune in for an exciting discussion on Robin Hood type characters from both history and folklore.

 

Title Music: 'Ecstasy' by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 63: Mentors, Wizards and Wise Women - Portrayals of the Elderly in Speculative Fiction

April 21, 2017

Episode 63: Mentors, Wizards and Wise Women - Portrayals of the Elderly in Speculative Fiction

 

Elderly characters often get side lined or suffer from being less developed with less satisfying story arcs in fiction. As mentors, they are often given one function and then quietly killed off. This week the dragons take a look at why this so often happens before going on to examine what makes an older character work and why you might want to write one, even in children's or YA fiction. On the slab this week Robin Jarvis' The Whitby Witches, Sauraman and Gandalf, and Marvel's Logan.

 

Title music: 'Ecstasy' by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 62: Occult Detectives - Urban Fantasy and Mystery

April 14, 2017

Episode 62: Occult Detectives - Urban Fantasy and Mystery

 

This week the dragons go undercover to examine the urban fantasy genre and its special relationship with mystery and detectives. From Wizard PIs to rogue demon hunters, vampires adjusting to modern living to wise-cracking humans trying to outrun the supernatural, urban fantasy has it all. What makes urban fantasy so compelling? More popular even than its cousins epic and high fantasy. On the slab this week Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, Supernatural and many more. Stay tuned for sneak previews of J.A.Ironside's and M.E.Vaughan's future projects.

Specal shout out to Occult Detective Quarterly  , a great ezine of urban fantasy featuring the kind of characters discussed in this episode.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 61: Lords of Misrule - Tricksters, Con-artists and Grifters

April 7, 2017

Episode 61: Lords of Misrule - Tricksters, Con-artists and Grifters in

Speculative Fiction

 

Another April Fool's day has come and gone, and the dragons are feeling pretty confident that no one got one over on them (that they know about) this year. Delving into the origins of 'the Feast of Fools' and looking at traditions here in the the West, SFF authors examine why the 'trickster' character is so beloved in all forms of speculative fiction. From Nordic to Welsh myth, from Poisson d'Avril to Running the Gowk, this episode is a celebration of silliness and laughter, and an examination of the question: do we make fools of ourselves by holding onto our own dearly cherished vanities and follies? Or does that just make it really easy for a trickster to fool us?

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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