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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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 129: Marrying in Haste - Young Love in YA Speculative Fiction

August 3, 2018

Episode 129: Marrying in Haste - Young Love in YA Speculative Fiction

 

One of the most common tropes in YA fiction, is that of a first real romance. Even non-contemporary YA fiction or SFF YA fiction tends to have a romantic sub-plot. But what exactly are those plot strands saying about who you should be as a young adult? What myths are they continuing? And is it at the expense of providing better understanding? This week the dragons delve straight into that most ubiquitous of YA tropes, comparing the fiction with the reality. (Fair warning, this is probably Jules and Madeleine's rantiest episode yet and they do overshoot the normal episode length by about half an hour...)

On the slab this week Twilight - Stephanie Meyer, A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas, The Continent - Keira Drake and many more.

 

Title music - Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 128: Neat Little Monsters - The Animal Companion in Speculative Fiction

July 27, 2018

Episode 128: Neat Little Monsters - The Animal Companion in Speculative Fiction

 

It's peculiarity especially of speculative fiction, that there are often supporting characters who are animals in varying degrees of anthropomorphism in narrative terms. Everything from Disney to epic fntasy to space opera makes use of these (often not speaking) characters. So why is that? What are the advantages of the animal companion and how do they help to support the min character's arc? Where does this need for interspecieces connection come from? This week the dragons delve in to this phenomenon. On the slab Disney animated feature films, Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials, C.S. Lewis' Chronices of Narnia and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstacy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 127: Crime & Culpability - Should Characters get what they Really Deserve

July 20, 2018

Episode 127: Crime & Culpability - Should Characters get what they Really Deserve

Themes of crime, punishment, redemption and atonement are rife in speculative fiction, as is revenge. But are there some actions a character might perform that are actually unforgiveable? If characters don't get their comeuppence does that make the story less satisfying for the reader? An just where is the line between character wrong doing and being responsible as a writer for what you send out into the world? This week the dragons explore all of these issues and more. On the slab this week; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge - Lisa Jensen, The Harmatia Cycle, Unveiled and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 126: The Slow Death of Literature - What Readers Really Want

July 13, 2018

Episode 126: The Slow Death of Literature - What Readers Really Want

 

As avid readers and bibliophiles, Madeleine and Jules will pretty much tackle anything, no questions asked. As writers however, and especially as SFF writers, they all too often run aground against the literary merit debate. Said debate is that true literature which is worth reading should be hard, it should require effort to read and digest. Ultimately, literary fiction is more worthwhile than genre fiction. This week the dragons delve into the origins of this argument - where did literary fiction originate as a term? What is the genre divide? Who decides which is which? - as well as taking a look at the roots of the history of the novel and side trip through the disreputable origins of SFF, before confronting their own prejudices and snobberies over types of fiction. On the slab this week - The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell, The Book of Strange New Things - Michell Faber, The Night Circus - Erin Morgernstern, When the Moon was Ours - Anna-Marie McLemore and Sing Unburied Sing - Jesmyn Ward.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic 

 

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