Dissecting Dragons
Dissecting Dragons: Episode 170: Maps, Footnotes and Dedications - When Authors go the Extra Mile

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 170: Maps, Footnotes and Dedications - When Authors go the Extra Mile

May 17, 2019

Episode 170: Maps, Footnotes and Dedications - When Authors go the Extra Mile

 

It occurred to Jules and Madeleine that while they talk about books a lot, they've never discussed the book as a physical object, and many books are works of art even before you delve into the contents. To rectify this shortfall, this week the dragons will be looking at what makes a book art as well as all the little extras and supplementary materials many authors give their readers. From footnotes to character lists to pronunciation guides and special editions, this episode is about the ways that author's connect with their readers and make their books stand out.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 169: Sly, Cunning and Cuddly - Fantastic Foxes in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 169: Sly, Cunning and Cuddly - Fantastic Foxes in Speculative Fiction

May 10, 2019

Episode 169: Sly, Cunning and Cuddly - Fantastic Foxes in Speculative Fiction

 

Whether you think of them as sneaky pests or as an endearing feature of British (and European) wildlife, the red fox has an interesting history as a character in folklore. Foxes in general crop up in folklore, folk songs, myths and legends all over the world, and this in turn has fed into our speculative fiction, almost without us realising it. Foxes form part of the trickster archetype, making them both likeable and somewhat sinister. This week the dragons look at the Fox in folklore and speculative fiction. From Reynadine to the kitsune, from Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox to Disney's Nick Wilde, we've got you covered.

 

Title Music; Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 168: Woke is My Brand - The Trouble with Toxic Twitter

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 168: Woke is My Brand - The Trouble with Toxic Twitter

May 3, 2019

Episode 168: Woke is My Brand - The Trouble with Toxic Twitter

 

Social media has been a god send for so many people for a variety of different reasons - finding community, discovering support and aid, learning new skills, business and marketing. We can access audiences now that we didn't have a hope of reaching without serious publishing clout behind us twenty years ago. The flip side is that anyone can reach pretty much anyone, and there is no clear set of rules or laws or even customs that govern behaviour. Removing physical face to face and vocal interactions from the equation can lead to the worst aspects of human nature being put on display. And then there's the reading and writing community - dynamic, engaged, progressive...and occasionally prone to completely jumping the shark without always fact checking. This week the dragons swim in some very murky waters indeed as they puzzle out what for them are the really problematic aspects of social media engagement in the reading and writing community, and how we can all do something to make this a better place to interact. As writers, Jules and Madeleine are looking specifically through that lense and specifically at Twitter but much of what they discuss can apply to other circumstances on other platforms too.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 167: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Anthropomorphic Animals in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 167: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Anthropomorphic Animals in Speculative Fiction

April 26, 2019

Episode 167: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Anthropomorphic Animals in Speculative Fiction

 

Animal MCs are a genre all of their own. These books exist for both children and adults, and never really go out of fashion in the SFF community. In these narratives if humans play a role at all, it is a marginal one and they do not provide the main conflict for the story, which is always between the animal characters themselves. This week Jules and Madeleine delve into the world of animal protagonists. What makes these stories so enduring? Why are animal MCs linked so often with political or religious satire in fiction? And what are the advantages of using anthropomorphised animals as main characters? 

On the slab this week - The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham, The Deptford Mice by Robin Jarvis, Redwall by Brian Jacques and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 166: The Problem of Susan - Wayward Children in Fantasy Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 166: The Problem of Susan - Wayward Children in Fantasy Fiction

April 19, 2019

Episode 166: The Problem of Susan - Wayward Children in Fantasy Fiction

 

Who doesn't love, or at the very least grow up with, children's fantasy whereby a young protagonist was spirited away to another world? There are many examples of this type of fiction and the narrative is almost always one of the protagonist both helping with the problems of that other world but also getting back to their own world. As enchanting as many of these pieces of fiction are, there is a troubling subtext, especially in the older examples and especially in regards to female characters. This week the dragons take a look at these lost children who get found, and what that entails for both character development and potentially sending a message the author may not have intended. On the slap this week - The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 165: What We Really Want - The Tropes We Love in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 165: What We Really Want - The Tropes We Love in Speculative Fiction

April 12, 2019

Episode 165: What We Really Want - The Tropes We Love in Speculative Fiction

 

The Dragons have always maintained that tropes are not bad in and of themselves, generally it's only how a trope is used that causes problems or makes a piece of Speculative Fiction cliche. They've also talked previously about how, despite this, there are some tropes which are harmful and need to die a fiery death. This week, Jules and Madeleine take a look at their personal favourite tropes - some of which are pretty bizarre and specific. Drawing on examples from film, TV and books, and running the gamut from fainting fevers to marriages of convenience, the dragons have got you covered. Tune in for a light hearted episode that will probably explain much about their own work.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 164: The Language of Flowers - Botanical Folklore in Myth and Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 164: The Language of Flowers - Botanical Folklore in Myth and Speculative Fiction

April 5, 2019

Episode 164: The Language of Flowers - Botanical Folklore in Myth and Speculative Fiction

 

Myth and folklore from all kinds of cultures and pantheons around the world, all contain stories about flowers and plants that are either imbued with strange and eldritch properties, or which have special religious or anthropomorphic significance. Greek myth, for example, is full of stories of people being turned into plants. European folksong, on the other hand, often contains a secondary or tertiary meaning if you look at the plants casually mentioned in the song. This week the dragons seek to decode a few of these myths and folksongs, looking at the surprising, poetic and often sinister language of flowers. On the slab this week - The Mabinogion's Tengedau of Arianrhod and the tale of Bloudewedd, the story of Krocus, Apollo and Hyacinth, Scarborough Fair and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 163: Into the Woods - Mythical, Magical and Malicious Forests in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 163: Into the Woods - Mythical, Magical and Malicious Forests in Speculative Fiction

March 29, 2019

Episode 163: Into the Woods - Mythical, Magical and Malicious Forests in Speculative Fiction

 

Woods and forests are almost ubiquitous in fantasy novels, especially High Fantasy or Epic Fantasy. The forest as a conscious entity is an archetype in its own right, especially in Western type settings - understandably so since much of Europe and the UK was once forest. So where does this fascination with the forest come from in the modern day? How has it filtered its way into modern speculative fiction? This week the dragons go into the woods to find out. Under the microscope this week - Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones, Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien, Once Upon a Time and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 162: Bring Out Your Dead - Sickness and Pandemics in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 162: Bring Out Your Dead - Sickness and Pandemics in Speculative Fiction

March 29, 2019

Episode 162: Bring Out Your Dead - Sickness and Pandemics in Speculative Fiction

 

Sweeping pandemics turn up often in fantasy and sci-fi, whether they form part of the back drop or the main thrust of the plot. There is something about a plague that captures the imagination and short cuts our survival circuits in a way that other natural disasters - Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanic eruptions - just doesn't touch. So what is it about a good pandemic that grips us? From post apocalyptic fiction discussing the dual nature of morality, such as Stephen King's The Stand or Kirkman, Moore and Adlard's The Walking Dead, to epic fantasy looking at the creation of anti heroes, such as Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series or Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis, a deadly plague hits our deepest fears where other acts of god just don't reach. This week the dragons take a tour through pandemics in speculative fiction, starting with the history and epidemiology of The Black Death and The Great Plague in Europe, following the scars that exist on our racial memories even today and following the trail to its conclusion in SFF. A wild ride and not for the squeamish!

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 161: That’s not Historically Accurate - the Fallacy of Fantasy Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 161: That’s not Historically Accurate - the Fallacy of Fantasy Fiction

March 22, 2019

Episode 161: That's not Historically Accurate - the Fallacy of Fantasy Fiction

 

Fantasy writers - especially those who write high or epic fantasy - often draw from history in both events and setting. There are lots of good reasons for doing this, not the least of which is achieving a willing suspension of disbelief in the reader by presenting them with something vaguely familiar without bombarding them with world building info. However, this can be a double edged sword in terms of breaking new ground when delivering fantasy novels. How many times have authors of fantasy been hit with the protest 'but that's not historically accurate?' Certainly Jules and Madeleine have both had it levelled at them! In this episode, the dragons look at why that protest is not only of very limited value when applied to fantasy, it's also full of unintentional sophistry. Drawing on popular examples such as Game of Thrones, Jules and Madeleine deconstruct just why it's unhelpful to expect historical accuracy from fantasy fiction. Join us for a lively discussion.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic