Dissecting Dragons
Dissecting Dragons: Episode 178: Of Course, This Means War - Narrative Conflict in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 178: Of Course, This Means War - Narrative Conflict in Speculative Fiction

July 12, 2019

Episode 178: Of Course, This Means War - Narrative Conflict in Speculative Fiction

 

Most of us would prefer a quiet life with little in the way of quarrels, fights and arguments. While it might be desirable in real life, this is the complete opposite of what your novel should be like! Narrative conflict drives the plot and keeps the reader or viewer interested. But what exactly do we mean by narrative conflict? This week Jules and Madeleine discuss how you can introduce conflict into your work as well as looking at the different types of conflict you may wish to include. On the slab this week the Unveiled series, the Harmatia Cycle and many more. 

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 177: Of Good and Evil - Depictions of Morality in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 177: Of Good and Evil - Depictions of Morality in Speculative Fiction

July 5, 2019

Episode 177: Of Good and Evil - Depictions of Morality in Speculative Fiction

 

This week, the dragons disappear down a philosophical rabbit hole as they chase a workable definition of morality and ethics. SFF has long concerned itself with big questions such as good and evil, or whether relativism or emotivism or some other construct is best for day to day existence. This is never more true than when the authors of such books manage to combine the grittiness of such puzzles with humour. So how exactly is morality depicted in speculative fiction? What makes it work, or not? Join Jules and Madeleine as they take a jaunt through moral philosophy and a side trip through DnD alignment theory. On the slab this week - John Milton's Paradise Lost, Netflix series The Good Place, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and, of course, Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 176: Fact vs Fiction - Blending the Real with the Fantastical in Historical Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 176: Fact vs Fiction - Blending the Real with the Fantastical in Historical Fiction

June 28, 2019

Episode 176: Fact vs Fiction - Blending the Real with the Fantastical in Historical Fiction

 

In many ways, good historical fiction ticks a lot of the boxes of good SFF. Readers become invested in richly imagined worlds which are unfamiliar enough to escapism but contain the seeds of their own experiences. Historical fiction also offers a number of other attractive benefits. This week, Jules and Madeleine take a look at what draws both readers and writers to hist fic. How can you make time periods that might as well be set on other worlds because they are so different to modern times, both authentic and accessible to modern audiences? How can you blend in meticulous research without info dumping? And how do you mingle historical fact with fantasy elements to enter one of the historical fiction sub genres? Drawing on their own work as well as examples by Phillipa Gregory, Hilary Mantel and Juliet Marillier, the dragons will lead you down the rabbit hole and back in time in this week's episode.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 175: Winter is Here - End of Thrones

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 175: Winter is Here - End of Thrones

June 21, 2019

Episode 175: Winter is Here - End of Thrones

 

SPOILER ALERT!

 

This week the dragons are taking a long hard look at the HBO series of George R R Martin's magnum opus, A Song of Ice and Fire, adapted as Game of Thrones. Following the character arcs of all those characters who made it as far as season eight, Jules and Madeleine will be starting with the final episode and working back. Did GoT deliver in it's final season? Which characters got the arc conclusion they deserved and which characters were short changed? What were the show's strong points and flaws? This is a lively discussion and a mammoth episode (1.5hrs), so if you are all caught up on the series, tune in to hear the dragons' thoughts.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons:Episode 174: We All Deserve to Die - Killing Off Characters the Right Way in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons:Episode 174: We All Deserve to Die - Killing Off Characters the Right Way in Speculative Fiction

June 14, 2019

Episode 174: We All Deserve to Die - Killing Off Characters the Right Way in Speculative Fiction

 

Every SFF author at some point has to entertain the possibility of killing a character, even if the 'death' is not an actual death but a ritual death which removes a character from the narrative. It can be hard, especially if it's a character you're really fond of. It's also a delicate balancing act between making your reader feel something (sorrow, rage, elation - for a hated villain) and yet making the death fit the narrative in a way that the reader does not feel cheated. This week Jules and Madeleine look at how to kill off a character the right way - and what to avoid doing at all costs! On the slab this week Allegiant by Veronica Roth, The Book Thief by Mark Zusak, A Court of Wings and Ruin by S J Mass and many more.

(Please bear in mind that this episode will contain spoilers for the books and films discussed.)

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

 

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 173: Endgame - The Legacy of the MCU

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 173: Endgame - The Legacy of the MCU

June 6, 2019

Episode 173: Endgame - The Legacy of the MCU

 

SPOILER ALERT!

 

For over a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been catering to our superhero movie cravings, resulting in a huge, expanded universe, 21 interlinking films, multiple povs on the same universe and some of the cinematic high points of the last ten years. The recent release of Endgame has seen the passing of the torch in many ways. Whatever you think of the MCU, and there are probably few people with unmixed feelings, it has to be acknowledged that turning out 21 films in various styles of the genre without ever breaking the streak that these are all highly character driven pieces, and then fitting them all together is a huge achievement. The week, Jules and Madeleine start with Endgame and look back via character arcs at the journeys the Marvel superheros have taken - the good, the bad, the ugly...and the decidedly weird. 

This is a very SPOILERY episode. We talk endings for almost every Marvel film, including Endgame and Captain Marvel. Consider this fair warning!

 

If you're still game, join us too celebrate, discuss and critique the MCU.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 172: Crowning Glory - The Significance of Hair in Myth and Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 172: Crowning Glory - The Significance of Hair in Myth and Speculative Fiction

May 31, 2019

Episode 172: Crowning Glory - The Significance of Hair in Myth and Speculative Fiction

 

This may seem a little out of left field but fear not, this isn't the advent of a series of podcast episodes on random body parts! It just so happens that hair is specifically featured in a long list of old wives tales, folk tales and fairy stories, not to mention myths and biblical tales. From historical urban legend of Lady Godgifu to foolish Sampson falling asleep next to Delilah, hair has far more significance in stories than you'd think strands of dead protein would really warrant. The dragons decided to have a look at why. Join Jules and Madeleine as they get thoroughly entangled in myth and folklore in an effort to track this trend to its roots.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 171: Inner Landscapes - The Transformative Character Arc in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 171: Inner Landscapes - The Transformative Character Arc in Speculative Fiction

May 24, 2019

Episode 171: Inner Landscapes - The Transformative Character Arc in Speculative Fiction

Most characters in fiction are not the same people by the end of the story that they were at the beginning. This change can be subtle or overt, lauded with much physical action or conversely almost entirely something that happens within the characters own mind. While there are examples - usually series of books - whereby the character changes very little, for the most part the plot hinges on a character's journey from the person they were to the person they have become. Different types of media tend to favour different types of character arc, which is all well and good, except that we are being trained to only recognise a character journey that fits a rather narrow set of parameters. So this week the dragons delve into different transformative arcs and how they can be used - singly, in conjunction and juxtaposed to each other. On the slab this week - Captain Marvel, The Matrix, Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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