Dissecting Dragons
Dissecting Dragons: Episode 187: Designer Flu & Superhumans - The Conspiracy Theory Trope in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 187: Designer Flu & Superhumans - The Conspiracy Theory Trope in Speculative Fiction

September 13, 2019

Episode 187: Designer Flu & Superhumans - The Conspiracy Theory Trope in Speculative Fiction

 

Those of us who enjoy sci-fi, also probably enjoy a good 'conspiracy theory' trope. Whether it's governments plotting ways to create a docile populace or supercharged plagues accidentally released with disastrous consequences or human experimentation, there's something both thrilling and morbidly fascinating (not to mention chilling) in the idea that those in power may not have our best interests at heart. Or worse, that they may be actively working to remove our autonomy. But where does the conspiracy theory trope originate? This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at possible origins - from the Cold War to the horrors of the 20th C eugenics movement. Following their favourite and most reviled versions of this trope leads the dragons down some very murky paths indeed. On the slab this week - The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Stand by Stephen King, Feed by Mira Grant and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 186: Going Through Changes - Shapeshifters in Myth and Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 186: Going Through Changes - Shapeshifters in Myth and Speculative Fiction

September 6, 2019

Episode 186: Going Through Changes - Shapeshifters in Myth and Speculative Fiction

 

Before they populated the pages of paranormal romance novels, shapeshifters had long held a place in myths and folklore. Those creatures who can change they're shape have long been a source of human fascination, whether it's a desire to take on animal characteristics, representation of deities, the wolf who sometimes looks like a man or the witch who escapes the inquisition by going into a hare. This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at the evolution of these creatures from the 'wizard's duel' of Welsh myth to Celtic Ireland to Navajo tales of trickster Coyote. From there, the dragons examine where the shapeshifter has travelled next in modern speculative fiction. Don your wolfskin belt and join us for an episode with claws.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 185: This is Not Forgiveness - Redemption Arcs in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 185: This is Not Forgiveness - Redemption Arcs in Speculative Fiction

August 30, 2019

Episode 185: This is Not Forgiveness - Redemption Arcs in Speculative Fiction

 

SPOILERS!

 

Who doesn't love a good villain or anti hero? Sometimes we find ourselves more drawn to a well crafted bad guy than to the protagonist we're meant to be identifying with, and when those characters are forced into an uneasy alliance it results in some of the most satisfying stories. The answer to this slightly uncomfortable tendency to find the villain engaging is the redemptive character arc. A good redemption arc can often enrich or even trump the main plot. But what exactly qualifies as redemption? What's the difference in narrative terms between reader forgiveness, suffering and atonement? This week the dragons take a look at anti heroes who try to make amends. Under the microscope in this episode - Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Boys and many more.

 

Please be aware that as Jules and Madeleine are looking at complete character arcs, this episode will include spoilers for Unveiled, The Boys and The Harmatia Cycle.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 184: Auguries and Omens - Bird Symbolism in Myth and Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 184: Auguries and Omens - Bird Symbolism in Myth and Speculative Fiction

August 23, 2019

Episode 184: Auguries and Omens - Bird Symbolism in Myth and Speculative Fiction

 

Birds of many different species show up in mythological pantheons from all over the world, not to mention folklore and folksongs. It's become so much a part of our subconscious appreciation of storytelling, that writers often include birds in books and films as part of scene setting, without realising that they have picked a bird based on an unacknowledged and very large body of lore that dates back centuries. An additional branch of this lore is the use of birds and flight patterns in divination. This week the dragons take a look at this phenomenon. From wrens to buzzards, Jules and Madeleine are talking bird lore and mythology.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 183: The Future We Deserve? - Learning Hope From Science Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 183: The Future We Deserve? - Learning Hope From Science Fiction

August 16, 2019

Episode 183: The Future We Deserve? - Learning Hope From Science Fiction

 

While all good fiction should give the reader something to think about, Science Fiction has long been at the forefront of the 'what if?' expedition. Much science fiction focuses on thought experiments - which would explain why a large body of it can be rather bleak and even chilling. However certain sci-fi, most notably space opera, takes typical thought experiments and turns them on their heads resulting in a far more hopeful message. This week the dragons boldly go into the massive universe of Star Trek, in search of hope as well as thought provoking story in science fiction. Taking a look at how characterisation, setting and the very unusual starting point of almost all Star Trek story, Jules and Madeleine discuss how a show that has some pretty headache inducing scenarios and gritty situations, still manages to convey a future as it ought to be, rising head and shoulders over mere entertainment.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 182: Full Immersion Fantasy - the Appeal of RPG

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 182: Full Immersion Fantasy - the Appeal of RPG

August 9, 2019

Episode 182: Full Immersion Fantasy - the Appeal of RPG

 

While books, films and TV are the most common delivery methods for fantasy, some prefer more immediate ways of engaging with the genre. Role playing games, LARPing, historical reenactment and open world video games have all been rising in popularity and even achieving their own cult status in the last decade or so. This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at the origins of tabletop Dungeons and Dragons, as well as various permutations, in search of what drives us to connect so intensely with fantasy in such a way. From Vampire, The Masquerade to the comedie de l'arte, the dragons take a walk on the wilder side of the genre.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 181: Of Their Time - the Changing Faces of Diversity and Prejudice in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 181: Of Their Time - the Changing Faces of Diversity and Prejudice in Speculative Fiction

August 2, 2019

Episode 181: Of Their Time - the Changing Faces of Diversity and Prejudice in Speculative Fiction

 

When head canon clashes with casting decisions in film and TV adaptations, there's always trouble. And such has been the case with a number of the Disney live action versions of their old animated classics. However, the need to separate the context surrounding a piece of art from the film or book itself, is hardly a new requirement, as the dragons discuss in this week's episode. While Jules and Madeleine don't believe that a piece of work 'being of its time' prevents it from being offensive or even harmful, neither of the dragons like the prescriptive attitude as regards what is acceptable to read or watch either. In a fairly light and very lively discussion, they take a trip through literature and film, culminating in the newest adaptation of Disney's Little Mermaid - how has diverse representation and attitudes to prejudice in literature changed in the last century? 

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 180: 10,000 - A Celebration of Dissecting Dragons

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 180: 10,000 - A Celebration of Dissecting Dragons

July 26, 2019

Episode 180: 10,000 - A Celebration of Dissecting Dragons

 

The dragons are delighted to announce that they've hit a huge mile stone with their podcast! In celebration, Jules and Madeleine take a look at their 'origin story' - as writers, as published authors and as podcast hosts. As well as dipping into what to expect once you've signed your first publishing contract, this is a reflection on their own journeys as writers. There may have been cloaks involved...

 

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 179: Truth, Lies & the Big Misunderstanding - Honesty and Deception Tropes in Speculative Fiction

Dissecting Dragons: Episode 179: Truth, Lies & the Big Misunderstanding - Honesty and Deception Tropes in Speculative Fiction

July 19, 2019

Episode 179: Truth, Lies & the Big Misunderstanding - Honesty and Deception Tropes in Speculative Fiction

 

A common plot device for keeping characters in conflict with each other, and incidentally not solving the main plot arc, is to add a sprinkling of dishonesty. This might take the form of a withheld truth, a deliberate lie for good or ill intentions, or even the dreading 'big misunderstanding'. This week the dragons take a look at how each of these tropes work and where they fail. On the slab this week The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, Piano of the Forest and many more, including Jules' and Madeleine's own work. Join them as they look at the art of deception in fiction.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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