Dissecting Dragons
Episode 283: Vanishing Acts and Secret Scandals - A Compilation of Author Mysteries

Episode 283: Vanishing Acts and Secret Scandals - A Compilation of Author Mysteries

July 16, 2021

And now, as they say, time for something completely different. Most authors draw from life experiences when writing and SFF/ mystery/ horror writers are no different. But some authors have peculiar episodes in their lives which rival their fiction. This week the dragons take a look at four writers who have at least one mystery attached to them. Why was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle so taken with the Cottingley fairies? Was Branwell Bronte ever really involved in a scandalous affair? How exactly did Edgar Allen Poe die? And what happened during the missing days of Agatha Christie? Jules and Madeleine can't promise answers but they can certainly promise a thorough examination of the known facts and their own opinion on the most likely solutions.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 282: Mysterious Parcels and Mystical Cups - McGuffins, Plot Devices and Choosey Magical Objects in Speculative fiction

Episode 282: Mysterious Parcels and Mystical Cups - McGuffins, Plot Devices and Choosey Magical Objects in Speculative fiction

July 8, 2021

Most of us have heard the term 'McGuffin' applied to an aspect of a film or book, often with a tone of derision. A similar reaction is often prompted by the term 'plot device'. But are these storytelling accessories actually bad or, if used correctly, are they essential pieces of plot driving furniture? What's the differences between them? And just what is a choosey magical object? This week the dragons detangle the threads and explain the flaws and features of each. On the slab this week: The Lord of the Rings, Arthurian Myth, Infinity War and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 281: Mean Girls & Toxic Friends - Why Friendship Conflicts are Important in Speculative Fiction

Episode 281: Mean Girls & Toxic Friends - Why Friendship Conflicts are Important in Speculative Fiction

July 2, 2021

There are plenty of less than savoury tropes that probably need to be gently retired or at least adjusted and not used wholesale. The 'not like the other girls' trope for instance, or its close cousin 'girl on girl hate'. However, that doesn't mean that all friendship depictions in fiction should be passive and free of conflict. In real life and in fiction, we learn about ourselves via our relationships with others. Friendships are an important part of that. The dragons are generally against prescriptive writing advice and sweeping generalisations in what you can and can't include in fiction. With that in mind, is there a place for the 'queen bee/ mean girl' trope? What about female characters in competition with each other? Or friendships being depicted in an unhealthy way? This week Jules and Madeleine delve into the value of using these sorts of trope in speculative fiction. Under the microscope this week: Daredevil, Mean Girls, I am the Silence and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 280: Gentle Giants and Brick Outhouses - the Tank Character in Speculative Fiction

Episode 280: Gentle Giants and Brick Outhouses - the Tank Character in Speculative Fiction

June 25, 2021

The ranger, maverick, thief, healer and wizard are all well known, easily recognisable archetypes in a basic fantasy or sci-fi team. We're all familiar with the leader, the loner, the brains and the heart in a team-up. But there's one character who just doesn't get as much attention despite often literally holding a group together. This week, the dragons take a look at the 'tank', muscle or powerpack character. What exactly do they add to a team in sff? What storylines exploit their skill set best and how can you avoid over powering them? 

On the slab this week: The Justice League, Firefly, Farscape, The Avengers and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 279: We’re All in This Together - The Art of Collaborating in the Arts

Episode 279: We’re All in This Together - The Art of Collaborating in the Arts

June 18, 2021

This week Jules and Madeleine are delighted to welcome Liam Bowles, director of Enigmatic Studios, to the show. Liam has been overseeing the creation of 'Moko and the Seven Gates', a video game coming soon to Play Station and PC. Even more than books, video games tend to require a large crew to get them off the ground. In this episodes the dragons will be discussing the perils, pitfalls and joys of collaborating both writer to writer and as part of a large ensemble working on a single project.

On the slab this week: Moko and the Seven Gates, Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 278: Sins of the Father - Inherited Curses, Crimes and Responsibilities in Speculative Fiction

Episode 278: Sins of the Father - Inherited Curses, Crimes and Responsibilities in Speculative Fiction

June 11, 2021

'Sins of the Father' in SFF is a trope that is very popular without many people really knowing what it is. But who doesn't love a bloodline curse? Or a hero who fears they will not be able to live up to an illustrious (potentially evil or erring) forebear? Who doesn't find narrative satisfaction in a main character being punished for something an ancestor did, rather than simply because the universe is unjust? This week the dragons dig deep on just why this trope appeals, linking it with revenge arcs, character development and just what we can all take away from the trope in real life.

On the slab this week: Lord of the Rings, The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Goudge, The Punisher and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 277: All Around My Hat - More Folksong Writing Inspiration Part 2

Episode 277: All Around My Hat - More Folksong Writing Inspiration Part 2

June 4, 2021

Following on from last week's deep dive into folklore dressed as music, the dragons revisit the strange, eerie and often unsavoury themes behind folksongs. Looking at examples of French, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Appalachian folksongs, Jules and Madeleine untangle the politics, sex, murder and seeds of historical record, before examining how folksongs have influenced there own work and act as writing inspiration for many other authors too. Part Two of a two-part episode.

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 276: All Around My Hat - More Folksong Writing Inspiration Part 1

Episode 276: All Around My Hat - More Folksong Writing Inspiration Part 1

May 28, 2021

This week, the dragons revisit the strange, eerie and often unsavoury themes behind folksongs. Looking at examples of French, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Appalachian folksongs, Jules and Madeleine untangle the politics, sex, murder and seeds of historical record, before examining how folksongs have influenced there own work and act as writing inspiration for many other authors too. Part One of a two-part episode.

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 275: Mean Girls and Internet Trolls -Positive Body Representation in Speculative Fiction Part 2

Episode 275: Mean Girls and Internet Trolls -Positive Body Representation in Speculative Fiction Part 2

May 21, 2021

In the first part of this two-part episode, the dragons discussed how perceived norms, advertising and media affect our subconscious perceptions of ourselves. On the other hand, it's not all rainbows and kittens from the Body Positivity movement either - a movement which unfortunately attracts a lot of toxic individuals who seem to be more concerned with being heard than with what they are saying. There are definitely good, bad and indifferent aspects to both sides. This week, Jules and Madeleine delve deeper into perceived beauty 'norms' in speculative fiction. Where does positive body representation get it right? Where does the body positivity movement fall a little short? And what does it have to do with speculative fiction? Join the dragons to find out.

 

Part 2 of a 2-part episode.

CW: Jules and Madeleine briefly mention EDs. While the dragons don't go into detail, they realise that it's a subject that can be triggering for some people. Please approach the episode with care or check out their back catalogue instead, if the subject is likely to cause you distress. 

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 274: Mean Girls and Internet Trolls - Positive Body Representation in Speculative Fiction part 1

Episode 274: Mean Girls and Internet Trolls - Positive Body Representation in Speculative Fiction part 1

May 14, 2021

It's difficult to define 'normal' when it comes to human physical attributes, however, despite this, a very prevalent perceived norm exists. Propped up by advertising and media, it creeps into our entertainment. On the other side of the fence, is a movement that promotes a positive attitude towards different body types. There are definitely good, bad and indifferent aspects to both sides. This week, Jules and Madeleine look at perceived beauty 'norms' and how they influence us through fiction as well as more mainstream media. Where does positive body representation get it right? Where does the body positivity movement fall a little short? And what does it have to do with speculative fiction? Join the dragons to find out.

 

Part 1 of a 2-part episode.

CW: the dragons do briefly mention EDs. While Jules and Madeleine do not go into detail, they realise that it's a subject that can be triggering for some people. Please approach the episode with care or check out their back catalogue instead, if the subject is likely to cause you distress. 

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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