Dissecting Dragons – Episodes 11 – 20


Dissecting Dragons - Writing, Reading, Loving and sometime Hating, Speculative Fiction.
Dissecting Dragons – Writing, Reading, Loving and sometime Hating, Speculative Fiction.


 Episode 11: Teams, Trios and Fellowships – the importance of Friendship in Speculative Fiction

This week Dissecting Dragons is very pleased to announce its third guest, Canadian writer, Ben Berman Gahn. Ben is the author of Wychman Road as well as being an avid reader of superhero comic books and graphic novels, which makes him the perfect person to dissect the themes of friendship in speculative fiction. Taking many examples from the Marvel universe – Daredevil and Foggy Nelson, Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto among them – and adding them to the petri dish with Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and Avatar: the last Airbender (to name but a few), SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside settle in for a long look at why platonic relationships in Speculative Fiction are so satisfying, rich and, ultimately, important. 

Episode 12: The Gender Bend – Does the Gender make the Story?

 Up for dissection this week; just how intrinsic is character gender to a story in Speculative Fiction? Or to put it another way, if you swapped all the characters’ genders, would you still have the same story? Taking ‘Life and Death’, Stephanie Meyer’s reimagining of ‘Twilight’ as an example, SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside examine just how successful the story is with the genders switched before bravely applying the same thought experiment to their own works – ‘The Sons of Thestian‘ and ‘I Belong to the Earth.’ The results are…intriguing. Spinning out even further, the pair look at swapping sexuality in their characters and just what aspects of a character influence the dynamics of character interaction, as well as how this impacts on the story as a whole. Also up for examination in this thought experiment Frank Herbert’s DuneStar Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope and Peter Pan.

Episode 13: Man-Eating Monster to Flower-Toting Belle – the transition of Fairies in the Victorian Era

This week SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside take a look at how the entities of ‘Faery’ changed from centuries of press as capricious, mischievous and sometimes malevolent ‘others’ in folklore, to the neat, pretty and minute be-winged coquettes that are most familiar today, during the Victorian era. Looking at the literature of the time including Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie and Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market as well as traditional folktales, the incident of the Cottingley Fairies and the art and ballet inspired by Shakespeare’s rendering of fairies in Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Tempest, to the influence this has had on modern writers such as Holly Black, Sarah J Maas and Marissa Meyer. One thing is certain, the ‘fairy’ remains an elusive and shadowy figure in mythology, despite the centuries of propaganda.

Episode 14: Main Mission – Gaming Narrative, the Future of Storytelling

This week the dragons are delighted to introduce Liam Bowles, CEO of Enigmatic Studios, for a poke around the innards of ‘Gaming Narrative’. Examining what makes narrative driven video games work and where they may take us in the future, SFF authors, J.A.Ironside and M.E.Vaughan, look at popular franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry, Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect. Drawing on Liam’s experience as a ‘game maker’ as well as the added perspectives of a game voice actor and writer, and a layperson gamer, this episode tackles the narrative vision in speculative games. Just how closely related to books and films are they? And do they scratch an itch that other media just can’t touch? Tune in to find out.
This week the Dragons have a particular eye for villainy in speculative fiction. Drawing on their own likes, dislikes, fear and frustrations, SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside, say what works for them, what doesn’t and why, as well as looking at the difference between the villain and the anti hero. Categorising examples of different types of villains, Guardians of the Galaxy, Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, George R,R,Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, AliensFlash GordonJurassic Park and Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn all get a turn on the slab. Tun in for a rigorous discussion on shaking the creases out of your bad guy.

Episode 16: Rattling Bones and Poltergeists – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Ghost stories

 This week the dragons delve into the dark subconscious of the human mind in an examination of where ghost stories come from, why they inspire us, what makes a good ghost story and jut why do people go towards the sinister noise instead of running away from it?
On the slab this week M R James, Edgar Allan Poe, Susan Hill – The Woman in Black, in all it’s incarnations – as well as spooky films such as The Blair Witch Project, Crimson Peak, The Sixth Sense and Poltergeist. Join SFF writers M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside as they dip a claw into the dark waters of the paranormal.

Episode 17: Magnus Bane to Jack Harkness – LGBTQA+ Representation and Diversity in Speculative Fiction

This week, the dragons are pleased to welcome special guest,Hamish Steele, to talk about LGBT diversity in Speculative Fiction. Hamish is a writer and a cartoon artist, who has spoken on a number of LGBT panels. We all want diversity amongst out characters but how exactly can we as writers go about providing it in a way that shows a broad understanding? As readers, what should we be looking for? Drawing on examples from Cassandra Claire’s The Mortal Instruments, Steven Universe, Dr Who, C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince Trilogy and Jane Steele by Lyndsey Faye, SFF authors J.A.Ironside and M.E.Vaughan examine sexual diversity in Speculative fiction under the microscope.

Episode 18: Oh not another Zombie Movie – the Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Living Dead

From Haitian folklore to George Romero, the unlikely decayed and mindless form of the zombie has captured our imagination. Just why is that? Unlike their undead or bestial cousins in folklore, there are no pretensions to sexiness with zombies, so why the ongoing fascination? Why do we keep bringing them back? This week SFF authors M.E.Vaughan and J.A.Ironside ask those very questions, digging under the corpse to get at the psychology. From the gritty, survivor show ‘The Walking Dead‘ to the more metaphorical ‘Warm bodies‘ by Isaac Marion, from Max Brooks ‘World War Z‘ to films such as ‘Zombieland‘ and ‘Shaun of the Dead‘, our intrepid Dragons examine exactly why this corpse keeps rising.

Episode 19: Was that REALLY necessary? – the overuse of Sexual Violence in Speculative Media

The dragons have never shied away from hard hitting or difficult topics and this episode reflects that as they tackle the uses of sexual violence in Speculative Fiction and Media. Rape scenes and sexual violence are on the increase in Speculative (and other) TV series and films. SFF authors J.A.Ironside and M.E.Vaughan look at why this is happening. What does it ultimately achieve? What are the likely negative and positive outcomes? Under the microscope this week: HBO series Game of Thrones and George R R Martins A Song of Ice and Fire books,  Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series and Outlander among many other examples. Join us for an episode that pulls no punches but offers advice on better ways to create your villains and drive your plots.

On a lighter this week, the Dragons went to the movies. Welcoming back special guest and superhero/ comic book expert (as well as SFF writer) Ben Berman Gahn, the dragons take a look under the hood of the superhero vs superhero story arc. What makes it so appealing? Why have fans been having discussions on who would win a fight if Superman was pitted against Batman which are still going strong after 70 years?! Under the microscope this week Marvel’s X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War and DC’s Dawn of Justice.