Episode 144 – making a genre work (part 1)

* “Dan’s not quite long enough” has started!  To make your donation to March of Dimes’ Raina’s Wings charity, do so here.

* Fear the Boot community’s Neverwinter Nights mod.

* We discuss a commentary by Isaac Asimov on whether “true” science fiction can ever sell in a mass market.

* Why Dan struggles constructing super hero campaigns.

Hosts: Chad, Chris, Dan, Pat

Comments (20)

AkiApril 23rd, 2009 at 1:42 am

Scifi is about how science and technology changes lives and society. Therefore, a love story set in the future, where there are robot waiters in the restaurant of the first date, isn’t scifi, because the subject of the robot waiter doesn’t really have anything to do with the story. It’s just there for the setting. On the other hand, Blade Runner is about the robots. They aren’t simply the enemy, they are the story. It’s about how technology can change our identities and how will we react to technology as a society.

How many of the top 50 scifi films on imdb (http://finnish.imdb.com/chart/scifi) are scifi? A few.

AnonApril 23rd, 2009 at 4:37 am

Neverwinter is one word, right?

DanApril 23rd, 2009 at 7:08 am

Doh! Fixed.

SoundwaveApril 23rd, 2009 at 2:17 pm

If you want some tips on running a good supers game I would suggest reading John wicks play dirty which is just chock full of good dming advice but he talks about his transition from Call of Cthulu and champions which is a big transition.

On another note your forums won’t send me a confirmation email it has been 3 weeks and I have had it resend multiple times. Can you guys help me.

DanApril 23rd, 2009 at 7:39 pm

I’m assuming your user account is also Soundwave. That account is now active, so you should be able to log in to the forum with no problems.

SoundwaveApril 23rd, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Thank you very much Dan I look forward to participating in this community.

SimonApril 24th, 2009 at 2:51 am

Please, don’t ever do a genre discussion again.

This sort of thing just aggravates a listener who can’t talk back, especially when there’s no-one on the cast who disagrees with the assumption.
And the admittance that there are probably examples that disprove the going theory every few minutes should’ve been clear warning signs to you guys that maybe this sort of discussion was building a conversation not so much on quicksand but on the surface of some very deep waters.

So beyond that, on the actual subject it is because I know the above that I wouldn’t even touch that with a 10 foot clown-pole. Even though I have a lot to say about it.

Devin ParkerApril 24th, 2009 at 4:13 am

I’m very much looking forward to the discussion on superhero games in the next podcast.

As a tangential mention, there is a sci-fi roleplaying game out there called “Shock” that specifically tackles science fiction as it most often appears in novels – dealing with social changes, technological impact on society, and so on. I haven’t played it, but it looks really interesting…

Also tangentially, while I find the entire discussion of what can and can’t be made into a movie, I increasingly find myself railing against the notion that “being made into a movie” is the end-all be-all of entertainment. I know that wasn’t what you guys were saying, necessarily, but there seems to be an underlying assumption in our society that a story hasn’t reached its ultimate expression until it’s been put into the film media. As was touched upon in the science fiction discussion, there are some things that certain media can do (and are better suited to doing) which film and television simply can’t, and not only because of time constraints.

Devin ParkerApril 24th, 2009 at 4:14 am

“…while I find the entire discussion of what can and can’t be made into a movie *entertaining*…”

Got ahead of myself there.

KApril 28th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Should it not be “Dan’s is not quite long enough”? Or else you are talking about Dan himself or about his hair, without a verb in the sentence.

Also, ‘ is an apostrophe. While ` and ’ are not.

I liked 144 a lot, very interesting discussion.

Joe RApril 29th, 2009 at 12:31 am

If you wanted to do Mercat Manor use It’s a Dog’s Life RPG 2nd Edition (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=18638&it=1&filters=0_0_0_0&manufacturers_id=522) and drift it from Prairie Dogs and Native American stuff to African traditions.

UTSquishyMay 1st, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I had a really long comment for this, a week ago when I listened to it. I tried to sign up at the forums, but I never got a confirmation e-mail (and yes I checked my junk e-mail box), so I cannot log in—it tells me to contact the administrators if I’m having trouble and then asks me to log in to get the admin contact data. I’ve been tearing my hair out for a week. Long time listener desiring to be a first time poster, but I don’t have the energy anymore.

Then I noticed that I could have commented here all along.

Can someone please fix my Forum problem, then maybe I’ll make a real comment.

I know I shouldn’t be posting this here. But I can’t figure out where the proper place is.

Username: UTSquishy

DanMay 1st, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Done UT! Your account is active.

AlexMay 1st, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Hey guys, since some other people have been mentioning it, I have also had trouble getting the forum to send me a confirmation email. I’ve tried three different email addresses, two gmail and one yahoo, and requesting them resent, all with no luck. Could it be because I’m in another country?

I was Lizard Farmer on the old forum, not that active a user, but I had some comments on a couple of recent episodes in mind :…(

UTSquishyMay 1st, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Thanks Dan!!

ReesesMay 21st, 2009 at 3:25 pm


GeoffMay 28th, 2009 at 11:40 am

Just finally catching up with the podcasts over the last month or so, but I wanted to point something out. I believe it was Dan was saying Gattaca was a High-concept movie, but he’s got the definition wrong. High-concept movies are the simple, one phrase, easy to understand concepts that most big studio pictures are. For example, if I say “It’s Die Hard on a Bus”, you’ll know I’m talking about SPEED. That’s a high concept. And even if you hadn’t seen or heard of SPEED, you’d know what the movie was about and images of a guy on a bus trying to defeat a terrorist would probably flash through your head. Any statement that is “It’s *blank* meets *blank*” is essentially high concept.

What happens here in H’wood is that once a movie becomes a huge hit, it usually gets pulled into the high concept lingo. I could say “It’s I LOVE YOU, MAN meets THE BREAK UP” – you could guess what that movie would be about, etc.

tirsdenMay 16th, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I found myself a bit confused over the sci-fi as a genre debate… like you guys had missed a really big point, but I was pulled into the semantics of it as well while listening. Ironically, later that night I picked up Asimov’s Mysteries (published in 1968) which I had not yet read, and found my own thoughts so very well stated by Asimov himself in the introduction:

“There is a tendency for many people who don’t know any better to classify science fiction as just one more member of the group of specialized literatures that include mysteries, westerns, adventures, sport stories, love stories, and so on. This has always seemed odd to those who know science fiction well, for s.f. is a literary response to scientific change, and that response can run the entire gamut of the human experience. Science fiction, in other words, includes everything.”

Meanwhile, the Voltaire quote is so very true, and has helped inspire me even though I was already realizing the basics behind it. Thank you so much for sharing it! ^__^

BarkerOctober 27th, 2014 at 3:37 pm

A Scanner Darkly.

BarkerOctober 27th, 2014 at 4:17 pm

^ I may have been a little late on this one… :-P

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