Podcast

219 – Over-Burdened Stories

The Mythcreant Podcast

This intro was originally five paragraphs long, but that would have been way too much information, so I shortened it. Coincidentally, we’re talking about over-burdened stories. What makes a story over-burdened, you ask? Listen and we’ll explain! We talk about how stories get loaded down with too much information, what the consequences are, and how you can prevent it. Plus, a fight over maps in fantasy novels!

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Liberating Over-Burdened Stories

Concepts for Becoming a Better Storyteller

“Grok”

Working Memory

Neuromancer

Shadowrun

Hackers

Umbrella Academy

Discovery

Wheel of Time

A Song of Ice and Fire

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Wizard of Earthsea

Chronicles of Prydain

Eragon

Lord of the Rings

The Last Ringbearer

Cloud Atlas

Primer

Dragon Prince

Rogue One

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Transcript

Generously transcribed by Perspiring Writer. Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.

Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast, with your hosts: Oren Ashkenazi, Wes Matlock, and Chris Winkle. [opening song]


Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast. And with me is…

Wes: Wes.

Chris: And…

Oren: Oren.

Chris: And by the way, my name is Chris. I might have forgotten to say that. [Wes laughs] In this podcast, we’re going to go over so much material so fast, you won’t know what’s happening.

Oren: I’ve already forgotten. I don’t even know what we’re doing here today.

Wes: Yeah. What are we talking about? It’s too much already.

Chris: Every two minutes, we should stop and try to explain more. Just so we can try to sort out all those complicated logistics.

Oren: That sounds cool.

Wes: Make sure we rename everything, all the time, because language is nuance, and you can’t just use the same word for the same thing over and over and over again.

Chris: That’s true. I’m sometimes going to call you Wes, and sometimes I’m going to call you ‘Matlock’ instead.

Matlock: Okay.

Chris: And then I’ll do the same with Oren. Sometimes, you’re going to be Oren, and sometimes I’ll refer to you as ‘Ashkenazi.’ And hopefully our listeners will remember.

Ashkenazi: That won’t work; literally nobody has ever called me ‘Ashkenazi.’ If you try that, the podcast will break. [laughter]

Chris: We’re talking about overburdened stories. And of course, the first question is, ‘what is that?’

Oren: Well, actually, I’m going to just, for the rest of this podcast, read from the 2017 post by one ‘Chris Winkle’ [Chris laughs], called ‘Liberating Overburdened Stories’. So, this will just be a transcript of that post from now on. [Chris and Wes laugh]

Chris: So, the short answer is that it’s a story that is too complex. That’s the short answer.

Wes: Not, too heavy to carry around? The manuscript is just- [laughs]

Chris: Too much.

Oren: It’s a real doorstopper. [laughter]

Chris: The long answer is that ‘we have to introduce this idea-’ I actually have another post on ‘Concepts for Becoming a Better Storyteller.’ The idea of comprehension scarcity. This is the idea that your audience’s capacity to learn and remember things is finite. As in, not infinite. [laughs]

You can’t just throw too many ideas at them at once because they will not stick. So, for any given word count- or time period, if we’re like, in a film or another medium, you have a fixed budget for all of the things that you want them to grok. All of the things that you need them to understand.

That includes learning who the different characters are, understanding what is happening in the plot, remembering the unique things about your world; every single thing they have to learn is part of that.

Oren: So, for example, if we were trying to teach the concept of overburdened stories, and also expected our audience to know what ‘grok’ means [Chris and Wes laugh], that would be using up a little bit more of their finite attention span.

Chris: Look, it’s clear from context. Okay? [laughter]

Wes: Plus, you said it with such gusto. I loved that.

Chris: Maybe we’ll stop and have an explanation about the word ‘grok.’ [laughs]

Wes: For like, eight pages.

Chris: That’ll totally take care of it. [Chris and Wes laugh] Eight pages.

Wes: Isn’t there a number of- I don’t know how they define ‘things’, but isn’t there a number with our short-term memories that like, we can only hold seven things, or something like that? Have you guys ever heard anything-

Chris: Yes. There is a study that suggested that, but I think that’s somewhat outdated. I don’t think there’s necessarily- there was one study that said seven.

Wes: That sounds like way too many. [laughs]

Chris: I think it’s really just context dependent. I think that that’s just over simplistic. I would say, don’t introduce more than two characters at once, for instance. And then, that might be partly because when somebody learns about a character, there’s a number of details that they have to learn and associate with each other.

So, you need to know the name, and then you need to know the basics of this character and who they are and remember that. And then when you have two characters, you have to learn two names and the basics about those characters, and then you have to separate them from each other.

I would say- generally, you’re not supposed to introduce more than two characters per scene. There’s some exception, always, but that’s a general rule of thumb that works pretty well. And if you have more characters that suddenly enter a scene at once, generally what you would do is, in that scene, you focus on a couple of them, you leave the others in the background, and then, the next scene, you might bring another to the forefront, so that they’re not all at once.

Oren: I’m certainly hard-pressed to remember any narrative story that introduces more than two characters in any meaningful way. Like, sometimes in a tv show or whatever, a crowd will show up, and you’ll be like, ‘this is Bob, Jim, Joe, and Larry,’ but it’s pretty clear from context that you only really need to remember who Larry is, and the others are just there because that’s what the dialogue makes sense to say.

Chris: I also think it might be sometimes easier with visuals. Because with visuals, as long as you have something that’s really distinct, like a red hat or something, over time, you can kind of get to know the red hat.

But in a narrated medium, if you don’t remember specifically the name, and which person goes with that name, then you’re pretty much lost, and you can’t accumulate knowledge of that character over time.

Oren: It also helps to have- beyond a name, it really helps to have them have a distinct function, and a distinct relationship to the main character. Because if you can be like, ‘okay, a lot of names got introduced over the course of this book. I’m not positive I remember which name this character is, but I know this character is the prime minister, and I know that the relationship to the protagonist is that they hate each other.’

Even if I can’t 100 percent remember what name that character has, that’s at least something I can grab onto. Ideally, I should also be able to remember their name, but the more things you give me that are distinctive, the bigger the chance that I’m going to remember who this character is.

Chris: Okay, so what happens then, if we have a story that’s overburdened, and you’re basically starting to exceed your complexity budget-

Oren: You’re reading Neuromancer, is what happens. [Chris laughs]

Chris: Basically, it becomes confusing. You end up spending more and more of the story explaining things to try to make it less confusing, which just eats up time that could be used for other things and makes the story boring. And then, because there’s no time for anything, because there’s so many elements to cover, there’s not really much depth. Those are the things that tend to happen to stories that are overburdened.

Oren: Correct. Or the other thing that can happen- and this is what happens in Neuromancer, because Neuromancer doesn’t explain anything. I read Neuromancer the first time like, two years ago, and I did not remember anything that was in it.

I was like, ‘okay, there’s a guy, and his problem is that he can’t do the special hacking thing anymore, because of some reason? And there’s a lady with claws, and a ninja.’ And that was what I remembered of Neuromancer, and I was like, ‘wait, there’s an A.I. in Neuromancer, and his name is Wintermute? What?’

And so, I read it again last month for a book club, and I was amazed by how much stuff is introduced and not explained. And it’s like, this is actually a foundational novel of cyberpunk, right? Like, I know more about what this book means now because I’ve played Shadowrun, than anyone would have when the book came out. And I’m frankly kind of amazed that it’s as popular as it is, cause it’s so confusing.

Wes: Foundational doesn’t always mean good.

Oren: I’m not saying it does; I’m saying it was popular. I’m actually surprised how popular it was. Clearly, it has other things going for it that made people like it. But like, to me, I really wanted to know what’s happening, and it’s very hard to tell what’s going on in Neuromancer.

It’s notable that there’s a scene where the protagonist gets way high, and it’s supposed to be weird and confusing, but it’s not any weirder and confusing than the rest of the story, because it’s like, a super high-tech cyberpunk future, where things just happen, and it’s like:

‘What’s that?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘What’s a deck?’ ‘I don’t know; we use the deck for hacking somehow.’ And like, the matrix is a thing. What’s in the matrix? I don’t know, it’s places, there’s data and shapes. [Wes laughs] It’s like, okay, what? [Chris laughs]

And eventually, the picture in my head that I ended up forming was that it looks kind of like that weird hacking flight sim from the movie Hackers. It was like, ‘what is happening?’ So anyway, that’s the other thing that can happen, is that you just have no idea what’s going on and forget half of it the moment you finish with the book. [Chris laughs]

Chris: Yeah; so, this is one of those mistakes that is a lot more common in manuscripts than it is in stories that are published, and particularly stories that are popular. Because, a lot of times, when writers go through the editing process, they are told to cut a lot of the things, and sometimes they fight it tooth and nail, but they are told, and for reasons, to cut things.

Of course, when people start writing, a lot of times they just don’t know that you shouldn’t put extra stuff in your story, right? The idea is that every element should be like, a load-bearing element, should be connecting to other things in the story and holding the story up, and if you can just remove it and nothing changes, there’s a good chance it should just be removed. But people have to be taught this; they don’t know it inherently.

Oren: It breaks my heart when I have to edit a story from a language nerd, who’s like, ‘okay, I have five different words for ‘wizard’, because these people call them this thing, and these people call them this thing, and they’re like, in different places, so they have different words for wizard.’

And I’m like, ‘okay, no, no, no [repeating no’s]. I’m sorry. [Chris laughs] I’m very sorry. I know in real life, we have lots of different words for the same things, but please have mercy.’ [Oren and Chris laugh] It’s like, unless having multiple names for wizard is important to the plot- which it could be, if your book’s about culture clash and having different words for things actually could matter.

Then, please just have one word for it. And probably just call it a wizard, unless there’s some reason to call it something else.

Chris: For sure. That’s hard, because when you want to make your culture feel nuanced and realistic, and having different words can be part of that, but every single new term you throw in there is just one more thing your reader has to learn. And that’s just too much, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it.

Oren: It’s also like, with names- we’ve talked about this before, but it’s just like, names that are easier for your reader to pronounce are easier to remember. And this can get into some thorny territory, because not all actual human names are easy for English speakers to pronounce. So, that’s not a reason to not use non-English names. That’s a different matter entirely.

But when you are making up fantasy names, like, you can just make it easier on your readers by making those names easy to pronounce, and not full of apostrophes.

Wes: Yeah, and less syllables.

Oren: Right, and fewer syllables, just in general. And again, this is when we’re talking about made-up fantasy names. It’s an entirely different discussion when you’re talking about real people’s names.

Chris: So, a way to tell if your story might be overburdened- first of all, if you’re not actually actively looking for what needs to be in there and what not needs to be in there, and not actively paying attention to that, it probably has more stuff in it than it should.

Oren: Probably.

Chris: But a way that I’ve noticed a symptom of an overburdened story, if you send it through a group of beta readers, and every person seems to be confused about something, but each person is confused about something different; like, every person has some different thing that really confused them, and you’re feeling like you’re playing whack-a-mole trying to keep everybody from being confused?

That is usually a symptom of a story that is overburdened. It’s just too complex for the length of the story. And in one case, one way to solve it is to just make the story longer, but not more complex. [laughs] I know there’s a lot of writers out there that, every time they sit down and draft, they do a certain amount of ad-libbing. And it’s almost hard, because the story becomes like, a moving goalpost each time.

But the story, in that case, needs to be longer, without becoming more complex, in order to ease that burden. And of course, the other way is to just cut things. Or like, explanations, a lot of times, there’s some elaborate explanation for why things are happening the way they’re happening. That can just be made simpler and easier to understand.

Oren: In general, I have found that, when people- when I tell someone, ‘okay, this is hard to understand,’ in their story, the first instinct is to add more explanation. And that can work. Sometimes you just have to explain things. But ideally, you want to keep everything as intuitive as possible. And if you do your job right, and use like, theming, and if you’re a visual storyteller, certain visuals, to make things easier to understand, you don’t need as much explanation.

And that’s like- sometimes, you just have to be willing to cut things; even though you could explain them, if you explain everything like that, it just takes too long, and it’s impossible to remember all of the explanations.

This is actually kind of funny; in the Netflix show Umbrella Academy- Umbrella Academy is actually not overburdened, but it feels like it is at the beginning, because instead of using all of the visual tricks that a normal tv show would use to explain what’s happening without the use of dialogue, they do the exact opposite, in a way that is so specific, I’m sure it must be on purpose.

My favorite example: one of the characters, who goes back in time, is wearing a- when he goes back in time, he’s wearing a short-sleeved coat, with no shirt, so he has a bare chest, and some pants. Like, some underwear pants.

Chris: And he’s just got out of a really bad situation, so he’s all beat up and has some blood on him, et cetera.

Oren: And so, what actually happens, is he goes back in the past and fights in the Vietnam war for a year, and then comes back. And there are some ways you could use visuals to make it clear that that’s what happened, and you wouldn’t need tons of dialogue. Like, if he’d come back wearing fatigues, it would have been obvious that, wherever he went, he was somehow in the military.

But instead, he comes back with an outfit that is designed to look exactly like the outfit he left in.

Chris: And he’s like, bloody and beaten up still, right?

Oren: Right. And it’s the same shape, and so then, suddenly, they need a whole episode to try to explain what happened, because it’s really confusing. And I’m like, ‘that has to be on purpose. There’s no way something that specific was an accident.’

Chris: They even have him disappear and reappear in different episodes. So, we can’t even see this happen close together, so he looks very similar, that you’re almost certain that all he did with this device is jump from- actually, what’s really confusing at first, cause it looked like we just saw him appear back in time, and only after a lot of confusion did we figure out, ‘no, he’s still in the present.’

But then we find out later, he did jump back in time, and he spent ten months there. And came back. And it- [laughs] -just, all of this had to be filled in, because of the way they shot it, so that you could not tell what was happening.

Oren: Yeah, it’s a very strange choice. I don’t understand it. I just know they’re doing it on purpose, so like, they think this is working. I don’t know why.

Chris: I am warming up to the idea that Discovery may be overburdened. Discovery- we spent a lot of time discussing what’s wrong with this show. [laughs] It’s not a terrible show, there’s definitely been worse shows, and it has some great components. Like, it has a lot of really great characters.

But it rarely pulls off what we would call a good episode. And increasingly- obviously, I just had a blog post today that talked about how it’s melodramatic. By today, I mean like three weeks ago. [laughs] But also, I’m increasingly feeling that a lot of the problem with it is that it’s quite rushed.

And I think part of that is that they constantly want climactic scenes in it? And they are neglecting all of the connective tissue, and all of the setup. But I also think there’s a- it’s rushed, and there’s too much happening, and they’re trying to do too much all the time, and that- it becomes a lot harder, because they are packing in too much. They can never get a satisfying explanation in about anything.

Oren: Also- like, spoilers for an episode of Discovery that’s about three weeks old by the time you’re hearing this, now. But I also- I can’t help but wonder if part of that is because they’re trying to beat the fan theories by just not foreshadowing anything? Cause like, they have this whole thing of like, ‘who’s the Red Angel? Who’s the Red Angel?’

And then it’s like, ‘surprise, it’s Burnham’s mom!’ And it’s like, we haven’t even seen Burnham’s mom. Burnham’s mom is like, a non-entity in this story. We know she’s dead, but until that very episode, Burnham had never even really talked about her parents. We don’t see a picture of them or anything.

So, when the mask comes off, it’s like, ‘who’s this lady?’ And then we find out it’s Burnham’s mom. And the only reason I can think, to not even show us like, a picture of her so that we would recognize her is because they didn’t want the internet hive mind to figure out their plot ahead of time.

Chris: Don’t try to beat the hive mind. Just let the hive mind win.

Oren: Just accept that the hive mind will guess your story, okay?

Chris: There’s absolutely no way to have a nice, trimmed story, with every part being necessary, which is what you need to have a good story, and not let the hive mind- at least some of the hive mind figure out what you’re doing. You can put in some red herrings, that might at least help. But there’s just no way to beat the hive mind. Just let the hive mind win, it’s okay.

Oren: It’s not a mark of failure that the hive mind guessed your story ahead of time.

Wes: Yeah, it’s tight plotting. Good job. [Wes and Chris laugh]

Chris: Luckily, most people who watch things are not actually plugged into the hive mind, so you’re not actually ruining the experience for most of the audience if you let some forum somewhere figure it out.

Oren: Another way that stories can become overburdened, this is much more common in prose, is too many characters. Especially in like, big fantasy stories where like- Wheel of Time is sort of the most obvious example, where it’s like, every time we meet a new character, it’s like, ‘you get a POV! And you get a POV!’

And by the time you get about six or seven books in, you’re like, ‘oh my god, I just read an entire book that took place over about a week of time,’ because we had to keep jumping to all these POV characters to show us what they were doing.

Chris: That’s what I call ‘chronic series bloat’.

Oren: And like, Game of Thrones was definitely approaching that area too in book five. I’m very curious- book six will never come out, but if it does, I’m curious to know if that gets worse.

Chris: I feel like a lot of storytellers do chronic series bloat on purpose.

Wes: Why?

Chris: Maybe it’s because they want it to be more epic, and they think that in order to make it feel more epic in scale, you need to have lots of different characters in lots of different places, so you can see everything that’s happening in the world. But it’s really defeating, because it just slows the story way down, and most of these viewpoints are pretty boring. In most cases.

So, the story moves really, really slowly, and so, instead of the plot escalating, and rising in tension, and getting more exciting as it goes, it becomes slower and slower and slower. Which is really too bad, right? I’m definitely a fan of like, ‘don’t try to show the entire world in a single story.’ You can save the rest of the world for a different story.

Unless- you can actually have ways for different parts of the world to actually interact with each other. Like, if you had a cyber-universe where you had a lot of world, but all of these electronic interlinkages meant that if one person in the dark web did something, and it affected some other character that’s in Facebook- the Facebook universe- which is a dystopia, for sure. [laughter] Then, maybe, it would work.

Wes: Too real.

Oren: Yeah, or if you have a world where the world itself is super tied into the plot; like, Avatar: The Last Airbender is similar to that, where- it’s notable that Avatar does things like, first we find out about the four bending elements, and at first we see their contrast to each other, and like, how air is different than fire, which is different than earth, which is different than water. And that’s all we get for about a season.

And then, we start to get into the intricacies within each element. And in particular, we do that a fair amount with water, earth, and fire. Air never really gets the same treatment, which is kind of ironic, considering that Aang is an airbender. I think it’s mostly because he doesn’t have to learn airbending; he starts knowing it. But we get into the different ways that water can be used, the different ways that earth can be used, and the different ways that fire can be used.

But Last Airbender is a pretty long show; it’s got three seasons of like, 22 episodes each. So, it has time to do that, and it doesn’t try to introduce it to you all at once. It’s not like we find out there are four elements, and immediately, we start talking about the intricacies of lightningbending. We have a whole season to learn about the basics before we start going into that stuff.

Wes: One of the things I always really appreciated about that, and a lot of other- some other fantasy novels, is- in the opening credits of Avatar, they show you the map of the world. And in like, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books, there’s a map. I always like that that map, in a way, satisfied me on a level of like, ‘oh, there’s the world. That’s cool.’

And then like, maybe the writers then knew that they could or could not get to that, but it was still- it still appealed to me on a level that like, I had a picture to back up the stuff that I was reading, and so, maybe- I don’t know. We talked about visual references being important, and so, that was always a nice thing; The Chronicles of Prydain, I mentioned Earthsea, I did not care for Eragon at all, but it had a map, so, that’s a thing. [Chris laughs]

I feel like you don’t see maps so much anymore. Maybe I’m reading the wrong books.

Oren: I mean, I still see them a fair amount. Okay, so, I would say there’s a difference between Avatar’s use of the map and a fantasy novel’s use of the map. Because in Avatar- because it’s a visual medium, we can see the map, and then they go back to it sometimes. They can show us  a map in the story, that the characters actually have, or they can even zoom out and do the Indiana Jones travel montage thing. So, that’s part of the story.

Whereas in a novel, the map at the beginning is basically just a cool decoration. Like, if you ever have to refer back to the map to know where the characters are or understand what’s happening, the story has failed.

Wes: I disagree. I think in Chronicles of Prydain, that’s very valuable. Like, Lloyd Alexander does a great job plotting through each book, but they mention in the first book that the High King, Math lives in a particular city, which you can see on the map. They don’t go there in that first book, but you know it’s there.

So, it’s not doing nothing, but it’s just like, you mentioned it, and you see it, you’re like, ‘oh, okay,’ and then you move on. You’re not gonna, like- it’s less abstract to me. And then I think that that’s just like- that there is value in having- I just think it serves a purpose more than just a decoration.

Chris: Well, the key is for the map to not be necessary. I have also gotten a lot of joy when I was reading Lord of the Rings, of hearing where they were, and then going and finding it on the map. But the point is that people should be able to do it if they want to, but, especially if they’re listening to an audiobook, which is getting more popular, they shouldn’t need the map to understand what’s happening.

They should be able to choose whether or not they look at the map.

Oren: The reason that my novel will never have a map on it is that I’m bad at distances, and I obscure that with a lot of handwavium. [Wes laughs] You will never force out of me the exact distances anywhere on this world, or the exact relation of anything to anything else. [laughter]

I’ve definitely seen some maps that- once I actually looked at the map, I was like, ‘hang on a minute. Those two things cannot be that close together, or that far apart.’ Whereas, when I was just reading the story, I was kind of like, ‘whatever. The distances are abstract, and I’m not paying super close attention.’ But like, now it’s on a map, and now it’s real.

Chris: I do think that once you start worldbuilding with a map, now you have the burden of trying to figure out exactly what the scale of your map is, and what the realistic travel distance is. And I think sometimes, if you’re doing a lot of deeper worldbuilding, that can be worth it, but sometimes it is just easier to like, ‘everything is a plot-convenient distance apart.’

It does sometimes become obviously bad though. Like, Star Trek has some really funny things with plot-convenient- [laughter] -plot-convenient distances. But if the story isn’t too long, you’re not carrying it on too long, you can get away with that for a while anyway.

Wes: The Lord of the Rings map spawned a novel called The Last Ringbearer, which was written by a Russian geologist, because he was like- he started out trying to reconcile what’s going on with Middle-earth’s geography and geology. Which is just like, ‘huh. Well, that’s a  square mountain chain right there.’

Actually, I really liked The Last Ringbearer as a book. It retells it from Mordor’s point of view. It’s quite good. Much more of like, a detective thriller, too, with how that plot works. It moved pretty fast. The map spawned that, because like, you’re right, it wasn’t- maybe well-conceived. It’s fun to look at, that’s for sure. But that’s not exactly how all volcanoes and mountain ranges work.

Oren: It is kind of funny to be looking at the Lord of the Rings map, and it’s like, super natural looking, and then you get to Mordor, and there’s just three sides of a square of this mountain range. [Wes and Chris laugh] It’s like, what the heck is that? What is happening?

Wes: It makes it [spooky voice] eeevil… [Chris laughs]

Oren: Right angles. The real evil within us all. [Wes and Chris laugh]

Chris: Other stories that are confusing because they are overburdened, I would just say, ‘that confusing indie movie.’ [Oren laughs] Whenever indie movie you’re thinking of that’s confusing, that one. That one is overburdened. Again, since this is something that, when we get to the more popular, more- published and polished stuff tend to be less overburdened.

Indie movies tend to be much more guilty of this than really popular movies. Although Cloud Atlas is definitely guilty. But Cloud Atlas was trying to adapt a book with like, six different viewpoints at different places in time, and then they decided to interweave them at once. So, whoever did that knew what they were getting into. [laughs]

But Primer is an excellent example of an overburdened movie.

Oren: Oh gosh, yeah. Primer.

Chris: Nobody knows what’s happening in Primer. It’s too elaborate, it’s too confusing, it’s too complex.

Oren: Yep. I could not tell what was going on, and- I don’t know. I feel like Primer is just- Primer is definitely a thing where someone who isn’t super experienced with storytelling is like, ‘oh, well, I’ve solved the problem. Here it is. This is how it’s done.’ And it’s like, ‘that is a confusing mess.’ Turns out there was a reason we did things the way we did them, is kind of what Primer feels like.

Dragon Prince is another one. So, with Dragon Prince, unlike Airbender where we have one magic system that has its own clearly set up internal workings, Dragon Prince starts off with two. And it’s like, ‘okay, two magic systems, that could be interesting. We could see how they oppose each other.’

And it’s like, ‘so, now we’re figuring out how the primal magic system works, while sort of acknowledging that the dark magic system works,’ but neither of them is really getting a whole lot of development, cause it’s turning out, there’s just not enough time.

And then in the middle of that, we introduce a completely random third magic system that only one character has. And it’s like, ‘where did this come-’ And like, no one seems weirded out by it. We spend a whole thing with being like, ‘humans can’t learn magic, except the dark magic, that’s the only kind of magic that humans can do.’ And here’s Ezran, it’s like, ‘I have a magic power where I can talk to animals and communicate with them telepathically.’

And it’s like, ‘oh. What kind of magic is that?’

Wes: Yeah, they really gloss over that so hard. ‘Oh, he just- he just can kind of do it.’

Oren: He can just do it.

Wes: It’s not a big deal; don’t worry about it. [laughs]

Oren: It’s just a very strange thing to gloss over, while his brother’s big story arc is learning to use magic. It’s a very strange thing. And there’s also just so much- there’s so much politics going on in Dragon Prince that I have a hard time remembering who knows what at any one time.

You know, like, Ezran is going back- at the end of season two, Ezran is going back to take up the throne. And I’m struggling to remember if the three kids know that Viren is evil. Do they? I can’t actually remember if they know that or not.

Wes: Well, it also doesn’t help that Viren is just not very well done. They want us to sympathize with him, he cares, and then he does like, ‘let’s go murder children.’

Oren: Yeah, there’s a lot of questions that I have because Dragon Prince’s premise is extremely complicated, and it is just not taking the time to answer them. I think that might be just because it’s too short. I’m not sure.

Chris: Last, I would just say that I think that Rogue One is possibly a little overburdened. I love the movie, I think it’s a great movie, but the complaints that we tend to hear about it are that the pacing is off, and that it’s hard to understand, which are both signs that it’s just too complex, and it’s rushing a little bit, and struggling to convey to the audience everything that’s happening.

Wes: Well, I told you two that I still haven’t finished it. I got a third of the way in and I turned it off. I mean, I probably will go finish it, but yeah, it was just like, ‘what? No. I’m not in the mood for this.’ And it soured me on it.

Oren: The characters are also introduced very quickly in Rogue One. And like, I like all the characters, but I cannot for the life of me remember what any of them are called. I remember them by their roles in the movie. It’s like, ‘that’s Stick Dude, and that’s Big Gun Dude, and that’s Spy Dude; and I remember the main character’s name is Jyn.’

And that’s how I remember them, because- they all have names, I just don’t know what they are. [laughs]

Chris: Too complex, that’s definitely the movie’s biggest downfall.

Oren: That’s true. Alright, but we are definitely out of time, because this podcast is already too complex. [Wes laughs]

Chris: Oh, no.

Wes: We did it.

Oren: So, before we go, I just want to thank two of our patrons: Kathy Ferguson, who is a professor of Political Theory in Star Trek, and Ayman Jaber; you can find his stuff at thefantasywarrior.com. If anything we said piqued your interest, you can leave a comment on the website at Mythcreants.com, and we will talk to you next week. [closing song]

 

Chris: This has been the Mythcreants podcast. Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton.

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

 

Comments

  1. A Perspiring Writer

    Alright, there’s a transcript here now.

    • A Perspiring Writer

      I just realized; I tried to call Oren ‘Ashkenazi’, and the podcast broke.

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