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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sci-fi tropes that need to be banned for 50 years...

I had a serious post half-written about how I'm somewhat tired of the sci-fi genre. And then I realized it would probably be more helpful/fun to make a post of sci-fi tropes/plot devices that need to be banned for at least the next 50 years.

Clearly I'm not a governing body with any kind of authority, so, think of it this way. If you are writing something in which any of the following things are used, just think twice about it. Are you really writing something that original?


  1. Despite being the distant future, America still exists pretty much like it does now, both geographically and sociologically.
  2. Despite being the distant future, America's main political/military rivals are still exactly the same as they are today.
  3. Despite being the future, the one world government is run suspiciously like a US-style democracy, and most of the leaders seem to be white and/or male.
  4.  Despite being the distant future with high technological advancement, the roles of men and women are exactly the same. If they are being disputed, it is in the same way they are currently being disputed.
  5. Mankind has encountered only one alien race, and they are monolithically united in fighting us.
  6. The morality of totally wiping out a sentient race is never questioned, or only by a straw man.
  7. Mankind is technologically set back by a disaster. It responds by adapting SCA/medieval political units, with no alterations.
  8. When mankind loses technology and forms a quasi-utopian pre-Industrial society, no one ever requires internal medicine or modern pharmaceuticals.
  9. Despite major technical advances, including mass teleportation, mankind still relies on 19th/early 20th naval tactics for warfare. Especially in space.
  10. The Nazis/Confederates win World War II/the Civil War.
  11. The Nazis/Confederates win World War II/the Civil War with the aid of time travelers/aliens/dragons.
  12. A quasi-fascist strong man is the only one who can save the Future US/Earth from a major threat. Anyone who questions him is completely wrong.
  13. Except for uniforms that look like Iron Man joining a SWAT team, average soldiers are completely the same as the stock types from a World War II movie.
  14. Sexual relations and mores are exactly the same as they are currently.
Ok, this is just a start. If you have more suggestions, leave them in the comments.

3 comments:

JEFFREY SCONCE said...

I would add "All clones are inherently unstable and treacherous."

I am reminded here also of Albert Brooks' great line in "Modern Romance." Supervising a foley session for a sci-fi movie that features the hero running through a spaceship, Brooks asks for more "space floor."

Mr. Thinker said...

There's a lot of science fiction that uses the future to deal metaphorically with current issues, which justifies some of those tropes. And then you get something like Starship Troopers, which by mocking/embracing those tropes accidentally becomes an uncannily accurate Iraq War analogy. We can only hope, then, that escapist sci-fi that adheres to those cliches is awesome (Doomsday) instead of tired (Avatar).

Zaid said...

i think the point of a lot of sci fi is that it is supposed to serve as a metaphor for either the course of action that ought to take place or at the very least highlighting problems in our current society...i think thats why they are so closely related to our societies now...