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View Full Version : Five things sci-fi needs to stop doing



Zoombie
05-30-2009, 01:23 AM
http://www.cracked.com/article_17392_6-sci-fi-movie-conventions-that-need-die.html

Can anyone think of things to add to this list?

Also, I just realized...
The article says SIX

SIX not five!

I suck ._.

alleycat
05-30-2009, 01:25 AM
The list of SF cliches gets passed around from time to time and is always good for a laugh.

Here's one: http://www.cthreepo.com/cliche/

ChunkyC
05-30-2009, 02:20 AM
ONE?! Looks like about a thousand clichés in there, alley. ;)

dgiharris
05-30-2009, 03:03 AM
Yes,

It is my personal pet peeve that Star Trek hasn't learned the value of seatbelts.

Unfortunately, the only show that didn't follow those rules was...

<sob>

Firefly

Damn you FOX!!! Damn you to HELL!!!!

INterestingly enough, I believe there is a huge opportunity here, I will call it the Firefly Opportunity. That is, we fan are starving for something new and real. That is why I loved Firefly. It felt 'real'. Goddamn it Zoombie. You made me remember Firefly. Now I must rage and plot the destruction of FOX yet again.

<sigh>

<grabs pitchfork and The Alchemist's Handbook>

Mel....

dgiharris
05-30-2009, 03:14 AM
Just for the hell of it, thought I'd start the ball going on cliche's that annoy me.

I always find it ANNOYING how an alien would think that a human female is pretty and or find her desirable.

Or, if there is some type of 'Alien falls in love with human' story, they always transform into humans in order to have the relationship. What about an alien saying, "You know what Susan, since WE love each other, how bout we transform you into my lifeform. You will love having 6 eyes and 12 appendages. Besides, being an air breather is so tacky, murky sludge, ahhh that's the stuff."

Mel...

dclary
05-30-2009, 03:21 AM
Just for the hell of it, thought I'd start the ball going on cliche's that annoy me.

I always find it ANNOYING how an alien would think that a human female is pretty and or find her desirable.

Or, if there is some type of 'Alien falls in love with human' story, they always transform into humans in order to have the relationship. What about an alien saying, "You know what Susan, since WE love each other, how bout we transform you into my lifeform. You will love having 6 eyes and 12 appendages. Besides, being an air breather is so tacky, murky sludge, ahhh that's the stuff."

Mel...

I haven't seen this cliche before.

In fact, I can only think of interspecial relationships where both sides maintain their original species.

Galaxy Quest
Howard the Duck
Star Trek

Zoombie
05-30-2009, 03:22 AM
Hive Minds Are Evil.

Thanks, Borg, but a voluntary collective could be very peaceful and very nice! Also, what if we think metal in our chicks is sexy! Just cuase they have implants, dosn't mean they're not huggable.

Who would design cybernetics to look gross anyway?

dgiharris
05-30-2009, 03:27 AM
I haven't seen this cliche before.

In fact, I can only think of interspecial relationships where both sides maintain their original species.

Galaxy Quest
Howard the Duck
Star Trek

Oh, sorry,

I come from a parallel Earth in which that cliche is so over used.

hmmm.... I think a lot of sci-fi shorts use it like Outer Limits and Twilight Zone. And B-rate sci-fi movies. There was one in which female aliens came to Earth to get impregnated by males.

Starman sorta used it.

hmmm... maybe not as big a deal as I thought. Guess I should stop smoking crack huh?

Mel...

Zoombie
05-30-2009, 03:29 AM
IF anything, we need more hot female chicks coming to earth for hot earthikan loving...

ChunkyC
05-30-2009, 03:30 AM
I haven't seen this cliche before.

In fact, I can only think of interspecial relationships where both sides maintain their original species.

Galaxy Quest
Howard the Duck
Star Trek
Actually, though she did remain in her alien form, wazzerface on Galaxy Quest used a widget to appear human. So this one could go either way.

(waits for Zoombie to say something about going either way ;) )

Zoombie
05-30-2009, 03:31 AM
<pointedly says nothing>

shawkins
05-30-2009, 03:46 AM
This is more a problem in fantasy than in SF, but I question the utility of metal and/or leather bikinis, particularly as worn by women who get into a lot of fights.

ETA: Note that "question the utility of" is NOT the same as "object to."

White-Tean
05-30-2009, 02:37 PM
This is more a problem in fantasy than in SF, but I question the utility of metal and/or leather bikinis, particularly as worn by women who get into a lot of fights.

ETA: Note that "question the utility of" is NOT the same as "object to."

Oh gosh, bikini armour... how does that make sense?
I mean, I'm not a wuss, I'm the type of girl that will start ranting at a 550kg plus horse that tries to run me over until it's running backwards, but darn it all I'd sure as flying duckery want to have more armour than the guys. No way I'd want to be gutted just to show off my rack and abs.

RickN
05-30-2009, 07:01 PM
Oh gosh, bikini armour... how does that make sense?
I mean, I'm not a wuss, I'm the type of girl that will start ranting at a 550kg plus horse that tries to run me over until it's running backwards, but darn it all I'd sure as flying duckery want to have more armour than the guys. No way I'd want to be gutted just to show off my rack and abs.

Yeah, but it's a guy that heads up the Planetary Uniform Design Board.

And men are pigs. Maybe futuristic, sci-fi space-traveling pigs, but pigs nonetheless.

ChunkyC
05-30-2009, 08:42 PM
Yeah, but it's a guy that heads up the Planetary Uniform Design Board.

And men are pigs. Maybe futuristic, sci-fi space-traveling pigs, but pigs nonetheless.
Maybe that's what the armour is meant to protect them from, in which case it would make perfect sense.



See? You can rationalize just about anything in sci-fi and fantasy. :)

maestrowork
05-30-2009, 08:53 PM
M-Class planets are a dime a dozen and they're all in livable conditions, with the same gravity, climate conditions and rate of rotation (length of day/week/year) as Earth.

They all speak English without any kind of translators.

And if the aliens are advanced enough to do intergalactic travel, they wouldn't look like lizards with a pea brain.

S.C. Denton
06-08-2009, 09:20 PM
I agree with much of what's been said about these time honored (cliched) traditions, but since I thought this was going to be a rant about the Sci-Fi channel I intend to do that, and perhaps more.

What they need to stop doing is making these horrible made for TV movies. Either that or take the budget that they have for 2-5 yrs worth of films and actually make one good one that they could show periodically. And I don't know who they put in charge of the CGI department there but I'd take that person out back and put them out of their misery.

It looks like a none too bright twelve year old designed them on his computer at school in his spare time. And CGI is another thing that has pretty much killed the Creature Feature. This attitude of 'Oh don't worry just stare at the Green Screen and I promise you we'll slap together one helluva scary monster' has got to change. I'm speaking mostly about horror/sci-fi here but the same could be said of many movies.

The art of creating physically tangible effects is going the way of the dinosaur and it's sad to see. Not only did it make for better acting, but the visuals were much more believable. These days even five years olds can spot bad CGI.

And if we as the viewing public don't become more vocal on these issues then it's only going to get worse. Does anyone feel me?

Kurtz
06-08-2009, 09:31 PM
You could just stop writing awful books and making awful films. The last true sci fi film that you walked out of feeling smarter than you did when you walked in was Primer.

None of the stuff on the list was true SF. Star Wars isn't SF, Star Trek isn't SF, Firefly isn't SF. It's all fantasy, they're fairy tales. Real science fiction is Solaris, Stalker, Sunshine, Gattaca, A Scanner Darkly and Ghost in the Shell. I've heard good things about Moon as well.

S.C. Denton
06-08-2009, 09:51 PM
I'm not a Trekker (isn't that PC these days, lol) but Star Trek is definitely science fiction. Since at its core science fiction is about speculation and this show and its string of movies have always speculated what the future might hold for our race I'd say that it definitely falls into that category.

Consider this: Star Trek is admittedly the reason many of today's scientists went into the profession in the first place. And many of the outlandish technologies of the show are considered actual possiblities by thinkers greater than you or I could ever hope to be. And a few are even actualities.

And while Star Wars and Firefly may be much more fantastical than your average science fiction I still think that is precisely what they are. Hell, the film techniques used in Star Wars would've been called science fiction 25 years beforehand.

Lhun
06-08-2009, 11:27 PM
I'm not a Trekker (isn't that PC these days, lol) but Star Trek is definitely science fiction. Since at it's core science fiction is about speculation and this show and it's string of movies have always speculated what the future might hold for our race I'd say that it definitely falls into that category.StarTrek is SF. Pretty bad SF, but it fits the structure. It's also classical adventure (think Jack London) or at least most episodes of most series are.

And while Star Wars and Firefly may be much more fantastical than your average science fiction I still think that is precisely what they are. Hell, the film techniques used in Star Wars would've been called science fiction 25 years beforehand.Nope. StarWars isn't SF, it's not speculative in the least. StarWars is basically a fantasy fairy tale, and Firefly is a western. Laser guns are not what determines wether something is SF, and neither are spaceships.
Heck, StarWars even managed to include robots, and still did so without getting even close to SF by making them simply shiny brass humans.

ChunkyC
06-09-2009, 12:27 AM
Star Trek may not be Blade Runner, but it definitely is science fiction. It is a story about a possible future that can be extrapolated from the world as it was when it was written.

Star Wars, on the other hand, has a foot planted firmly in the fantasy genre. I would call it a sci-fi/fantasy crossover because it has many elements from both. It's not pure science fiction, but neither is it pure fantasy like The Lord of the Rings.

BenPanced
06-09-2009, 12:28 AM
Just for the hell of it, thought I'd start the ball going on cliche's that annoy me.

I always find it ANNOYING how an alien would think that a human female is pretty and or find her desirable.

Or, if there is some type of 'Alien falls in love with human' story, they always transform into humans in order to have the relationship. What about an alien saying, "You know what Susan, since WE love each other, how bout we transform you into my lifeform. You will love having 6 eyes and 12 appendages. Besides, being an air breather is so tacky, murky sludge, ahhh that's the stuff."

Mel...


I haven't seen this cliche before.

In fact, I can only think of interspecial relationships where both sides maintain their original species.

Galaxy Quest
Howard the Duck
Star Trek


Oh, sorry,

I come from a parallel Earth in which that cliche is so over used.

hmmm.... I think a lot of sci-fi shorts use it like Outer Limits and Twilight Zone. And B-rate sci-fi movies. There was one in which female aliens came to Earth to get impregnated by males.

Starman sorta used it.

hmmm... maybe not as big a deal as I thought. Guess I should stop smoking crack huh?

Mel...
Loooooooong history of this: Creature from the Black Lagoon, This Island Earth, and of course Mars Needs Women, just to name three. It's not the standard "I'm smart and I'm resourceful and I'll just SHOW these...MEN I can take care of myself!", so she wanders away from the camp only to stumble on the alien pods just to get captured. The women are targeted by the alien/monster.

Kurtz
06-09-2009, 02:54 AM
The best summary of Star Wars that I have read was: 'Religious extremists destroy government installation, leaving thousands dead'. The rebels are essentially Al Qaeda.

Sarpedon
06-09-2009, 03:03 AM
except that the rebels don't go around blowing up planets to 'keep the local systems in line.'

benbradley
06-09-2009, 03:21 AM
This is why I don't "watch sci-fi." I read SF.

BenPanced
06-09-2009, 03:32 AM
You mean SyFy.

TheseHeavySands
06-09-2009, 03:34 AM
The best summary of Star Wars that I have read was: 'Religious extremists destroy government installation, leaving thousands dead'. The rebels are essentially Al Qaeda.

Don't forget Return of the Jedi, where the religious extremists don't just blow up the government installation, but hi-jack an aircraft in order to do so.

benbradley
06-09-2009, 04:00 AM
You mean SyFy.
Oh shyt.

TheseHeavySands
06-09-2009, 04:41 AM
Sci-fi needs to stop dating its future worlds as they inevitably prove innaccurate.

By starting your movie or novel by stating a future year such as '2029' or whatever, you are essentially putting a sell-by-date on your creation.

Simply putting 'the distant/near future' surely suffices.

BigWords
06-09-2009, 04:53 AM
I don't want to upset anyone, but... Firefly being cancelled might have been a good thing.

Look at it this way, the series never had the opportunity to be run into the ground by Fox, and there wasn't an episode where Jayne's brain was stolen to power a vacuum cleaner. The show never jumped the shark, granted, it never had the opportunity to do so, but it is perfect as it is and will never be sullied by crap episodes.

SF on film and TV is too reliant on Canada. If you want to talk cliche, then filming 'up North' is as bad as citing the Prime Directive then blowing up the bad guys anyway.

mario_c
06-09-2009, 09:23 AM
@BW You mean like The X Files? (a favorite show with the most horrible season 6 imaginable)

@THS You mean like Escape From New York? (Watchmen worked around the source material's datedness in a clever way at least.)

SPMiller
06-09-2009, 09:50 AM
The best summary of Star Wars that I have read was: 'Religious extremists destroy government installation, leaving thousands dead'. The rebels are essentially Al Qaeda.Dune lends itself much better to that sort of summary, seeing as it's directly analogous to ME terrorism and the oil supply.

ChunkyC
06-09-2009, 06:16 PM
SF on film and TV is too reliant on Canada. If you want to talk cliche, then filming 'up North' is as bad as citing the Prime Directive then blowing up the bad guys anyway.
Uh ... what? Please explain how basing a production in Canada has anything to do with cliche in science fiction. Unless you mean a production using the fact they're based in Canada as a marketing angle?

Diana Hignutt
06-09-2009, 07:38 PM
The best summary of Star Wars that I have read was: 'Religious extremists destroy government installation, leaving thousands dead'. The rebels are essentially Al Qaeda.

Yeah, and think about The Return of the Jedi: The Death Star wasn't even finished. There were no doubt, thousands of innocent contractors there.

BigWords
06-09-2009, 08:45 PM
All of the SF filmed in Canada seems to have a sameness to the look, and a bad appropriation of US cities. If a series is filmed in Canada it should be set in Canada.

I can see the mountains in the background, and they ain't fooling anyone...

DavidZahir
06-09-2009, 09:38 PM
Actually, methinks Orson Scott Card made the good point that as far as audience members, editors and publicists are concerned science fiction is about technology and gives scientific-sounding explanations for stuff while fantasy openly calls things magic (and is often set in a medieval culture).

Yeah, there are loads of cliches out there that we'd all like to see an end to. But on the other hand, some are simply story devices that can work quite nicely in the hands of a good storyteller. I adored the show Farscape and loved one exchange in particular. A brilliant girl and Rygel were captured by mercenaries who "shrank" them to put them inside jars for safekeeping. The brilliant girl freaked, explaining every single way that shrinking people shouldn't work at all--crushing from the pressure involved, removal of particles would destroy their minds/lives once enough mass was gone, etc. Rygel just called her an infant. No, he didn't know how the Mercs did it but he recognized a frelling fact when it bit him, and he didn't whine every time the universe did something he didn't expect it to. Look at FTL. Everything we know about physics says that should be impossible, yet plenty of wonderful shows and stories count on it.

Meanwhile, I will also point out that the first season of Buffy was really very good, but all the best episodes were to follow. Likewise the first season of Babylon 5 was easily its weakest. I for one do not buy the notion that Firefly was doomed to mediocrity.

BigWords
06-09-2009, 09:51 PM
Firefly was perfect. Buffy slid slightly in its' final season (for me), Babylon 5's last season was a mess compared to the middle seasons (and the follow-on series and TVMs were worse), while the X-Files self-destructed once the original cast departed.

Fox would have found a way to screw up Firefly. If anyone wants to mess a series up, they look to Fox's example. Love the episodes that exist, pray it isn't brought back and tinkered with by lesser hands.

Smileycat
06-10-2009, 12:17 PM
Stop fighting!

There are other ways to introduce conflict and tension to a script. Use your brain for a change (not you, of course, but the repeat successful screenwriters)!

BigWords
06-10-2009, 01:57 PM
*waves white flag*

Not fighting. Just annoyed with SF on TV and film when it gets bad (which it inevitably does), because the screenwriters don't seem to give a damn about the fans. I'm not going to mention Lost, because that will start a fight.

AceTachyon
06-10-2009, 04:38 PM
This is more a problem in fantasy than in SF, but I question the utility of metal and/or leather bikinis, particularly as worn by women who get into a lot of fights.

ETA: Note that "question the utility of" is NOT the same as "object to."
They address this in the latest comic book incarnation of Red Sonja.

She rescues a messenger from a bunch of baddies. He says to her: "Your armor, woman--it scarcely protects your modesty, let alone your vitals."

Sonja replies: "Men are easily distracted. Most of them never even notice my sword...until their heads roll off their necks."

BigWords
06-10-2009, 04:55 PM
Matter of fact: Female pirates used to rip open their tops to expose their breasts when they were boarding a ship. The dumb guys all stood drooling at the sight while a sword slipped up inside their rib cage. Women take note - we're easily distracted.

I love the fact that I can incorporate history into an otherwise light thread, and I won't appear to be dredging up facts just for the sake of it.

AceTachyon
06-10-2009, 05:41 PM
Matter of fact: Female pirates used to rip open their tops to expose their breasts when they were boarding a ship. The dumb guys all stood drooling at the sight while a sword slipped up inside their rib cage. Women take note - we're easily distracted.

"Look out! It's Anne Bonny! She--ooooooo...breasteses.... (STAB)"

ChunkyC
06-10-2009, 07:52 PM
All of the SF filmed in Canada seems to have a sameness to the look, and a bad appropriation of US cities. If a series is filmed in Canada it should be set in Canada.

I can see the mountains in the background, and they ain't fooling anyone...
Ah, I see where you're coming from. The only problem is, Hollywood thinks that Americans won't watch a show if it's set in Canada. It's fine to make it here, which we don't mind at all since a lot of Canadians get to work on big Hollywood productions, but mention Toronto or Calgary and your average American moviegoer will wonder what's going on. Bug eyed aliens are easy to suspend disbelief over, but Calgary is just too strange to handle. ;)

Smileycat
06-18-2009, 01:54 AM
*waves white flag*

Not fighting. Just annoyed with SF on TV and film when it gets bad (which it inevitably does), because the screenwriters don't seem to give a damn about the fans. I'm not going to mention Lost, because that will start a fight.


So true. And there is always that inevitable fight, which I can't stand.

(Loved the British TV Avengers, BTW.)

Kurtz
06-18-2009, 01:58 AM
Matter of fact: Female pirates used to rip open their tops to expose their breasts when they were boarding a ship. The dumb guys all stood drooling at the sight while a sword slipped up inside their rib cage. Women take note - we're easily distracted.

I love the fact that I can incorporate history into an otherwise light thread, and I won't appear to be dredging up facts just for the sake of it.

You see, that works fine until you meet the gay pirates.

Kris
06-18-2009, 02:16 AM
"Look out! It's Anne Bonny! She--ooooooo...breasteses.... (STAB)"

:roll:

BigWords
06-18-2009, 02:20 AM
You see, that works fine until you meet the gay pirates.

Captain Jack would whip it out if he thought it would save him from a stabbing. (And that sounds SO dirtier than when the thought popped into my head)

Kris
06-18-2009, 02:29 AM
I have to admit that I do The Rule of Three (Einstein, Newton, Sarlak) all the time in my writing. Gotta watch that.

dgiharris
06-18-2009, 05:43 AM
I don't want to upset anyone, but... Firefly being cancelled might have been a good thing... I'm not upset. But I must now kill you all the same.


Firefly was perfect. Umm, I'm not sure if this retraction warrants an excusal of your earlier blasphemy.

hmmm.... After careful thought and consideration, i've decided to take it into account and grant you a relatively quick and only moderately painful death.


Ah, I see where you're coming from. The only problem is, Hollywood thinks that Americans won't watch a show if it's set in Canada. It's fine to make it here, which we don't mind at all since a lot of Canadians get to work on big Hollywood productions, but mention Toronto or Calgary and your average American moviegoer will wonder what's going on. Bug eyed aliens are easy to suspend disbelief over, but Calgary is just too strange to handle. ;)

Yeah, guess so. I love some of the British Sci-Fi (Dr. Who of course) where things weren't based in the US. I think for the most part we can handle it. That would be something 'fresh' and new for hollywood to give a try sometime.


I have to admit that I do The Rule of Three (Einstein, Newton, Sarlak) all the time in my writing. Gotta watch that.

Personally, the rule of three is one of those things that only piss off us writers. I think fans and audience members don't even notice.

Sorry, I will not give up the rule of three!!! I mean, where would literature be today without Shakespeare, Hemmingway, and Zorkvia pushing the boundaries :D

ChunkyC
06-18-2009, 06:33 PM
Originally Posted by ChunkyC http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3675332#post3675332)
Ah, I see where you're coming from. The only problem is, Hollywood thinks that Americans won't watch a show if it's set in Canada. It's fine to make it here, which we don't mind at all since a lot of Canadians get to work on big Hollywood productions, but mention Toronto or Calgary and your average American moviegoer will wonder what's going on. Bug eyed aliens are easy to suspend disbelief over, but Calgary is just too strange to handle. ;)


Yeah, guess so. I love some of the British Sci-Fi (Dr. Who of course) where things weren't based in the US. I think for the most part we can handle it. That would be something 'fresh' and new for hollywood to give a try sometime.
I have a personal experience with regards to this, so there is a bit off a burr in my saddle, so to speak.

A number of years ago I submitted my first and admittedly as-yet-unpublishable science fiction novel to a certain publishing house and one of the reasons given for it being rejected was that it was too 'Canadian' for the American market. The only thing Canadian about it was that it was set in the Calgary, Alberta area. I didn't say 'eh' at the end of each line of dialogue, there were no moose wandering the streets ... yet even though I had stuff like an automated spacecraft that could spin an entire human set of chromosomes out of raw amino acids and 'decant' fully formed colonists for a new world, this publisher thought it would be too hard for American sci-fi readers to swallow because my protag lived and worked in Canada.

:Wha:

I managed to bite my tongue and not mention Robert J. Sawyer (seeing as my book wasn't really ready for publication no matter where it was set), but still, that excuse for rejecting it really rankled. I should add, in the interest of 'full disclosure', that the publisher was Canadian. :)

Anyway, I do think you're right that the American market itself is certainly willing to accept good books or movies no matter where they are set. Upon review of my earlier post, I misstated when I said "the average American moviegoer will wonder what's goin on." I should have said "Hollywood seems to think the average American moviegoer will wonder what's going on." There do seem to be a few twits on the production side of such products that have this silly notion everything must be set in America.

Leah_Michelle
06-19-2009, 04:42 AM
Yes,

It is my personal pet peeve that Star Trek hasn't learned the value of seatbelts.

Unfortunately, the only show that didn't follow those rules was...

<sob>

Firefly

Damn you FOX!!! Damn you to HELL!!!!

INterestingly enough, I believe there is a huge opportunity here, I will call it the Firefly Opportunity. That is, we fan are starving for something new and real. That is why I loved Firefly. It felt 'real'. Goddamn it Zoombie. You made me remember Firefly. Now I must rage and plot the destruction of FOX yet again.

<sigh>

<grabs pitchfork and The Alchemist's Handbook>

Mel....

One of the best damn shows ever made.
I'll agree with your <sigh> and add in one of my own.
*sigh*