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Author Topic: Science Fiction Cliches  (Read 10650 times)
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SharonBell
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« on: March 27, 2008, 09:31:14 PM »

I found this site while critting a cliche riddled manuscript. Had to share it with the Doomsters.  afro
http://www.cthreepo.com/cliche/
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bintarab
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2008, 10:22:09 PM »

Criminy, what a list! I'll go through it a bit at a time or it'll just overwhelm me. Did you find it helpful? How did you use it? I can see how cliches can be very useful, like with the zombie stories: there are certain conventions you don't have to explain or spend limited words on. It's like having a knife when you want to eat a steak -- you don't need it, but you can use it without thinking about it and put your mind on something else. Like that 20th re-run episode of Star Trek that's all there is on TV when you just want to veg in front of the set while you eat dinner after an exhausting day. Frees your mind for that kind of thing, you know?

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delboy
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2008, 03:28:05 AM »

Interesting (and long!) list, and it begs the question, what, then, is left to write about?  huh

Derek
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2008, 04:10:49 AM »

That's the big problem with sci-fi, I think - pretty much everything has been done to death. On the Borderlands course, Tom Monteleone summed it up by saying, "If you've seen it on an issue of Twilight Zone, Star Trek, or any other film or tv series - don't use it unless you can put a strong enough twist on it to make it unique."

That's one hell of a list, though - I got about a third of the way through it before my mind and eyes rebelled. To me, the ticks and crosses look the same colour, so that doesn't help.

Thanks for sharing the list, Sharon smiley
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2008, 04:20:46 AM »

Heh - from elsewhere on the blog, I think I might have found my new signature grin

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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2008, 04:34:56 AM »

Thanks Sharon, that's a really good list, and I was mentally ticking off all the films, tv programmes and stories where I'd seen them used.

But it can also be seen as a good list of prompts, as my tendency is to imagine how I can subvert the cliches so the reader is expecting one thing, but gets another.
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2008, 06:03:33 AM »

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The intelligent and confident woman who can be bribed with a dress.


Damn, there goes my latest story.
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2008, 02:15:52 PM »

Neat!
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2008, 04:34:29 PM »

hum. de dum. reading that list i am thinking either the writers, or could it be the readers, don't know much history? could be the readers. any of them readers know of the link between the so-called amazons and graves found in siberia? dunno. maybe is all too lite and trite on both ends with writer and reader. dont really need to make anything up when you look at history. is so rich in lore and nuance and differences and dismissed realities. or something like that.
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2008, 03:17:29 AM »

When I'd read it properly it occurred to me that many of them were just inconsistencies, and an inconsistency does not a cliche make. And some are neccessary. For example the 'cliche' that all aliens speak English. Considering most of us write in English, and don't have the ability to make up a whole different vocabulary, this is more for convenience. As a friend of mine said, a novel or short story full of alien language would be errrtaitatt azzzrweda tztattogggf. Wink
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Ed
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2008, 04:28:00 AM »

Or maybe not - they could be francophile aliens who turn up in an unreliable spaceship, unwashed and stinking of garlic and Stella Artois yes
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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2008, 11:46:39 AM »

In the original Star Wars movie, they used non-European languages in parts where they needed to show aliens speaking a language other than English. And there was the usual device of someone speaking something unintelligible to us, but with a character (e.g. C3PO) responding in English so you know what was said.

Reminds me of something on Strange Horizons' list of Stories We've Seen Too Often:

    17. An alien observes and comments on the peculiar habits of humans, for allegedly comic effect.
    a. The alien is fluent in English and completely familiar with various English idioms, but is completely unfamiliar with human biology and/or with such concepts as sex or violence and/or with certain specific extremely common English words (such as "cat").

~bint
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2008, 01:35:50 PM »

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And there was the usual device of someone speaking something unintelligible to us, but with a character (e.g. C3PO) responding in English so you know what was said.

I think you'd have to be careful with that one as it could end up like an episode of Lassie.

"What Lassie? Little Jimmy's got trapped down a well? And we need to fetch the emergency services to save him? And you think he's broken his leg?" grin
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Ed
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2008, 01:47:03 PM »

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And there was the usual device of someone speaking something unintelligible to us, but with a character (e.g. C3PO) responding in English so you know what was said.

I think you'd have to be careful with that one as it could end up like an episode of Lassie.

"What Lassie? Little Jimmy's got trapped down a well? And we need to fetch the emergency services to save him? And you think he's broken his leg?" grin

 grin

Yeah, or was it on the Harry Enfield Show, where they used to have somebody speaking a foreign language for about a minute, and at the end the translation comes back as, "He say, 'yes'."
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
SharonBell
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2008, 05:47:42 PM »

I think you'd have to be careful with that one as it could end up like an episode of Lassie.

"What Lassie? Little Jimmy's got trapped down a well? And we need to fetch the emergency services to save him? And you think he's broken his leg?" grin

LOL!! I say this to my silly Weimaraner all the time when he's barking his head off: "What is it Lassie? Is Timmy in the well? Let's LEAVE him there!"
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