Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Cyanide Muffin, Jul 21, 2018.
People used to say a lot of things were impossible. Until they happened.
And what's wrong with stories about impossible things? Many of the best stories are.
Like when people said that it was impossible to square the circle...
Absolutely. Not knocking DEATH OF A SALESMAN or other first-rate realistic dramas here.
Just saying that perhaps one shouldn't bring the same expectations regarding "realism" to the likes of STAR TREK or DOCTOR WHO or FARSCAPE or whatever. That's not necessarily what audiences want or need when it comes to science fiction.
Every story, no matter how realistic, is still not going to be 100% true to reality. There are always going to be tweaks to reality in even the most realistic story, just to keep things interesting and moving along at a good pace. Even reality shows and documentaries set up specific situations and edit out the boring parts.
When the alien big bad justifies destroying/subjugating humanity by saying we're one of the few predatory species who prey on themselves, when in fact that is rife in nature, spiders for instance and even some non-predatory species. Think about two squirrels fighting over nuts.
I saw two women doing that once...
But it is impossible to square the circle with the compass and straightedge, which is what is meant by squaring the circle. It's a reference to the problem known since antiquity.
It's one of those things like trisecting any given angle or constructing a regular heptagon. It cannot be done, unless disallowed tools are used.
I think the UT concept is interesting, but I also feel it might be fair to say sometimes stories are way too reliant on it. Trek is an example, as the UT seems to have made dedicated communications officers (and specifically linguists) seem less useful. I think a better balance would be to have the UT being more of an ongoing project than a ready convenience, and these officers would still have an important role in representing the crew to new cultures.
I recall the My Teacher Is An Alien series had a nice take on it, where a translator device existed that had to be surgically implanted in the brain. It allowed aliens from many worlds to communicate easily and also translated concepts of physical expression, like how Hoo-Lan's species flapped their ears to make the equivalent of a human smile. But the implants did have some limitation as well, as each species would still speak their own language and the implant would cause you to "hear" the appropriate translation mentally. When Peter first went about a space vessel, after he got his implant, he was told that nobody could have explained the procedure to him beforehand because only one crew member had an implant designed to let him speak English specifically. And this implant caused some unintended weirdness in some of Broxholm's descriptions, because English couldn't translate some concepts. He referred to Hoo-Lan as "it" because Hoo-Lan would appear to be male by human standards, but his species includes at least eight genders and "male" or similar pronouns wouldn't be the right linguistic term.
I know I was being sarcastic. Reread my post with that in mind.
You really need to have more than one character who can interact with the aliens. And you're not going to want to have the characters constantly having to drop everything they are doing for weeks or months just so the aliens can learn English or they can learn the aliens' language.
First all, I'm thrilled to finally come across another Bruce Coville fan, he was on of my favorite writers growing up.
As for the part of the quote that's really the kind of thing that only works once, unless the whole series is about linguistic issues, you're not going to want to deal with that kind of stuff every time the characters encounter a new alien race.
Or two nuts fighting over a squirrel. Like one of them can't adopt another pet!!!
I still think the Drej reacted out of irrational fear in the movie Titan AE... There was a novel that gave them a huge backstory but the movie makes it look like they are a super hostile irrational race.
So the trope I was going for is "alien race that blows up or attacks Earth with no warning for no reason" which should cover most of the 50s movies haha.
But . . .but they usually have a perfectly good reason, like they want our women.
One thing is that when villains turn good they almost always get to join or rejoin the hero team, never face public accountability/punishment for their crimes, and the heroes are usually supported, at least not criticized, for shielding them from punishment.
Also known as Buffy's boyfriends.
Interplanetary breeding! I am sorry but it's so improbable as being totally ridiculous!
Absolutely. It's totally absurd.
That being said, would we really want to sacrifice the likes of Mr. Spock on the altar of plausibility? Let alone Superman and Lois Lane, or John Carter of Mars and Dejah Thoris.
Is A Princess of Mars by ERB the first example of this trope, way back in 1912? I confess this never bothered me when I devoured those books as a kid.
It's perhaps worth remembering that "tropes that annoy you" and "tropes that are ridiculous" are not necessarily the thing. Unless you think ridiculous and annoying are synonymous.
I hate this argument. It's like when you hear a supposedly intelligent character say "humanity is the only species on the planet that is cruel", which is just demonstrably untrue.
You just have to watch a cat video to know that (I'm joking... sort of). I want to see a movie where aliens invade the Earth to save the universe from cats.
True, it's not necessarily the same and I would add "What is done, is done". What I find annoying are people who are not aware of that.
There's also a thing that I find annoying and it's when a writer who obviously knows very little about a real theory makes a character explain the fundamentals of that theory to either the audience or another character in the story. I mean when you know so little about science you should have the decency to limit yourself to mindless technobabble.
(e.g. When Phlox in "Dear Doctor" starts "explaining" to Archer that the theory of evolution is more than a theory... (which is wrong) and then starts making assumptions that prove that he knows nothing about said theory, even though he elevated it to "something more than a theory".)
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