One thing I rediscovered while writing that post about Pitch Black a couple of weeks ago was TV Tropes. Seriously, TV Tropes is a slightly frightening website. Frightening because it’s actually worse than Wikipedia – if you get drawn in to reading the articles posted there, an hour can pass by alarmingly quickly. Which leads me to hypothesise that it might actually exist as some kind of temporal anomaly on the internets. I’m rambling now, aren’t I?
A trope, for anyone unfamiliar with this particular piece of jargon, is a recurring theme given in any narrative (be it TV, movie, comic book, video game or whatever) which conveys information to you as the storyline unfolds. Overused tropes end up as clichés, though even those which aren’t overused are generally recognisable. These are little snippets of information which have somehow ended up in our collective subconscious as ways in which storytellers have gotten their points across. Though, as picked up on by Anita Sarkeesian in Feminist Frequency’s Tropes vs Women series of YouTube videos, this isn’t always a good thing. Incidentally, if you haven’t actually seem those videos, I recommend that you do. Really. Don’t question, just watch. But prepare to feel somewhat discontent with society in general afterwards.
Anyway, these two things together inspired me to write a series of blog posts (one which will hopefully be a bit more successful than the 8 Things series a couple of years back) about space tropes in science fiction. Because as I think I showed pretty well before, clichés in fiction like having three suns in the sky are certainly possible outside fiction. At the same time, other clichés like silicon based life are rather less likely. Yes, I liked the Horta too, but unfortunately wishful thinking isn’t good science. Think of it a little bit like Mythbusters meets Death from the Skies. Except with less facial hair. And with less emphasis on debunking Hollywood science and more on telling sci fi writers how to get it better. Though there is likely to be a lot of debunking too…
Have a favourite sci-fi movie trope that you want to know more about? Dyson spheres perhaps? Maybe giant planet eating robots? Or maybe you like things which are full of stars? Drop me a comment and I’ll see what I can come up with!
Astrotropes now has it’s own index page! Because… well… why not?