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Fantasy/SF plot devices that are overused

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Fantasy/SF plot devices that are overused

Old 05-10-09, 05:37 PM
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mlts22 
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Fantasy/SF plot devices that are overused

There seem to be a number of fantasy or SF plot devices that almost always end up being overused:

Probably the first that comes to mind is time travel. MMOs use it as a plot issue (WoW and Caverns of Time, Everquest and their last expansion where your raid went back into history to re-fight critical battles, Everquest 2 and their alternate reality), SF writers wrote it where it got cliched even in the 1980s (it was getting quite well used with Heinlein's "The Cat Who Walked Through Walls", and Poul Anderson's "Time Corridors".) Of course, some recent movies come to mind as well, but there is another thread on that. Even RTS games use it as a plot device (Red Alert 3 comes to mind.) Of course, there is the Terminator franchise whose core of existence is this plot device.

The thing about using time travel as a plot device is that it makes a victory or a defeat meaningless. Big evil villain wins and seizes control of the world? Go back in time and stop him. Heroes win an epic battle? Big villain discovers time travel and goes to sabotage it.

Maybe its me, where I am going through a bit of writer's block trying to write something original, but end up seeing concepts that were interesting become cliched. The concept of time travel has evolved from something interesting to a plot device whose main reason for being used is to allow for more books or sequels.

What other cliches come to mind for people in recent SF or fantasy?

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Old 05-10-09, 06:15 PM
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well, command and conquer: Red Alert series is based entirely on time travelling with the chronosphere device and preventing wars from happening by killing the right men before the ascend to tyrant dictatorship. however by changing history, something else will take it's place.

Red Alert: einstein travels back in time to remove hitler, stalin takes his place. WW2 with allies vs. USSR
Red Alert 2 is an alternate universe to the Tiberian series.
Red Alert 3: soviets travel back in time and remove einstein, as a result, atomic weapons are never developed and this brings rise the empire of the rising sun.
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Old 05-10-09, 06:21 PM
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mutant powers gained through some exposure to radiation or as natural evolution.

x-men, spiderman, hulk, tmnt etc.
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Old 05-10-09, 06:32 PM
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I agree, time travel can give the writers endless license. It can be used well, or it can go on forever and effectively free the author from the responsibility of being a good storyteller.

The other one I really dislike is magic. What pushed me over the edge on that one was the Apprentice Adept series. A few books in, and it was great story telling. A few books more and every ending was some ****** coming up with some new spell that changed everything. Total sell-out waste of time.

All of the pseudo-LOTRs suffer from this. Gee, look, a band of middle-earth weirdies traipsing thru a cave, led by a guy with a staff and some dude with a special magical sword, woopee!
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Old 05-10-09, 06:36 PM
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Old 05-10-09, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
Yes. I'm a guy who likes teh wimmenz, and it tends to get an eyeroll out of me when the whole "women in space/the future are scantily clad all the time!" is dredged up. It really breaks the suspension of disbelief.

Also, space-suits with molded-in muscles and codpieces (for the guys) or giant knockers and slender waists (for the ladies) are pretty ridiculous, too. Imagine being a modestly-endowed woman of the future, and having to get into a suit intended for double-Ds. I guess you could store some extra snacks in there?
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Old 05-10-09, 06:54 PM
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Maybe they're working the "procreation" angle - through genetic selection, by 4000, all women will be Playboy Bunnies, ready to super breed.






Or maybe they know it sells
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Old 05-10-09, 07:14 PM
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those silver pants only look like silver diapers.
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Old 05-10-09, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
Maybe they're working the "procreation" angle - through genetic selection, by 4000, all women will be Playboy Bunnies, ready to super breed.






Or maybe they know it sells
Really?

*Checking classifieds for a DeLorian*

I'm outta here!
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Old 05-10-09, 07:30 PM
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Cliched? Some of my favorite SF books involve time travel. There's an odd little series by Robert Asprin and Linda Evans, the "Time Scout" series, that I really enjoy rereading. And can you really call Heinlein's "Time Enough For Love" a story that is cliched?

Another that comes to mind is Spider Robinson's "Time Pressure". It isn't the highest quality SF, but I still really enjoy it every time I read it.
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Old 05-10-09, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
Yes. I'm a guy who likes teh wimmenz, and it tends to get an eyeroll out of me when the whole "women in space/the future are scantily clad all the time!" is dredged up. It really breaks the suspension of disbelief.

Also, space-suits with molded-in muscles and codpieces (for the guys) or giant knockers and slender waists (for the ladies) are pretty ridiculous, too. Imagine being a modestly-endowed woman of the future, and having to get into a suit intended for double-Ds. I guess you could store some extra snacks in there?
Don't be angry x.






You can store snacks in the codpiece.
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Old 05-10-09, 08:32 PM
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Who do you think I am, huhenio?

Besides, I can store snacks in the massive pectoral armor.
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Old 05-10-09, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
Besides, I can store snacks in the massive pectoral armor.
Your beard?
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Old 05-10-09, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
mutant powers gained through some exposure to radiation or as natural evolution.

x-men, spiderman, hulk, tmnt etc.
Don't underestimate exposure to radiation.

I moved near TMI about 18 years ago. Today, my wife sent me out for two things. I came back with both of them and nothing for myself.

That's a pretty remarkable change...
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Old 05-10-09, 09:20 PM
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Just once, I'd like to read a story where the evil person who's out to take over the world either triumphs over the hero/heroine, or someone else bests the hero/heroine to the task of stopping them.

hey SB. We moved here almost 17 years ago. One of our requirements was to live upwind from TMI.
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Old 05-10-09, 09:28 PM
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How about the Earth being in danger? Star Trek (both TOS and TNG) featured story lines of Earth's impending doom, BSG, Stargate SG-1, and others, as well as scores of movies.
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Old 05-10-09, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by StupidlyBrave View Post
Your beard?
That's called a "flavor saver".

Why is it that in just about every sci fi flick, all the guys are clean-shaven? Is someone trying to say that at some point in future history there was a massive purge of all hippies?
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Old 05-10-09, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
That's called a "flavor saver".

Why is it that in just about every sci fi flick, all the guys are clean-shaven? Is someone trying to say that at some point in future history there was a massive purge of all hippies?
must be all the testicle cancer from all that pot dwindling their numbers.
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