August 16, 2005

Writer's Bleg

In case you forgot, in about a month and a half, John Scalzi will begin to accept manuscripts for potential publication in the Spring 2006 edition of Subterranean magazine.

As special guest editor of this edition, he has laid out some interesting ground rules. Namely, he wants stories of 5000 words or less that skillfully employ classic SF cliches.

I am thinking about submitting a short story or two, just for the fun of it. I have a couple of ideas for some cliches to work around. But I would also like to quiz the only non-captive audience I have yet found for my writing: what SF cliches annoy you the most, and why?

Please don't send me any plot suggestions or story ideas (write your own story for submission instead). But if there is a traditional plot device, stereotypical setting, or some other element of SF (whether in movies, TV, or written word) that annoys you through its overuse, please let me know about it.


Posted by JohnL at August 16, 2005 11:18 PM | TrackBack

People on other planets speaking nearly-perfect American English (or even worse, nearly-perfect American English with a British or other European accent... can you tell I sometimes have issues with shows like Stargate SG-1?...)

Posted by: LDH at August 17, 2005 11:10 AM

I've always had a problem with technologically AND morally superior aliens who suddenly appear to warn us that we'd better support the liberal cause du jour: (anti Nuclear War, anti Nuclear Power, Save the Whales, the United Nations as one world government, Rent Control in NYC, etc.) or we will destroy ourselves and our planet.

Who asked them to butt in and run our planet?

Frackin Interstellar Limousine Liberals...

Posted by: Ishy at August 17, 2005 02:45 PM

The cliche from the Military SF genre is that no matter how outnumbered or outgunned we are, the anti-social monkey-boys from Terra are way more ruthless, deadly, innovative, or adaptable than the aliens and end up winning easily despite overwhelming odds. Fun to read but, like cotton candy, it does not stay with you for long.

Posted by: Ishy at August 17, 2005 03:02 PM

Thanks for your input. Ishy, your second comment is actually one of my favorite cliches in SF, of which I will never tire. It would be too depressing I think to write in a universe where that weren't true. I'm sure there's an award-winning novel somewhere in that idea.

Posted by: JohnL at August 17, 2005 10:23 PM

In that case, have you read Alan Dean Foster's The Damned trilogy [A Call to Arms, The False Mirror, The Spoils of War]? Two sides of an intergalactic war are looking for allies, and find humanity. Humanity kicks butt.

Posted by: owlish at August 18, 2005 11:33 AM

As far as cliches, the "last man alive" thing often bugs me.

Posted by: owlish at August 18, 2005 11:34 AM

Owlish, thanks for the feedback. I haven't read that Alan Dean Foster trilogy, but will have to check it out. I agree on the "last man alive" cliche, but don't mind "last people alive rebuilding civilization" a la The Stand or Lucifer's Hammer.

Posted by: JohnL at August 18, 2005 11:54 AM

The big cliche that annoys me is killing off un-known charecters on well-known shows. Countless away missions on any number of Star Trek shows did it. I just dislike a charecter created so they can be killed off in the most absurd manner possible, while the well known cast members miraciously escape harm. Eye-rolling ensues every time.

I also favor Ishy's first problem with nosy-asss 'superior' alien races and wanting to come down here and start some shiite. ;)

You consider The Stand to be SF? Never thought of it that way myself.

Posted by: Rhianna at August 18, 2005 06:32 PM


First, welcome back to the 'net.

Agreed on your comments. And I don't really consider The Stand to be SF.

Posted by: JohnL at August 18, 2005 06:57 PM
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