3 things sci fi needs to stop doing

02 Jan

Or rather, stop doing and start doing.  I’ve found that there’s a great deal of entertainment that comes out which is mostly recycled from what we’ve done before.  I’m not talking about themes or aspects of plot, because if you want to say that, then pretty much everything since the dawn of time was recycled.  But there are three things which need to stop completely in science fiction because there’s just way too much of it.


1. Dystopian Future.  According to Meriam-Webster, dystopian is the anti-thesis of utopian.  It’s a place where people live oppressed and dehumanized lives.  In science fiction, such a future will often see a civilization under constant threat of attack in some way shape or form.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good sci fi books and movies that take place in a dystopian future.  Blade Runner, for example.  One might also say Hunger Games is as well, but Hunger Games really doesn’t fall under the guise of science fiction (I suspect it would be if all the tributes had pulse rifles, disruptors and phase pistols).  One thing I’ve always thought the majority of science fiction should be is one of hope.  That as we look to the future, it gets better than what we currently live in.  But maybe that’s just an example of the human condition.  We are used to living in a crappy present and what makes the present better is by seeing a future that’s gone completely down the drain.  Which can be rather disheartening if you really think about it.  There is a fair share of hopeful sci fi out there, but there’s also a lot of really dark, dystopian science fiction as well.  One could say that Star Trek has a dystopian future, but it’s the example of a world that goes completely down the drain before it gets better.  This point sort of leads to the next point, and while point 2 can be included with dystopian future, it is not exclusive to dystopian future.

2. Find a bloody light switch already!  Too often a really good science fiction book or movie comes along that takes place in a darkly lit place.  Alien is a really good example.  Alien did that for mood, as well as the subsequent movies in the franchise (I’m trying to forget the fourth one, just like I’m trying to forget the second Aliens vs Predator movie).  Predator managed to pull this off as well, which is most likely one of the reasons why Aliens and Predator fit so well together (aside from the tease in the second Predator that showed an Alien skull on the trophy wall).  But someone out there must have thought that because of how well Alien did, that all science fiction has to take place in some dark place.  It’s the future, you’d think we could have created a better light bulb in a couple hundred years.  After all, this is science fiction, not horror.  And while Alien was a great example of crossing the genres, after a while it becomes a trope that’s overused and old (elements of atmosphere can also become a trope just as much as plot devices).  Two examples of science fiction that use light very well are Star Trek and Iron Man.  Even though J.J. Abrams has a love for all things lens flare, the bridge of the Enterprise is still brightly lit, just as many different areas of the ship.  Iron Man (yes, it’s science fiction, Tony Stark is a scientist after all) is also brightly lit, you can see his suit, and even the HUD that is displayed inside his helmet is clearly shown and easy to see.  Sure, deep space is a dark, dark place, but you’d think if people are traveling in space, they could have made a really good light bulb.

Sanaa Laathan in Alien vs Predator.  I would totally have her babies.  Yes you heard that right.

Sanaa Laathan in Alien vs Predator. I would totally have her babies. Yes you heard that right.

3. More colour, especially people.  One thing that I’ve really been getting tired of is the white knight syndrome.  Not the theoretical aspect of the white knight where someone steps up and becomes the hero, but the fact that the one who becomes the hero happens to be a white dude who knows exactly the thing that’s needed to save everyone.  One reason why I’m looking forward to Pacific Rim and seeing Idris Elba as the lead actor.  We’ve been living in a ‘post racial society’ for several decades now, you’d think that we could have a black guy as the lead in a science fiction series more than just a couple of times.  To date, one of the best known roles that falls into that happens to be Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine.  Sadly, for everything else, we’ve had massive amounts of white washing all over the place.  Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is a prime example, where Trillian is described in the book as being vaguely Arabic.  And we get Zooey Deschanel in the movie adaptation, who is so far from being Arabic, it isn’t even vague, it’s none existent.  When people of colour are placed in science fiction roles, stories become a lot more rich than we’ve seen before.  And that doubles down when a woman is placed in that position.  We need to mix it up more, because this continual display of white dudes in science fiction is only leading me to believe that we won’t have any people of colour in the future.  Which is just sad.  Maybe J.J. Abrams should consider doing a reboot of Deep Space Nine.


Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Fun, randomness


Tags: , , , , , ,

3 responses to “3 things sci fi needs to stop doing

  1. Tom Elias

    January 3, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I completely agree with this list. I’ve attempted in my writing to be more broad, ethnically speaking, since as an SF writer, the future can only be more tolerant and blended. At least that’s how it looks from my window. Great post!

  2. Tim

    January 3, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I find the same can be said for historical or even fantasy fiction. History is not a case of a large number of white people and then suddenly brown skinned people appeared. Adding more people of colour into a story, without making those people stark stereotypes, adds a lot of richness to the overall story.

  3. Tom Elias

    January 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Well put, Tim. This and some other feedback gave me an idea for a post…


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