Science Fiction – Ten clichés To Avoid


Science Fiction has become so much a part of our culture as a symbol of what is all around us, in film, television, video games and music. Approved in general makes science fiction both easy to sell, and it is difficult to write without seeing the tired and cliched. Here are ten situations you should steer away from, and some variations to consider if you are determined to continue.

The Never-Ending Spacecraft Flying Overhead

It starts with just a small piece of hardware come into view. Then it expands as the ship fills the entire screen, gun ports can. Once it comes, sound building all the time, until the tail engine, glowing yellow, pass overhead. Star Wars started this one, and it has been used AD-nauseam since, giving model rewards for a chance to show off. Try a new approach. Why not have a spaceship roll costs the pan back to find only inches long? Or how about an alien who can travel through space without a ship?

records than the White House

Silver saucer hovers overhead while various military types run around saying things like, “Now we know we are not alone.” and “Hit them everything you’ve got.” The aliens say things like “Klaas barada Nicto.” This approach was overdone in 1950 Earth vs. the flying saucers and the day the earth stood Still long before Independence Day came along. The aliens always speak English, is thought to have watched our TV. If that were the case, why are they not already brain dead? Just for a change, how about having aliens ignore all major powers? After all, they are really stupid enough to attack the strongest military power first?

The Multi-Race Bar Room

The barman says “We do not serve your kind here” It is an evil looking to stand in the corner and silly- looking alien singing silly sounding song. Writers love this state. It gives them a chance to come up with outlandish aliens with equally outlandish names. There are fine examples of Star Wars, and any episode of Babylon 5. If you want to overturn this cliche, how would that have unfamiliar town with separate bars, or even separate areas in bars, thus creating plenty of opportunities for excitement?

Meeting Galactic Council

Groups different aliens shout at each other a lot, saying things like “I draw voting block my” and “We recognize this is not the Council” lang boring example, in The Phantom Menace, who tried to change the visual tension and failed abysmally. Babylon 5 at least showed imagination and a modicum of originality, and the Star Trek you can always count on Klingons do something violent.

meeting is often little more than an opportunity for the writer to play with metaphors for modern politics. And if they are not doing it, they are rehashing King Arthur and the Round Table. You are all types of books devoted to galactic councils, empires and organizations. If you are going to try it, it is best to have a recognizable antecedent. Never use thinly disguised Roman Senates or British Style upper and lower houses … and definitely no round tables. Find a new way to have an intergalactic empire decisions. Then you’ll be getting somewhere.

The Computer blowing up trying to solve the paradox

square jawed hero says first computer “All I tell you is a lie.” And then he says: “I am a liar” lights flash, drives whir and smoke pours from the computer before it blows up. The people are freed and everyone lives happily ever after. The best example of this was in the original Star Trek series. Of course, anyone who knows anything about computers knows that this never happens. If you ask Computers questions they can not answer, they just sulk for a while. Smoke comes only out of them if you pour coffee for a drive in frustration. For something new, how about if the computer sets paradox? How was your hero to handle it?

The Guy left to watch the Non Crater

spaceship crash in a remote township, and there is only one guy there to watch as it splits open and aliens start of the carnage. This was best done in the 1950s, especially in Blob and War of the Worlds, but it still comes up from time to time in remakes or with slight variations, as in Stephen King Creep Show, or the same author’s The Tommyknockers.

And then there’s all alien crash scenario, which has launched a sub-brand of its own in Roswell, Dark Skies, countless books and, of course, The X Files. Yo need a new angle if you’re going to crash aliens land. How about having the ship hit in the city center? Or, turn it around and imagine the effect on the social order from Earth crash on their planet /

The Last Minute Rescue

Just as the world is about to be pounded into submission someone say, “Wait a minute. Why do not we try to make them sick?” Whatever rescue process they come up with, t always works. Famous examples include The Day of the Triffids and Independence Day. Maybe you should try to have foreigners winning for a change. Depressing I know, but it has not been done too often.

Time Travel contradictions

Somebody says “The same atoms can not co-exist in the same space and time,” Someone else says, “What happens if I go back and kill Hitler ? “You will know this from Back to the Future, Timecop and Seven Days, but it was worked out in print a long time ago. Robert Heinlein wrote classic By bootstraps its defined prototype for this scenario. How would turn it around and make travel less and send it back to the future … what happens next?

The ray gun shooting out

There are a lot of blue and white flashes, lots of debris blow up in spectacular fashion and someone says “You do not shoot that green s ** t on me “that goes as far back as Flash Gordon, and continues in the Star Trek universe, Stargate and Farscape. Most of the time it’s cowboys in space, and readers recognized it as such in print long ago. Try to find another way to resolve the conflict. Just do not go for the Slo-mo martial arts instead .. The Matrix trilogy did everything that had to do it.

The All Powerful Computer

Somebody asks, “Is there a God?” and the computer says, “It is now” Paranoia used to be about aliens taking over people, but recently fear technology has been growing, as witnessed in The Terminator and The Matrix. Again, this idea is much older in print, especially in Asimov’s Robot stories. Maybe it’s time for the benevolent computer or for a future in which computers become redundant and replaced with something much stranger?


If you’ve seen the idea to use before, the editor will have seen it too. Remember, editors are also fans in the case of science fiction editors, sometimes fanatic. They are likely to be widely read than you and have seen more movies than you. They’ve seen all the clichés so often that they are sick of them.

clichés were once original ideas, and only became cliches because they worked so well in one. All you have to do is to take a cliché and turn it into something Nobodies ever done before.

good luck.


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