Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Science Fiction Story Killers Part I

Series elements that damage story telling unless they are continuously covered in sticking plasters


Examples: Star Trek, Blake’s 7, Stargate

Sticking Plasters: losing your bracelet, or communicator or my personal favourite, EM interference in the upper atmosphere.

Why? Because before anybody can be in jeopardy you have to explain why they can’t be whisked out of trouble. Having to add that baroque little curlicue of an explanation onto every tense situation undermines the drama.

Life Sensors

By this I mean sensors that detect ‘life signs’ which are sometimes defined as the unique heat and electrical signature of a living being but are mostly treated as if it were a distinct form of energy in its own right.

Examples: Star Trek, Babylon 5.

Sticking Plasters: lots of rock, sensor malfunctions and our old favourite – EM interference in the upper atmosphere.

Why? Because it removes uncertainty, and thus a level of drama, from any situation involving other character's lives or identity. Rushing into a burning building because you think someone might be still in there is braver, and more dramatic, then rushing in to save someone you know is in there.


Cockfighter said...

The sticking plaster solution is a false drama anyway, there's no carthasis to come out of EM interference. Certainly one experiences tension, but it ain't drama.

Ben Aaronovitch said...

Thanks Cockfighter

That really helped crystallize what I was thinking about. Not cathartic, nice one.