My Favorite Sci-Fi Tropes

Here are my top 10 science fiction motifs! 🙂

#10: Time Travel

This is something that I enjoy if it is executed well. I love the complexity that comes with travelling through time, but it is easy to get carried away. I think 12 Monkeys did this extremely well, although my favorite example is of course this episode from The Simpsons: 

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#9: Evil Robots

Artificial intelligence is a fascinating subject to explore. I especially love when in sci-fi some of them decide that they don’t like humankind. Man vs. Machine. My favorite example of an evil robot is from Portal, a game which shows evil can actually be quite hilarious:

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#8: Genetic Engineering

The plausible idea that we will be able to edit our DNA and perhaps create super-humans in the future could never be overdone for me. Humans “playing God” is a fascinating concept to explore in fiction.

#7: Interstellar War

WAR IN SPACE. ‘Nuff said? Why should we dwell on wars being fought on a single planet when we could expand it across the galaxy? Bigger is better in sci-fi as far as I’m concerned. 😉

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#6: Future Technology

One of my favorite things to explore in my own writing within this genre is how technology will work in the future. Flying cars are a thing of the past. It’s time to get creative. Floating cities sound pretty cool. Cloning is interesting. I also like to imagine smaller forms of technology, like the patches mentioned in Burning Space that are placed on the tongue to clean the mouth without a toothbrush. I appreciate small details like that.

“Open,” a Merdy woman says, holding a rectangular patch against my lips. I open, and she reaches in to stick the patch to my tongue. “Now close.” I close my mouth, and the patch immediately releases chemicals that dissolve the sand and ash still coating my teeth and gums. It then turns into a delicious, aromatic foam, which the woman tells me to swish around and spit into the wooden bowl presented below my chin.

Burning Space, page 303

#5: Space Exploration/Colonization

Okay, exploring other planets is extremely cool. In the first full-length novel I ever wrote, Uetrod, I created a planet called Iipatya and spent years dreaming up all kinds of details, like the plants, animals, and people that lived on the fictional planet. This recurring theme in sci fi is one of the biggest reasons I love the genre so much.

#4: Apocalypse

This sub-genre has skyrocketed in popularity in the past thirty years or more, and for good reason: we are all going to die.

Kidding… or am I? 😉 No, I love exploring different ways in which humans could handle various apocalypses. The aftermath is especially compelling, which ties into #2 on this list.

#3: Superhuman Abilities

Somewhat related to genetic engineering, superhuman abilities in sci-fi are a must if I am going to be glued to the story. I don’t know why, exactly. Even if a character wields a powerful robot arm, I’m down. I want to see some superhuman battle action!

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#2: Utopia/Dystopia

There are a million different ways you can craft utopias/dystopias, and that fact alone means that the popularity of these sub-genres is not going to diminish anytime soon. Perhaps our lives are just too peaceful right now.

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Surprised? :))) Aliens are awesome. You can’t deny it. You can make them creepy, terrifying, powerful, sexy, or all of the above. Aliens could literally be anything. I especially love when we get insight into their perspectives — exploring humanity from the outside. If aliens existed and desired to study humans, what would they think? Maybe something like in this popular Tumblr post:

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What are your favorite recurring themes in science fiction? Comment below!

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