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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What are your favorite science fiction tropes?

For all the ground that Avatar breaks, you’re gonna see a lot of familiar things there, too: space marines, the notion that anything could be valuable enough to be worth hauling out of a gravity well in huge quantities and transporting it across intersteller distances, the spy who goes native, and a lot more.

You’ll find some of Avatar’s clichés listed at Speculative Fiction Tropes at TV Tropes. I’ll leave it up to you to discover which ones.

Warning: Don’t check out that link unless you’ve got a few hours to spare, because you’re gonna get lost in it. And don’t be near any liquid consumables unless you want to invest in a new keyboard, because you are gonna laugh — a lot. Just the names of some of the exhaustively detailed tropes (complete with examples from across the geekosphere) will get you going: “San Dimas Time.” “Landfill Beyond the Stars.” “In Space Everyone Can See Your Face.” “Mike Nelson Destroyer of Worlds.” “Touched by Vorlons.”

Today’s question (and the link) comes via reader allochthon: What are your favorite science fiction tropes? Where are they done particularly well, and particularly poorly?

Have fun.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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