Tag Archives: Tropes

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Book Trope I Wish Wouldn’t Happen IRL

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Closeup photo of pink, yellow, orange, and white conversation hearts. Not all of their messages can be read, but the ones that can be say things like “love,” “soft,” and “help.” I have two words for all of you this week: forbidden romance.

Assuming everyone in the relationship is a consenting adult and no one is being harmed, I spend exactly 0% of my time worrying about who anyone dates or marries in real life or in fiction.

This includes, but is not limited to, interracial, interfaith, age gap, multicultural, interabled, same sex, and any other sort of relationship that some heartily disapprove of.

You see people in just about every sort of “forbidden” relationship you can imagine in Toronto every single day. If someone chose to be horrified by other folks quietly going about their business, it would literally occupy the offended person’s mind every single moment of their days for the rest of their lives and they would still run out of time decades before they ran out of couples to be angry about.

Yes, I know that not every community is like this by any means….but I think our world would be a better place if everyone treated others with kindness and didn’t make a fuss about who folks fall in love with.

After all, there are more important things to discuss. For example, are conversation hearts delicious or not? I love them but my spouse does not!


Filed under Blog Hops

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Book Trope I Wish Happened IRL More Often

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Every Christmas I reread Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

I love seeing a grumpy, selfish, mean man being transformed into someone who is kind, generous and remorseful.

WA photo of the hands of two people who are holding one side each of a $20 US bill. One of the people has dark skin and the other person has a medium skin tone. hile I do believe people can change for the better in real life, too, it seems to be much more rare than it is in fiction.

When it does happen, it’s a slow process in my experience. Instead of taking one night, it generally takes many years and includes lots of stops and starts.

The gradual process of it makes sense to me as a changing is hard work and rarely happens immediately for anyone no matter which habits we’re trying to begin or end.

But I do wish this transformation would happen more often in the real world. Imagine how much better life would be if it were common for people who have a great deal of wealth and power in the world to give it away in order to save lives and reduce suffering.

So many of the deeply kind and generous people I’ve known have been folks who have limited influence and tight budgets but who still do everything they can to help others. If only everyone behaved the way they do!


Filed under Blog Hops

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Favourite Science Fiction Tropes

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

This is one of those prompts that I could ramble on about for ages. I did my best to keep this post fairly short and sweet, but do ask me about science fiction tropes if we ever meet in person and you’d like to see me suddenly shift from being quiet to talkative!

Galaxy filled with starsInterstellar Travel

Example: Star Trek

Why I Enjoy It: Sometimes I wish I’d been born at a point in time when we could actually go visit the planets and moons that astronomers are currently discovering. Based on how far away they are from us, we’d probably need to invent interstellar travel to make it possible for us to discover what – or maybe even who – else we’d discover on those possibly habitable words.


high-angle photo of a robotRobots

Example: Isaac Asimov’s Robot stories

Why I Enjoy It: I’m fascinated by technology in general, especially when it can be used to do complex tasks that used to require a human to do them correctly.

If we ever create robots that have human-like intelligence, I’d be so interested in finding out how they changed society and how humans treated them. In the meantime, there are many stories out there about this topic.


three strands of DNAClones 

Example: Jurassic Park (film and book)

Why I Enjoy It: I’ve loved this idea ever since I saw the baby dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. It’s also thought-provoking to imagine a world where someone who needs a new heart can have one grown from their own cells and never have to deal with any of the longterm health issues that transplant recipients currently need to look out for.


microscopic photo of nanotechnology


Example: Michael Crichton’s Prey (film and book)

Why I Enjoy It: I dream of the day when my friends and relatives who live with chronic health conditions that currently have no cure might find relief from something like this.

This field is still in its infancy. There’s no telling what it might be capable of doing for future generations!


cryogenic podsCryosleep

Example: Futurama (TV show)

Why I Enjoy It: Being able to skip over hundreds or thousands of years of human history while keeping the same protagonist makes many science fiction plots feel much more plausible.

There’s also something amazing about getting a peek at what the future of humanity could possibly be like!




Filed under Blog Hops

My 4 Favourite Fantasy Tropes

Last year, I had a blast blogging about my favourite science fiction tropes. It occurred to me recently that I’ve never given the fantasy genre the same treatment, so that’ what I’ll be talking about today.

Reluctant Heroes

Photo credit: Jackie lck.

Example: Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”

If someone were to knock on my front door and tell me that I needed to go with them on a quest to save the world, I would not be particularly excited about that experience.

Yes, we’d probably see some incredible things along the way, but I really enjoy sleeping in my warm, soft bed at night and not being eaten by giant spiders named Shelob.

The fact that Bilbo was so hesitant to go on this quest made me like him even more. I totally understand the desire to stay home and avoid danger.

Magical Forests, Swamps, and Other Places

Example: The creepy Fire Swamp in William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”

Nothing gets my heart racing faster than realizing that the hero of a tale is about to wander into a forest, swamp, or other wild place not usually inhabited by humans that everyone knows  is filled with dangerous creatures, unpredictable magic, or both.

I love seeing how characters react to the creatures and potential traps they find in these places, especially once they’ve wandered far enough into them that finding their way home again is going to be tricky at best.

Since I’d be perfectly happy to stay home and not wander around in these unpredictable spots, it’s nice to know that there are folks out there who are willing to see who or what might be lurking in them.


Quests That Go Terribly Wrong

Aslan, the creator and protector of all things Narnian.

Example: C.S. Lewis’ “The Silver Chair”

In the beginning of The Silver Chair, Jill and Eustace, the main characters, were given a specific list of four signs by Aslan to keep an eye out for in order to help them find Prince Caspian and return him to his rightful place as the future king of Narnia.

The world they were visiting could be a tricky one, and there were many characters who would stop at nothing to prevent these kids from fulfilling their mission.

Why Aslan didn’t simply do this stuff himself is a question for another blog post, but I was intrigued as soon as I realized that Jill and Eustace had quite the journey ahead of them.

These were the signs they were to look for:

  • “As soon as the boy Eustace sets foot in Narnia, he will meet an old and dear friend. He must greet that friend at once. If he does, you will both have good help.
  • “You must journey out of Narnia to the north until you come to the city of the ancient giants.
  • You shall find the writing on a stone in that ruined city, and you must do what the writing tells you.
  • You will know the lost prince, if you find him, by this: that he will be the first person you have met in your travels who will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan.”

If you haven’ read this book yet, I’ll leave it up to you to find out which of these signs these characters actually listened to. All I can say is that I loved seeing how these kids interpreted the signs and what happened when things didn’t go exactly as planned. It felt quite realistic to me that Eustace and Jill wouldn’t necessarily do everything they were meant to do when they were supposed to do it.

Magical Schools

Examples: Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians,” or, obviously, Hogwarts

The Great Hall at Hogwarts

What could possibly be cooler than going to school to learn how to be a magician, witch, or wizard? It’s even more interesting when one or more of the characters weren’t aware they had any magical powers at all until that fateful letter or invitation arrived one day.

I could read a thousand books with this sort of setting and still want more examples of it.

The only thing I’d change about this trope is adding more examples of magical schools for adults. I think that even the strongest magician would eventually need to take a course or two to freshen up their skills or learn some new spells as such things were invented.

What are your favourite fantasy tropes?



Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Saturday Seven: The Best Science Fiction Tropes

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

As those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time have probably already figured out, I read a lot of science fiction.

There are certain sci-fi tropes that immediately grab my attention. Today I’ll be talking about seven of them.

1) Friendly Aliens. 

One of the reasons why I don’t read a lot of sci-fi stories about aliens is that many of them assume that the aliens want to harm humanity. I’d much rather read about extra-terrestrials who are friendly and helpful!

I know that I’d do anything I could to help any aliens who needed assistance. Meeting them and learning about where they came from would be the only reward I could hope for. It only seems logical that at least some of them would feel the same way about us.

2) Alternate History. 

When alternate histories are done right, they’re the highlight of the sci-fi genre. It is so alluring to me imagine how the entire world would have developed differently if a key historical figure had lived a little longer than they did in our timeline, or if someone else had won a major war, or if a specific disease had been much more  deadly at an important point in history.

This is something that is incredibly hard to get right because authors have to build a complex and realistic world that is usually drastically different from the one we live in. I’ve read more alternate history novels that disappointed me than ones that blew my mind.

When the world-building is well-developed and logical, though, this is one of my favourite things to read.

3) Terraforming.

How cool would it be to turn a dead planet like Mars into one that is teeming with life? I hope we’ll all live long enough to see at least the first stage of this kind of mission be carried out.

At the rate we’re going, Earth isn’t going to be able to support seven and a half billion people for much longer.

The best way for humanity to survive is for us to figure out how to fix the damage we’ve already caused to our home planet and then spread out into the galaxy and create other Earth-like places for people to live.

While we’re waiting for NASA to figure out the best way to begin doing this, it’s entertaining to read about the process of changing the atmosphere and climate of a dead planet so that humans can live on it safely.

4) People Zoos.

I stopped going to zoos several years ago because of how sad it makes me feel to see intelligent animals like apes locked up there. Yes, the vast majority of modern zoos put a lot of effort into keeping their animals happy, healthy, and intellectually stimulated, but I still hate seeing such smart creatures confined like that. There has to be a better way to preserve endangered species, although I don’t know what that solution is at this point.

The nice thing about people zoos in this genre is that they explore the ethics of zoos with audiences that might never otherwise think about this issue.

5) The End of an Age. 

Someday we are going to be thought of as people who lived in the good old days. I’m not a big fan of that phrase in general due to how much whitewashing of the past often goes on with people who insist on romanticizing a specific time in history, but I am fascinated by what folks define as the good old days and how they behave once they think such a thing has ended forever.

6) Trapped in the Past. 

As a woman, an Atheist, and a member of the LGBT community, I don’t daydream about visiting the past. It wasn’t a friendly or safe place for people like me for the vast majority of human history to say the least.

The one part of time travel stories that I do find interesting, though, is when characters get stuck in an era they were only expecting to spend a few hours or days exploring. Just because someone is comfortable visiting, say, a medieval village doesn’t mean they’d want to grow old and die there without any hope at all of ever returning back to the present day.

I really like the idea of showing how someone could learn to adjust to such a huge shift in their daily lives.

7) Miracle Food.

This trope happens quite often in the fantasy genre, too. I am fascinated by the idea of a single food that can keep a person going through any circumstances indefinitely.

It is even more interesting when it’s described as a food that was created through scientific advancements. This gives me hope that one day we’ll all be able to eat nutritious, well-rounded meals without anyone needing to cook or wash a small mountain of dishes!

If you read science fiction, what tropes in it do you enjoy the most? If not, what are some of your favourite tropes in general?


Filed under Blog Hops, Science Fiction and Fantasy

Why I’m Tired of Stories About the Chosen One

I’ve been reading less speculative fiction this year. One of the things that has reduced how much of it I read has to do with the concept of the Chosen One and how overused it is in this genre.

There are a few different reasons why I’m quickly losing interest in stories about people who have been chosen to save their village, humankind, or the entire universe from whatever it is that is threatening their existence.

1. The Chosen One Doesn’t Earn His or Her Place

As I mentioned last month in Scifi and Fantasy Rules That Should Be Broken, heroes in science fiction and fantasy usually aren’t people who have any special training or education. They’re the Chosen One because of who their parents are, what an ancient prophecy foretold, or whether or not Voldemort tried to curse them to death when they were a baby.

If this happened occasionally, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. There is definitely something to be said for showing that heroes can come from anywhere.

The fact that it’s so prevalent, though, makes me feel uneasy. Education and experience are a positive thing. I’d never go to a doctor or dentist who had somehow skipped medical/dental school and was just winging it when it came to diagnosing an infection or deciding if I had a cavity.

So it feels strange for the fate of the entire world to be regularly handed to people who don’t have any unique skills or advanced training whatsoever.

At this point, I’d much rather read about someone who has spent or will spend years studying magic/spaceships/medicine / the dark arts. Show me some of the times they failed terribly and what they learned from it. Let me see them struggle with something that other people in their field generally don’t find difficult like casting a spell or putting on a spacesuit.

I want heroes who have earned the respect they get!

2. The Chosen One Is Often Less Interesting Than Their Sidekicks.

Case in point: Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

There was nothing unlikeable about Buffy. She was generally a kind and courteous girl, and I was fascinated by her adjustment to becoming the most recent Slayer. (That is, a teen girl who was given supernatural strength and healing abilities so that she could save the world from everything that wanted to destroy it. The previous Slayer has to die before the next one is supernaturally chosen).

The problem was that Buffy’s sidekicks were much more relatable and complex than she was. Giles, her watcher (which is like a personal trainer for mystical stuff), was as mystified by teenagers as he was by American culture in general. His very British reactions to some of the biggest differences between the U.S. and England were hilarious.  Willow, her female best friend, was a shy, awkward nerd who had a strong perfectionistic streak. Xander, her male best friend, was a slacker and class clown who hid a lot of painful truths behind his wisecracks and hijinks.

Buffy’s character development simply wasn’t as compelling as the development of those closest to her. She was already athletic, (fairly) popular, self-confident, and tough when the show began. I liked her, but I loved her inner circle because of how much more attention had been paid to the little things that made them unique.

Many Chosen Ones have the same problem. They are so busy saving the world that they often don’t get to develop a well-rounded set of quirks, weird habits, phobias, and/or non-superficial character flaws that their side-kicks get to have.

I want heroes who are deliciously imperfect. Maybe their sidekicks could be stronger, more assertive, or better looking than them. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how a main character would respond to a friend or assistant who intimidated them a little bit or who was better at certain crucial skills than they were?

3. The Chosen One Never Dies in the End

As much as I liked him, Harry Potter really should have been killed off permanently at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

All of the foreshadowing up until that point nudged the readers into this direction. It felt strange to me to see Harry walk away from that final battle. While I knew that J.K. Rowling would try to figure out how to save him because of how rare it is for a protagonist to die in the end, that wasn’t the direction the storyline had been pointing at for all seven books in the series.

After the narrator cut away to show how all of his friends put wizarding society back together after Voldemort is finally defeated, there could have been a beautiful scene showing him reuniting with his parents in the afterlife and realizing that he was finally at peace now.

I could also imagine Harry having a conversation with his parents about wanting to go back to Earth. Maybe his mother would tell him that it was impossible, but that he would be reunited with Ron, Hermione, and everyone else he loved after they’d finished living out the long, full lives that wizards usually get to experience.

There could even be a line in there about how time moves quite differently after death so that the audience would know Harry wouldn’t be missing his friends for as long as we might assume.

Yes, this would have been a tearjerker of an ending, but it also would have tied up all of the foreshadowing in the earlier books much more tightly than technically killing Harry off for a few minutes before finding a magical loophole to bring him back to life again.

I want to start genuinely fearing for the safety of the characters I love. It would be so cool to arrive at the final scene of a story and not know who – if anyone – was going to make it out again. No, I’m not saying that every final confrontation has to be a bloodbath. That would quickly become just as predictable as things are currently.

It would be really nice if there were far fewer last-minute plot twists that allowed characters to live when the first 99% of a book or series foreshadowed their deaths, though.

How do you feel about the Chosen One trope? Do you enjoy it? Do you think it’s been played out? I’ll be talking about this on Twitter today if you’d like to chat about it.

Comments Off on Why I’m Tired of Stories About the Chosen One

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy