August 7th, 2012, 11:28 PM #61
I respect your right to say what you're tired of seeing. But, but, wait a minute -- a lack of vampire queens? We're drowning in vampire queens. Urban fantasy puts them out by the bucketful. Just a few of them:
Vampire Queens novels -- Joey W. Hilly
Vampire Queen series -- Rebecca Maizel
The Undead series (Betsy the Vampire Queen) -- Mary Jo Davidson
Sookie Stackhouse myteries -- Charlaine Harris
The Vampire Queen trilogy -- Fayth Devlin
The Drake Chronicles -- Alyxandra Harvey
Blood and Gold -- Anne Rice
Dresden Files series -- Jim Butcher
Vampire Tales series -- David Wellington
The Vampyricon series -- Douglas Clegg
4. Weak Female, Strong Male Warrior pair: Sexist. It's just sexist. I suppose not every woman is an invincible leather clad dominatrix, but these stories seem to bank on the idea that the woman is helpless. If real women were really so weak then the world we live in would be nightmarish. I for once would like to see an honest to God strong female, weak male pair where the guy doesn't end up leading at some point.
5. The musclebound warrior: Now granted I'm a fan of Howard's Conan stories, but Conan was not just a musclebound killer, he was in fact quite intelligent. He was cunning, a polyglot, a bit of a philosopher, and a superb strategist. Sadly many people seem to be set in this idea that if you have a barbarian hero they have to be a hyper masculine intellect hater.
6. The One Culture Planet: If humans do not create one cohesive culture then why should any other race? Not even one type of biome will spawn a single culture. It's illogical.
8. The Science Defying Technology: Okay I'll admit I'm not a certified expert on quantum physics or genetic engineering, but if you're trying to write strict science fiction novel and then you throw something at me that defies it's cardinal laws to the point where it would have to be supernatural in nature it just bothers me. It's antithetical to the very idea of hard science fiction. A lot of science fiction is awash in this.
9. A Virus Did It!: Now if you say a virus killed most of earth's population and the following is the story of survivor's I can buy that, but when you start saying that it created vampires, werewolves, and zombies, things which a virus could not do by the laws of science alone it just gets preposterous and seems lazy.
11. The Robot With A Conscience: I doubt the likeliness of this, but that is not why it bugs me. It's that has become a cliche that bothers me. In classic science fiction like the works of Phillip K. Dick or Asimov they serve to further a theme and are truly compelling personalities in their own right. However since they've become a staple they just seem to be tacked on to any group of sci-fi heroes. One of the last compelling characters of this nature that comes to my mind is that of Data from Star Trek.
12. The Amnesiac Hero: Now the amnesiac protagonist can be interesting. The character is one who is a mystery to even him or herself. However this trope has been used over and over for the sake of drama or a convenient plot device in so many different forms of fiction that it's mostly just dull now.
August 7th, 2012, 11:43 PM #62
Consider, it is used in the 2006 film The Covenant, 2010's Sorceror's Apprentice and others which I cannot think of right now. Gandalf used big bad, most powerful, offensive spells in the LOTR. Why can more recent fantasy literature use something more?
In a game, though, it would be logical to have a wide range of spells the player could tackle.
August 8th, 2012, 12:07 AM #63
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Ok KatG, you are right. Both the color and that it is film/television and not books. I guess my problem is that it is the lightning bolt/ball which the protagonist learns. I like Avatar: the Last Airbender because it has the four different elements which Aang must learn. Though I did get annoyed by the sound effects they used, especially for rocks. It sounds like they used stones they could hold in their hands to record the effects and then used those sounds for moving boulders 2x the size of a tall, big, big man. I understand there were probably financial as well as sound tech reasons for this. But it was annoying.
And games, yes. It would be entirely logical have multiple types of magic for the player to learn.
August 8th, 2012, 03:13 PM #64
Electrical energy is a really easy special visual effect for them to do. If you go back and look at old t.v. shows and movies, electricity arcs are rampant because they were cheap. When things improved, electrical balls were more common, but still, it's cheap. And it looks impressive, rather than just have an actor mumble words and things fly around, although they like to do those too. Because they are cheap.
In Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief, the source book had Zeus' lightening bolt stolen so there was going to be some electrical stuff there. But because Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon, that required the film to also have water effects and Percy's powers are water ones. He learns different things he can do with them and also gains more mastery. But for a film, it has to be something visually interesting and budget concerns abide. So fire, electricity, explosions and some water effects are what they tend to go for, as well as shadows and yanking folk around on wires.
But that brings up a relevant issue -- a lot of the "cliches" that people talk about when they are talking about books actually are about film and t.v., which are storytelling mediums that rely on audio and visual effects and which have very different needs in storytelling -- things such as budgets, cast salaries and availability, running time, special effects needs, seasonal schedules, marketing focus groups, etc. These things effect their storytelling and shape it, but don't necessarily have any relevance to books. I was just trying to corral info on batches of new releases, as I sometimes futilely try to do, and it's quite a wide collection of stories.
And that's actually more what is paralyzing CausticDuality, I think. It's not a lack of variety in SFFH; it's that a lot of stuff has been done over many years and how to have something that doesn't seem to fit in an already used slot. And in a game, there are also particular constraints to how stories need to be for that medium that aren't necessarily relevant to books either. There are some well-worn grooves in the gaming world, though that doesn't mean that they necessarily have to be avoided.
If people really want to "take the road less traveled," there is a simple one: have a non-white lead and a lot of non-white main characters. That is a road in English language SFFH, in all mediums, that is less walked. Not unwalked, but less walked. (Witness the Airbender movie where they replaced the non-white main characters with white actors.) Have women be part of the team and not the love interest, which is starting to get more common. Possibly make the commanding officer a woman, although that's already become more common. Don't have the white guy be the focus, the rescuer, and the leader.
But dump broody warriors, zombies, silky villains, romance, battles, transfigurations, spaceships, aliens, and devastating magic? Enh, I think we can keep them if we want them.
August 8th, 2012, 08:42 PM #65
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Again, it's the details that makes a familiar element a cliché, or something real.
There don't have to be a lot of them, just the right ones at the right time.
In Moon's The Deed of Paksennarion and its sequels there are elves, dwarves, and gnomes. They are physically distinct, but more importantly their cultures are distinct. Gnomes and dwarves are both smaller than humans, but their cultures are very different from each other.
There're hints that in dwarf society women are the dominant sex, with magic of their own, for instance. Not lots of details, but a very few hints. It gives the impression that there are many more details hidden. Dwarves have an elaborate kinship system so complex it's almost impossible for humans to understand them. They have enormous distinctions about the kinds of rock which only our modern geologists would appreciate.
Paks deals with gnomes several times, and we see that obligations and fulfilling them are very important to gnomes. One of the worst crimes a gnome can commit is to default on even a tiny (to us) obligation, and it can get a gnome shunned from gnome society, which is very near to being a death sentence.
But even beyond cultural differences are personality differences. Elves are not alike, and they have quarrels among themselves. Several of Moon's elves are identified and play larger and smaller roles in the dramatic flow of the trilogy and its sequels.
I feel the same as others do: I hate clichés. But it's the incompetence of the writers who make a story element cliché and not the story element itself which I really hate.
August 8th, 2012, 08:47 PM #66
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You are right KatG. If we want something different, then we should write stories set in different locations and time periods than we are used to and base them on different mythologies and cultures than our writing predecessors based their stories on. That is the only way things are really going to change. The stories and characters may be the same but, put them in a new location, a different time period and with a different set of beliefs than the Chistian and/or pre-Christian European folklore and religions based societies and they will be different. Otherwise they are just the same and, as CD clearly feels, boring and trite.
August 9th, 2012, 08:20 PM #67
Incidentally, elemental magic is one of the most popular choices of authors. But as it figures into many religious mythologies, it's also one that's fun to use.