Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:30 pm

I want to see a movie like this:
Our hero is not privileged, maybe he's a plucky underdog but its not really necessary. His classmate/friend/whatever is the Chosen One, destined to battle a Great Evil when it resurfaces. Evil smashing comes easy to the Chosen One because of his special status.He doesn't have to work particularly hard at it to be really good while Our Hero has to bust his ass to get good at anything. Eventually The Chosen One and the Great Evil do battle. . .so far this is Harry Potter with Hermione as the main character.


. . .and the Chosen One gets his ass (potentially fatally) handed to him because he's a cocky little shit. With the prophecy now fulfilled (they battled, he lost), the future is unwritten and Our Hero promptly puts his training to good use and stabs the shit out of the Great Evil. Bonus points if he wins through a combination of hard work and the help of a community instead of solo. Make lots of carve outs so the prophecy is taken to mean "the Chosen One must defeat the Great Evil or everything goes to shit" but actually reads "the Chosen One must fight the Great Evil. On an unrelated note, if the Great Evil is not defeated by someone, 1,000 years of darkness and such."

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Guest on Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:31 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:I want to see a movie like this:
Our hero is not privileged, maybe he's a plucky underdog but its not really necessary. His classmate/friend/whatever is the Chosen One, destined to battle a Great Evil when it resurfaces. Evil smashing comes easy to the Chosen One because of his special status.He doesn't have to work particularly hard at it to be really good while Our Hero has to bust his ass to get good at anything. Eventually The Chosen One and the Great Evil do battle. . .so far this is Harry Potter with Hermione as the main character.


. . .and the Chosen One gets his ass (potentially fatally) handed to him because he's a cocky little shit. With the prophecy now fulfilled (they battled, he lost), the future is unwritten and Our Hero promptly puts his training to good use and stabs the shit out of the Great Evil. Bonus points if he wins through a combination of hard work and the help of a community instead of solo. Make lots of carve outs so the prophecy is taken to mean "the Chosen One must defeat the Great Evil or everything goes to shit" but actually reads "the Chosen One must fight the Great Evil. On an unrelated note, if the Great Evil is not defeated by someone, 1,000 years of darkness and such."

I feel like the scope of this is better suited to a novel than a movie, but I am totally with you. Awesomeness.

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:32 pm

It could be a trilogy but it would be hard not to either tip the ending or feel like a bait and switch.

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:57 pm

The first two Mistborn books are almost there, tbh, but the third kind of swerves back toward Chosen One fantasy. Still love it, but yeah...write an entirely different third book and you've got the story you're talking about. :p

Honestly though I agree it'd be ideal as either a standalone novel or movie/miniseries.
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by waxingjaney on Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:03 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:Make lots of carve outs so the prophecy is taken to mean "the Chosen One must defeat the Great Evil or everything goes to shit" but actually reads "the Chosen One must fight the Great Evil. On an unrelated note, if the Great Evil is not defeated by someone, 1,000 years of darkness and such."
Isn't this more or less Dernhelm's story arc?
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Hirundo Bos on Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:56 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:I want to see a movie like this:
Our hero is not privileged, maybe he's a plucky underdog but its not really necessary. His classmate/friend/whatever is the Chosen One, destined to battle a Great Evil when it resurfaces. Evil smashing comes easy to the Chosen One because of his special status.He doesn't have to work particularly hard at it to be really good while Our Hero has to bust his ass to get good at anything. Eventually The Chosen One and the Great Evil do battle. . .so far this is Harry Potter with Hermione as the main character.


. . .and the Chosen One gets his ass (potentially fatally) handed to him because he's a cocky little shit. With the prophecy now fulfilled (they battled, he lost), the future is unwritten and Our Hero promptly puts his training to good use and stabs the shit out of the Great Evil. Bonus points if he wins through a combination of hard work and the help of a community instead of solo. Make lots of carve outs so the prophecy is taken to mean "the Chosen One must defeat the Great Evil or everything goes to shit" but actually reads "the Chosen One must fight the Great Evil. On an unrelated note, if the Great Evil is not defeated by someone, 1,000 years of darkness and such."

China Miéville, Un Lun Dun.
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Prajnaparamita on Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:59 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:
Gentleman Johnny wrote:I want to see a movie like this:
Our hero is not privileged, maybe he's a plucky underdog but its not really necessary. His classmate/friend/whatever is the Chosen One, destined to battle a Great Evil when it resurfaces. Evil smashing comes easy to the Chosen One because of his special status.He doesn't have to work particularly hard at it to be really good while Our Hero has to bust his ass to get good at anything. Eventually The Chosen One and the Great Evil do battle. . .so far this is Harry Potter with Hermione as the main character.


. . .and the Chosen One gets his ass (potentially fatally) handed to him because he's a cocky little shit. With the prophecy now fulfilled (they battled, he lost), the future is unwritten and Our Hero promptly puts his training to good use and stabs the shit out of the Great Evil. Bonus points if he wins through a combination of hard work and the help of a community instead of solo. Make lots of carve outs so the prophecy is taken to mean "the Chosen One must defeat the Great Evil or everything goes to shit" but actually reads "the Chosen One must fight the Great Evil. On an unrelated note, if the Great Evil is not defeated by someone, 1,000 years of darkness and such."

China Miéville, Un Lun Dun.

Yessss!!! Love that book!
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by eselle28 on Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:17 pm

Prajnaparamita wrote:
China Miéville, Un Lun Dun.

Yessss!!! Love that book!

I'm partial to Kraken and Embassytown, but that's a good one too!


Last edited by eselle28 on Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:14 am

I still want a logistics/strategy(not tactics) hero. He does nothing but barter alliances, tinker with production facilities and supply lines and create long-term plans. He wins the war against Big Bad without ever seeing any action.

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:18 am

BasedBuzzed wrote:I still want a logistics/strategy(not tactics) hero. He does nothing but barter alliances, tinker with production facilities and supply lines and create long-term plans. He wins the war against Big Bad without ever seeing any action.

I would read that book. I'm trying to think if I've read anything that's come close, and maybe some of Le Carre's spy novels do? Though his heroes lose as often as they win. I wouldn't mind seeing a sci fi or fantasy version of Smiley...
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by waxingjaney on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:41 am

BasedBuzzed wrote:I still want a logistics/strategy(not tactics) hero. He does nothing but barter alliances, tinker with production facilities and supply lines and create long-term plans. He wins the war against Big Bad without ever seeing any action.

Baron Harkonnen had a good run at it, except for that OCE at the end.
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Conreezy on Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:18 am

BasedBuzzed wrote:I still want a logistics/strategy(not tactics) hero. He does nothing but barter alliances, tinker with production facilities and supply lines and create long-term plans. He wins the war against Big Bad without ever seeing any action.

Albert Speer almost did it. But he was Big Bad.

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:59 am

BasedBuzzed wrote:I still want a logistics/strategy(not tactics) hero. He does nothing but barter alliances, tinker with production facilities and supply lines and create long-term plans. He wins the war against Big Bad without ever seeing any action.

Isn't that more or less (ok, a bit less) Admiral Thrawn?

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:21 am

Thrawn is the only one of those I've read, and while he did have the psychological aspect and doing maximum damage with scarce resources, Star Wars style makes it all rather sparse on technical details. The other heroes mentioned I'll have to look into, thanks!

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by waxingjaney on Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:17 am

The general problem with this is that, when the heroes do it well, they more or less turn into Mary Sues. The villains also end up looking like bumbling, incompetent goobers when the hero is always outplanning them, which is bad for drama. Having the villains do this gives the heroes a challenge to strive against, and eventually triumph against difficult odds.
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:03 pm

Strategy Sues can be circumvented by miscalculations, inertia, and having a foil on the other side of the fence, I'd say.

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:17 pm

Interesting real life Strategy Sue point - Abe Lincoln never saw action in the Civil War but he was just across the river from the Confederacy and was only a few days' ride from its capital. His greatest enemy (in this version of the story), a cavalry commander who was an expert in guerrilla raids and deception named John Mosby, The Gray Ghost Of The Confederacy. The story goes that the Union garrison in DC wold literally pull the planks up on the bridge across the Potomac at night for fear that Mosby would sneak into the White House and kidnap the president.

Basically, its an inversion of the normal action hero/evil leader story where the rag tag band of misfits fighting their way through waves of henchmen are the bad guys.

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:01 pm

While we're on Chosen One movie spins, how about two characters who grow up together - one's a super powered alien who can fly, punch tanks and so forth. The other is just a guy who busts his ass. Over the next three decades the former sets himself up as a super hero while the latter builds a business, maybe even goes into politics, works within the system. When the alien supergod decides that humans are too violent and dangerous to rule themselves, he tries to step up from hero to ruler and taking out his childhood friend is an important step to word domination. Our plucky, hard working, quintessentially human character now has to punch totally outide his weight class to stay alive and save the world from alien tyranny. You know, Superman vs Lex Luthor.

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Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Prajnaparamita on Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:31 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:While we're on Chosen One movie spins, how about two characters who grow up together - one's a super powered alien who can fly, punch tanks and so forth. The other is just a guy who busts his ass. Over the next three decades the former sets himself up as a super hero while the latter builds a business, maybe even goes into politics, works within the system. When the alien supergod decides that humans are too violent and dangerous to rule themselves, he tries to step up from hero to ruler and taking out his childhood friend is an important step to word domination. Our plucky, hard working, quintessentially human character now has to punch totally outide his weight class to stay alive and save the world from alien tyranny. You know, Superman vs Lex Luthor.

Can we start up a thread in Geekery and Entertainment with story ideas for subverting/improving the tropes of sci-fi and fantasy? And maybe examples of authors and works that have done exactly that? Because people have been coming up with some pretty cool ones here!
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:44 pm

That's a great idea! I split off the initial discussion from the Randoming post, so brainstorm away!
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by The Wisp on Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:08 pm

I'd like to see a science-fiction story where there's a conflict between a closer-to-nature smaller group of people and a technologically advanced larger group of people where the technologically advanced people are the morally right ones, and the closer-to-nature people are either too stubborn to see the truth, have luddite impulses, or something like that. Ideally it would start with it seeming as if the closer-to-nature group is correct, but as the audience learns more it is revealed that the technological civilization is in the right. Basically an inversion of Avatar.

I don't think I've ever seen that in a science fiction story.
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Werel on Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:12 pm

The Wisp wrote:I'd like to see a science-fiction story where there's a conflict between a closer-to-nature smaller group of people and a technologically advanced larger group of people where the technologically advanced people are the morally right ones, and the closer-to-nature people are either too stubborn to see the truth, have luddite impulses, or something like that. Ideally it would start with it seeming as if the closer-to-nature group is correct, but as the audience learns more it is revealed that the technological civilization is in the right. Basically an inversion of Avatar.

I don't think I've ever seen that in a science fiction story.

Inverted, cause the humans are the smaller-but-more-advanced group stranded on an industrial-era planet, but CJ Cherryh's Foreigner does explore a society where the nonhumans' resistence to technology is not painted very favorably.
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:26 pm

The Wisp wrote:I'd like to see a science-fiction story where there's a conflict between a closer-to-nature smaller group of people and a technologically advanced larger group of people where the technologically advanced people are the morally right ones, and the closer-to-nature people are either too stubborn to see the truth, have luddite impulses, or something like that. Ideally it would start with it seeming as if the closer-to-nature group is correct, but as the audience learns more it is revealed that the technological civilization is in the right. Basically an inversion of Avatar.

I don't think I've ever seen that in a science fiction story.

Iain Banks's books frequently portray technologically advanced civilizations as morally right ones and closer-to-nature ones as having a number of harmful tendencies (particularly violence, bigotry, and political oppression). He's also written a book where the audience is introduced to a protagonist on one side of a war and gradually begins to identify with the opposing side, but in that book the civilizations are similarly advanced.
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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:19 am

Wouldn't that be The Village?

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Re: Subverting Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Post by fakely mctest on Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:42 am

Thought I'd drop this in here because a) I really like braak's writing and b) although I had no particular plans to see Jupiter Ascending, this has me almost convinced to give it a whirl to see if I'd view it in any similar ways.

Is Jupiter Ascending the Best Space Opera of All Time and Also the Best Movie?

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