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Tell me if this thought makes sense

fiction tropes

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Tevildo Tevildo


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Posted 13 August 2016 - 12:03 PM #1 Tell me if this thought makes sense

When reading popular fiction, there is this combination of two factors that I really, really don't like to see.

Characters who meet stereotyped expectations can be annoying, but they won't usually make me stop reading.

Well established characters behaving way out of type can also be annoying; but again, won't necessarily make me stop reading.

However. When a well established character, with an established personality and beliefs, suddenly starts conforming to a stereotype that is completely out of character for them, it's usually time for me to swear out loud and put the book down. That just hurts. I haven't seen many examples of it, but the ones I have seen are all memorable cases that I wouldn't read again.

Randomizer Randomizer

Tormented Battle Mage

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 12:39 PM #2 Tell me if this thought makes sense

I can see that and a recent example is in the Marvel comic book Captain America in the last few issues.  While I have read suggestions on what is happening besides trying to shock the readers, it just doesn't seem plausible.

I've seen having a stereotypical behavior that just shouldn't exist in context.  Back during the 1980s there was a Star Trek novel where a character was using a racist nickname when talking to a Vulcan character that was wrong then and really shouldn't have happened in the enlighten Starfleet Academy setting.
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Edgwyn Edgwyn

Avernite Dervish

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 01:14 PM #3 Tell me if this thought makes sense

Much of the 1980s Star Trek novels (almost all of which are sitting on a shelf in my basement) were really bad and suffered from a lack of oversight and general direction.  Having Spock do something out of character was extremely popular, but not the only example.

The 1990s relaunch of the Star Wars novels had much stronger central direction from Lucas Film, but still had some poor moments.  The problem with comic books is that they feel a need to completely re-invent themselves every so often (kind of like soap operas) and so Captain America being part of Hydra or Batman being the Dark Knight (which is/was critically acclaimed) is done to get new/more readers.  The transitions in the DC lineup in the 1980s ended my spending on comics.

Lilith Lilith

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 09:02 PM #4 Tell me if this thought makes sense

Was there a specific thing you read that prompted this thought? Because it seems like the kind of thought that might be prompted by reading a specific thing.

Tevildo Tevildo


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Posted 14 August 2016 - 01:51 PM #5 Tell me if this thought makes sense


Got it in one.

In this case it was an SF novel I'd been reading. Note, possible spoilers follow, and also stuff that some people might find triggery...

In summary:


And it hurt all the more because, up until then, it had been really good and engrossing, and had studiously avoided the usual cliches.

However, I've seen the same kind of thing before, again mostly around gender stuff. Michael Crichton seems to have been a common offender.

e.g. Timeline:

Or Sphere:

Ventus by Karl Schroeder, which I mentioned a while back, was also a particularly painful example:

What's astonishing to me is that this stuff is not even subtle. Timeline and Sphere were why I had completely given up on Michael Crichton before I'd started high school. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

(Aaaaaand let's hope this doesn't go overboard into rant territory.)

[Edit: Ventus is not a Crichton novel, in case you were wondering]

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