Today I’m going to be a rebel.
Talking about things we love comes as naturally as breathing. We can go on for hours about our favorite movie, sing the praises of a stunning book we’ve read, wax eloquent on the movie soundtrack we’ve been listening to for the past three weeks.
What about the other side of the coin? What about movies, books, characters, or anything else we detest?
If you know anything about me, you know I’m a massive sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast. A geek to the core. I’m not naturally long-winded—unless I’m writing—but get me started into superheroes, fantasy worlds, or magic systems, and I can run the like the energizer bunny.
Believe it or not, there are things about my favorite genres and stories that I hate.
Clichés that make me want to pull my hair out.
Characteristics as worn out as a ten-year-old pair of jeans.
Gasp and horror.
I think their general epicness shines like the sun when compared to other genres, but even so, problems grow like thistles.
For a different spin on my generally glowing opinion of science fiction and fantasy, here are three things I hate.
1. Overly Protective Heroes
This one’s like politicians during election season—you can’t get away from it. If I had a dollar for every time the hero told someone he (or she) was only trying to protect them…I’d still need a job, but I’d have a heck of a lot more money than I do now.
The excuse is so old. Every time I hear it, I want to scream, sigh, bang my head against something hard, and slap some creativity into them.
All at the same time.
Eventually, after hearing it over and over, it becomes a numbing irritation—like the buzz of a fly in a quiet room.
Dudes are usually the guilt party with the “I’m trying to protect you” line, so I get it. I really do. It’s natural to want to protect people you care about. But at the same time, it’s foolish to carry the burden alone and selfish to shut out people who care about you just as much.
Can we have a new flavor, please? Different motivations? Different responses?
I don’t know about you, but if the hero keeps on insisting he only wants to protect people by lying to them, hiding things from them, or making endless excuses, I might take up flying lessons…without a parachute.
2. Women’s Fantasy Armor
Or lack thereof. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about—the hot warrior-chick garb that for some inexplicable reason passes for suitable protection against slashing swords and stabbing spears.
You’re headed into battle against the vicious Cut Throats who would like nothing more than to soak the ground with your blood. Would you feel safe throwing yourself into the melee in what amounts to a leather and steel swimsuit?
Maybe you’re a kick-butt warrior whose skill is such that the enemy’s steel can never touch you…but still. Is it worth the risk?
The point is, armor is for protection. To cover your body and so prevent you from being hacked to pieces. It’s not about looking hot or appealing to an unwritten dress code that makes no sense on the battlefield.
3. Chosen One Stories
Please…please…please…I’VE HAD ENOUGH.
Stories in which the hero is the chosen one—by prophecy, destiny, providence, whatever—are as old as top-of-the-line wine.
And they don’t get better with age.
This is a particularly nasty blemish in the sparkling crown of fantasy. Tales of the chosen one are as numerous as Catholic rabbits (did you catch that reference? *wink-wink*), and twice as annoying. If done with imagination and a reckless disregard for tiresome clichés, they can work. But why keep going to the same almost dried-up well when there’s a river of originality ten yards away?
This isn’t as large of a plague in science fiction circles, but it exists and I’m tired of it.
Instead of chosen one stories, why can’t we have characters who act because they see a need? Who oppose the villain not because they’re bound by prophecy or directed by destiny, but because it’s the right thing to do?
Okay, mini rant over, and I feel much better.
What pet peeves do you have when it comes to science fiction and fantasy? Are there any that are a burr under your saddle? I would love to hear your thoughts.