Suspension of Disbelief in Sci Fi and Fantasy

There is a lot that I’ll go along with. Sure, wormholes to other galaxies are possible. A scientist on the show said some words that I don’t understand and said that they are possible. I’ll go along with the possibility that aliens exist, that dragons (and their paper-thin wings) can somehow carry themselves in the air, and that wizards can throw fireballs. I buy that.

But there are some things, that even after spending my entire life entrenched in fantasy and science-fiction, I cannot buy. My suspension of disbelief has hit its limits.

Skeletons. As seen in the picture from 1963’s “Jason and the Argonauts,” skeletons have been a long-time component of classic fantasy. Evil wizards that raise the dead. This should be terrifying. But we’re making a huge assumption that I just cannot buy.

There is nothing holding these bones together. It’s not like their muscles and tendons are still on there. This is nothing but bone. How are they able to grip a sword and shield? Let’s assume that somehow “magic” is holding them together. At best, this would be like a puppeteer. The evil necromancer would no way be able to control a whole squad of undead. The best he could do is just throw the piles of bones at poor Jason (as seen above). These skeletons have no sort of instinct; they have no brain. They have no eyes, so they can’t know when to dodge and when to attack. They have no ears so they wouldn’t hear when the enemy is approaching. They would be lifeless (and essentially useless) puppets, flopping around while the wizard struggled to even hold them upright.

And why do they need shields? Bone is pretty durable. They don’t have anything that can get hurt, they should wielding double-swords. And since they have no skin, let’s light them on fire. Now that is terrifying: dual-wielding skeleton swordsmen on fire. Even if the wizard lost control and the skeletons crumbled, they’d have to at least worry about the fire they’d have to put out.

Other Planets Are Not Topographically Diverse

Earth is really all we know, so it’s the basis for most science-fiction worlds. But Earth is also incredibly diverse in terms of weather, climate, topography, etc. If you were to look at Antartica and then look at the Sahara, you’d see two very different things. Even the differences between Seattle and Texas can be staggering.

So… Tell me why every single planet is made up of only one type of environment. Hoth, the iconic snow planet from Empire Strikes Back, is entirely ice and snow. Why is Earth the only continent that’s diverse in terms of climate? Look at the sandy worlds from Dune. Isn’t there another part of the planet with redwoods and lakes? I’m not buying it.

And I have a personal complaint about Stargate, which I love. They pop out on some distant world and then about 5 minutes later they say, “Welp, planet looks unihabited.” COME ON. Planets are gigantic. No way you could know that within minutes the planet was empty.

Everyone Speaks English

In 90% of sci-fi and fantasy settings, every race ever somehow speaks English. The only show I’ve seen that really addresses this is Farscape, which introduces a neurochip that translates what you hear into your own language. Maybe most science fiction writers can’t come up with a clever way to get around it.

And then, beyond even speaking English, these other races manage to understand current slang and terminology (aside from the random self-referential jokes about not understanding pop culture). When the army commander yells, “Let’s get it done!”, you’d think the aliens would look at each other and shrug, not charge into battle.

Someone is an Expert on Everything

I will buy that there are people that are extremely intelligent in a certain field, but it seems like most current science fiction works under the assumption that the token scientist is somehow a genius in physics, energy creation/usage/distribution, rocket propulsion, alien languages, Latin languages, alien technology/culture, space travel, time travel, and everything to do with the universe.

I’d buy it if the person happened to know the alien language… but they can also rebuild an alien ship? He can create a speech translator and a rocket ship to get them to the next planet? It seems like it would take extensive education to learn just one of these topics, nonetheless all of them. Have you noticed this scientist is also usually relatively young? I don’t buy it. Maybe if the dude was 90.

Savage Creatures Are Self-Aware Enough to Wear Clothing

We have 1,000,000 orcs marching on to Isengard. Why are they wearing pants? I understand if they were given armor, that’s a battlefield requirement. But sometimes, they are just cruising and choose to wear clothes, albeit torn and dirty clothes (an orc wearing a nice sweater vest would implode my sense of self).

But do you think really that an orc cares if he’s wearing pants? Do you think the mob of goblins that are chasing our heroes through the mines of Moria really think about “Man, I should cover up so I don’t get embarassed.”

I think they wouldn’t care. And that would be a much more terrifying sight.

What else?

What else don’t you buy? 



About adamryen

Entertainment. Gaming. Dreaming.
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