Where we talk about SF Horror Tropes and give our impressions of Ancillary Justice Chapters 1 and 2.

Trope or Treat

Everyone loves tropes, don’t they? Okay, perhaps everyone is a bit of an exaggeration. Tropes are fun touchstones that when done well add a familiar dimension and zeitgeist to a show, film, or literature. They set up expectations for the audience and then (hopefully) deliver on those expectations or better yet subvert those expectations. But tropes can get played out and when not used in subtle or inventive ways, they just seem like lazy writing. I suspect this is why the word trope often comes with a negative connotation.

Favorite Tropes

I have a number of tropes that I enjoy and a few I don’t.  This list from TV Tropes is pretty good if you are having a hard time thinking of some.

Mad Scientist: Yeah this is the first one that came to mind. Victor Frankenstein creates a literal monster, though it turns out that the scientist himself is actually the real monster.  Another great example is the Invisible Man, Dr. Griffin.

Came from the Sky: This encompasses much of the fear we spoke about in our last blog. Humans are both fascinated and terrified of what might lay beyond our atmosphere. A few well known pieces that fit here are War of the Worlds, Who Goes There and The Thing, and of course Predator. Although the last is really only SF because alien, it still counts.

Body Horror: Twisting the human body and changing it into something else entirely is another horrific idea that keeps folks awake at night. Again The Thing is a great example but another is The FlyLeviathan could be dropped in here too.

Hyperspace is a Scary Place: One of my favorite SF horror movies fits this trope quite well. Event Horizon is a cult classic, loved by some and reviled by others but the titular ship literally goes to Hell on its maiden voyage and brings something back with it. Great stuff.

Do you have a favorite SF Horror trope? Check out our poll in the JordanCon group later this week.

Ancillary Read Along October 12th, 2018

Chapters 1 & 2


I am enjoying the story thus far, though through the first two chapters we are getting a great deal of information without context. I enjoy that kind of writing, but I can see where it might also be confusing.

The idea of a ship being conscious is not new to SF, but that is another aspect of the story I like. The flow of chapter two seems a bit off. And I am wondering if these are characters we will meet or hear about later. I hope there is some payoff as they seem like interesting characters.

What do others think? Any thoughts and impressions?

The next installment of the Ancillary Read Along will be on October 26th, discussing Chapters 3&4.

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