I penned, recently the following (compound?) clause in one of my projects: "my research program for the last 30 or more years."

You'll see what that's in reference to in a while, ultimately it's minor and my aim with this passage is to cement the "book within a book" feeling that I'm so fond of. But it also indicates that this character, who is older, but still very able bodied (the narration is the result of him taking a rather lengthy intra-solar system journey alone) I has had an active academic/intellectual career focused on one subject for at least 30 years. In point of fact, he's probably even a bit older than that. Having characters that are older than they appear or would be in our contemporary world is something that I'm pretty fond of. And it's science fiction, so having a character that's pushing 200 is something that isn't patently absurd.

This got me thinking to other things, namely, about the genre tropes that I am fond of using in my stories. So here's a partial list:

  • Space Opera. I like space opera because it's fun and enjoyable, because I know that readers "get it," but probably most importantly because it makes it possible to talk about political ideas and have interesting plots that aren't over complicated or grafted onto popular/contemporary notions of politics and history.
  • Within space opera it's also possible to complicate plots in productive ways using various technological phenomena which might make stories difficult to tell in contemporary worlds? You need characters to be out of touch for a chapter? Relativity or a solar flare clears that up, sending your main character to the woods without a cellphone for the weekend, is kind of hackneyed.
  • Globalization is changing the way that just about every group people on the planet interact with each other, and I think it's very true that this process is only going to continue, and there are situations common to space opera where it becomes possible to talk about cultural difference and divergence rather than convergence.
  • I like to use telepathy and telepaths as a way of talking about privacy, and subjugated classes of people (on the assumption that if there are human telepaths, there are probably also humon-non telepaths.)
  • I think relativistic time-travel effects are incredibly fascinating, and the Station Keeping stories are--at least in part--an exploration of what happens when these sorts of effects are normalized in a society.
  • I totally have a soft spot for cyberpunk style virtual reality interfaces and direct neural interfaces, even though I don't expect that either of these are technologies that are likely to come to pass. VR makes it possible to toy with the mechanics of reality, and it makes it possible to have awesome battles/confrontations without needing to be contrived about it.

Now I think I should probably make a list of tropes that I don't really get. Like super heros. Hmmm....

What are your favorite tropes? Have I forgotten a big one that you really like? Are the tropes that you just don't get?

I look forward to hearing your responses.