I’ve watched all seasons of Star Trek Voyager and Stargate SG-1 last year. That’s probably a bit too much. But it got me thinking about some of the things this type of shows (as well as science fiction movies) tend to do that make them worse than they need to be.
I didn’t want to make this a poll, because I’m sure you guys have stuff to contribute. Or just tell me why I’m wrong. (-:
Roughly but not strictly from extremely annoying to a slight sigh.
Transporters. Not only extremely implausible scientifically, but they also make all kinds of stuff way too easy, and the full implication of the technology is rarely if ever explored. (Duplicate Riker in TNG?) I give the stargate in Stargate a pass because it’s not an easy cheat and because it’s the whole premise of the movie/show.
Life sign sensors. Within seconds, we know that there’s 9 billion Borgs on the planet. Because, you know, all life transmits “life signs”. Completely implausible and way too easy.
Out of phase. So you occupy normal space and time but can’t interact with the normal world. So far, so good. But how can you still see and hear? That’s interaction. Why don’t you fall through the floor?
Space travel that’s way too fast. Sure, you can go faster than light. (Extremely implausible, but part of the deal.) But it only takes a day or a few days to go enormous distances. Even at 1000 times the speed of light it takes months to get to many stars we can see with the naked eye! Let alone the other side of the galaxy. Hate the way that Star Trek never lets itself get tied down to how fast these ships can go. Voyager both avoided it with its 70 year trip home and suffered from it because speeds were all over the map in individual episodes. Of course you can argue that when traveling through hyperspace, the notion of distance and thus speed becomes irrelevant, but they never do.
Psychic powers. I guess you could have technology-based telepathy, but that never happens. Telekinesis is just magic with nothing even close to scientific plausibility. The required energy is just created out of nothing. They all do this, but the new Battlestar Galactica is especially bad because it started with doing so many things right (sound in space etc) but then infused more and more ridiculous religion.
Reaching planets at sub-light speeds. There’s always conveniently a planet or moon around when someone needs to crash land. It took the fastest space probe we made 10 years to reach Pluto! Sure, in the future we can go faster than that, but dropping out of hyperspace randomly and then reaching a planet using sub-light speed in minutes to hours? Just doesn’t make sense.
I guess a lot of the above boil down to: space is big. Don’t make it small. Landing on a planet and/or finding out what inhabits it are a big deal. Treat it as such.
Anti-gravity. Ok, I can accept it within space ships because making everyone float every week is too difficult. But having space ships as well as random stuff just hover whenever that’s convenient? Come on.
Flying through space like there’s an atmosphere. In a vacuum, you can’t make turns. The new Battlestar Galactica got this right a bunch, but usually it’s like watching airplanes. Often, they even have wings.
New types of weird radiation. There’s particles and electromagnetic. All the rest is lazy writing.
Super fast growth. Really? Who can eat that fast? Conservation of mass/energy, people!
Names with apostrophes.
Immediate interstellar communication. Seriously, not even some lag? Some communication with home base is required for certain types of stories. Liked how they did this in Voyager, where this was a hard problem slowly solved.
The whole universe speaks English. Obviously this is necessary if you want to have first contact somewhat regularly, but it could be handled better. Stargate is especially disappointing here because they got it very right early on but then ignored the issue later. As all the other human planets had small populations and many had stargate travel, they could have come up with Earth English as a trade language or something like that.
Pretty much anything medical. We see HAZMAT suits once in a while, but usually when it’s too late anyway. The original Alien got this right but then Prometheus went way in the opposite direction. The cures are usually just magic, too.
Energy weapons. Energy doesn’t work like that.
The public never gets to know. Sure, it’s much easier to have existing reality as a setting rather than the 2003 where we travel to alien worlds through a stargate, but it’s unrealistic that these events never influence society.
Sound in space. Incorrect. But we want impressive things to sound impressive, so it doesn’t bother me too much.