IMG_1341 Ari Marmell, Bev Hale, Madeleine Dimond, Matthew Bey
on the "Story ideas I don't want to see again" panel. At first, instead of the addressing the topic, panelists discussed skimpily dressed book covers as something they never wanted to see again. Eventually an audience member kinda-sorta nudged them onto the topic, by asking why can't healthy, loving relationships ever be discussed in genre fiction. The quick answer is that healthy relationships are too "boring" for fiction, because most fiction is fueled by conflict. Bev Hale also responded that there ARE some science fiction works that portray loving relationships -- for example, Lois Bujold Miles Vorkosigan series or Firefly.
Some of the relationships tropes that the panelists DON'T want to see again are "The fate of the whole world depends on these two people getting together, and their relationship is more important than the whole world", as well as "I'm so special that there is no mere man who is worthy to be my mate. He has to be a werewolf or vampire."
We also don't want to see rape universally used as "something bad that happened in the heroine's past that made her come back stronger", says Ari Marmell. Too often it's used as a lazy character-building shortcut, as if there was no other adversity that a woman protagonist could possibly experience and overcome.
Other tropes the panelists and audience don't want to see: the colonial trope, where white people go to another planet and save the natives, and "it was all a dream", or its modern version "it was all a computer game".
Read more about ArmadilloCon in my blog posts, especially about the ever-popular What You Should Have Read panel, where our well-read panelists recommend the year's best science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.