Check ‘Em Out!: Entertainment Tropes and a Sci-Fi Museum

Hey!

I wanted to tell you briefly about a couple of websites I recently came across that you might also enjoy.

TV Tropes

As the Welcome statement on the site states, “Merriam-Webster defines trope as a ‘figure of speech.’ For creative writer types, tropes are more about conveying a concept to the audience without needing to spell out all the details.” However, it is online Merriam-Webster’s second definition that is more appropriate here: “a common or overused theme or device : cliché”.

The site, which is no longer limited to TV shows, is all about those plot devices, themes, stereotypes, etc., that frequently show up in various large- and small-screen productions. These tropes and subtropes are given names — e.g., “Book Dumb”, “Let’s Split Up, Gang”, “Lampshading”, or “Rule of Sean Connery” — and then various movies, TV series, and characters are described using these (sub)tropes. (It’s a little bit hard to describe unless you go there.) As you read descriptions of the (sub)tropes, you’ll be saying to yourself, “Oh, yeah, like when…” multiple times. You can browse by genre, media, narrative, topical tropes, or other categories.

In addition to being an “authority” site (sort of), it is also a community. For example, members can go to the “Trope Finder” page to ask fellow-members things like “Do we have this one?” and “What’s the trope about…?” The “You Know That Show…” page is for when you’re trying to remember the name of a show/movie that just escapes you. So, you can try describing it to the community and hope that someone else can identify it for you. Similar pages include “Ask the Tropers”, “Browse TV Tropes”, and “Trope Launch Pad”.

I’m not sure how much I’d actually use this site on a regular basis, but it might be handy to have access for when I do need a research assist. How about you?

Museum of Science Fiction

Did you know there was a Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, D.C.? Well, there isn’t… not yet, at least. The group that runs the site (which I assume is legit) is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization that has been seeking talent and funding since 2013 to make the museum a reality.

Their initial team of 38 volunteers made “significant progress on everything from curatorial aspects such as gallery design and visitor experience to the non-profit management areas of development, project management, education, information technology, public relations, marketing, finance, accounting, and legal compliance.” From there, the first step was to develop “a 3,000-square-foot preview museum where we can test exhibit concepts and new interactive technologies to share a real-time look into this grassroots effort.”

As per the “Preview Museum” page,

“By starting with a small preview museum, doors can open sooner and set the stage for completing the full-scale facility within five years. During this time, the Museum will annually change out the exhibits, stories, and educational content to highlight the best achievements in science fiction and its continuing impact on our culture.

The Preview Museum’s architectural design is modular and highly portable to allow for easy relocation to other cities (such as New York or Los Angeles). After its tour, the Preview Museum will be added as a wing to the full-scale facility….

Our mission is to create a center of gravity where art and science are powered by imagination. Science fiction is the story of humanity: who we were, who we are, and who we dream to be. The Museum will present this story through displays, interactivity, and programs in ways that excite, educate, entertain, and create a new generation of dreamers.”

Meanwhile, they have (co-)sponsored various competitions (e.g., the “Deep Ocean Research and Robotics Competition”) and two annual “Escape Velocity” events — i.e., “a micro-futuristic world’s fair designed to promote STEAM education within the context of science fiction.” They also continue to add content to the museum web-site, and in Jan. 2016 launched the MoSF Journal of Science Fiction, which includes both researched academic articles and short, reflective essays.

If you are curious about the journal’s content, follow the link. Also, here is the Table of Contents for the first issue:

  • Reflecting on Science Fiction, Monica Louzon
  • Biogenetics, The Nation, and Globalization in Paolo Bacigalupi’s Critical Dystopias, Derrick King
  • Gods of War Toke While Riding a Vimana: Hindu Gods in Three Indian Science Fiction Novels, Sami Ahmad Khan
  • Loving the Other in Science Fiction by Women, Karma Waltonen
  • Paul’s Empire: Imperialism and Assemblage Theory in Frank Herbert’s Dune, Amanda M Rudd

As of this writing, three issues have been published (see pic for #3), and they are downloadable for free in PDF format.

I don’t know when I’ll have time to look at this more, especially the journal (though I downloaded all 3 issues), but it all looks & sounds pretty cool to me!

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