Created By: klas.wullt on July 11, 2014

Western Science Fiction

Science is always bad.

Name Space:
Page Type:
There are two universal types of science fiction, Western and Japanese. Western is more dystopian and Japanese is more Utopian. In the 1910thies, europe used to have a Japanese style but in the 1930thies came anti-intellectualism with communism and nazism which survived the ideologies that made them such a norm.

Robots are bad, clones are souless, cyberpunk technology is a 1990thies symbol for capitalist society. Western science fiction is about social relationships, intentidty crisis, alienation, high moral standards of the author. A common theme is the idea that a human being can be "not" human becouse of identity crisis and the idea that psychology is treated as a universal objective morality. Characters are portrayed as having psychological need for the writers values and belief and therefore everyone are going insane or mentaly unwell. Often despite what the characters themselves want or say they believe. Faked Psychology is often used a moral sledgehammer against otherwise victimless crimes or just to space hippies and sixyearolds a handicap against the hunter killer cyborgs. Another common trait of western science fiction is either fantastic racism of the author or at least the intolerance towards anyone who different from what the writer thinks a "real human being should be". Often cyborgs are a symbolism for real world gays or minorities such as nerds who feel targeted by such tropes. The writer propably beat up nerds in school and now beat up evil scientists in movies about a world where his cameo cant get a job becouse of his lack of education in a society that doesnt properly value his social genius.

Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • July 11, 2014
    This applies to both this and the other YKTTW, but I'll post here for convenience's sake;

    I'm not sure this is a trope.

    We already have Science Is Bad (et al) and Science Hero/Evil Luddite to cover the various "is science good or bad" dichotomies.

    And I'm not really seeing this Japanese vs. Western trend you're describing. Japan has plenty of Green Aesop and anti-science related media (Blue Gender is pretty blatant, not to mention Godzilla and the Nuclear Weapons Taboo in general) and Western media has plenty of "yay science" works (Transcendence, Johnny Quest, Post Cyberpunk works in general and tonnes of "Utopian Fiction" in the mid 20th century).

    If there's a recent trend towards "science is awesome", it's universal.
  • July 11, 2014
    I see some of your points but I think I got more points balance. I think this is a trope that is justified. Actually I want to expand my trope to cover a little more than the normal science is bad trope but I think this is the only Science is good trope there is currently. The trope name refers to that japanese are friendlier to robots and technologies. Documentaries have been made about the Japanese love for robots and technologies becouse traditionaly they believe that inanimate object have animist spirits in themselves. Basically japanese are immune too Uncanny Valley.

    Godzilla, Blue Gender etc are as you say, science-critical but there are more proscience works in anime than in west and its more conventional in Japan. In hollywood science is always bad,

    I dont remember when I saw robot in western film last that wasn't completly insane from angst or just dehumanized emotionless objective-minded killing machine speaking trivia such as "target:located" "proceeding to initiate massmurder program". ...and I think it was Data in Star Trek next generation anyway. then came Voyager ..which was forcefeeding me with plenty luddite stuff. There even was an hole race of evil robots who had destroyed their makers becouse they tried to turn them off,it was such as soooo bad episode.

    I would like to argue with examples.. Take the new and the orginal Robocop and terminator movies. In the new Robocop movie, cybernetics versus emotions becouse the implants malfunctions if you feel strong emotions or anything else than cold rationality so they drug Murphy until until he becomes a emotionless robot. In the old movie, Murphy didn't even have all of his brain left and cyborgs worked better than machines becouse the human brain is a faster computer. Both Murphy and the Terminator in Terminator 2, where basically machines who turned out to have the potential to become human and not going insane nor had to be emotionless.

    Once, robots where seen as funny and even cool then came terminator 1 and 2 and Robocop etc, but it was okey becouse they where awesome! The heroes in Terminator movies where smart, "he could have been the nerd watching" and Robocop was the ultimate Genius Bruiser.

    In Terminator Salvation, we even have a half terminator half human with "oh my humanity" complex and kids outsmarting terminators with their "intuition" and "emotions"... leading to the resistance eradicing themselves becouse they are to rational and not acting human enough for .. the"science is bad" trope!. The new Robocop is ..more technophobia and much less phobia about dystopic injustice in the society around Robocop... than Robocop orginal was about.

    Question, According to you, arent Ghost In the Shell;Battleangel anita and Armitage III especially japanese in that their robots are more human? ..becouse they are robots and not despite? West just doesnt have anything like that.. you could never have a sane protagonist who is just one brain in an android body. In western fiction just a brain in a bot .... is a hidous Robocop or worse.
  • July 11, 2014
    I think that point Bisected8 is trying to make is that it feels (to me as well) that you are missing where the trope actually is. If a trope is a convention in storytelling how do 'Japanese authors like technology' and 'Western authors fear technology' fit in that? Why the author is stating either isn't the point, which they are stating is the point.

    I think there is room for Technological Utopia and Technological Distopia tropes (if they aren't there already), but pointing out the country of origin for said works isn't the important part of the trope.
  • July 11, 2014

    Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Robert A Heinlein. Do you need modern authors? Anne Mc Caffrey's son has taken over the Dragons of Pern. Need films? I Robot has been criticized for using the old Frankenstein complex, but "Sonny" is a lot friendlier than the original "Little Lost Robot". Do you need a megacorporation? Disney owns Star Wars, and R2-D2 is just as beloved as Doctor Who's K-9.
  • July 11, 2014
    A minor point, but: the name Western Science Fiction makes me think of Cowboys And Aliens.
  • July 11, 2014
    Likewise, I don't see any particular trend towards Science Is Bad in western sci-fi or Science Is Good in eastern sci-fi. You can find representatives of both in both genres, as this debate has shown. That's really not much of a distinction.

    If you want to make a page contrasting western and eastern sci-fi, that's fine, but I think you're on the wrong track for that. Honestly, that's a subject that sociologists could debate endlessly about, but I'm not sure we're really qualified for that.

    However, western and eastern sci-fi do have some distinct differences, just not the ones you've mentioned. For example, in the 50s and 60s, Japanese science fiction trended heavily towards the giant monster (Kaiju) genre. This reflects the country's trauma from the atomic bomb, especially seen in the original Gojira. In contrast, western sci-fi, coinciding with the Red Scare, dealt a lot more with alien invaders or infiltrators, such as Earth Vs Flying Saucers, The Day The Earth Stood Still, or Twilight Zone episodes like The Monsters On Maple Street. I think the differences are a lot more complicated than "science good" or "science bad".

  • July 11, 2014
    What is the trope? The trope is that I noticed that some science fiction is negative against itself, like saying this is a"sad story" as opposed to "science being bad" which happens in non-science fiction all the time. Some science fiction is positive against itself, like it's saying this fun!

    I just feel.. that there is no science fiction at all, not on TV nor in the theatres but in Japan there is science fiction all the time becouse of anime and manga. I see plently of science fiction "book" but most seem to be influenced by fantasy or religion, very few of the books seems to be "just" science fiction.

    Dragons of Pernof is really science fantasy like He-Man or Warhammer 40k. Mixed science fantasy examples are dangerous, Starwars is technicaly this but I feel Starwars is more soft science fiction than science fantasy, is only in aesthetic terms. What I miss is science fiction without magic, without space creationism/space religion or science fiction that is actually satisfied with being science fiction not some reconstruction of science fiction into another genre or psychological symbolism. For example I did like Solaris, but too me it was anti-space movie, the film was entertaining but the message was a "you should not like spaceships". It was attempted deconstruction making science fiction into sociology,usually sociology have no place in science fiction. Look at Prometheus... alien is soiled now! Starwars and Doctor Who are remnants of an older SF-friendlier time. Since when did any of those modern writers pass into film?

    Watsonian Versus Doylist, isn't really about Watson and Doyle. I just wanted a personalized name for the trope. It's not exactly country of Origin, but Japan is for me the paradise of technophilia. How about Hollywood SF Versus Japanese SF?

  • July 11, 2014
    We have the Science Is Bad trope already. If you need more than a sentence to explain how your proposal is different, it's probably Not A Trope you have in mind.
  • July 11, 2014
    So Complaining About Science Fiction You Don't Like then? We don't need a trope dedicated to detailing one particular troper's tastes and prejudices.
  • July 11, 2014
    Yet, the Science Hero trope lacks an Anime and Manga folder.

    There are many sci-fi works that aren't hostile to science written by people from the "West", just not ones you're apparently familiar with.

    And if you think that science fiction "book" are influenced by fantasy or religion try Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke, Larry Niven, or David Brin.
  • July 11, 2014
    "Science" =/= "Robots."

    Star Trek. Doctor Who. Star Wars. Three GIANT "western" franchises which embrace science.
  • July 30, 2014
    I give up. You have some points. If you say I just havent discovered them yet, I am willing to look into it and change my mind. But dont you guys agree that at least in movies.. there havent been many science fiction movies the last decades?