Created By: hcobbJuly 9, 2012

Burnside's Zeroth Law of space combat

Fiction is about people, because the audience is made out of people.

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Trope
As per http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/prelimnotes.php

Most people instinctively know Burnside's Zeroth Law of space combat: Science fiction fans relate more to human beings than to silicon chips. That is, while it might make more logical sense to have an interplanetary battle waged between groups of computer controlled spacecraft, it would be infinitely more boring than a battle between groups of human crewed spacecraft.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • July 9, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I'm not sure this is tropeworthy, given its ubiquity.
  • July 9, 2012
    abk0100
    ^That doesn't make any sense
  • July 9, 2012
    Luigifan
    ^ I mean that nearly every sci-fi work involving space combat has at least one side that uses manned spacecraft. It rarely comes up that robots would make more sense, in fact the only examples are a few transhumanist works where the Space Fighter equivalents are piloted by AIs or uploaded human brains.
  • July 9, 2012
    Luigifan
    Unfortunately, it does. See People Sit On Chairs. But we do have Universal Tropes, Tropes Of Legend, and tropes so friggin common they don't have examples on their page.

    Therefore, it stands to reason that this, making a good point about fiction, is tropeable. It certainly needs a rename: space combat is too specific. Call it Most Viewers Are Human: I think it's a good snowclone to Most Writers Are Male, Most Writers Are Writers and Most Writers Are Human.

    For instance, this could be the reason behind a lot of Developing Doomed Characters examples: the audience is supposed to relate to the victims, not the cool monsters.

    It allegedly is the main reason why, despite the mind blowing amount of resources spent on the eponymous Transformers, the plot and the screentime are focused on how a few humans relate to them and are affected by their struggle, rather than on developing the robots and their own struggles, despite the fact that those could be quite poignant.
  • July 9, 2012
    Luigifan
    No, the mind blowing resources were used just to create the transformers. The focus on humans was to cut back on the budget required to have near photo-realistic car robots and Hasbro can be blamed for demanding (or even agreeing) to make what's better animated live action.

    Or in short, Serendipity Writes The Plot.
  • July 9, 2012
    planswalker
    This is an Omnipresent Trope in space-faring speculative fiction. Most the few aversions that do exist tend to focus on the human designers/programmers/controllers, not the unmanned vessels. Stories about an unmanned space craft without a human upstaging it are vanishingly rare.
  • July 9, 2012
    animeg3282
    That is true. Even today we are creating unmanned drones, but a story would be about heroic space pilots even if most of the fleet are drones.
  • July 9, 2012
    TBeholder
    Omnipresent Trope. Not really limited to space combat, of course.
  • July 10, 2012
    hcobb
    Would it be more tropeworthy to go at this from the other side?

    Most robot focused stories tend to make the robots way too human. (Walle, Tron Uprising, etc.)
  • July 10, 2012
    planswalker
    No, I think you've got a very valid omnipresent trope the way it is.
  • November 24, 2012
    TBeholder
    and Most Viewers Are Humans as a redirect!
  • November 24, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Related, if not the same, as Most Writers Are Human and Anthropic Principle.

    Also, a healthy reminder of No Trope Is Too Common.
  • November 24, 2012
    CarrieVS
    ^^^^We already have that, with Ridiculously Human Robots.
  • November 24, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Needs A Better Title - you stumped Google. Which means you most likely just pulled a name out of thin air solely for the sake of doing so, we don't allow that.

    You also need to fix your laconic so that it accurately reflects your definition. "Fiction is about people" is SO omnipresent it has absolutely zero bearing on a description that reads as "all spacefighter combat is manned combat". Or if you're working on a different definition, update your draft to reflect it. A YKTTW draft is not just "a post", it's an actual preview of how the finished article should look in the wiki, so you should keep it up-to-date with the conversation.

    (Belated apology for phrasing it so bluntly.)

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