Mundane Dogmatic

The setting adheres to the precepts of the Mundane Manifesto, a system of self-imposed restraints similar in spirit to the constraints of Dogme '95 (see here) in film. Such settings usually fall rather high on the Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness, but there are exceptions.

A quick overview: The Mundanes promise to eschew...

... while still providing other instances of Applied Phlebotinum that do not break these rules.


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  • Appleseed
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Patlabor
  • Planetes
  • Twin Spica
  • Most of the early Astro Boy stories were surprisingly grounded in reality, since Tezuka wanted to create a future world his viewers could relate to. Later stories went a little crazy with the alien invaders, though it's interesting to note that in the entire history of the franchise there's been only one mention of a human-built spacecraft leaving the solar system (at the end of The Transparent Giant).

    Comic Books 

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey: The film follows the Manifesto while (ironically) the book by Arthur C. Clarke does not by (catch this) leaving the events more ambiguous. Because it's not clear that the events following David Bowman's encounter with the monolith are literally happening or are all just in his head, Kubrick's version slips by, while Clarke's (in which it's clear he's literally transported to other star systems) is more dubious (although the aliens who did it are sufficiently advanced).
    • In 3001: The Final Odyssey, Clarke retconned the first novel's FTL travel as being all in Dave Bowman's head.
      • Clarke is ambiguous about whether 2010, 2061 or 3001 retcon anything. In the author's notes for 2061, Clarke indicates that the novels may involve the same characters and the same situations, but the novels do not *necessarily* happen in the same universe. So, either everything's retcons or it's parallel universes. Or we need to talk to Mr Schrodinger about his cat.
  • The Matrix series was at least making an effort, at least before Executive Meddling rejected the original humans-as-distributed-processors explanation as "too complicated" and came up with one that made even less sense. And later Neo's powers working in "reality".
    • The latter part makes sense when you remember that Neo is a cyborg, and may have wireless technology in that spine of his that no-one else has, thanks to his special status. The series still features widely used anti-gravity technology, which takes it pretty far away from realism, however.
  • Destination Moon (no relation to the Tintin comic aside from the subject matter) and Project Moonbase. Both these movies had Robert A. Heinlein as a consultant and were very realistic.
  • Moon Zero Two, a space adventure movie Hammer made in the 70s. It's meticulously realistic, the only thing it has that is a little iffy scientifically is Artificial Gravity, which they only inserted because they didn't have enough money to do moon gravity effects for the entire movie.
  • Moon has been described as "like 2001: A Space Odyssey except it actually makes sense." It was screened at NASA's Space Center in Houston at the request of one of the professors there, due to its realistic depiction of helium-3 mining.

  • There are many, many examples in Speculative Fiction literature, and indeed many books and short stories were pretty explicitly written to popularise real scientific and technological issues. Some examples have therefore dated badly as Science Marches On. A very partial list would include:
  • Arthur C. Clarke:
    • A Fall Of Moondust
    • Imperial Earth
    • Islands In The Sky
    • Prelude To Space
    • The Deep Range
    • Rendezvous with Rama
    • The Sands Of Mars
  • Ben Bova:
    • The Grand Tour series of books.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson:
  • Maureen F. McHugh
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
  • Charles Stross
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Ian Mc Donald
    • River of Gods
  • Any of William Gibson's novels.
  • Greg Bear
    • The Forge of God, while there are aliens, they are never seen. Instead we see a robotic Horde of Alien Locusts that they dispatch to destroy us. The sequel, Anvil of Stars, is not as adherent, while FTL is still impossible, humans travel between the stars at sublight speeds, and develop Applied Phlebotinum that borders on Functional Magic.
    • Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children
  • Paradises Lost, a Generation Ship story by Ursula K. Le Guin. No aliens, no faster-than-light travel, just a slow ship full of humans traveling (mostly out of scientific curiosity) towards a distant, possibly habitable planet.
  • Nearly all of the science-fiction of Michael Crichton fits this trope, with Sphere and Timeline being notable exceptions.
  • Most work by Alastair Reynolds. All of his work averts Space Does Not Work That Way, as he worked for the European Space Agency as an astronomer, and has a doctorate in the same subject.
    • The Revelation Space series. Travel is limited to slower than light "lighthugger" ships. The universe has aliens, but they are thoroughly alien.
    • House of Suns has much more fantastic technology than his previous works, but still adheres to the laws of physics even with its faster-than-light travel
  • Existence is David Brin's take on this trope. Unlike his more famous Uplift series there's no supertech FTL or psionics, and aliens only appear as uploaded "Emissaries" in crystalline Artifacts hurled at STL speeds over countless millions of years and they're all extinct as far as one can tell.
  • The majority of Robert Reed's novels and short stories follow most or all of the mundane dogma and are generally fairly scientifically hard:
    • The Great Ship series has no FTL and the science is ground in modern-day physics. However, aliens are present and fairly common on the Great Ship, albeit very starfishy, due to the presence of life-extension procedures that make slower-than-light interstellar travel possible.
    • Sister Alice. Bar possibly the presence of Subspace Ansible tech - it's never made clear if communication is FTL as characters operate in the span of centuries and millenia - and the climax involving the creation of a new pocket universe, the technology is fantastic - stellar-sized dark matter machinery - but mundane and ground in known physics.
    • The Leeshore is mundane to the core. FTL is non-existant, and the only fantastic tech shown is the "i-ply" computronium material and its lesser derivatives which are used as a construction material.
  • Mikhail Akhmanov and Christopher Nicholas Gilmore's novel Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise largely fits this trope. The biggest offenders here are near-light-speed travel that is described as a form of teleportation, so virtually no time passes for the ship's crew while decades may pass for the outside world, and a one-time medical procedure that turns a human into The Ageless. Otherwise, most of the other tenets are observed, including the lack of FTL travel, interstellar travel in general being expensive, rare, and time-consuming (from an objective viewpoint, at least) and Absent Aliens. In fact, interstellar travel is so rare that there are hardly more than several hundred starships in existence at the time the novel is set (roughly 20,000 years in the future) despite the presence of thousands of colonies, the vast majority of them being space traders, who represent the only link between the settled worlds (no Subspace Ansible, and normal lightspeed communication is too expensive and useless to most people), with an occasional one-shot colony ship or a religious sect of some sort who managed to scrape together enough money.
  • Kevin J. Anderson's Blindfold largely follows the dogma, the biggest violation would be the presence of a bacterium that, when ingested, temporarily allows for a form of Psychic Powers, although the author tries to explain it in a plausible way (it supposedly boosts a person's electrical perception sense to allow for touch telepathy, since our thoughts are little more than electrical impulses). FTL Travel is absent, and the colony of Atlas is completely on its own, being far enough away from Earth that it takes several decades for a ship to reach it. In fact, there have only been four ships arriving to the planet in the history of the colony, including the original colony ship, a prison transport (the prisoners integrated fairly well into the main population), a warship (sent by a militant Earth government, but the invasion was thwarted), and a missionary vessel. Another ship is expected to arrive within a decade. It's heavily implied that Atlas is humanity's only extrasolar colony due to the massive effort it takes to put together an interstellar mission. Additionally, despite the fact that the colony is several centuries old, it still only covers a fraction of the planet's surface. The colony uses both the Feudal Future and We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future tropes. The only means of getting to space involves the use of a Space Elevator that connects the hub of the colony to a ship that has been converted into a Space Station (both are destroyed at the end of the novel, meaning this capability is also lost).

    Live Action TV 
  • Moonbase 3. (You've probably never heard of this series, have you? Well it aired on The BBC in the early '70's.)
  • Star Cops: This BBC series was a pretty good attempt at realistic "High Frontier" SF.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man
  • Firefly is arguably on the dividing line: most of the setting is quite mundane - no FTL, no aliens, no teleportation or time travel...and it is one of very few TV series examples to get the properties of space (e.g. no propagation of sounds in vacuum) right. However, there are several instances preventing it from truly fitting the trope:
    • At least one notable instance involving psionic powers (which may or may not qualify as Functional Magic)
    • Ubiquitous artificial gravity which is not achieved via rotation and ensuing centrifugal force and whose mechanism is unexplained (the rotation variant is seen on stations, such as Neeska's station, but not on ships)
    • Too casual interplanetary travel: while FTL is not possible, so that interstellar travel has to be done with generation ships (that is how the system the series takes place in was originally colonized), and all the space travel is intra-system, it doesn't come off as particularly costly or difficult - which even "mere" interplanetary travel should be.
    • While the series is generally quite realistic and plausible as far as tech levels go (Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better, no AIs etc.), some tech items/weapons, like the laser pistol in Heart of Gold, are not very plausible: weapons-grade lasers intended to do more than blind someone should be much larger due to the cooling system required and have an external power supply - they should not look like small handguns (unless materials that are superconductive at room temperature and cigarette-pack sized, but high-capacity power cells have been developed in the verse).
  • Defying Gravity, although there is some debate about whether or not the Antares' communication system is FTL, even though it is never explicitly stated or even implied to be so. It appears to be FTL, because characters millions of kilometers away will be carrying on a casual conversation without any time lag, but this may just be for the audience's convenience. The characters could in fact have been waiting around for minutes at a time for their friends to respond to their messages offscreen.
  • The first couple of seasons of Red Dwarf, before anything much started happening outside the ship.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Transhuman Space from GURPS. In the year 2100, there is no FTL, no aliens, no breaking physical laws. But the sheer alienness of the people inhabiting this setting is both realistic and overwhelming.
  • Phil Eklund's High Frontier, a boardgame, is about scientifically-plausible exploration and exploitation of the resources in the solar system. The expansion, High Frontier: Interstellar, focuses on the building, launch, and travel of non-FTL colony starships.

    Video Games