The imaginary line marking the difference between Applied Phlebotinum
which is a cool and interesting adjunct to the story being told, and Applied Phlebotinum
the story being told. Story quality plummets dramatically the further past the Roddenberry Line you get.
What side of the Roddenberry Line you're on can often be determined by the amount of Technobabble
you have to wade through before you can find a real plot point or a believable character.
The term was coined by Ben "Gryphon" Hutchins of Eyrie Productions Unlimited
, and named (of course) for the late Gene Roddenberry
, creator of Star Trek
, whose enthusiasm for the gimcrackery of The Future
occasionally overwhelmed his training as a writer. (Some of his successors were better about this... and some were significantly
In the science fiction genre, the derogatory term for stories that go well past
the Roddenberry Line is "Tour of Wonder", where the protagonist exists mainly for the purposes of having someone for the future/alien people to Technobabble
at. They can't just do it to each other, because that would be like one of your friends suddenly saying "As You Know
, Bob, this miraculous device that transforms the sound of my voice into electrical impulses that can be sent great distances before being transformed back into sound, allowing me to speak to people up to dozens of miles away
as if they were right here, is called a telephone