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Literature / Lacuna

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It's basically BSG with Chinese people. And the aliens from Wing Commander.

This story is less a love note to TV Tropes and more a proposal of marriage.

Lacuna is a hard science fiction story series set 20 Minutes in the Future by David Adams, with the first being "Demons of the Void". The plot of the first novel centers around aliens arriving and blowing up three cities on Earth, so Humanity builds three starships to go out into space with the aim of finding out why, and preventing it from happening again. Primarily told through the eyes of Captain Melissa Liao and her ship, the TFR Beijing.

Author is a troper and the work contains many shout-outs to TV Tropes and assorted tropes by name.

These books contain examples of:

  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The Toralii have their own dialects and while they can understand English, they are physically incapable of speaking it (and vice versa). Significant time in "Demons of the Void" is spent learning Toralii from Saara and teaching her English.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: Some Toralii know English already such as Varsian the Immortal.
  • Bond One-Liner: Summer Rowe, a civilian, wants a handgun like the rest of the crew so if the opportunity comes she can deliver an XKCD inspired Bond One-Liner. She gets her chance. "Bangarang, motherfucker".
  • The Bridge: Most of the action takes place in Operations, which is in the heavily armoured centre of the ship.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Saara talks about distinctly Earthly things, such as tomatoes, in her own language and can't physically speak English. It's unclear if she's using her own words or trying her best to pronounce it in English.
  • Can't Argue With Aliens: The Toralii Alliance don't seem to be fond of doing much but pontificating about their upcoming victories before opening fire. It's implied that only the moderates in the alliance keep them from simply exterminating species they encounter with jump drive.
  • Cat Folk: The Toralii are distinctly catlike.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Played straight except for the dire warnings of the Toralii who tell them that overusing the technology, or using it incorrectly, can create a universe destroying Negative Space Wedgie. This has already happened three times already; since the singularities continue to grow and never stop, eventually they'll consume everything.
  • Deflector Shields: The three Pillars of the Earth, such as the TFR Beijing can charge their hull to strengthen it, but this is far from invulnerability and the larger Toralii ships can easily take on all three of the Pillars without breaking too much of a sweat, until the TFR Tehran rams them.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Occasionally this, occasionally Crapsack World.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The attacks on Earth united most of the population against the alien threat.
  • Energy Weapon: Averted for the Humans. Weapons are either nukes or railgun slugs. The Toralii have generic energy weapons designed to heat up their targets and the Wave-Motion Gun that blew up parts of Earth, which they use on some of the ships at the end.
  • Explosions in Space: Averted. Most explosions seem to be the ship simply breaking up.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Averted. Saara had clothes but the surgeons cut them off her to operate. The Toralii boarding party wear space suits.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The reason why the Toralii attacked was to warn humanity not to do this. They didn't listen.
  • Fetish-Fuel Future: Summer and Alex seem to enjoy sex in strange locations, such as missile tubes and fully stocked armouries.
  • Flawed Prototype: The TFR Sydney is constantly plagued by mechanical malfunctions and stays out of the action for most of the first book.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: The ‘’TFR Beijing‘’ (and the other two ships) are equipped with railguns that run the whole length of the ship.
  • Going Critical: The TFR Beijing's reactors if they can't radiate away their heat efficiently.
  • Grey Goo: Summer finds some strange goo in the Toralii fighter. It has some funky properties but its ultimate purpose remains a mystery.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Averted. It takes three of their ships being nearly destroyed and the loss of the Tehran to take down even one of the Toralii's great fleets, and even then they won by ramming it.
  • Humans Are White: Averted. There's only one token white character and one character who may be white; the rest of the crew is overwhelmingly Chinese or Iranian, and James is black.
  • Immune to Bullets: Regular bullets have significant difficulty piercing the Toralii armoured space-suits, except for the visor or joints. Un-armoured Toralii die like Humans.
  • Inertial Dampening: The Human ships use a modified version of their Reactionless Drives to create artificial gravity and some limited inertial dampening.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: The Toralii space suits obscure the face unless the visor is raised. For Vasian the Immortal, this was a remarkably poor choice.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: The Toralii believe this about Humans (and, indeed, every species they encounter). That's why they stop other species from possessing jump drives.
  • Ironic Name: Varsian the Immortal. Soon after his introduction Rowe stabs him in the eye then delivers her much-desired Bond One-Liner as she kills him.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Averted for the Human ships. Played straight with the Toralii.
  • It Only Works Thrice: The Humans suspect this about the Toralii Wave-Motion Gun. Possibly justified.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The railguns are almost as powerful as the nukes and certainly effective over longer ranges (against stationary targets their range is essentially unlimited).
  • Last Stand: During the Toralii boarding action.
  • Let's Mock the Monsters: Liao is less than polite to the Toralii fleet that jumps in after they release the Forerunner.
  • Machine Monotone: The Toralii can't physically speak the English language so at first they use an automated translator that sounds like this.
  • Made of Phlebotinum: The complex, extremely strong hull material nicknamed indestructium.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: The research facility Liao and James visit is basically this meets a college dorm.
  • Matriarchy: Most senior positions on the Beijing are held by women (Captain, Chief Engineer, Chief of Marines, Resident Alien).
  • Middle Eastern Coalition: Iran, given its real-world level of technological development, is possibly one of these.
  • Military Science Fiction: The book is this. The crew, where applicable, have People's Army ranks.
  • The Mothership: The Toralii scout ship launches strike fighters. Later in the story, the Humans build their own.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Treating jump drive trivially leads to one of these.
  • No Sex Allowed: Liao and James's relationship is strongly implied to be against regulations.
  • No Warping Zone: Anywhere with strong gravity fields (such as inside a solar system). Very specific points, Lagrange points, allow the use of the jump drive in-system.
  • Nuke 'em: Humanity's response to the Toralii.
  • One World Order: The Toralii had this until the great cataclysm.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Almost all of the characters are agnostics or outright atheists, especially James.
  • Powered Armor: The Toralii marines have armoured boarding suits that make them very hard to kill. But also aren't really powered and therefore weigh more, so when the Humans crank up the gravity they can't move.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Toralii have shades of this, especially the Toralii Alliance.
  • Pregnant Badass: Liao.
  • Ramming Always Works: James invokes this trope by name when discussing his actions in the war games. In the final chapter, it works for real.
  • Ray Gun: Summer invokes this trope by name when they find the Toralii energy pistol.
  • Reactionless Drive: The main ship is powered by this when not using its jump drive to move around between Lagrange points. It's even explicitly referred to as a Reactionless Drive.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: Why the Toralii attack Earth.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted. Summer Rowe makes a point of writing "Not To Scale" on a map of the map of the solar system to try and show how vast it is, and to go anywhere without using the jump drive takes a really really long time.
  • Screw You, Elves!: The Toralii instruct Humanity not to build jump drive. Humanity builds jump drive.
  • Secret Government Warehouse: Where the jump drive was developed. It goes boom.
  • Shout-Out: So many.
    • XKCD: Twice... even once as a major plot point. Bangarang, motherfucker.
    • The A-Team: I just love it when a plan comes together!
    • Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, many many tropes by name... and TV Tropes itself.
  • Something Only They Would Say: When debating if the unknown contact is the Tehran or not, it sends out a signal in Morse Code which is a reference to a gift James gave Melissa.
  • Space Friction: Averted. The ship, once ballistic, continues on its way unless stopped.
  • Space Is Cold: Averted. The ships are constantly in danger of overheating and are described as covered in fins to try and radiate as much heat as possible.
  • Space Marine: Regular Chinese marines are present, and it's stated they have extra training and protocols to deal with space combats.
  • Space Mines: The Humans build these out of modified Reactionless Drives. They’re non-destructive, but serve only to keep ships (friendly or otherwise) from jumping into a jump point.
  • Space "X": Summer calls the strange device found in the Toralii fighter cockpit a 'space dildo'.
  • Superweapon Surprise: The Toralii use the weapon they devastated Earth with against the Pillars of the Earth.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: People especially Sheng wonder why Liao doesn't do this to Saara. More humourously, Alex and Summer shag in a (temporarily) pressured missile launch tube, leading to Cheung to speculate that if anything went wrong they'd be vented to space and nobody would ever know. Liao is not amused.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: The Toralii give the Humans a certain number of Earth rotations to comply. They don’t.
  • Unpredictable Results: Prolongued, careless use of the jump drive leads to universe destroying singularities.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Toralii have one and use it to destroy Sydney, Tehran and Beijing. And later, they use it on the Pillars of the Earth. Technically the jump drive, if improperly cared for, counts too.