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At least five years ago, I had an idea for a website that was a database of plot elements used in science fiction books and movies, creating lists of the works that use each element. So one entry might be "sentient space ships", and there would be a list of books that feature them.

This was meant to be a definitive archive... I distinctly remember this because shortly thereafter I found a site that was already doing it! I believe I emailed the site's author about collaboration and never heard back. (It was before the days of crowdsourcing, or anyway, I don't think it had user-generated content.)

The point is that now I can't find this site. Does anyone know where I can find it, or have any suggestions about what I might be remembering?

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    On a side note, if your reversed this, it would be an interesting resource for writers. You pick one element, the website picks two at random, and you end up with a basic plot generator... This is what I first visualized when reading the title, before reading the question. – AndyD273 Mar 11 '11 at 17:51
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This would have to be TV Tropes.

Warning: TV Tropes has been known to be even more addictive than Wikipedia. Follow links with caution.

  • Huh. In my memory, the site was specific to science fiction, but TV Tropes definitely seems familiar, and also definitely fits the bill. Thanks! – livingtech Mar 9 '11 at 8:18
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You might be thinking of The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. It has comprehensive records of SF authors, books, stories, etc. Less comprehensively, some of those stories also have tags indicating topical and/or subgenre information, including plot elements and the like. However, these tags don't seem to be very far along--for example, the list for "telekinesis" has only 9 entries, and I've come across plenty of stories that have no tags at all.

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http://allreaders.com/booksearcha.asp?SubjectID=1 Might be of assistance to the OP.

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The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has a list of science fiction themes which mentions significant works using each theme. I don't see an entry for "sentient spaceships", but there is a discussion of cyborg spaceships in the entry for Cyborgs.

There is a theme index at www.scifan.com, maybe that's the one you were thinking of? It seems to be dead.

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