Questions tagged [plot-device]

An element introduced into a story, film, play etc. to advance the plot.

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74 views

Did Star Trek have any episode (in any of the incarnations or even novelizations) inspired by ultra high-g creatures in Dragon's Egg?

I ask this because since the original series, Star Trek has done a real decent job apparently of employing qualified technical advisors. Only Star Trek seemed to understand astronomical distances even ...
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5 votes
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Dragon's egg -- fear of heights?

Not sure this can be answered, but I recall and the synopsis in Wikipedia mentions the extreme fear of heights that creatures who live in 67 billion Gs have. It is reasonable that such creatures would ...
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In "The Rubber Bend", what is the significance of Dr Dodson's lover being called his 'daughter'?

"The Rubber Bend" is a Gene Wolfe short story which parodies Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. It first appeared in Universe 5 and also appears in Storeys from the Old Hotel. The detective's ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What happened after the first video conference between Jason and Sarris?

In Galaxy Quest, when the show's cast are taken to the spaceship by the Thermians the first time, Jason gets into a conference call with Sarris. At the end of the call, he off-handedly tells the ...
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Are there any prior (in universe) indications of seven being the most magically powerful number before Slughorn's memory?

I have been reading a bunch of older questions here, and some of them are questioning the importance of Slughorn's memory in HBP, and I feel for good reason. The only explanation the story gives that ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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Why does Weyland Yutani want a xeno for weapon when they have, for example, androids?

I could see xenos being useful from a medical standpoint but in a time when technology includes not just FTL drives but also controllable androids, what could xenos do as a weapon that would be useful?...
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Was The Blob in the Steve McQueen version or the 1980s remake sentient?

Maybe not explicitly so, but hinted at that the creature has, for example, some understanding of humans being separate creatures? I thought that in the remake it animates the dead body of a kid, ...
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In the Time Machine (2002) did the fiancée have to die?

In some respects, the idea that somehow a new "story" is written (By whom? the Guardian of Forever? The mind of the Creator of the Universe?) each time The Time Traveler tries to save his ...
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In the movie Donnie Darko (2001), what was the symbolism or purpose of the obese girl?

In the movie Donnie Darko (2001), what was the reason for inclusion of the obese girl who is highlighted in several scenes but does not seem to play any part in the overarching plot? Is she supposed ...
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4 votes
2 answers
265 views

What was supposed to make replicants obedient?

I think in one of the short films, Neander Wallace says his new "angels" will obey no matter what and he seems to demonstrate that. But the replicants prior to that: was it believed that ...
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How is the Daybreak mental state transferred from person to person?

In John Barnes' Daybreak series, we are given to understand that people are infected with "Daybreak" -- ideas that lead them to create bioengineered bacteria, immense fusion bombs, and other ...
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Why is Chevy Chase's clothing sometimes visible in "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" and sometimes invisible?

In this first clip his clothing is visible. In this second clip, his clothing is invisible, as otherwise the men who are hunting him would have seen his clothing. ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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The movie Seconds (Frankenheimer/Rock Hudson): Was the procedure purely medical?

Or was there some "magical" aspect? The transformation is of course quite remarkable but also, when the main character, pre-transformation, says he wants to be a tennis pro, he is told this ...
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Why didn't they also rescue the cavemen?

In the film Time Trap there are two kind of people trapped in the cave, people from 21st century and then some cavemen that have been living in the cave for ages. The rescue team that come from ...
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Radio interference caused by Martian dust storm

In comments below this excellent answer to Are there methods of lightning detection on Mars? I lament not being able to remember where I'd read about radio noise in the receiver of a real-world ...
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1 answer
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Why did the Armageddon (1998) plot require a "rogue comet that jarred loose a Texas-sized asteroid"? [closed]

Wikipedia's Armageddon (1998 film); Plot begins: A massive meteor shower destroys the orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis, before entering the atmosphere and bombarding New York City. NASA discovers that ...
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What was the un-named French phrase in Joe Hart's Obscura?

In Joe Hart's Obscura, at two points when Dr. Gillian Ryan visits Dr. Eric Ander's office/dwelling, the narrative mentions a French phrase that is prominently visible. On the farthest wall was an ...
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Which story describes this aircraft maneuver?

I'm looking for an aircraft maneuver described in (I believe science) fiction. In order to get going fast a jet climbs higher than it needs to, then in a powered descent or dive gains additional speed ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Explain rift plot points of Season 2 finale of Lost in Space (2018)

I'm having great difficulty understanding the basic Rift-related plot points of S2E10 Ninety-Seven of Lost in Space. Since ships can follow others through the Rift (as jeffronicus points out, the ...
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Was a hand-held Claymore mine-based space weapon or anything similar described in fiction before it was proposed in reality? (ca. 1959)

This answer in Space SE contains the images below which come from a 1959 report on project Horizon which was found here (direct link to PDF). The images show an astronaut on the Moon using a hand-...
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Why did Rey not change her clothes for 6 years (three movies)?

Why was Rey’s character made so unhygienic by making her wear the same clothes the entire time? I shiver every time I think how she must have smelled. And if she did change, where on Earth did she ...
15 votes
1 answer
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Why were wayfinder directions written on a dagger?

In The Rise of Skywalker, the heroes find the location of a Sith wayfinder by reading a runic inscription on Ochi's dagger. What purpose does it serve to inscribe a random artifact's location on an ...
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What is special about "Quantum spatial entanglement"?

In book 2 of Peter Hamilton's Salvation sequence, there is some talk about elements having tried to subvert the key portal teleportation technology, similar to his FTL/wormhole trains in previous ...
8 votes
1 answer
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When does Logan become a runner?

I'm somewhat confused by the ambiguity in the intentions of Logan in Logan's Run (the movie). He seems genuinely interested in running as soon as he leaves his mission briefing with the supercomputer ...
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1 answer
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Why did the Andromeda Strain start digesting rubber (polychron) and human bodies?

Michael Crichton's 1969 science fiction thriller The Andromeda Strain and the 1971 film of the same name ficticiously describe/depict a Phantom F-4 where a biological agent recovered from a satellite ...
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14 votes
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Has a hard SciFi story addressed launching from Venus and its high-density atmosphere, especially after 1967?

Background: The answer to the first part of When did planetary scientists realize Venus' surface pressure was almost 100x that on Earth? How did they find out? is 1967, though it was known or at ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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When was DNA evidence from a crime investigation in space first used in a SciFi plot?

In the Space SE question Why were blood and hair follicles from 25 people put on the Moon? I wrote It sounds more like a potential plot for a future CSI Spaceforce episode. That got me thinking, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why do wizards in OTBTW restrict their magic to their staffs?

In Off to be the Wizard the shell program that does all the magic for the wizards is programmed so that it only listens to the spells if the wizard is holding his staff (or wand). But why would they ...
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In Avengers: Infinity War, what did Dr. Strange need to do to ensure the outcome in Endgame?

Dr. Strange explains to Stark in Infinity War as follows: Strange: I went forward in time, to view alternate futures. To see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict." Stark: How many did ...
10 votes
3 answers
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What is the status of the Infinity Stones post Avengers: Endgame?

In Avengers: Endgame, the heroes travel back in time to "borrow" the Infinity Stones from the past to use them in the future. I get that. At the end of the movie, But because the movie has ...
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Does every generation of Starks have a Brandon?

I'm playing catch up with Game of Thrones and relying on YouTube to help fill in blanks, but have noticed there are a lot of Brandon Starks who all have important roles in shaping the story. I know ...
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Is this a time-travel discrepancy in Gone World?

This is a question on Gone World. At one point, Shannon gets back in time without the formal channel (i.e. getting on her ship and heading back over a period of 3 months). She actually uses the time-...
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1 answer
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Who is the mother of the son of Godzilla from the 1967 movie of the same name?

This is the son of Godzilla (Minya/Minilla) as seen in the 1967 movie Son of Godzilla. So, Godzilla’s son is “born” after hatching from an egg a trio of giant praying mantises dig up on Sollgel ...
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14 votes
3 answers
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In the novel The Three-Body Problem, does the Sun's amplification of radio transmissions have a scientific basis?

Per Wikipedia [...] However, she is rescued at the last minute by Yang Weining and Lei Zhicheng, two military physicists working under Red Coast (a Chinese initiative for alien communication ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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How closely did When Worlds Collide authors pursue the physics of the catastrophic damage and planet trajectories?

After writing this comment I thought of the 1933 novel When Worlds Collide co-written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer. South African astronomer Sven Bronson discovers that a pair of rogue planets,...
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5 votes
1 answer
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When was methane first described as a rocket fuel in an SF story or plot?

The SyFy.com article If we’re going to go to Mars, this is how we’ll have to deal with trash ends with Mars and deep space will be an even greater challenge because astronauts will be too far from ...
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Why did Dumbledore tell everyone that Voldemort had killed Cedric Diggory?

At the end of the Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore tells the school that it was Voldemort who killed Cedric Diggory. However, it was actually Wormtail (Pettigrew) who killed Diggory. So ...
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13 votes
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What level of control does the Alien Queen (from the “Aliens” films) hold over the eggs and other aliens around her?

The title says it all. And this is spurred by a comment posted to this post on the “Movies & TV” site here. Does the queen get to choose when the eggs open? That's not how it works with any egg ...
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Why did Bancroft choose Ryker's sleeve for Kovacs?

After Bancroft's "murder", he uses his considerable resources to get the last envoy brought out of prison to investigate the crime. The problem I'm having is why he dumped Kovacs into Ryker's sleeve? ...
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How exactly did the Millennium Falcon transition from attack speed to a complete stop in “The Empire Strikes Back?”

So in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Han Solo—in an effort to elude the Imperial Fleet—piloted the Millennium Falcon out of the asteroid field, accelerated to attack speed and then… Suddenly stopped, ...
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1 answer
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Did the Klingons damage the relay?

Vulcan Hello - bits of Transcript Michael Burnham: Shenzhou has been called to the edge of Federation space to investigate damage done to one of our interstellar relays. Blast burns around the ...
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Why doesn't Princess Leia go straight to Yavin IV?

At the beginning of A New Hope, Princess Leia has just received the stolen plans for the Death Star. Yet rather than take these plans directly to the Rebel base on Yavin IV, she first stops off to ...
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"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi" -- how does Leia know who Obi-Wan is? [duplicate]

So, in the opening scenes of A New Hope Princess Leia leaves a message for Obi-Wan Kenobi, asking her trusty plot-exposition droids to deliver it to an old recluse on a distant planet. It is, at ...
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Is Crait a deus ex machina? [duplicate]

Note: This is not a duplicate of this question! This is a more general question which links to what is the accepted answer to that one and clearly says it doesn't solve the problem. Additionally, ...
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1 answer
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Why not take the creature to the nearest beach?

In the Shape of Water, Eliza waits several days for the "rainy season" and for the nearby canal to fill with rain water so they can release the creature. But not only do the have a car already (the “...
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1 answer
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How could the Doctor destroy the Dalek fleet this way?

The Doctor's plan to save Gallifrey and destroy the Daleks is as follows: DOCTOR 10: The Daleks would be firing on each other. They'd destroy themselves in their own crossfire. WARRIOR: Gallifrey ...
4 votes
1 answer
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If this tech in The Last Jedi was new, how did the Resistance get detailed schematics of it?

In The Last Jedi some key new technology is assumed to be the reason why: Not long after this, several characters come up with a plan for how to disable this tech. As part of their discussion ...
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4 answers
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How does the magic in "Liar Liar" work?

In Liar Liar, Jim Carrey gains the superpower of not being able to lie for 24 hours. Wikipedia defines lying as ... a statement used intentionally for the purpose of deception. The practice of ...
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Why did Poe leave his jacket?

After they crash on Jakku, somehow Poe and Finn get separated while both surviving and then the TIE Fighter gets swallowed by the Sinking Sands and explodes. (Related) There's a lot that lacks ...
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What prevents the tardigrade from escaping?

In Season 1, Episode 5, "Choose your pain" we see the tardigrade enter survival mode by expelling almost all the water from its body. Later, we see the it ejected from the USS Discovery into space, ...
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