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30 Day Book Meme Day 7:

August 17, 2010

Today, the LJ Book Meme comm asks:

Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise:

Here’s one that shows up all over science fiction.

Psychic soul bonding. Otherwise known as “You can read my mind! How romantic!” Extra points if it occurs in a Romeo and Juliet scenario between warring factions, opposing alien races etc.

It was mildly plausible in C.S. Friedman’s structure for In Conquest Born because it fed into the dichotomy between her two alien races, the warlike and cold Braxins and the colorful, emotional and psychic Azaeans, and hinted at larger consequences. Incidentally, the novel’s sense of culture impressed me, though the writing quality’s so useless you ought to consciously ignore her prose.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’sLiaden Universe returns to that trope over and over again. “We’re from warring alien races! I don’t trust you!” “I don’t trust you either!” “Whoops, mind reading!” “It must be love!” “Now we have to tell our families and OMG the outrage!”
The kicker is that it happens repeatedly, across several books. Liaden boy meets Earth girl. Sparks fly, minds get read, scandal horrifies family. But… there are already mixed marriages in the family, and it’s still read as a rare shocker when it happens again!!!
So much so that I can never remember which Liaden books I’ve read.
And yet… I keep coming back and gobbling them up.
I guess, for all their cliches, Steve Miller and Sharon Lee are onto something good.

On a fundamental level the internal logic that takes people from suspicion and wariness to totally engrossing love, via mind reading as the ultimate romance… is more creepy than it is romantic. Or at the very least, it’s an adolescent fantasy. Which may explain its appeal.

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