If you ever find yourself thinking “Geez, why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?” the answer is: they probably have.  And, more to the point, they’ve written a story about it that appeared in Super SF Stories Bumper Xmas Edition 1938.

So, if you’re new to the genre – or just looking for a little help – here are some of the best ever clichés assembled in one spot, just for your delight:




  1. The last man on earth finds a mysterious woman to start the race again, and finds that even though his name is Adam, it comes as a complete surprise to him that her name is Eve.
  2. The poor, but virtuous swine/goat/duck herd is swept up in events beyond his ken but is revealed to be the true born king of all England/Middle Earth/the castle – despite his total lack of ken. Extra marks off for secret birth marks, too.
  3. Astronauts land on a mysterious planet where civilisation has been annihilated by nuclear war/pollution/general unkindness and they discover that due to an unexpected Space Time Discontinuity that they’ve actually come full circle and landed on Earth of the far distant future.  Take off an extra ten points if the shock realisation comes when they see a half-buried Statue of Liberty.
  4. The Dark Lord sends out his troops to massacre the remaining members of the Royal Family/Resistance movement, but one child is spared/overlooked.  This goes for midwives or huntsmen, too, who secretly spirit away the royal babe.
  5. Those wacky aliens are actually Earthlings, and the story is from the point of view of so-sensible extra-terrestrials.
  6. The rightful born king/queen has amnesia and wanders the countryside not knowing who she/he is.
  7. Someone invents a time machine and goes back to kill his/her grandfather/grandmother.  In fact, inventing a time machine and going back go kill anyone at all has been done to death, so to speak.  Likewise interfering with historical events.  In fact, leave Time Travel alone.  Too hard.
  8. In a fantastic alternate history, Germany wins WW2.
  9. Kids fall into the computer and become part of a computer game.
  10. Elves and dragons.  Enough said.
  11. Slick urban elves with killer hair styles and great designer sense. More than enough said.
  12. Vampires. I mean, is it too late to un-invent vampires?
  13. Earth is refused admittance to the Pan Galactic Federation because of its immaturity in messing up its homeworld.
  14. The techno-science of the patriarchy is responsible for the total ruin of the planet and only the holistic eco-awareness of the worship of the Eternal Earth Mother Goddess saves the species from extinction.


Note: this guide is not exhaustive. Many other clichés exist out there, so beware!