Collaborative Cliche — Space Opera Edition!

It’s time for another Collaborative Cliché! We all have subgenres we love, and they all have certain elements that endear them to us. And, sometimes, they use those elements just a liiittle too much.

We are going to start you off with anonymous villains, hidden asteroids, mysterious energy beams and gruff star ship captains. Yes, it’s our homage to Space Opera. Please bring out your most tired, over-used, predictable tropes, and use the Comments section to add to our interplanetary story. One random commenter with a USA address will win a book from our Stacks. And now we have liftoff:


In a secret installation deep in an asteroid, a villain we won’t name yet chortled with evil glee. “Sayonara, Steelshanks,” he sneered, getting ready to launch something nasty at the ship that filled the screen in front of him. ‘Sayonara’ wasn’t culturally accurate but he liked the alliteration. His expression changed to one of terror. “What is that?” A blinding blue light filled the room.


“What in the name of the Five Suns was that, Ensign?” barked Captain Jackson Steelshanks, his ruddy face becoming even more ruddy. Klaxons bells screamed the alarm throughout the bridge.

“N-n-not sure, Sir” stuttered Ensign Maddy McStammerly, frantically recalibrating her board so the blue lights flashed in sync with the yellow lights.

“Well get sure!” Captain Steelshanks barked. “You’re not in the Academy anymore Ensign.”

McStammerly chose not to point out that since their ship was called The Academy, she technically was in it.

“Some sort of energy wave, Sir. Trying to find its source now.” Her fingers flashed so that the green lights were now turning on and off in time with the white ones.

“Someone shut off those damn bells!” Captain Steelshanks barked. The bells stilled.

“That can’t be,” Ensign McStammerly muttered to herself.

“What can’t be?” the Captain barked. “Where in the name of the Six Asteroids did that beam come from?”

McStammerly shakily flicked off a purple light, then spun to face the Captain’s ruddy face. “It came from the Founding Forerunner’s Array, Sir.”


Now it’s your turn! Add to the story in the Comments. You can come back and add as many passages as you like. One commenter with a USA mailing address will get to choose a book from our Stacks.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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  1. Meanwhile in engineering…

    Ok, that is about all I’ve got :-) this is why I READ books instead of WRITE them.

  2. Meanwhile, in Engineering, Diagnostic Engineer First Class Diviner Bewellington stared at the screen in front of her, absent-mindedly tossing her waves of red hair over her shoulder. Intrigue warred with trepidation in her jade-green eyes, as her hand flashed through image-space, triple checking the information. “Commander, something strange just happened to the dialectal-wyvern crystals!”

    Commander Cranky McDroid swiveled from his post near a bank of flashing lights. “Report, Engineer.”

    Before giving her report, Bewellington paused briefly, no longer than a paragraph, to reflect that the hybrid dialectical-wyvern crystals that powered the mighty starships existed in part due to the discoveries of a scientist from her own world of Codsawallop. Neverbetter Nosir had been mocked by traditional scientists for his oddball theories, so he had gone rogue, experimenting with the strange mineral that existed on only one planet in the known galaxy.

    “Engineer,” came McDroid’s crisp tones. “When you are done with the exposition, report please.”

  3. Sandy Giden /

    The engineer reported that all of the crystals were going off line and the ship was losing power. “Can you fix it?” asked McDroid. Diagnostic Engineer Bewellington said “If I have an hour I might be able to McGyver the transaxle doohickey to the warp drive thingy and repower the crystals but the life support system might go offline while I’m doing that.”

    • Pacing back and forth, she asked no one in particular, “What would Scotty do?”

  4. Even though time to save the ship and themselves was short Bewellington couldn’t help but noticed McDroid’s awesome abs. He had a great butt too. She’d seen McDroid’s eyes follow her around the room, much as they were doing now. The life support system blinked a red warning. She turned back to her console, but McDroid had come to stand beside her.

    There was definitely time for a ridiculous interlude here while the lights flashed warning signs and death appeared imminent.

    • RedEyedGhost /

      Meanwhile, on the other side of the star cluster the last of the great and magnanimous Galactic Overlords was breathing her last breath. Soon the galaxy would be thrust into a level of turmoil not seen in three millennia.

  5. Back on the bridge of the Academy, Captain Steelshanks was still trying to remember the last time anyone had heard from the Founding Forerunners. It was said that they only awakened when the fate of all sentient beings was at stake.

  6. Sandy Giden /

    But only an elf could dream true enough to receive the warning of the Founding Forerunners. And it was said that the last of the elves had perished when there planet was destroyed during the last galactic conflict.

    • But in fact, the last elf had been forced to become a rogue spaceship pilot. He didn’t like being a pirate, but he had no choice. As an elf, he had to remain in hiding. As an elf, he had to make a living to help what was left of his people. The piece of shit spaceship he was forced to pilot had left him on the wrong side of an astroid again, but there was a ship…was that the majestic *Academy* in some sort of trouble? Now if he could board that ship, he could not only get the parts he needed…with a bit of finangling, he might even leave the crew on this heap of junk and disguise it enough to become its pilot!

  7. dr susan /

    The Unnamed Villain (no, really, that’s his name) screamed at his slithering, tentacled, white coat wearing assistant,” Track that energy wave, Tickles!! And fire the ship-destroying Weapon of Doom before the goody two-heads on the Academy find us!!!”

    • dr susan /

      You see, the Unnamed villain was not born of traditional parents. He was created in that asteroid installation by a megalomaniacal mad scientist of the XziXmaX race from bits of this and those who had crashed on the asteroid. But before the scientist could see the fruits of his test tube, he perished, while wandering the vacuum-filled, barren surface with his metal detector looking for quarters, after he stubbed his toe and tore his exosuit. Tickles was forced to decant and raise the Unnamed Villain when he grew too large for his test tube.

  8. It all ended in a space battle with heroic strafing runs and ship-ending explosions.
    Not one elf survived.
    The forerunners transported their array into another dimension, dragging the Academy through the interdimensional rift in their wake. If they left any sentient beings behind, we’ll have to wait for the middle book to find out.

    • dr susan /

      Epilogue: In the wrecked asteroid installation, the Unnamed Villain sobs as he watches the ship vanish. “Oh, Tickles, why doesn’t anyone want to play with me?”

  9. April, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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