(Inspired by some blog posts elsewhere)
- The aliens are really metaphors for a) blacks b) Jews c) pick a minority group. It’s one thing to use another species to write about racism, quite another to just lift some particular human experience and graft it on to a non-human. It rarely makes sense. It’s even worse when it’s used as an excuse to use racial stereotypes without getting clobbered.
- The aliens come from the DSMV. Giving an entire species a single obsession or mental disorder just to make them “alien” is sloppy and a little creepy. The psychological equivalent of Star Trek’s bump on the forehead aliens (and they had the excuse of budget constraints, what’s yours?)
- The <blank> planet, be it ice, jungle, desert. . . any planet that’s just a single environment is pretty much impossible given that light travels in straight lines and planets are round. The only two I give a pass to are Dune and Trantor.
- Whitewashed futures. Quick, what proportion of the planet is currently Caucasian? Now, what proportion of your average pan-galactic civilization is Caucasian? Now does this make sense? To those white authors afraid of putting people of color in your work, grow a spine.
- The global monoculture. This is another diversity fail. Somehow in another century it’s all one big happy planet with the same news, attitudes, politics, economy. If we’re lucky you get the frontier spacer culture, and the decadent earth culture. Sorry, you can find more cultural variation in any single city in Texas than in many SF universes with billions of inhabitants.