Some Science Fiction and Literary Jargon to Help you Navigate Geekdom

Conventions are nothing if not a learning experience.

I am always learning new things about Steampunk, and the great world of sci-fi/fantasy. At last year’s International Steampunk Symposium, I picked up some helpful new vocabulary. I hope you find it helpful, too!


New Vocabulary for Talking about Women in Science Fiction/Fantasy

These terms came from a session called “Ethical Representations of Females in Fiction” hosted by Steampunk author and model, Taversia.

  • “Damsel in the Fridge”- This is a reference to a specific event in a Green Lantern comic book, but also the trope that became common in comic books for decades to come. In the comic, an enemy of The Green Lantern kidnaps his love interest. Rather than messing around, he actually just killed her and dumped the body in the hero’s refrigerator. Obviously, this event caused the hero to have big emotions. This spurred him to action, but especially led to character growth and development. In other words, pain and suffering for a female character ultimately makes a male character stronger.
  • “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”- A female character whose only purpose is to upset the mundane life of the male main character. She gets him to feel “alive.” The term was originally coined by a film critic named Nathan Rabin while reviewing Kirsten Dunst’s performance in Elizabethtown.
  • “Trinity Syndrome”- A term for a female character that makes a grand entrance but peaks there, diminishing in the presence of her male counterparts. The term was coined by Tasha Robertson.

Other Terms/Fun Facts

  • “Enforced Foreign Travel”- A very British way of saying they were exiling someone to a work camp in Australia.
  • Quakers were really socially progressive during the Victorian era, it turns out. “They were demanding equal voting rights long before there were suffragettes,” said author Leanna Renee Hieber during her session about Gothic fiction at ISS. Her Strangely Beautiful series features Quaker demon hunters.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s