TV Tropes Monday: One Myth to Explain Them All

Tweet of the Day: Writing Excuses 10.6: The Worldbuidling Revolves Around Me (“The Magical 1%”)


Did you write a vampire novel, maybe one with zombies in it, or powerful mages set in the modern world?  Do these characters tell others that it was aliens that built the pyramids at Giza, Chichen Itza, the leaning tower of Pizza, and McDonalds? Then you have a bad case of  One Myth to Explain Them All!

This world building trope is common in modern day urban fantasy and sci-fi settings, but not unheard of in fantasy as well. It is much easier for an author to create a world where everyone (or everyone of importance) is a descendant from Atlantis than to try and wrestle with a dozen or more creation myths, mythologies, religions, and other origin stories. But this trope is not without it’s problems. Take the Ancient Astronauts concept. To be blunt, it is racist/bigoted in the extreme. You mean to tell me that the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians or the Maya could not build their civilizations without the help of extraterrestrials but western Europeans did it all on their own?


So while tempting, this is yet another trope that must be thread with care. A cool idea that can easily lead to unfortunate implications.


4 comments on “TV Tropes Monday: One Myth to Explain Them All

  1. Excellent point. I also think that beyond the racist implications, the alien theory tends to belittle the intelligence of ancient people overall. It’s like many think that because they didn’t have our technology, they were not as intelligent as we are. From much that I have read, it seems to me that the opposite may have been true.


    • Well, they are one and the same, I think. Also the difference between modern times and the past is more about material sciences (what stuff is made off), modes of production and communications/travel. Significant advances to be sure, but most technologies have been invented and re-invented multiple times in human history.


  2. Oh, and your kitty pic – looks just like one of mine! 😉


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