Previously: How to tell if you are in a high fantasy novel.
Something has gone terribly wrong with the earth’s orbit, but modern gender roles are still pretty much intact.
Even ray guns cannot destroy man’s oldest and strongest enemy – hubris.
A beautiful woman who represented all that was good and pure in human civilization is horribly killed, and it is at least 45% your fault.
A princess of the warrior caste with gleaming indigo skin longs to understand this Terran concept your people call ‘love.’
Racism no longer exists now that all of humanity has banded together to speak English, vote democratically, adhere to 20th-century American social standards, and battle alien intruders in a thinly veiled metaphor for anti-immigration sentiment.
You live in a world where robots masturbate, for some reason.
The ship’s doctor has a drinking problem.
You’re going to have to go through the asteroid belt you’d hoped to avoid at the beginning of this journey.
Everyone living on your space station has forgotten about the importance of crop rotation.
There are Core people and there are Rim people. Core people wear silver, gender-neutral clothing and love fascism and artificial light. Rim people wear floor-length WWII-era trench coats and love modified libertarianism. These are the only two kinds of people. Plus there’s one ocean planet full of mermaids.
You have discovered/cured/invented something desperately important, but at what cost?
You have come to realize that you are the enemy you have been hunting all along. Your cynical android companion self-destructs after helping you achieve this realization, and upon its almost-human face settles a look that could almost be peace.
You are the real monster.
An artificial intelligence program is intentionally misunderstanding your commands by interpreting them in the most literal way imaginable.
At least one alien species appears to practice an independently-evolved version of Confucianism. You will have sex with at least one of their most important priestesses.
A sinister representative from a mining corporation with a near-total monopoly on whatever the made-up-sounding mineral that powers spaceships is sends you on a simple-sounding mission. What you think is the mission is in fact not the mission at all; your new mission is to figure out the actual mission and to thwart it before it lays eggs.
Your life story mirrors perfectly the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, but your ship travels between the stars, rather than between a chain of Mediterranean islands.
Your lifelong mentor has betrayed you and all of mankind in a shocking twist. He is deeply grieved but utterly without remorse. When you finally have the opportunity to take your revenge, he is so old and near death you find yourself unable to harm him, because he is so unlike the man who once turned you in that he might as well be an entirely different person. Besides, you have less than 45 minutes to restart the sun with nuclear weapons.
The only thing more mysterious than the crystal star your ship is orbiting helplessly is the human condition.
As you lay dying in the red dirt, you wonder whether the robots were truly evil after all. You will never know.
At least one alien species composed only of women has been searching for centuries for the single male who will lead them into a Golden Age. That male is you, and you will have to have sex with their beautiful witch-queen, whose arms are entwined with copper jewelry and whose eyes are the color of sunset.
You tame the most dangerous beast living on an alien planet with a single biome. The locals tried to master the beast for thousands of years, but you nailed it in about a week.
The true meaning of this silent, ancient ziggurat will at last be revealed, if you could just translate the pictograms.
Science has answered many questions in your long and storied life, but it has never answered the question of meaning. Death is the final adventure, and you’re about to take your first step onto the Black Path Between The Stars.
Grateful joke assistance credit to Christian Brown and Connor Goldsmith, who are into hard sci-fi.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.