Technobabble: Good or bad?

technobabble

Now we are in the window of crazy writing called NaNoWriMo, I thought I would take a quick look at a topic I have been abusing for comic effect – technobabble.

What is technobabble?

Technobabble is generally the bashing about of likely sounding science words to explain something that either you do not understand or that you should not be explaining but which, for various reasons, your plot hinges on. Extra credits do a great job of explaining technobabble in this video. As do TV Tropes (warning TV Tropes).

Is technobabble good or bad?

Technobabble is easily abused for hack writing. In that regard, it is very bad. If your story is already struggling to get the audience to buy into the concepts you are pushing adding complicated fake jargon rarely ever helps. I’m looking at you Star Wars prequel trilogy.

On the other hand, if done well, a little technobabble can stand in for “this is complicated so don’t worry about it”. In that regard, it can be good. Bonus points if the science makes perfect sense too.

I’ve been using technobabble to make science jokes as humour within humour for a year or so and find it whole heaps of fun. If you don’t get the science you see comical technobabble but if you do understand the science then there is a whole extra layer of jokes for you to enjoy. At least I hope you enjoy it.

Which is where you come in.

Over to you

This post marks the return of our “over to you” section. Tell us your opinion on technobabble.

  • Is technobabble always bad?
  • Can it be good?
  • What are some of your favourite examples of technobabble?
  • Midichlorians aside, what are some examples of very bad technobabble?
  • Have you used technobabble in your own writing and how did you go about it?

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