Nothing quite spices up a universe like some kind of cataclysmic event. Luce has written at length recently about the Dragonriders of Pern series, and it’s a perfect example of the plot device I want to discuss. In this series, a colonizing expedition to a new planet is unexpectedly overwhelmed by an indigenous threat: rain-like silvery spores called Thread that threaten their survival on their new home. The settlers use their highly advanced technology to bioengineer dragons that can withstand and destroy Thread, but as time—entire centuries—goes by, knowledge of the technology is lost.
When we’re introduced to the world in the first Dragonriders book, it’s reverted to a more prototypical fantasy world with medieval levels of scientific advancement and an understanding that the dragons and their powers are the result of magic rather than science. This sort of genre-switching destruction of civilization can be a powerful storytelling device, but it has to be used well to be effective.
Vague, minor spoilers for the new Star Wars movie after the jump.