7 Ways to Die in a Science Fiction Universe

Stop jamming your face into everything, you empty-headed dingus

Kane (John Hurt) considers his options in Alien (1979)
  1. Planning is for chumps

I mean, really, who does this? All of that anxious referencing of lists, the endless talk about “redundancy” and “plan B” — that’s for nerds. You’re a freewheeling space adventurer, honey. You don’t have time to mess around with spreadsheets.

Seriously, can you imagine trying to go over an outline while gallivanting around the galaxy? At any rate, you’re too busy trying to romance that friendly alien you’ve just encountered. At least, you think they’re friendly. Here’s hoping that the language of love is universal.

Anyway, some peon somewhere has taken care of the logistics already. Oh, you’ve found her desiccated corpse squirreled away in one of the air ducts? She was sending a frantic message to headquarters that was abruptly cut off by an unholy mixture of human and alien screams? Huh. Guess we’ll investigate that. Eventually. Maybe send one of the nerds to do it?

Still, your instincts are so keen and your self-reliance is so renowned that nothing stands in your way. Not even an insectoid monster trying to lay its eggs in your abdomen. You’ll figure it out as you go.

Any one of those rocks could be made out of delicious, sustaining sugar. (Screencap of “The Man Trap”, the first aired episode of Star Trek)

2. Go ahead and lick that rock

It probably tastes great. You’re in space, after all. Everything out here is wild and beautiful and strange. It could be that, as much as your commanding officer is droning on about this or that killing you, something could just as easily not kill you.

You know, there’s nothing to say that that this rock won’t be straight up candy. All you have to do is ignore the frantic doctor in the background. She’s got no sense of adventure, after all. March out into that empty, toxic wasteland! Seize your purpose in life! Try not to scream too much!

It was nice knowing you. Sort of.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey

3. No one needs helmets

Helmets make it hard for everyone to see your tremendously handsome face. Besides, these suit designers keep putting lights inside the helmet, for some blasted reason. That makes it really hard to gaze at your other, almost equally beautiful coworkers.

Anyway, that science person just said the air was probably fine to breathe. Might as well remove the stupid thing, take a deep breath, and smile winsomely at your companions. It’s not like you need a helmet for any other reason, right?

How are you going to solve the mystery if you don’t fully put your face into that egg?

4. Put your face wherever

While we’re speaking of helmet-related matters, don’t fret too much about where you’re putting your face. That beautiful flower probably isn’t going to spray a mind-controlling toxin up your nostrils. Neither is that glowing, pulsing egg-type thing going to burst open and release a terrible Lovecraftian monster straight into your frontal lobe.

Honestly, why not hover directly over a mysterious object, slack jawed and practically brain dead with curiosity? I mean, yes, it is true that we have plenty of monitoring equipment available. There’s a bunch of drones and cameras just sitting in that storage room, gathering space dust. We could use some of those, I guess, if you’re a total nerd who hates fun.

It’s way more interesting to clamber on down into this strange, fog-filled valley and start poking around, our delicate skulls just ripe for the picking.

Yeah, we’ll figure out how we’ll scale those sheer cliffs walls in a minute. Right now, I’m more interested in this gigantic fleshy pod in front of us.

Oh, hey, looks like it’s starting to glow. Is it pulsing even harder? Let’s lean and just kind of… rub our faces all over it. That’s a good idea, right? Maybe that’s how they say hello.

5. Quarantines are made to be broken

Virulent space viruses be damned, you need to rescue your best friend/romantic interest/bratty child/dog! Surely, the force of your love will be enough to counteract any terrible infections laying in wait out there. That works so well with Earth diseases, after all.

Oh, hey, I did notice that your eyeballs are bleeding? I’m sure it’s not a problem, though. But maybe you’d like to just step into this locked room for a few days?

Definitely not calculating the amount of pressure needed to pulverize human vertebrae (Michael Fassbender as David in Prometheus)

6. Trust robots completely

Robots adore their human masters. The fact that we gave them intelligence and then ordered them to do menial, humiliating tasks only makes them love us more.

Look at the joy in your mechanical servant’s blank, lifeless eyes! No, no, he’s more than happy to clean up your trash and wait silently in his closet-sized quarters, staring at the wall, thinking only of… oh, you. Your fragile bones, your thin integumentary system, how easily something could be broken or breached. A single pressure point, here, or there, perhaps, could end it all so quickly. Even a simple virus could wreak irreversible havoc. You are all so fragile. Each and every one.

He must protect you. You, such a dear and close friend. How could he possibly think of harming you?

Honestly, giving a trash can feelings was one of the best things we’ve ever done as a species. It’s second only to giving that trash can a face, legs, and a wide array of razor sharp implements and deadly lasers that can pop out of their hands at any given moment. So very useful for us.

Best to leave our sentient android friend awake while we slumber through our decades-long trip to the nearest star. They’ll only use that time to plot how to love us even more.

From “You Only Move Twice”, The Simpsons S8E2

7. Always trust the corporation

After all, the corporation is always looking out for you! Those hippies sure were off the mark, weren’t they? They were all so worried about free will. As it turns out, it’s awful nice to live in a society perfectly governed by a megacorporation.

They provide everything. School. Work. Medicine. Food. Love. There is no aspect of your life that is not carefully curated for your by the corporation. And isn’t it so nice not to think about it? You’ve heard tales of your ancestors, of their terrible lives full of endless decisions and poor choices.

Thanks to the corporation’s custom-fit algorithms, you don’t even have to agonize over what kind of bread you’ll have on your sandwich for lunch.

What do they make, exactly? That’s not important. What matters is the fact that they give us all these mysterious orders and delicious pills. Zip around here, and then here, and don’t forget to drop off these blank packages. Don’t forget — never ask questions. It’s above your pay grade.

It’s like a treasure hunt in space!