Technobabble refers to language so full of technical jargon that it is incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the words used. Usually comprised of random tech-sounding words strung together in a syntactically correct but semantically meaningless way, it is a science fiction plot device used to "explain" some technical difficulty which puts the characters in danger. Technobabble often falls apart under close scrutiny, especially if the jargon is completely fictional.
Fan opinions on technobabble vary; some think it is a necessary evil, some consider it pretentious and unacceptable, and others have fun trying to "make sense" of it.
Technobabble is generally against the writing principles of the Re-imagined Series.
Technobabble in action:
- Colonel Tigh accuses Doctor Baltar of spouting off useless technobabble when Baltar attempts to bluff his way out of the Cylon detector's apparent failure to detect the sleeper agent Sharon Valerii (TRS: "Resistance").
Ron Moore on Technobabble
Ronald D. Moore answers a question pertaining to the technical workings of Galactica and how technobabble can affect a good script (credit: Sci-Fi.com):
- "Having watched Star Trek for many years, and now an avid Galactica watcher; I have noticed unlike the Star Trek shows of the past...we know little about how Galactica works. We don't know much about her engines at all, what powers the ship..weapons. Is this an intentional effort to steer Battlestar Galactica away from the technobabble Star Trek would often be muddled in and focus time exclusively on the characters of the show? Will we learn and see more of Galactica in the future?"
- "I did want to stay away from the technobabble that I felt sometimes swamped the characters in Trek, and so I have intentionally avoided discussion of the technical workings of Galactica. Bit by bit, however, small windows into the inner workings do come to light and I'm sure will continue to do so in the future. Also, in all honesty, the writing staff often felt that the technological detail of the Enterprise was as limiting on Trek as it was helpful. We'd established so much about the way the engines worked and didn't work that we sometimes found ourselves discarding perfectly good story ideas or scenes because it contradicted some bit of jargon we'd tossed out two seasons before. There was always the option to write around those kind of details, of course, but inevitably, the thought of yet more tech-talk to justify doing what we wanted to do became a real irritant and we'd usually just try a different approach."
- Science in the Re-imagined Series
- Naturalistic science fiction
- Wikipedia's contrasting article on the principles of hard science fiction
- Rockwell's "Retroencabulator", a humorous example by actual engineers of how technobabble can create something almost comprehensible. (This is a video link.)