Our Showers Are Different

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A trope of science fiction, if aliens (or humans in the future) bathe at all, you can bet that they will use something completely different from soap and water. This is usually not because of any Bizarre Alien Biology, but rather just something to show more advanced technology and/or how different the aliens or future humans are. It can also, depending on how sensitive the Moral Guardians are being, have the secondary advantage of letting characters have a shower without showing skin.

Note that this can be Fridge Logic when you realize that since water is recycled on spaceships and stations, there is no reason they can't spend the additional energy and equipment to have as much pure water as they want. If they don't clean the dirty water (and urine, etc.), they still have to store it (or throw it into space). It makes more sense to clean it and reuse it. Humans actually "make" water (oxygen plus glucose equals carbon dioxide and water). Although if you do allow water showers you probably have to provide more water storage space.

Examples of Our Showers Are Different include:

Comic Books[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Transmetropolitan, Spider Jerusalem goes from hairy mountainman to his trademark completely hairless look in a mishap with what seems to be some sort of laser shower in the first volume.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Tank Girl. The title character takes a shower with what appears to be dust falling on her. Watch it here.
  • Star Trek the Motion Picture. The Enterprise has sonic showers (Lieutenant Ilia's robot form appears in one).

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Robert Heinlein's article "Where To" mentions a futuristic shower which not only pours water on you but can also do the following: "warm air drying, a short massage, spraying with scent, and dusting with powder". He mentions "freshers" (AKA "refreshers") similar to this one in several of his other stories, including "Coventry", "Methuselah's Children", Farmer in the Sky, Friday, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, The Number of the Beast and Time Enough For Love.
  • In Priest-Kings of Gor Cabot is in the realm of the Priest-Kings (the gods of the planet) and like all humans is required to shower several times a day because the Priest-Kings are Terrified of (Human) Germs. One time he fills his water bowl from the shower and discovers that that ain't water!

I had naturally supposed the fluid to be simply water which it closely resembled in appearance, and once had tried to fill my bowl for the morning meal there, rather than ladling the water out of the water pan. Choking, my mouth burning, I spat it out in the booth.
"It is fortunate," said Misk, "that you did not swallow it for the washing fluid contains a cleansing additive that is highly toxic to human physiology."

  • In the novel Shatterpoint, Mace Windu gets a shower, but also goes through some kind of antibiotic...spray...thing. Would have to reread it to be sure.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba sidesteps her water allergy by cleaning herself with mineral oil, poured over herself from a jug and then carefully scraped off.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga sonic showers, toothbrushes, and other cleaning devices are frequently mentioned.
    • Though they're not as good as "real" showers - in Memory, Ekaterin comments that you can't clean a baby's bottom in one!

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Star Trek the Next Generation and later series (except for Star Trek Enterprise) have the Federation using sonic showers.
    • Star Trek Voyager averted this in the two-part first episode, with Neelix taking a soap and water bath. Later it was subverted with an alien race whose strict rules call for purified water to be used. Fridge Logic ensues once you realize just how bad water is at cleaning if the contaminants don't happen to be water-soluble or are dangerous microorganisms. The rest of the time it was played straight. Eventually it had the first on-screen sonic shower.
  • Babylon 5
    • Water conservation is important on the station so only the executive suites and command quarters get showers with running water; everybody else has to make do with "vibe showers".[1]
    • Earth's space ships don't have water showers even in the command quarters; when Captain Sheridan was transferred to Babylon 5, he was seriously happy when he learned his quarters included "a real live honest-to-god shower with running water".
    • The Minbari use a chemical that removes the outermost layer of skin.
  • Stargate Universe had a sort of mist shower onboard the Destiny.
  • The Girl From Tomorrow has a "shower" that consists of a band of light running up the body. It even removes 20thC permanent hair dye because it is recognised as dirt.

The Verse[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Eastern RPG Opoona for the Wii has the Air Shower. In addition to appearing the world's many bathrooms, they're also a battle item that can be used to heal allies or damage enemies.
  • There's a sonic shower in at least one of the console versions of The Sims.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Current spaceships and stations either offer no bathing (for ships) or limited bathing (stations).
    • The International Space Station (ISS) does not feature a shower, although it was planned as part of the now cancelled Habitation Module. Instead, crewmembers wash using a water jet and wet wipes, with soap dispensed from a toothpaste tube-like container. Water is recycled on the ISS, the system collects, processes, and stores waste and water produced and used by the crew — a process that recycles fluid from the sink, toilet, and condensation from the air.
  • Non-water showers are Older Than They Think: gladiators cleaned themselves by rubbing oil on themselves and then scraping it off.
    • Plus sonic cleaning devices exist, meant for jewelry and such.
  1. When this first comes up it's explicitly mentioned that the station does recycle water, but showers for everybody would be more than the system could cope with.