5 Science Fiction Writing Prompts: Future Tech

Science fiction stories typically arise from a novum, a scientifically plausible concept that is a “reality” in the tale. The novum might be an mechanical device like robot servants, artificial intelligence, or faster-than-light spacecraft; it also can be a hypothetical idea such as “The Earth is a scientific experiment run by aliens to determine the meaning of life” or “The government outlaws books.” The author then asks “What if?” exploring how the world with this novum is different than ours.

Among the problems of many novice science fiction writers is instead of introducing a new novum they rely on used furniture – that is, they borrow novums from popular SF series. After all, how many novels have you read that use starships exploring the galaxy for the Earth-based Federation? Barely changing names to appear as if you are not appropriating – a starcraft seeking M-class worlds for the Earth-centered Alliance – still doesn’t cut it as original or fully using the potential that science fiction offers to examine our culture or humanity.

To help SF writers, here are some novums of potential near-future inventions from which stories could be built:

Facial recognition app
What if smart contact lenses we wore include a facial recognition app that instantly told you the name of any person before you as well as provided a profile about them? How does this change our greeting customs?

Garden sensors
What if sensors beneath your lawn or in your garden could measure the amount of moisture in the soil and detect bug infestations then deliver targeted sprays of water, pesticides or fertilizer to those spots? How does this change the appearance of our lawns and neighborhoods?

GJ 338 AB colonization
What if future space explorers decided to settle a habitable planet orbited the second star in this binary? Such a planet probably would orbit the K-type star in just 34.5 days.

Living perfumes
What if people could download and apply bioengineered bacteria that when applied to the skin would emit a pleasant scent? The body’s epidermal area would become a living ecosystem of perfume.

What if products and their packaging were designed so that when recycled they retained 100% of their original integrity? This will be necessary in a resource-stretched world. How does this change the way we package, use and discard consumer goods?


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.