Science fiction stories typically revolve around a novum, a scientifically plausible concept that becomes “reality” in the tale. The novum might be an mechanical device like robot servants, artificial intelligence, or a space station with artificial gravity; it also can be 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 our world would change if this novum actually existed or were true.
Among the problems of many novice science fiction writers is instead of a new novum, they rely on used furniture – that is, they borrow novums from popular SF stories. 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:
What if devices in our pillows could monitor our brain’s electrical activity while we sleep? This would allow us to view our own dreams when awake; linking monitors even would let two (or more) people experience one another’s dreams at the same time.
What if you could place a thin plastic membrane on your forearm (or anywhere else on your body) that can link to the Internet? In addition to providing information, you could use the membrane to change your appearance at any time; football fans can wear tiger stripes on their faces, the elderly can “eliminate” wrinkles, and those dissatisfied with their skin complexion can change its tone.
Polymer gel muscles
What if emergency personnel, the military, and athletes could wear lightweight exoskeletons that can make them five times stronger than their regular muscles? In addition to running faster and jumping higher, the gel could be bulletproof.
Smart contact lenses
What if you could wear wifi contact lenses that project high resolution images directly onto your retina? They would allow you to know the time, read a map, or access online information at any time, even when your eyes were closed.
What if you could place tiny cell-sized electronic beads into your skin that allowed your body to experience tactile sensations during a computer game or during emergency services/military training? In addition, these sensations can be recorded and then replayed so that you could re-experience your time on the beach or mind-blowing sex.
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.