5 Must-See Prompts for SciFi Authors

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:

Delta Pavonis colonization
What if future space explorers decide to colonize a habitable planet circling this star, which is slightly brighter and older than our sun? What challenges face those who settle a more luminous star? 

Implanted mobile phones
What if a mobile phone simply could be implanted in your body, say in your hand? Apps on the phone could be used to track your health and determine your location, and you never would have to worry about misplacing your phone again (unless you got cut up in a car accident).

Intelligent buildings
What if each building had an artificial personality that communicated with people to ensure human comfort and regular maintenance? The building also uses UV and ionizing technologies for sterilization and zap insects with laser-based devices.

Sleep exams
What if a small sensor could be placed on your head to determine if your mind was showing indications of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, schizophrenia and more? The sensor would monitor your brain waves, which could be run through an app on your computer.

Exoskeletal casts
What if instead of plaster casts we wore a lightweight exoskeletal cast that was modeled on 3D imaging of the limb’s shape and an X-ray of the fracture suffered? Could these casts be used for other purposes than to heal a fracture?


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.