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:
What if when you moved utility clouds of microscopic robots that make up your house simply disassembled, moved with you, and reassembled where you relocated? What if entire buildings – even skyscrapers – do the same?
Electronet space debris remover
What if several nanosatellites, connected by electrically conducting tape were used to knock space debris into the atmosphere for burn up? The conducting tape would become electrically charged as it passed through the Earth’s magnetic field.
Heat shields made from asteroids
What if heat shields for spacecraft re-entry could be manufactured at a low cost from asteroid material while in space? What would be the benefits of having heat shields constructed on their way to a destination, even while in low Earth orbit?
What if windows could self-regulate themselves? That is they adjust as the temperature changes outside or inside to maintain comfort, they close when rain falls, they become soundproof when the teenager next door plays his music loud.
Spray-in power generation
What if we developed nano solar cells so sensitive that they can turn even infrared light into power – and these nano solar cells could be sprayed or painted on to a surface, like a wall? How does this change the way we power our electronic devices and appliances, and what will be the broader effect on society?
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.