5 Story Ideas – Science Fiction Story Starters

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:

Cleaning closets
What if you could simply hang up your dirty clothes in a closet, where they would be scanned then cleaned with waterless molecular technology? How would this change the ways houses are built or remodeled to accommodate it?

Digital ants
What if to protect digital-reliant systems – such as the grid or the Internet – software programs (an “ant”) roamed the net searching for problems. When an ant spots a problem, it signals sister programs that swarm to the scene, analyze the issue, and kills the invading bug (think “virus”).

High-gravity training facilities
What if athletes could train in higher-than-Earth training facilities so that physical movements were easier in normal Earth gravity? What if taking steroids like this was illegal?

Self-healing concrete
What if bridges and other buildings made of a special concrete-like material could fix themselves? When hairline fractures occur, microfibers in the concrete release ions that react with chemicals in the atmosphere to create a calcium carbonate patch.

Smog-fighting buildings
What if a coating on a building, when struck with sunshine, could release free radicals that react with particles in the atmosphere, reducing smog and grime? Would this cause us to dump anti-pollution efforts as a way to boost energy-thirsty economies?