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 two harmless beams of energy intersecting one another could become a source of power, a light source, or a point of sound? How will this change the way we live in our houses, run our businesses, and receive government services?
What if we invented robotic insects to cross pollinate our crops and wild plants? With the population of bees and other pollinators crashing, we may have no choice.
What if solar panels were installed in highways (with glass surfaces hard enough to handle traffic) and then hooked to power lines alongside the road? In areas receiving a lot of sunlight with few shadows and no snow, this could provide enough energy to power whole states or even countries.
What if you could seal a cut simply by spraying on, from a can, an adhesive that looks like skin? What are the many applications of this – first-aid kits, first responders, military medics, etc.?
What if you could travel from New York to China in two hours or around the world in six hours? A tube transport system that travels at 6500 miles per hour could replace airplanes.
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.