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 drones, which are ubiquitous is so many aspects of our lives – taxis, security patrols, ambulances, weather/pollution monitoring, and more – could dock on the side of a skyscraper called a hive, where robots maintain and program them for their various missions? How would this hive affect the lives of people in a city?
Epsilon Eridani colonization
What if a future interstellar expedition settled the asteroids of the inner dust ring orbiting this nearby star? What challenges would the colonists face in a system with no planets boasting an oxygen atmosphere and a star that is slightly dimmer than ours? http://ourstellarneighborhood.blogspot.com/2007/07/epsilon-eridani.html
What if to reduce global warming, the oceans were seeded with iron to stimulate plankton growth, as these organisms remove carbon dioxide (the main cause of global warming) from our atmosphere? How will the resulting increased acidity of the oceans affect ecosystems?
What if all of the information for our Internet was stored and manipulated on the quantum substrate of space itself? How does this change the way we access and interact with information?
UV exposure monitor
What if you could wear a patch that changes color to tell when you’ve been exposed to too much sunlight on the beach or whenever outside? Under what scenario would this become a necessity in our population?
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.