Hello, friends! Last time, I shared 20 fantasy story ideas to get your brain moving. This time, it's my pleasure to go from earth to space. It's time for…*drum roll* sci-fi story ideas!
Need even more ideas? Check out our top 100 short story ideas for every genre here.
Twenty Out of this World Story Ideas
Just so you know, these are “soft sci-fi” rather than “hard sci-fi,” which basically means they're more focused on character than math and science.
- Aliens who only communicate with sign language invade. To avoid war, our governments must engage a vastly marginalized portion of the human population: the hearing-impaired.
- A rogue planet with strange properties collides with our sun, and after it's all over, worldwide temperature falls forty degrees. Write from the perspective of a someone trying to keep his tropical fruit trees alive.
- Ever read about the world's loneliest whale? Write a story in which he's actually the survivor of an aquatic alien species which crashed here eons ago, and he's trying very hard to learn the “local” whale language so he can fit in. Write from his perspective the first time he makes contact.
- An alien planet starts receiving bizarre audio transmissions from another world (spoiler: they're from Earth). What does it mean? Are they under attack? Some think so…until classic rock ‘n' roll hits the airwaves, and these aliens discover dancing. Write from the perspective of the teenaged alien who first figures it out.
- Take anything we find normal today (shopping malls, infomercials, products to remove facial hair, etc.) and write a story from the perspective of an archeologist five thousand years in the future who just unearthed this stuff, has NO idea what any of it was for, and has to give a speech in an hour explaining the historical/religious/sociological significance.
- Housecats are aliens who have succeeded in their plan to rule the world. Discuss.
- A highschooler from fifteen hundred years in our future is assigned a one-page writing project on a twenty-first century person's life based entirely on TV commercials. Write the beginning of the essay.
- Timetravel works, but only once in a person's life. Write from the perspective of someone who chooses to go back in time, knowing they can never return. Where do they go and why?
- So yeah, ancient Egypt really was “all that” after all, and the pyramids turn out to be fully functional spaceships (the limestone was to preserve the electronics hidden inside). Write from the perspective of the tourist who accidentally turns one on.
- The remarkable San people of South Africa are widely considered the most ancient race of human beings on the planet. Write a story in which their unique genetic structure has been preserved by the thousands-of-years-ago creation of nanobots.
More Sci-Fi Story Ideas
- Take this set of fascinating facts from Chinese history and write a story about the “fortune-teller” (translation: con-artist who knows science) who invented the compass before selling it to the explorer and mapmaker Zheng He.
- Ten years from now, scientists figure out how to stop human aging and extend life indefinitely—but every time someone qualifies for that boost, someone else has to die to keep the surplus population in check. Oh, it's all very humane; one's descendants get a huge paycheck. Write from the perspective of someone who just got a letter in the mail saying they're the one who has to die.
- In the future, neural implants translate music into physical pleasure, and earphones (“jacking in”) are now the drug of choice. Write either from the perspective of a music addict, OR the Sonforce agent (sonance + enforcer) who has the job of cracking down.
- It's the year 5000. Our planet was wrecked in the great Crisis of 3500, and remaining human civilization survives only in a half dozen giant domed cities. There are two unbreakable rules: strict adherence to Life Quality (recycling doesn't even begin to cover these laws), and a complete ban on reproduction (only the “worthy” are permitted to create new humans). Write from the perspective of a young woman who just discovered she's been chosen to reproduce—but she has no interest in being a mother.
- In the nineteenth century, there's a thriving trade in stolen archeological artifacts. Write a story from the perspective of an annoyed, minimum-wage employee whose job is traveling back in time to obtain otherwise unobtainable artifacts, then has to bring them back to the present (the 1800s, that is) and artificially age them before they will sell.
- Steampunk! Write a story from the perspective of a hot air balloon operator who caters to folks who like a little thrill… which means she spends half her time in the air shooting down pterodactyls before the paying customers get TOO scared.
- Human genetic modification has gone too far, and the biggest trend for teenagers is to BECOME their favorite fictional character. Describe the scene from a bored security guard's point of view as he has to break up a fight between an anime character (I dare you to use Goku from Dragonball Z) and a Brony.
- It is the Edo period in Japan (1603-1868), and the practice of Sakoku is in full effect, completely closing off the country to Western influence. The reason, however, is not to eschew Western culture, but instead to protect the aliens that landed in the middle of Kyoto and are trying desperately to repair their ship and get home. Write from the perspective of one of the few remaining Samurai assigned to protect and keep these aliens a secret.
- Creation myth! Write from the perspective of a crazy scientist in the year 28,000 who, determined to discover how the universe began, rigs up a malfunctioning time machine, goes to the “beginning” of the universe, and ends up being the reason for the Big Bang. (Logic? Causal effect? Pfft. Hush, it's time-travel, and that was never logical.)
- It turns out dinosaurs were completely sentient creatures, thank you very much, and most of them actually left the planet in their gigantic and REALLY WEIRD spaceship when they realized an asteroid was coming. They've decided that enough time has passed and the Earth has probably recovered by now, so today, at twelve noon, they're coming home.
Where will your imagination take you? Choose any of these story ideas and use them to explore new worlds.
Or, write your own sci-fi writing prompt and share it below for other writers!
It's time to play with story ideas! Take fifteen minutes and develop one of these story ideas into at least one scene. Don't edit yourself! Set your imagination free, then post your results in practice box below. Don't forget to leave feedback for other writers!
Enter your practice here:
Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.
Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.
When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.
P.S. Red is still her favorite color.