One of my most popular blog posts is my 50 Fantasy Plot Ideas and Writing Prompts, so I thought I’d share a companion post for writers of scifi and futuristic short stories and novels.

Some of these may be more along the lines of “speculative fiction” than science fiction. They include prompts about the environment, artificial intelligence, genetics, medicine, time travel, space exploration, alien races, and alternative histories. The real value of any science fiction premise or concept, of course, is the way the author uses it to explore questions about society, humanity, and relationships.

If you’re interested in publishing science fiction and you don’t have an agent, you might want to take a look at my roundup of fantasy and science fiction publishers who accept unsolicited (or unagented) manuscripts.

If you’re not writing scifi right now, but you might be in the future, you might want to pin or bookmark the post for future reference!


50 Science Fiction Plot Ideas and Writing Prompts #scifi short story ideas #novel #plot generator


  1. All citizens are temporarily neutered at birth. Would-be parents must prove to the government that they’ll be suitable caretakers and providers before they are allowed to procreate.


  1. All marriages must be approved by a department of the government, which analyzes massive amounts of data to predict the success of the union, its economic and social impact on society, the health and welfare of any children, and so on. It’s such a hassle that many people opt for government-arranged marriages instead.


  1. Global warming prompts rapid mutations in the human species.


  1. The world’s leaders broker a deal with the alien invaders that many see as unfair.


  1. Humans have discovered a way to communicate directly with animals, and all the meat they consume is lab-created.


  1. Extreme elective surgery is the societal norm, and humans undergo creative modifications that include extra limbs, cartoon-like features, and so on.


  1. Breeding modern humans with large amounts of Neanderthal DNA leads to interesting results.


  1. In this world, Napoleon’s army took over Australia, he never lost at Waterloo, France took control of most of Europe, and World War I and World War II never happened.


  1. An alien from a planet where no one else experiences empathy comes to live on Earth, believing they will fit in better there.


  1. A drug that makes people non-confrontational has been added to the public water supply and to all beverages sold by major corporations.


  1. The huge, thin sheets of material covering some trees and yards turn out to be discarded placentas.


  1. A low-level employee in a bureaucratic government office realizes the paperwork he files every day contains codes that determine others’ fates.


  1. A human and alien fall in love, causing an interplanetary crisis.




  1. An alien doesn’t know how to tell the humans s/he’s become intimately involved with that s/he’s an alien, even though they will find out soon.


  1. High-speed robotic horses become a trendy alternative to cars and weave through heavy traffic with ease.


  1. Birds and butterflies are able to navigate on long migrations due to proteins in their bodies that align with the earth’s magnetic fields. Scientists put these proteins to a new use.


  1. An entertainment company synthesizes huge amounts of data they collected about viewer’s responses to movies and shows, and they use it to create a TV show that’s dangerously addictive.


  1. Mars has been terraformed by dropping nuclear bombs on its poles, and the first human colonists have been assured that almost all of the radiation has escaped the atmosphere.


  1. An attempt to save the honeybees had surprising consequences.


  1. Online bullying is made a felony, which leads to unforeseen complications.


  1. At a new underwater amusement park and resort, built at a greater depth than any other construction before, the guests face an unforeseen threat.


  1. Spies use tiny implants in the retina that record and transmit everything to the commanders in another country. The implants dissolve after a certain amount of time.


  1. The first time travellers seem to have no ability to improve the course of human events. If they kill Hitler, for instance, some other person does exactly what he did. They search for the way to really alter the timeline.


  1. Astronauts develop strange and unexpected symptoms in response to traveling at light speed.


  1. It’s easy to look up exactly where any person is at any given time.


  1. New fitness devices track your movements and everything you eat automatically.


  1. A new device automatically tracks your mood levels and emotions. This leads people to avoid more of what makes them unhappy and do more of what makes them feel good.


  1. People become human mood rings: they get implants that make them change color along with their mood.


  1. Criminals and dissidents undergo illegal genetic therapy to change their DNA so the government has no record of them.


  1. Euthanasia is legal and painless means are widely available. A detective specializes in suspicious cases of euthanasia that may have been murder.


  1. Books and videogames have both been replaced by interactive virtual worlds filled with fascinating characters.


  1. Colonists on another planet want to be an independent country and lead a rebellion.


  1. People from a civilization that mysteriously disappeared centuries ago, such as ancestral Puebloans in the U.S. Southwest, return.


  1. An alien planet outsources city planning by creating a complex, engrossing city-building videogame popular with humans.


  1. A time traveler from centuries in the future fails in their attempt to impersonate a person of the twenty-first century. They enlist someone’s help to carry out a mission.


  1. A virus can be transmitted from computers or other machines to humans with bionic upgrades.


  1. Advertisements appear randomly in thin air in front of a person. Getting media without this advertising is prohibitively expensive.


  1. A team of scientists attempt to genetically alter a human to adapt to another planet’s terrain or outer space travel. They accidentally make him or her immortal.




  1. Implants make telepathy possible between the humans who get them.


  1. The Air Force uses invisibility technology for the first time, but the pilot realizes her mission is morally reprehensible.


  1. People are nostalgic for snow, so they create artificial snowstorms.


  1. In a world where pain and suffering have been eliminated, people pay to experience a variety of negative sensations under safe and controlled circumstances.


  1. A secret society of scientists labors to make medical discoveries and to save the planet, even though a religious fundamentalist government has outlawed their activities.


  1. Medical researchers are attempting to bring people back to life after they’ve been dead for thirty minutes or even an hour and give them a full recovery. Their experimentation is unethical and/or leads to strange alterations to people’s brains.


  1. Someone is shrunk to a tiny size to perform a life-saving or planet-saving procedure impossible for a machine or an average-sized human.


  1. His loved one died, but is alive in a parallel universe, and he is somehow getting messages or clues about her life there.



  1. On Ceres, a large asteroid, there’s a fueling station for spaceships. Terrorists take over the station and disrupt space travel and trade.


  1. Because it’s too hard to screen for performance-enhancing drugs, they are made legal and are an important component of sports.


  1. The ability to make visual recordings of dreams has exhilarating and terrifying consequences.


  1. Because android “kids” have become so lifelike, amusing, and hassle-free, no one wants to have real ones.


  1. (bonus) Patients are woken up from hibernation when the cures to their diseases have been discovered.



50 Science Fiction Plot Ideas and Writing Prompts #scifi short story ideas #novel #plot generator


I hope you liked these! And if one of them sparks your imagination, don’t feel guilty about using it–you’ll wind up putting your personal spin on it, anyway. Or maybe something on the list will inspire a completely different idea of your own!

Would you like some more? My book 5,000 Writing Prompts has 100 more science fiction writing prompts in addition to the ones on this list, plus hundreds of other master plots by genre, dialogue and character prompts, and much more.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!