9 underused ideas sci-fi should be exploring

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

For Rudy Rucker, author of the Philip K. Dick Award-winning novels Wetware and Software, and one of the founding fathers of cyberpunk, change is good.

"Change is of course something that happens to any living art form—think of painting or popular music or literary novels or even TV sit-coms," he recently wrote on his blog. "Yes, it's sad to see Golden Ages slip away, but it's sadder still to keep doing the same thing. Inevitably the old material goes stale and the fire goes away. I'm not saying it's become impossible to write fresh novels about aliens and spaceships and planets. But maybe it's become a task as difficult and quixotic as writing a fresh doo-wop song."

With that in mind, he suggested a "search for genuinely new science-fictional scenarios," and offered up a list of nine themes he found appealing and underused.

Here are the directions in which Rucker pointed.

Magic Doors

Wormhole gateways to other worlds, which Rucker feels could be as numerous as fireflies or memories.

Dreams and Memories

Who needs virtual-reality stories about created illusions mistaken for a reality when there's plenty of story fodder to be found in the natural illusions of ordinary dreams and memories?

The Afterworld

Rucker wishes that there'd be more SF that wonders about what happens after death, especially since any afterlife would be better than no afterlife at all.

Quantum Computational Viruses

Could a computer virus infect matter and change the laws of physics to prepare our world to be inhabited by different sorts of beings?

New Senses

Why settle for five senses when things like telepathy or radio-wave sensitivity might make life far more interesting?

The Holographic Universe

Perhaps we all live in a 2-D space, with dimensionality only an illusion.


What's the point of it all? As Rucker writes, "Surely SF can come up with an answer."

The Subdimensions

Quantum mechanics may say that there's nothing smaller than the Planck length, but why not visit subdimensional worlds in SF anyway?

An Infinite Flat Earth

Rucker posits an endless flat plane, one where "you could walk (or fly your electric glider) forever in a straight line and never come back to where you started." What stories might that suggest?

We've just briefly summarized Rucker's suggestions, so make sure you click on over to his blog to check out what he suggests at length in his own words.

And then let us know what you think! Are these avenues worth exploring?