Science Fiction Story Ideas – Part 14: Slower Than Light

Science Fiction Story Ideas

Space Exploration – Slower than light

A thousand lifetimes in space – Living on a generation ship

1,000 human beings are selected to board a spaceship headed for the stars. The trip is so long that they will die in space, but their descendants will reach a new planet.

  • To save room on the generation ship, the original population of the ship is all women, with children to be produced by artificial insemination. The first “in-space” generation grows up in a society controlled by women.
  • Variation – To save space on the generation ship, all the original passengers are female. All the children are produced by artificial insemination, all from female embryos. After one hundred generations of only females, the ship arrives on the new planet, and the first males can be born.
  • The passengers on a generation ship begin to doubt the new planet will ever be reached, and decide bringing new children into the situation would be cruel. The soldiers running the ship decide that, if the passengers won’t reproduce by choice, they will have to be forced.
  • An elderly man on a generation ship is convinced that the pilot computer is lying, and that the ship was not actually built, but created by God. He preaches his new religion and, slowly, he gathers followers.
  • The government is unable to convince any passengers to board the generation ship, as they know the first generation will die long before they reach the new world. So, the government decides to take their cues from England and fill the generation ship with prisoners.
  • On board a generation ship, all of the work is done by robots and other machines. When the ship finally arrives on the new world, the would-be pioneers have a thousand-year tradition of laziness and selfishness.
  • In order to convince passengers to board the generation ship, ready to reproduce, the government runs a series of ads featuring gorgeous models of both sexes. The ship launches into space, and the passengers discover that they were lied to. They will have to mate with “ordinary” people.
  • The passengers on a generation ship begin reproducing too rapidly, and risk using up all of their resources. They come up with a violent solution to population control: The Games. Once a year, ten passengers are selected by lottery, and forced to fight to the death for the amusement of the others.
  • Because of limited space on the ship, the captain must control breeding, and make sure reproduction stays at a specific rate. After the population starts to grow too fast, the captain starts throwing passengers out of the air lock.
  • A generation ship is sent into space with several androids to do occasional repairs. One android is smarter than the others. After several centuries, the android convinces the new generation of passengers that it is God.
  • An elderly man on a generation ship discovers that the ship was not created by humans, as they have believed for centuries. The ship was created by a mysterious alien race. The old man struggles to discover exactly what the aliens have planned for the thousands of passengers.
  • Due to cosmic radiation, the passengers on the generation ship evolve faster than normal. By the time their descendants reach the new planet, they are something other than human.
  • Due to limited space, the ship’s officers must control breeding, making sure reproduction stays at acceptable levels. The ship is divided into two giant sections, Men’s and Women’s, with any “trespassers” being killed.
  • Earth builds an enormous generation ship, designed to last for eons. The ship is launched and floats through endless space. After thousands of generations, the ship reaches the End of the Universe. The millions of passengers fight to deal with what they find there.
  • The passengers on a generation ship begin running out of food, and there is no earth-like planet in sight. They come across an alien generation ship. The aliens have food, but nothing humans can eat. However, the aliens themselves look quite delicious…
  • To save space on a generation ship, the first generation of passengers has their DNA altered so that their children will never grow larger than two feet tall. After the generation ship finally arrives on the new world, they discover that they were beaten to the planet by another ship. The tiny astronauts struggle to begin their society on a new world filled with humans three times their size.
  • On board a generation ship, cosmic radiation kills all of the adults, leaving only children under thirteen. The children hold a contest to select the ship’s new leaders.
  • Variation – After radiation kills all of the adults, the children on a generation ship form two opposing factions: girls vs. boys.
  • A company designs a generation ship to be sent to a distant planet, but has trouble attracting passengers, as they know they would die in space and only their ancestors would reach the new world. The company announces that all mates will be selected by lottery. The ship is soon filled with passengers, all hoping they will “win” an ideal mate.
  • The passengers on a generation ship realize that they will die long before they reach the new world, so they decide to reproduce via cloning. Each new generation of passengers will be genetically identical to the first.
  • A generation ship is heading for an empty, earth-like planet upon which a new human society can be built. After a rebellion results in half the population leaving for an occupied alien world, the soldiers running the ship decide that they have to do whatever necessary to keep the next generation of passengers on the ship. The next generation of children is never told that they are on a ship at all.
  • The earth sends a generation ship into space to look for a new, earth-like planet on which to settle. Decades later, the grandchildren of the original colonists are angry that they were forced to be born in space, never to set foot on a real world. They turn the ship around, pointing it back at the earth. Somehow, they will have their revenge.

The longest voyage – Slumbering on a sleeper ship

A spaceship is sent to a distant planet. The trip would take many lifetimes, so all the passengers are frozen in suspended animation.

  • A sleep tube malfunctions, leaving one man awake, to spend the rest of his life alone on the ship, surrounded by his frozen “sleeping” friends.
  • The ship’s computer malfunctions, and begins beaming TV signals directly into the heads of the frozen passengers. When they finally reach the new planet, they are more than a little warped by the experience.
  • Earth’s governments deal with overcrowded prisons by cryonically freezing the prisoners and loading them onto spaceships. The ships are designed to drift forever in deep space. However, one of the ships is knocked off course by a meteorite and crashes onto a distant, alien world…
  • A spaceship sets out for a ten-year journey to a new planet. Do to a technical glitch, some of the passengers are brought out of suspended animation almost as soon as the ship launches. A young couple awake on a new planet to find that their children have grown up while they slept.
  • A teenage girl, a telepath, boards a ship for the stars. While in suspended animation, she remains conscious. She explores the other passenger’s minds, toying with their dreams, stealing their knowledge, and making psychic mischief.
  • A sleeper ship makes the months-long journey to the new colonies on Mars. When the ship arrives and the passengers awaken, a woman discovers that she is pregnant. Somehow she became pregnant on a ship where all the passengers were asleep.
  • A depressed woman boards a spaceship where she will be placed into a state of sleeplike suspended animation until the end of the trip. However, she isn’t sure she’ll ever want to wake up.
  • A sleeper ship is struck by an asteroid, destroying the ship and killing most of the passengers. A few sleeper tubes survive, floating through space, eventually crashing on a distant, alien world.
  • A man and his wife board a spaceship for a long journey. They arrive, years later, on a new planet. The man is revived and told that his wife apparently had cancer and didn’t tell him. If they bring her out of suspended animation, she will die.
  • A young couple and their newborn daughter board a sleeper ship, where they will be placed in suspended animation for a twenty-one year journey to a new planet. Their daughter, although in suspended animation, remains conscious. Her mind connects telepathically to the ship’s computers, and she begins to learn.
  • An alien sleeper ship lands on earth but, due to a malfunction, the aliens are never taken out of suspended animation. The government must decide wither to take the chance and thaw them out.
  • A handful of scientists on a sleeper ship must stay conscious to monitor the passengers. One of the scientists begins to fantasize about a beautiful, young passenger.
  • A team of astronauts heads to a distant planet on board a sleeper ship. The ship crashes, and the only survivor is the young, female ship captain. Her sleeper tube shuts off, and she awakens in the middle of a large, beautifully decorated building. Examining her surroundings, she discovers that, for hundreds of years, she has been on exhibit in an alien museum. Soon, the aliens find their planet’s most beloved “work of art” is alive.
  • A group of astronauts are sent on a sleeper ship to several new planets. As each planet is reached, some of the passengers are awakened and sent to the surface in shuttle craft. The ship passes the last planet and, unfortunately, one passenger is left on board. He awakens to discover that he is alone on an immense spaceship headed for nowhere.
  • Astronauts visiting another planet return to earth on board a sleeper ship. When they awaken on earth, they discover that they have been asleep much longer than they thought. The humans on earth have evolved dramatically, and to them, the astronauts are like cavemen.
  • Variation – Astronauts visiting another planet return to earth on board a generation ship. When they awaken on earth, they discover that they have been asleep much longer than they thought. The earth has gone through several global wars, destroying virtually all technology. The astronauts, with their seemingly miraculous technology, are greeted as gods.

Seeding the stars – Colonizing other worlds with embryo probes

  • Earth sends a robotic probe full of embryos to a distant planet. The robots on the probe bring the embryos to maturity, but burn out soon afterwards. Without any robots to manufacture things or to teach them about technology, the humans end up in a new Stone Age.
  • The governments of the world are convinced that the earth’s population may eventually be destroyed by war. To save the human race from extinction, they seed a nearby planet with an embryo probe. The predicted war never comes. However, centuries later, the earth is invaded by aliens, and the surviving population flees to the seeded planet. The planet’s human population does not welcome the earthlings, and attempts to keep them from settling on their world.
  • Variation – Decades after the earth seeds a new planet with embryo probes, the new planet begins to run out of natural resources. When earth’s skies fill up with spaceships, the governments of the world are shocked to discover that they are being invaded by other humans.
  • A mad scientist creates thousands of embryos from his own DNA, and sends them in space on board a robotic probe. Planets all through the galaxy are seeded with his clones.
  • An astronaut comes to another planet, years after it had been “seeded” by an embryo probe from earth. He discovers that one of the embryos, now a grown woman, was created from his ex-wife’s DNA. (And thus, is a clone.) He begins to wonder if he has a second chance with love.
  • The government begins a program to select the best colonists for a new world. Scientific geniuses, athletes, and artists from all over the world apply. However, they won’t actually be going… Their DNA will be used to create a cloned embryo, and this duplicate of them will be used to “seed” the new planet.
  • The government begins a program to select the best colonists for a new world. Their DNA will be used to create cloned embryos to seed the new planet. A janitor at NASA, resentful that “inferior” people are excluded from the project, vows to break into the laboratory and fill the probe with his own DNA.
  • Aliens send an embryo probe to the earth and, like the stork, it delivers alien babies to grateful couples.
  • An alien embryo probe comes to the earth but, as it is not equipped with an artificial womb, it must seek out human females.
  • Variation – Aliens send embryo probes to the earth as the precursor to a full-scale invasion. Earth’s governments warn their citizens of the dangerous, alien machines. However, the aliens offer bribes to any human female willing to be impregnated.
  • Wanting to be the first to lay claim to a world outside our solar system, earth’s corporations send embryo probes to seed the stars with pioneers. The infants who are born on these new worlds are cared for by machines, who raise them to be perfect, submissive employees, treating their corporate masters as if they were gods.
  • Earth sends a fleet of embryo probes to “seed” a distant world. Along with the probes, earth sends a ship full of android teachers. The androids are supposed to care for and educate the humans until they are old enough to run the new world themselves. Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch, the androids are stuck in “babysitter” mode. Twenty years later, after the invention of a faster-than-light engine, a ship full of astronauts arrives. They discover an entire planet full of spoiled, toddler-like adults.
  • The earth is deluged with alien embryo probes, and the government creates a new office of exterminators to hunt down the probes and infant aliens and destroy them before a new culture can take hold on the earth.
  • Colonists land on a new planet and discover that it is full of human children. They discover that the government had secretly seeded the planet with an embryo probe, and now there are hundreds of children without parents.
  • The earth is invaded by alien embryo probes. The probes send out millions of airborne “spores.” Any woman who breathes them in becomes pregnant with an extraterrestrial child.

Robots don’t get homesick – Exploring the universe with robot probes / self-replicating probes

  • An alien government decides to explore space with self-replicating robot probes. The probes are designed to find planets and collect raw materials to make duplicates of themselves. A thousand years later, they have evolved into a swarm of interplanetary “locusts,” devouring entire worlds.
  • An alien government builds robot probes to explore space for them, and find planets without intelligent life that they can colonize. A small child, playing in the park, meets a robot probe. He has to prove that humans are intelligent, or the earth will be overwhelmed by alien invaders. Too bad his parents are idiots…
  • Earth scientists send a robotic probe to explore the surface of a distant planet and to return to Earth with a collection of soil, water, and plant samples. Unbeknownst to the scientists, the planet is an alien prison. A number of the prisoners find the probe and decide to use it to escape.
  • Earth sends out robotic probes to explore the universe, and look for earth-like planets for future colonies. A robot probe finds a good planet, but the inhabitants are intelligent. The robot probe launches a software program, Propaganda 2.0.
  • Humans decide to send a robot probe into space, to search for friendly aliens. The scientists decide that they need a “representative sample” of human culture. Musicians and artists fight over who will have their work carried to the stars.
  • An alien probe lands on the earth and begins to duplicate itself. It craws into a young man’s garage, and he has to convince it not to use his sports car for raw materials.
  • Earth builds a fleet of robotic probes to search for distant planets. It is decided that the probes would do a much better job of searching if, rather than being controlled by computers, they were controlled by human brains.
  • An alien race sends out a robotic probe to explore the universe. A probe lands on earth, and is discovered by a young boy. The boy has been told by his parents that he cannot have a dog, so instead he decides to take the probe home as a pet.
  • After the earth discovers a lifeless planet with rich mineral resources, the astronauts must go to great lengths to hide it from alien robot probes. Simply destroying the probes won’t do, as that would alert the aliens to the existence of something worth protecting.
  • A distant alien race sends robotic probes to earth with a simple message: our planet needs men!
  • An alien race, nearing extinction, sends out a fleet of robot probes. Each probe has in its memory the digitalized consciousness and memories of billions of aliens. When the probe lands on earth, it begins reprogramming humans with the data from the aliens’ minds.
  • Variation – An alien race, nearing extinction, decides to preserve the scientific knowledge and art of every race in the universe. It sends out a fleet of robot probes to collect the information. Unfortunately, the probes collect the information by removing brain tissue. When the probes land on earth, they systematically lobotomize everyone they see.
  • Earth sends out robotic probes to explore the universe and, if they find an earth-like planet, to report back to earth. An alien hacker encounters one of the probes and reprograms it.