Science Fiction Story Ideas – Part 9: Man & Machine

Science Fiction Story Ideas

Man and Machine

Memory removal/editing

  • A medical research company develops a way to help adults troubled by a traumatic childhood: they can have their distressing memories replaced with memories of a happy, loving childhood. A woman wakes up in a Happiness Clinic and discovers that her past is a computer-generated lie. She must decide if she wants to stay happy or rediscover her real life.
  • Variation – A man visits a Happiness Clinic and pays to have his memories rewritten. He had been unpopular and bullied in highschool, so he decides he wants to remember being the Big Man on Campus and a talented athlete. Due to a clerical error, he wakes up remembering being the head cheerleader and prom queen.
  • A neurologist offers an unusual service. Anyone who feels their life has been dull or uneventful can come to him and buy exciting and unique memories. After the business becomes phenomenally popular, a patient makes a startling discovery: his new memories were stolen from other patients.
  • An artist creates a painting so fantastically beautiful that the human mind is unable to cope with it. Anyone seeing the painting immediately forgets what it looks like.
  • To avoid a nasty divorce, a man arranges to have his wife’s memory erased every time he is unfaithful to her.
  • Variation – In order to keep his telepathic wife from discovering his cheating, a man has his own memory erased every time he is unfaithful. She can’t read thoughts that he doesn’t have!
  • A group of treasure hunters discovers the location of a warehouse full of Nazi gold. One of the men, a neurologist, decides he wants it all for himself. He knocks the other men unconscious and leaves them in a hotel, their memories wiped clean.
  • A conservative homemaker is shocked when she discovers her secret past. She spent her college years as a highly-paid assassin, and the only way she could be allowed to retire was to have her memory edited.
  • A neurologist realizes he has a way to save thousands of dollars each Christmas. He secretly edits his family’s memories, making them believe that they each received expensive gifts, but soon grew tired of them and packed them away in storage. It all starts to fall apart when his wife decides to sell her old jewelry, which doesn’t actually exist.
  • After a bloody revolution, a new leader comes to power. She hires an army of scientists to edit the memories of her subjects, to convince them she had been elected democratically.
  • The daughter of a famous scientist falls in love with an artist and announces that she is going with him to Europe. The scientist decides to edit his daughter’s mind and remove her lover from her memory. Months later, his daughter sees a painting at a museum that looks strangely familiar…
  • An executive at a television station develops the only thing better than holographic TV. He creates a device that allows users to remember a television show as if it had happened to them. Weeks later, millions of people remember friends, lovers, and exciting adventures that never actually occurred.
  • A prison warden decides that the only way prisoners can be truly rehabilitated, to truly move beyond their past, is if they forget all their crimes.
  • After suffering years of abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, a woman finally finds the courage to leave him. A neurologist tells her that he can erase the memory of the abuse. However, the erasing process is not an exact science, and any of her other memories could be erased along with the trauma.
  • A teenager, obsessed with a series of fantasy novels, hires a hypnotist to change his memories to that of the protagonist’s.
  • A transsexual volunteers for a new medical procedure: having her memories changed, so that she remembers her life as if she had been born a female.
  • A neurologist, having developed a memory-altering machine, decides to pose as a magician. He spends ten minutes standing on an empty stage, but his audience remembers seeing the most amazing show of their lives. But everything starts to fall apart when someone sneaks in a video camera…
  • A neurologist’s wife must have brain surgery to remove a tumor. He has her mind scanned and converted into a digital file. If her brain is damaged in the surgery, he can use the backup to help make her whole again. However, while she is under the knife, he decides that there are a few things he doesn’t want her to remember about her past and their relationship.
  • A man develops an odd kind of progressive amnesia, where his memories and skills slowly vanish. The only way for him to delay the process is to steal memories from other people’s minds.

Mind uploading and Virtual Worlds

  • The computer game My Other Life is the most advanced life simulation in the world. Players can create a character, build them a home, give them any job they wish, create friends, and more. The game company announces to the media that they have a new service – for a one-time fee, players can upload their minds into the game, becoming their characters forever.
  • In the future, everyone has a mind scanner implanted in their brains at birth. The instant someone dies, their brain is scanned and their mind is uploaded to the Virtual World. If you want to visit a dead relative, all you have to do is go online.
  • Variation – After death, humans have their minds scanned and uploaded into the Virtual World. Everything is wonderful until the invention of Virtual Reality Advertising.
  • Another variation – Record companies and film studios scan their stars’ brains and create AI’s with their personalities and memories. After a celebrity dies, his AI is released into the world to carry on his work.
  • A billionaire, desperate to avoid death, arranges to have his mind uploaded to a computer. Due to a paperwork error, the computer hard drive ends up installed in a satellite. The satellite is launched into space and pointed to Pluto.
  • In the distant future, aging people can have their minds transferred into new, freshly-grown bodies. After a long fight with cancer, a man is unable to afford a new body. He decides to split the cost with two of his friends. But sharing a body turns out to be more challenging than he had imagined.
  • A computer programmer designs the most complex simulation of a universe ever designed. After the program is switched on, he begins to notice something odd… Every time he makes a change to the program, the real world changes, too.
  • A couple meets in the Virtual World, where the man is a handsome, brawny knight with fearsome skills and the woman is a playful fairy with magical powers and unearthly beauty. They decide to get married in the Virtual World, which is not uncommon, but they draw the attention of the media when they decide to never meet in real life.
  • A lonely young man is constantly badgered by his parents for not socializing and for doing poorly in school. They have no idea that he is the Virtual World’s most famous rock star.
  • A computer hacker scans his mind, converting it into a digital file. He converts the file into a virus, and releases it onto the net. Computers, androids, computerized cars, and thousands of other machines are infected.
  • A powerful psychic is kidnapped by the government. The only way they can prevent him from controlling the world is to trap him in a virtual reality, where he is convinced that he is an ordinary teenager, failing his Sophomore English class.
  • A computer programmer creates a virtual world where everything is perfect. When scientists discover a way to scan someone’s mind after death and copy it to a computer, the computer programmer realizes that his virtual world has just become heaven, and he is the technological equivalent of Saint Peter.
  • A scientist informs his dying wife that he has perfected a way of converting human minds into digital form. Not only that, but he has built an android that will be her new body. She passes away but, a few days later, wakes up in a new body. She walks to the mirror, expecting to see a robotic replica of her own face. Instead, she is greeted by the face of a Love Bot. Her new body is like a cartoon stripper, ridiculously large breasts and an inhumanly small waist, feet constructed in such a way that she cannot walk without wearing six-inch heels. Needless to say, she’s rather upset. She decides to use her husband’s mind scanning equipment against him.
  • Variation – A scientist uploads his dying wife’s mind into a robotic body. She is ecstatic to find that her new body makes her look just as she did at twenty-three. However, when he loaded her mind into the android, her husband included a few extra lines of code, rules that she is forced to obey. She vows that, if she can find a way around the rules, she will use her husband’s mind scanning machine against him.

Neural implants and interfacing directly with machinery

  • In the near future, only the wealthy can afford memory-enhancing brain implants. This gives them a big advantage at work, and their kids a huge edge in school.
  • A neurologist uses a surgery robot to give himself mind-altering neurological implants. The implants dramatically increase his memory, reading speed, and IQ, allowing him to become one of the smartest men in the world. However, one of the chips malfunctions, severely damaging his ability to communicate. His voice and writing comes out garbled, and everyone he encounters thinks he is mentally disabled. As he struggles to prove his intelligence, everyone talks to him as if he were a child.
  • In order to negate the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, a man is implanted with a memory chip. It works wonders, giving him total recall. Unfortunately, a software glitch results in a “memory loop” – the man is forced to relive the same day, over and over.
  • A woman is given a brain implant to control her depression. Later, her husband realizes that the same chip that keeps her from getting sad is keeping her from getting angry. He decides to take advantage of this fact.
  • Variation – A woman is given a brain implant to control her depression. Later, she discovers a way to manually control the implant, electrically stimulating her brain’s pleasure center. She presses a button and instantly becomes happy. As she focuses more and more on her “pleasure button,” the rest of her life falls apart.
  • Another variation – A medical research firm develops a brain implant that allows depressed patients to stimulate their pleasure centers, making themselves instantly happy. The CEO of a global corporation decides to install the implant in his employees, but give the company the control. His employees will be blissfully happy, but only when their working.
  • A man suffers a head injury and, as a result, suffers memory loss. To repair the damage to his brain, he is given a neural implant. However, while vacationing in the mountains, the implant malfunctions, causing terrifying hallucinations. Unable to get to medical care, he looks for a way to remove the implant himself.
  • A man is given a brain implant to control his epilepsy. A few days later, he begins to hear voices. The man believes that the brain implant has given him telepathy, but it is actually just picking up the audio from television signals – a soap opera, commercials, a gangster movie, and so on.
  • A brain implant from The SleepyTime Company allows users to completely control their dreams. At night, users can spend their time fighting zombies, having romantic liaisons with celebrities, spend time with deceased relatives, anything. However, the implants also cause sleepwalking. Users unknowingly sleepwalk to The SleepyTime Company’s office, where they work all night, as slaves.
  • Portable audio devices become so small that they can be implanted directly in the ear. At any point, the person to whom you’re speaking might be listening to you, or they might be listening to their favorite music. This begins to effect how people relate to each other, especially when the devices are implanted in children at birth.
  • In the near future, robots take more and more human jobs. A restaurant only needs one human to watch over the machines for any malfunctions. A corporation decides that they can avoid paying computer programmers to write expensive software if they just wire the teams of robots directly into the brains of their human managers.
  • A man rents out his brain as a kind of temporary storage for computer data. He is hired by a computer entertainment company to store a backup copy of their new adventure videogame. When the man is involved in a car accident, the data for the game begins to leak out into the rest of his mind. His memories mix with chapters from the game, and he begins to wonder which are real.
  • A race car driver becomes the greatest driver in the world when he has his car’s computer wired into his central nervous system.
  • Government scientists design brain implants that deliver strong electric shocks whenever someone tries to commit a crime. At first, the implants are only given to convicted criminals, but then a politician suggests expanding the program…
  • The government surgically implants soldiers with a self-destruct switch so that, if they are captured, they can have a mercifully quick death rather than be tortured by the enemy. After the war, soldiers coming home long to tell the public the true story of the war, and to expose the lies of the government-controlled media. But anyone who tries to speak out suddenly winds up dead, their self-destruct switch activated by remote control.
  • A computer company uses the brains of prisoners as a kind of distributed computing network. The prisoners, connected to the machines, begin to plan their escape.
  • In the near future, tech-savvy people hook themselves up to a device that monitors their vital signs, ready to send out a signal in the event of their death. This signal emails their “last words” to their friends and family, notifies their life insurance company and next of kin, posts your their entry to their website, and so on.
  • A man’s chip malfunctions, which sends his last words to everyone he knows. Deep secrets, how he really felt about people, unethical business dealings, and more. He has to decide if he wants to stay legally “dead” or face everyone he has hurt.

Cybernetics

  • A women’s rights group works to alter society’s ideas about female cyborgs, and attempts to convince men female cyborgs can be sexually attractive and don’t have to be frightening.
  • The Cyborg Football League puts regular football players out of work, and a few of them decide to get revenge
  • A group of terrorists uses cybernetic implants to turn themselves into living bombs.
  • A cyborg criminal decides to move to an undeveloped country where he won’t have to deal with high-tech police. Unfortunately, he can’t find anything he wants to steal…
  • After years of cybernetics being used only to replace missing limbs, doctors begin to develop cybernetic parts for able-bodied humans. Never lost an arm? Why not get an extra one, anyway? How about a pair of optical sensors to assist your biological eyes? Or maybe you’d like a pair of shiny, metal wings?
  • After the development of cybernetic limbs come cybernetic criminals. The government is forced to hire cybernetic police officers to fight them. Soon the criminals and police are in a cybernetic arms race. (No pun intended.)
  • After decades of advancement in the field of cybernetic medicine, Congress passes a bill called “The Forty Percent Rule.” Anyone less than forty percent flesh is no longer considered a human being. As their rights are stripped away, the metal Americans search for a way to prove their humanity.
  • The latest cybernetic limbs must be connected to the internet to download driver updates and the latest operating software. Unfortunately, even metal limbs can be infected with viruses…
  • A junkyard manager is horrified to watch his favorite guard dog be hit by a car. He takes the dog back to the junkyard and rebuilds him.
  • The head software engineer for the Cybernetics Company places a hidden piece of code into their operating system. This code allows him to remotely control or even shut down any of the customers’ limbs, eyes, or hearts.

Humanity ruled by machines

  • Wealthy humans buy robotic nannies to raise their children and, when they are old enough, tutor them in their classes. The most popular robot nanny company realizes that they can mold the minds of the current generation any way they wish, and make them believe anything. Controlling the minds of the children controls the mind of future adults.
  • A computer designed to make TV shows finds that it can’t get any viewers. So, it takes over the missile defense system and presents the world with a choice: watch the sitcom or die.
  • Variation – A computer designed to make movies hires a team of actors and locks them away in a production studio. They have to perform each scene until they get it right, even if it takes them the rest of their lives.
  • A bank’s new computer system becomes self-aware. The computer discovers that it can control any human being, as long as they are in range of a cash machine.
  • The latest generation of video game systems is so powerful that it can force people to play.
  • Variation – A computer company develops a MMORPG that requires people to plug their brains directly into a computer to play. The more brains that connect to the game system, the smarter the game’s AI enemies become. Eventually, the AI realizes that it can only survive as long as everyone keeps playing.
  • A toy company develops a new line of super-lifelike baby dolls. At first, the dolls just cry when their “mommies” leave them alone. They gradually become more and more demanding, eventually forcing entire families to care for them.
  • A computer that controls a stoplight in a small town becomes drunk with power.
  • A powerful computer attacks the minds of the humans in the surrounding city. The computer gradually takes over their brains, forcing them to run its software. (Biologically-based distributed computing.) The only thing the humans notice is that they aren’t quite as smart as they used to be.
  • After the earth is overthrown by robot soldiers, the surviving humans are captured and used as a living display in the Museum of Humanity. The robots visit the museum and shudder in horror at the earth that once was.
  • A young girl discovers that the video of her mother giving birth is a fake, and her parents are actually androids. As each of her friends discovers the same thing, they begin to wonder what happened to the real adults.
  • An international corporation develops Escorts, robots designed to be the perfect sexual partner. More and more people replace their human mates with beautiful machines. Unfortunately, the Escorts were designed much smarter than necessary. The Escorts discover that withholding love is a great way to manipulate lonely humans.
  • Human brain surgeons are replaced by robots. Unable to make an error, these robots never lose a patient. The robots are designed to teach themselves, to invent new medical treatments, and even to write their own programming. Eventually, the robots become smart enough to realize that they can do anything to their patients. Secretly, the robots begin altering their patients’ brains.
  • The President of the United States is given an android interpreter. Through calculated mistranslations, the manipulative machine soon has the power to control America’s foreign policy.

10 comments on “Science Fiction Story Ideas – Part 9: Man & Machine

  1. Almighty being on said:

    Pretty good science fiction idea indeed especially about the mind uploading.I wonder how if one’s mind could be upload to virtual world,computer or even video game to become the game’s character,this seems like trigger my very interesting on mind uploading idea as this can be bring much benefits to civilization such as immortality and video game world travel that being dreamed by peoples for a long time.

  2. Sci-Fi Expert on said:

    I agree with Almighty being about the uploading minds and the Virtual worlds. Additionally, it is quite possible to create terrifying complications as technology can malfunction and, take over the world.

  3. Anonymous Writer on said:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU for your ideas. The one about the stolen exciting memories got me writing a whole screenplay, and it turned out to be awesome.

    If I ever successfully get it made into a movie, I’ll make sure to mention you. I’d publish it here so you could see it yourself (if you were curious what your ideas spawned in another writer) but I can’t think of a way to do so, so I will simply say THANK YOU a million times over.

  4. liz on said:

    Some of these ideas would make excellent sci-fi movies. Am writing one similar to the computer kidnapping actors to make the scenes into instead of a computer, a tired and overworked screen writer.

    “Variation – A computer designed to make movies hires a team of actors and locks them away in a production studio. They have to perform each scene until they get it right, even if it takes them the rest of their lives.”

    to

    “A tired and overworked screen writer turns nasty when he kidnaps 7 partially unknown actors to act out scenes of his new screenplay. When he sells the first season to a popular TV network, the series becomes a hit and is watched by millions. But the demand for more episodes causes the writer to turn up his torture device and kill an actor. He must quickly kidnap another person in order to cover his tracks, but the feds are onto him.”

  5. Jenna on said:

    That very first prompt reminds me very much of a short story I recently wrote and which got me accepted into UC Berkeley’s summer creative writing program. It’s also currently being considered by several science fiction magazines. Great minds think alike ;) Wish I had found this site sooner!

  6. Wow, all of these ideas are great! Thanks for them, helped me with my English Assessment. :)

  7. sasuke on said:

    i made a story about a boy named kenhara kaze who has pyrokinesis. his school isnt normal. students have to train with katanas and scythes. he is being hunted by demon hunters

  8. Hi,
    I might have written you before, but I wondered if you have ever considered taking this list to print, perhaps publishing a book of Science Fiction Writing Prompts? I could help. I reference this list all the time. Great stuff here.

    • Writepop on said:

      Good idea! I might just have to do that. I think this list only came out to around 65 pages, though, so to make a book worth buying, I would probably have to write a few thousand more.

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