Getting Ideas From Science

The #1 question authors get asked is, “where do you get your ideas?” The question should really be, “where DON’T you get ideas from?”

But sometimes we writers need a a little inspiration or some help with the research. When I realized my book had gone from fantasy/paranormal into full out sci-fi-land, I turned to my nerdy engineer husband and said HELP!

The only science class I took in college was “Geo,” which was a sort of hodgepodge of Geology and Geography (community college ftw), and while researching this book I kept thinking to myself, “this would be SO MUCH easier if I had a degree in quantum physics.”

Of course, if I had a degree in quantum physics I’d probably be building particle accelerators and not writing, so what can you do right?

Anyway, my super smart husband told me I should read the New Scientist website. I was a little worried because most science mumbo jumbo is way over my head, but I subscribed to their RSS feed and WHOA. You would not believe the crazy stuff happening right now on this planet in this very universe. I could write a dozen new sci-fi novels just from the topics this week. Sometimes you don’t even need to read the article itself, just the title alone is enough to inspire you.

Here are a few recent articles that caught my eye:

"Mysterious radio waves emitted from nearby galaxy" - "An unknown object in the nearby galaxy M82 has started sending out radio waves, and the emission does not look like anything seen anywhere in the universe before." Dude. Are the aliens sending us a message or what?

"Early humans may have bred with other species – twice" - Ew. Um, maybe this can be the basis of your werewolf novel? (Gross.)

"Dangerous DNA: The truth about the 'warrior gene'" - Is there a gene that makes people more aggressive? And if so, could it be manipulated? (This is the plot for the atrocious Doom movie. I know you can do better.)

"Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll - and tanning salons" - Tanning may be just as addictive as alcohol. I can already imagine a character who gets her fix on UV rays. Or maybe an anti-vampire who needs as much sunlight as possible?

New Scientist also had a cool feature last week called Maxed Out, where they talk about the limits of human beings. Need to know how long your hero can go without sleep? Or how long they could survive in a vacuum in space? Or how cold they could get and still live? New Scientist has the answer.

Do you know of any other great websites that inspire you? Let me know!