Designing Aliens From an Alternate Earth

Avatar's Pandora, complete with flying blue beasties and pretty forest waterfall.

From the little green men of Mars to the rubber foreheads of Star Trek, aliens persist as a tried-and-true staple of science fiction. Though the concept of alien life isn’t unrealistic, scifi representations are almost always implausible. We’ve recently deduced that Earth-like planets should number … read more »

Eight Natural Phenomena to Use in Your Stories

If you’ve ever stared at a blank page trying to come up with a first sentence, then you know how useful it can be to have something to jump-start your story, a kernel around which the narrative can form. That spark can be a plot hook, or it can be something just outside your door. Read more »

Choosing Music and Instruments for Your Culture

The cultural ambiance of your world wouldn’t be complete without music. When adding musicians to your settings, it’s easy to insert generic instruments and songs without thinking through them. But that wouldn’t do justice to the huge diversity of music human cultures have. Here are some guidelines and inspiration … read more »

Melding Mind and Machine

In the not so distant future, we will all be ruled by machine overlords in a post-apocalyptic waste of a world. Ironically, these mechanical monsters were once our greatest creation. This is the dark future predicted for us in The Matrix. Movies like this explore the concept of artificial … read more »

Terraformed Solar System: The Final Planets

It’s finally time to complete our tour of humanity’s near-future playground: the Solar System. We’ve already gotten a look at what humanity has in store for the inner worlds, the resource-rich asteroid belt, and even the frosty moons of the two biggest gas giants. Jupiter … read more »

Tour of Our Terraformed Solar System: Jupiter and Saturn

Humanity faces a very large problem out past the Asteroid Belt: everything is too damn cold. But don’t worry, there are plenty of other difficulties to overcome beyond something so simple as extreme temperature. There’s the lethal radiation of Jupiter’s magnetic field, the debris of … read more »

Three Trajectories of Modern Robotics

Lots of science fiction set in the near-future uses robotics as scenery, if not the focus of the plot. Robotics is a field continually surprising us with innovations. New opportunities are discovered and old ideas are proven impractical with each advancement. Whether you’re trying to find inspiration in … read more »

Tour of Our Terraformed Solar System: The Asteroids

Ah, the asteroid belt. There’s not a lot to see here; the view out of our windows as we arrive looks about as empty as everywhere else. And yet, this bleak void is the birthplace of humanity’s space colonization efforts. These boring space rocks were … read more »

Tour of Our Terraformed Solar System: Inner Planets

Until we grow up and invent faster-than-light travel, the Solar System will be our playground. If we don’t kill ourselves first, it’s a good bet that humanity will have a significant footprint in the Solar System in the 100 to 1000 year range: lots of … read more »

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