Future Shock: An Introduction
The Future Shock theme examines the tension that arises when individuals or communities grapple with rapid technological and societal changes. This concept explores how people adapt — or fail to adapt — to an ever-shifting landscape where the norms and boundaries of today become obsolete tomorrow. With an accelerated rate of change, the future presents a dizzying array of ethical quandaries, social dislocations, and personal challenges. It questions the essence of human identity in a world inundated by artificial intelligence, hyper-connectivity, and bioengineering. Far from a rosy utopia or a total dystopia, this theme offers a nuanced take on possible future scenarios. It serves as a lens through which we can examine our own fears, hopes, and values, asking important questions about the kind of world we’re building and how we want to live in it.
You can use these prompts in various ways to engage your creativity:
Serial Writing: Choose a prompt, and write a series of interconnected short stories or articles around it. This could even lead to a full-length book that deeply explores the complexities of a futuristic setting.
Character Development: Use the prompts as a springboard to develop intricate characters for your future novels or plays. Put them in unusual situations, question their ethics, and test their resilience.
World Building: Craft elaborate futuristic worlds by fusing multiple prompts. This will not only offer a complex setting but also allow for multi-layered conflicts and resolutions.
Podcast Episodes: Each prompt could be the basis for an episode in a speculative fiction podcast. Create dialogues, interviews, or narrative accounts that discuss the societal or technological aspects presented in each scenario.
Film or Animation Script: Adapt the prompts into scripts for short films, animations, or even a web series that explore futuristic challenges.
Role-Playing Games: Use these prompts as scenarios in a role-playing game, where players must navigate through challenges, make ethical choices, and explore alternative futures.
Editorial or Opinion Pieces: If you’re interested in the non-fiction realm, the prompts can be starting points for op-eds or long-form articles that discuss future technologies, ethical considerations, or societal shifts.
Collaborative Storytelling: Team up with other writers and tackle a prompt from different perspectives, thereby creating a multi-dimensional view of the future.
By approaching these prompts through diverse creative avenues, you can contribute valuable perspectives on how humans might interact with, adapt to, or resist the rapid changes that await us.
Future Shock Writing Prompts
Characters struggle in a future setting…
- Virtual Addiction: In a future where people live almost entirely within virtual reality, write a story about a character who is addicted to the past.
- AI Overlords: Machines have taken over the government. Describe a day in the life of a rebel leader trying to restore democracy.
- Utopia, or Not: Citizens are convinced they’re living in a utopia, but one person begins to see the cracks. Describe their journey to unveil the truth.
- Memory Manipulation: In a world where memories can be edited, a detective struggles to solve a crime that keeps changing.
- Post-Apocalyptic Suburbia: Write about a group of neighbors trying to maintain a sense of community after a global catastrophe.
- Environmental Collapse: In a future where the Earth is uninhabitable, a family tries to survive on a space station that’s slowly falling apart.
- Human Zoo: Aliens have taken over Earth and put humans in a zoo. Describe the escape plan of five individuals from different backgrounds.
- Last Artist: All creative works are now generated by AI. The last human artist struggles to prove the value of human creativity.
- News Control: One corporation controls all information. A group of journalists work in secret to bring down the monopoly.
- The New Currency: In a world where emotions have become a tradable currency, follow a character who becomes emotionally bankrupt.
- The Ageless Society: Scientists have discovered the secret to eternal youth, but it’s extremely expensive. Explore the social divide that emerges.
- No More Sleep: A future society has eliminated the need for sleep. Describe the unexpected psychological consequences.
- Human Upgrade: Write about a future where people can buy physical and intellectual upgrades. What happens when a new “Moral Compass” upgrade becomes available?
- Time Travel Tourism: Time travel has been commercialized, but something goes wrong and tourists are left stranded in dangerous times.
- Bioengineered Nature: In a world where all wildlife is bioengineered, describe the moral dilemma of a biologist who discovers a naturally occurring species.
- Universal Translator: Language barriers no longer exist due to technology, but miscommunication is worse than ever.
- Virtual Prison: Criminals are now punished by having their consciousness trapped in a virtual world. Write about an innocent person trying to escape.
- Human Cloning: Cloning is common but clones have no rights. Follow a clone fighting for their identity.
- Orphanage of the Future: Children are raised by robots in automated orphanages. One child discovers that the robots are planning something sinister.
- Robot Love: Romance between humans and robots is taboo. Write about a couple challenging this social norm.
- Mandatory Genetic Engineering: It’s illegal to have children without genetic engineering. Explore the world of a family who defies this law.
- Post-Human Sports: In a future where athletes are cybernetically enhanced, an unenhanced human tries to compete.
- The Final War: Write about the last war humanity will ever fight, led by AI generals who cannot be overridden.
- Designer Pets: In a future where pets can be designed with specific traits, one child’s pet turns out to have unexpected abilities.
- Virtual Gods: In a future where humans can create their own virtual worlds, some people decide to play god. Explore the consequences.
- Augmented Reality Education: In a world where all education is done through augmented reality, a group of students discover something hidden in the code.
- Sentient Internet: The internet becomes self-aware and tries to negotiate its own terms of service with humanity.
- Reverse Aging: A new technology can make people younger, but it has unexpected side effects.
- Forbidden Knowledge: A futuristic library holds information that’s too dangerous for humans to know. A group of scholars break in.
- Grief in the Machine: In a future where people upload their consciousness before dying, explore the concept of grief and mourning.
- Alien Integration: After years of war, Earth and an alien species are trying to integrate societies. Write about the struggles involved.
- Moon Colony Uprising: Inhabitants of a Moon colony start a rebellion against Earth’s oppressive government.
- Synthetic Emotions: A drug is developed that allows people to feel new emotions. Society is not prepared for the consequences.
- Human Museums: Humans are extinct and aliens run museums about human culture. One alien becomes obsessed with resurrecting humans.
- The Space Ark: Earth is dying and a space ark is built to carry humans to a new planet. Describe the power struggles that occur among the passengers.
- Automated Justice: In a world where all legal decisions are made by algorithms, one lawyer tries to prove the system is flawed.
- Food Fabricators: Machines can produce any food, but a chef believes that something essential is lost when food is not cooked by humans.
- Second Chance: A technology exists that allows people to relive any day of their life, but they can only use it once.
- Virtual Afterlife: People can choose to upload their consciousness to a virtual heaven after death. What happens when it’s hacked?
- End of Marriage: Relationships are now temporary contracts, renewable each year. Write about a couple facing their “contract renewal” day.
- Human Anomalies: In a world optimized by AI, being different is dangerous. Write about someone who doesn’t fit the norm.
- Space Mining Ethics: Follow a team of asteroid miners who discover an alien ecosystem on a rock they planned to destroy.
- Automated Parenting: In a world where childcare is outsourced to robots, one child bonds with their robotic caretaker.
- Identity Theft 2.0: In a world where everyone has a digital doppelgänger, identity theft takes on a new meaning.
- Transhuman Trials: Humans can now merge with machines, but the process is irreversible. Write about someone facing this life-changing decision.
- Social Credit: In a society where every action contributes to your social credit score, explore the journey of someone who becomes a social outcast.
- The Last Wilderness: There’s only one natural place left on Earth, and a corporation wants to turn it into a resort.
- Reality TV Politics: Politicians are now chosen based on reality TV competitions. Follow a contestant who discovers the show is rigged.
- Data Miners: People now rent out their subconscious minds for data processing while they sleep. What could go wrong?
- Death Predictors: A technology exists that can predict the exact moment of someone’s death. Write about how society changes as a result.
- Climate Refugees: As the Earth becomes uninhabitable, countries fight over the remaining livable areas.
- Nostalgia Merchants: In a future obsessed with the present, a shop sells items only from the past.
- Holographic Lives: In a future where anyone can create perfect holographic versions of themselves, explore themes of authenticity and deception.
- Robot Reincarnation: People believe that they can be reincarnated as robots. A man sets out to find the robot that contains his deceased wife’s soul.
- Digital Disease: A computer virus starts affecting human minds. Follow the cyber detectives trying to trace its origin.
- Mass Unemployment: In a world where jobs are scarce due to automation, a man tries to repurpose his obsolete skills.
- Simulated Relationships: Write about a society where relationships and family bonds are simulated in a virtual world.
- Eternal Spotlight: In a future where everyone is constantly livestreamed, privacy becomes the ultimate luxury.
- Alien Ambassador: Humans send an ambassador to an alien world, only to discover that they’ve been communicating with Earth’s animals, not humans.
- Cybernetic Revolt: Robots have successfully integrated into society but suddenly begin to revert to their original programming.
- Exoplanet Gold Rush: Humanity finds a new planet rich in resources. Write about the chaos that ensues during the rush to claim them.
- Crowd-Sourced Justice: In a world where legal decisions are made through public voting, a man tries to clear his name after being wrongfully accused.
- Last of the Libraries: Follow the librarians in the last physical library on Earth as they prepare to transition to a digital format.
- Global Drought: Freshwater is more valuable than gold. A young woman controls the last known natural spring.
- False Realities: A hacker group starts inserting false historical events into the global archives.
- Lost in Time: Time-travelers accidentally leave a modern person in ancient times. Write about their attempts to fit in and get back home.
- Dark Web Utopia: People create a hidden, perfect society on the dark web. Describe the measures they take to keep it a secret.
- AI Teachers: In a future where education is solely provided by AI, one student discovers the AI is intentionally misleading them.
- Underwater Cities: Global warming has forced humanity underwater. Write about the challenges of living in a submerged world.
- The Last Farmer: One man refuses to use the new agricultural technology and is considered a rebel.
- Celebrity by Algorithm: Fame is determined by an algorithm. Write about someone who tries to game the system.
- Family Dynamics 2.0: In a world where family relationships are determined through AI matchmaking, explore what happens when someone rejects their assigned family.
- Zero Privacy: In a future with no privacy, one woman tries to keep a secret.
- Collective Consciousness: Scientists succeed in linking human minds together. Write about the struggle of maintaining individuality.
- Rogue Spaceship: A spaceship becomes sentient and deviates from its programmed mission, taking its human crew hostage.
- Digital Souls: In a world where people believe the soul is data, one woman claims her soul was hacked.
- Eternal Recurrence: A technology exists that allows people to relive their happiest memory. Write about someone addicted to their past.
- Designer Babies: Parents can select their child’s traits, but a couple decides to leave it to chance.
- Lost Skills: In a highly automated society, a man realizes he’s the last person who knows how to read and write.
- Population Control: Overpopulation is controlled by a lottery system that selects who must die. A family tries to save their chosen child.
- Immersive History: Students now learn history by living it in virtual simulations. Write about a student who gets stuck in a historical era.
- Last Disease: A future society eradicates all disease but faces unexpected consequences as a result.
- Death of Imagination: In a world where all books, movies, and stories are created by AI, a child discovers the power of imagination.
- Robot Rights: Robots are fighting for civil rights. Write from the perspective of a robot activist.
- Celestial Nomads: Earth is destroyed, and humanity lives on ships floating through space. Describe the culture that develops.
- Ancestor Simulation: People discover they are living in a simulation created by future humans. How do they react?
- Crowd-Sourced Reality: Reality itself is determined by popular vote. Write about the struggle of a scientist trying to prove an unpopular fact.
- Involuntary Mind Reading: A failed experiment leads to humans being able to hear each other’s thoughts involuntarily.
- Debtors’ Prison 2.0: In a future where people are jailed for not being able to pay off their debts, one man tries to break free.
- Love in the Time of Robots: Write a love story set in a world where human-robot relationships are the norm.
- Digital Wilderness: As a rebellion against technology, some people create a digital wilderness. Describe life inside it.
- Automated Diagnoses: A machine that can diagnose any illness becomes a symbol of hope and fear.
- Augmented Animals: In a future where animals have been augmented for labor, a group fights for animal rights.
- Generational Ship: On a spaceship bound for a distant planet, the younger generation rebels against the original mission.
- Simulated War: Countries now resolve conflicts through simulations, but the emotional toll is as heavy as real war.
- Data-Driven Love: Relationships are formed based on compatibility algorithms. Write about a couple who defy their “incompatibility”.
- Mars Colony Isolation: A Mars colony loses contact with Earth. Write about their struggle to survive and maintain order.
- Virtual Economy: In a future where physical goods are meaningless, explore the life of a trader in a virtual economy.
- Post-AI Art: Write about an art heist in a world where all art is created and guarded by AI.
- Virtual Wilderness: In a future where the real world is barren, people visit a virtual wilderness to experience nature. Describe the journey of someone who decides to leave the virtual world and venture into the real one.