This may not be a new observation, but a large set of science fiction problems must solve a set of common problems in order to proceed:
- Getting around: This may involve faster than light drive, or some alternative. In the Firefly universe there was a single system with “dozens of planets, hundreds of moons” — all usable (possibly with terraforming). Other common ideas include “warp drive,” or some kind of cryo sleep in order to live through a long trip.
- Translation: Assuming your story has aliens, how do people communicate? The Babel fish and the Universal translator are two familiar devices.
- Technological development: The universe is 10 billion years old. Yet if two civilizations meet and one is a billion years older than the other, there can be no legitimate contest between them. How can technological evolutions be synchronized?
- Alien Love: What would Star Trek have been without the occaisional Orion slave girl? Yet how can such similarity exist between species evolving independently on other worlds? Some sort of explanation is desirable.
Do you have other types of standard problems for Sci Fi stories? Fantasy stories? Let’s hear them!