When we think of great science fiction cities, what comes to mind are futuristic places. This makes sense, as alot of people’s perception about science fiction deals with the many metropolises that exist such as Tokyo, Japan. However, let’s dig deeper. Science fiction cities do not necessarily have to be technically advanced, they could also be dystopian or punk-like.
This list is perfect for those who want an idea of where to set their next science fiction story in! Whatever subgenre you are writing in, I hope this list offers something useful.
Seoul, South Korea
Famous for its skyscrappers, high-tech subways, Buddhist temples, street markets and pop culture fusions- Seoul is far from a boring place. It’s also perfect for any science fiction writer who wants a fusion between technology and history. Seoul is also home to South Korea’s entertainment industry. I recommend researching into the Myeong-dong area, the shopping district!
New York City, The United States of America
New York City has always inspired science fiction writers, such as Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. Because of that, there is no reason why the big apple can’t inspire you! With Broadway shows, a busy Chinatown, many shopping districts, endless entertainment and tourist options- NYC offers the writer alot of options. You could write a cyberpunk thriller set in Times Square, as an example. The options are endless in New York City- a prime science fiction city.
Old marries the new in Stockholm, a clean, green city where the opportunities are endless. Known as a hub for start-ups and home to many creative types, Stockholm has a strong sci-fi energy about it. Whether it’s the history of giving Nobel prizes to those who advance the fields of medicine or economics, or the psychologically-thrilling term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’- this Swedish capital offers many options for a sci-fi writer. Because of that, Stockholm is a creative choice for a science fiction location.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi represents luxury shopping, high technology, hot weather, ultramodern architecture and an active nightscene. This city has earned the fascination of westerners recently, as they have become obsessed with the many wonders of Abu Dhabi. I also believe it’s perfect for a science fiction story, because Abu Dhabi will play an active part in the future. It’s well known fact that the United Arab Emirates is insanely rich- with Abu Dhabi being the crown jewel. Entangle yourself with Middle-Eastern speculation in your next science fiction adventure.
Mentioned in a previous blog post, Pripyat represents the Chernobyl disaster. Being a ghost city and having record levels of radiation, Pripyat has captured our most horrific dreams. A perfect option for those who write dystopia or dying earth fiction, and are looking for a science fiction city. Not for the faint of heart!
Pyongyang, North Korea
Pyongyang is a mysterious place- we only understand it through guided tours, photos, or through propaganda. Sure, we can listen to those who have escaped North Korea, but that doesn’t mean we fully understand it. Either way- Pyongyang is pure dystopia. The government is notorious for its human rights abuses, and the laws are barbaric and would be funny if they weren’t real. Because of that, I think it’s important that science fiction addresses the reality of Pyongyang. We must accept that North Korea is part of our world, and that real people have died because of it.
Fiction can be a great tool at coming to grips with reality, and science fiction is no exception to that. Writers who address Pyongyang will inspire others with their willingness to tackle hard subjects. Because of that, keep North Korea in mind when you are crafting dystopia.
Tokyo, Japan is obvious. Not only is it home to the most advanced technology on earth, but it is also a wide metropolis that will inspire anyone who enters. It’s also rich in history. If you are looking to write a history inspired science fiction story, I recommend you look up the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II. Tokyo has inspired many great science fiction works- such as Blade Runner. It’s a fantastic city that deserves all the praise it has gotten.
The Sahara Desert spans multiple countries, and is the largest hot desert in the world. Really- any desert would inspire a science fiction writer. I’m currently reading Dune, after all. Yet what makes the Sahara Desert special in my opinion, is how it’s developed. Once a tropical land, the Sahara Desert, over the course of thousands of years became a hot, sandy place. It’s ancient, sure- which will suit any science fiction writer who wants to include significant lore and worldbuilding.
London’s interesting- it’s gone through so many changes. However, this entry is about London’s past. Specifically, the Victorian times. Many great science fiction writers such as H.G Welles had their start in London. You could write a detective science fiction story, a steampunk one or have a romantic setting.
London is an awesome choice for sci-fi stories: ever since I watched Christopher Nolan’s film The Prestige. It may not be the first destination people think about in regards to science fiction cities, yet I think London is an awesome choice. I also recommend the indie film “Attack The Block” which is set in London. Re-reading V For Vendetta is also a great idea.
Overall, London is an amazing pick.
San Francisco, The United States of America
My final list item is of course, San Francisco. Home to the ultra-wealthy neighbourhood Silicon Valley, SF is a prime science fiction city. Here, the writer’s imagination can run wild. As tech executives make decisions that impact on the rest of us, this allows the science fiction writer to ask hard questions. Let your imagination- and your fears- run wild in Silicon Valley.
We all have opinions about Silicon Valley- and maybe it’s time you expressed yours. Either way, your readers will be intrigued.
And that’s it! What do you think of this list? What other science fiction cities can you think of? Have you been to these places? Please comment below! I’d love to read your thoughts.
Want to read more articles like this? Check out my wishlist for Harry Potter locations!