October, 2012

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The Larry Allen Patent-Pending Idea-O-Matic™ Idea Generator (dead tree edition)

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I think every aspiring writer has at one time or another wondered where to get ideas for his stories. I read somewhere that this was a question Harlan Ellison was asked regularly enough that he had a pat answer: “A little idea factory in Schenectady.”

The place must have closed. An extensive web search yielded neither a phone number nor an email address. Pity.

So I thought “Hell, I’m an engineer, I’ll build an idea generator!”

The technology proved to be remarkably simple. At first I was thinking of software, but I realized that even that offered more sophistication that was needed.

The key ingredient was a package of Avery microperforated business card stock, # 08471. Afer a few hours on the computer and a few minutes with the laser printer, I was equipped with a stack of about fifty cards, each with a classic science fiction theme or idea printed on it, i.e. Artificial Intelligence, On The Moon, Flying Cars, etc.

I shuffled the deck and dealt three cards face up:


            Time Travel     

            Drug with side effects

Hmm. Star Trek, The Original Series. City on the Edge of Forever

Wow, this thing really works. Lets try it again:

            Child with special powers 

            Alien invasion 

            It wasn’t a simulation

Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game

Yikes! This is amazing! Eat your heart out, Harlan. Schenectady, indeed. Harrumph!

Oops, gotta go now, I just got an idea for a story!