As with many writers, “professional” or not, I find myself collecting far more ideas than I can use. But one writer’s discards sometimes become gems in the hands of another, so I’ve decided to take some ideas I doubt I’ll ever use and “put them up for adoption.”
As with the list of alternate-history (and other) ideas I posted last year, feel free to take this and further develop it yourself. (Even making significant changes, or borrowing just one element …) If you do I would like to know about it, and credit in your acknowledgements page or equivalent would be nice, but as ideas are not copyrightable in the United States you don’t have to tell me.
The first idea is for an “ice planet.” The surface is almost entirely covered by ice and snow; the oceans are salty enough that they aren’t frozen, at least not year-round, and there are a few areas where volcanism warms an area enough to melt through the covering ice.
Despite these forbidding conditions, the world is inhabited. What sort of people live there is something you’ll have to think through, but they live in caves and tunnels—below-surface towns—burrowed underneath the snow, and in some cases even underground. These towns are generally connected by tunnels through the ice.
And these inhabitants are not merely primitive peoples scrabbling for survival under the ice, but a spacefaring race. There are at least a couple of spaceports carved out of the ice. And unlike in our solar system, there are real benefits to space travel: a couple of moons with breathable atmosphere and ecosystems far more vibrant than those of the planet. And, as I at least would expect, there are stations in orbit, and perhaps a few undersea colonies and permanently-floating dirigible-like platforms.
Like I said, I’m not planning on developing this idea any further, so feel free to borrow and further develop it as you like.