I've got to be honest with you, these subjects are getting harder to find. Zite Magazine got absorbed by Flipboard, and they promised bigger, better, and faster. Flipboard honestly isn't half as useful as Zite was.
Flipboard doesn't learn as well as Zite did, and it really never finds any content I'm looking for.
Most of these things came from my RSS feed and were pushed to me from folks I follow. Still, I persevered, and the Idea Mill will keep grinding along. It just might not be as frequently as it used to be.
Our first story is about clay. Not just any old clay, this stuff is limited to a five acre basin in Brittish Columbia. Let that sink in, that's less than most city parks in the middle of a huge wilderness. Bonus points because it looks blue.
What's really cool about this stuff is it seems to kill 16 different strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Read the article at this link.
Need to wipe out the zombie plague, the bubonic plague, your girlfriend's warts. Have I got a quest for you. Face down grizzly bears, giant pacific octopi, and Bigfoot to get to this stuff. Best of all it's rare, and you can't dig it up in your back yard. It might even add a little zing to your potions, and it's based in reality. Maybe your hero has to race some big makeup producer to file a claim on the stuff.
Our next inspiration came from an 800 year old Native American pot. The pot had seeds that someone waited seven years to check out. (That's 807 years for you mathematicians in the crowd.) When they finally got around to seeing what they had, the seeds were still viable, and scientists were able to grow an extinct squash plant. I like the idea that the name they give it is a Native American term meaning “big old squash.” I couldn't have named it better myself. Here is the link to the story. (Okay, if the seeds were alive, it wasn't really extinct. You can say lost if you want.)
What if the seeds grew something else. Does your science fiction need some pod people? What if eating the “big old squash” changed people somehow and unleashed a CDC nightmare upon us? What if the seeds were from another planet, what could you do with it?
Lastly we have Lichtenberg Figures, meaning lightning flowers. It appears that being struck by lightning leaves a pretty cool scar. It reminds me of the moss shapes we used to find in opals out in the Great Basin. In fact, it has me wondering about whether those formations might have been caused by lightning striking near the rocks.
These things are some kind of leftover due to the electrical breakdown. I googled a little bit, but there isn't much as far as humans go. The scar in the article is pretty cool though. (I want one.) Read about Lightning Flowers here.
Need some way to show that your fantasy character is marked, chosen, foretold. Maybe she needs a lightning flower. Maybe she needs some electrical based power, and her scar gives her away. Maybe she can use her power, but every time leaves an additional scar until it's so debilitating she cannot function in her world. This could set up a save the innocents – give up living scenario quite nicely.
Part of my usual routine is to suggest a cheesy story based upon all the elements combined. I only do this to spark your own imaginations. Maybe one of these items will make it into a story you're writing. I'd love to hear about it. Here we go:
The old archeologist found a pot full of ancient seeds. When he died, they were uncataloged, and forgotten. When his grandson planted some of them in a creepy blue Canadian clay they grew. They became a crop of man eating “big old squash” that proved unstoppable.
Only the girl with the lightning scars could stop them. She squandered her powers making beautiful light shows, and selling out to rock bands for their performances. If she uses her powers one more time she is going to be in a coma at best, if not dead. What will she do??? Dun, dun dunnnnn.
How about it speculative fiction writers? What would you do with any of these ideas? It's always nice to have a small basis in reality, and maybe something here will spark your imagination. Share with the rest of us. Remember, The Idea Mill is a category in my sidebar now, so if you need more help yourselves.