Inspiration from stories
People seem to find inspiration in vastly different places. Some prefer music, others art or real life experiences or audiovisual input. I myself belong to the group of people who enjoy and get inspired by the stories told through novels and films. Often they deal with similar content and stories. The unlikely hero and the struggle before utlimate success. Even when the basic premise in themselves are similar enough to be called the same, the execution of the story is really what sets them apart. The inspiration of telling the same story but in a different manner. It applies to all genres, and in particular one of my favourites. Science fiction.
Science fiction as a genre usually start of with rather simple ideas. The Invisible Man of H.G. Wells basically plays with the idea of a man turning invisible and its effects on his surroundings, and has served as inspiration for many later works of others. The idea turns up in everything from horror-film Hollow Man to the the comedy Memoirs of an Invisible Man and even making its mark on comics in titles such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Science fiction also serves the purpose of giving inspiration through its proposed future gadgets. I've even read articles about how current students of the sciences are told to read more sci fi! In their case its not only for thinking of new inventions, but also to think about the consequences of such an invention.
A matter of genre
So what does Sci fi offer that other genres don't? I personally feel that conventional novels and stories perfect the art of re-telling the same story in new ways, but lack the inventiveness tha science fiction offers. To give an example, rather often novels depict the same type of struggles and ethical dilemmas as every day life as that is what they depict. Sci fi on the other hand brings about the ethics of how to properly manage a Death Ray, or what it would be like if you could travel back in time and stop something from happening and the effects of your decisions.
Of couse this type of inventiveness can also be found in fantasy to name but one, but as sci fi often deals with the idea of a possible near future, it gives the same type of inspiration a holiday to a new country might. New sights, colourschemes, textures and architecture.
As I'm not in the field of gadget-inventing, I draw another type of insipiration. The stories that are told makes me reflect on their content as well as think of how things would be if I myself was places in that situation. On a lighter side it also gives audiovisual inspiration (with everything from the sound of the sliding doors of the Starship Enterprise to the visual design of armour used in Ender's Game) that can be used in the conceptual design for other projects.
Depending on your preference for imagining the surroundings yourself or seeing a story play out before your eyes, a sci fi book or movie might just be the type of insiprational boost you could use. Below are just a few trailers of some of the amazing sci fi movies out there.