10% futuristic, 90% conventional

Before we get into writing, let’s take a moment to notice something very interesting about this snippet, and science-fantasy in general. Let’s take each of the futuristic elements (the security matrix, the starships, etc.) and substitute them for something completely ordinary.

He put down his phone and opened his window, gulping in fresh air, trying to cool himself. It was still dark outside. But high above the suburban apartment blocks, the stars were shining. The sight calmed him just a little. He’d lived in this midwest city all his life, yet he never tired of gazing at the stars. They seemed so free, up there in the sky. Nothing could ever harm them.

He could hear the distant roar of traffic, going down the highway. Soon it would be morning, and his mother would wake up.

With just a couple of tweaks, this passage now sounds like it's about a kid living in a regional city who is thinking about moving away.

You’ll notice this fact throughout Phoenix, and across science-fantasy in general: it’s often a very conventional story but with fancy costumes and set design. Instead of a phone, we have a security matrix. Instead of a regional city, we have a remote moon.

Sci-fi and fantasy concept artists (who draw and paint character, environment and prop concepts for games, movies and TV shows) often use this same technique of tacking something ordinary and dressing it up to look fantastic. 

For instance, can you guess what the inspiration for this image was?

Space station

Fidget spinner space station

Just a cheeky little fidget spinner. 

Here's another example, and you can see more comparisons of space-art and household object at SpaceGoose's portfolio on ArtStation:

Space lander and egg cup comparison