The non-profit XPRIZE foundation has recruited an all-star lineup of science fiction masters, including Seattle authors, to help create a series of fictional “road maps” for future innovations – and the first project, focusing on air travel, is already waiting in the wings.
Sixty-four creative types from nine countries around the world – including writers, directors and producers – have joined the XPRIZE Science Fiction Advisory Council.
Marquee names include Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”; Andy Weir, who wrote “The Martian” and the upcoming “Artemis” novel about lunar settlement; and Darren Aronofsky, the director of “Pi,” “The Fountain” and “Black Swan.”
At least a half-dozen of the advisers live in the Seattle area:
- Greg Bear: Author of more than 40 science fiction works, including last year’s “Take Back the Sky,” the concluding novel of the “War Dogs” trilogy.
- Astrid Bear: Writer, fiber artist and member of the advisory council for the Washington State Centennial Time Capsule.
- Brenda Cooper: Author and futurist, known for her novels (including, most recently, “Wilders”) and short stories (some of which were co-written with Larry Niven). She’s also chief information officer for the city of Kirkland.
- Eileen Gunn: Microsoft veteran who went on to become an award-winning science fiction author and editor. Most recent short fiction collection: “Questionable Practices.”
- Nancy Kress: Author of numerous science fiction and fantasy series. “Yesterday’s Kin” won her the 2014 Nebula Award for best novella.
- Nisi Shawl: Science fiction and fantasy author as well as writing teacher, focusing on how fictional worlds can reflect real-world diversity. Most recent novel: “Everfair.”
The list also includes roboticist-writer Daniel H. Wilson, who wrote the best-selling novel “Robopocalypse” and lives in Portland, Ore.
XPRIZE says its science fiction advisers will assist in the creation of narratives that describe potential future in a variety of domains: planet and environment, energy and resources, shelter and infrastructure, health and well-being, civil society, learning and human potential, and space and new frontiers.
These “road maps” could inspire future XPRIZE competitions to address society’s grand challenges.
“XPRIZE has always been inspired by science fiction,” Peter Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of XPRIZE, said in a statement. “Heinlein’s ‘The Man Who Sold the Moon’ was an early inspiration for me, as was Star Trek, which inspired the recently awarded Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE.”
Next month, XPRIZE and Japan’s All Nippon Airways will launch “Seat 14C,” a digital science fiction anthology featuring original stories by members of the advisory council. The stories will be told from the perspectives of passengers onboard a fictional ANA flight from Tokyo to San Francisco who mysteriously find themselves transported 20 years in the future.
The model for “Seat 14C” is reminiscent of Microsoft Research’s “Future Visions” project in 2015. That project recruited science fiction authors to write short stories that played off technologies being pioneered at Microsoft. Some of the advisory council’s members, including Greg Bear and Nancy Kress, were involved in “Future Visions” as well.
Here’s the full list of advisory council members:
Charlie Jane Anders, Kevin J. Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Catherine Asaro, Madeline Ashby, Margaret Atwood, Victoria Aveyard, Paolo Bacigalupi, Leigh Bardugo, Astrid Bear, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Lauren Beukes, David Brin, Pierce Brown, M.R. Carey, Ernest Cline, John Clute, Brenda Cooper, Blake Crouch, Mark Z. Danielewski, Cory Doctorow.
Stephany Folsom, Alan Dean Foster, Neil Gaiman, Akiva Goldsman, Kathleen Ann Goonan, David Goyer, Eileen Gunn, Don Hertzfeldt, A.M. Homes, Hugh Howey, Gale Anne Hurd, Harry Kloor, Nancy Kress, Hari Kunzru, Kelly Link, Malinda Lo, Ken MacLeod, Annalee Newitz, Larry Niven, Nnedi Okorafor, Ada Palmer, Marge Piercy.
Kannu Rajaniemi, Mike Resnick, Alastair Reynolds, Justina Robson, Veronica Roth, Robert J. Sawyer, Karl Schroeder, Naren Shankar, Nisi Shawl, Bud Sparhawk, Bruce Sterling, Allen Steele, Zack Stentz, J. Michael Straczynski, Charles Stross, Tricia Sullivan, Peter Watts, Andy Weir, Daniel H. Wilson, Charles Yu.
For bios of the council members, check out XPRIZE’s virtual bookshelf.