What will the world be like in 2037? That’s what some of the world’s greatest science fiction minds have just come together to solve – and you can get involved too.
The project is called Seat 14C (for reasons we’ll explain later), and it’s being run by the XPRIZE Foundation. They’re more famous for running multi-million-dollar competitions to make breakthroughs in certain areas, like space travel and technology. This time, they’ve turned their hand to the future.
“We at XPRIZE are futurists,” Eric Desatnik, Senior Director of Public Relations at XPRIZE and the lead on this project, told IFLScience. “We think that there is no innovation without imagination.”
Writers including Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) have been given a prompt, and then asked to write a related short story. The site will launch with about 25 stories, with more to follow in the future.
The prompt is that passengers on a plane traveling from Tokyo to San Francisco today are sent unknowingly through a wormhole. They suddenly arrive in San Francisco on June 28, 2037, and each author takes one of the passengers and tells a unique story of their arrival in the future.
All of them, that is, except the passenger in Seat 14C. In an interactive online map of the plane, where you can explore the stories from each writer, you can click on this seat to submit your own short story of what you think the future might be like.
“The Seat 14C campaign allows us to leverage some of the greatest sci-fi storytellers in the world to present a set of imagined futures to spark curiosity and imagination, and to compel the public to consider the impact of technology in these futures,” said Desatnik.
Entries will be accepted until August 25, and the winners will be announced on September 26. The prize is pretty impressive, too. It’s a trip for two to Tokyo that’s worth $10,000, and includes four nights in a four-star hotel.
The stories will be judged on three criteria. The first is a unique vision of the future, the second is following the prompt correctly, and the third is painting a techno-optimistic view of the future.
The winner will be voted for by the Science Advisory Council, a group of more than 70 science-fiction authors that have been brought together by XPRIZE. In a series of workshops, they’re being asked to discuss their visions for the future, and possibly work with scientists to bring those to reality. The authors include Neil Gaiman (American Gods) and Andy Weir (The Martian).
It’s a fun project, and even if you don’t want to write your own story, there are plenty of interesting tales to check out.