The relationship between science fiction and technological innovation is well-known. A week after announcing the winners of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the global organization has released a collection of fiction to inspire students, robotics engineers, and the general public in a quest to better understand the oceans and help solve humanity’s biggest challenges.
“One of the goals of this competition is to inspire the general public as it has been inspired by space exploration,” said Dr. Jyotka Virmani, executive director of planet and environment at XPRIZE and executive director of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. “A lot of the technology of the future comes from the sci-fi of today.”
In honor of World Oceans Day, XPRIZE partnered with 19 sci-fi authors and 19 artists to create an anthology of original short stories in a future when technology has helped unlock the secrets of the ocean. The series is a “deep dive” into how some of today’s most promising innovations might benefit human stewardship of the oceans. It is meant to remind readers about the mystery and majesty of the ocean, as well as the critical need for discovery and stewardship, said XPRIZE.
Hope for 2030
Current Futures: A Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology includes new works from 19 writers from around the world, each paired with an artist who created an original illustration, with contributions from all seven continents. Writers explored a variety of topics, including neural implants to allow humans to communicate with dolphins via mind pictures, devices that absorb oil in the water to 3D print reproductions of themselves, man-made islands built to withstand hurricanes, technologies to rebuild coral reefs, live-streaming whales, and more.
“We also hope the anthology will inspire future engineers,” Virmani told The Robot Report. “We had stories from all over the world — one author was in Antarctica.”
The collection features original stories by Elizabeth Bear, Lauren Beukes, Catherynne Valente, Brenda Peynado, Karen Lord, Gu Shi, Marie Lu, Nalo Hopkinson, Sheila Finch, Mohale Mashigo, Gwyneth Jones, Kameron Hurley, Madeline Ashby, Deborah Biancotti, Brenda Cooper, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Malka Older, Darcie Little Badger, and Vandana Singh.
The anthology is edited by Ann VanderMeer and created/produced by XPRIZE’s Eric Desatnik, who also produced the award-winning anthology Seat 14C.