I’m judging the FutureScapes Writing contest, which has a goal that I’m really excited about. It’s the idea that art can change the world, and so it invites submissions for stories with the goal of changing the future.
“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” -Oscar Wilde
Looking at his words from across a century, we might as well declare Mr. Wilde a prophet. Since his time our lives have been fundamentally changed by a long sequence of technologies that were first envisioned in fiction. We can thank (at least in part) Star Trek for our mobile phones, tablets, and, yes, even transparent aluminum. We should tip our hat to H.G. Wells for the invention of liquid-fueled rockets, lasers, and myriad other inventions (sadly, no time machine yet with which to thank him in person). And it appears that, along with so much else of the future, Arthur C. Clarke had the internet growing in some corner of his capacious brain (note, Al Gore was studying for a law school midterm at the time).
Yes, fiction has paved the way for the life we now know, but it has also, likely, prevented us from suffering through futures we’d rather not experience.
Don’t believe me? Then start listening. Listen to the news. Listen for the sound of a news pundit asking her guest, “Tell me professor, should we be worried? Are we headed towards 1984?” When they ask that sort of question they’re not wondering whether Walter Mondale will run for president again. They’re highlighting a cultural touchstone we all share thanks to the genius of George Orwell. We even named these specters of possible dystopia after him, these Orwelian Futures.
FutureScapes is about both of these things. It’s about futures we want and don’t want. Things to be pursued and things to be avoided like the plague. FutureScapes is about harnessing the genius of art to chart a better life for humanity.
FutureScapes is an annual writing competition that asks writers to envision a particular sort of world, and tell us a story about it. We could run projections and publish reports, but there’s a reason why Wilde didn’t say, “Life imitates empirical studies.” We want to help writers of excellent potential find their voice while shaping tomorrow.
You can read the full details of the contest at FutureScapes Writing Contest – Write your story, change the world