XPRIZE Publishes Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology, ‘Current Futures’

Jun 07 2019

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Featuring New Short Stories by Award-Winning Sci-Fi Writers Who Imagine the Future of Our Ocean

In honor of World Oceans Day, XPRIZE announces Current Futures: A Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology, an online collection of original short stories and artwork created by science fiction authors and artists set in a future when technology has helped unlock the secrets of the ocean.

Through its interactive website, the series takes readers on a “deep dive” into how some of today’s most promising innovations might positively impact the ocean in the future. Current Futures: A Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology includes new works from 18 writers from around the world, along with original illustrations from 18 artists, whose collective contributions comprise all seven continents, including a short story written while on an Antarctic expedition.

Within the collection, writers explored a diversity of topics including: technologies to rebuild coral reefs; neural implants that allow humans to communicate with dolphins via mind pictures; robots that use oil from the water to 3D print reproductions of themselves; man-made islands built to withstand hurricanes; augmented reality deep-sea expeditions and more.

The anthology was created and produced by Eric Desatnik, Head of Communications for XPRIZE, who also produced the award-winning anthology Seat 14C, and was edited by Ann VanderMeer. Original stories were authored 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, and Vandana Singh.

Original artwork was created by Tracy J. Lee, Nancy Liang, Cornelia Li, Robin Eisenberg, Jing Jing Tsong, Carolina Rodriguez Fuenmayor, Andreea Dobrin, Ayelet Raziel, Chiara Zarmati, Daria Kirpach, Rosanna Tasker, Alyssa Winans, Christina Dill, Kaela Graham, Priscilla Kim, Jazmen Richardson, Kirsten Zirngibl, and Michela Buttignol.

“I believe that XPRIZE serves two distinct but complementary purposes, both of which are required to propel us toward a more positive future: we provide the tools and we provide the hope. We incentivize the development of breakthrough innovations through our competitions, which are the tools to build the future. And we inspire the public through storytelling, which helps create an underlying environment of hope and optimism, allowing for that future to come about,” says Desatnik. “Current Futures is meant to remind us about the mystery and majesty of the ocean, to establish the critical need for discovery and stewardship, and to instill a sense of hope for the ocean’s future.”

The collection follows the announcement of a partnership with Seabed 2030, a collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and The General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) to inspire the complete mapping of the world’s ocean by 2030 and to compile all bathymetric data into the freely-available GEBCO Ocean Map.

The news was revealed at the awards ceremony for the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, hosted at the world renowned Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, and featured authors Madeline Ashby and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz as special guests, where they spoke about their inspiration for their pieces. The global competition aimed to advance rapid, autonomous, high-resolution ocean exploration and discovery, and included a $1M National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bonus Prize for technology that could detect a chemical or biological signal underwater and autonomously track it to its source.

The anthology is currently available, for free, at xprize.org/oceanstories