A think tank sponsored some military scenarios set in the future. Now here’s Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft. It’s free at Amazon in the U.S. and elsewhere, B&N, iBooks and Kobo.
This is “an anthology of short stories written by some of today’s greatest science fiction authors,” Microsoft says. “These visionary stories explore prediction science, quantum computing, real-time translation, machine learning, and much more.”
Yes, in a sense, we’re seeing product placement, pure and simple, and questions arise about the prominence of commercial interest in shaping our vision of the future. Still, along the way, we get entertainment and insights.
The author roll call certainly contains some star names, with Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire, and Robert J. Sawyer. The collection also includes a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal. “The contributing authors were inspired by inside access to leading-edge work, including in-person visits to Microsoft’s research labs, to craft new works that predict the near-future of technology and examine its complex relationship to our core humanity,” says Microsoft.
Microsoft apparently has a chief storyteller, in the shape of Steve Clayton. And he explains:
The idea was to bring authors in to expose them to what some people might think is science fiction. In a way, you could say the world of Microsoft Research turns science fiction into science fact. We didn’t show them a piece of technology and ask them to please write about that. We showed them technology and introduced them to a group of people, and then asked them, what did it spark in your mind as ideas, where did it inspire you to think the technology may go?
Needless to say, it’s interesting to speculate what futurology is also going on at Google, or Apple, or Amazon.