9 sci-fi authors went to Microsoft’s research labs and wrote a book

9 sci-fi authors went to Microsoft’s research labs and wrote a book
Credit: Microsoft

What happens when you invite a group of sci-fi writers into a research lab? They write a book of short stories, of course.

And that’s exactly what happened when Microsoft opened the doors of its research labs to 9 of the world’s most prominent and award-winning science fiction writers this year.

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft‘ is available to download now for free for Kindle, iBooks, Kobo and other popular e-reading platforms.

Its stories cover everything from quantum computing to the quantified self and are the result of writers like Elizabeth Beat, David Brin and Nancy Kress visiting Microsoft’s labs over the course of the year and using the research and scenes there as inspiration for their work.

Other writers involved include Greg Bear, Ann Leckie, Seanan McGuire, Jack McDevitt and Robert J Sawyer.

Science fiction books, stories and films often form the basis for how people visualize the future. However, Microsoft’s project is interesting in that it’s using actual current innovations and research to inspire the genre.

Each of the authors were allowed to choose what lab they wanted to visit and the area they were most interested in looking at. The result is a wide-range of stories featuring Microsoft-style products that we know today. For example, one story is like a version of CSI with a Cortana-inspired assistant and the cops using HoloLens smart glasses to conduct their investigations.

Another one of the stories takes a more philosophical stance questioning the level of awareness we should allow any potential extra-terrestrials have about our world.

All of the writers have given great attention to detail to make the products and innovations appear realistic and feasible, even where they are not yet tangible.

The common theme among the stories is the benefit of the human relationship with technology, which isn’t always what people think of when we look at the possibilities of future tech. There’s no evil computer like HAL from ‘A Space Odyssey’ and that actually disappoints me.

Instead, we see the writers explore the positive impacts of things like predictive analytics and artificial intelligence.

That being said, the excellent choice of writers doesn’t fail to impress. The stories are compelling and entertaining, regardless of their sometimes lacking critical analysis. ‘Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft’ is definitely one that any sci-fi fan will enjoy.

➤ Where fact and fiction collide [Microsoft]

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