October 17, 2013

ASU students share creative visions for the future in new anthology

Posted: October 17, 2013
Cautions, Dreams & Curiosities Anthology Front Cover
Cover art for "Cautions, Dreams & Curiosities," a new anthology featuring original science fiction stories and essays from students, as well as top science fiction writers, scholars and technologists.

This week Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination and Intel’s Tomorrow Project published "Cautions, Dreams & Curiosities," an anthology featuring original science fiction stories and essays from college and high school students from around the world, as well as from top science fiction writers, scholars and technologists. The book features writing from five ASU students and visual art from four graduate students from ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and is free to download and share at http://us.tomorrow-projects.com.   

A major component of "Cautions, Dreams & Curiosities" is Green Dreams, a series of written pieces and visual art proposing fact-based, imaginative and beautiful sustainable visions of the future that we can build together. The Green Dreams competition was announced at the Center for Science and the Imagination’s launch event in September 2012 and was part of a university-wide effort to craft new narratives to inspire people to engage with sustainability not just because they fear catastrophe, but because they want to create a more equitable and vibrant future. All but one of the written pieces and all of the visual art in the Green Dreams section were created by ASU students.

Each Green Dreams story also features an introduction from a thought leader on sustainability or technology, including TIME journalist Bryan Walsh, digital journalist and researcher Chanda Chisala, futurist Cindy Frewen Wuellner and Torie Bosch, editor at Slate magazine’s Future Tense. 

Another section of the book is Grand Visions – Big Challenge, a series of stories on grand challenges facing humanity, ranging from sustainability and privacy to affordable housing. This theme expresses a major goal of the collaboration: using storytelling as a tool to think about systemic challenges and generate radically creative moonshot solutions that leverage both new technology and cultural change. Two of the science fiction stories featured in this section were written by ASU students.

“To build a better future, you need better dreams,” says Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and co-editor of the Green Dreams section with G. Pascal Zachary, professor of practice at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “This project demonstrates the immense potential of young people to surprise us with their sophisticated thinking about the future. It’s up to us to create platforms for them to share those ideas and to listen carefully.”

The project also “builds new bridges between science and the humanities, between communities of builders and communities of chroniclers,” Zachary says. “Seeing these ‘two cultures’ interact and integrate is very exciting.”

"Cautions, Dreams & Curiosities" was launched at this week’s The Feast social innovation conference in New York City, by Intel futurist Brian David Johnson, director of the Tomorrow Project. The digital version will be downloaded and read by thousands of students, scholars, technologists, futurists and science fiction writers worldwide. The Center for Science and the Imagination is also working with the Tomorrow Project to develop curriculum materials using the anthology to teach science fiction as a tool for prototyping the future for K-12 and college classrooms.

“Using Tomorrow Project anthologies in all kinds of different classrooms has been an amazing experience,” says Joey Eschrich, research and operations coordinator at the center. “Students just light up when they see work from their peers alongside writing from science fiction luminaries like Cory Doctorow and Madeline Ashby. It provides them a real sense of agency about their role in building the future that we’re going to live in together.”

The student winners featured in "Cautions, Dreams & Curiosities" are:

• Amber-Leigh Attanasio, ASU student studying psychology and biology and society
• Zach Berkson, ASU graduate (2013) in Chemical Engineering, currently pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara
• Zoë Calhoun, Hendrix College student studying digital writing, photography and Spanish
• Victoria Miluch, ASU graduate (2013) in English literature
• Nathan David Smith, ASU graduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration

The artists featured in the Green Dreams section of the book are:

• Haylee Bolinger, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in sculpture at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
• David Shannon-Lier, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in photography at the Herberger Institute
• Thad Trubakoff, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in wood at the Herberger Institute
• Bobby Zokaites, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in sculpture at the Herberger Institute.

The Center for Science and the Imagination and Intel are currently collaborating on a second writing competition, The Future – Powered by Fiction, open to anyone ages 13-25. Ten winners will have their work published in an upcoming anthology and win a $1,000 prize. The Future – Powered by Fiction closes on Nov. 14.

Joey Eschrich, jpe@asu.edu
Center for Science and the Imagination