The XPRIZE Writing Contest - Part 1 of ?

I have been thinking about entering this contest for a couple of weeks. The idea is that a flight in 2017 hits some turbulence and finds itself landing in San Francisco in the year 2037. The contest has a unique feel to it, and I want to be a part of it.


There are three things that the contest will be judged on:

1. Unique vision of the future
2. Aligned with XPRIZE belief that exponential technology can positively impact the future
3. Adherence to story prompt

If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy you know that the second item could offer a little bit of a challenge because most science fiction and fantasy does not have a positive view of the future. "Enders Game," "Battlestar Galactica," "Westworld," anything from Michale Crighton, it's all based on the idea that things aren't going well, and that's usually based on technology. Even "The Martian," which is relatively positive concerning technology, is all about problems. You can't really have a plot without problems. We will have to see how I work that out.

Here is the information they give about the prompt from the site: https://seat14c.com/future_ideas

At 4:58 am on June 28, 2017, passengers on board ANA Flight 008 en route from Tokyo to San Francisco are cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet, approximately 1,500 nautical miles off the West Coast of the United States when the following apparently unremarkable incidents occur:
  • 26A, earbuds in, mouth open, leaning against the window, shifts in her sleep;
  • 8E, halfway through the first episode of “Westworld”, is slightly confused; and
  • 19A coughs – almost a non-cough as if simply pretending to cough.
The anthology is meant to show how exponential technology can positively impact the future, even as a subtle backdrop to your story. One way to do this is by imagining a world in which all the currently active XPRIZE competitions have been successfully awarded and are shaping the future. You may opt for another approach, keeping in mind that the underlying tone should be a hopeful one.

ANA Flight 008 then passes through a temporary wrinkle in the local region of space-time, experienced inside the cabin as a barely perceptible bout of turbulence. Beverage service continues, uninterrupted. The in-flight movie glitches, and then resumes.
As the Boeing 777 descends through the clouds for its approach into SFO, only a few of the passengers (mostly in window seats) suspect they have arrived at the wrong destination. Which is incorrect, sort of. They have arrived at San Francisco International Airport on June 28, 2037. The wrinkle has transported them 20 years into the future.
Your story should be presented from the perspective of one of the passengers on this flight, the passenger seated in Seat 14C – this does not necessarily have to be first-person perspective. The story may begin on the plane, or when your character steps off the flight at SFO, 20 years in the future. The best stories will spend more time out in the world than on the plane.

So . . . what to do? I want to develop some basic ideas here that I can build off of.

I don't particularly care about actually trying to predicate the future accurately because we are starting with time travel, and I know that I don't know what the future will look like. The best way to predict the future is to create it, and I'm not involved with any of this technology.

There are two main reasons that people read, I recently conducted an unofficial poll on this (probably as accurate as most polls you hear about on the news). 1) they are seeking to escape the stress in their life, and 2) they want to gain a new perspective on life. I think it's great that people can do the first, but I really only care about the second, so that is what I am going to try to do, bring a new perspective to it. I feel like a lot of the stories will probably be a little too happy-go-lucky. I want it to have some grit and some realness to it.

What would happen if an unidentified airplane was flying towards San Francisco in 2037? I think the first thing is that radio contact would be initiated, but that would go south really quick because they would sound like they were putting on a con of some sort. What would happen? Either they would be cleared to land or not. If they are cleared to land some special security measures would be taken, that could be an interesting direction to take the story.

You get off the plane (which was escorted to a special landing by military drones) and are taken to a special interrogation area by some version of the military and/or police. We could get basically any initials we want involved here: FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. We could have people escorted by robots, droids, cyborgs, and/or super soldiers that have been genetically modified. Then you could be launched into a fully immersive virtual reality for interrogation. Maybe they have a way of accessing your memories. That could be an interesting direction.

I can think of a few other main directions to go.

You could be directed to another airport, but that would basically lead to the same types of situations.

You could be shot down. That could be a good direction. Unidentified planes flying into buildings is a real threat. The plane crashes in the bay and you swim to shore. Now the cops and maybe some military are trying to hunt you down and you are on the run in completely foreign place. A fairly classic chase story could be a great way to explore the city and the technology of the future.

Maybe San Francisco is in a war and you get shot down or emergency land in the middle of it.

Maybe San Francisco has been abandoned and you get to explore on your own; trying to piece together the history of the last twenty years.

If you are injured at some point, whether in interrogation, or a war, or whatever, it could be a good segue into exploring a hospital and some great new technology there.

Why was this person going there in the first place? Maybe they are going to try to find a friend, a wife, a child, a partner, probably someone.

What if it was a war zone, but not a real one? Oooh, this might be something. All war has ended by 2037 because wars are fought vicariously by people taking over the operation of droids through a fully immersive video game that is played out in real life. San Francisco was designated "The City of Peace" and is now the only location where war exists on the planet. I just realized that is a lot like "Westworld," oh well. This could be a great idea. Humans without wars is a little fanciful, but what if humanity could resolve some of its violence by only killing representations of humans rather than humans themselves? This could be droids, drones, or mindless clones of some sort. Kind of like Grand Theft Auto or Battlefield video games, just real(er).

AI could be incorporated fairly easily into any of these ideas, obviously no one would be driving cars.

All people could be put into this kind of immersive video game experience where they control a clone of themselves or a droid of some sort. This way they are kept in a completely safe environment. No one ever gets injured or sick, maybe no one even dies. Death has been remedied, you just have to live in a pod like the ones in "The Matrix," but you can be plugged in and live a full life through your clone/droid. Maybe our person wouldn't even figure this out for a long time because everything just seems, well, pretty normal; until some big reveal when he sees the world with new eyes. That may have something to it.

Okay, I have some solid ideas. I think I will continue this tomorrow and see where it goes. You are welcome to join me at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

Also, I am working on developing my Patreon account as an alternative way to finance the creation of my writing. Look for further developments there soon: patreon.com/JeffreyAlexanderMartin

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