Welcome To Working Futures: 14 Speculative Fiction Stories About The Future Of Work

from the get-to-work dept

Order your copy of Working Futures today »

Last week, I gave you a heads up and a preview of our latest project from our think tank, the Copia Institute: our brand new anthology of speculative fiction about the future of work, called Working Futures. The book is now available in both ebook and paperback format at Amazon (initially, we’ll be publishing it exclusively through Amazon, though we plan to offer other options down the road). You can purchase the ebook for $2.99, the paperpack for $9.99, or both combined for $10.99 (or, if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can read it for free). The book has 14 wonderful stories and comes in at over 200 pages. You can also purchase the special custom deck of cards we used to help us create the scenarios that were given to the authors as “prompts” to inspire the various stories. And you can download the PDF of the prompts as well, if you’d like to see them.

Last week, I wrote about the process by which this project came together — how we built the custom deck of cards, what we did with them, and how we got sci-fi writers to make use of them. This week, with the actual launch of the book, I wanted to zoom in a bit on the actual stories in the book. Over the next few days, I’ll talk a bit about some of the stories in the book, and what made them stand out when we were choosing the stories for the book:


The Machine Starts by Liam Hogan is a quick fun story that envisions the role of humans in a world in which computer AI is pretty much all pervasive, and an entity known as “The Machine”, whose powers are so great that it resulted in the demise of the today’s generation of internet giants. But with something so powerful and all knowing, why would it need to hire people? Well, as this story demonstrates, there are always situations in which human perception will be able to do things that artificial intelligence cannot.

The Chaperone by Andrew Dana Hudson is, in some ways, a flipside to the story by Hogan that precedes it. In that story we learn about how a human can assist an AI, whereas in the Chaperone, we learn about how AI’s might assist humans. For better and for worse. Hudson described his story in a pretty straightforward tweet: “My #solarpunk novellete, “The Chaperone,” is for everyone who watched Her (2013) and thought, “cool future, but this doesn’t seem like *our* future?where’s the late stage capitalism, political upheaval and climate change??”

The Funeral Company by Katharine Dow might conceivably take place in a similar world to the one in Hudson’s novellette above, though on the other side of the country. It describes a very different kind of job that might crop up in a world of pervasive information and data about everyone — and also how some people might respond to not wanting to live in such a world.


That’s it for today. I’ll have more later in the week about some of the other stories in the book. If any of the three snippets above intrigue you, or you can’t wait to hear about the other stories… feel free to go ahead and pick up the book.

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Comments on “Welcome To Working Futures: 14 Speculative Fiction Stories About The Future Of Work”

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42 Comments
BernardoVerda (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why no EPUB?

Thank you.

I eschew Kindle books because I simply object to (even despise) the idea of putting books into a proprietary format, and because most e-book distributors — even if the author/publisher explicitly decline to employ DRM — Amazon, Kobo, etc. will add their own DRM, anyhow (I found this out the hard way, with the 1st ebook I bought for my e-reader).

Get this book on Baen, or on Smashwords, and I’ll probably buy a copy.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 No, Thank YOU!

I completely agree with you.

I never got a kindle. In fact, I first started using e-readers when Apple introduced iBooks (now Apple Books) for their iOS devices which used the EPUB format. I also bought a Barnes & Noble Nook which also used the EPUB format, all because I just hated the idea that the Kindle wouldn’t read EPUBs, which I could actually hack and modify on my computer. Not the same with Amazon’s proprietary formats.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why no EPUB?

You sure about that? The ‘DRM flag’ I’m aware of for Amazon is whether it has ‘Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited’ in the product description, with the presence of that a good indicator that it isn’t infected with DRM, and as that seems to be the case with this ebook I would be surprised if it had DRM given that ‘rule’ has been pretty consistent over several hundred ebooks so far.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

There are also a lot of websites that do free MOBI->EPUB conversion. Since I know how to program EPUBs in Dreamweaver (EPUBS are basically XHTML and CSS wrapped in an EPUB shell), I can fix the errors manually. It gives me a chance to flex my web-programming muscles!

ECA (profile) says:

introdued to employment agency young..

When I was young, they took the whole class to the state employment agency. We took the test and suggested jobs we could have.

In all the time that I have seen this done, it has never told us the best, better, chances of Jobs in the future. And most of that came in many parts. time changes everything. Jobs available THEN, may not be there. And didnt add LOCATION.. being in a small town the service industry was saturated. then came the idea of Corps controlling most everything. And looking back tot he old days of programming, it started pretty nice, then Distributors took things over and controlled it all for along time, and now a programmer can create and do 90% of it themselves and make real good money. This from first introduction about 1968 until now.
I dont know any way to anticipate the future and al the interactions of everything. the idea of Atari changing from a Computer company and software(hardware programming) to being a major Distributor changed allot. Its as bad as the Old Music/movie industry and "DONT SIGN ANY CONTRACT".
Used to be a heavy reader and read things from Silmarillion , Asimov, Bradbury, Doonesbury, Tons of comics $200 amonth habit, Aspirin, most of Shadowrun..

yes, Im rambling.
Just waiting for a book about what May/should/alternate futures of what can happen to our future. A tree of the different paths ahead.

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T. D. Hoots says:

You DO have the chutzpah to charge a price up front! HA, HA!

Rather than the bravery to demonstrate your notions in practice.

After years of telling us that $100M movies can be sold for just over cost of bandwidth?

After years of ranting about new methods of distribution possible on teh internets: "pay what you want", "read before buy", and host it yourself, you’re cutting AMAZON in on this?

After two decades of deriding exactly this "old" business model and taunting all creators that they need a "new" one?

You’re charging up front for CRAP? Just feeble fantasies written to a spec, promoting the woozy "liberal / globalist" world view from Born Rich privilege, oblivious to the poor besides reality.

Like the "whistleblower" this week, I don’t need to read or even see the "book" to characterize it.

CRAP. Written by idiot weenies.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: You DO have the chutzpah to charge a price up front! HA, HA!

"After years of telling us that $100M movies can be sold for just over cost of bandwidth?"

Those people in your head sure sounds stupid. Now, what about the people on this site, who have said no such thing…?

"You’re charging up front for CRAP?"

…and this is why nobody believes you have an actual point. You attack people for not offering their own content. Then, when they do offer it, you attack them for offering it. In other words – you have no point in your life, you live to attack and you don’t care if you have truth on your side.

"Like the "whistleblower" this week, I don’t need to read or even see the "book" to characterize it."

"I have no idea what the facts of the whistleblower case is but I’ll attack what I imagine it is instead of educating myself with proof" Good one, and that sums you up, doesn’t it?

Oh, and I love the fact that you attack the work based on its quality, then immediately state you don’t know what the quality is because you haven’t read it. That again sums you up – a hateful ball of dung, whose existence is only nourished by attack other people for being more successful.

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Someone strip it and convert to PDF, put it on torrent sites

All the stories are under Creative Commons licenses and several have been placed in the public domain. So putting this on torrent sites would not, in fact, be "piracy" – it would be a perfectly legal and indeed encouraged way of sharing the book.

Have at it, folks!

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T. D. Hoots says:

Sunk Or Fixed Costs

What’s different with EBOOKS? $100M movies have ZERO marginal cost!

Masnick’s "centerpiece" is quite brief and he proclaims it KEY to his "authority"; you should read it all first:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070215/002923/saying-you-cant-compete-with-free-is-saying-you-cant-compete-period.shtml

Let’s say that I want to make a movie. It costs me $100 million to make the movie (fixed cost) and copies of that movie each cost me $0 (marginal cost — assuming digital distribution and that bandwidth and computing power are also fixed costs).

Masnick himself states "$0 marginal cost" for each copy even with $100M spent.

It’s not a paraphrasing. ZERO COST.

So why does YOUR OWN EBOOK not hit the "Magical Masnick Margin" and be given away FREE? — You can sell T-shirts or take voluntary donations AFTER it’s read, right? — RIGHT, college boy? Why don’t you follow your own theory?

Help me out here, kids. — Why does Masnick CHARGE up front for each copy of an "infinite good" costing ZERO DOLLARS, in 2019 twelve years after he ‘splained his unique insight to the world?


Obviously, the first "copy" of a $100M movie costs $100M and if 100M copies were made cost at least $1 each. Ivy League PhD Economist Masnick just flat lies that even the most narrowly defined "marginal cost" per copy is zero.

The deliberate TRICK to Masnick’s "can’t compete" piece is that he just ignores costs. He mentions the $100M figure solely to impress. But he was forced to address recovering "sunk (or fixed) costs" around comment 51; though dodges by promising to "soon" reveal the true magic. 12 years ago, not a peep since.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Sunk Or Fixed Costs

"What’s different with EBOOKS? $100M movies have ZERO marginal cost!"

Is this where we have to explain what marginal costs are to you again?

"So why does YOUR OWN EBOOK not hit the "Magical Masnick Margin" and be given away FREE?"

Because nobody ever said that pricing the book over its marginal cost is a problem. It’s only a problem when someone pretends it’s the only way to make back the sunk costs.

"12 years ago, not a peep since."

Except in all the articles you’re obsessively posted and lied in since then where people have tried to explain why you’re wrong about what you imagine is being said. Yet, here you are still.

urza9814 (profile) says:

Re-advertise when I can actually buy it please?

I hope you re-advertise this once you end the Amazon exclusive agreement. Those jerks have ripped me off and taken my money without actually delivering the product far too many times. So, I’d like to read this, but there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I am buying it from Amazon. Probably wouldn’t arrive even if I did. So I hope when that idiotic exclusivity deal ends you’ll advertise it again, otherwise I probably won’t remember….

urza9814 (profile) says:

Re: Re-advertise when I can actually buy it please?

…although I’m still debating whether or not I should even want to remember it since you’re apparently in bed with those scumbags. And also considering that there are many posts here on Techdirt about how exclusivity deals are generally a bad idea…and yet apparently now that you’re the one publishing content, suddenly they’re a great idea, huh?

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re-advertise when I can actually buy it please?

Considering that all the short stories in this collection are either licensed with a sharable or free Creative Commons license or have their copyright waived completely, you don’t even have to give Amazon money. Somebody could just put it up on the internet legally and you could download it from there.

Given that reality, I fail to see what the problem is.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: One other thing…

I can’t speak for other people, but I assume the objections are not that the cost is $2.99, but that
A. they’re giving it to Amazon, who has really sketchy and orwellian privacy dealings going on, and
B. they’re the only vendor for the time being.

It’s almost similar to the controversy over Epic Games Store vis-à-vis PC games. The reason why I say "almost" is because one could legally obtain the compilation for no cost via non-Amazon methods, so it’s not a 1:1 comparison. It’s more like apples to pay-what-you-want apples comparison.

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