CNET's crowdsourced sci-fi novel is being written right now

CNET's Eric Mack has started writing his first sci-fi novel for National Novel Writing Month, but he doesn't want to do it alone. Contribute now to this crowdsourced online story about the multiverse.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects, and CNET's "Living off the Grid" series Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
3 min read
Enlarge Image

Tired of reading about the future? Help us write it.

Library of Congress

Our monthlong experiment in creating the world's first MMOSFN -- Massively Multiwriter Online Science Fiction Novel -- has kicked off with the start of National Novel Writing Month here in the US.

The basic idea is that I've committed to drafting a 50,000-word science fiction novel by the end of the month, and I'm opening up the process to your suggestions and contributions via this open sandbox draft in a Google Doc. As of this writing, the document lays out some of the basics of the universe multiverse where our story takes place.

If you want to contribute, all you need to do is head over to the sandbox draft, where you can immediately start suggesting additions right in the story document itself. If you want credit for being part of the project, make sure you're logged in to a Google account; otherwise you can be an anonymous contributor.

I'm going to be functioning as the editor of the project, both writing and integrating the best suggestions that help set the scenes and move the story forward into an official working draft (you can also keep tabs on that version here). At the end of November, that working draft will go through another round of editing to become a final draft of the first actual MMOSFN, which we'll publish in installments here on CNET.

So what is the story we're working on here?

Well, it takes place a few decades in the future, just after the so-called "="" that="" futurists="" like="" ray="" kurzweil"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="ceebbaee-c17e-4e7f-8101-cd2ddc8112d2" slug="your-phone-will-never-love-you-back-and-you-shouldnt-want-it-to" link-text="" section="news" title="Your phone will never love you back (and you shouldn't want it to)" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"ceebbaee-c17e-4e7f-8101-cd2ddc8112d2","slug":"your-phone-will-never-love-you-back-and-you-shouldnt-want-it-to","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"science"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Science","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> talk about. In this moment, people are beginning to live much longer thanks to advances in science and technology and it's starting to seem like immortality might be possible. At the same time, humans are beginning to understand that not only are we not alone in the universe, we're not alone in the multiverse, either. The real possibility of human immortality turns out to have a direct impact on another very distant civilization, which sends a hero of sorts to Earth to resolve the complications, but how will he be received?

Some think black holes at the center of galaxies could be portals to other universes. What if they're right?


If you need more inspiration to get you contributing, there's plenty of it in the comments section on the original post announcing the project. Just a few of my favorite early suggestions include reader deviant107's thoughts on what the other, distant civilization in the story might be like and CalebKimball's suggestions on the relationship between the aliens and Earthlings.

We also polled our readers on what well-known speculative technologies should be included in the story, and there turns out to be strong support for transhumanist themes, including a future world in which a Transhumanist Party candidate becomes president (presumably of the US, although we didn't specify). Remarkably, including sex robots in the narrative received far less support than transhumanism and interstellar travel in our informal poll.

So when you're writing, keep in mind that the people apparently want to read about ways technology will extend and enhance humans in the not-too-distant future.

I know, you can always make the excuse that somewhere in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, there's a version of you that's already written a novel, but don't fall for it! Instead, fire up the old imagination -- or access the program labeled "recursive innovative algorithms" from your library if you're an android -- and go here to start writing.