Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: Legacy admissions

In a galaxy not so far away — actually in one that centres on Kansas City for the next few days — this week’s Futures author may well be holding his breath. Although his latest story for Futures — Legacy admissions — looks at the education system through some artificial eyes, S R Algernon will probably thinking a little more about one of his earlier stories in Futures. That’s because Asymmetrical warfare has been nominated in the short-story category of this year’s Hugo awards, and Saturday will be the day of the big reveal (Futures will have all of its fingers crossed). As we await the results, here’s a chance to find out what inspired his latest tale — as well as an opportunity to look back on some of his other stories for Futures.

Writing Legacy admissions

Legacy admissions started with the opening action. One person shakes another’s hand. There are six fingers — but not seven — on the second person’s hand and the distinction is important. I didn’t know why it was important at first, so I wrote the story to find out. As the story developed, it started to reflect my conviction that artificial intelligence will eventually be able to do just about any physical or cognitive task. With luck, it will be a little while before they start submitting stories to Nature.

Other Futures stories by S R Algernon

A time for peacePlanetary defencesCargo cultA pocket full of phlogistonThe chains of plentyIn a new lightOne slow step for manGenius loci

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