The SciFi Economics Lab is commissioning writers to inspire a storytelling contest that explores better futures

In a world where it can feel like politicians, economists and business leaders have stopped trying to imagine an economic system other than “late stage capitalism”, the SciFi Economics Lab has been launched to argue that alternatives do exist.

The Lab takes its inspiration from science fiction, not just as a flight of fancy, but as a space to use storytelling, games, artwork and discussion to try out ideas and solutions that fallout outside the mainstream orthodoxy.

Within the SciFi Economics Lab, Witness is the experiment. A mega city floating the oceans of a post-climate collapse world, Witness is divided into “Distrikts”, each with their own culture, ideology and economic systems. Every distrikt is unique, independent, yet interconnected with their neighbours.

We want to see Witness’s distrikts from every angle- both how they are administered or governed, and what they look like from street level. How are ordinary people’s lives changed when their life isn’t governed by chasing a per-hour wage to feed a conveyor belt of bills? What are the alternatives? What could they achieve?

What do we want from you?

To explore and build on the ideas that come out of Witness, we are looking to launch a writing contest for stories about the city and its distrikts. To make the contest as accessible as possible to writers of all levels, and quieten some of the terror of the blank page, we want to offer a selection of brief story “catalysts”, openings that help introduce the setting, and suggest potential stories, but which can be taken to inspire a wide range of different ideas.

These “catalysts” will be up to 3000 words long, and will be commissioned for a deadline of 30/10/2021. We will be paying a rate of up to 3000€ for the finished piece.

How to apply

To be considered as a writer for this opportunity, please email us at, with the subject line WITNESS CALL FOR SHORT STORIES. Please let us know about any previous work you’ve had published, and include a 500 word sample of prose fiction you have written.

We will be particularly on the look out for well written fictional settings, and engaging characters. We would prefer samples from your existing writing, not pieces written especially for this opportunity.

Get your samples to us by 30/09/2021 to be considered.


Only previously published or already established writers are being considered? The wording is unclear, but seems to lean towards that.


Hi Jorge,
it’s open both to established writers and NKOTBs :slight_smile: The reason we ask for the already written sample is we didn’t want to ask people for whom writing is their profession/main source of income to put in unpaid work when we happen to have some budget available. If you are up for submitting 500 words of new writing under the understanding that this would be your application entry then that works too.

Reposting some more questions and answers from a different thread

More questions and answers:

Right, I’ve just been getting down to start the final pass on these, but I’m a bit unclear reading through the chat whether we’re going with the Commissioned pieces/Competition model or whether we’re going with Yudhanjaya’s plan of using the Witnesspedia as the inspiration/source (along with the restrictions he lays out around canon).
Could you give me a clearer idea of which information needs adding/removing and I’ll make that my next task?

On a broader topic that doesn’t apply to this specific task- Yudhanjaya talking about canon reminded me of some of the RPG stuff I’ve worked on. I’ve spent a lot of time, professionally and for my idea of fun, dealing with concepts like “canon” and “continuity” in massive sprawling properties with multiple creators who don’t always know what the others are doing. Consistency is somewhere between a nightmare and an impossible dream even with heavily top down controlled stuff like MCU and Star Wars- and Witness does not look like that.

A useful approach might be the one I’ve seen used in The Spire: The City Must Fall RPG, which amounts to- unreliable narrators. There are many historical sources, rumours, urban legends, conspiracy theories, propaganda etc. Most of it contradicts each other. But that contradiction becomes a feature rather than a bug, and gives readers what they need to construct their own head canons.

Anyway, not really a specific suggestion, more a perspective that might be useful later.

1 Like

we will go with yudhas proposal to use witnesspedia as inspiration with the restrictions laid out.

let’s have a chat about this if/ when you have time? Am curious