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Write a Short Story About the Economics of the Future and You Could Win $12,000

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The best science fiction works revolve around deep-seated ideas that can speak to humanity as a whole. Having enough money to get what you need to live—or what happens when you don’t—is one of those fundamental ideas, and the focus of a new writing contest sponsored by the Economic Security Project.

We at io9 are pleased to announce the ESP’s Into the Black contest, which calls for writers to submit short speculative fiction entries based on how a basic individual income—that is, where everyone gets the money to meet their basic needs—could change the country as we know it. How different might America be without a class of have-nots? Or as the official description puts it:

What might a world look like where all of our most basic needs are met? In 5,000 words or less, we want you to explore the impacts of a basic income on individual lives and on society at large. To be clear, we are not expecting you to draft economic policy, but hope to ignite debate around new economies with stories that offer nuanced critique and evidence of impact extrapolated beyond the power of predictive models. Writers may want to address how this economic policy could shift relationships of power, or if economic liberation is even possible without first addressing racial and gender justice. Writers may consider universality (i.e., whether this benefit applies to everyone), investigate community impact, and even give this economic idea a new name.


There are only a few criteria these stories must meet to be eligible, based on how the concept of a universal basic income should be represented in them:

• Unconditional Funds — No one should be able to tell a recipient how to spend the money.

Basic Needs — The money should be enough to cover one’s basic needs.

The contest is open to U.S. citizens 18 years of age and older, and the deadline for submissions is November 1. After that, a panel of judges including journalists, economists, authors, as well as io9 senior staff writer Evan Narcisse will select the winning entry, which will be published right here on io9 in January 2018. The writer who earns the grand prize will be awarded $12,000, or more precisely $1,000 a month—as a sort of basic income itself—throughout 2018.


Head here if you want more details about the idea behind Universal Basic Income, and then get out your pens, pencils, and (more likely) word-processing program of choice. Then start thinking about what a future where everyone has enough money to survive may look like.

When you’re done, you can submit your short story here. See below for more terms and conditions.


1) Winning stories will be published online. The grand prize winner will be published on Gizmodo’s io9 at The short list winners will be published on the Economic Security Project’s website and/or io9.


2) Short list winners will receive $1,000 upon publication (each, a “Short List Prize”). The number of short list winners will be no fewer than three and no more than 10, and is subject to change by the judges.

3) The grand prize winner will receive $12,000 over 2018 in $1,000 per month payments beginning 2/1/2018, as well as airfare and accommodations to attend an awards dinner in San Francisco, date tbd (the “Grand Prize”).


4) By accepting the Grand Prize, the winner agrees to make themselves available for filmed interviews and other media opportunities tracing the impact of the prize on their creative process, as well as public relations appearances related to the broader Economic Security Project wherever possible for the duration of 2018. Any appearances will be mutually agreed upon and at the expense of Economic Security Project.

Timing and Formatting

1) Submission Deadline: All entries must be received through our Submittable page by November 1st, 2017. Once submitted, changes to entries will not be allowed.


2) Evaluation Phase: Entries will be reviewed through November and December.

3) Announcement: Winners will be announced in January, 2018.

4) Disclaimer: The judges reserve the right to extend the submission deadline, etc.



1) The contest is open to writers living in the United States, writing in English, and age 18 or over at the time of submission


2) The story must not contain more than 5,000 words. The word count should be listed on the story and must be precise

3) No more than one story per author or group of co-authors may be submitted

4) The story must be submitted anonymously through our Submittable page

5) The story must not be previously published

6) The story must be original and not infringe on any existing copyright


1) Entrants retain all ownership rights and, if applicable, copyrights in their submissions.


2) By accepting a prize (whether a Short List Prize or the Grand Prize), each entrant of a winning submission hereby grants Hopewell Fund, as fiscal sponsor of the Economic Security Project, the exclusive first worldwide right to publish the submission, with such exclusivity to commence on the date of the entrant’s acceptance of a prize and continue for one year thereafter (the “Exclusive Period”); following the Exclusive Period, entrant grants to Hopewell Fund and its designees (including Gizmodo Media Group, LLC) the non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, non-revocable, freely transferable and sublicensable right to the submission, for use in all media now known or later discovered.

Other Terms and Conditions

1) By submitting a story, each entrant represents and warrants that their submission is an original work of authorship, and that entrant owns all intellectual property rights in and to the same. Each entrant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Hopewell Fund and Gizmodo Media Group, LLC from and against any and all claims, losses, liabilities and/or damages arising out of or relating to such entrant’s submission infringing upon a third-party’s intellectual property rights.


2) All Short List Prize winners and the Grand Prize winner agree that failure to abide by the any of the Official Rules (including Grand Prize winner’s failure to attend the required number of appearances, or any entrant’s submission infringing upon a third-party’s intellectual property rights) may, in Hopewell Fund’s sole discretion, result in revocation of such winner’s prize, and winner may be required to repay the full amount of the Short List Prize or Grand Prize, as applicable.