Writer and CNET contributor Eric Mack has a unique idea for his National Novel Writing Month project: a crowdsourced sci-fi novel. Mack calls the idea “the world’s first MMOSFN — Massively Multiwriter Online Science Fiction Novel.” It has long been speculated that digital books would be able to change and evolve in later editions based on readers’ feedback, but this project allows potential readers to impact the course of the book before it is even fully written.
Mack plans to post the start of the story on a public Google Doc where anyone can add suggestions. At the end of every day, Mack will incorporate what he believes to be the best suggestions into the story and will update the document to show the novel’s progress.
The main idea of the novel is one that Mack says he has had for a while. The story will take place a few decades in the future, after the occurrence of the singularity, the theoretical point at which technological or artificial intelligence will reach the capability of human intelligence. Humans in the book will be close to reaching immortality thanks to advances in technology. Humanity also learns that both extraterrestrial civilizations and alternate universes exist. A distant civilization predicts that an immortal human race will cause “complications” and sends “a hero” to Earth to find a resolution.
Among some of the potential story elements Mack suggests are:
- A character based on Transhumanist and presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan
- Space elevators
- Interstellar travel to distant planets
Of course, there are ways that this project could go wrong, chief among them being the possibility of vandals flooding the public Doc with inappropriate content as a joke. However, Mack’s plan to moderate potential additions to the book will hopefully cause this problem to be avoided.
The book will be posted on CNET’s website after its completion at the end of November and all contributors who wish to be named will be credited. The book will also be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which allows the story to be shared anywhere and in any way as long as it is attributed properly.