Saturday, April 3, 2021

SF14 - A Glimpse Inside the Minds of Actuaries

Actuarial authors of the 14th Speculative Fiction contest wrote stories (or graphic novel, play, or transcript) that cover social issues, political unrest, and pandemic and climate crises. Yet, amidst the dystopia, there's a constant call to appeal to our better angels. 

The contest is a showcase of creativity and actuarial voices. There are a lot of stories this year, so I've broken down the entries a bit. This is not an exhaustive summary, but may help guide your reading.

Some of my favorites:

  • "Actuaries from Mars!" - a fun story with actuaries monitoring the survival of the human race
  • "Just Don't Look" - what happens when insurance premiums update continuously, meanwhile, watch out for livestock roaming through the city
  • "Little Wing" - chaos theory leads to meteorological terrorism
  • "A Traveler from an Antique Land" - a smart mist can instantly analyze your surroundings, but how can we be sure we can trust the conclusion?. (Also, the title and story reference a cautionary poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley - Ozymandias)

Stories that feature Magic and Fantasy:

  • "PanDimensional Life" involves parallel dimensions where the worlds mirror your favorite novels. 
  • "Off Balance" offers the ability to see how any object was created
  • "Remember" is a walking tour featuring several mythical creatures
  • "Sarah Tzimenes, Actuary and Psychic, Summons the Spirit of Lucy Jane Wright" presents an creative glimpse into the life of a the first female actuary.

Stories that feature aliens!

  • "Actuaries from Mars! "
  • "Farewell Valeria"

This year, I seemed to notice the presence of more LGBQTA appearances:

  • "Breaking Binary"
  • "Farewell Valaria"
  • "A Journey Into the Ocean of Existence"
  • "Caught Red Handed"
  • "Old Fashioned"
  • "Elixir of Life"

Others worth reading:

  • "Poliatrics" is the creepiest story of the bunch
  • "Premium Day" is good showcase of hope for humanity.
  • "The Warehouse" takes actuaries into a gambling underworld.
  • "Interview Axuary"  puts actuaries in the business of election polling
  • "Health Watch" - takes a look at the relationship between a wearable device and its user
  • "Grandpa's Secret" looks at the tension between being an 'Empath' or a 'Calculator'

Past Coverage of Spec Fiction Contests:

A lot has vanished, I have some copies that I will try to resurrect here at some point.

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