This contest is being organized by Susan Elliott Sim, a professor of Informatics at University of California, Irvine. I am co-editing an academic book on recent research on helping programmers find and reuse source code on the web.
It’s common to end academic books with a speculative chapter, and what would be more speculative than a science fiction short story? I invited Vernor Vinge to submit a story, because I think the future might be the programmer archeologists that appeared in his “Fire Upon the Deep” and “Deepness in the Sky.” Rather than writing software from scratch, people are taking pieces from existing systems and combining them. In this style of programming, knowing the archives is as important as the ability to put the pieces together.
Unfortunately, Vinge declined. However, he did give his blessing for a short story contest. So, here we are.
While this isn’t my first literary competition, it has been a long time. I once was the Secretary of the Library Committee at Hart House, University of Toronto, which runs an annual short story contest. Bear with me as I try to avoid making novice mistakes. Feedback is of course welcome.