The Story Behind the SOA’s Speculative Fiction Contest

Get inspired by the creativity of the actuarial mind



Let’s turn the calendar back almost 25 years. Jim Toole, FSA, CERA, MAAA, was reading an article in The Wall Street Journal about an accounting fiction publication.

“My first thought was, ‘Well, isn’t all accounting fiction?’ And my second thought was, ‘Surely actuaries can do better!’” says Toole. At his prompting, the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA’s) Speculative Fiction Contest took shape. From inception to today, the contest highlights the creativity and imagination of the actuarial mind.

In honor of National Science Fiction Day (Jan. 2)—which corresponds with the birthdate of famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov—we’re celebrating the Speculative Fiction Contest, now sponsored by the Technology Section, the Actuary of the Future Section, and the Predictive Analytics and Futurism Section.

More than 100 writers have submitted entries to this ever-popular and ever-growing writing contest. Toole ran the contest initially, but handed the baton to Carol Marler. Gary Lange, FSA, MAAA, currently shepherds the creative entries that grace his desk every contest season and, in a few words, runs the show.

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The judge for the contest is Dr. Bob Mielke, a professor of English who teaches science fiction writing at Truman State University. “[Dr. Mielke] continues to enthusiastically judge our contests, and recently declared himself the world’s leading expert in actuarial speculative fiction!” jokes Lange.

“We are given the treat of hearing a plethora of futuristic ideas and actuarial dreams that cross the entire range of science fiction and dazzle us with creativity at the same time,” Lange adds.

For your reading pleasure, we recommend checking out the winners and entries from the 12th and 13th contests. Enjoy!

Copyright © 2019 by the Society of Actuaries, Chicago, Illinois.