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Excel science-fiction generator

Just for fun, you might like our Excel science-fiction generator. It's a spreadsheet that produces science-fiction story plots. To run it, read the plot from cells A4 downwards. To generate a new plot, select "Recalculate" in cell B4.

The spreadsheet was written using Excelsior, the same program that generates Repository components from their description. This is explained in the references on our Demonstrations and Background page. You can see the source code, with commentary, here.

The generator works by finding a random path through a transition graph of plot events. This is stored in rows 210 downwards, column B being the nodes, and columns C:N the out-edges. When you press "Recalculate", the path-finder assembles a new random sequence of nodes in cells A107:A206, and then plants the corresponding text in cells A4:A103.

We should credit Gahan Wilson with a lot of the plot elements, because the generator originated with his The Science Fiction Horror Movie Pocket Computer from Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss's The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 5. We have added a few, though, including Damon Knight's alien visitors who insist that all they wish is to serve man. Indeed they do — fried. By the way, there is a diagram of Gahan Wilson's original plot generator at "Descartes"'s posting on the If You Write It blog, Gahan Wilson's Plot Generator.