Useful Fiction is a network of creators, thinkers, and artists, who cross the realms of forecasting and communication. Our events and projects have brought together the work of former leaders of US military services, tech forecasters for Fortune 500 companies, best-selling writers of projects like World War Z, Ghost Fleet, and American War, the producers of such Hollywood projects like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Homeland, and Crazy Rich Asians, and artists who have illustrated for Wired and New York Times Sunday Magazine

Managing Partners

August Cole is Founder & Managing Partner at Useful Fiction™ and an author exploring the future of conflict through fiction and other forms of FICINT™ storytelling. His talks, short stories, and workshops have taken him from speaking at the Nobel Institute in Oslo to presenting at SXSW Interactive to tackling the “Dirty Name” obstacle at Fort Benning. 

He is a non-resident fellow at the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity at Marine Corps University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council; he directed the Council’s Art of the Future Project, which explores creative and narrative works for insight into the future of conflict, from its inception in 2014 through 2017. August is a regular speaker to private sector, academic and US and allied government audiences. Previously, August reported on the defense industry for The Wall Street Journal, helping break many major national security stories, including foreign cyber spies hacking into the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter program, major defense contractors doing “Smart Power” development work in Africa, U.S. sales of F-16 fighters to Iraq and a Blackwater civilian shooting incident in Afghanistan. Prior to that, he worked as an editor and a reporter for He is a regular participant in Defense Entrepreneurs Forum activities and is also a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Royal United Services Institute, and the AI Initiative of the Future Society. Designated a “Mad Scientist” by the US Army, he is a former non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point. With P.W. Singer, he is also the co-author of a new type of novel, using the format of a technothriller to communicate nonfiction research. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War was both a top summer read and led to briefings everywhere from the White House to the Pentagon. His latest is Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. It has been described by the creator of Lost and Watchmen as “A visionary new form of storytelling—a rollercoaster ride of science fiction blended with science fact,” and by the head of Army Cyber Command as “I loved Burn-In so much that I’ve already read it twice.”

Peter Warren Singer is Strategist at New America, a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, and Founder & Managing Partner at Useful Fiction.

New York Times Bestselling author, described in the Wall Street Journal as “the premier futurist in the national-security environment” and “all-around smart guy” in the Washington Post, he has been named by the Smithsonian as one of the nation’s 100 leading innovators, by Defense News as one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues, by Foreign Policy to their Top 100 Global Thinkers List, and as an official “Mad Scientist” for the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. No author, living or dead, has more books on the professional US military reading lists. His non-fiction books include Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military IndustryChildren at WarWired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st CenturyCybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know and most recently LikeWar, which explores how social media has changed war and politics. It was named an Amazon and Foreign Affairs book of the year and reviewed by Booklist as “LikeWar should be required reading for everyone living in a democracy and all who aspire to.” He is also the co-author of a new type of novel, using the format of a technothriller to communicate nonfiction research. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War was both a top summer read and led to briefings everywhere from the White House to the Pentagon. His latest is Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. It has been described by the creator of Lost and Watchmen as “A visionary new form of storytelling—a rollercoaster ride of science fiction blended with science fact,” and by the head of Army Cyber Command as “I loved Burn-In so much that I’ve already read it twice.”


Other Team members


Art by Yoshi Sodeoka

Yoshi Sodeoka is an internationally acclaimed visual artist whose work has been displayed at Centre Pompidou, Tate Britain, and the Museum of Modern Art, among other prestigious venues. His editorial art work on subjects such as facial recognition, robotic warfare, and disinformation can be found in publications like the New York Times, MIT Technology Review, and WIRED Magazine.

Design by Sam Cole

Sam Cole is a filmmaker and artist creating content for top brands such as NIKE, VISIONAIRE, and G-SHOCK with his creative studio MAKEBELIEVE.WORLD.  Cole has also lived and worked in Japan where he directed award-winning music videos for top Japanese artists and directed, shot and produced a feature documentary, Danchi No Yume.  


Hope Seck is an award-winning reporter and editor, who has been covering tech and military issues since 2009. The former managing editor for, she is also a member of the board of directors at the Military Reporters and Editors Association. A graduate of The King’s College in New York City, her work has also appeared in Marine Corps Times, Newsweek, USA Today, The New York Sun, and World Magazine. 

Brian O’Rourke is the former Senior Editor of U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings and was the managing editor of Duffel Blog for many years. He has also worked as an editor for Task & Purpose and The War Zone. He is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Engineering, with a master’s in mechanical engineering, and he has patented a high-pressure, high-temperature subsea connector while working professionally. His homemade bread has been described as “properly baked.”


Jud Smith is a retired military officer who served in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. As a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School and the lead for multiple highly successful military space programs, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in organizational leadership, program management, and defense contracting. His distinguished service spans the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and Special Operations to include multiple deployments in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Enduring Freedom.

Caroline Steel applies technical skills in communications to her work on transnational threats and emerging security paradigms. She studied Arabic in Beirut at the Institut français du Proche-Orient, and earned a degree in international affairs and literature from Durham University (UK), and worked with Forward Defense at the Atlantic Council. She is also a professionally trained rafting guide.


Isaiah (Ike) Wilson, IIIis a retired Army Colonel, strategic expert, and change leader.  A decorated combat veteran with tours in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, he has served in roles ranging from an AH-64 attack helicopter pilot, to Chief of Plans for the 101st Airborne Division, to leadership of CENTCOM Commander’s Initiative’s Group. Having a PhD in political science and authored multiple books, he also served as Director of the Strategic Studies Institute at US Army War College. Professor and Director of West Point’s Grand Strategy Program, and, most recently, President of SOCOM’s Joint Special Operations University. 

Bilal Omar Omari is a graduate of Salve Regina University, where he also worked at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy. An Afghan refugee, he previously attended American University of Afghanistan and is fluent in four languages.


Susan Singer is an experienced executive leader with a demonstrated history of success at optimizing the performance of product strategy and development, business operations, and stakeholder communications. In addition to helping Useful Fiction with its financials, she is VP of Product Management at Lark Health. 


Ché Bolden is President of the Charles F. Bolden Group and Co-Founder of SapientONE. With experience and interests in Human-Machine Collaboration and integration, Extended Reality, and other technology adoption and adaptation, Ché served 26 years in the Marine Corps in roles that range from the Joint Staff to as a Strike Fighter Weapons Instructor (TOP GUN).

Debora Cahn is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer. She has worked on a wide variety of dramatic projects that ranged from The West Wing to Grey’s Anatomy to serving as Executive Producer of Homeland.

A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken Liu is the author of multiple best-selling science fiction and fantasy books, the inventor of the “silkpunk” genre bringing together traditions of engineering and East Asia’s classical antiquity and aesthetics., as well as translator of the acclaimed Three Body Problem series. He also consults on the implications of new technologies (5G, GPT-3, nanomaterials, etc.) science fiction, virtual reality, and sustainable storytelling. 

Niloofar Razi Howe has been an investor, executive and entrepreneur in the tech industry for over 25 years. She has served as Chief Strategy Officer at RSA, a global cybersecurity company, a Sr. Operating Partner at Energy Impact Partners and is on the boards of Morgan Stanley Bank, NA, Recorded Future, Tenable and the NSA.


Admiral John M. Richardson is a retired United States Navy four-star Admiral who served as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) from 2015 until 2019. Adm. Richardson also served as the Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (a joint Department of Energy and Department of Navy organization), and the Commander of the U.S. Navy Submarine Force.





Major General Mick Ryan is a retired Australian Army officer, who commanded at the Troop, Squadron, Regiment, Task Force, and Brigade levels during his three-decade career. He served as Director General Training and Doctrine for the Australian Army and Commander of the Australian Defense College, where he founded the “Perry Group” project to foster a forward-thinking and creative mindset. Maj. Gen. Ryan is a noted writer on strategy, advanced technologies, organizational innovation, complex adaptive systems, and adaptation theory. 


Brad Shelton is the Vice President of Creative and Story at production company BRC Imagination Arts. Brad has spoken and led workshops at events around the globe including South by Southwest and The Future of Storytelling Conference. As a hands-on writer and director, Brad has overseen the creative development of narrative projects for groups ranging from Major League Baseball and the NFL to Chick-fil-A and the Grand Ole Opry.







Contributors to Past and Current Useful Fiction™ Projects include


Madeline Ashby is an acclaimed author and futurist specializing in scenario development and science fiction prototypes. Her books include The First Machine Dynasty, Company Town, and How To Future: Leading and Sense-making in an Age of Hyperchange. She is a member of the AI Policy Futures Group at the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and the XPRIZE Sci-Fi Advisory Council. Her work has appeared in BoingBoing, Slate, MIT Technology Review, WIRED, The Atlantic, and elsewhere.


Alain Cisneros is a NYC based FX artist, who has provided effects and animation in projects ranging from Samsung to Timberland.


S.B. Divya worked for 20 years as an electrical engineer in various fields including pattern recognition, machine intelligence, high speed communications, digital music, and medical devices. She then shifted to writing, becoming the Hugo and Nebula Award nominated author of such books as Runtime, Machinehood, and Contingency Plans For the Apocalypse and Other Possible Situations. Divya is also the co-editor of the weekly science fiction podcast Escape Pod.


Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. For over a decade he reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and many other locations around the world. His work earned a National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Washington Post, GQ, NPR, Esquire and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 novels that changed our world. His following novel, What Strange Paradise, was chosen as a best book of the year by the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and others.


Joseph Fraioli is an award-winning sound designer. In his sound design work for advertising, TV and film like Tenet, he strives to create a unique and immersive world that pushes boundaries and surprises listeners through the use of custom innovative sound design which focuses on the enhancement of storytelling.


GMD Three is an artist and cinematographer, known for combining complex CGI with film and photography and having a passion for street culture, hip hop and graphic design.


Bill McMullen is an artist, designer, and illustrator, whose work has been featured by groups as diverse as The Beastie Boys and Adidas.


Annalee Newitz writes science fiction and nonfiction. They are the author of the book Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age, and the novels The Future of Another Timeline, and Autonomous, which won the Lambda Literary Award. As a science journalist, they are a writer for the New York Times and elsewhere, and have a monthly column in New Scientist. They are also the co-host of the Hugo Award-winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct. Previously, they were the founder of io9, and served as the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo.


Brian Payne is Managing Partner at ATON design. An artist and former faculty member at Rhode Island School of Design, his work specializes in communicating complex ideas, thematic concepts, narratives, systems and more through visuals like editorial and conceptual illustrations, posters and print materials, logos and branding, interpretive signage, information graphics, objects, landscapes, and books.


Daniel H. Wilson is a Cherokee citizen and author of the New York Times bestselling books Robopocalypse and its sequel Robogenesis, as well as How to Survive a Robot Uprising, The Clockwork Dynasty, and Amped. He earned a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Masters degrees in Machine Learning and Robotics. His latest novel is an authorized stand-alone sequel to Michael Crichton’s classic The Andromeda Strain, called The Andromeda Evolution.


Spencer Wirth-Davis is composer and podcaster, who has written music for Nike, Netflix, NBC, Showtime, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Activision, Forever21, PBS, the Golden State Warriors.


Sedat Oezgen is a professional comic book artist, who has worked with IDW, Image, Valiant, Zenescope, as well as the US military’s Special Operations Command.


Jordan Clayton works at the intersection of Product Innovation and Interactive Marketing. With a diverse background in UX/UI Design, he helps clients develop powerful interactive solutions in the form of web platforms, products, games, social programs, multimedia executions and more. With over 50 industry awards under his belt, he has worked with clients that range from small non-profit organizations to Fortune 500 companies like CocaCola and Microsoft to consumer brands like Burger King and Jack Daniels.


Kathleen McInnis, PhD, is senior fellow and director of the Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She has previously worked at the US Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy) and the UK House of Commons. She is also the author of the novel The Heart of War.