Useful FictioN™ is the deliberate blending of narrative and nonfiction in packages that range from books and short stories to bespoke illustrations, videos, and graphic novellas.

Listen to Q&A about Useful Fiction on Monocle Radio

“What is Useful Fiction?” Video clip from Syxsense Forum, 2023




Narrative packages new information within the oldest, and most effective, technology of communication. The use of story to share ideas and lessons dates back to humans’ earliest days, gathered around a fire in a cave. In contrast, Powerpoint is only 30 years old, so it is not surprising that our brains are literally wired to take in story. In fact, studies from fields extending from cognitive science and psychology to national security research find that such “synthetic experiences” are actually even more powerful influencers than even the most “canonical academic sources,” on not just public understanding but policymaker actions.

Useful Fiction is designed to allow the audience to “experience” the research, as well as “feel” its effects. 

“Entertaining and informative and, through the narrative settings and characters who share research ideas, a reader will be able to learn about the transformative potential some technologies have and how they could shape future conflicts.” – IFL Science

Humans naturally connect through story, which makes Useful Fiction not just more likely to be read, but also more likely to be shared.

One of the biggest challenges for any project is how much else is competing for the target’s audiences time and and attention. An engaging story not only has a lower barrier to entry than a dense white paper, but also can also be read and enjoyed in times and locations that a traditional report might not be apt for, such as on the weekend or a plane flight. In turn, that target audience is then more likely to share a story with others -thus becoming part of the marketing team.

“The aim of the tales, described as “useful fiction”, is to spark discussion and creative insight which might challenge established thought.” – Forces

D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, Writers and Producers of HBO Game of Thrones, with P.W. Singer, Useful Fiction

Narrative engages both the left and right sides of the brain. It not just enhances understanding, but also creates emotional connection and that emotion then provokes action. We are all heroes or victims in our own life stories, and the same plays out in the connections we make to the scenes and characters in synthetic environments.

Useful Fiction narratives leverage that all-too-human inclination to drive change, be it the fear of avoiding a depicted “nightmare scenario” or the desire to make real a positive only experienced in simulation.  

General Mick Ryan, Commander of the Australian Defense College with August Cole, Useful Fiction


Any successful program of organizational change requires that team-members understand and connect with the reasons behind that change and support the ultimate destination.

Useful Fiction thus provides three crucial attributes to change management efforts:

  1. Communicating the need for change: By envisioning how the current way of doing things is no longer sustainable, leaders can help employees understand why the change is necessary.
  2. Creating a vision for the future: By providing a narrative of what the organization could look like in the future, leaders can help team-members see the benefits of the change and understand what they are working towards.
  3. Encouraging action: By creating a vision of how the team-members too have a role in a winning story, leaders can inspire employees to be proactive and supportive in driving the change forward.