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Speculative fiction stories have the power to take abstract, contentious policy debates about humans and their changing environment and turn them into gripping, visceral tales. The emerging literary genre of climate fiction — epitomized by novels like Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy and Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife” — helps to imagine possible futures shaped by climate change and to encourage more creative thinking about how humans might respond and adapt.
Arizona State University’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative is proud to announce the 12 finalists for its inaugural Climate Fiction Short Story Contest. These authors created unique and compelling visions of how humans might live in a future radically affected by climate change. A grand-prize winner will be selected from these finalists and announced in September.
The finalists are:
• Ashley Bevilacqua Anglin, “Acqua Alta”
• Kathryn Blume, “Wonder of the World”
• Kelly Cowley, “Shrinking Sinking Land”
• Stirling Davenport, “Masks”
• Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson, “Sunshine State”
• Diana Rose Harper, “Thirteenth Year”
• Henrietta Hartl, “LOSD and Fount”
• Matthew Henry, “Victor and the Fish”
• Shauna O’Meara, “On Darwin Tides”
• Lindsay Redifer, “Standing Still”
• Yakos Spiliotopoulos, “Into the Storm”
• Daniel Thron, “The Grandchild Paradox”
The finalists’ stories will be published in an anthology to be released in September in conjunction with the grand-prize winner announcement. The anthology will include a foreword from science fiction legend Kim Stanley Robinson, who served as a judge for the contest, and an interview with award-winning climate fiction author Paolo Bacigalupi. The grand-prize winner will receive $1000, and several runners-up will receive bundles of books signed by Bacigalupi.
The contest is the first public climate fiction endeavor hosted by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative, which explores how imagination might shape our social, political and scientific responses to the challenge of climate change. It was co-sponsored by ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council. The contest received more than 700 entries submitted by writers from 67 countries.
The stories consider the potential future ramifications of climate change for communities across the globe, from London and Madagascar to Venice, rural New England and the Florida Everglades. They engage with themes including artificial intelligence, DIY culture, human enhancement, wildfires and environmental insurgents overthrowing national governments.
All submissions were subject to multiple rounds of blind review by an editorial board that included experts on sustainability, conservation, geology, climate modeling and environmental history from ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, School of Life Sciences, School of Earth and Space Exploration, and Department of History, and experts in science fiction and creative writing from ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the Center for Science and the Imagination.
To learn more about the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative, visit climateimagination.asu.edu.