Friday, September 18, 2015

International 'Cli-Fi' Short Story Contest to be judged by Stan Robinson

International 'Cli-Fi' Short Story Contest

challenges writers to imagine futures shaped by man-made global warming (AGW) in this Anthroposcenic Age with a Climapocalypse at its denouement


Posted: September 18, 2015
ASU Climate Fiction panel in April 2015
The ASU Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative hosted a cli-fi literature panel in April that included a flash fiction exercise to devise stories about Arizona's future water and drought scenarios.
Photo by: Jason Franz/Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives

Arizona State University (ASU) plans to award $10,000 to a grand prize winner in an upcoming cli-fi short story contest. Deadline is January 15, 2016. Announcement of winner is April 2016.

The challenge with AGW is that it’s gradual — a pervasive, creeping calamity that can be difficult for people to accept or comprehend. But, what if people could understand it better by reading emotionally-charged short stories and novels and seeing similar kinds of movies?

Cli-Fi stories have the power to turn AGW issues that confront humanity into gripping, visceral storytelling. The emerging genre of cli-fi, epitomized by novels like Margaret Atwood’s ''Maddaddam'' trilogy helps us to imagine futures shaped by AGW in deeply human terms.

The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University, in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, invites writers around the world in any language they prefer to write in, as is their custom, to submit short stories that explore climate change, science and human futures for ASU's first annual Cli-Fi Short Story Contest.

The submission deadline is Jan. 15, 2016, and contest entry is free.

“Climate change is starting to appear as a character in all our stories, so there is no better time to invite creative visions of how humanity will face these challenges,” says Dr. Ed Finn, co-director of the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative.

The contest will be judged by literary legend Kim Stanley Robinson, the author of many foundational works in cli-fi, along with other ''clexperts'' at ASU from the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative.

"This contest is a wonderful idea and I'm happy to be part of it,” said Robinson. “There's a thrill to writing and reading fiction that can't be matched by any other activity. As we move into the Climate Change Century, the stories we tell each other about coping with it are going to be a crucial part of our thoughts and actions, so I urge people to give this contest a try and see what happens.”

The grand-prize winner will be awarded $10,000, with three additional finalists receiving book bundles signed by cli-fi author Paolo Bacigalupi. A collection of the best submissions will be published in a forthcoming online anthology, and considered for publication in the journal Issues in Science and Technology.  

Writers are asked to send in short stories that envision a future for the Earth and humanity that is transformed in some way by AGW.  The only other r''equirement'' is to tell a good story. Story is everything. The jury is particularly interested in short stories that illuminate the emotional roller-coaster challenges that individuals and communities must confront in the face of AGW. 

"Merging current headlines and deeply human storytelling, cli-fi can be a powerful learning tool,” says one clexpert. “Taking the reader into a possible future, a story can turn the issues into real  meaning and emotion. It can help us make sense of and respond to these incredibly complex problems that threaten to wipe out the human species in the next 30 generations."


For full contest rules and details, and a link to submit stories for consideration, visit

The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative is a partnership between the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, and the Center for Science and the Imagination. It explores how imagination shapes humanity’s response to climate change, and how imagination merged with science can create solutions to AGW challenges. The initiative hosts public events, offers courses at the intersection of art, literature and climate science as well as encompassing research projects uniting scholars and practitioners from a broad range of disciplines. 



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