Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cli-Fi Short Story contest sponsored by Kim Stanley Robinson at ASU announces winner from among 12 finalists in early September

The Imagination
and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University, partnering
with the Center for Science and the Imagination, the Rob and Melani
Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, and the Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing, set up the Cli-Fi Short Story Contest last year to encourage writers around the world to
explore the human experience of climate change.12 finalists have been selected, see here. And the winner will be announced in early September, with a nice $1000 prize coming their way.

“The center generally does research-based storytelling, getting
experts and creative writers together at the inception of a story idea
to ground the story in science, technology, and social policy. But we
also don’t want the story to seem too meticulously fact-checked to
take the blood out of it,” says Joey Eschrich, the Center for Science
and the Imagination’s editor and program manager recently told Joseph Horton, writing for Emerson College's Ploughshares blog. "Particularly when
discussing climate change, when the concerns are truly global and the
repercussions potentially distant or diffuse."

“It’s really hard to get people to relate, to put themselves into the
story of climate change. It’s just too colossal and abstract. In day
to day reality, it doesn’t seem real…How do you make this more real
for people?”

The contest has chosen its 12 finalists, and early in September the winner (with a $1000 first prize check)
will be announced along with the release of the contest anthology, Horton blogged, noting that an
anthology featuring the 12 finalists and theirselected stories, a foreword from
 Kim Stanley Robinson, who lent his name to the cli-fi story contest, and with an an interview with climate
fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi as well.

Though the stories were asked to
speculate on futures for our planet, their authors were also asked to
contend with the realities of today’s writing world, according to Horton. Eschrich told him that the
contest received over 500 submissions from over 50 countries, many of
them at the beginning of the contest window, which he thinks suggested
a previous lack of recognition and homes for these cli-fi stories.

“I expected a lot of polar bears stories, and we did get a lot of
polar bear stories, and stories about islands. There were a lot of
salvaging stories too. But the theme of people being really resentful
of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations and not really being
able to do anything with that anger was a major theme,” Eschrich
 told Horton. “There’s a story about disaster tourism, this whole economy
that grows up around this village, and westerners arriving and wanting
to see the coral reefs before they fall apart…There’s also a story
about this young couple deciding whether to have a kid or not. This is
a near-future world where there’s been a lot of sea level rise. What
makes it great at the level of ideas is the kind of ethical questions
this couple has to answer.”

True to the center’s philosophy of “thoughtful optimism,” Eschrich
 told Horton that the judges tried to avoid the narrative extremes to
find engaging entries grounded in scientific and technological truths.

“I think in a lot of cases the point of hopefulness in these cli-fi short stories is
the resilience of communities or the ability of people to adapt and
muddle through…I think people are going to respond to these human
stories about people making difficult choices.”

Meredith Martinez, Education Programs Manager at the Virginia G.
Piper Center for Creative Writing, was one of the expert judges from ASU wo acted as a contest administrator
and this also allowed her to read as a fellow writer.

She told Horton: “As a judge, I was most
excited by cli-fi stories in which a future situation of a society
transformed by climate change was crucial to the human drama unfolding
in the story’s pages. In other words, I was looking for stories in
which climate change was not merely a backdrop or a context, but was a
powerful determiner in how characters in the story thought, acted, and
configured their values. I suppose, in this sense, I was reading as a
writer, in that I was looking for how thoroughly and originally an
author cast his or her imagination forward into the future, and how
well the author wedded this imagined future to the action of the story
and to the characters involved in the action.”

“Of course, along these lines, another thing that good cli-fi does so
beautifully is allow a reader to vicariously experience what is
impossible, or implausible, for him or her to undergo in normal life,
and to rehearse emotions surrounding that experience.”

Kim Stanley Robinson lent his name to the contest
and his foreword introduces the anthology
that will be released next month in September.

When Horton asked KSR about what kinds of labels for this kind of
writing might be useful, KSR said:

“It’s becoming more prominent now because climate change is already
happening and global warming will be with us no matter what we do now,
though what we do now matters hugely in how bad the impacts will be.
So now, any near-future realist sf, which is only one
subgenre among many, has to include climate change just to be a
realistic scenario. You can call this cli-fi, [which is a newish subgenre of sf] if you like."


12 talented cli-fi short-story writers explore social and emotional impacts of global warming in the Anthrocene Age

Cli-Fi Short Story contest winners judged by Kim Stanley Robinson were announced earlier in the summer by ASU organizers: grand prize gets a sweet $1,000 check when gonged GRAND PRIZE WINNER in September.

June 21, 2016
Cli-fi short stories  and novels have the power tell POWERFUL tales about climate change issues, away from the usual government charts and boring statistics that climate denialists and climate activists argue about 24/7  getting seemingly nowhere.

The emerging literary genre of ''cli-fi'' — championed by ASU and documented at the Cli Fi Report and 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 announces, below, the 12 finalists for its first Cli-Fi Short Story Contest. These 12 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”  Dr. Ashley Bevilacqua Anglin teaches at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Ashley tells this blog: "I'm a professor of Italian (hence the story I wrote that was one of the finalists and is about Venice and titled "Acqua Alta") and Spanish. I actually already had a vague notion for a different cli-fi story vaguely in mind when I saw the notice for this ASU short story contest, and I decided to play around with a couple of stories and see what I came up with. It was possible to submit up to three tories for the contest. I started two stories, but the first notion I'd started with was not at all interested in remaining a short story, so I'm still working now on that one as a novel! "


• Kathryn Blume, “Wonder of the World” [from Vermont]

Kathryn is a well-known climate activist in Vermont and  is ''a speaker, radio personality, writer, theater performer, climate champion," as she puts in on her Twitter ID. 

She adds: "Working for creative, hopeful, community-building responses to the climate crisis. Vermont, USA        


• Kelly Cowley, “Shrinking Sinking Land” [from the UK]
@kellycowboy [lives in Chester, England, UK]

• Stirling Davenport, “Masks”

Stirling is a writer, artist and traveler. She has spent most of her life doing various day jobs to support her writing and painting.

In 2005, she spent a year volunteering in northern India where she taught art to Tibetan refugee children and did the filming for a documentary about the exile experience. She has a keen interest in Buddhism and has made seven trips to Tibet over the past ten years.  

• Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson, “Sunshine State”

Adam Flynn @threadbare lives in San Francisco and is ''trying to make Solarpunk a thing.'' - He is one of the main stewards in the solarpunk movement, having talked about solarpunk in Grist, Hieroglpyh, and Australia. He has been described as a brand strategist based in San Francisco, who is heavily involved in the early stirrings of this movement.

Andrew Dana Hudson -- wrote the thought-provoking On the Political Dimensons of Solarpunk at He is a communications associate at Center for Care Innovations.


• Diana Rose Harper, “Thirteenth Year” (bio info TBA)

• Henrietta Hartl, “LOSD and Fount” (bio info TBA)

• Matthew Henry, “Victor and the Fish”
@MenryAZ Matt is an Arizona-dwelling Montana expat, PhD candidate in literature and environmental humanities, teacher, and writer. He lives in Tempe, Arizona 


 • Shauna O’Meara, “On Darwin Tides” -- is based in Canberra, Australia.
 She blogs: "I entered the ASU cli-fi contest because I am passionate about the environment and about the need for climate change action and because I believe that the genre of  cli-fi has an important role to play in depicting the climate future as it might be, good or bad, that the global community might hopefully be inspired to steer itself toward something that is sustainable, healthy and equitable for all....''


• Lindsay Redifer, “Standing Still” in Guadalajara, Mexico @LindsayRedifer

Teacher, dancer, writer, chef, lady.



• Yakos Spiliotopoulos, “Into the Storm”

Exile Quarterly

• Daniel Thron, “The Grandchild Paradox”
From Chatham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, and now based in Los Angeles, Daniel writes on his Facebook page: ''My cli-fi short story was one of the 12 finalists in the ASU contest! Huge thanks to my friend Nick Iandolo, who not only wrote an amazing story himself, but kicked my ass into gear on this thing.''
Nick Iandolo, Daniel's friend in Boston, notes on his own FB page: "A big hats off to my one of my best friends Daniel Thron who wrote an amazing cli-fi short story in a last minute blaze of writing madness. He and I entered the ASU Cli-Fi Short Story Contest. Though my story 'The Nitrite Paradox' was not chosen to be one of the finalists, his story 'The Grandchild Paradox' made the list of 12 finalists out of over 700 submissions from around the world!
Dan is a major Kim Stanely Robinson fan, and has been forever. He's even read Robinson's doctoral thesis."



The 12 finalists’ stories will be published in a cli-fi anthology to be released in September in conjunction with the grand-prize winner announcement. The anthology will include a foreword from cli-fi novelist Kim Stanley Robinson (his newest cli-fi novel "New York 2140" is for release in March 2017 featuring a half-submerged Manhattan with massive sea level rises), [and KSR served as a judge for the contest]. And  interview with cli-fi novelist Paolo Bacigalupi {''The Water Knife''}. The grand-prize winner will receive a sweet check for $1000, and several runners-up will receive bundles of books signed by Paolo, too.

The contest is the first public cli-fi 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. Finalists come from Australia, Germnay, Mexico, the USA and Canada, with 8 women and 4 men in the list.

The stories consider 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 AI, 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 novelist Kim Stanley Robinson and  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.

1 comment:

Treesong said...

Thanks for all of the information about the finalists! I've been following this story closely and was eager to learn more about the finalists. I'm looking forward to reading the anthology!