Grist is excited to announce our third-annual climate fiction short story contest, Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors.
Imagine 2200 is an invitation to writers from all over the globe to imagine a future in which solutions to the climate crisis flourish and help bring about radical improvements to our world. We dare you to dream anew. [Get Imagine updates: Sign up for our email list]
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Submissions for our 2023/2024 contest are now open. We’re looking for stories of 3,000 to 5,000 words that envision the next 180 years of climate progress — roughly seven generations – imagining intersectional worlds of abundance, adaptation, reform, and hope.
A great Imagine story showcases creative climate solutions, particularly through narratives that center the communities most impacted by the climate crisis, and that envision what a truly green, equitable, and decolonized society could look like. We celebrate fiction rooted in hope, justice, and cultural authenticity, and aim to amplify voices that have been, and continue to be, affected by systems of oppression.
There is no cost to enter. Submissions close June 13, 2023, 11:59 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time.
The winning writer will be awarded $3,000, with the second- and third-place winners receiving $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. An additional nine finalists will each receive $300. All winners and finalists will have their story published in an immersive collection on Grist’s website.
Stories will be judged by a panel of literary experts, including acclaimed authors Paolo Bacigalupi, Nalo Hopkinson, and Sam J. Miller.
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Imagine 2200 was inspired and informed by literary movements like Afrofuturism and Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, disabled, queer, and feminist futurisms, along with hopepunk and solarpunk. We hope writers of all genres look to these movements for inspiration, and we urge writers within these communities to submit stories.
We also invite you to bring climate fiction and the principles of Imagine 2200 into other genres. Write a climate mystery or comedy. If you love steamy romance, thread a climate story through that titillating enemies-to-lovers arc. Climate connects to every part of life — all sorts of stories can be climate stories.
So dream big — envision a world where we prioritize our well-being, work to mend our communities, and lead lives that celebrate our humanity. We can’t wait to read what you come up with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we’ve answered some FAQs to explain the concepts that drive this project. If you’re ready to start writing, you can find our submissions portal here.
And if you’d like to get in touch or have additional questions, you can reach us at imaginefiction [at] grist.org.
Writing your story
Q. Can I submit a story longer than 5,000 words?
A. We’re excited that you’re excited, but the submission guidelines are not flexible. Stories need to be between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
Q. Does my story need to be set in the year 2200?
A. Nope! We’d be just as happy to see your visions of amazing, just, and decolonized worlds in 2136 or 2098. We just want to encourage writers to think well beyond our present moment and with a sense of expansive possibility.
Q. Can my story include supernatural or fantastical elements?
A. Sure! Of course, like everything in your story, it should serve a purpose. We’re open to magical realism, spiritual elements, and supernatural twists, especially where they’re culturally significant.
Q. TBH, I’m not that hopeful about the future of the planet. Can my story be grimdark and apocalyptic?
A. We get it. The world can seem pretty dark these days. That’s why it’s so important to make space for visions of a future worth fighting for. We firmly believe in the power of imagination to help set our compass toward a better world. We’re not saying you need to feign optimism, but bear in mind that hope is one of the core elements we’ll be reading for. And hope takes many forms. We know that achieving a clean, green, and just future will require the sustained efforts of many people, some conflict, and a whole lot of adaptation. We invite you to show those aspects in your story as well.
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Submitting your story
Q. Is there a cost to enter the contest?
A. Zero dollars!
Q. Who can submit? Are there any restrictions on age, geography, etc.?
A. Writers must be at least 18 years old to submit to Imagine 2200. The contest is open to folks anywhere in the world, except where participation is prohibited or restricted by applicable law. Stories do need to be written in English.
Q. Can a submission have more than one author?
A. We do accept co-authored stories. Only one of the co-authors should submit the story — the submission form will offer a way to list the other co-author(s). If we select a co-authored story for publication, all authors will be credited and prize money will be divided between them.
Q. Do authors keep the rights to their stories?
A. Yes, authors maintain the copyright and ownership of their stories.
Grist will have the right to publish and distribute your story on our site and with partners if you are a winner or finalist.
We use those rights to publish a digital collection of the winning and finalist stories, including audio versions of each story, and distribute some stories and audio with partner sites and publications. You are welcome to republish or sell your story elsewhere once the collection is published – we simply ask for a credit line indicating that the work first appeared in Grist’s Imagine 2200 collection.
We also ask for 12 months of exclusive print anthology rights to publish winning and finalist stories in a print version of the collection (like our Afterglow anthology). If we do publish such an anthology, all authors receive a share of the advance and any royalties.
If you are not a winner or finalist, we retain no rights to your story after you are notified.
See all the information about rights and licensing in our full official rules.
[NOTE: This answer has been updated to better clarify how we use winning and finalist stories.]
Q. OK, I’m in! How do I submit a story, and how can I help spread the word?
A. Woo-hoo! For more complete guidelines and criteria, head to our submissions portal here. If you’d like to help get the word out or have a question we haven’t answered, drop us a note at imaginefiction [at] grist.org. We can’t wait to read your story!
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Q. How can I learn more about Imagine and cli-fi at Grist?
A. Check out our About page for more information and to see past contest winners and collections. Or sign up for our email list to get updates on Imagine contests and publications.