Grist’s solutions lab, Fix, is excited to announce the launch of our first-ever, free-entry, climate-fiction short story contest — Imagine 2200: Climate fiction for future ancestors. We’re dipping a toe into the world of fiction, and we want you to join us.
Grist’s mission is to make the story of a better world so irresistible, you want it right now. Our award-winning journalism has done that for the past 20 years (if we do say so ourselves). And now, with this contest, we’re embracing the opportunity to look beyond the confines of the present moment and share visions of solutions that haven’t even been dreamt up yet. Imagine 2200 draws inspiration from Afrofuturism, as well as Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, disabled, feminist, and queer futures, and the genres of hopepunk and solarpunk. We especially want to see — and share — stories that center climate solutions from the most impacted communities and bring into focus what a truly just, regenerative future could look like.
Submissions are now open. We’re calling for 3,000- to 5,000-word stories that envision the next 180 years of climate progress — roughly seven generations. The winning writer will be awarded $3,000, with the second- and third-place finalists receiving $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. An additional nine finalists will each receive a $300 honorarium. Winners and finalists will be published in a stunning (trust us), immersive digital collection on Fix’s website and will be celebrated in a public-facing virtual event. Our board of expert literary judges includes authors Adrienne Maree Brown, Morgan Jerkins, and Kiese Laymon.
Eager to learn more? We’ve included some FAQs below. If you’re ready to get writing (and want to help spread the word), you can find our submissions portal here. And if you’d like to get in touch, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. How did this whole thing get started?
A.In the spring of 2020, Fix convened a group of climate and justice leaders for a multiday gathering. Through a visioning exercise, we collectively charted out the next 180 years of climate progress, focusing on the goal of a clean, green, and just future in the year 2200. This assembly visualized a complete societal transformation: A dissolution of political parties and borders. Reparations. The return of land to Indigenous and Black stewardship. Restorative justice replacing prisons. Granting rights to the earth and non-human kin. Food sovereignty and heirloom seeds triumphing over monoculture farming. An economy built on ecological restoration, mutual aid, and care work. The pursuit of right relationships in all our systems and designs.
Out of their visions grew the idea for a climate-fiction initiative, to lift up more voices in the climate narrative, and to breathe life into the ideas we heard.
Q. Why fiction? And what is cli-fi, anyway?
A. Fiction gives us an opportunity to imagine the world we want to live in, in a way that journalism doesn’t. Our hope is that the stories presented in the Imagine 2200 collection will inspire, delight, and motivate readers to take action to make elements of those worlds a reality.
Although it has deep roots, climate-fiction (cli-fi) has been coming into its own as a genre over the past several years. (In fact, with the state our planet’s in, it’s been posited that any stories that don’t consider the fate of the climate will soon start to look pretty otherworldly.) Fix is getting in the game to offer cli-fi that’s hopeful, intersectional, and grounded in justice.
Q. Is there a cost to enter the contest?
A. Zero dollars!
Q. Are there any restrictions on age, geography, etc.?
A. Writers need to be at least 18 years old to submit to Imagine 2200. (Sorry, kiddos.) The contest is open to folks anywhere in the world, though stories do need to be written primarily in English.
Q. Will authors keep the rights to their stories?
A. Grist retains the first serial rights to publish, produce, reproduce, distribute, and market the 12 final stories accepted to the Imagine 2200 collection. All remaining rights will revert back to the authors upon publication. And if the story gets published elsewhere after the contest, we’ll just ask for a credit line indicating that the work first appeared in Grist and Fix’s Imagine 2200 collection.
Q. OK, I’m in! How do I submit a story, and how can I help spread the word?
Q. Does my story need to be set in the year 2200?
A. Nah. We’d be just as happy to see your visions for amazing, just, and regenerative worlds in 2136 or 2098. Or some unspecified time (as long as it’s in the future). You could even show us a snapshot of the real work and struggle that will be needed in the near-er future to get us on the right path to 2200 — because we know it’s going to take real work and struggle.
Q. TBH, I’m not that hopeful about the future of the planet. Can my story be grimdark and apocalyptic?
A. Why would you want to make us sad? Jokes aside, we’re not asking anyone to feign optimism or paint a rosy, pollyannaish picture of a conflict-free climate utopia. But our name is Fix, after all, and we are a solutions lab. We’re not likely to publish any stories about a planet that burns and a future that sucks.
Q. Can my story include supernatural or fantastical elements?
A. Sure! We will be judging stories in part based on the rigor of environmental, scientific, historical, and/or cultural background that goes into them. But we’re open to magical realism, spiritual elements, and supernatural twists, especially where they’re culturally significant. Just please refrain from going full Star Wars or Game of Thrones, OK?
Q. I love this!
A.Thanks! Us, too.