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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

It’s that time again, when Grist rolls out its annual climate fiction short story contest! Have something to say about the future, and how we might win it? This could be the contest for you!

Imagine 2200 climate fiction contest 2023: Submit your story

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. 

Hopeful doesn’t mean “fatuous” or “unrealistic” or even “easy.” It does mean light at the end of this particular tunnel. If you’re wondering what a winning entry looks like, here are stories from previous iterations of the contest:

Here’s the listing on The Submissions Grinder (best submission tracking platform out there and did I mention it’s free?).

All genres welcome, no cost to enter, submissions close June 13, 2023. Head to the link for more details and the submissions portal.

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Photo by Felipe Dolce on Unsplash

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“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

― Andy Warhol

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Photo by Kama Tulkibayeva on Unsplash

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The power of the word to help transform our own emotions and our own belief in what’s possible for us? I don’t think anything transcends that.

— Oprah Winfrey

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Photo by delaram bayat on Unsplash

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I found this short in a digital pile of old draft material. If I remember correctly, it was written after seeing a documentary on nature in cities, and the problems that can cause for people and especially animals. 

So I won’t lie, it’s a little bit of a downer (unless you are an alien? If so, maybe try talking before breaking out the ray guns?). But there is much more to humanity than the negative, and (oddly) capturing some of the not-great like this helps me remember what’s good.

And since it’s the Ides of March, a day to remember that not everything in life is trustworthy, the theme of this story could also apply to AI.

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You and Yours

I came from the stars to meet you. I was happy. Excited, even. First contact with your verdant world. Think of all that we could share with you.

“You” could have meant a lot of things. I started with the most populous. An insect.

I remember little of what it was like, a flash of light, a warm wriggle in a puddle after rain. The feel of wind in my wings.

It’s embarrassing to say this now, but I was promptly eaten.

I was a spider next, all cool calculation and advanced engineering. A small corner of a log, beaten down by storm and time, dark with possibilities. I lasted longer there. Ate my former fellow insects and waited, and watched. 

A bird came next. Such wondrous flight! I could barely remember what it was to crawl on the ground. I wasn’t as happy, though, too busy searching for more of my kind, for clean water and air, for food that didn’t come in a take-out container. What is it about those golden arches that you like so much, anyway?

The weather turned, and I lost a step. Two, if you count both feet, and I do because the cat got them both along with all the rest of me. Stealth, fear, and longing. The shivers began then, side effects of the sickness building up inside me. Without my equipment I couldn’t tell you the cause, but I felt it deep inside. 

The coyote came next, hungry for an earlier time and a better place. I made do with city food, crippled squirrels and bird’s eggs, mice and the occasional half-eaten burger.

It was a hard life, hemmed in by development, but I found someone, as one does. I built a den, raised a family and was almost ready to send them out into the world when you came.

Too much wild near their streets, they said. As if they hadn’t put those streets into the wild in the first place.

I escaped, but my kits did not. Now the twisting in my gut was more than sickness, more than an accumulation of multiple lives. 

I waited. I watched. And now I am the officer who shot my kits rather than wait for animal control.

I no longer remember the happiness I felt when I began this journey, this introduction to you and yours. 

All I feel now is sorrow, and an aching need for my people to collect me and my data. They will be able to cure the accumulated poisons but they cannot give me back what I’ve lost. Optimism and hope have been replaced by something darker, something sharp and selfish and hard.  

We came to meet you, to understand, in the most fundamental ways, who and how you are. We are mirrors. We observe you, absorb what’s yours. Reflect it with intention until we achieve comprehension. 

Then we introduce you to me and mine. 

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Photo by Robby McCullough on Unsplash

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With apologies to turtles. And tortoises. And science.

Today, allow me to refer you to a story from Nature’s Futures, about a put-upon pair of frontline workers and the genetically-modified reptile who captured their hearts.

Clean-up on Planet 9 by Carol Scheina

A giant sea turtle swimming in a building-sized aquarium. Fields of toothy purple flowers. Goddamn dollhouse-sized pine forests. Quite a bit wasn’t the size or shape it was supposed to be.

While I appreciate the author’s discussion of her inspiration for the story, I can’t help but think that it could also be (at least distantly) related to the mysterious origins of the dimension-hopping tortoise* in my own story, “The T-4200.”

Sadly, “The T-4200” is not currently available online, but this story inspired me to send it off to a reprint market. Fingers crossed!

* I know, while a turtle and a tortoise are both members of the Testudine family of reptiles, they are not the same. Still (and with apologies to all right-thinking scientists out there), the story already adds animal-based faster-than-light travel, so I’m just going to go with it.

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Photo by Josh Miller on Unsplash

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“The chief obstacle to a woman’s success is that she can never have a wife.”

— Anna Lea Merritt (19th Century Artist), Lipincott’s Magazine (thankfully, this is no longer true everywhere)

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The path to success has always been difficult for many artists, and much more so for women. Given that it is International Women’s Day and I am from Pennsylvania, I thought I’d share the story of one group of women who looked at the crappy hand they’d been dealt and said, “Thanks, but we’ll find a better way.”

This is the story of the talented Victorian girl gang known as The Red Rose Girls.

Clubhouse Goals with the Red Rose Girls

While renting out the Red Rose Inn in Philadelphia, they lived on their own terms exploring the benefits [of] a communal all-female household. And at a time when women were barely even permitted to attend art school, they enriched each others careers and thrived together as self-sufficient artists.

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Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

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It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.

— Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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Photo by Frederick Marschall on Unsplash

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Whoever came up with the idea to limit my daily cookie intake was sorely mistaken.*

Rejected.

* Ok fine, it was me.

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Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

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Short on time but still want to explore the wonders of the universe? Check out Dust, an outlet for short sci-fi videos:

The YouTube Channel Sci-Fi Fans Need To Watch – CNET

…Dust’s absolutely balling YouTube channel, which functions as a receptacle for hundreds upon hundreds of sci-fi shorts with surprisingly high production values. If you’re a fan of sci-fi and you have around 15 minutes to kill, I 100% recommend hopping onto Dust and hitting play on pretty much anything. … As a spot for aspiring filmmakers to show off their talents, Dust’s videos mostly feature high-concept sci-fi – sort of like a post-modern Twilight Zone for zoomers. Almost all have surprisingly good special effects, decent acting performances and – above all – come bursting with grand ideas.

Have fun out there!

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Photo by Alex Shuper on Unsplash

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It’s Saturday and we woke to a world of deep, quiet snow. It took me back to childhood and to one book in particular, Ezra Jack Keats’s award-winning classic, The Snowy Day. Here it is, presented with animation and narration: 

Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.

– Sarah Addison Allen, “The Sugar Queen”

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Photo by Ravi Patel on Unsplash

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