Book features authors from six different countries alongside science fiction luminaries Paolo Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson
In the midst of Earth’s hottest year on record, the effects of climate change are more apparent than ever. But how do we come to grips with the consequences on the ground, for actual people in specific places? New York Times bestselling science fiction author Paolo Bacigalupi believes the answer lies in fiction: “Fiction has this superpower of creating empathy in people for alien experiences. You can live inside of the skin of a person who is utterly unlike you.” Bacigalupi, science fiction legend Kim Stanley Robinson, and 13 other authors are featured in Everything Change, a new fiction anthology from Arizona State University’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative (ICF).
In September 2015, ICF challenged writers around the world to create short stories that imagined possible futures for Earth and humanity transformed by climate change. Twelve stories from that Climate Fiction Short Story Contest are collected in Everything Change, alongside a foreword from Robinson and an interview with Bacigalupi.
“Fiction is how we organize our knowledge into plots that suggest how to behave in the real world,” writes Robinson in the book’s foreword. “We decide what to do based on the stories we tell ourselves, so we very much need to be telling stories about our responses to climate change and the associated massive problems bearing down on us and our descendants.”
The anthology includes the grand prize winner of the Climate Fiction Short Story Contest, “Sunshine State,” a quasi-utopian disaster story set in the Florida Everglades. The story’s authors, Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson of Oakland, CA, will receive a $1000 prize, and four other prizewinners will receive book bundles signed by Bacigalupi. Other stories explore themes including disaster tourism, environmentally-motivated coups, the human toll of catastrophic flooding and crop failures, invasive species and extinctions, surging wildfires, and more.
The contest was a truly global endeavor, receiving 743 submissions from 67 different countries and from more than half of the states in the U.S. The twelve stories featured in the anthology were written by authors from the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Australia, and the stories take place in locales ranging from Venice and Malaysia to rural New England, China, Montana, and Madagascar.
“The global response to our contest is an encouraging signal of the growing attention to climate change in families, communities, and countries all around the world,” says Manjana Milkoreit, senior sustainability fellow at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and a co-editor of Everything Change. “Just like in the international negotiation efforts, we can better understand the global impacts of climate change in fiction when we consider a diverse range of cultural perspectives.”
Winners were selected through a careful three-round judging process involving Kim Stanley Robinson, an award-winning novelist and pioneer in the field of climate fiction, plus a diverse panel of expert judges from Arizona State University’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, Department of History, Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, and Center for Science and the Imagination.
The title of the book is drawn from a quote by Margaret Atwood, who delivered ICF’s first annual Imagination and Climate Futures Lecture at Arizona State University in 2014: “I think calling it climate change is rather limiting. I would rather call it the everything change. Everything is changing in ways we cannot yet fully understand or predict.”
Everything Change is free to download, read, and share in PDF and EPUB formats at the ICF website https://climateimagination.asu.edu/everything-change. It will also be available within the next several days through the Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo digital book stores.
“The diversity of subject, tone, and formal innovation in our anthology’s stories represents an important attribute of the burgeoning climate fiction movement,” says Meredith Martinez, education programs manager at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and a co-editor of Everything Change. “The volume of literature being created and circulated about climate change is certainly increasing, but the exciting thing about this genre is the range, depth, and specificity with which authors are imagining political, technological, cultural, and generational impacts. We hope that our anthology inspires authors to continue to bring new perspectives to this literary movement.”
The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative is a partnership among 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 – or lack thereof – shapes humanity’s response to climate change, and how imagination merged with science can create solutions to climate challenges. The initiative hosts public events, offers courses at the intersection of art, literature, and climate science, and encompasses research projects uniting scholars and practitioners from a broad range of disciplines. To learn more, visit climateimagination.asu.edu.
Media contact: Joey Eschrich