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Community Reads: Climate Fiction Writing Awards

A guide to the Community Reads program at UWB/CC Campus Library

The Campus Library’s Community Reads team is thrilled to announce that this year’s programming will include writing awards for visionary fiction! Inspired by the book Afterglow: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, which was created as a result of Grist’s Imagine 2200 contest, we want to extend a similar invitation to our community to share your own visionary fiction on the topic of climate justice. The awards, funded by the IAS Environmental Humanities Support Fund, will be open to all undergraduate and graduate students at UW Bothell and Cascadia College.

Award Information

From our submissions, we will select four stories to be awarded a prize of $500 each. In addition to these larger prizes, the first ten people to submit work will receive an early submission prize!

Submission will also come with the option to be published in our digital Community Reads Visionary Fiction anthology, regardless of whether or not your work receives an award.


*Note: the settings on the form require you to sign in to Google, and we were not able to change this. If this presents a barrier to your submission, please email Hannah Mendro at and we will work out an alternate mode of submission.


February 20: Submissions open (attend our launch event with "Afterglow" author Lindsey Brodeck!)

April 4: Writing event at the UW Bothell Diversity Center

April 10: Writing event at the Cascadia Diversity & Equity Center

April 22: Writing submissions close; judging period begins

Early to mid May (date TBD): Prizes are announced

Late May (date TBD): Celebration party


"Home is the place you don't give up on." -Lindsey Brodeck

Our guiding question: What could climate justice look like in the Pacific Northwest?

Science fiction author Walidah Imarisha describes visionary fiction as “science fiction that has relevance toward building new, freer worlds.” The Community Reads Visionary Fiction Awards  seek local, community-centric fiction that centers environmental and social justice from a visionary perspective. We are looking for writing that takes an explicitly anti-oppressive framework, that strives towards decolonial ideas and centers the communities at the heart of climate activism.

Visionary fiction is a decolonial project, and we acknowledge that parts of our place-based prompt use regional names and concepts that exist within a colonizer framework. We use these terms to invoke a frame of reference familiar to all of us on campus, but we encourage you to think outside the colonial framework of land and relationship to the environment for your writing and to imagine new ways of relating to one another and to the natural world. Our region is brimming with biodiversity and iconic landmarks that call out to be reinvisioned–from Tahoma to the Hoh Rainforest to Neah Bay. Inspiration might be as close as the North Creek Wetlands, where our famous campus crows roost nightly in great flocks, or the landscapes and spaces that are key to your own communities.

Some specific aspects that we will be looking for in submissions include:

  • Climate justice/climate solutions
  • Focus on social justice and/or centering of traditionally marginalized perspectives
  • Visionary or hopepunk lens
  • Word length between 500 and 3,000 words

For resources or ideas about the variety of climate fiction genres, check out this glossary from Grist’s website and our Climate Fiction Inspiration page.

Judging Guidelines:

The following are things that the judges will be looking for when evaluating submissions. These are not the end-all of what your stories can include, but we want to explain our criteria a little more and provide some examples for how a story might respond to or fulfill them.

Climate justice/climate solutions

We would like to see…

  • A story that acknowledges either an ongoing or past response to climate change as a central part of the narrative
  •  A world either in the process of or the wake of being restructured based on climate justice
  • Acknowledgement of specific impacts of climate change on human lives and the natural world
  • Examples could include: government policy changes; technological innovations that counter climate change; community activist movements (or a reference to history of any of these things)

Focus on social justice and centering of traditionally marginalized perspectives

We would like to see…

  • An effort to decenter white supremacy/white heteropatriarchy. This could include portrayal of characters or communities from outside current privileged norms of gender, race, ability, and/or sexuality - or, if you are concerned about writing from outside your experience, at least thoughtful engagement with these hierarchies - and the idea of a visionary future that works towards justice for people of all backgrounds and identities.
  • Acknowledgement of past or ongoing social justice struggle, especially in relation to climate change
  • Characters who exist in community with other humans and/or with the land they steward, rather than lone wolf actors
  • Non-discriminatory language
  • Examples could include: intentionally using Indigenous place names; relationships outside of the heteronorm; explicitly nonwhite, queer, or disabled characters

Visionary or hopepunk lens

We would like to see stories with an explicitly forward-looking and/or hopeful lens, rather than apocalyptic stories that focus on scare tactics. Stories do not have to shy away from the reality of climate change or environmental injustice, but we are hoping to turn our attention towards how these problems can be addressed, rather than the fear of what will happen if they aren’t.

Academic Honesty

As Walidah Imarisha says in Octavia's Brood, visionary fiction is meant to be a tool for decolonizing our minds and “building new, freer worlds.” As such, these awards are meant to be much more about the process than the product. We ask you to follow the guidelines for academic integrity at both UW Bothell and Cascadia and submit only your own work, not only for the purposes of fairness, but also so that you can benefit from visionary fiction as a tool for thinking creatively and hopefully about new climate futures.