The XR Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase is now open for entries!
Extinction Rebellion is looking for entrants for its first international writing contest: the ‘XR Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase’, organised by XR Wordsmiths.
We want to use our collective imagination as a tool against the climate and ecological emergency. Imagination unlocks the impossible and releases it into the realm of ‘possible’. Through radical re-imaginings of the world, we can get closer to creating a future which is positive and healthy for all life.
When you think about the future you want for the planet, what visions does your imagination conjure up? How would human societies interact with nature? How do you think a plant or an animal would describe its place in the world, and how it came to be so? What changes (from the smallest detail to large structural changes or technological innovations) would transform today’s world into the world you imagine? If we can imagine it, we can work towards it.
This writing competition rides the wave of the Solarpunk movement – a genre of art and literature that envisions a future in which humanity, nature, and technology exist in harmony. Solarpunk’s main ethos lies in finding solutions for a more sustainable and egalitarian world through rebellion against the status quo. Read more about Solarpunk here.
The winning entries will be decided by an amazing panel of judges including eco-poet and writer Helen Moore, children’s climate fiction writer Gregg Kleiner, Ecofiction Youtube vlogger Lovis Geier, and Green Party politician Zack Polanski. Winners will have their stories published in the XR Global blog and on the Rapid Transition Alliance website in addition to a range of other prizes, including three £1000 scholarships to the world’s first global online climate school terra.do, an illustration by Goodwives and Warriors based on your story, bicycles, experience vouchers, and (of course!) books. Our prize pool is still growing and developing, so if you or your organization would like to collaborate somehow or donate something awesome, let us know! Winning entries will be announced before the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow begins.
Whether you are totally new to the world of eco-fiction or a seasoned enthusiast, this contest is open to any adult, teenager, or child who wants to combine their passion for writing with getting the message out there about the climate and ecological emergency. If you’d like to get in touch or have any questions, please reach us at email@example.com.
With your vision for the planetary future in mind, please write a short story of up to 2,500 words and send it as an email (or email attachment) to XR Wordsmiths (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line ‘XR Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase Submission’.
There will be three age bands, (11 and under, 12-18, and 19+), so please include your age but not your name on the submission.
Submissions should be in English. Unfortunately our translation capacities are not strong enough right now to be able to field submissions in other languages. We apologize for any exclusion, and encourage the replication of this writing exercise in all languages!
- Competitors can submit as many stories as they like
- Co-authored submissions will also be accepted.
- There is NO minimum word count (and no minimum age limit!)
- Handwritten entries will also be accepted as a JPEG or PDF attachment.
- Entries must be prose fiction (no poems or non-fiction, please).
Stuck for ideas?
Here are some (optional) story prompts to help get your creativity flowing:
- Write a story about the future of the planet from a non-human perspective (this can be an animal, plant, stone, bacteria, etc. – anything in the natural world which is not human).
- Write a story that begins with the following sentence: They looked at it closely, both wondering the same thought: is it edible? OR They loved to spend their day in the sea/in the forest/by the mountains because…
- Choose an animal that is currently endangered and write a story about how the species survives and thrives.
- Choose a type of eco-friendly technology (real or imagined) and write about how it changes the world for the better.
- What might a world without the profit motive look like? Or without the concept of land ownership? Or where nonhumans had human advocates to represent them in decision making?
Submission Deadline: 14th September 2021
Q: Who are XR Wordsmiths?
A: We are a band/collective of writers who are deeply concerned with the climate and ecological emergency facing us all. We are a part of Extinction Rebellion, and hail from all over the world.
Our writing is one way we battle against this emergency — we hope it spurs curiosity, concern, inspiration, reflection, love, rage, and also action. You’ll find all kinds of writing here, and a diversity of voices and styles, to remind us of the diversity of humankind and of our beautiful living earth.
Q: What is Solarpunk?
A: Solarpunk is an art movement that envisions how the future might look if humanity succeeded in solving major contemporary challenges, with an emphasis on sustainability problems such as climate change and pollution, using only current technologies. It encompasses a multitude of media such as literature, fine arts, architecture, fashion, music, tattoos, and video games in a similar manner to adjacent movements such as steampunk and cyberpunk as well as more established art movements like Baroque and Impressionism. Punk of all kinds (including solarpunk) is about uplifting the downtrodden and including the excluded – including nonhumans.
Q: Can you recommend any Solarpunk books I can use for inspiration?
Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World – Anthology edited by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro, Translated by Fabio Fernandes (2012)
Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation – edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland (2017)
Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers – Anthology edited by Sarena Ulibarri and Wendy Nikel (2018)
Q: Why are you focusing on optimistic visions for the future, when there is (unfortunately) so much inspiration for negative visions?
A: Sci-fi is already bursting with imagined dystopias, and whilst these serve to warn us of and explore possible negative developments, they do not necessarily help us imagine how to avert them.
Q: Can I include illustrations with my story?
A: Yes! We welcome your illustrations – you can send them as attachments in your submission email to us. However, we will only be judging the text you send, not any images.
Q: Can I only submit one story?
A: You can submit as many stories as you like! Please submit all your stories in the same email.
Q: Will you accept co-authored submissions?
A: Yes! But please note that the prizes will have to be split between you.
We look forward to reading your submissions!
Artwork in banner by Rita Fei and turtle graphic by Nikunj Bhimsaria
Rita’s print shop: https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/ritzbitzfei