Futurescapes Writing Contest & Workshop |
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Write your story, change the world

FutureScapes is an annual writing competition that asks writers to envision a particular future, and tell us its story. We could run projections and publish reports, but there’s a reason why Oscar Wilde didn’t say, “Life imitates empirical studies.” We want to help writers of excellent potential find their voice while shaping tomorrow.

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2017 Theme

For 2017, the Futurescapes Contest theme is “Blue Sky Cities.” We’re seeking stories set in a near-future city where significant strides have been made toward improving air quality, climate adaptation, or even net positive impacts on climate and air quality.

We want to see your vivid ideas and concepts, but don’t forget the basics of story: strong voice, compelling characters driven by real desires, facing serious obstacles that sum to an engaging plot and story.

You need not paint us a utopia – we don’t really believe in those. We believe that at any given time, depending on individual perspective, every city has dystopian and utopian aspects. The key is to show us a solution, but don’t strip it of realistic political, scientific, or logistical obstacles, and don’t neglect the possibility and ramifications of unintended consequences from even the best solution.

Lead Contributor

Contest winners will be published alongside multiple professional authors. For 2017, the lead contributor to Futurescapes: Blue Sky Cities, is Paolo Bacigalupi.


Paolo’s debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Internationally, it has won the Seiun Award (Japan), The Ignotus Award (Spain), The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis (Germany), and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire (France).

His debut young adult novel, SHIP BREAKER, was a Micheal L. Printz Award Winner, and a National Book Award Finalist, and its sequel, THE DROWNED CITIES, was a 2012 Kirkus Reviews Best of YA Book, A 2012 VOYA Perfect Ten Book, and 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist.

He has also written ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN for middle-grade children, about zombies, baseball, and, of all things, meatpacking plants. Another novel for teens, THE DOUBT FACTORY, a contemporary thriller about public relations and the product defense industry was both an Edgar Award and Locus Award Finalist.

His latest novel for adults is The New York Times Bestseller THE WATER KNIFE, a near-future thriller about climate change and drought in the southwestern United States.

What We’re Looking for…


Works of short fiction up to 8,000 words, written in accordance with this year’s theme.


Compelling stories that explore the nuance of technology, science, politics, and/or policy, without forgetting about plot and character!


Stories that show us both the positives and negatives of this possible future.


Stories that can provide a road-map for cities, states, and nations to follow.


Stories that may be built in a rich and full world, but that manage to show us the reality of a single city, neighborhood, and/or life.


Stories worthy of the $2,000 prize for first place, and  $500 prize to each of the five runners-up.


Stories that, when placed in the hands of a mayor or governor, could change the course of the future.

Contest Rules






  1. No entry fee is required to submit one (1) entry to the contest. However, an author may opt to submit a second story for consideration in the contest for a fee of twenty-four dollars ($24).

  2. By entering the contest, contestants acknowledge that they have read the instructions.

  3. Prize money constitutes compensation to the winning authors in exchange for the purchase by the contest of exclusive print and electronic rights of the story for a period of one (1) year following the first date of publication of the story.

  4. All entries must be original works written in English. Plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated.

  5. Professional authors are not eligible to enter the contest. A professional author is defined as someone who has accepted payment and/or signed contracts for published fiction in the amount of either; a) four paid published works of short fiction at a minimum average compensation rate of 6 cents per word with a total compensation of at least $1,000; or b) a work of long fiction (40,000 words or greater) for which the author was paid at least $2,500 in compensation.

  6. Entries must be works of prose not to exceed 8,000 words in length.

  7. Excessive or gratuitous violence, language, or sexual content will not be tolerated.

  8. The story must be written on and conform to the official theme of the contest year. The theme for the 2017 contest year is: Blue Sky Cities.

  9. All entries must be submitted electronically through the submission form available on the contest website.

  10. Entries must be double-spaced, follow standard manuscript format, with the title and page number on each page. The entry should include a cover page listing the author’s name. The author’s name should appear nowhere else in the document.

  11. Each contestant may submit only one entry per contest year.

  12. The prizes for the contest shall consist of one (1) first place prize in the amount of $2,000, and five (5) runner up prizes in in the amount of $500 each. As noted, prize money is considered compensation in exchange for the purchase of story publication rights by the contest. As such, compensation will consist of a minimum amount of $.0625 (6.25 cents) per published word.

  13. Winners will be individually notified by contest staff.

Enter the Contest

Contest Deadline is October 13, 2017.