Open Call: Struggle for the Future

Call for science fiction stories, poems, essays, and art featuring optimistic visions of the future and why we must fight to get there.

Deadline: Sunday, 5th March 2023
or up to 12th March with approval

The future is frightening. With global warming, climate collapse, increasing global pandemics, food insecurity, fascism, record numbers of people becoming refugees, and the looming threat of a nuclear World War 3, there’s not much to be hopeful for. But without hope, we have nothing to fight for.

This volume of the London Reader will feature optimistic visions of a future worth fighting for.

The London Reader is issuing an open call for stories, poems, essays, and art featuring the utopian side of sci-fi as well as the struggle to get there. These can be near-future or far-flung visions of a utopian society and the fully-realised lives of the people there. Or submissions can reveal the dystopian currents of today and the characters pushing back for a better future. Stories might feature beautiful garden cities full of solarpunks and techno-optimists or they might feature the star-spanning utopian civilisations of Star Trek or Iain M Banks’ Culture series and other visions of Fully-Automated Luxury Space Communism. Submissions can reveal the special circumstance of these techno-utopias and the people on their margins, or submissions can show us the difficult decisions that must be made by people struggling to get there.

Submissions can run the gamut from introspective to action-packed to tensely psychological, but they should focus on human characters and their lives and relationships as well as an optimistic vision of the future. In the struggle between utopia and dystopia, stories should have happy or bittersweet endings. But we are open to any compelling sci-fi submissions

What to submit: Creative works can be stand-alone pieces or collections, but should generally be fewer than 6,000 words or no more than one poem per submission. Multiple submissions, simultaneous submissions, and previously published submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or single A5 page.

How to submit: The London Reader submission portal.

Possible Prompts:

  • A former soldier turned peace activist creates a virtual reality program that simulates the experience of war, in order to promote understanding and prevent conflicts.
  • A city-wide program for vertical gardening brings greenery and fresh food to urban areas, improving the lives of the diverse and quirky residents who call the city home.
  • A community of refugees of a future war come together to build a sustainable and self-sufficient village, providing a model for others to follow.
  • A shy, introverted computer programmer discovers a virtual world that allows people to experience different cultures and ways of life, which they hope will lead to a more tolerant and accepting society.
  • Ambitious old college roommates create a machine that can read people’s thoughts, which will kickstart a radical shift in communication and understanding but also raises ethical questions about privacy.
  • Two elderly farmers in a rural community develop a new type of crop that is resistant to drought and climate change, saving his community from famine.
  • A brilliant inventor creates a machine that can predict and prevent natural disasters, but must grapple with the moral implications when asked by a government agent to delete the data on a coming disaster.
  • A spaceship crew must navigate a complex political landscape when they discover a civilization on the brink of collapse and must decide whether to intervene and potentially change the course of its history.
  • A digital drop-out who has grown disillusioned with our constantly interconnected world has chosen to live a simpler lifestyle on a remote planet, and must navigate the challenges of living off the grid as they search for something more meaningful in life.
  • One of the super-intelligent AIs that run a far-future society, debates the morality of its actions and the potential consequences for the civilizations they interact with.
  • An ageing author who has chosen to be uploaded into virtual reality permanently, starts to question the meaning of existence in a world without physical limitations.
  • A young woman born into a fully-automated luxury space communist society struggles to find her place in a world where machines have replaced most human labour and wonders if there is still a role for her to play.
  • A group of space-born citizens visit Earth for the first time, and are confronted with the stark contrast between their utopia and the poverty and inequality still present on the planet.
  • A digital historian struggles to preserve society’s past as records and memories stored digitally and subject to manipulation.

Submit via the London Reader submission portal for this call.

Note that this form requires a Google account. If you have any questions or difficulty submitting, email

The deadline for submitting on this theme is Sunday, 5th March 2023