Green Stories Novel Prize 2023 Results
We are delighted to report the winners of this year’s Green Stories Novel prize.
First prize is the outstanding entry, ‘Time Hack’ by Marianne Pickles. Here is an extract from what our judges had to say: ‘Immensely readable. Crackling with interest and excitement. It’s post the apocalypse but the story offers tangible glimpses of a sustainable future.’
Time Hack is a science fiction mystery set in 2101. When Charlotte uncovers a bootleg technology that can add extra time into people’s days, it seems like the ultimate productivity tool. But a missing person case handed to her by an Artificial Intelligence makes Charlotte question whether the technology is really as it seems.
The exhibit’s footage showed the harvested kelp being dried, then ground into powder for biogas, ethanol, and food. A 3D image of a standard-issue Nutrition Bar spun in the air to illustrate the point and Charlotte noticed she was hungry. No breakfast yet. Was the first meal of the day still called breakfast at 2 am? She’d have to ask Ben later.
Amber’s voiceover resumed as Charlotte rummaged in her backpack. The CEO was evangelising about the benefits of kelp as a carbon sink and a net zero source of food and energy. Charlotte didn’t need her full attention for this bit. As far as she was concerned, the kelp fields were just how the world looked by default. Strange to think not so long ago those stretches of the Fenland Sea were dry land that people lived on in brick houses. The only buildings she’d ever known were made of recycled steel and eco-concrete, suspended above restless waves.
When her hand found the rough wrapper of a Nutrition Bar, the volume from the audio feed dipped. Her inner ears buzzed with static as Ben activated his channel.
‘What’s up, Ben?’ she asked.
‘I have a contribution you may find relevant, Charlotte.’ His synthetic voice was full of enthusiasm.
‘Go for it.’
‘Have you ever been made aware of why the kelp crossed the road?’
‘What do you—?’ she started. Then, she saw where this was going. ‘No… Why did the kelp cross the road?’
‘To get to the other tide, Charlotte. So it is written.’
With a wry smile, she shook her head and bit off a chunk of protein.
The CEO’s voice continued. ‘Domain 1 was a huge success. When other companies and governments saw what we’d achieved across the ArkTech Territory, they wanted our help to attain similar results elsewhere. This was the beginning of our global network of partner sites. We demonstrated a wholesale switch to renewable energy was possible, not just in our local context: all over the world. But we wanted more. We wanted to return the global temperature to the pre-industrial baseline. And that meant getting the excess greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.’Marianne Pickles excerpt from ‘Time Hack’
We had real trouble choosing our runner up so we appointed a joint second prize to three entries:
- ‘Windcatchers’ by Christine Rorden. ‘Extremely engaging and well written. The relationship between the two cultures, both striving “after the fall” for sustainability, makes for a wonderful read.’
- As Terra and her scientific team struggle to save their experimental ocean habitat from mysterious attempts to undermine it, they encounter a long-lost tribe in scorched, barren Old America that holds the key to saving both their project and the future of humanity. A sweeping, suspenseful journey through our potential not-so-distant future, Windcatchers gives us a clear warning—but also hope. See excerpt below:
Terra stood and walked right up to the edge of the deck, peering upward through fathoms of surging seawater. The biggest obstacle they were struggling with was the solar array’s vulnerability to storms. She just couldn’t figure out how to handle the necessary maintenance and repairs of such a large system, especially on the rough, open water. They’d tried bulking up the buoyant platform, adding outriggers for stability, swapping out the design of the anchor cables, but nothing was really working. If only there was a better way to protect the array from damage.
A pressure began to build in her temples, another headache setting in. A nagging feeling of uncertainty simmered in the pit of her stomach. She’d tried so hard to stay positive, and to prove her worth to the team. Now, with the possibility of failure looming, she suddenly felt like a fraud. What am I doing here, anyhow? She, a mere grad student, was working among giants in the field. Darwin seemed to have some misguided faith in her, but here she was, letting him down. But these thoughts were counterproductive. She shook her head. She should really pull herself out of this trap of negative self-talk. She took a deep breath and tried to refocus.
There must be a better way.
A distant school of fish drifted across her field of vision, carried by some invisible force, like birds riding a wind thermal. Some creatures, she thought, are more in sync with the forces of nature than others. These fish were a case in point. Why labor upstream when one can catch an easy ride on an underwater freeway? In contrast, humans were forever resisting nature—or trying to conquer and reshape its forces to their own purposes.
A light came on in her mind, and she instantly knew she’d stumbled upon an answer. How had she missed it? Her pulse quickened, and her mind churned with possibilities. She grabbed her datapad from the table, smoothed her rumpled jumpsuit, and hurried toward the transport.Excerpt from Windcatchers by Christine Rorden (finalist)
- ‘Fairhaven’ by Steve Willis and Jan Lee. ‘An exciting exploration of the idea of the ocean as a nation in its own right’.
- Novel description: “Fairhaven follows the story of a young Malaysian woman who is facing the twin challenges of addressing the consequences of climate change in her own backyard and of her own perceived helplessness in the face of the looming disaster. When she is invited to participate in the world’s largest climate adaptation project, Fairhaven, it is the beginning of a career that will take her from despair to triumph, with decisive support coming from an entirely unexpected direction.”
- Norfolk Recreation Hub ‘by Celeste Lovick. ‘A creative futuristic novel with great potential for highlighting green solutions’.
- “During a heatwave in 2062, four characters undergo a journey of transformation as they search for the elusive Bee Whisperer who is the only one who can save the Hub’s bees. The stark view of where humanity is in 2023 is shown through the discovered journals of an imprisoned climate activist which are brought to light 40 years on by her granddaughter. The Norfolk Re-Creation Hub shares positive green solutions and a hopeful vision of what the future could be if humans only acted on what they already know.”
Winners have discounted manuscript appraisals from The Literary Studio. The Literary Studio is an established editorial consultancy offering the UK’s widest range of pre-publication services across the English-language world. The Studio’s services include Manuscript Assessment, Developmental Editing, Copy editing and Agent Submission Reviews. Steve Willis and Jan Lee made use of a manuscript appraisal by Literary Studio to polish their novel Fairhaven prior to publication.