Sci-Fi Contest with Paolo Bacigalupi

April is AASL contest month! Each week in April, we’ll announce a new contest prompt in a different genre of creative fiction, and this week it’s sci-fi.

Paolo Bacigalupi is a sci-fi and fantasy writer who has won the Printz, Hugo, and Nebula Awards and been nominated for the National Book Award. He is the author of The Windup Girl, Ship Breaker, and numerous short stories.

Here’s your prompt: Many apocalypse stories take place in alternative world where life has become miserable. But what about a utopian society where everything is great, but at what cost? Where radiation makes everyone look like Colin Firth? Where the radiation causes whales to learn human speech? Where the only food that can grow is biogenetically engineered chocolate trees. Write a story in 750 words or less set in a gloriously wonderful utopian world. (Possibility for humor.)

How to enter:

-Create a new writing
-Tag it utopiacontest
-Be sure to press “Publish Now”
-Wait the hour or so it sometimes takes for entries to show up BELOW.

The deadline is Sunday, May 1 at 9PM EST. Then YOU decide the finalists by voting on your favorite entries; you can vote until Friday, May 6th at 6pm EST. The top hearted entries will become finalists. The winner will receive signed copies of one of Paolo’s books, get highlighted on our blog and newsletter and AASL’s blog and newsletter, and be entered (along with the winners of all four contests) to win a Kindle. Good luck, Figs!

1. One entry per person, please.
2. The promotion of your contest entry is not allowed on Figment. This includes self-promotion and the promotion of other users’ contest entries in the Figment forums, the comments and reviews of stories, and the Figment Facebook page. Independent promotion on sites unrelated to Figment, like personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, is fine.
3. Works must be published between the announcement of the contest and the closure of the contest. Entries created before the start date or after the end date will not be included in the pages of contest entries and will be ineligible to win. This means a new story must be created for the contest; adapting an old story published before the start of the contest will make the entry ineligible to win.
4. The rules of the contest are both strict and open to interpretation by a moderator.
5. It is the user’s responsibility to properly tag the story so that the story appears within the contest submissions. Untagged or improperly tagged stories will not be shown with the submissions and will not be eligible to win.
6. The creation of multiple accounts to heart or otherwise vote for your contest entry on Figment is prohibited, and may result in the disqualification of that entry, the deletion of your Figment account, and/or the blocking of your IP address permanently from the site, at the moderator’s discretion.

23 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Contest with Paolo Bacigalupi

    • Hi Kaitlin

      You can definitely use any of your own characters from other stories you’ve written. If you are using a character from a different work, please make sure that it’s public domain (meaning before 1922). If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me at

  1. Hi! I’ve been wondering about this for awhile–I’m a finalist for the Romance Contest, and I was wondering if my story made the finalists for this contest too (one can only hope), would that be allowed? I mean, being a finalist in more than one contest?

    • Yup- That’s totally allowed. It’s also possible for the same person to WIN two contests. Which would be AWESOME.

  2. These things always worry me, sure you leave all the entries open to be read, but what about the more popular writers who have a dedicated following, they will get enough hearts as it is, people who are newer or dont advertise themselves so much might have to rely on very little to get by, just doesnt seem fair.

  3. Is it okay if the main character finds out that the world is actually not so great? Like, everything is perfect, but at what cost? Just want to double check that that can happen.

  4. “Write a story in 750 words or less set in a gloriously wonderful utopian world. (Possibility for humor)”

    Does this mean it doesn’t have to be apocalypse based? Could it be set in the past?

  5. This sounds great! But how do we vote for the winner of the dystopian contest? And when do we know who won that?


  6. I’m a little confused on our topic. Do we write a story about a perfect world in the future? Or an apocalypse? Or what?

    • Hi Hannah

      You can write about a utopian world that takes place after an apocalypse. I can’t wait to see what everyone will write about!

  7. I’m noticing that a lot of the entries don’t really have a twist to the utopia, but are just love stories set in a utopia. Is that okay? Or do you have to have a twist?

    • Hi Clement

      It should be on the top right of every post, or on the bottom of the post when you click on the contest link.

  8. Hey,
    Just wanted to know, I can write a story where the apocalypse is caused by the utopian world right? I got a little confused after seeing some comments, because then i will have to change some stuff…

    • Hi Priyanka

      I would stick to the prompt as closely as possible, and it seems to suggest that the utopian world takes place after an apocalypse. It seems to be challenging the idea that an apocalypse would bring about complete destruction and misery, and would instead bring about a utopian world. You can certainly play with the idea of a utopian world as much as you like, but try to stick as close to the prompt as possible. Feel free to email me at if you have any other questions. Best of luck!

  9. Hi there! I entered, and out of curiosity, I was wondering why mine never appeared on the ‘Contest Entries’ part of this page; it’s on the ‘See More’ part (Page 10, I think) but not the part here. Just wondering. XD


    • Hi Laura

      Entries are shifted on the pages every time one gets added, so not every entry shows up on the first page. Also, if you check the same page and don’t see your entry, I suggest looking a couple of pages before or after, as it may have shifted. Feel free to email me at if you have any other questions.

    • Voting ends today at 6pm, then Paolo has to judge, so the winner will probably be announced on Tuesday, 5/10.

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