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Speculative Fiction for Energy Futures
Students write short stories about possible future energy systems, learning how to communicate more creatively and effectively.

By: Tom Hargreaves and Jos Smith (both: University of East Anglia)

Session type: Single session, Undergraduate level, Small/Medium/Large size


  • Energy consumption

  • Futures thinking

  • Critical thinking

  • Speculative fiction


Introduction to the teaching example:

This exercise aims to teach students several speculative fiction writing strategies for creating energy futures. Furthermore, it inspires students to create, evaluate, and enhance their own ideas for and understandings of energy futures using fiction. 


The activity involves 5 main parts:

1. Working alone, students are asked to provide a brief description of an energy future and use bullet points to describe the main ways it is different from today.

2. Students are then introduced to two key techniques of speculative fiction, namely: i) exposition (or ‘show, don’t tell’), and ii) narrative focalisation (or ‘point of view’)

3. In small groups, students then read and deconstruct an example piece of speculative fiction. After reading the example they: i) list key differences between the scenario described and the present day, and ii) reflect on how the use of narrative techniques help bring the scenario to life.

4. Students then try to write their own short piece of speculative fiction based on the scenario they described in Part 1. They are encouraged to write from a particular point of view (e.g. from a specific characters’ perspective) and reminded that they’re not aiming for a great piece of literature and that it doesn’t have to be clever, poetic, funny etc., simply that it’s a chance to explore how their scenario would be experienced in practice.

5. Students are then encouraged to share and reflect on their stories. First in small groups and then with the whole class. Reflections are encouraged around how the scenario has been brought to life, about what they’ve learnt about their scenario through the process of writing it as a narrative from a specific point of view, and about how they might improve or alter their scenario based on this experience.

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