McSweeney’s Issue 58: 2040 A.D., pub date December 3, 2019, is a speculative near-future


short story issue created in collaboration with NRDC.

Each story in the issue is set in the year 2040, imagining what the world might look, based on the dire warnings issued by the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C. Among the contributors are two Pulitzer Prize-finalists—Tommy Orange and Luis Alberto Urrea—and Man Booker Award-shortlisted author Elif Shafak. The hardcover issue includes cover and full-color interior art by Wesley Allsbrook.
McSweeney’s Issue 58: 2040 A.D
Cover art by Wesley Allsbrook

“Our network of writers imagined 2040 in arresting detail and with authentic emotion. Their work is even stronger because of the thoughtful input from NRDC scientists who added facts and context that will deepen readers’ experiences with these engaging, important stories,” said Amanda Uhle, Executive Director of McSweeney’s.
“Climate advocates and storytellers aim to move people to think and act differently, and we hope that through the lens of fiction, readers develop a better understanding of the totality of climate change and feel empowered to take action,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Chief Program Officer, NRDC.

“This unique collaboration with McSweeney’s was fortified by science, but the imagination of the ten cli-fi writers is what helps readers visualize what our future world could be like because of climate change.”

After reading the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, the editorial staff of McSweeney’s began to wonder how fiction might be able to help in comprehending its vast, staggering projections. They sought partnership from NRDC for their expertise on the topic. To provide the scientific guidance, NRDC staff paired each author with a scientist or advocate whose expertise matched their story’s focus area.

 “The projections in the IPCC’s report feel so incomprehensible when read in quick succession,” said Quarterly editor Claire Boyle. “We wanted to focus on a few predictions from the report, slow them down and tease out their everyday, personal implications. It’s those details that round out these stories, making their worlds feel lived-in and therefore more imaginable. We must be able to see the problem—not just hear, it but really populate it—before we can make the seismic shifts necessary to solve it.”

Other contributors to McSweeney’s Issue 58 include Claire G. Coleman, Birna Anna Björnsdóttir, Abbey Mei Otis, Asja Bakić, Rachel Heng, Kanishk Tharoor, and Mikael Awake. Of the issue, co-founder of and longtime cli-fi proponent Bill McKibben said,“Solar power, wind power, the power of the imagination–it’s going to take lots of energy for us to grapple with the challenge we’re facing, and some of it is on vivid display in these cli-fi stories.”

Issue 58 will launch at a free release event and panel discussion in Chicago on December 2, at The Tank @ Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. Luis Alberto Urrea will read from his piece from the issue and then be joined by NRDC’s Rob Moore for a discussion on the impact of climate fiction. The evening will be moderated by WBEZ - Chicago Public Radio’s Shannon Heffernan.

Register to attend here.