OF THE FUTURE CONTEST
Established and sponsored by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983, the “Writers Award Contest” was a budding competition aimed at discovering, and eventually publishing, deserving amateur and aspiring writers. The field of speculative fiction and fantasy, was chosen not only for Mr. Hubbard’s love of and success within the genre-but for the freedom of imagination and expression it provided as what he described as the “herald of possibility.”
At the time of its inception, the very idea of a contest of this scope and of a book filled with first-time fiction by beginning writers was seen in many literary venues as “untried” and “challenging,” but at the same time as something both desirable and “long needed.” Expert opinions contended it couldn’t be done.
Algis Budrys was the first Coordinating Judge of the Writers’ Contest and Editor of the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future anthology, two positions-among others-he would go on to hold for many years. To garner their professional expertise in the judging of the entries, he initially brought together such stellar names as Gregory Benford, C.L. Moore, Robert Silverberg, Theodore Sturgeon, Jack Williamson and Roger Zelazny. Other notable names that have contributed to the judging since then include: Kevin J. Anderson, Doug Beason, Ben Bova, Ramsey Campbell, Orson Scott Card,Hal Clement, Stephen Goldin, Frank Herbert, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Eric Kotani, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Nevin, Andre Norton, Frederik Pohl, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Charles Sheffield, John Varley, K.D. Wentworth and Gene Wolfe.
The eligible entrant was any novice writer who had not professionally published more than three short stories or more than one novelette, or who had not yet professionally published a novel. The rules were simple. The quarterly prizes were handsome: 1st Place-$1000, 2nd Place-$750, 3rd Place-$500. There was no entry fee and the entrant retained all rights to his story.
The guiding principles and high standards of competition, defined by Mr. Hubbard at the Contest’s inception, have been stringently observed since the first quarter began on October 1, 1983. The very nature of the competition established both the Contest and resultant anthology as the premiere showcase for beginning writers in the speculative fiction genre. No less important is the encouragement and acknowledgment of aspiring writers everywhere.
Significant ideas never remain static. And so it is with the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Word of the Contest spread from writer to writer, instructor to student, father to son, reporter to reader, friend to friend, professional to amateur. Based on the success of the first year-which ended on September 30, 1984-the Contest was renewed for another year and became the Writers of the Future Contest.
The first L. Ron Hubbard Awards ceremony, honoring the winners of the first Contest year, was held at Chasen’s famous restaurant in Beverly Hills in February 1985. Algis Budry recalls, “We invited all of our winners from all over the country . . . . It was our SF family party for the writers. It was a delight to meet them; to find that behind the good work were good people . . . as various and striking as their stories, and promising exciting new work in the future.”
All of the first place quarterly winners were presented with the L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Award, a sterling silver quill and star set in blue-based lucite-significant recognition of accomplishment. Stunning certificates were also created for the winning writers.
Culminating the event was the release of the initial L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future anthology representing, in most cases, the winning writers’ first publishing experience. Also included were helpful, talent-nurturing commentaries for new writers by the professionals. According to Algis Budrys, “Prepublication orders throughout the U.S. set records, and a succession of print order increases occurred at a gratifying and startling pace. “ Seventeen more anthologies have been published since that time. These anthologies have also been used as an instructional text in creative writing and literature classes in scores of colleges and universities, including such distinguished schools as Rutgers University, Pepperdine University, University of Kansas, University of Houston, The George Washington University, Brigham Young University, California Polytechnical University at Pomona, Towson University, as well as the University of Victoria, British Columbia, among others.
The year 1985 saw the formation of satellite offices of the Contest in the United Kingdom and Australia/New Zealand, to facilitate English-language entries from those two countries. Since that time, entries have been received from a multitude of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as Central and South America and all parts of North America.
Though the ever-increasing popularity of the Contest and its anthology kept everyone busy, yet another avenue was opened, by Mr. Hubbard’s original design, to help launch the newly-discovered writers in their chosen profession, the Writers of the Future Writing Workshop. First held in May, 1986 in Taos, New Mexico, the Workshop has since been held annually in conjunction with the Awards Ceremonies.
The L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award, a magnificent trophy with a god quill and star set in red-based lucite, was created to present to the annual Grand Prize winner, selected from among the four first-place quarterly winners. The Gold Award carries with it a $4,000 prize for the author of the Story of the Year. The first Grand Prize recipient was Robert Reed, author of “Mudpuppies,” named on March 21, 1986, at the second annual awards ceremony held during Norwescon-an annual regional convention attended by SF celebrities from all over North America. Succeeding Gold Award winners include Dave Wolverton, Nancy Farmer, Gary Shockley, James Gardner, James C. Glass, Brian Burt, Karawynn Long, Alan Barclay, Arlene C. Harris, Morgan Burke, Brian Wightman, Scott Nicholson, Gary Murphy, Meredith Simmons and Dylan Otto Krider.
To give the Contest winners the broadest possible showcase, other outstanding venues for the awards ceremony have included the American Booksellers Convention, the theatre of the National Archives of the United States, the NASA Space Center in Houston and the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida and the Trusteeship Council Chamber of the United Nations in New York, under the auspices of the U.N. Society of Writers.
The Writers of the Future Program, established in the finest tradition of the professional giving a helping hand to the novice, has become the largest, the most well-known and the best established discovery vehicle in the field.
Through the L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest, it is now possible for a generation of illustrators to gain recognition of their artistic talents and visibly contribute their dreams to our culture.
1. No entry fee is required, and all rights in the story remain the property of the author. All types of science fiction, fantasy and dark fantasy are welcome.
2. All entries must be original works, in English. Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person's universe, without written permission will result in disqualification. Excessive violence or sex, determined by the judges, will result in disqualification. Entries may not have been previously published in professional media.
3. To be eligible, entries must be works of prose, up to 17,000 words in length. We regret we cannot consider poetry, or works intended for children.
4. The Contest is open only to those who have not had professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits.
5. Entries must be typewritten or a computer printout in black ink on white paper, double spaced, with numbered pages. All other formats will be disqualified. Each entry must have a cover page with the title of the work, the author’s name, address, telephone number, email address and an approximate word count. Every subsequent page must carry the title and a page number, but the author's name must be deleted to facilitate fair judging.
6. Manuscripts will be returned after judging only if the author has provided return postage on a self addressed envelope. If the author does not wish return of the manuscript, a #10 (business size) self-addressed, stamped envelope (or valid email address) must be included with the entry in order to receive judging results.
7. We accept only entries for which no delivery signature is required by us to receive them.
8. There shall be three cash prizes in each quarter: a First Prize of $1,000, a Second Prize of $750, and a Third Prize of $500, in U.S. dollars or the recipient's locally equivalent amount. In addition, at the end of the year the four First Place winners will have their entries rejudged, and a Grand Prize winner shall be determined and receive an additional $5,000. All winners will also receive trophies or certificates.
9. The Contest has four quarters, beginning on October 1, January 1, April 1 and July 1. The year will end on September 30. To be eligible for judging in its quarter, an entry must be postmarked no later than midnight on the last day of the quarter.
10. Each entrant may submit only one manuscript per quarter. Winners are ineligible to make further entries in the contest.
11. All entries for each quarter are final. No revisions are accepted.
12. Entries will be judged by professional authors. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final.
13. Winners in each quarter will be individually notified of the results by mail.
14. This contest is void where prohibited by law.