This Singularities column will be somewhat unique. It is part review, part personal experience, so I hope everyone enjoys the change in format.
This August I had the privilege of attending the 22nd Annual L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest awards ceremony here in San Diego. What is the Writers and Illustrators of the Future? I'm glad you asked. Simply put, it is the biggest and best short story and art competition in the world for speculative fiction. The contest is open to those without professional sales, and it has proven to be one of the best, if not THE best way to launch a writing or artistic career.
The contest is open year round and is divided into four quarters. Every quarter three winners are selected within the writing and illustration categories. Those winners are given a cash prize, flown to an intensive week long workshop taught by the fields' leading experts, and finally published in the annual anthology. Judges for this competition include Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card, Robert Silverberg, Frederik Pohl, Larry Niven, Kevin J. Anderson, Tim Powers, Bob Eggleton, Stephen Hickman, Frank Frazetta, and many others. Quite simply, winning this event is a major achievement for undiscovered talent.
Having never attended this event before, I didn't know what to expect. Besides seeing pictures from past events, nothing could have prepared me for the scale and splendor of what I saw. It was like entering another world! The stage gleamed with golden pillars. Tables of food, including a chocolate fountain, stretched across the back of the expansive arena. As the ceremony began, the many celebrated judges appeared on stage, reading the names and biographies of the contest winners. Triumphant music filled the auditorium. The winners then accepted their awards, took pictures with their judge presenter, and finally gave a small speech.
At the end of the evening, everyone in the audience received a complimentary copy of the anthology and a DVD documentary of the contest. I've already watched the DVD twice. It is very well done. The book itself is extraordinary. The cover art by Stephen Hickman denotes a triumphant march toward the future, masterfully capturing the excitement and determination living within each contest winner. The stories are of professional quality, indeed, and I expect that many of these writers will have long and successful careers. A illustration accompanies each story, bringing the fiction alive on a deeper level.
For twenty-two years the Writers of the Future contest has given people a chance. They've launched careers. They've made dreams reality. I highly recommend the anthology. You can probably find it at your local bookstore, and here's the ISBN: 1592123457. Also visit Writers of the Future (http://www.writersofthefuture.com/) to learn more about the contest.
Ed. Note 2021: Found a copy online at Amazon, ISBN 978-1592123452.[JTC]
Lastly, I'd like to thank John Goodwin for inviting me to attend the event and for leading his team in this year-long endeavor. They are doing something unique and special, and I hope all of you buy the anthology to support this continued effort of finding tomorrow's great writers and illustrators. Not only did I have a great time at the ceremony, but I received inspiration beyond measure. And so can all of you.
Ed. Note 2021: Pardon me as I jump in once more. As it turned out, this was both Shaun Farrell's final column for Far Sector SFFH before he moved on to bigger and greater things with his fabulous talents. Thank you Shaun from all of us. The magazine's final issue was Spring 2007. [JTC]