The Writers of the Future Contest
Established and sponsored by
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
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.
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
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.
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 Seattle Science Fiction Museum and the San Diego Aerospace Museum have also hosted the annual awards ceremony.
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. To date, winners have gone on to publish over 700 novels and 3,000 short stories, and have appeared on international bestseller lists, even reaching the #1 slot on the New York Times and London Sunday Times.
The Illustrators of the Future Contest
In 1988, under
During the Golden Age of Science Fiction
A survey of the field in the late 1980s revealed that many of the top professionals shared Ron's purpose to encourage new illustrators along with new writers and were willing to help launch a companion contest. Following the sixth annual Writers of the Future Awards Ceremony, held at the United Nations, the word went out from Mr. Hubbard's literary agency, Author Services, that it was time for Ron's plans to help new artists get underway.
The first task undertaken was the selection of leading illustrators to be part of the judges' panel. One of the first on board was Edd Cartier. Among the other great illustrators to sign on were Leo and Diane Dillon, Ron and Val Lindahn, Bob Eggleton, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Paul Lehr, Moebius, Alex Schomburg, H.R. Van Dongen and the legendary Frank Frazetta.
They were led by Frank Kelly Freas, one of the most honored artists in the history of science fiction and fantasy, who served as the initial Coordinating Judge of the Contest. Professional illustrators Shun Kijima, Vincent Di Fate, Laura Brodian Freas and Judith Miller, Cliff Nielsen, Stephen Martiniere and Stephen Youll have since joined the judges panel.
At first, the quarterly contests, which awards $500 to each of the three winners, drew entrants mainly from the United States. The first year winner, Derek Hegsted, is from Provo, Utah. By the second year, however, word of the Contest now spread across the world. It was a great thrill and surprise for everyone attending the second Illustrators of the Future Awards Ceremony when Sergey Poyarkov of Kiev, Ukraine, was called to the stage to accept the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award for the Illustration of the Year and his $4,000 grand prize. No one there will ever forget his exultant cry on receiving his prize of "Thank you,
One of the best features of illustrating is that there is no language barrier.
Over the years as the contest has continued to grow, with broader international ramifications, there have been winners from Australia, Canada, Russia, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Jordan, Bulgaria, etc.—although no single country outside the United States has, in fact, provided more winners than the Ukraine.
Many winners of the contest have gone on to become professional illustrators. Their portfolios have grown to include book covers and the covers and inside illustrations for a growing number of magazines. One winner even used his prize money to publish his own comic book, which led to a series of comics based on the same character.
As a result of his grand prize victory, Sergey Poyarkov has gone on to pursue a highly successful career which keeps him moving between the art capitals of Europe and the United States. After a book of his art was published, he accepted an invitation to become a judge in the Illustrators of the Future Contest.
Frank Kelly Freas, a keen observer of the world of illustration, pointed out that "
"More young illustrators have been introduced to and entered the field by way of this contest than anything that has happened in the field of illustration.
"It's going to make big difference in the immediate future. There is a real need for intelligent artists who can understand what has been written and illustrate it in a way that is related to the real world and means something. A piece of art that does that becomes treasure beyond price. L. Ron Hubbard's contest is creating the men and women who will do this for us."
At each Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards Ceremony, twelve new illustrators are honored, including the Grand Prize winner recipient of the
In the week prior to the event the winning illustrators attend the Illustrators of the Future Workshop where they explore essays by Mr. Hubbard on the subject of art and work with the contest judges to get a greater understanding of what is required of them to become successful professional illustrators.
They will also see their illustrations in print in
Today, both the writers and illustrators' contests stand as premiere competitions in their respective fields and have successfully guided a large contingent of new writers and illustrators into the professional ranks.
Together, the winning stories and illustrations make up what has become one of the best-selling annual anthologies of short fiction—