2020 • Volume 36

On the evening of Friday, October 22, 2021 Hollywood returned to its resplendent glamour and elegance with the 36th and 37th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards Gala for Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy held at the Taglyan Cultural Complex.

Due to delays and postponements over the last year and a half as a result of the worldwide health pandemic, the awards show for 2020 and the awards show for 2021, were combined into one evening celebrating writer and illustrator winners from both years. Four Grand Prize Winners were announced at the Awards Gala.

The Grand Prize Winners included:

  • Winspear, a writer from Blacktown, NSW, Australia, was named the Grand Prize Winner of the 36th Annual Writers of the Future Contest.
  • Anh Le, an illustrator originally from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam was named The First-Ever Vietnamese Grand Prize Winner of the 31st Annual Illustrators of the Future Contest.
  • Barbara Lund, a writer from Draper, UT, was named the Grand Prize Winner of the 37th Annual Writers of the Future Contest.
  • Dan Watson, an illustrator from Earley, Reading, Berkshire, UK, was named the Grand Prize Winner of the 32nd Annual Illustrators of the Future Contest.

A capacity crowd of 300 people attended the Black-Tie Gala. Presented by Author Services, Inc. and Galaxy Press, the theme for the two-and-half-hour awards show was a Fantastical Phoenix Voyage.

Coordinating Writer Contest Judge David Farland and Fellow Writer Judge Tim Powers announced writer C. Winspear as the 2020 Golden Pen Award winner, letting him know during the online live broadcast that a check for $5,000 will be mailed to him in Australia since he wasn’t able to attend the awards show in person. C. Winspear’s winning story, “The Trade,” was illustrated by Arthur Bowling.

David Farland and Tim Powers then announced writer Barbara Lund as the 2021 Golden Pen Award winner while presenting her with a check for $5,000. Barbara Lund’s winning story, “Sixers,” was illustrated by Will Knight.

Coordinating Illustrator Contest Judge Echo Chernik and newly installed Illustrator Judge Brittany (Bea) Jackson announced illustrator Anh Le as the 2020 Golden Brush Award winner while presenting him with a check for $5,000. Anh Le illustrated writer Storm Humbert’s story, “Stolen Sky.”

Echo Chernik and Brittany (Bea) Jackson then announced illustrator Dan Watson as the 2021 Golden Brush Award winner letting him know during the online live broadcast that a check for $5,000 will be mailed to him in the UK since he wasn’t able to attend the awards show in person. Dan Watson illustrated writer Luke Wildman’s story, “How to Steal the Plot Armor.”

The awards show was held in the visually opulent Grand Ballroom of the Taglyan Cultural Complex nestled in the heart of Hollywood. Catered by Divine Food, the Gala began with tray-passed Hor D’oeuvres, followed by a delectable three-course meal. The Awards Show was followed by a Book Signing and Reception in the plush Foyer of the Taglyan.

Awards for each of the 2020 and 2021 Quarterly Finalists of the Writers and Illustrators Contests were presented by renowned judges specializing in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The 12 Quarterly Winners of the 2020 Writer’s Contest who were each presented with trophies and cash prizes included: Andrew Dibble of Madison, WI; F.J. Bergmann of Madison, WI; Sonny Zae of Plano, TX; Katie Livingston of Lawton, OK; Zach Be of Wheaton, MD; Tim Boiteau of Bloomfield Hills, MI; J.L. George of Pontypool, Torfaen, UK; Michael Gardner of Amaroo, ACT, Australia; Storm Humbert of Westland, MI; C. Winspear of Blacktown, NSW, Australia; David A. Elsensohn of Los Angeles, CA; and Leah Ning of Herndon, VA.

The 12 Quarterly Winners of the 2020 Illustrator’s Contest who were each presented with trophies and cash prizes included: Brock Aguirre of Sammamish, WA; Daniel Bitton of Hollywood, FL; Ben Hill of Mims, FL; Phoebe Rothfeld of Chico, CA; John Dale Javier (Ayang) of La Plata, MD; Heather A. Laurence of Sault Sainte Marie, MI; Mason Matak of Tehran, Iran; Irmak (Max) Çavun of Bursa, Turkey; Aidin Andrews of Bellingham, WA; Kaitlyn Goldberg of Grand Rapids, MI; Arthur Bowling of Columbia, MD and Anh Le originally of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and now of Maryville, MO.

The 14 Quarterly Winners of the 2021 Writer’s Contest who were each presented with trophies and cash prizes included: Barbara Lund of Draper, UT; Sara Fox of Marietta, GA; K.D. Julicher of Fernley, NV; Christopher Bowthorpe of Lehi, UT; Anj Dockery of Frisco, TX; Elizabeth Chatsworth of Westport, CT; Trent Walters of Springfield, MO; Luke Wildman of Indianapolis, IN; Erik Lynd of Tacoma, WA; John M. Campbell of Denver, CO; Emma Washburn of Matthews, NC; Ryan Cole of Glen Allen, VA; Brittany Rainsdon of Blackfoot, ID (Published Finalist) and Elaine Midcoh of Pembroke Pines, FL (Published Finalist).

The 12 Quarterly Winners of the 2021 Illustrator’s Contest who were each presented with trophies and cash prizes included: Jennifer Bruce of New Hudson, MI; Isabel Gibney of Bethesda, MD; Madolyn Locke of Atlanta, GA; Stephen Spinas of Oranjezicht, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa; Will Knight of Los Angeles, CA; Rupam Grimoeuvre of Koregaon Park, Pune, Maharashtra, India; Mariah Salinas of Apopka, FL; Dan Watson of Earley, Reading, Berkshire, UK; Jeff Weiner of Las Vegas, NV; Shiyi Yu originally of Ningbo, China and now of Rego Park, NY; André Mata of Esquerdo, Póvoa de Santa Iria, Lisbon, Portugal and Sethe Nguyen of Houston, TX.

Snapshot from 2020

Year in the Contests


Last year’s anthology, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 35, hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list as a pre-release and new release.

The anthology got nice reviews from the Library Journal, which highlighted three outstanding stories and said “readers who like sf and short stories should thoroughly enjoy it,” and Midwest Book Review called it a “must have” for library and academic collections as well as fans.

The Heinlein Society, which is dedicated to the proposition that some debts cannot be repaid but must be paid forward, presented a letter of congratulations and thanks to the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests at the thirty-fifth Annual Awards Ceremony for “outstanding work in discovering and nurturing promising new authors and illustrators in the field of science fiction and fantasy.”

The anthology’s thirty-fifth volume won Best Anthology from the New York City Big Book Award, which honors books that have a worldwide appeal.

Meanwhile, at the Benjamin Franklin Awards (sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association)—Writers of the Future Volume 34 won a Silver Award in the Fiction: Science Fiction & Fantasy category.

Both Contests have brought in more stories and art entries this year than any previous year before. We’re growing and not looking back.

This year, we had Contest winners from the countries of Turkey, Iran, Vietnam, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Brittany Jackson (WotF 24), one of our Illustrator Grand Prize winners, illustrated Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment. It’s about a visit to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, that forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait. It’s a New York Times bestseller!

Qianjiao Ma (WotF 35) did illustrations for Netflix’s animated television series Disenchantment.

Scot M. Noel (WotF 6) launched a new magazine of science and fantasy fiction, DreamForge, with a two-page feature on Writers of the Future and Dave Farland (WotF 3) as the Contest’s Coordinating Judge.

Nnedi Okorafor (WotF 18) and actress Viola Davis are working together on a TV series adaptation for Amazon based on the Octavia E. Butler novel Wild Seed.

Martin Shoemaker’s (WotF 31) The Last Dance rode the top of Amazon Hard Science Fiction bestseller list.

Brad Torgersen (WotF 26) won The Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for A Star-Wheeled Sky.

Illustrator Contest judge Diane Dillon was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chesley Awards.

The Robert A. Heinlein Award went to Contest judge Dr. Gregory Benford.

We’re delighted to announce two new judges for the Illustrators of the Future Contest: Dan dos Santos and Craig Elliott.

Dan dos Santos is well known for his colorful oil paintings, most often depicting strong women. Dan’s work spans a variety of mediums, including novels, comics, film, and video games.

His clients include Disney, Universal Studios, Activision, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, The Greenwich Workshop, Penguin Books, Random House, Scholastic, Upper Deck, Hasbro, DC Comics, and many, many more.

Dan has been the recipient of many awards. He is a Rhodes Family Scholarship winner, a five-time Hugo Award nominee for Best Artist, and has received both gold and silver medals from Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. His illustrations have graced the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list numerous times and his covers are seen in bookstores in dozens of countries around the world.

Dan dos Santos is one of the most recognized artists in his field with hundreds of book covers to his credit.

Craig Elliott is based in Los Angeles, California. He received his education at the famed Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Craig’s carefully crafted and arresting images of nature and the human form have captivated audiences with their visual and intellectual celebration of the beauty in this world and beyond. A multifaceted artist, he is also an accomplished landscape architect, sculptor and, most recently, jewelry designer.

In addition to his fine art, Craig has had a hand in designing many of today’s most popular animated films from Disney and Dreamworks Studios including Hercules, Mulan, The Emperor’s New Groove, Treasure Planet, Shark Tale, Flushed Away, Bee Movie, Enchanted, Monsters vs. Aliens, and The Princess and the Frog, as well as other upcoming features.

Mike Resnick, a beloved judge of the Writers of the Future Contest, passed away on January 9, 2020, at the age of seventy-seven, after a brave battle with cancer.

Mike won numerous awards for his work, including five Hugo Awards and one Nebula, but had also won awards in many other countries. Indeed, at the time of his passing, he had won more awards for his short fiction than any other person in the field of science fiction.

He joined the Contest as a judge in 2008, and in 2017 was awarded the L. Ron Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the field.

Mike always showed tremendous generosity to new writers. As a publisher, he often sought out new writers to publish in the magazine, Galaxy’s Edge, and in various anthologies. In the 1990s, he noted that he published more first stories from authors than all three of the major speculative fiction magazines combined. He even coauthored stories with more than fifty new authors. And every year when we held our workshops, Mike could be found late at night, taking time to mentor the latest talent.

Mike was a giant of a man, a person with a great heart, and tremendous talent, who was noted for always being found in company with his “writer children.”

Mike has passed away, but his influence and legacy lives on.

Emeka Walter Dinjos, the first winner of the Writers of the Future Contest from Nigeria (WotF 33) passed away from diabetes on December 12, 2018 at 34 years old.

He actively began reading and writing English in 2010. He quickly mastered the language and won the Writers of the Future in 2017. He was also published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Galaxy’s Edge, Deep Magic, and Myriad Lands. His novelette, “SisiMumu” was featured in Future Science Fiction Digest, Issue 1.

He was a bright spark and is missed.

Our past artists and writers, along with our judges, continue to publish widely across many fields and in many mediums. We can’t mention all of their accomplishments, but here are some recaps of notable awards (and the WotF volume where you can first see the author’s or illustrator’s work):

Analog Awards
Finalist: Best Short Story—C. Stuart Hardwick (WotF 30) for “A Measure of Love.”
Finalist: Best Fact Article—C. Stuart Hardwick for “Taming the Genie.”
Finalist: Best Cover—Eldar Zakirov (WotF 22) for the November/December issue.

Asimov’s Readers’ Awards
Finalist: Best Novella—Contest judge Kristine Kathryn Rusch for “Joyride” and for “The Rescue of the Renegat.”
Finalists: Best Novelette—Contest judges Nancy Kress for “Cost of Doing Business” and Kristine Kathryn Rusch for “Lieutenant Tightass.”
Finalist: Best Cover—Eldar Zakirov for his covers on the January/February and the September/October issues.

Aurealis Awards
Winner: Best Collection—Shaun Tan (WotF 8) for Tales from the Inner City.
Winner: Best Graphic Novel/Illustrated Work—Shaun Tan for Cicada.
Winner: Best Young Adult Short Story—Shauna O’Meara (WotF 30) for “The Sea-Maker of Darmid Bay.”
Winner: Convenors’ Award for Excellence—Cat Sparks (WotF 21) for “The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction.”
Finalist: Best SF Novella—Samantha Murray (WotF 31) for “Singles’ Day.”
Finalist: Best Fantasy Novella—Michael Gardner (WotF 36) for “This Side of the Wall.”
Finalist: Best Horror Short Story—Michael Gardner for “The Offering.”
Finalist: Best Graphic Novel/Illustrated Work—Shaun Tan for Tales from the Inner City.

Aurora Awards
Finalist: Best Novel—James Alan Gardner (WotF 6) for They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded.

British Fantasy Awards
Winner: Best Novella—Aliette de Bodard (WotF 26) for The Tea Master and the Detective.
Finalist: Best Novella—Nnedi Okorafor for Binti: The Night Masquerade.

Chesley Awards
Lifetime Artistic Achievement—Diane Dillon.

Colorado Book Awards
Winner: Science Fiction/Fantasy—L. D. Colter (WotF 30) for While Gods Sleep.

Ditmar Awards
Finalist: Best Collected Work—Shaun Tan for Tales from the Inner City.
Finalist: Best Artwork—Shauna O’Meara for cover and illustrations for A Hand of Knaves.
Winner: William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review— Cat Sparks for “The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction.”

Geffen Awards
Winner: Best Translated Fantasy Book—Brandon Sanderson for The Alloy of Law.

Hugo Awards
Finalists: Best Novella—Nnedi Okorafor for Binti: The Night Masquerade and Aliette de Bodard for The Tea Master and the Detective.
Finalist: Best Graphic Story—Nnedi Okorafor for Black Panther: Long Live the King.

Locus Awards
Finalist: SF Novel—Nancy Kress for If Tomorrow Comes.
Finalist: Young Adult Book: John Schoffstall (WotF 21) for
Finalists: Novella—Aliette de Bodard for The Tea Master and the Detective and Carolyn Ives Gilman (WotF 3) for “Umbernight.”
Finalist: Novelette—Ken Liu (WotF 21) for “Quality Time.”
Finalist: Short Story—Nnedi Okorafor for “Mother of Invention.”
Finalist: Collection—Tobias S. Buckell (WotF 16) for The Tangled Lands.
Finalist: Art Book—Shaun Tan for Cicada.
Finalist: Best Artist—Shaun Tan, Leo & Diane Dillon, Bob Eggleton.

Nommo Awards (African Speculative Fiction Society)
Winner: Best Comic/Graphic Novel—Nnedi Okorafor for Shuri: The Search for Black Panther.
Finalist: Best Comic/Graphic Novel—Nnedi Okorafor for Black Panther: Long Live the King.
Finalist: Best Novella—Nnedi Okorafor for Binti: The Night Masquerade.

Pacific Book Awards
Winner: Best Mystery—Gabriel F. W. Koch (WotF 20) for his story And Come Day’s End.

Spectrum Fantastic Art
The Artist List for Spectrum 26 includes Illustrators’ Contest winners: Bruce Brenneise (WotF 34), Dwayne Harris (WotF 17), Allen Morris (WotF 35), Dustin Panzino (WotF 27), Omar Rayyan (WotF 8), and Contest judges Craig Elliott, Dan dos Santos, and Shaun Tan.

Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award
Finalist: Carolyn Ives Gilman for “Umbernight.”

World Fantasy Awards
Winner: Best Collection—Tobias S. Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi for The Tangled Lands.
Finalist: Best Novella—Aliette de Bodard for The Tea Master and the Detective.
Finalist: Best Artist—Shaun Tan.

Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF Readers’ Choice Award was won by Brian Trent (WotF 29) for his story “Crash-Site.”

Britain’s Got Talent finalist Daliso Chaponda announced his 2019 UK “Blah Blah Blacklist” tour following a very successful “What the African Said” tour which sold out 50+ dates throughout the UK. Chaponda has continuously promoted the Contest throughout his celebrity career and noted: “Yes, that Writers of the Future certificate was a ‘don’t give up’ totem for a decade!”