2023 • Volume 39

On the evening of Friday, April 28, 2023, glamour and elegance were in full display at the 39th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards Gala for Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy were held at the Taglyan Cultural Complex in Hollywood, CA, with a crowd of 335 people attending the black-tie event.

The cover artwork illustrated by Illustrators of the Future Contest Judge Tom Wood, entitled Wyvern Crucible, inspired the story “Fire in the Hole,” written by  Writers of the Future Contest Judge Kevin J. Anderson. Voice actors Jim, Tamra, and Taylor Meskimen recorded the audiobook for Volume 39.

United Public Radio Network broadcast this year’s awards show to 340,000 viewers on Roku and over 1.1 million listeners on the live broadcast.

The Grand Prize Winners and Speakers

Winners from this year’s competitions hailed from Canada, China, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Romania, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

David K. Henrickson from Sterling, VA, was named the 2023 Grand Prize Writer Winner, and Dao Vi from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, now residing in Sylmar, CA, was named the 2023 Illustrator Grand Prize Winner.

Keynote Speaker Dan Farr, Founder and CEO of the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, said: “It is indeed my honor to be speaking to you tonight about something that is near and dear to me: pop culture and pop culture conventions.” He concluded, “Fashion, costumes, characters, dance, film, cyberculture, music, art, literature, television, and radio—none of it would exist without the writer or the artist creating that script, that picture, that song, that universe. Writing and art have always been and will always be a healing influence. As writers and artists, you carry a large responsibility for the future. Because it is you who carry that powerful torch to unite, while others are trying to tear it down—do not ever give up on your dreams. As L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Contests, stated: ‘The greatest joy there is in life is creating. Splurge on it!’ Writers and Illustrators, congratulations on your accomplishments, and … keep creating!”

Time Capsule

During the awards show, a time capsule from 25 years ago, sealed in 1998, was opened by Writers of the Future Judges Kevin J. Anderson and Tim Powers. It contained predictions on the “quality of education in 25 years” from famous science fiction writers.

As it turned out, one prediction from Tim Powers was quite accurate. On October 2, 1998, Tim Powers wrote: “Voice recognition and transcription programs will have made literacy (all of spelling and most of grammar) obsolete; morality will be discarded as archaic.”

L. Ron Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award

Emily Goodwin, Vice President Public Relations Author Services, Inc., presented the L. Ron Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Robert J. Sawyer, who penned sci-fi and fantasy classics like The Terminal Experiment and Flashforward, who has also served as a Writers of the Future judge since 2005. Robert J. Sawyer said, “Thank you all so very much! Although I entered this Contest when I was starting out, I’ve only ever been on the stage here at the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future gala as a presenter, never an award recipient. I am thrilled to have finally made it! I thank John Goodwin, Emily Goodwin, Joni Labaqui, and everyone else at Author Services, Inc. from the bottom of my heart—which is beating awfully fast right now!”

In Memoriam

An In Memoriam Tribute honored the late multiple New York Times best-selling author, Eric Flint, a Writers of the Future Contest Winner for Volume 9 in 1993, Writer of over 40 novels, Founder and Editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, and Contest Judge.

Snapshot from 2023

Year in the Contests

Contest Growth

The Contests continue to expand and in the thirty-ninth year, we had more entries than any previous year.

Winners in this volume hail from nine countries: Canada, China, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Romania, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Vietnam.

The Writers of the Future Online Workshop continues to help those who wish to improve their writing skills. Over 7,500 people have begun their online journey from initial idea to finished story. It remains free to enter and access to the information is unlimited, even after completing the course. And those who have finished the course are invited to quarterly Ask Me Anything online events with Contest judges.

The Writers & Illustrators of the Future Podcast continues to provide hard-won advice through interviews with Contest judges, winners and industry professionals. The podcast is syndicated on dozens of stations internationally with over forty million downloads. This year we celebrated episode #200. The podcast was a finalist in two categories in the People’s Choice Podcast Awards: Education and Storyteller—Drama.

Awards for the Contest and Anthology

The Writers of the Future won three of the 2021 Critters Annual Readers’ Poll awards: Best Writers’ Discussion Forum, Best Book Cover Artwork, and Best Anthology.

The 2022 eLit Awards from Digital Publishing awarded the Contest Gold Medal Winner for Anthologies.

The Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contests won the Shield of Excellence and Creativity award from Online TV Magazine.

Notable Accomplishments From Alumni and Judges

Here are a selection of the many accomplishments from our Contest judges and over 800 winners.


Kevin J. Anderson (Contest judge) released Gods and Dragons, the third book in his epic fantasy Wake the Dragon series.

Jody Lynn Nye (Contest judge) won the Polaris Award from ConCarolina and Falstaff Books for mentorship and supporting up-and-coming artists.

Brandon Sanderson (Contest judge) made history with his Kickstarter campaign, Surprise! Four Secret Novels, garnering over forty-one million dollars. He has so much going on, he is doing weekly updates on his website!

Robert J. Sawyer (Contest judge) won the Machine Intelligence Foundation for Rights and Ethics’ 2022 Media Award for his WWW Trilogy.


Jennifer Bruce (Vol. 37) won several awards, including the Society of Illustrator’s Los Angeles Illustration West 60, Beautiful Bizarre Magazine’s Digital Art Award 1st Prize, Cheltenham Illustration Award, Society of Illustrators Annual 65, and Inclusion in the Communication Arts Annual 63.

John M. Campbell (Vol. 37) had three short stories published: “Living the Dream (Except for One Thing)” in Dream: Tales from the Pikes Peak Writers, “The Eco-Patriot” in Triangulation: Energy, and “Racing the Marineris” in Bizarre Bazaar.

Leonard Carpenter (Vol. 1) just shipped off his latest screenplay to Hollywood while his “Tropic of Cuba” was published through Kindle Vella.

Elizabeth Chatsworth (Vol. 37) won the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award for Science Fiction & Fantasy for her novel, The Brass Queen.

Ron Collins (Vol. 15) published the ninth book in his Stealing the Sun series, which started with his Writers of the Future workshop 24-hour story. He also published Collins Creek, a three-volume collection of short stories. In total, he published seven stand-alone books, a couple of omnibus boxed sets, plus several short stories.

Andy Dibble (Vol. 36) edited and released his first anthology Strange Religion: Speculative Fiction of Spirituality, Belief & Practice and his story “The Pronouns of Hlour” came out in Sci Phi Journal.

James Dorr (Vol. 8) won grand prize in Defenestrationism.net’s 2022 flash fiction competition with his “Casket Suite.”

Karen Joy Fowler (Vol. 1) released her historical novel Booth through Penguin Random House.

Jessica George (Vol. 36) won book of the year at the Rubery Book Award for her novel, The Word.

Harry Lang (Vol. 28) won Third Place in the 2022 Jim Baen Memorial Award for his story, “The Rocketship of Her Dreams.”

Ken Liu (Vol. 19) had a TV show, Pantheon, premiere on the AMC network based on his The Hidden Girl and Other Stories.

Elaine Midcoh (Vol. 39) was awarded the 2022 Jim Baen Memorial Award Grand Prize for her story, “Man on the Moon.”

Artem Mirolevich (Vol. 23) held gallery showings in Florida and New York.

Wulf Moon (Vol. 35) released Super Secrets Illustrated Volume 1.

Samantha Murray (Vol. 31) took home Australia’s Aurealis Award Best Science Fiction Novella award for Preserved in Amber.

Leah Ning (Vol. 36) has a horror story in the Dark Matter Presents Human Monsters anthology.

Scot Noel (Vol. 6) published four online/digital issues: DreamForge Anvil 7—The Meaning of Life, DreamForge Anvil 8—Perception, DreamForge Anvil 9—Out of Place, and DreamForge Anvil 10—What We Give.

Steve Pantazis (Vol. 31) won the Booksie 2022 Short Story Competition for “Out of Print.”

Brittany Rainsdon (Vol. 38) placed third for the 2022 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award with her Writers of the Future workshop 24-hour story entitled “Exchanged.”

Natalia Salvador (Vol. 38) was an illustrator for Letters from the Fairies. Her illustrations were published in George Leaves the Lights ON.

Elise Stephens (Vol. 35) released a full-cast audio of her winning story, “Untrained Luck.”

Mike Jack Stoumbos (Vol. 38) released volumes three and four of his This Fine Crew series. And three volumes of the series were translated and released in German.

Michael Talbot (Vol. 30) illustrated the children’s book “Party Animals,” held two solo art exhibitions, Salvation: Redux and Warriors in the Garden, and completed multiple murals and public art projects in Wynwood Miami, FL, Roxbury, MA, East Somerville, MA, and in Brighton, MA.

M. Elizabeth Ticknor (Vol. 38) edited the 4th and Starlight: A Fantasy & Science Fiction Anthology featuring Contest winners and entrants.

Brian Trent (Vol. 29) published his novel Redspace Rising, which was based on his Writers of the Future winning story. He also saw his ninth appearance in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Elizabeth Wein (Vol. 9) Little Brown Books for Young Readers published a tenth anniversary edition of her novel, Code Name Verity.

Galaxy’s Edge and Asimov’s Science Fiction and the major short stories magazines continuously have one or more of our former winners in most of their publications.

That’s quite a substantial listing for this past year. There are just so many accomplishments, really too many to list or record. So we’re looking ahead to a spectacular future.