By Charly SHELTON
L. Ron Hubbard is firstly associated with the religion he began, Scientology. But before he was a religious icon, he was a struggling writer. He knew firsthand how hard it was to get a start as a science fiction and fantasy writer when every contest and contract seemed to be awarded to professionals who dominated the field.
It is in his honor that the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest is held to showcase up-and-coming talent in science fiction and fantasy writing, as well as the illustrators who bring their work to life. The annual event, now in its 30th year of celebrating writers and 25th year of celebrating illustrators, accepts submissions from around the globe. A distinguished panel of judges, including Orson Scott Card, reviews the submissions and selects 12 winners in each category (24 in total) to come to Los Angeles for an intensive week of seminars, training and mentoring. The winners will work with professionals who know the best ways to break into sci fi/fantasy writing and illustrating.
The top honor, The Golden Award, is given to one of the 12 in each category as the top prize of the competition. It comes with a $5,000 cash prize. This year, writer Randy Henderson won the Golden Pen Award for his story “Memories Bleed Beneath the Mask” and illustrator Trevor Smith won the Golden Brush Award for his illustrations.
“I was stunned that I won first place and doubly stunned that I won grand prize,” said Henderson. “Every story in this anthology is truly amazing and I only assume I won grand prize because the judges were fighting so hard over which of the other stories to give the grand prize that they just finally said, ‘You know what, we’re not going to agree; just give it to that other guy.’”
The anthology Henderson is referring to is the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 30. This anthology of short fiction and essays combines the winning stories with the winning illustrations, as well as essays and short stories from some of the judges. Orson Scott Card has a new short story in the anthology, “Carousel,” and some classic stories and essays by Hubbard himself on what it is to create as a writer.
The event, held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Sunday night, was well attended and notable guests commented on how smoothly the affair went.
“This is the best run awards show I have ever seen, so I’m really honored to be a part of it and I hope I didn’t screw it up too badly,” said Card, who took part not only as a judge before the event, but also was a recipient of a lifetime achievement award that was presented at the show.
After the event, there was a reception where, following tradition, the authors and illustrators sat down to their first book signing as professional writers. Attendees went home with a copy (or in some cases, several copies) of the anthology, signed by those who made it possible.
In the 30-year history of the event, 348 past winners of the writing contest have published 838 novels and almost 4,000 short stories, making 27 New York Times bestsellers. Their combined works have sold over 50 million copies.