2021 • Volume 37

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 2021

Year in the Contests

Every year brings exciting growth and new changes to the Contests. In 2020, despite the global pandemic—or maybe in part because of it—we had a booming year!


We released Volume 36 to huge success, and the trade reviews were excellent. Publishers Weekly reviewed it in their “Best Books” column and highlighted stories by Michael Gardner, Katie Livingston, Leah Ning, F. J. Bergmann, Storm Humbert, and David A. Elsensohn, declaring “Genre enthusiasts should take note.”

Kirkus reviewers urged, “Don’t overlook these wonderful short fiction reads being released this month.”

Library Journal highlighted some authors and said, “With stories ranging from sf to fantasy, as well as some genre mash-ups, this collection offers something for both adults and teens to enjoy.”

After reading Volume 36, the Tangent Online reviewer was “amazed that there are so many talented writers and artists out there.”

And Midwest Book Review called the anthology “An inherently interesting and impressively entertaining volume that is quite literally the ‘Best of the Best’ in the current field of science fiction and fantasy … especially and unreservedly recommended.”

Past volumes continue to stack up awards. Volume 35 won the Foreword Indies 2019 Silver Award in science fiction, the New York City Big Book Award for anthology, the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award in science fiction and fantasy, and also the Critters Readers’ Poll Award for best anthology of the year.

Though the awards season has barely begun for Volume 36, it has already won the New York City Big Book Award in fantasy.

In fact, last year’s anthology was so popular, DreamForge Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction published an interview with Illustrators’ Contest Coordinating Judge and artist, Echo Chernik, about her stunning cover art and the Contest.


The Contests continue to experience explosive growth. In 2020, while everyone was stuck at home during the pandemic, many creators took advantage of the opportunity to write and illustrate. We had the highest-ever number of entries for both Contests.

As we’ve had entries from most countries on Earth, we rarely add a new country these days, but this year we had our first entry from Liechtenstein, a small country between Austria and Switzerland, with just over 38,000 residents. We now have entrants from 178 countries.

Winners in 2020 hail from China, England, India, Portugal, South Africa, the United States, and Vietnam.


The Contest launched an online writers’ workshop in the spring of 2020 for anyone who would like to become a better writer.

The course is taught by Contest judges David Farland, Tim Powers, and Orson Scott Card, based on the timeless materials developed by L. Ron Hubbard. The workshop guides writers through the process of writing a story, from generating an idea to drafting a finished tale—and then shows how to submit it to the Contest!

Over 5,000 people have already begun the workshop. The course is free, and you can review the lessons at any time. To check it out, go to WritersoftheFuture.com.

Early last year, the sponsors of the Writers of the Future started a podcast and began interviewing writers, editors, and artists. The podcast has been an unmitigated success.

The 15th Annual People’s Choice Podcast Awards recognized The Writers and Illustrators of the Future Podcast as a Finalist in the Storyteller category. You can listen to the podcast on our website.


The Locus Recommended Reading List for the year includes five Writers of the Future winners and judges, including Aliette de Bodard (Vol. 23), Ken Liu (Vol. 19), Nnedi Okorafor (Vol. 18), Tobias S. Buckell (Vol. 16), and Carolyn Ives Gilman (Vol. 3). (We’ve listed the Writers of the Future volume where you can first see an author’s or illustrator’s work.)

Author Martin L. Shoemaker (Vol. 31) released the novel The Last Campaign with 47North.

Contest judge and winner Nnedi Okorafor (Vol. 18) is co-writing the script for her award-winning novel Binti for Media Res studio.

Contest judges Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson released the graphic novel Dune in preparation for the Dune theatrical release scheduled for 2021.

Contest judge Brandon Sanderson released the fourth book in his Stormlight Archive, Rhythm of War.

Contest judge Tim Powers released Forced Perspectives, the sequel to Alternate Routes.

Contest judge Orson Scott Card released Zanna’s Gift: A Life in Christmases, just in time for the holidays.

Contest judges Larry Niven and Gregory Benford collaborated on book three of their Bowl of Heaven series, titled Glorious.


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 their accomplishments, but here is a recap of notable awards:

Analog Analytical Laboratory (AnLab) and Asimov’s Readers’ Awards

Finalist: Best Fact Article—C. Stuart Hardwick (Vol. 30) with “Do We Still Need NASA?”

Finalist: Best Fact Article—Contest judge Gregory Benford, co-author with Albert Jackson of “Building a Gravitational Wave Transmitter.”

Finalist: Best Cover Artist—Eldar Zakirov (Vol. 22).

Aurealis Awards

Winner: Best Fantasy Novella—Shauna O’Meara (Vol. 30) for “’Scapes Made Diamond.”

Winner: Best Science Fiction Novella—Shauna O’Meara for “’Scapes Made Diamond.”

Finalist: Best Science Fiction Novella—Cat Sparks (Vol. 21) for “You Will Remember Who You Were.”

Finalist: Best Horror Short Story—Jason Fischer (Vol. 26) for “Of Meat and Man.”

Finalist: Best Science Fiction Short Story—Jason Fischer for “Riding the Snails.”

Finalist: Best Science Fiction Short Story—R. P. L. Johnson (Vol. 27) for “Canute.”

Baen Awards

Winner, third place: Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award—C. Stuart Hardwick (Vol. 30) for “Sample Return.”

Finalist: Fantasy Adventure Award—Scott R. Parkin (Vol. 31) for “Who Will Know?”

Chesley Awards

Finalist: Best Magazine Illustration—Tiffany England (Vol. 29) for “Into the Wild Blue Yonder.”

Finalist: Best Color Work: Unpublished—Bruce Brenneise (Vol. 34) for “If Stones Could Cry.”

Finalist: Best Gaming-Related Illustration—Omar Rayyan (Vol. 8) for “Flaxen Intruder.”

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

Winner: Best Children’s Book—Contest judge and winner Shaun Tan (Vol. 8) for Tales from the Inner City.

Eisner Awards

Winner: Best Graphic Album—Nnedi Okorafor (Vol. 18) for LaGuardia.

Geffen Awards

Finalist: Best Translated Fantasy Book in Hebrew—Contest judge Brandon Sanderson for Oathbringer, translated by Zafrir Grosman.

Hugo Awards

Winner: Best Graphic Story or Comic—Nnedi Okorafor (Vol. 18) for LaGuardia.

Locus Awards

Finalist: Novelette—Nnedi Okorafor (Vol. 18) for “Binti: Sacred Fire.”

Finalist: Short Story—Tobias S. Buckell (Vol. 16) for “The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex.”

Finalist: Short Story—Ken Liu (Vol. 19) for “Thoughts and Prayers.”

Finalist: Anthology—Ken Liu for Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation.

Finalist: Collection—Aliette de Bodard (Vol. 23) for Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight.

Finalist: Artist—Contest judges Shaun Tan (Vol. 8) and Bob Eggleton.

Finalist: Nonfiction—Nnedi Okorafor for Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected.

NAACP Image Awards

Finalist: Outstanding Literary Work, Children—Brittany Jackson (Vol. 24) for the illustrated book Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment.

Spectrum Fantastic Art

The Artist List for Spectrum 27 includes Illustrators’ Contest winners: Bruce Brenneise (Vol. 34), Laura Diehl (Vol. 20), Ben Hill (Vol. 36), Dustin Panzino (Vol. 27), Omar Rayyan (Vol. 8) and Contest judges Cliff Nielsen, Dan dos Santos, and Shaun Tan.

World Fantasy Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award for 2020—Karen Joy Fowler (Vol. 1).

Of course, with so many winners, we’re at a point where we can’t list everything here, but dozens of published short stories and novels can be found listed on the Contests’ blog.

That’s it for this year. Looking forward to next year and a spectacular future!