Contest Three: “The Fantasy is Here; the Future is Now” ran from August 1, 2013 to September 8, 2013.
No Award (too few entries to make a fair selection)
Ace Pilkington for “Fire Marks”
Grand Prize: Natalia Theodoridou for “The Vandalists”
Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
Don Noel for “Quake Lake”
In a recent interview, our editor-in-chief was asked, “What draws you to speculative fiction?” He said:
To me, speculative fiction is all about what’s possible. Each subcategory does it in different ways: Fantasy tells us what’s possible when we close our eyes and imagine life without the constraints of our world; Sci-Fi tells us what’s possible if we continue exploring the amazing science of technology we already have; Steampunk tells us what’s possible with human ingenuity—it’s not bound by electricity, microcircuits, supermagnets, but would have bloomed even without those particular advancements. Other categories take still different approaches, but the one thing they all have in common is the celebration of what’s possible.
Your assignment for Contest Three is to take that celebration of what’s possible and apply it to our own universe in the present day.
This does not mean you cannot take elements of fantasy and make them real, or elements of science fiction and make them contemporary. It does mean that you may not need to do any worldbuilding in a fantasy piece, since our universe already exists. For science fiction, there are a number of clever approaches, and flashbacks are acceptable so long as the bulk of the piece occurs in (our) present day. (A great real-world example of bringing science fiction into the present is the “Future Birthplace” monument in Riverside, Iowa.) Steampunk generally assumes that worldwide technology developed from the crafts of clockwork and steam power; for this contest, perhaps an isolated group followed that path, and must now reconcile their work with electronic technology. The goal of this theme is not to place impossible constraints on your imagination, but to provide an opportunity to creatively expand the way you think about the speculative fiction genre.
This specially-themed contest doubles as a fundraiser for guest judge David Farland’s son Ben Wolverton. Ben has made amazing progress recovering from a traumatic head injury, but medical expenses are staggering—well over a million dollars. The career path of “successful independent writer” does not provide health insurance.
One half of all entry fees for Contest Three will be donated to the Wolverton family to help with Ben’s medical expenses.
- David Farland (Dave Wolverton), bestselling author and Writers of the Future Contest coordinating judge
- Kij Johnson, author, professor, editor, and winner of multiple awards including Hugo and Nebula
- E. Catherine Tobler, author and senior editor at Shimmer magazine
- Chad Morris, author of the Cragbridge Hall series
- Brad R. Torgersen, author and past winner of the Writers of the Future Contest
- Tess Grantham, writer, journalist, and former Editorial Manager of Pacific Islands Publishing
A fee of US$5 must accompany each entry. One half of this fee will be donated to the Wolverton family. Entrants will have an opportunity to make additional donations following submission of contest entries.
We will award one Grand Prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Grand Prize winners will receive:
- Publication in Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume IV (cover art pictured above)
- Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers
- One year subscription to Duotrope
- One-year print subscription to American Poetry Review or Poets & Writers Magazine
- Complimentary print & digital copies of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes I through IV
We will award one Second Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Second Place winners will receive:
- Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile
- One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review
- Complimentary digital copies of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes I through IV
- Complimentary print copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume I
We will award one Third Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Third Place winners will receive:
- One-year Premium Membership at Scribophile
- Complimentary digital copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology Volumes I through IV
- One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review
- Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland (2013 Kindle or Nook edition)
Contest entries will be accepted until the stroke of midnight, U.S. Pacific Time, on
September 1, 2013 September 9, 2013. (In other words, make sure your entries are in before 11:59 pm on August 31 September 8). Updated 8/9/2013: Because we will be at Salt Lake Comic Con 2013, the deadline has been extended one week.
Though the theme of this contest is taken from the worlds of speculative fiction, all entries which follow the theme are welcome, regardless of genre. There are no age restrictions for this contest, and content guidelines are similar to our standard submission guidelines, including what we are not accepting.
Contest Three awards prizes for poetry and prose according to our contest judging criteria.
Prose includes both fiction and creative nonfiction, but we have not divided the category further because we believe that well-written creative nonfiction should tell a story so well that the result is indistinguishable from fiction. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
Poetry includes all styles, meters, and rhyme schemes, or may be free-form. Poetry must be less than 150 lines.
Rules & Restrictions
- Publication Rights remain with the author or poet. Grand Prize winners are not obligated to publish their winning entry in Spark, but if our publication offer is accepted, the cash portion of the prize serves to purchase First Publication rights as outlined on our Rights & Rates page. All other entrants retain full rights to submit and publish their entries as they wish.
- Prose limits: We are looking for excellent writing and storytelling, not length. A compelling and well-written “flash fiction” piece has equal chance against a novelette. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
- Poetry limits: We are looking for evocative imagery that paints a small story in a poem. A haiku or tanka has equal chance against a sonnet or epic. Poetry must be less than 150 lines.
- Only previously unpublished works will be considered.
- You may enter a previously-written piece if you feel that it satisfies the prompt for this contest, so long as it has not been published.
- There are no age restrictions for this contest other than legal restrictions imposed by your local jurisdiction. In the event that a younger winner is ineligible for any non-cash prize because of age, an equivalent cash prize will be substituted.
- Spark: A Creative Anthology contest judges and their immediate families are not eligible.
- Because entries are blindly judged, authors and poets who have previously had work accepted for any volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology may enter this contest. In the event that a Grand Prize winner is an author or poet whose work has been accepted for Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume IV, we may choose to postpone or decline publication of either the previously-accepted work or the winning contest entry.
- You may enter multiple pieces in this contest, and you may enter both poetry and prose, but each entrant can win at most one prize, no matter how many entries are made.
- Contest entry fees are non-refundable.
- All proceeds after prizes are awarded, donations to the Wolverton family are completed, and payment processing fees are paid will be applied toward publication costs of Spark: A Creative Anthology at the sole discretion of Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation, a registered non-profit corporation.
- Because this contest is judged blindly—that is, the author’s name is withheld from the judges—please omit personal information from the manuscript. Your name and contact information will be attached to the entry form.
- Judges will be unable to provide feedback on specific pieces.
About the Guest Judges
Dave Wolverton, also published as David Farland, is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author who has penned nearly fifty science fiction and fantasy novels for both adults and children. Along the way, he has also worked as the head judge for one of the world’s largest writing contests, as a creative writing instructor, as a videogame designer, as a screenwriter, and as a movie producer.
As part of his dedication to helping other writers, Mr. Wolverton writes the David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants, an email bulletin for writers or those who would be writers. Many authors rave about how it has helped them. Out of devotion, he provides the Daily Kick free. You can register to receive it on his website, davidfarland.net.
Kij Johnson has sold dozens of short stories to markets including Amazing Stories, Analog, Asimov’s, Duelist Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Realms of Fantasy. As of 2012, Kij is Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing by the University of Kansas English Department. In the past ten years, she has worked as managing editor at Tor Books; collections and special editions editor for Dark Horse Comics; editor, continuity manager, and creative director for Wizards of the Coast; program manager on Microsoft Reader; and managing editor of user communications at Real Networks.
E. Catherine Tobler is a Sturgeon Award finalist and the senior editor at Shimmer magazine. Her first novel, Gold & Glass, is now available.
Chad Morris grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. After high school, he wrote and performed sketch comedy while going to college, and eventually he became a teacher and a curriculum writer. Cragbridge Hall, Book 1: The Inventor’s Secret is his debut novel. Learn more about Mr. Morris at http://chadmorrisauthor.com.
Brad R. Torgersen has won or been nominated for multiple writing awards and contests, has sold numerous stories, novelettes, and novellas to Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, and recently sold a novel to Baen Books. He calls himself a “full-time nerd by day, part-time soldier by weekend, and fictioneer by night.” Read his full (and extensive) bibliography at http://www.bradrtorgersen.com/bibliography.html.
Tess Grantham is a British speculative fiction writer living in Papua New Guinea with her husband and children. She grew up the daughter of a British expatriate in PNG and attended a boarding school in Australia. A journalist and former editorial manager, her writing and photography have appeared regularly in a number of PNG magazines. Tess has also worked as a sheet metal sales rep, a stewardess on live-aboard dive boats, a resort reservations manager, and an editorial and advertising sales executive. When not writing, she prefers to be travelling, fishing, or curled up with a book.
About the Awards
Scribophile is the largest online writing workshop and discussion group, boasting over 202,000 peer critiques written by community members ranging from amateur writers to professional authors and editors. Learn more at Scribophile.com.
Duotrope is a subscription-based service for writers that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets, a calendar of upcoming deadlines, submissions trackers, and useful statistics compiled from the millions of data points they’ve gathered on the publishers they list, including Spark.
Cash prizes were donated by Brian & Amy Lewis.
The Lifetime and one-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers. Learn more at Scribophile.com.
The one-year Duotrope subscriptions were purchased at a discount by Brian Lewis.
Spark: A Creative Anthology is administered and published by the Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.