Writers of the Future & Illustrators of the Future 23rd Annual Awards Celebration!
Just before the awards ceremony started I talked to illustrators Randall Ensley and Bryan Beus and they confided to me that their knees were wobbly and that butterflies had taken flight in their bellies.
I am going to cover the evening as it unfolded for the winners, judges and guests but will take it easy with photos so that the blog will load faster on your computer. However lateron I will include a link at the end of the blog to www.writersofthefuture.com, where I am putting up a webpage that will show a lot of photos of the event, the speakers and presenters, the winners and the special guests, so for all of you who liked to see lots of cool photos, you will still get to see them.
As a note, the entire event took place at The Caltech Athenaeum, located in beautiful Pasadena, California. This location at the California Institute of Technology was appropriate on more than one count. Not only is it the home of many of today's top minds who are planning and executing America's space program such as the Mars Pathfinder Mission and the Mars Global Surveyor Mission, but it just so happens that L. Ron Hubbard himself - or to be more accurate, Lieutenant Hubbard with US Naval Intelligence - was at this very location in 1945, the dawn of the Atomic Age. The reason for his meeting was to discuss the peace-time use of scientific discoveries with Caltech scientists and specifically ways and means of getting mankind into space and reaching the stars.
Thus with a setting for this memorable evening as fitting as the Athenaeum at Caltech, where no other than Albert Einstein had an office during his stay in Southern California, the place was brimming with expectation for what was to come.
First off, Joni Labaqui from Author Services (the literary agency for L. Ron Hubbard) as the Master of Ceremonies introduced John Goodwin, President of Galaxy Press which publishes the Writers of the Future anthology. John gave us insight into why L. Ron Hubbard was so intent on helping new writers and illustrators get published by giving a brief overview of Hubbard's own career as a writer in the 1930's and 40's. He had to break into a field that was dominated by writers the likes of Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Tennessee Williams and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Hubbard's advantage was that he was an adventurer at heart and thus could draw from exploits he himself had lived such as riding shotgun with a British secret agent in Peking, skirting typhoons off Borneo and hacking through Caribbean jungles.
It wasn't long before the name L. Ron Hubbard was emblazoned across a dozen pulp covers with his wealth of hard-won experience coupled with a rare eye for drama and ear for dialogue.
Thus before long Hubbard redesigned the keyborad of his typewriter to pound out copy at upwards of ninety words a minute, regularly churning out seventy to a hundred thousand words of saleable fiction a month - and that with only three working days a week.
Needless to say L. Ron Hubbard knew what it took to start out from scratch and work himself up into the ranks of highly regarded and sought-after writers.
After the presentation on Hubbard, Joni welcomed the judges and special guests who came to honor the winners and present them with their awards.
The names of the Writers of the Future judges are a literal who's who in the science fiction and fantasy field and here they are:
Kevin J. Anderson
Rebecca Moesta (who was also announced a brand-new judge for Writers of the Future)
Dr. Yoji Kondo a NASA astrophysicist who writes under pen name Eric Kotani
Dr. Laura Brodian Freas
Dr. Jerry Pournelle
Val Lakey Lindahn
Dr. Doug Beason
As special guests the following friends of the contest attended:
Lee Purcell, actress in TV shows and major motion pictures
Carina Rico, song-writer, singer and performer who just released her third album
Denice Duff, actress in science fiction and fantasy films
Beth Anderson, Senior Vice President of Audible.com
Rome Quezada, Editor in Chief of the Science Fiction Book Club
After this announcement, the California State Conference Director of the NAACP took the stage - Dr. Sandra E. Thomas - in her quest to ensure educational equality for all people. She stated that programs such as the Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest are vital for our future and presented the "Award of Excellence" to the L. Ron Hubbard Writers & Illustrators of the Future programs.
At this point, John Goodwin from Galaxy Press took the stage once more and released the anthology - Writers of the Future Volume XXIII - with a stunning video presentation that blew everybody's socks off. No, not literally but it was truly amazing and many guests commented on it after the ceremony. We will soon make it available on-line as well so all the fans of the book can see it.
He further stated that the new Writers of the Future Volume will be available as a Science Fiction Book Club selection very soon and that an audio book edition will be produced and published by Audible.com, so we are looking forward to seeing these editions come out.
The stage was now set for the winners to go up and accept their awards which started with the illustrators who were presented by the judges and the other special guests acting as presenters.
The L. Ron Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts was the next point on the agenda and this really was very special considering that it was given to an icon in the science fiction and fantasy arena - Mr. Charles Brown, Editor of Locus Magazine which he not only founded in 1968 but for which he won 19 Hugo Awards as well. He has also covered the Writers of the Future Contest in Locus Magazine since its inception.
The acceptance speech of Charles Brown was very unique and extremely funny but heartfelt and appreciative. It was clear that he had lived and breathed science fiction and was utterly at home in the midst of the luminaries in attendance.
And if that wasn't enough, the next guest speaker to address the audience was a scientist who had won the NASA Exceptional Achievement Award for his work on the Mars Pathfinder - Mr. Allen Sirota, Lead Engineer of the Mars Pathfinder Rover. He paid tribute to the role science fiction plays in shaping the future of mankind, i.e. somebody has to come up with the ideas that provide the scientists with the material they draw from for new technological developments and advancements. That is the science fiction writer and appropriately they are the Writers of the Future. He thanked the science fiction authors for inspiring him and other scientists and encouraged them to keep the ideas coming.
Last but not least he quoted L. Ron Hubbard, who once said:
"Science fiction does not come after the fact of a scientific discovery or development. It is the herald of possibility... It is the dream that precedes the dawn when the inventor awakens and goes to his books or lab saying, 'I wonder whether I could make that dream come true in the world of real science."
It was now time for the writers to be presented with their awards which was a task undertaken by the Writers of the Future judges who proudly got up to present a new generation of science fiction and fantasy writers.
Almost at the end of the event, we came to the most important part - the presentation of the Gold Award to both the writer and the illustrator. None of the writers, nor the illustrators knew who would be the lucky recipient of this coveted award.
The illustrators sat with bated breath to see Carina Rico and Ron Lindahn pull out the envelope that concealed the name - Lorraine Schleter! A huge smile exploded on her face as she went up on stage to not only receive the award and the large trophy but also the check for $5,000 which was presented by Joni from Author Services.
Here are the photos of Lorraine getting her trophy and her check. I'd say she was happy!
And here is Stephen Kotowych, receiving the Gold Award from Tim Powers and Lee Purcell for his story Saturn in G Minor. The second shot is of Stephen trying to get his wits around saying something intelligent in the spur of the moment, not having prepared for this victory at all. In fact he told me afterwards that an hour before the ceremony, judges Jerry Pournelle and Yoji Kondo had told him that he wasn't the winner of the Gold award, so not even to worry about it!!
That's it for now. I hope I was able to give some insight into the awards ceremony for all those who could not attend and a bunch more photos will be put up on writersofthefuture.com and the link will be posted on the blog, so check back within the next day or two and you'll be able to see them!