Writer’s Of The Future Volume 31

Edited by David Farland

Contributors: Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Larry Niven, Rebecca Moesta, David Farland, L. Ron Hubbard, Bob Eggleto, Kary Englis, Michael T. Banker, Amy H. Hughes, Daniel J. Davis, Zach Chapman, Krystal Claxton, Steve Pantazis, Sharon Joss, Scott R. Parkin, Martin Shoemaker, Auston Habershaw, T.R. Napper, and Samantha Murray 

Artists: Tung Chi Lee, Michelle Lockamy, Emily Siu, Shuangjian Liu, Taylor Payton, Amit Dutta, Alex Brock, Quinlan Septer, Choong Nyung Yoon, Megen Nelson, Megan Kelchner, and Daniel Tyka

Reviewed by Adam Armstrong

Humans have a strange custom of getting together, generally once a year, and having a big ceremony to label which one of us is the best. These get-togethers usually bring the best and the brightest (or so they like to think) of any given field in one place where they pat each other on the back and then hand out awards for how great they are. This is fine and all, but it is usually a select few that win over and over again. What about the people who are just starting out? They too should be entitled to be commended for the good work they do. That is exactly what L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers Of The Future is about. It is a yearly anthology of the best science fiction and fantasy from authors and illustrators most people have yet to discover.

This year’s anthology was filled with wonderful tales that stretched the imagination and left disbelief wonderfully suspended. In the future, cops need to be more than observant and meticulous--they need to be augmented to catch the really good criminals, even if it means becoming one. When dogs are no longer man’s best friend, gods fill in for the perfect (or not so perfect) pet. Man has ventured to the stars only to find that nothing is there, but a strange new species may shed light on what happened to the rest of the life in the universe. The world has been destroyed and nothing remains except a ghost that may lead to salvation. A group of children and one adult find themselves in a home for people that have magical abilities but no means to control them.

The above is just a sampling of the stories in the collection by lesser known authors. The stories run from cyberpunk to urban fantasy to hard sci-fi. For the most part they are really well done. A few stick with you. It did seem like the better stories were near the front. Sometimes anthologies are laid out with the stronger stories near the front to hook the reader. While there were no bad stories here the later ones didn’t seem to move me as much. On the other hand it could just be fatigue from reading so many different stories back to back.

The anthology also featured short stories from some of the heavyweights of science fiction and fantasy. The late L. Ron Hubbard had a story featuring the future fall of Earth. Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta explored a fear all creative people have though most won’t talk about it, a fear of success. Larry Niven looked at what people would do if they knew it was their last night on Earth before total annihilation (this story has been around for a while and made one of my favorite The Outer Limits episodes, the new show not the original). Along with these tales were a handful of essays from L. Ron Hubbard, Orson Scott Card, and Bob Eggleton.

Writer’s Of The Future also features Artists Of The Future. The artists that are chosen have to illustrate each story that has been selected for publication. An illustration accompanies each story and there are full color versions in the back. Again there is a nice mix. Some of the art reminds me of Phil Hale’s work, some looks like it was done by a young Brom, and there is one illustration that looks very similar to something Gabriel Rodriguez might produce. Again there are a few that didn’t really do anything for me and the quality of the illustrations and stories didn’t always match up either. 

If you are a new author or artist and are looking for a way to make a big break, pick up a copy and enter the contest. Not only is it a well paying market there is some recognition that comes along with being published here. And the essays within give great advice to writers and artists alike. Or if you are just a fan, then the cover price of Volume 31 is money well spent. Take your time and slowly digest each one.