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L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 39

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This was a terrific anthology including works from several of my favorite SF writers. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy these works in a single volume.

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L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 39

Dean Wesley Smith (Editor)Jody Lynn Nye (Editor), Tom Wood (Illustrator), Dao Vi (Illustrator),
Alexandra Albu (Illustrator), Clarence Bateman (Illustrator), Sarah Morrison (Illustrator), Ximing Luo (Illustrator) Alaya Knowlton (Illustrator), José Sánchez (Illustrator), Kristen Hadaway(Illustrator), Chris Binns (Illustrator), Chris Arias (Illustrator), Helen Yi (Illustrator), April Solomon (Illustrator), Bruce Brenneise (Illustrator), Nick Jizba (Illustrator), L. Ron Hubbard,
Kevin J. Anderson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, S.M. Stirling, Lazarus Chernik, Samuel Parr, Spencer Sekulin, Devon Bohm, Arthur H. Manners, L.H. Davis, David Hankins, David K. Henrickson, J.R. Johnson, Marianne Xenos, Elaine Midcoh, Jason Palmatier, T.J. Knight

Kitsune by Devon Bohm
Mystical look at meaning and how people view their world. From New Mexico, Georgia O’Keefe, and the idea of women's lib, and freedom. The cross cultural look at need and desire, and freedom. A beautiful idea.

Moonlight and funk By Marianne Xenos
True friendship is accepting who you are. The best friend is the one that makes you better, gives you direction and company along the way. Can a dragon, a vampire, and a chihuahua find that best friendship?

Death And the taxman by David Hankins
Started as stories he made up for his daughter at bed time. What a hilarious beginning. I loved the humor and the ideas shown by the characters that create amazing puns, and hilarious episodes.

Under my cypresses by Jason Palmatier
What is reality, what is AI, how will life balance these two opposing structures? This story looks at our perception of reality and brings in the idea of ai and computer generated societal constructs.

Circulate by L. Ron Hubbard
Looking at his writing and legacy.

The unwilling hero L. Ron Hibbard
A pioneering venture into space. What is our responsibility to explorers? Are we obligated to find lost travelers in space? And does the found real-estate of worlds found in this search. It's a Space voyage of philosophical and mathematical imagination.

White Elephant by David k. Henrickson
Given warning of alien contact and possible invasion how would a Space faring earth respond.

Piracy for beginners by J. R. Johnson
An adventure into space, finding out how to use her personal skills to evade space pirates. Her choice was not supported by the company, but it worked that she saved her ship and her crew. An interesting look at rules of corporations and independent actions.

Prioritize to increase your writing by kristine kathryn Rusch
A short personal story of the struggles we all have with obligations and motivations.

Fire in the hole
By Kevin J. Anderson
The story of a young monster who has to face his family and take his own life in hand. A twist on mythological monsters with humor and the gumshoe investigations.

A Trickle in history by Elaine Midcoh
The last of the Jews in Europe are hidden behind false papers and ideology. The propaganda and prejudice affect every part of their lives. This book shows the sad image of a possible history. Time travel has circumstances for change but it erases those things that happen after they change.

The Withering Sky by Arthur H. Manners
One of the darkest stories in this collection. Showing the fractures of human personality and mind. The exploration of an alien artifact has a phenomenal effect on the group.

The fall of Crodendra M T. J. Knight
We are responsible for our existence. That if family calls we are to go. We are to be there. If we do not we find regret. It's a poignant story of regret and goodbye.

What is art direction? By Lazarus Chernik
Personal description of the community and audience of the artist and their direction of illustration to stories and descriptions.

Constant Never by s.m. Stirling
A knight, a dragon and a Maiden. Formula for the epic heroes story with a final magical twist.

The children of desolation by Spencer Skulin
A dark look at the future, our current fears of destruction and apocalyptic results. Based in South Africa this story looks at misconception and propaganda as one side plays the other.
7.Timelines and bloodlines by L. H. Davis
Alternative view of time travel and its ramifications. How it affects personal history and how changes can prevent the worst disaster through violence or discussions.

The last history by Samuel Parr
What do we sacrifice for? The abstract or the concept. What do we sacrifice with our past or our future? This story manifests these concepts.
The art work here is remarkable and very beautifully done, each artist is matched perfectly to the medium of the story, with amazingly detailed and remarkable artist renditions of the story. I wish that the publishing industry was as conscious of the cover art as the director of art this book shows.

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I highly recommend checking out this book and its new writers. Step into new worlds and writing styles in bite size portions.
Then you find a writer you like you can go and find their other books and chew on something bigger.

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Very much a mixture of good and not so good.
Most of the stories are well written and easy to read, but a few were just too 'wordy' and overcomplicated.
Just my own opinion, others may feel completely differently!

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Writers Of The Future is a neat collection series, and this was my first time encountering it. The volumes contain works by two sets of winners for the year, writers and illustrators, with winners chosen quarterly over the course of a year's submissions. Volume 39 showcases 12 winning writers and illustrators (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place per quarter), plus 2 additional stories by Writers of the Future Contest judges Kevin J. Anderson and S. M. Stirling, an L. Ron Hubbard story, and some essays on writing and art. The rules for entry are a little more complex than this, but basically the contestants must be largely unpublished--the idea is to identify new/developing talent and elevate it to a wider audience. Each winning story is paired with an illustration, and the pair are preceded by blurbs for both the writer and the illustrator; some use the blurbs to talk about the genesis of the story or their path to becoming a writer/illustrator, but I was most charmed by a few who were willing to be open about how many times they had entered before winning (in one case, 25). That kind of thing--how many unsuccessful tries preceded the success--is important for developing writers & contest entrants to see.

I like the stories and had fun reading them. Several read as emerging talent--promising and engaging, but not yet masters of their craft (naturally). A few stories stood out to me as being especially well-crafted or memorable: I really particularly liked White Elephant by David K. Henrikson, I enjoyed the quiet literary magical realism of Kitsune by Devon Bohm, and was effectively spooked and unsettled by the tense horror-in-space story The Withering Sky by Arthur H. Manners. A couple of stories didn't work for me, which is usually the case in an anthology. So: a mix containingsome standout 4 star stories that stuck with me and had me thinking later, several 3-star stories that I enjoyed but wasn't likely to recall details of in a week or two, and one or two that just weren't to my taste would have made this an overall 3-star read for me.


The editors at Writers of the Future know how to wrap an anthology, and they saved the strongest story for last. Easily worth the price of admission all by its lonesome. (It's phenomenal. Like, Hugo-ballot material, I'm not exaggerating.) The Last History, by Samuel Parr, is a stunner. The author says about his story, "It started with a question about two concepts: could you take the brutally long Civil Service Exams of Imperial China and make them a magic battle royale?" That will do for a teaser, and it's not inaccurate, but it's more than that, too--it's got heart and hard questions and nuance and I got choked up at the end. 5 star story, easy. Parr notes in his blurb that this is his first professional sale, which "has helped Sam after a lifetime of low confidence in his writing. He now can’t wait to continue setting the weird worlds in his head onto the page, and he hopes you might read his work again." I hope so too, Sam.

I was provided an ARC by BooksGoSocial and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I love anthologies. They give me a snapshot of authors I might not recognize and samples of their libraries. I have read many of the L Ron Hubbard presents volumes but I chose this one because I recently discovered Brandon Sanderson's books and was searching through the titles in his back library. When an author whose work you admire recommends similar author's works, it's worth my time to read them. And it was definitely worth my time.......
Several of these stories are so good, you'll fall into them and be disappointed when they end. Some are just good, some still working....that's another great thing about anthologies. Your investment in time is different for each and you'll be able to start and finish the story in one sitting. So........try this book, you'll not regret it.

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I've read a number of the books in this series, and enjoyed this, which always has a good variety of stories and generally high quality.

Thanks very much for the free copy for review!!

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free ebook ARC of Writers of the Future Volume 39. Despite receiving the free ebook, this review is my honest opinion. I greatly enjoyed reading this collection of stories. The story "Kitsune" by Devon Bohm was my favorite from the anthology. It was full of absurdity and intrigue while providing a roller coaster of emotional twists, just the type of story I enjoy. The other stories in the collection were also a delight. I was especially happy to see the work of old favorites L. Ron Hubbard and Kevin J. Anderson.

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A real mixed bag here - some of these stories are good and some are undeveloped and need refinement. Ron Hubbard's choice does not always seem logical as to why they are chosen to me. However, as an aspiring author, short story collections like these, are an excellent jumping off point for a career and enable the author to come to the notice of a wider audience.

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The twelve winners of the 39th Annual Writers of the Future Award are presented in this anthology of outstanding new voices telling stories that range through everything speculatively fictional from space piracy (“Piracy for Beginners”) to time travel (both the heartbreaking “A Trickle in History” and the mixing of Merlin with C4 in “Timelines and Bloodlines”) to dragons on fire over Key West in “Moonlight and Funk”. The wide net cast by this contest bring the gallows humor of “Death and the Taxman”, where the Grim Reaper is bested by an IRS agent and the bureaucratic red tape of “White Elephant” where Venus is sold to refugee aliens into the same volume with an exploration of whether dating an A.I. is real enough for love in “Under My Cypresses”. There’s something for every genre reader among this year’s winners, as well stories from established writers Kevin J. Anderson and S.M. Stirling and two how-to essays for hopeful writers and illustrators.

VERDICT: This collection of winners will satisfy readers of SF, both epic and urban fantasy, as well as the squishy places in between where speculative fiction is mashed into brave new worlds and crazy mixed-up old ones. Recommended for readers who enjoy SFnal short stories and best of the year collections.

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My childhood consisted mostly of reading SF stories. Loyal Dr Who fan and long-time Trekkie here. Over the years, my preference for novels has been subject to change, - at the moment I'm reading mostly mysteries a la Christie again - but still, always that longing for good SF. So I am the happy owner of all the Year's Best SF anthologies (Dozois), and works by Olaf Stapledon, M.P. Shiel, Wyndham H.G. Wells, and stories from Golden Age SF (anthologies).
They can't be thick enough for me, this anthology contains new (and some older) stories, with beautiful illustrations.

As in any anthology, it is a mix of stories that stir your heart, describe fantastic magical worlds or come with a Battle Royale with a twist. About floating in Neptune clouds, gaming in a metaverse world, or a story in which Jack London features.
Vampires and dragons cannot charm me, so I skipped the story Fire in the Hole about a zombie PI. Otherwise I read everything, and raced through the 400 plus pages.
The illustrations are truly breathtakingly beautiful.
A must read for readers who love SF. Highly recommended! (5 plus stars)
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this review copy. This opinion is my own.

Some of the stories I personally loved the most:
Kitsune: a heartbreakingly surreal story about shapeshifters (canine/human) and where all the foxes come from.
Death and the Taxman - a beautiful and hilarious story about a man who tricks the Grim Reaper. Is somewhat similar to Good Omens in terms of humour.
White Elephant - for me one of the best stories in this volume- about a First Contact with a species (Cenanti) asking Earth for help to repair their seed ship on which they travel. They are a migratory species, and come en masse (2 billion) - on Earth consultations take place on where to leave them. In the end, they sell Venus in exchange for terraforming (Venus) and technology from the creatures. In addition to the wonderful story about the stupidity of the earthlings, as a reader you get another lesson in astrophysics (Venus spinning backwards, gravity, Kuiper & Oort belt, Jupiter, warp drive etc).
The Fall of Codendra - highlights the drawbacks of our evolving individuality. People can watch a whole planet/civilisation blown to bits by an asteroid on huge billboards in the street.
The Children of Desolation - about Tumelo travelling through what was once South Africa to bring a blind girl and her dog to a desolate place where she will surely die. The area is infested with the Desolates (mutant demons in human skin - they are immortal and their blood can cure)

Also included are some bits on what an art director does, and how to write a good story.
Highly recommended! 5 (***** plus stars)

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I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed more the fantasy stories in this book. The white elephant being the exception. The other Sci fi nor to my taste. Not a case of bad writing. Just not for me. I feel like I prefer last years issue a lot more. The quality of artwork is still exceptional and that alone would be 5 stars. As I say didn't hate it but didn't love. Hence the 3 stars

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This 39th edition of Writers of the Future contains 12 short stories by the quarterly winners of the Writers of the Future Contest, 3 additional contributions by seasoned authors, and 3 short essays. For each short story, an illustration is created by one of the winners of the Illustrators of the Future Contest.

The opener -- Kitsune by Devon Bohm -- was very nice and original. In a near future, foxes are extinct, but suddenly they start appearing again, in increasing volumes and in many colours. At the same time women begin to disappear. Great plot idea, well brought, but I wasn’t too impressed by the ending. Due to that it felt more like the prologue of a larger story. I liked it, nothing more, nothing less. Piracy for Beginners by J. R. Johnson is another example of a story that I simply liked, but nothing more than that. It’s about an attempt to hijack a ship that transports people between the moon and Earth. It’s very action-oriented with shooting, and manoeuvring, and with such plots, I sometimes loose track of where everybody is and what they are doing exactly. That happened here, at which point the story moved from ‘like a lot’ to ‘like’.

In the ‘like a lot’ category, Under My Cypresses by Jason Palmatier was definitely my favourite. It pictured an interesting dilemma about how real AIs are, how human they are, how much their feelings count, etc. Some of the questions posed in this story are questions our society will have to address too at a certain moment in the foreseeable future. AI is very hot at the moment and the story came at precisely the right moment, it’s very relevant. But above all, it was well composed. Death and the Taxman by David Hankins is another very good story, about a human being tricking the Grim Reaper. And I loved the illustration Frank Totmann designed for it, which was so funny and spot on. About the illustrations: there are only beautiful drawings here, almost always adding something to the story. There wasn’t a single one I disliked. My drawing skills never exceeded toddler level so I’m extremely jealous of these people’s talents. Timelines and Bloodlines by L. H. Davis is another one of those top stories. It’s a very appealing time travel story with a very elegant solution at the end. I’m not going to review every single story but I definitely want to mention two more that are very recommendable: The Withering Sky by Arthur H. Manners for those who like a touch of horror in their sci-fi, and White Elephant by David K. Henrickson for fans of first encounters.

The essay by Lazarus Chernik about what art direction is, was very informative and interesting. I felt no connection to the other two essays. But they were short, so not much time was lost… Out of the 15 stories, only 4 didn’t attract me. That’s actually a very good score for a story collection. Usually my like/don’t like ratings are around 50/50. It shows that Writers of the Future 39 is a high quality volume. Because of the amount of sci-fi stories in it, I’d recommend it more to sci-fi lovers than to fans of other types of speculative fiction.

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This superb collection of short stories and essays by new authors is a great. A great mix across the genre, and although slightly more heavy on sci-fi themes, all the stories are great and wonderfully illustrated too. Stand outs for me and worth all the stars were Moonlight and Funk by April Solomon for great fantasy characters, Kitsune by Alaya Knowlton for the shapeshifters, and the perfect cyberpunk story Under My Cypresses by Helen Yi for superb allegory. My favourite fantasy plot is always time travel, and I particularly adored A Trickle in History; a Jewish girl who can travel in time makes for an inspired and emotive story. Just wonderful.

Is absolutely recommend this anthology for fantasy and sci-fi fans and those just wanting to dip their toes. I truly cannot wait to read more from some of these authors. Many thanks Netgally for the opportunity to read and review this edition, all thoughts are my own.

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[Blurb goes here]

First, let us talk about 'Writers (& Illustrators) of the Future,' a quarterly contest, founded some thirty years ago by L. Ron Hubbard. It's open to unpublished writers and illustrators. Once a year the organizers publish a new book featuring the yearly winners in both categories. So, if you choose to read this anthology, you're in for a nice surprise.

With three bonus stories by Kevin J. Anderson, L. Ron Hubbard, and S. M. Stirling and the added art and writing tips by Lazarus Chernik, L. Ron Hubbard, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, this compilation makes for a great read.

The featured stories are both fresh and innovative. As far as anthologies go, this is one I await for —impatiently, I might add— every year. So, let us get to it, shall we?

In 'Kitsune,' a long ago extinct animal comes back in droves. Beautifully written, this story hides an important social commentary, reason enough to immerse yourself in it.

Kevin J. Anderson regales us with a short story featuring his Zombie P.I., Dan Shamble. A fun little story.

'Death and the Taxman' has to be one of my favorites. An IRS employee, cheats Death with unexpected, and fun, I might add, consequences.

'White Elephant', in my opinion, is a most interesting story: an alien prove reaches Earth and starts negotiating with humans. It wants a planet for his masters to colonize 150 years in the future. Humanity, as always, shows their true colors.

'Piracy for Beginners' felt a little flat. A ship is attacked by pirates, the ship's captain has to get rid of the threat: she used to be in the army, so her goal was always at hand's reach.

'The Withering Sky' is an interesting take on humans boarding an alien vessel. Truth be told, it felt...incomplete...? No closure was provided by the author.

'The Fall of Crodendra M.' What would happen if streaming channels could televise real events from all over the universe? A populated planet is about to be wiped out of existence by an asteroid. The tragedy translates to ratings.

'The Children of Desolation,' a heartfelt tale about a man who has to transport a young girl into the wastelands, that is, until he finds out that the girl in question, is a Desolate.

If there's something to be said about this varied collection, is that it showcases real talent.

A must read for writing beginners and an unexpected and welcomed surprise for readers.

Thank you for the advanced copy.

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This is one of several volumes of Writers of the Future I’ve read and it’s as great as all the others. Of the 12 stories by the new writers, I loved ten of them. My three favorites were “Death and the Taxman” by David Hankins, “A Trickle in History” by Elaine Midcoh, and “The Children of Desolation” by Spencer Sekulin. “The Unwilling Hero” by L. Ron Hubbard was also excellent. My favorite illustrations were by Sarah Morrison for “Death and the Taxman” and by Kristen Hadaway for “White Elephant”. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who reads the genre. Thank you to Galaxy Press Inc, BooksGoSocial, and Netgalley for the digital review copy.

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Volume 39 in the long running series offers generally high quality short fiction across the fantasy and SF spectrum. The Writers of the Future contest has launched many great careers, so these anthologies are always worth a read. I liked The Kitsune, Moonlight and Funk; The Withering; and The Last History; so a range from SF to fantasy to horror. A Trickle in History was also good, though seemed a bit less mature. Others were enjoyable with only one or two forgettable. The professional entries were less compelling than those of the contestants. Generally well done.

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This Review will be published on the 7th of April at:

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 39

A Thank-you

Before I begin this review, I would just like to thank Writers of the Future and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of the book.

Writers of The Future

Never judge a book by it’s cover…but how can you not, when the illustration is as stunning as this? Scattered throughout the book are illustrations which accompany the stories and they are a treat.

A little bit about Writers of the Future, it is “the most enduring and influential contest in the history of SF and Fantasy” (Writers of the Future, n,d). To find out more, please visit the website, as there is much more to uncover:


It’s hard to start the review without talking about L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy and Writers of the Future. Writing is hard. Publishing is harder. Ask any writer. Stephen King was rejected 80 times by publishers; C.S. Lewis received 800 rejections; J.K Rowling was rejected with her Harry Potter books AND under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith… the list goes on (The Cultured Giraffe, 2020). If I’m casting clouds over your day, let me break the gloom with some sunshine. Writers of the Future offers a chance for writers to get their work out there. Putting them in an anthology with a whole host of other creative people and joining a legacy of brilliant talent. These writers included in this volume, may very well go on to become giants in the genre. It’s called Writers of the Future for a reason.


R&R’s last review was short stories. Short stories are great. But there are always those that stick out. These are as follows:

Death and the Taxman – David Hankins

David was inspired by Terry Pratchett with this story, and it shows. It’s a witty, funny and humorous short story and it was a pleasure to read. Throughout the story I was reminded of Sir Terry Pratchett and in the writing community, I would say that is a very high compliment. Read this story. I believe the anthology is well worth it for this story alone! And please, David, keep writing!

The Unwilling Hero – L. Ron Hubbard

A reluctant hero, an explorers club and space. Everything a space story needs. I thought the ending was rather sad, even if things did work out. I suppose there is always a cost to travel, progress and expansion. Nothing comes for free. Are all heroes born from tragedy?

A Trickle in History – Elaine Midcoh

Beautiful, poetic and harrowing. Time Travel done right. Without spoiling anything, I was surprised and the thought and effort which was put into the story is superb. Subtle and bold, all wrapped up into a short story.

Constant Never – S. M. Stirling

A fantasy through and through. A lady, a knight and something else? The writing was apt, clear and just as long as it needed to be. The ending was a good one, although you may be able to guess it. But, endings that feel close to the story, are not bad, they are logical. If you like your fantasy with knights, this is a good story for you.

Children of the Desolation – Spencer Sekulin

A post-apocalyptic ride into humanity and survival. Spencer says there is “A novel based on it… also in the works.” (Galaxy Press, 2023, 72%) Here at R&R we want to read it!

Timelines and Bloodlines – L. H. Davis

Time travel is messy, it’s paradoxical and it can only be handled by great writers. If you don’t like time travel concepts, you aren’t reading well done time travel. One great time travel story was a surprise in this anthology, but two! As soon as I began to read Timelines and Bloodlines, I knew it was going to be good. Heaving hitting concepts wrapped up into gritty action and a well-paced story. Logical, well written and an overall good story. Read it.

Would I Recommend?

These are some of the best short stories I have read in a while, so there is only one way to go with this anthology, buy it and read it. Short stories make you think and these will certainly get you thinking. Give it a try.


Galaxy Press (n,d). Writers of the Future Volume 39. Accessed via:
Galaxy Press (2023). L. Ron Hubbar Presents Writers of the Future Volume 39. Galaxy Press, Inc.
Writers of The Future (n,d). Enter Writer Contest. Accessed via:
The Cultured Giraffe (2020). Famous authors who have been rejected multiple times. Accessed via:

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