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L.Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XXX
edited by Dave Wolverton
Galaxy Press, 400 pages

L.Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XXX
Dave Wolverton
Dave Wolverton (aka David Farland) decided to become a fantasy writer over 20 years ago. He tried his hand at doing a few novels, then decided to learn how to write by studying textbooks and doing some classes. Several pieces of work were published in the mainstream but he wanted to get back to fantasy. He started by doing the legwork necessary to build the world, to add in the magic system and to develop a sense of how he wanted the imagery/artwork to appear. That work has led to the development of a number of spin-off products available at The Runelords website.

David Farland / Dave Wolverton Website
Runelords Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: L.Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XXIX
SF Site Review: Three Tales
SF Site Review: The Best of David Farland: Volume 1 and 2
SF Site Review: The Runelords: The Sum of All Men

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

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Writers of the Future has been chugging strong for thirty years. I've read the series off and on for a good chunk of it. My initial reading was primarily winners, friends, and those who've gone on to something bigger. I got stuck whenever I tried to read it through, cover to cover, stuck on amateur flaws. Then I read volume 23 whose professionalism was astronomical. These would have been my favorite stories in any magazine: Douglas Texter, Jeff Carlson, Tony Pi, Aliette de Bodard, etc. The others would have pleased me. I reread each at least three times, impressed.

Since then I've been reading the series regularly, uncovering standouts that wow me like those by Ian McHugh, J. Kathleen Cheney, Matthew S. Rotundo, and Donald Mead, among others. I finally got a grip on what the editors and judges were up to. They sought entertainments, first and foremost: What makes a good story?

I continue to dissect the stories. You can see the nit-picking on my blog, where I analyze the stories in detail. This volume's stories may be found here.

This review is just an overview. To discuss each story in detail might run this review to ten pages. Like others in the series, the authors display a penchant for entertainments with characters you can root for. A woman sees the past in mirrors. A boy changes his shape. A hunter recognizes he's killing endangered species for a serial killer. Animals go extinct. Earth is not habitable for humans, so they live in a dystopia, meanwhile. Giants cross the land to sleep on glaciers. In a dry world, with even humanity on the brink of extinction, a girl creates storms. A Oz-like motley of characters unite to escape a comet. A man is stuck in time, visits a virtual girlfriend who won't stop killing herself. A man makes people feel emotions although he doesn't yet know despair. Mail-order brides visit other planets, with one expected to live repressed by old rules. A nano desert covers the Earth. And people give their memories to get a leg up on life, although you may need some experiences first.

Some stories feature cool twisty plots as those by Paul Eckheart (Philip K. Dick-ish) and Oleg Kazantsev (future best-selling thriller writer?). Leena Likitalo, Timothy Jordan, and Megan E. O'Keefe penned stunning images that stuck with me -- which tends to make a story memorable. Shauna O'Meara, Anaea Lay and C. Stuart Hardwick may be future prize winners as they made their stories the most thought-provoking, although theirs need to dig a little deeper, check the big picture and add subtlety. Oleg Kazantsev, Randy Henderson, Terry Madden, and K.C. Norton helmed the nifty-idea department.

For my money, Amanda Forrest and Liz Colter had the best overall stories, with Colter edging out Forrest. Not only do their ideas have complexity and, wow, not only do they leave us with eye kicks, but they also give us stories that move.

Also included are three short stories by contest judges -- Mike Resnick, L. Ron Hubbard and Orson Scott Card -- who held up their stories as the kind of tale that should do well in the contest. (Clearly Hubbard's not around to hold up anything, but I imagine Dave Wolverton selected the story with that end in mind.) All three are solid works and do illustrate what they say makes a good story for this series -- useful to the writer looking to break into the contest.

If you're a new writer, it's an anthology well worth your investment. Chug the ones that aren't your cup of tea to see what's in the tea leaves and to fill your cup with later, tastier elixirs.

Copyright © 2014 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.


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