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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Writers of the Future, v. 36, edited by David Farland

Every year, the Writers of the Future anthology produces a volume of stories selected to entertain.  It's surprising the number of quality works they comb out of the slush. Each tale has something that strongly recommends it. A writer could do worse than studying the successes found here:

  • devastating climaxes
  • heartbreaks
  • wild speculations
  • philosophical examinations
  • bold world-building
  • enticing hooks
  • an unusual take on a saying or something else we take for granted
  • an unusual take on a trope
  • ponderings on the past, present of future 

Clearly, a writer doesn't have to pack everything inside to perfection. But the story does have to do something well. The writers here unveil their talent like a colorful peacock's tail and assure us that all may go well for the future health of the speculative genres.

The reviews here speculate a bit on what the anthology is looking for--variety. So maybe if you think vampire stories will be glutting the market, now's not the time to send yours. But apart from anthology calls, there's no way to know what the editors will be reading.

I have no idea which writer will win the Golden Pen. I don't always agree with their choices as to which should have won. My favorite was sometimes one that took second or third. This time I don't have a clear favorite as all do something worth studying and emulating. Each has something that made me jealous of their accomplishment. I raise a glass to toast all the authors.

For writers out there, it may require not one anthology but multiple to pick up on the story types they're looking for. I do notice that sometimes stories that appear a year or two later have something to do with stories in a previous anthology--perhaps commenting on or supplying a new talk on a similar speculation. 

Another thing that just struck me is reading not just the Golden Pen stories (or quarterly winners), but also the stories opening the anthology. Even though it may not be what the judges or even the editor thought was the best, the editor is trying to grab readers with that one. 

Conversely, read all the final stories. Think the opposite. Maybe everyone's trying to write the story that appears first. What does the editor want the readers to leave with?

As a whole, the anthology stands toe to toe or even surpasses current professional magazines although it doesn't often supply the best that genre produced that year although it sometimes does. 

Here are the links to comments about specific stories, in the order that they appeared in the anthology:

  1. "The Trade" by C. Winspear
  2. "Foundations" by Michael Gardner
  3. "A Word That Means Everything" by Andy Dibble
  4. "Borrowed Glory" by L. Ron Hubbard
  5. "Catching my Death" by J. L. George
  6. "A Prize in Every Box" by F. J. Bergmann
  7. "Yellow and Pink" by Leah Ning
  8. "The Phoenix's Peace" by Jody Lynn Nye
  9. "Educational Tapes" by Katie Livingston
  10. "Trading Ghosts" by David A. Elsensohn 
  11. "Stolen Sky" by Storm Humbert
  12. "The Winds of Harmattan" by Nnedi Okorafor


Writers of the Future is offering a preorder special on volume 37.

Writers of the Future Volume 37 eBundle

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