Jody Lynn Nye writes fantasy and science fiction books and short stories. Since 1987 she has published over 45 books and more than 120 short stories, including epic fantasies, contemporary humorous fantasy, humorous military science fiction, and edited three anthologies. She collaborated with Anne McCaffrey on a number of books, including the New York Times bestseller, Crisis on Doona. She also wrote eight books with Robert Asprin, and continues both of Asprin's Myth-Adventures series and Dragons series. Her newest humorous military SF series is the Lord Thomas Kinago adventures, the most recent of which is Fortunes of the Imperium (Baen Books).

Dean Wesley Smith is considered one of the most prolific writers working in modern fiction, USA Today bestselling writer Dean Wesley Smith published far more than a hundred novels in forty years, and hundreds of short stories across many genres.

Writers of the Future: Volume 39 edited by Jody Lynn Nye and Dean Wesley Smith

In the world of speculative fiction some of your favorite authors selected these stories for you to read. Discover 24 award-winning authors and illustrators with bonus short stories by Kevin J. Anderson, L. Ron Hubbard, and S. M. Stirling



  • "No corner of the speculative fiction genre has been left untouched with these epic stories. This book represents the best and brightest upcoming authors and illustrators within the genre. I completely loved it!"

    – The International Review of Books
  • "This is a treasure of extraordinary journeys beyond the boundaries of imagination. L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future volume 39 is a ʻmust-readʼ for science fiction and fantasy connoisseurs. Highly recommended!"

    – Midwest Book Review
  • "Enjoyable. An early glance at writers who may become major talents in the future. A strikingly original and intricately imagined fantasy world. Unusually vivid and convincing cyberpunk."

    – Tangent Online



Twelve captivating tales from the best new writers of the year accompanied

by three more from bestselling authors you've read before.

A miracle? An omen? Or something else? One day, they arrived in droves—the foxes of the desert, the field, the imagination. . . . —"Kitsune" by Devon Bohm

When a vampire, a dragon, and a shape-shifting Chihuahua meet on a beach in Key West, fireworks go off! But that's just the background. —"Moonlight and Funk" by Marianne Xenos

The Grim Reaper, trapped in an irs agent's dying body, must regain his powers before he dies and faces judgment for his original sin. —"Death and the Taxman" by David Hankins

In a metaverse future, a woman who exposes falseness in others must decide what is real to her—the love she lost or the love she may have found. —"Under My Cypresses" by Jason Palmatier

Vic Harden wasn't lured by glory on a daring mission into the reaches of outer space—he was ordered out there by his editor. —"The Unwilling Hero" by L. Ron Hubbard

Dangerous opportunities present themselves when an alien ship arrives in the solar system seeking repairs. —"White Elephant" by David K. Henrickson

With her spaceship at the wrong end of a pirate's guns, a former war hero must face down her enemies and demons to save Earth's last best chance for peace. —"Piracy for Beginners" by J. R. Johnson

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., faces one of his funniest and most perplexing cases ever—an enlightened ogre, a salamander with low self-esteem, and a raging fire dragon terrorizing the Unnatural Quarter! —"Fire in the Hole" by Kevin J. Anderson

Years after the Second Holocaust, the last surviving Jews on earth attempt to rewrite the past.

—"A Trickle in History" by Elaine Midcoh

When I said I'd do anything to pay off my debts and get back home to Earth, I didn't mean survey a derelict spaceship at the edge of the solar system—but here I am.

—"The Withering Sky" by Arthur H. Manners

High-powered telescopes bring galactic life to our tvs, and network tuner Hank Enos figures he's seen everything—until the day an alien boy stares back. —"The Fall of Crodendra M" by T. J. Knight

Knights, damsels and dragons, curses and fates foretold—the stuff of legends and stories, but unexpectedly perverse. —"Constant Never" by S. M. Stirling

Determined to save his wife, Tumelo takes an unlikely client through South Africa's ruins to the heart of the Desolation—a journey that will cost or save everything. —"The Children of Desolation" by Spencer Sekulin

When a terrorist smuggles a nuclear weapon into London, a team regresses in time to ad 1093 to assassinate a knight on the battlefield, thereby eliminating the terrorist a millennium before

his birth. —"Timelines and Bloodlines" by L. H. Davis

The Grand Exam is a gateway to power for one, likely death for all others—its entrants include ambitious nobles, desperate peasants, and Quiet Gate, an old woman with nothing left to lose.

—"The Last History" by Samuel Parr

Introduction by Jody Lynn Nye

You hold in your hand the results of a year's worth of hard work and impressive talent. The following twelve stories each represent the vision of a new writer that stood out among the thousands of entries submitted to the Writers of the Future Contest to be recognized as the best of the best. Some of these writers have sent in many stories over the years; for some, this is their first attempt. All of them have excited my imagination, even bringing me to exclaim out loud in delight. ("Venus? Really?")

This is my first year as the Coordinating Judge of the Contest. Only three other people have held this position since the Contest launched in 1985. David Farland, K. D. Wentworth, and renowned editor Algis Budrys, who with L. Ron Hubbard shepherded the Contest into being, have helped to launch the careers of numerous notable writers including Patrick Rothfuss, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Eric Flint, Nnedi Okorafor, and Dean Wesley Smith (now my coeditor of this anthology). I have large and eminent shoes to fill, and I hope you will appreciate my efforts.

So, how do you get to be a winner and have your story published in one of these glamorous anthologies? You have four quarters of the year to send in an original tale. We accept speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, and dark fantasy (light horror). Keep in mind that this is a professional market with an audience that runs from young adult on upward. Within those parameters, let your imagination run wild. The Contest is judged blind. The quality of your work is what is important. What am I looking for? First, I want a story. It has to have a beginning, middle, and end that involves your fantasy or SF element. If your narrative takes too long to get going or trails off with no conclusion, I may never even see it, as the first reader (and former Writers' Contest winner) Kary English weeds out manuscripts that don't fulfill the basic guidelines for the Contest. I like a story that never stops moving, that gives me a reason to keep reading.

Second, send me something new. If I've seen the plot often and you have nothing new to say about it, you're not trying hard enough. Speculative fiction means exploring the universe and finding a corner of it that hasn't been churned over by thousands of other writers. Tickle my imagination. Surprise me. I welcome a new take on science fiction or fantasy. Third, I want excellent storytelling. Your style can set a fairly ordinary plot apart from others like it by intelligent and evocative wordplay. Give me great characters. Give me consequences for failing to reach the goal those characters are striving toward. Small stories about one moment in a character's life can be as interesting and meaningful as big stories in which the universe itself is at stake.

The eight Finalists every quarter go on to a selection of our eminent judges to vote for first, second, and third place. The rewards for becoming a winner of the Contest are spectacular. The twelve writer winners are flown into Hollywood, California, for a grand black-tie, red-carpet gala, given beautiful trophies and cash prizes. Each of their stories is also handed off to the winners of the Illustrators of the Future Contest to create a unique piece of art to accompany it in the anthology. The anthologies themselves often become national bestsellers, a terrific entry on your bibliography. Afterward, the winners get to experience their first book signing of the anthology containing their work. The winners also enjoy a weeklong seminar taught by me and fantasy writer/judge Tim Powers, with guest speeches from the other Contest judges. It's the biggest fuss anyone will ever make in your career about a short story.

It's more than worth it to enter, and I urge you to begin. I'm starting my second year of reading Contest entries. Make one of them yours.