James E. Gunn Award for
Science Fiction Writing

Since 2005, the Center for the Study of Science Fiction offers a writing prize to the author of an outstanding SF story written for an English class at the University of Kansas. The Award is named in honor of James Gunn, the Center's Director since its inception. All KU students English or other majors, traditional or non-traditional are eligible to submit a work they wrote that year. Teachers and others may submit a story for a student, as well.

For this year's award (2011), the deadline to turn in all materials to the KU English Department is mid-March.

Rules and prizes are listed at the bottom of this page.

The Award consists of a $100 check funded by a donation from CSSF Associate Director Chris McKitterick, plus a $200 tuition reduction for the Writer's Workshop offered by CSSF Director James Gunn and Chris McKitterick, to be used in the current or following year. Gunn is the primary instructor of the Workshop, and McKitterick acts as assistant instructor and is also available for personal consultation and other activities. Kij Johnson also assists in the Workshop and teaches a novel-writing workshop in conjunction. We usually have special guest critiquers for the final two days (or more) of the Workshop, including the Campbell and Sturgeon Award winners, and Frederik Pohl has participated in the Workshop for the past 30 years.

The Writer's Workshop usually meets from the last week of June through the first week of July, concluding during the Campbell Conference. If you are coming from out of town, plan to arrive on the Sunday before the Workshop begins. We will have an informal get-together on Sunday evening to get acquainted. Participants have time for writing, recreation, socializing, and individual conferences.

The Campbell Conference usually brings the winners of the Campbell and Sturgeon Awards to the campus as special guests as well as several other special guests.

Starting in 2009, the Center also offers a substantial Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies. Click here to learn more.

The winner is announced during the English Department Awards Ceremony in May. Below are the Gunn Award winners to date and their story titles:


Evan Mielke, "Via"

Andrew Genova, "Purple Carnations"


Benjamin Cartwright, "Proxies, Maps, and Animals"


Nate Barbarick, "Here Is Our Star, the Sun"


First Place
Nate Williams
, "Rose's New, Electric Litter, against the Wolves of Mt. Shasta"

Second place (tie)
Benjamin Cartwright
, "Reversal Can't Change Base"

Second place (tie)
Sean McConville
, "The Mer-Ka-Ba Strain"


Nate Williams, "Eyesores"


Tim Macy, "The Working Class"


Mark Finken, "Alone in the Worlds"


  • Submission deadline varies; check with the KU English Department for details and to get a submission form. Usually the middle of Spring semester. You can find .pdf instructions for all the English awards online here.
  • The deadline to turn in all materials to the KU English Department is March 29, 2013. For work written in the Spring semester after that date, consider turning in your work for next year's award!
  • Your submission must be science fiction. Not sure if it is? Check out some of the definitions of SF on the Web. Also read James Gunn's essay on the Protocols of Science Fiction for some insight.
  • Your submission must have been written for an English class at the University of Kansas during the year prior to the Award's deadline. For example, to win the 2013 Gunn Award, the submitted story must have been turned in to a KU English Department class since last Spring through this year's deadline. Work turned in to a class after the previous year's submission deadline is eligible for the next year's Award.
  • The Award is announced at the end of the Spring semester.
  • All KU students - English or other majors, traditional or non-traditional, Kansas residents or non-residents - are eligible to submit their work as long as it conforms to the previous rule. If you were a student during the eligibility period, feel free to submit your work as normal for the following year's Award.
  • Teachers and others may submit a story for a student, as well.
  • No word limit.
  • Previously published work okay! Encouraged, even.


  • A check for $100.
  • A scholarship (tuition reduction) for the Writer's Workshop. Scholarship must be used within 18 months of winning the Award (for the Workshops).
  • Your name and story title posted here for all to see! If you want to publish it here, as well, we will be happy to do so; however, we always encourage writers to try to sell their work before posting it to the internet.

updated 5/2/2010

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