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.

The deadline to turn in all materials to the KU English Department is early or mid-March; see the English Department website for submission details and deadlines (there's usually a linked pdf on the right side of the page after January). Other rules and prizes are listed at the bottom of this page.

The Award consists of a $200 check (for first place; other places might be slightly less) funded by donations, plus either a $200 tuition reduction (if taking for professionalization) or a waiver of the $100 guest-author fee (if taking for credit) for the Speculative Fiction Writer's Workshop offered each summer, to be used in the current or following year.

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.

The Center also offers two other substantial awards funded by generous donors: the Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies, and the Mark Bourne Speculative Fiction Writing Scholarship. Click here to learn more about these and our other awards.

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

2016

First Place
John-Paul Hurley, "Cicadian Rhythm"

Second Place
Mary Fluker, "Lifework"

2015

Adam Miller, "From a False Rose"

Adam Mills, "Shift"

2014

Justin Wilson, "View from a Drop"

2013

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

Honorable Mention
Amanda L. Frost
, "INTERPRETATIO GRAECA"

Honorable Mention
Phillip Garland
, "Doors"

2012

Evan Mielke, "Via"

Andrew Genova, "Purple Carnations"

2011

Benjamin Cartwright, "Proxies, Maps, and Animals"

2009

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

2008

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"

2007

Nate Williams, "Eyesores"

2006

Tim Macy, "The Working Class"

2005

Mark Finken, "Alone in the Worlds"

Rules

  • Submission deadline varies; check with the KU English Department website for details and to get a submission form. Usually the middle of Spring semester.
  • The deadline to turn in all materials to the KU English Department is mid-March. 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.

Prizes

  • A check for $200 (first place, slightly lower for ties or other places).
  • Either a $200 tuition reduction (if taking for professionalization) or a waiver of the $100 guest-author fee (if taking for credit) for the Speculative Fiction Writer's Workshop offered each summer, to be used in the current or following year.
  • 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 - just let us know. However, we encourage writers to try to sell their work before posting it to the internet.

updated 5/19/2016

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