The Workshop is especially intended for writers who have just begun to publish or who need that final bit of insight or skill to become a published writer,
though we often see more-published authors who want to grown their writing as
We work with all brands of speculative fiction, including horror, fantasy, magical realism,
slipstream, speculative philosophy, hard SF, and so on.
Science Fiction Grand Master
James Gunn established the Workshop in 1985 and led it on his own (with
appearances from Sturgeon and Campbell Award-winning authors) until
1996, when author
and CSSF Director
Christopher McKitterick began co-teaching;
Kij Johnson also co-taught from 1996-2002, before
branching off her own SF&F Novel Writing Workshop,
offered during the same two-week period. Gunn stepped back his participation in
2010, but plans to drop in from time to time to meet the workshoppers and offer
words of writing wisdom, and he usually joins us for lunch in the (very good)
adjoining dorm cafeteria. We'll likely enjoy other special-guest authors and
editors, as well.
Simultaneous scheduling and adjacent
meeting spaces provide valuable opportunities to intermingle with the other
group and discuss writing from different perspectives outside regular meeting
For 2015, we
continue the tradition of inviting outside authors and editors to join us so you
get diverse perspectives on what makes great spec-fic. This year, we
are honored to host two guest authors:
- For week one, Grand Master James Gunn - who founded the Center and first taught the workshop
in 1985 - critiques one story from each participant.
We hope he will return again for 2015.
- For week two, award-winning author, editor, and SF scholar
John Kessel returns
to KU for his first Workshop guest appearance since he was a student of
- Author, SF scholar, and CSSF Director Christopher McKitterick
(who served as guest author from 1996-2010) leads the workshop and
participates both weeks.
During the last day or two of the second week,
we also expect to host both our Campbell Award and Sturgeon Award-winning
authors, plus Kij Johnson and other
authors and editors who are attending the Campbell Conference, to talk about the business of writing.
John at the 2009 World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, Canada.
returns to the Workshop for his first visit since his student days at KU! He
joins us during the first weekend and will participate throughout Week Two,
critiquing each workshopper's final story and revision.
Born in Buffalo, New York,
John Kessel is the author of the novels
Good News from Outer Space (which placed for the 1990
John W. Campbell Memorial Award), and Corrupting Dr. Nice,
which Kim Stanley Robinson called, "the best time travel novel ever written," and, in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are
Meeting In Infinity (a
New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and
The Baum Plan for Financial Independence.
A writer of erudite comic and satiric short fiction, Kessel's stories have twice received the Nebula Award
(for his novella "Another Orphan," a fantasy about a commodities broker who awakes one morning to find himself trapped in the novel
Moby Dick, and more recently for "Pride and Prometheus," in which Mary Bennet from Jane Austen's
Pride and Prejudice meets Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein), in addition to the
Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Locus Poll,
and the James Tiptree
Jr. Award. His play "Faustfeathers" won the Paul Green Playwright's Prize, and his story
"A Clean Escape" was dramatized as the first episode of the ABC TV series
Masters of Science Fiction, starring Sam Waterston and Judy Davis. In 2009 his story
"Pride and Prometheus" received both the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award.
With Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short
SF, most recently
Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology,
as well as Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology,
The Secret History of Science Fiction,
and Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology.
Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English, and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982.
He also writes plays and performs in the independent films, such as
The Delicate Art of the Rifle.
He lives and works in Raleigh, NC.
"John Kessel is one of American SF's finest writers"
- Nick Gevers, Locus magazine.
"Kessel is our American Brian Aldiss, capable of the most artful and rigorous
literary composition, but with a mischievous genius that inclines him toward
speculative fiction... he writes with subtlety and great wit... and his
craftsmanship is frequently absolutely brilliant. Plus, his sense of comedy is
starred review of his 1997 story collection, The Pure Product.
"One of the writers capable of bending the tools of science fiction upon the
human psyche" - the
Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
As has been our tradition with guest authors for the Workshop, Kessel is also
a "Young Gunn," having studied science fiction and writing under James Gunn. He
earned his PhD from the University of Kansas in 1981.
For more, check out Kessel's website, his Wikipedia page,
Founder and Guest Author-Instructor
Jim dispensing wisdom during the 2008 Workshop.
Gunn plans to participate during Week One, giving comments on one of each workshopper's stories,
and offer sage advice during lunch get-togethers, health permitting.
James Gunn's most-recent novel,
Transcendental, came out in 2013
(and the sequel is nearly complete),
along with two other books. He started writing SF in 1948, was a full-time freelance writer for four years, and
has had nearly 100 stories published in magazines and books; most of them have been
reprinted, some as many as a dozen times. He is the author of 26 books and the editor of 18;
his master's thesis was serialized in a pulp magazine. Four of his stories were dramatized
over NBC radio's "X Minus One"; "The Cave of Night" was dramatized on television's Desilu
Playhouse in 1959 as "Man in Orbit"; and
The Immortals was dramatized as an
ABC-TV "Movie of the Week" in 1969 as "The Immortal" and became an hour-long series in
1970-71. His stories and books have been reprinted in many languages.
Gunn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1923. He received his BS degree in
journalism in 1947 after three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and his MA
in English in 1951, both from the University of Kansas. He also did graduate work in theater
at KU and Northwestern. In 1969 at the University of Kansas, he taught one of
the first courses in science fiction. An emeritus professor of fiction writing
at KU, Gunn still teaches and regularly visits workshops and conferences.
In 2007, he was named Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master.
Read more about Gunn and see his full bibliography here.
Chris revealing 30-year-old manuscript pages in 2012.
McKitterick leads the Workshop, participating from when the application
period opens in January through the end of the summer program, critiquing every
story and giving short talks on writing - especially during Week One.
Chris McKitterick's short work has appeared in markets including
Aftermaths, Analog, Argentus, Artemis,
Discovery Channel Magazine,
James Gunn's Ad Astra,
Mission Tomorrow, Mythic Circle, NOTA,
Sentinels, Sense of Wonder,
Synergy, Tomorrow Speculative
Fiction, Top Deck magazine, various TSR publications,
Visual Journeys, Westward Weird,
World Literature Today,
a bowling poem anthology, and elsewhere, and a new story coming out in
Mission Tomorrow. He regularly publishes
nonfiction about SF and other writings, including a poem or two that became
lyrics for songs.
His debut novel, Transcendence, is
now in its second edition. He recently finished a far-future novel, Empire Ship,
and has several other projects on the burner, including the YASF trilogy,
The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella.
Among other things, McKitterick studied astrophysics and psychology on his
route to SF scholar, writer, and teacher. His studies began at the University of
Minnesota, and he earned his BA in creative writing from
the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He then spent a year teaching high
school in the wilds of Montana, then began studying science fiction writing and literature
in 1992 with SF Grand Masters
James Gunn and Frederik Pohl, plus many other guest
authors and editors during the Gunn Center's summer program at the University of Kansas, where
he earned his MA in creative writing and continued post-graduate studies
afterward. Upon graduation, he worked for gaming and tech companies in the
Northwest for nearly a decade, always spending summer vacations at the
Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop and SF Institute.
In 2002, he returned to KU to teach SF and writing full-time, and to direct the
Center for the Study of Science Fiction.
Read more about McKitterick here, or check out his personal website here.
The Campbell Conference following the
workshop plans to bring the winners of the Campbell and
Sturgeon Awards to the campus as special guests, and several more SF-writers and
also scheduled to attend, talk, and sign books during the special Campbell Conference this year.
We invite our special guests to come and talk to us on Friday afternoon
about "The Secrets of Successful Science Fiction" - always a great experience! Our notable visiting authors,
editors, and other guests of the Conference usually stay in the dorm with the attendees,
so you will have special access to these luminaries. Starting in 2013, we are proud to announce that Workshop participants may register for the Conference
at no cost: Just note that you are a Workshop attendee on your registration form.
You must still register in advance, of course!
Workshop moment, 2013
James Gunn (left) and Jeremy Tolbert.
Participants have time for writing, recreation, socializing, and individual conferences.
2015 Writing Workshop
This year's Writing Workshop meets from June 1–12, and the
Campbell Conference, June 12–14. We have an informal get-together with the
Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop
attendees on Sunday evening, at 6:00pm in our residential hall where we'll be
meeting, to get acquainted and plan for the coming weeks.
The "Young Gunns" of 2012
Front row left: Joan
Slonczewski (2012 Campbell Award winner),
(editor of Asimov's),
Sheila Finch (Campbell Award juror and
Back row: Abigail Godsell, Laurie Walker, Marcy Arlin, Andrew Genova,
Evan Mielke, Chris McKitterick.
Not pictured: Andy Duncan, Sarah Fischer,
James Gunn, Chris Kelworth, Kathy Kitts, Chuck von Nordheim.
Attendees arrive at the dorm the day before critiquing begins and stay through the entire
so plan to arrive on Sunday and leave the Sunday afternoon or evening after the
Campbell Conference. If you wish to arrive early to settle in, please let us know so we can
see if we
arrange that with the Housing department.
The "Young Gunns" of 2011
Clockwise from left: Bradley Denton, Jack Ryan, Isaac Bell, Tepring Crocker,
Kara Tan Bhala, Chris Kenworthy, Kathy Kitts,
Mark Silcox, Chris McKitterick, Chuck Von Nordheim, and James Gunn (back to camera on left).
length is the short story (2,500 - 10,000 words), though writers frequently turn
in short-shorts (around 1,000 words) or longer works. If you write
novelettes or novellas (longer than 10,000 words), please limit your submissions to
less than 30,000 words total. Due to time constraints and the structure
of the Workshop, we usually cannot take up more than three works total, even if
they are short-shorts or flash fiction, so keep that in mind. If you are writing
a novel, consider instead the novel-writing workshop
held in conjunction with this short-form workshop, because it's challenging to
give useful feedback on just a few chapters. Everyone
comments on every story, each story is analyzed for publishability, and
writers are encouraged to submit their work for publication. We might also
work on exercises, analyze successful fiction, and more.
The "Young Gunns" of 2008
Applicants will be notified about acceptance starting in March, so contact
us as soon as you can! Enrollment for KU graduate
credit begins in April, but contact us early if you plan to
enroll for credit so we can reserve you a spot. We continue accepting
applications until the Workshop fills or until May 20,
whichever comes first. Note: The 2014 Workshop still has a few available slots,
so apply now!
The "Young Gunns" of 2005
Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Mark Grover, Larry Taylor, Fran Van Cleave, James Gunn,
Harold Agnew, Nolen Harsh.
Kneeling: Chris McKitterick, Mary Rose-Shaffer, Eric Warren, Karen
Schwabach, Mandy Earles, Pat Buehler.
The Workshop offers a three-hour session of manuscript critiquing,
discussion, and other exercises each
afternoon, starting at 1:00pm and running until 4:00pm (or a little later if
needed). The rest of the day is free for writing, study, consultation, and
recreation. We often have lunch together in the student union at noon, and most nights we go out together
for dinner on the town and then many gather back at the scholarship hall for
late-night movies and conversations about story. Attendees write or revise one manuscript over the weekend
and often work on an exercise or two.
Many participants exchange more manuscripts during and after the Workshop, so be
prepared to share more if you find interested readers!
Bradley Denton and Nathaniel Williams playing the blues, 2011 Workshop.
Does the Workshop help students get published?
Most former attendees have not only gone on to publish in both the short and long forms,
but to win the fields most prestigious awards. Among these are multiple award-winning authors Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton
(who has also served as guest author), John Kessel, and many more. Two Workshop graduates
have won the grand prize in the Writers of the Future contest, and the majority
of grads have gone on to publish their work.
The "Young Gunns" of 2004
How to Apply
Enrollment is limited to approximately 8-12 enrollees, so if you wish to attend, be sure to enroll early!
Positions go quickly. To reserve a spot for this year's Writers Workshop:
Between January 2 and April 20, submit via email to Chris McKitterick
(email@example.com) a sample story in
manuscript formatting you wish to use in the Workshop. Use the subject
line "CSSF 2014 Workshop Application" for clarity.
We accept applications from January 2 through
April 20 (first-come,
first-served). Our goal is to pick a good diversity of writers whose approaches
and writing styles work well together.
We usually fill our ranks, so submit early! If you apply late and are
accepted, be prepared to have two more stories ready to submit to the group
before May 20.
Are you a KU student or hoping to take the Workshop for KU English
credit? Great! KU enrollment is late in the application period (April), so to
ensure your spot submit your application package - before KU enrollment - to Chris McKitterick as soon as you know
you would like to take the Workshop. For details on registering for
graduate English credit (ENGL 757) at KU, contact Lydia Ash (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you wish to take the Workshop for KU undergraduate credit and have worked
with him in the past or won the James E. Gunn Award for Science Fiction Writing, contact Chris McKitterick (email@example.com)
about enrolling (ENGL 495).
If you are accepted, congratulations! You'll receive detailed information about
the Workshop and an invitation to our private Google Group. If you are not
accepted, you'll hear details about how to improve your chances of getting in
Once you are accepted, fill out
new online-registration and payment form. If you wish to apply for reduced tuition, contact Chris
McKitterick right away and submit a note explaining your financial need. To attend the Campbell Conference, be sure to
register for that, as
well - just because it's free for Workshop attendees doesn't mean you don't have to
Your registration is not complete until you have submitted both the form and
your check by the deadline.
Between acceptance into the Workshop and May 20,
submit a total of three stories (or a maximum of 30,000 words for all three works) via our Google Group for distribution to other Workshop attendees.
Please identify your preferred order, as that affect which our Guest
Authors critique (McKitterick critiques all three).
You may submit these one at a time or all at once. Final deadline for
submitting stories to be workshopped is May 20. Electronic submissions
(only in .rtf or .doc format) are required for ease of distribution.
new online-registration and payment form is now available. If you are
accepted, everyone - including those taking the course for credit or
not-for-credit - must fill out and submit
this form ASAP.
If you are not a current KU student but wish to take the Workshop for
graduate credit, you also need to apply as a non-degree-seeking graduate student.
Fill out this KU application form and supply
a copy of an official transcript showing proof of an undergraduate degree. On the application
form is an area for comments/notes.
Indicate that you wish to enroll only for the summer SF Writing Workshop (ENGL 757).
You must enroll using the KU online enrollment system, and you need a permission code from
Chris McKitterick (firstname.lastname@example.org) sometime
during April. You can officially enroll for graduate credit after you have the code, but
be sure to enroll by June 1 or KU will charge a late-enrollment fee. If you have any questions about the application or enrollment process, please let
Lydia Ash (email@example.com) know.
Contact Lydia Ash (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your
stay. More logistical information is available on the
Tuition for the Workshop is $600, exclusive of meals and housing, upon acceptance.
Due to a generous donation, we plan to offer at least one scholarship for the
workshops based on need and potential for success. Check with us for details
before you apply.
If you wish to take the Workshop for KU credit (English 757 or 495), enroll as usual through KU (we
$100 to help cover costs associated with our guest authors, payable to CSSF).
Dorm and meal costs rise the longer you stay, of course, so plan appropriately.
Meals vary in cost depending on where you eat.
Thanks to a generous donation from a friend of the Center, a limited number of scholarships are available for
KU graduate students and those in
financial need. To be considered, please request it and explain your need when
To register after you have been accepted, please complete
this electronic form
Housing for the Writing Workshop
Our official dorm housing for out-of-town attendees is one of the
Rieger Scholarship Hall at
1323 Ohio Street, a new residence located near the Kansas Student Union, Oread Hotel, and downtown. Rooms share a bathroom (about one with 3 stalls and showers/bath per 6 rooms), and have a sink and counter space for a microwave or other small kitchen equipment.
Building amenities include a lovely wraparound porch with seating (including a chair-swing or two), basketball court, pool table,
refrigerator, coffee and tea equipment, and many private study areas.
Be sure to let Lydia Ash know if you have special needs.
Dormitory rooms are available at the following rates (as of 2014):
Twelve-night stay (Sunday evening, June 1 - Friday morning, June 13) in a shared double room: $305;
if you want the double rate, you need to work out a roommate in advance,
because the Center is charged per room, not per occupant, and we cannot
choose roommates for you. To settle in and meet your fellow workshoppers,
we recommend arriving early in the day on Sunday.
Twelve-night stay in a single room (unshared): $496.
- To stay for the
Campbell Conference, add $48 (shared) or $78
(unshared) for Friday and Saturday night.
This is a great opportunity to meet our Campbell and Sturgeon Award winning
authors, plus other authors and editors, so we strongly recommend staying through the Conference weekend.
Housing cannot accommodate check-ins earlier than June 1. You must request to check in early and pay for an extra
day if you wish to stay longer. Housing also cannot
accommodate stays beyond June 27.
If you wish to stay in a dorm, you must
make dorm reservations by May 20. Please pay for your room in
advance once you hear from Lydia Ash about this year's final rate. Check-out is
Also use the new online-registration form to reserve a dorm room.
Contact Lydia Ash email@example.com for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your
stay. More logistical information is available on the
VisitLawrence.com for local hotel
Meals are available in a variety of places, including the Kansas Union
and a myriad of local restaurants. Check out
Lawrence.com for a list of just a
few of the local eating establishments.
The "Young Gunns" of 2003
Front row: Kij Johnson, Jeannette Cheney, Betsy Boyce, Nolen Harsh, Terry Mackey, Adrian
Middle row: Harold Agnew, Thomas Seay, Pat Buehler,
Jennifer Schwabach, Cliff Johns, Kelly Green, Betty Hull.
Back row: Wolfgang Baur, David Kirtley, Rod Rogers,
Frederik Pohl, Chuck Marsters, Larry Taylor, James Gunn.
Transportation from Airport to Lawrence
Many transport services offer rides between the Kansas City International
(MCI - the "M" is for "Mid-Continent") airport and Lawrence, including:
- Better Alternative Transportation Services (BATS): 24/7 door-to-door service; individual rates.
- Roadrunner (also known as
"KCI Airport Shuttle"): individual rates; departs from the
(Lawrence Holiday Inn)
at specific times. Toll-free phone contact number: (800)747-2524 or call
your travel agent.
- SDM Transportation: 24/7 door-to-door service; offers airport shuttles or luxury cars with individual rates.
- Jayhawk Taxi: 24/7 door-to-door service; fixed rate to the airport for 1-2 passengers.
- Super Shuttles: 24/7 door-to-door service; group rates; discount if you use the group discount code: S6Q2W.
- Five Guys Shuttle: 24/7 door-to-door service; rates per van, not per person.
- Here 2 There Shuttle: 24/7 DD service, airport shuttle, and reservations for special events. Can hold up to 10 passengers at once. Call or text 785-380-8879 or email
- KCI Express Shuttle
offers pickup and delivery right to our dorm or your hotel for only $5 more than the
normal rate. Phone Reservations: (816)645-1815. After 8:00 PM CST (816)372-1556.
- Ground Transportation Services, Inc, is a local Lawrence business
that provides 24/7 taxi service within Lawrence, and the surrounding areas. They also operate daily door-to-door shuttle service from Lawrence to the Kansas City Airport. (888)467-3729 or
(785)838-4500. See a schedule here.
- Reserve well in advance of your trip to confirm pricing and availability.
- KCI stands for "Kansas City International
though the official airport code changed to MCI -
"Mid-Continent International Airport" - a few years ago.
- This list is for your information only. KU
and the Gunn Center are not affiliated with these services.
Here's a cropped map of the University of Kansas (click the image to see it
in full-screen size):
Here's a map showing where KU is located in Eastern Kansas:
Kansas Union map (in .pdf
routes and maps.
Google Maps centered on the KU Kansas Union.
Unfortunately, this summer KU is enduring lots of road construction. See this map for details (click the image to see
image in full-screen):
Lawrence in the Summer
For anyone who hasn't visited, Lawrence is wonderful,
a lively small city in the Kaw River valley, filled with art, events, and activities.
The location of the University of Kansas, Lawrence is situated about 40 miles from Kansas City and 20 miles from Topeka.
Summers can be hot, but classrooms and housing are air-conditioned.
Among its many amenities, the University of Kansas contains
science-fiction collection (including a number of single-author paper and
manuscript collections, such as Theodore
Sturgeon's) and other great reference collections; museums of natural
history and art; and sports, theater, and lots more. Lawrence offers many excellent
restaurants and shopping and recreational opportunities. Kansas City is less
than an hour away. Nighttime opportunities include movies, dinner, live concerts,
star-gazing sessions, and of course talk about writing and more.
The nearest major airport is Kansas City International (MCI), about 55 miles from
Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International can be
arranged through one of several airport shuttle services. By car, Lawrence is at
the intersection of U.S. 59 and I-70 (Kansas Turnpike) or K-10. The I-70 West
Lawrence interchange is
closer to campus. Lawrence can also be reached along the lovely Kansas Highway 10.
Find out all about Lawrence -
its history, stores, museums, observatories, and SFnal activities - here.
Contact us for any logistical help you
might need in getting settled for your stay:
Lydia Ash ( firstname.lastname@example.org )