Blog The Writing Process 23 Science Fiction Writing Contests to Enter in 2022 and 2023

23 Science Fiction Writing Contests to Enter in 2022 and 2023

Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Published Jul 31, 2022

science fiction writing contests

If you love writing science fiction and fantasy, submitting your work to a contest can be a fantastic way to progress on your writing journey.

With luck, you can get your stories published, achieve literary recognition, and even win cash prizes.

We’ve compiled a list of 23 legitimate, high-quality science fiction and fantasy writing contests that you can enter in 2022 and 2023.

These contests are open to short stories, flash fiction, and/or poetry. It’s worth noting that some of these literary contests accept multiple genres, which means there are some sci-fi contests you can submit your fantasy stories to, and vice versa.

Make sure you read both sections of the article so you don’t miss anything!

Contents:
  1. Sci-Fi Writing Contests
  2. Fantasy Writing Contests
  3. Why You Should Enter Science Fiction Writing Contests

Sci-Fi Writing Contests

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest

The Writers of the Future Contest is the most enduring and influential contest in the history of science fiction and fantasy. The contest is held once every three months, with a generous $1,000 prize.

  • Prize: $1,000 for the grand prize winner, $750 for second place, and $500 for third place
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: submissions must be short stories or novelettes (up to 17,000 words) in the genre of science fiction or fantasy; open to new and amateur writers around the world
  • Deadline: quarterly on September 30, December 31, March 31, and June 30

science fiction writing contests l ron hubbard writers of the future

New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest

The NESFA contest is a short story contest for beginning writers and judges provide feedback for all qualifying contest entries.

According to their website, they’re looking for “engaging openings, good character development, well-structured plotting, powerful imagery, witty or humorous language, unique word or phrasing choices, and convincing endings.”

  • Prize: a certificate of achievement, three NESFA Press books, and a free membership to the Boskone conference
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: writers must be beginners, meaning that they have not received more than $1,000 for their fiction writing; a qualifying story must have strong science fiction or fantasy elements and must be shorter than 7,500 words
  • Deadline: September 30, 2022, or until the contest reaches 60 entries, whichever comes first

F(r)iction Lit Fall Contest

F(r)iction is a literary magazine that often publishes genre-bending stories. This year, they’re running a short story contest in which Ken Liu is one of the guest judges, which means this year’s contest is a great option for sci-fi and fantasy authors.

According to their website, “experimental, non-traditional, and boundary-pushing literature is strongly encouraged. Show us your wildest and weirdest!”

  • Prize: $1,000 short story / $300 flash fiction / $300 poetry
  • Entry fee: $15 short story / $10 flash fiction / $10 poetry
  • Guidelines: submit flash fiction (up to 1,000 words), a short story (up to 7,500 words), poetry (up to 3 pages), or creative non-fiction (up to 6,500 words); stories can be in any genre or style
  • Deadline: November 1, 2022

​​Commonwealth Short Fiction Prize

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual short fiction contest administered by the Commonwealth Foundation.

If you’re a short story writer and a citizen of a Commonwealth country, this contest is a fantastic option, with a generous £5,000 cash prize for the winner. It’s not specific to science fiction or fantasy authors, but speculative fiction writers are welcome to enter.

  • Prize: £5,000 ($6,922) for the overall winner and £2,500 ($3,461) for regional winners
  • Entry fee: TBC
  • Guidelines: Entrants must be citizens of a Commonwealth country and age 18 or over. Submit a short story (between 2,000 and 5,000 words). As well as English, they accept stories in the Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish languages. There’s no restrictions on genre or theme
  • Deadline: November 1, 2022.

The Roswell Award

The Roswell Award is an annual science fiction contest with a $500 prize, co-presented by Sci-Fest L.A. and the Light Bringer Project. This is a great option if you like using your writing to unite the worlds of science and art.

  • Prize: $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place
  • Entry fee: TBC
  • Guidelines: Submit a science fiction story. Open to writers around the world aged 16 or older. Writers are encouraged to explore scientific, social, technological, environmental, and philosophical themes in their writing and always, at the core, to master the art of great storytelling.
  • Deadline: TBC

Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award

The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award is an annual contest, co-hosted by the National Space Society and Baen Books, for stories about manned space exploration. If you’re interested in the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science, this is a great option that pays professional rates.

  • Prize: Professional-paying rates (8 cents per word). The winner’s story will be published as the featured story on the Baen Books main website. The winner will also receive free entry into the 2023 International Space Development Conference and a prize package including a year’s membership to the National Space Society
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: Submit a short story (up to 8,000 words) in English that shows the near future (no more than 50 to 60 years out) of manned space exploration. Amongst other themes, judges want to see moon bases, Mars colonies, orbital habitats, artificial intelligence, nano-technology, heroics, sacrifice, and/or adventure.
  • Deadline: February 1, 2023

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Create the Future Climate Writing Competition

The Create the Future Climate Writing Competition is a contest for short stories and poetry related to the future of climate change. It’s a great opportunity to submit a story or poem that also makes a social impact.

  • Prize: £50 plus Eco Lifestyle bundles for UK winners
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: submit a short story (up to 2,000 words) or a poem (up to 40 lines) in English related to “fresh, new ways of thinking about and strengthening our connection to the rest of the living world,” “bold, imaginative predictions or hopes for the future,” or “stories that show us how we get from here to there.”
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was March 13, 2022.

Mike Resnick Memorial Award for Short Fiction

The Mike Resnick Memorial Award is an annual contest for science fiction stories. Arc Manor, the publisher of Galaxy’s Edge magazine, judges the submissions.

  • Prize: The first-place winner gets a trophy, a cash award of $250, and publication in Galaxy’s Edge. The second-place winner gets $100, and the third-place winner gets $50.
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: submit a sci-fi story of up to 7,499 words; all writers are eligible to submit
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was April 15, 2022.

QueerSciFi.com Flash Fiction Contest

QueerSciFi (QSF) holds a flash fiction contest every year to create an amazing new anthology of queer speculative fiction. This contest only accepts flash fiction of up to 300 words, so if you write LGBTQ+ characters and you like to keep your stories short, this could be the contest for you! The theme for 2022 was “Clarity.”

  • Prize: inclusion in the annual QSF anthology
  • Entry Fee: free
  • Guidelines: stories must be no more than 300 words, and must be in the genre of sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, or horror
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was May 5, 2022.

Fix Climate Fiction Contest

Fix was founded on the premise that promising solutions to the climate crisis exist—they just haven’t gained enough momentum to take off. Every year, they hold a writing contest for science fiction stories that envision a world with better climate solutions.

There’s a slightly different theme every year, with the theme for 2022 being “Imagine 2200.” If you’re interested in climate fiction, this could be a great option for you!

  • Prize: $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place, with $300 for an additional nine runners up
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guideline: stories can be 3,000–5,000 words; the contest is open to all writers over 18 who write in English, anywhere in the world
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was May 6, 2022.

Sapiens Plurum Short Fiction Contest

Every year, Sapiens Plurum holds a short fiction contest that opens on Earth Day each year. Each year has a slightly different theme that has something to do with sustainability. The 2022 theme was “inventing beautiful futures.”

  • Prize: $1,000 for first prize, $500 for second prize, and $300 for third prize
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: authors must be 18 or older; submissions must be 1,500–3,000 words
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was June 15, 2022.

Fantasy Writing Contests

Havok Flash Fiction Contest

Havok is open to flash fiction in all kinds of genres, especially fantasy! They arrange publication periods into seasons, and each season has themes that each last about a month. For example, their “Season Eight: Vice & Virtue” season includes themes like “Cowardice / Courage,” “Rage / Peace,” and “Selfishness / Sacrifice.”

  • Prize: publication on the Havok website
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: submit a flash story between 300–1,000 words. Make sure your story fits one of the daily genres: mystery, science fiction, comedy, thriller, and fantasy
  • Deadline: monthly

science fiction writing contests havok flash fiction contest

Prose Weekly Challenge

Prose, a social network for readers and writers, offers weekly challenges meant to spark your creativity. This is a fun, low-stakes challenge, with a small cash prize to sweeten the deal, and it’s open to all genres of fiction.

  • Prize: each week’s winner receives $100
  • Entry Fee: free
  • Guidelines: submit a short piece of writing (up to 500 words) related to the weekly prompt
  • Deadline: weekly

Write the World Young Writers Contest

If you’re a young writer aged 13–18, the Write the World contest is a great option for you. They’re not just contests, they also serve as mini workshops, because every story you submit will receive peer review by authors, writing teachers, and other experts.

Contests vary each month, but sometimes the theme is related to science fiction, sometimes to fantasy, and sometimes to other genres.

  • Prize: $100 for the winner and $50 for the runner-up (plus $50 for the best peer-reviewer). All three are featured on Write the World’s blog alongside comments from a guest judge
  • Entry Fee: free
  • Guidelines: varies each month
  • Deadline: monthly

Creative Writing Ink Short Story Competition

The Creative Writing Ink short story competition is a contest for short story writers all over the world. Stories can be on any subject, theme, or genre. This year’s judge is Kerry Hadley-Price, and all submissions are judged anonymously.

  • Prize: £1,000 for the grand prize winner
  • Entry fee: £9
  • Guidelines: stories can be up to 3,000 words and can be in any genre and on any topic; writers all over the world are eligible
  • Deadline: September 30, 2022

Dream Foundry Contest for Emerging Writers

The Dream Foundry writing contest is an annual contest for “writers who are relatively new to paid or incoming-earning publication of speculative short fiction in English.” Winners get featured at Flights of Foundry, an annual convention where professional writers, artists, and editors come together to discuss speculative fiction.

  • Prize: $1,000 for the grand prize winner, $500 for second place, $200 for third place
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: stories can be up to 10,000 words; writers all over the world are eligible
  • Deadline: October 8, 2022

science fiction writing contests dream foundary contest for emerging writers

National Fantasy Fan Federation Short Story Contest

The National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) operates a short story contest every year for amateur writers of fantasy and science fiction. It’s free to enter, and the winners receive a small cash prize.

  • Prize: $50 for first place, $30 for second place, and $20 for third place
  • Entry Fee: free
  • Guidelines: Submit a science fiction or fantasy story of up to 8,500 words. The contest is open to all amateur writers, i.e. those who have sold no more than two stories to professional publications.
  • Deadline: December 31, 2022

Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) hosts the Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest every year for writers between the ages of 14–18.

  • Prize: $150 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place, as well as complimentary registrations for Balticon
  • Entry Fee: free
  • Guidelines: Contestants must be between the ages of 14 to 18. They must reside in or attend school in Maryland. Submissions must be science fiction or fantasy stories no longer than 2,500 words.
  • Deadline: March 31, 2023

Baen Fantasy Adventure Award

Baen Books hosts the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, which “recognizes the best original adventure fantasy short story in the style of fantasy greats like Mercedes Lackey, Larry Correia, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Elizabeth Moon, Andre Norton, Brandon Sanderson, J.R.R. Tolkien, and David Weber.”

  • Prize: $500 of free Baen Books and publication as the featured story on the Baen Books main website
  • Entry Fee: free
  • Guidelines: Submit a story of no more than 8,000 words. It must be a work of fantasy, though all fantasy genres are open, e.g. epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, contemporary fantasy, etc.
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was April 30, 2022.

Parsec Short Story Contest

Parsec Ink holds an annual contest for fantasy, science fiction, and horror short stories from non-professional writers, with a small cash prize for the winners. There’s a different theme every year.

  • Prize: $200 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place
  • Entry fee: free
  • Guidelines: Submit a short story (up to 3,500 words) based on the annual theme. The 2022 theme was “Hearth, Song, and Table.” The 2023 theme has not yet been announced.
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was May 1, 2022.

science fiction writing contests parsec short story contest

BSFS Amateur Writing Contest

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) Amateur Writing Contest is open to up-and-coming writers over 18 years old who are residents of Maryland.

According to their website, “the judges are looking for stories with gripping openings, good world building, interesting characters, strong plots, powerful images, biting satire, good word choice, and touching endings.”

  • Prize: $250 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place. The top five entries all receive free memberships to Balticon, the BSFS convention held in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend.
  • Entry Fee: free
  • Guidelines: Stories must be 1,000–5,500 words and include a speculative element. Writers must be adults living in Maryland, or students attending a college in Maryland.
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was June 15, 2022.

British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition

The British Fantasy Society (BFS) holds an annual contest for fantastical short stories. Each year, they choose a different panel of professional writers to judge the submitted stories.

  • Prize: £100 for first place, £50 for second place, and £20 for third place. All finalists receive a year’s membership of the BFS and publication in BFS Horizons.
  • Entry Fee: free for BFS members, £5 for non-members
  • Guidelines: any kind of fantastical story is welcome, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, supernatural, magical realism, and slipstream; stories must not exceed 5,000 words
  • Deadline: June 30, 2023

Uncharted Magazine Short Story Award

Uncharted is a pro-rate magazine that publishes science fiction / fantasy, thriller / horror, and mystery / crime stories. Every year, they run a short story contest open to all of those genres. According to their website, they’re looking for “stories that thrill us, that make us feel alive, that awaken our desires to explore and go on adventures.”

  • Prize: $1,000 for each of three winners, and $300 for each honorable mention
  • Entry Fee: $20
  • Guidelines: submit a story of 1,001–5,000 words in one of the acceptable genres
  • Deadline: TBC 2023. The 2022 deadline was July 31, 2022.

Why You Should Enter Science Fiction Writing Contests

Entering a science fiction and fantasy short story contest can be a great idea for the following reasons:

why you should etner science fiction writing contests

On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that it takes a lot of luck to win a contest, since there are usually only a few winners chosen from among hundreds of strong contestants.

Always remember that it’s okay if you don’t win—just keep writing and submitting, and you might beat the odds if you persevere!

Which contests are you planning to submit to? Let us know in the comments.

Science Fiction Writers' Week Unlock the secrets for writing, editing, and publishing a science fiction story at Science Fiction Writers’ Week, a free online summit taking place August 29–September 2, 2022. We have sessions from bestselling authors such as Andy Weir, Nghi Vo, Gareth Powell, and more.

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Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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