Upcoming Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writing Contests

scenic view of mountains during dawn

With all the craziness going on this week (and an awesome interview with E. J. Robison) here’s a shorter post dedicated to a bunch of writing contests coming up.

Writing contests offer writers the opportunity to advance their careers through the promotion of their work if they place. They also receive a lot of benefits depending on what prizes are offered (Money is always great, of course. Sometimes competitions offer free classes and workshops for prizes as well).

Here are several science fiction and fantasy writing contests coming up this summer!

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The SciFidea Award

Created by Dyson Sphere and probably the largest award on this list, the Scifidea Award focuses on the Dyson Sphere. The contest offers ten prizes of TWENTY THOUSAND dollars. Additionally, winning pieces also stand the chance of being publishing in other media, such as film. Submit a piece before the deadline! Their website says:

“In 1960, American physicist Freeman Dyson suggested a method for harvesting the vast amounts of energy a star puts out: surround the star with an artificial shell. In honor of him, such a shell is known as a ‘Dyson Sphere…'”

They look for 30000 to 100000 words. Also, the contest holds an August 31st deadline. For more information on a Dyson Sphere, read here.


You might know Uncharted as a literary magazine that publishes science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more, but they hold multiple contests throughout the year. Their next contest is a short story award titled The Aftermath, judged by A. C. Wise with a prize of $2000. Their website reads:

“For this short story contest, we want stories based on the theme of “The Aftermath. We all know the old adage of starting our stories in the middle of things, but we want to challenge writers to consider stories that develop directly from the aftermath of something dramatic: explosions, eruptions, and natural disasters; implosions of the heart, body, and/or mind….”

This contest looks for short stories between 1001 and 5000 words, with a reading fee of $20. Submit only one story. The deadline is August 6th, 2023. You can find more information for submitting and what they want, as well as stories they’ve published here.

Inception (Sunspot Lit)

Sunspot Lit offers several contests throughout the year besides publishing their journal quarterly. Additionally, some of their contests involve art. This contest, called Inception, focuses on the best openings. This could be either prose up to 250 words or poetry up to 25 words. Their website says:

“Beginnings have the power to spark passion or curiosity. They might immediately connect a specific place and time with an emotional tone. The best openings offer a feeling, atmosphere, action, or image that is gripping, and hints at more to come. Meaning, thoughtfulness, emotions, or tone draw audiences into the moment.”

Also, if you’re looking for feedback, Sunpot Lit offers feedback after the July 31st deadline. Find out more about Inception and the other contests offered by Sunspot Lit here.

Writers of the Future

Ah, everyone knows this one. Created by L. Ron Hubbard, this contest looks for science fiction and fantasy. This contest holds quarterly contests throughout the year. If you win first place in a quarter, winners of each corner may compete in an additional prize of $5000. They look for prose, up to 17000 words long. Specific instructions from their website say:

“The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment of at least eight cents per word, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits.”

Deadlines include October 1st, January 1st, April 1st, and July 1st. Look for their anthology as well for some great examples of stories! For the rest of their rules, click here.

Mars fantasy landscape

Imagine 2200 (Locus)

Like Sunspot Lit and Uncharted, Locus is known for their literary journal, but they also host competitions. Their Imagine 2200 competition looks for short fiction between 3000 and 5000 words, due June 13th, 2023. First place wins $3000. Their website says:

“Imagine 2200 celebrates stories that envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress, imagining intersectional worlds of abundance, adaptation, reform, and hope. Stories must be set between today and the year 2200, in a future that shows the path to a clean, green, just world… We love to see stories that are rooted in cultural authenticity (a deep sense of place, customs, cuisine, and more) and rich subcultures that uplift traditions not often seen in mainstream literature.”

Additional information such as eligibility and more of what they look for can be found here.

NEFSA Short Story Contest

This contest runs from July 1st to September 30th. They look for science fiction and fantasy up to 7500 words. However, the contest only allows for 60 submissions, so they might close earlier. Their website says:

“The purpose of this contest is to encourage amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency. We will look for engaging openings, good character development, well-structured plotting, powerful imagery, witty or humorous language, unique word or phrasing choices, and convincing endings. This contest is intended for beginning writers.”

The NEFSA Association provides additional qualifications and information on how to submit here.

HAVOK Publishing

This journal hosts several types of contests, as well as submissions for their journal. Besides their daily themes throughout the week for flash, they’re writing contest also hosts Season themes throughout the year. Season Ten: LEGENDARY is currently open. For their Season themes, their website says:

“In an age bursting with “award winners” and “best sellers,” it’s easy to imagine all of our favorite stories being immortalized in leatherbound tomes for all future generations to enjoy. But in reality, very few tales stand the test of time. Most, no matter how impactful or relevant in the moment, eventually gather dust and fade quietly into forgotten history….”

For more information on how to submit and what HAVOK looks for, read here.

Tales By Moonlight

Created by Ankara Circle, this competition technically looks for novellas (which is why I added it at the end). However, like the other contests above, this contests looks for fantasy and it’s subgenres. They specifically host a theme of magic. They look for novellas 15000 to 20000 words in length. Their website says:

“Tales By Moonlight is a novella writing competition. The theme of this contest is fiction and magic…The winner will be determined by audience voting. The submission with the most votes at the end of the contest period will win the grand prize.”

To learn more about how the voting process works and qualifications for submitting, look here.

Have fun reading and submitting to these contests! Stay tuned next week for more posts. And happy writing!

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