I remember when I was eleven or twelve, my parents went away for the weekend and left us with some friends, the Worthingtons. One afternoon, Mr. Worthington, knowing how much I loved to read, sent me up to the rafters in their big old barn to retrieve three big bags of paperback books. There was some parody, which I was much too young to understand, but the bulk of the titles were science fiction. Hard, pulpy science fiction. And I ate it up. I took the books home with me and read them over and over again. But most science fiction was still way over the head of a twelve year old, so I put it aside.
Then, when I was in college, I picked up my dad's old copy of Dune and I was hooked again. I read through every Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven. I dabbled in Anne McCaffrey and Lois McMaster Bujold. Even read a little fantasy, just to round out the diet a little.
It was hard to afford such a voracious diet, epecially pre-Kindle. The local library only held a very small section of true science fiction. I was tooling around a local bbs about 22 years ago (for you youngsters, bbs stands for bulletin board system. This was pre-Internet and you would dial in to the bbs network to connect to other users. Well, one user had posted a classified ad saying that he wanted to give away his complete set (about 10 years worth) of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (there were some Amazings and even a few Astoundings in there as well). I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Little old pregnant me had all the reading material she could want!!
Flash forward to the present and here I am with a copy of Writers of the Future Volume 28 (L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future). It's 568 pages of science fiction bliss!! I love it like I love a buffet - so many different types of food to choose from. I can't say I enjoyed every story in the anthology, but there were a few that really stuck out. Of Woven Wood is a sweet story about a young man made entirely of wicker baskets. The Command for Love reminded me of the heartbreaking Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Steadfast Tin Soldier. The Siren, My Name is Angela, and Insect Sculptor are all stories about the power of the human mind.
Writers of the Future is a yearly contest for up and coming science fiction writers. The winners receive a cash prize as well as publication in the yearly anthology. Each story is illustrated by one of the winners of the Illustrators of the Future contest. The book also includes a few short prose pieces with helpful tips for beginning writers and illustrators. Such famous writers as Stephen Baxter and Karen Joy Fowler are past winners, and prominent judges have included Anne McCaffrey, Jerry Pournelle and Orson Scott Card.