Asked to introduce our guests only a few hours before the event, I went into a flurry of reading their websites and blogs. I learned some interesting things.
I already knew that Robert J. Sawyer had won a Nebula Award (Terminal Experiment) and a Hugo Award (Hominids). But I didn't know he'd won a John W. Campbell Award (Mindscan) or that this year he was given an Honourary Doctorate from Laurentian University. Also this year, he won an Aurora Award for his short story 'Biding Time', which appeared in the anthology Slipstreams. And of course, he was a judge for this year's L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest. Robert J. Sawyer is truly one of Canada's most prominent science fiction authors.
He is also an excellent public speaker, waxing eloquent on the merits of the Writers of the Future Contest, both literary and monetary. The four quarterly winners received cash prizes of $1000 USD, while the Grand Prize winner received $6000 (though, as Mr. Sawyer pointed out, "...it's only American dollars, so it's not what it once was."). In addition to money the winners got to spend one week at a writer's workshop for free. They also got to make contacts in the writing industry and join the ranks of those who won the contest in the past. Here's a clip of Robert J. Sawyer pointing out some of those past winners.
(Sorry about the quality of the video. I took it with my digital camera. I'm not sure why it's on it's side...)
As for the winners themselves, Stephen Kotowych, was this year's Grand Prize winner for his short story 'Saturn in G Minor'. This is only the second time in its 23 year history that a Canadian has won the grand prize (the first winner was James Alan Gardner). Stephen's work can also be found in the anthologies Under Cover of Darkness ('Borrowed Time') and Tesseracts 11 ('Citius, Altius, Forius').
And Tony Pi, second place winner for his short story 'The Stone Cipher' has been busy as well. He has stories in Tales of the Unanticipated #28 ('Pinocchio Cantatas') and Abyss and Apex ('Metamorphoses in Amber').
The two award winners read excerpts from their stories and then signed copies of the Writers of the Future anthology for audience members.
For anyone wishing to learn more about the international Writers of the Future Contest, check out their website.