Pen your science fiction story

A SHINING GIRL: Author Lauren Beukes judged the competition in 2013
A SHINING GIRL: Author Lauren Beukes judged the competition in 2013

BOOK lovers know that fact can be stranger than fiction – especially in a country like South Africa which provides a rich source of themes – and a competition is now calling for short science fiction stories to be submitted.

“We have an unbelievable president. Literally. And a bishop who claims he can cure HIV with water that he sells for R10. Incredible!” says Gavin Kreuiter, of the club’s Nova awards.

Kreuiter – who went to Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth before making a career in information technology in Johannesburg – said South Africa was teeming with source material for writers and not only in the field of politics and religion.

“The first of 64 antennas making up South Africa’s new radio telescope, MeerKAT, as well as the high-tech data centre, were launched in the Karoo this year.

“The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, and is widely recognised as the place from which all of humankind originated.

“And as for the soap opera of televised court proceedings,” he said, referring to the Oscar Pistorius trial, “You just can’t make it up! Or can you?”

Based in Johannesburg, the long-running Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa (SFFSA) club is inviting entries for its 2014 Nova awards, the closing date for which is in September. And, if your story makes it through to the finals, it will be judged by tech guru and sci-fi fundi Arthur Goldstuck, of World Wide Worx, who himself has won this competition in previous years.

Last year, sci-fi star Lauren Beukes, the author of best-selling sci-fi novels Zoo City and The Shining Girls, was a judge.

The Shining Girls has been short-listed for the 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, which goes to “a novel of rare imagination”, and Beukes is currently adapting Zoo City as a screenplay for Oscar nominated producer Helena Spring.

Kreuiter last week said the club had invited her to judge the final submissions once more.

Kreuiter challenged aspiring authors to try their “hand at writing a science fiction or fantasy short story that rivals the fantastic tapestry of daily life in South Africa”.

There are two categories of short story accepted: the South African section offers prizes to the value of R2000. Or, if you prefer writing about BEMs, spaceships, robots, witches, wardrobes and their ilk, enter the general section. The prize for the general section is R1500 – still something to write home about.

ýFor more information contact Kreuiter on 084-830-0608, nova.sffsa@gmail.com, or get entry forms from the website www.sffsa.org.za – Gillian McAinsh

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