(From L to R, front row: Dustin Monk, Jennifer Hsyu, Jennifer Hilt, Karin Tidbeck, Tamsyn Muir, Tom Underberg. Second row: Erin Gonzales, Adam Israel, Leah Thomas, LaTisha Redding, Dallas Taylor, Nick Farrar, Donald Wesling [director], Kai Ashante Wilson, Stacie Brown. Back row: John Chu, Greg Bossert, Laura Praytor, and Kali Wallace.)
Every year at the University of California, San Diego, the venerable Clarion Writers Workshop hosts 18 students interested in writing science fiction and fantasy. Clarion, along with Clarion West and Clarion South, is the most famous of all of the SF/fantasy writing workshops. For six weeks these 18 lucky souls get an intensive boot camp in writing. Every year, too, six instructors teach, one per week, with the last two weeks taught by a team. This year, my Hugo Award-winning wife Ann, editor of Weird Tales, and I were the week five and six teachers. The instructors the four prior weeks were Delia Sherman, George R.R. Martin, Dale Bailey, and Samuel Delany.
Six weeks is a long time to be together with seventeen strangers, but we found a group that seemed determined to not only grit out those last two weeks but do it in style, while having a bit of fun along the way. In addition to being perhaps one of the most talented Clarions, this was also one of the most diverse and included participants from as far away as Sweden and New Zealand.
"The group worked hard and played hard," Ann says. "We all learned from each other. The students showed remarkable spirit and I was impressed and inspired by the stories they wrote."
A big component of the Clarion tradition is the water gun fight, which not only is fun but also great stress relief. This year was no exception, and the results, as always, feature photos that look like outtakes from the Beastie Boys’ video for “Sabotage”.
(Clarion dorms, or outtake from "Sabotage"?)
In a new twist, though, there was also purple hair this year, with students Adam Israel and Leah Thomas taking the lead there, and then convincing Tamsyn Muir…which led to the infamous evening before the last day of the workshop when I somehow agreed to have my own hair dyed…
(Me, purple-fied, and poor Tamsyn Muir with dyed hands.)
But the main focus of Clarion is, of course, writing and books. Not only did we read some great stories from writers who are the future of science fiction and fantasy, we also got some great reading recommendations. Here are a few of those recs, along with some additional photos.