Every summer, aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers attend the Clarion West Writers Workshop, a six-week intensive whose instructors include the best and brightest in the genre. During their time in Seattle, writers draft new short fiction and hone their writing skills—and this year, George R.R. Martin wants to help out those writers with a keen interest in epic fantasy worldbuilding.
The Song of Ice and Fire author is sponsoring the first annual Worldbuilder Scholarship, which will benefit one Clarion West attendee whose work includes developing, as J.R.R. Tolkien termed it, a “secondary universe.”
Invoking Tolkien’s expansive and highly detailed universe of Middle-earth, Martin explains on his blog the impetus behind the new scholarship. “The best fantasy carries us far from the fields we know, to worlds beyond the hill, worlds that, once visited, live on in our imaginations for the rest of our lives,” he writes. In fact, he mentions quite a few fantasy worlds as or perhaps more familiar to readers than cities on Earth: “Robert E. Howard gave us the Hyborian Age, Roger Zelazny showed us the way to Amber, Stephen R. Donaldson the Land, Terry Pratchett the Discworld. Jack Vance took us to the Dying Earth, Fritz Leiber to Lankhmar, Ursula K. Le Guin to Earthsea, Andre Norton to Witchworld. Oz, Neverland, Narnia, Wonderland, Zothique, Gormenghast, the list goes on and on and on… These days, the world is more need of wonder than ever before.”
The application deadline for Clarion West’s 2018 session is March 1; this year’s instructors are Daniel Abraham, Yoon Ha Lee, Ellen Datlow, Karen Joy Fowler, Ken MacLeod, and Karen Lord. Here’s what to know about the Worldbuilder Scholarship:
Our new WORLDBUILDER SCHOLARSHIP will cover tuition, fees, and lodging for one student each year. The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The winner will be selected each year in a blind judging to an applicant who demonstrates both financial need and a talent for worldbuilding and the creation of secondary universes. For further details, query Clarion West at [email protected]
“I remember very well what it was like to be a writer starting out, struggling for sales, and counting every dime,” Martin writes on his blog. “It is my hope that the Worldbuilder Scholarship will help the next great fantasist on the long journey ahead. As Tolkien himself wrote, every journey begins with a single step.”