Announcing the LeVar Burton Reads Writing Contest! is thrilled to be in collaboration with FIYAH Literary Magazine and the LeVar Burton Reads podcast for a writing contest! If you write science fiction, fantasy, or horror, this is your chance to get your work in front of LeVar Burton, legendary Reading Rainbow host, actor, podcaster, and all around excellent human. One winning story will be featured in Season 10 of LeVar Burton Reads.

As Burton says, “For a couple of seasons now, we’ve been trying to figure out how to conduct a short story contest with all of the submissions coming from listeners of the podcast. I’m happy to report that we have finally cracked the code! It is my extreme and joyous pleasure to announce the inaugural LeVar Burton Reads short story writing contest.”

The contest’s theme is Origins & Encounters:

We are interested in stories that examine the magical joys and tragic pitfalls of blended civilizations and cultural exchanges in all their forms. As our worlds change, what precious things do we carry with us and allow to be altered or demand they remain untouched? What is taken from us and what will we do to get it back? What do we allow ourselves to remember of our histories, our roots, and what do we allow ourselves to forget? What do we leave behind and what do we choose to carry into the future?

The guidelines note that the contest “welcomes works of the Indigenous fantastic, the other-worldly, and alternative histories,” and suggest that writers might consider how blended civilizations and cultural exchanges would affect these areas:

  • gods
  • faiths, religious traditions
  • food traditions
  • language
  • gender recognition
  • concepts of community
  • concepts of identity
  • race prejudice (human vs. other species)

Two outstanding speculative fiction editors will read submissions, with the final selection made by Burton. Your judges are:

Diana M. Pho is an academic, playwright, and a Hugo, Locus, and Ignyte Award-nominated fiction editor. She has over a decade of experience in publishing, including Tor Books, Publishing, and the Science Fiction Book Club. Diana currently works as Story Producer at Realm developing cutting-edge science fiction, fantasy and horror podcasts.

L.D. Lewis is an award-winning SF/F writer and editor, and publisher at Fireside Fiction as of July 2021. She serves as a founding creator, Art Director, and Project Manager for the World Fantasy Award-winning and Hugo Award-nominated FIYAH Literary Magazine. She also serves as the founding Director of FIYAHCON, chair of the 2021 Nebula Conference, Awards Manager for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She is the author of A Ruin of Shadows (Dancing Star Press, 2018) and her published short fiction and poetry includes appearances in FIYAH, PodCastle, Strange Horizons, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, Lightspeed, and Fireside Magazine, among others. She lives in Georgia on perpetual deadline, with her coffee habit, two cats, and an impressive Funko Pop! collection. Tweet her @ellethevillain.

Winners will be announced October 15th, 2021. The first place winner will receive $500, and have their story published on and read by LeVar Burton on LeVar Burton Reads. The second and third place stories will also be published on; the second-place winner receives $250, and third place receives $100.

View the full submission guidelines and contest rules here. The submission portal will open on August 1st, 2021; check the contest website for details.


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