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Writing Contest


Robert A. Heinlein


The Robert A. Heinlein

Centennial Short Story Contest


Three prizes will be given for the best original short stories

reflecting the spirit, ideas, and philosophies of Robert Anson



$5,000 first prize

$2,000 second prize

$1,000 third prize



For Immediate Release


Heinlein Society Announces Winners of

Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Story Contest


September 1, 2009 --The Heinlein Society ( announced today the three winners of the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Story Contest. The contest was originally announced at  celebrations of the 100th anniversary of famed American author and first Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988).  The stories were judged on general literary quality and reflection of the spirit, ideas and philosophies contained in the works of Robert A. Heinlein.  A panel of professional authors and editors made the final selection of the three winners. The contest was administered by The Heinlein Society, with a prize fund donated by an admirer of Heinlein's works who wishes to remain anonymous.


  • 1st Place, and $5,000 award --"Under the Shouting Sky," by Karl Bunker. Karl Bunker is a software engineer living in Boston, Massachusetts. Relatively new as a science fiction writer, his love of SF began at an early age. "The very first book I read that wasn't a children's book was a 1950s paperback anthology of science fiction stories," Karl says.  "I didn't set out to write a 'Heinlein-esque' story with 'Under the Shouting Sky', but when it was finished I saw that it included some of my favorite aspects of Heinlein's works. Most notable of these is the nature of the central character. Someone whom no one--including himself--expects to be a hero, but who becomes heroic by doing what he knows he must do, acting on an unspoken sense of something greater than himself." Of "Under the Shouting Sky", THS president David Silver notes, "Bunker's story perfectly captures the quintessential Heinlein story of quiet heroism and duty fulfilled whatever the personal price." 

  • 2nd Place, and $2,000 award-- "In the Shadows," by Charlie Allery. Ms Allery reports, "I'm English and live in Somerset in the United Kingdom. I have a BSc in Marine Biology, an HGV Class 2 lorry driving license, I'm a graduate of Clarion West (2003), and Heinlein has been my favorite author since I was 8 when I found 'Farmer in the Sky' and 'Red Planet' in the local library. Finding no more Heinleins in the children's section, my father introduced me to the adult shelves and the further delights of Clarke, Asimov, Blish, Aldiss et al. I currently have too many tools and not enough cats but am hoping for a solution to one of these issues in the not too distant future. I also placed 3rd in the 2008 Jim Baen memorial short story contest." Silver observes of "In the Shadows", that "It is a beautifully crafted pastiche of Heinlein themes and styles, and achieves the lyrical voice that Heinlein chose to employ in only the finest of his stories." 

  • 3rd Place, and $1,000 award -- "Salvage Sputnik," by Sam S. Kepfield. Kepfield reports that he was raised in western Kansas, graduated from Kansas State University in 1986, and received his juris doctor from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1989. He passed the Kansas bar exam that year, earned an M.A. in History from the University of Nebraska in 1994, and a Ph.D./abd in history from the University of Oklahoma. He currently lives in Hutchinson, Kansas, where he is a solo practitioner of criminal defense law.  He is married, has two children, and in finest Heinleinian tradition, "a lot of cats". Of his writing, he observes, "I began writing part-time in 2004.  I early on discovered science fiction as a way to escape from the small town where I grew up.  I bought a copy of Robert Heinleinís 'The Past Through Tomorrow' in high school, devoured it in a couple of days, and stories like 'Life-Line' and 'The Long Watch' stuck with me through the years." Of "Salvage Sputnik", one of the contest administrators, Geo Rule, has this to say, "Kepfield's story harkens to Golden Age Heinlein --part sense of wonder, part puzzle to solve, part private enterprise commercialization of space, and all good fun getting to the end."


The three winning stories will appear, for a limited time, at the Society's website at over the coming months.


The Heinlein Society congratulates all three winners and confidently wishes them continued success in their writing careers. The Society also thanks the hundreds of authors who submitted entries to the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Story Contest in celebration of the life and works of Robert A. Heinlein. The large number of excellent entries made judging a particular challenge and pleasure. 



Previous Updates:

8/2/2009 -- President Silver announced in the current newsletter that the Society anticipates being in a position to announce contest winners in August.

3/31/2009 -- Judging continues, and the prize fund is fully funded and will be paid out at the end of the contest. Thank you for your patience.


Entries are now closed. The judges are beginning their work and entrants will be notified of the results in due course.


Contest Rules

  1. The winning entries will be short stories (not to exceed 15,000 words) judged best in terms of

  • General literary quality,

  • Reflecting the spirit, ideas, and philosophies contained in the works of Robert A. Heinlein

  1. All entries must be in English.

  2. All entries must use an original (i.e. not Heinleinís nor any other author's) universe of characters and settings.

  3. Plagiarism will result in disqualification.

  4. Entries shall not include stories that have been previously commercially published. Simultaneous submissions to commercial publishers or other contests are not allowed.

  5. Rights of first publication for entered stories and the right to use contestant's name and image for publicity purposes shall be granted to The Heinlein Society for duration of one year following the contest, i.e., until July 7, 2009.

  6. Each entry will be judged so that the identity of the author is anonymous to the judges.

  7. Entries will be judged by professional authors and editors. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final.

  8. All stories submitted for the contest may be considered for publication in an anthology.

  9. If an anthology is published:

    • The First, Second, and Third prize winning entries shall be included.

    • All authors to be published will be required to sign a publishing contract.

    • Non-prize winning entries may be selected in any order, at the sole discretion of the Heinlein Society or its agents.

    • Authors shall be compensated at standard SFWA professional rates.




  1. Anyone published or unpublished is eligible except individuals involved in judging the entries, members of the Society's committee concerned with this contest, board members of The Heinlein Society, and their immediate families.

  2. No entry fee is required.

  3. By entering, all entrants expressly agree to be bound by all the terms of the Contest Rules.


Time frame for contest


All entries must be received before 12:01 AM Pacific Daylight Time on June 1, 2008.


Submitting your entry


  1. Entries must be submitted as an attachment to an email sent to the email address The entry so attached must be in .txt, .rtf, .pdf, or .doc format.

  2. Entries shall be acknowledged by return email.

  3. Each entry file must begin with the following header. Header information must only appear one time, and at the beginning of the file. Do not repeat on each "page".

  • Title

  • Author's name

  • Email address

  • Mailing address

  • Telephone number

  • Word count



This contest is void where prohibited by law. Any taxes due on contest winnings, levied by any taxing agency or jurisdiction are the sole responsibility of the prize winners.




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The Heinlein Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein on behalf of her husband, science fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein, to "pay forward" the legacy of Robert A. Heinlein to future generations of "Heinlein's Children."