Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop, 2014

The Clarion Science and Fantasy Writers' Workshop was hosted by the UC San Diego Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination from June 22-August 4, 2014. The 2014 instructors were Gregory Frost, Geoff Ryman, Cathrynne Valente, N.K. Jemison, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer. This year we had a diverse, international cohort of 18 students from Australia, Canada, Bulgaria, Finland, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, and the United States.

Clarion is an intensive six-week summer program focused on fundamentals particular to the writing of science fiction and fantasy short stories. It is considered a premier proving and training ground for aspiring writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Instructors are among the most respected writers and editors working in the field today.


Here are summaries about Clarion 2014 from a few of the attendees:

Amanda Fitzwater: My experience at Clarion 2014 meant something fantastic and fundamental happened to me every day, whether it was a great reading or critique, an explosion of creativity on the page, a mind-expanding conversation, making another network contact, or hanging out in some inspiring environment. I crammed years’ worth of learning into six weeks. It was moving how enthusiastic everyone was to see us succeed. There was so much laughter. Thanks to everyone who made Clarion the mind-popping time of my life!

Haralambi Markov: This year I experienced the most transformative event in my life—I attended Clarion UCSD, the writers’ workshop that changed me in ways I didn’t imagine. I liken it to a Battle Royale for writers in which everyone walks away as a winner, if a bit unhinged after all the writing, reading, and critiquing. Gregory Frost, who helmed the first week, described it as an “MFA in six weeks,” and it’s an apt comparison. But it goes beyond that. Clarion dispelled a lot of fears I had about being a gay writer from a small country, who speaks English as a second language. I worried about my differences and how they are hurdles when it comes to fitting it. Clarion showed me that those differences are actually strengths that I should embrace as a person and in my writing.

Amin Chehelnabi: For me, Clarion was the culmination of five years of hard work, each year submitting stories and getting rejected, until the fifth time got me an acceptance. The payoff was such that I would do those five years again, because the reward was much more than I expected in my mind. So much more. I found wonderful friends who were fantastic writers and met the instructors who were there to genuinely help me and who knew I was good enough to get here, even though I still might not have thought so. The experience summed up my definite place as a writer in the SpecFic community, and for myself. It affirmed to me that this experience was worth the hard work. I wish it for anyone who wants to take their writing seriously, with joy and with passion.

Martin Cahill: Clarion was a pocket universe we found ourselves in for six weeks, to read and write and think and laugh and dream, pushing ourselves further than ever before. We learned to write with bravery, passion, respect, and resilience. We embraced each other as only strangers can, with laughter and madness and long nights of conversation and song. We found ourselves pushed to the brink and learned to embrace what we saw there. We had adventures and slept very little. If there was a phrase that encapsulated our six weeks there, it was from Cat Valente's last night, when she told us, "Write with your stars out." And I know that we will. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

Professor Shelley Streeby, the Clarion UCSD faculty director for the last four years, notes that: "Clarion is one of the best things that happens at the University of California at San Diego, and those of us who work at this great public university by the ocean are delighted to host Clarion and play a role in supporting the emergent science fiction and fantasy writers of the future."

Applications for 2015 workshop will be accepted from December 1st, 2014 to March 1st, 2015. Click HERE for more information on Clarion.