Robots and Dreaming


Robot on the Red CarpetRobots graced the cover and the stage at this years Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards Event on April 5, 2019. Okay, and the red carpet as well. For this year, my fifth year attending the ceremonies and the contests 35th and 30th years respectively. I can’t think of a more appropriate theme.

Merriam-Webster has definitions for robots that states they are machines which resemble a living creature, such as a person, and one for a person who resembles a machine. Robots appearing as people. People looking like robots. What you see or expect isn’t always what is. Robots can teach people about humanity, and humanity sets the rules for what robots do (at least until the robot apocalypse). How do these definitions tie to the event? For me, it is the surprise and wonder each year brings, and what you see is rarely all there is.

Yes, you can watch the ceremonies (and please do!), but the live feed can’t gather the entire experience for you. This year, the ceremonies were at a new location, the Taglyan complex. The video can’t show you what was outside: the red carpet, the giant robot statue based off the cover of the book (photo op!), the decorations baring the brush and pen, the people, the laughter, and so much more. The excitement was new and old all at once. Inside, the company, the food, the decorations, all of it was new. And familiar. The place is home.

An infrequent and fluctuating home, granted, but home. Gunhild Jacobs, Joni Labaqui, John Goodwin, Emily Goodwin, David Farland, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Jody Lynn Nye, Larry Elmore, and so many more are faces I have come to know and expect (deep respect for Gunhild getting through all the judges names so well every year). But the familiarity contains surprises beneath. The winners being a huge part.

Their speeches were moving. One example is Preston Dennett. He won the contest on his forty-seventh try. His forty-seventh try after losing his dream for a time and coming back to it. There were those present despite anniversaries and birthdays, chasing their dreams with the support of their family. Even when the family didn’t fully understand the dream. Those exhausting themselves no matter what outside demands life had looming (good luck finishing grad school Jennifer Ober!). Being there, being surrounded by exhausted excitement earned from a week of intensive workshops (don’t let the bouncing in the elevator fool you about energy levels), and seeing the absolutely genuine smiles and stories, this experience is motivating.

Bob EggletonHearing Ed Hulse and Bob Eggleton (winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award) speak brought a sense of history to the events as well. Ed Hulse spoke of the beginnings of Science Fiction, the struggles, and accomplishments (please go listen to his speech!). Bob Eggleton noting that he’s “living the career he loves.” (Okay, I also loved Bob’s comment about being half way through the ceremony and surviving with a red shirt on). Writing and illustrating doesn’t have to be, and should not be, a moment only. One event. It is moving forward while seeing the past. Building connecting and growing. Doing things differently.

Robots, thinking everything will be the same and discovering it is not.

People, thinking everyone is completely different but finding connections everywhere.

Speaking of connections, this experience not only connects the winners with the judges through the workshops, it connects authors and artists and was shown more fully on stage than ever before. The writer and the illustrator who illustrated their story stood together on stage. This was a moving sight. Writers and Illustrators of the Future has always been about connecting people and helping each other. Not only do they connect the winners to a new world, the winners connect people with possibility. The possibility of worlds and ideas that wouldn’t exist without them.

Stories and illustrations dreaming of what is beyond the surface of the robotic every day grind of life. These contests help push people to see more. I have long dreamed to stand among them. A dream electrified by the event into never giving up. Robots don’t quit, and that is one trait I want as well.

The Signing

If you haven’t already, grab a copy of the newest L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future. I’ve spotted it in the wild and online. Don’t miss out on the dreams these writers and illustrators have created.
Volume 35 at Barnes & Noble

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