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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 31: The Best New Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year by L. Ron Hubbard is an anthology of short stories by 12 new or amateur writers in 2015. The authors were award-winners in The Writers of the Future annual contest. Each offering is accompanied by an introduction to the writer's background, and each is accompanied by an illustration created by new or emerging artists. The stories are well-crafted, and richly imagined, with complex characters and scenarios. Some are futuristic and post-apocalyptic, while others are set on earth or in space. Fantasy themes include shades, spirits, and souls. Some of the themes include personal conflict. The anthology includes L. Ron Hubbard's futuristic short story When Shadows Fall, set on a dying Earth (published in 1948 and 2008). There are also articles and contributions from the three judges, all acclaimed sci-fi and fantasy writers.
I greatly enjoyed reading the stories in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 31. I found myself drawn into each tale because of the plot variety, the worldbuilding, and because of the remarkable and compelling characters. The illustrations were fantastic, bringing another dimension and adding to the vividness of the storyline and characters. Among those that I particularly enjoyed are Steve Pantazis' Switch, a fast-paced gritty futuristic thriller about addiction and crime, and Sharon Roest's Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light, a thought-provoking story about genetics, evolution, and new humans. I also enjoyed the humor and wit in Austin Habershaw's fantasy tale, A Revolutionary Guide to Practical Conjuration which involved an ancient handwritten enchanted book. Two pieces that I found particularly poignant and heart-wrenching were Amy M. Hughes's The Graver, and Michael T. Banker's Wisteria Melancholy. The latter is about people with psychomorphic disorders. Both examples are about family, love, remorse, and compassion.