Teen Sci-Fi Writing Contest & Discussion: From Ender’s Game to Hunger Games



Sci-FiIt’s been months in the making, but it’s finally here–our Teen Sci-fi Writing Contest and Finale Podcast!  And not a moment too soon, since I’m going to a screening of Ender’s Game on Tuesday. (Watch for my review at Worldmag.com on Friday!)

Many of you may be aware we just finished up an Ender’s Game Read Along for adults and teens.  If you haven’t checked that out, I’d highly encourage older teens and adults to grab a copy of the novel and work your way through the four podcasts I recorded with John Ottinger, World magazine’s sci-fi reviewer, along with two very intrepid teens, Abby Burns and Jack Mertens.  We really tried to get to the heart of the story and how it corresponds to His Story–the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Even I was pretty surprised at some of the connections we were able to make.

The Discussion (And Big Reveal!)

In addition to our Read Along, Redeemedreader has invited four distinguished guests to join us as we take a critical look at Ender’s Game, Hunger Games, and dystopian/sci-fi writing for teens.  In one hour-long discussion to air just before Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits theaters, we’ll cover questions like these: What makes dystopian and sci-fi lit so popular today?  What are some of sci-fi’s essential components, and how do they point to Christ?  When do dark stories go too far, making them detrimental to teens and something parents should say no to?  And what can Christian sci-fi authors like C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and others teach us about the subject?

The Who of our Panel:

  • David Walton: David is a dad, a Christian, and an award-winning science fiction author published by Tor–the quintessence skysame publisher of Ender’s Game.  He has numerous short stories in print, and his third book, Quintessence Sky (Volume 2), hits bookshelves on November 1.  (You can read about that here.)  One of the things that makes his fiction so provocative is that he also happens to be an engineer with Lockheed Martin.  That means he works on top secret government projects pushing the limits of current technology, which in turn gives him unique insight into the moral and spiritual challenges of science and sci-fi for Christians today.
  • Michelle Burke: Michelle is a mom, a Christians, and an editor at Thomas Nelson.  Michelle specializes in books for kids, and as such, she is trained to analyze not just the words on a page, but also what is being communicated visually–a great benefit for analyzing books turned into movies.  As a parent, Michelle has wrestled with what makes a book/movie like Ender’s Game or Hunger Games beneficial for her own kids–and what might make the dystopian darkness something she should be wary of.  In addition, she’ll  be able to add some of her thoughts on what makes dystopian stories for teens published by Thomas Nelson different from their secular counterparts.
  • John Ottinger: Those of you who joined us for the Ender’s Game read along will be familiar with John.  He’s a writer, classical educator, and dad.  His reviews, interviews, and articles have appeared in WORLD magazine, Publishers Weekly, Black Gate, Strange Horizons, SF Signal, and Tor.com.  He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in English at the University of Central Florida with research interests in Science Fiction, Christianity, and Southern Literature.  He blogs at Graspingforthewind.com.
  • Megan Basham: Not only is Megan a wife, mom and my good friend, she’s World Magazine‘s Entertainment Editor and a regular contributor to World’s radio program.  As the author of Beside Every Successful Man she has appeared on The Today Show among many national media outlets  and is currently a cultural critic at Acculturated.com.  All of this makes me very grateful to have Megan helping me as co-host of the discussion.

And of course, there’ll be little ole  me, Emily Whitten, along for the ride.  (If you want to know more about me, see Redeemedreader’s About page.)

The Writing Contest!

At Redeemedreader, we don’t want to just analyze books.  We’d like to spark something in our teen readers to reach out, respond, and redeem part of the world for Christ.  What better way to do that than to write our own sci-fi stories?

Toward that end, we’ve asked sci-fi author David Walton to submit several writing prompts.  The contest is simple: if you’re eighteen or younger, choose a story starter from these Writing Prompts, write a story up to 1200 words long, and submit it to me via email (emily@redeemedreader.com) by midnight, Thursday, Nov. 14.

Three finalist stories will be posted on our site Saturday, Nov. 16.  Our readers will then use the upcoming week to vote for one grand prize winner to be announced along with our discussion podcast on Wed, Nov. 20.

The Prizes

What will you get for all your trouble?  One grand prize winner will receive professional editorial feedback both from Michelle Burke (the Thomas Nelson editor) and David Walton (our resident sci-fi author for this project).  In addition, he or she will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and a $50 gift package including David Walton’s book, Quintessence, and several dystopian novels published by Thomas Nelson.  Second and third place winners will each receive $30 Amazon gift cards.

Sound fun?  We hope so!   Can’t wait to see what you guys will come up with! 

More good news…you don’t have to wait until mid-November to see what Redeemedreader thinks about dystopian novels for teens.  Check out Janie’s recent God in Dystopia post and the download of her early series on dysopia.  Or you can read her Hunger Games post about the book or my post about the Hunger Games movie.


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  1. Teen SF Writing Contest – Grasping for the Wind - November 2, 2013

    […] likes to write? Do they like SF? Can they write it? Then join the Teen SF Writing Contest over at Redeemed Reader.com. You could win some neat stuff, including a critique from an editor at Thomas Nelson. This contest […]

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