Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize

Kurt Vonnegut Contest Header Graphic | Headshot of Vonnegut above a man looking up into space, which is brightly colored

The Kurt Vonnegut Prize is an annual fiction competition intended to recognize the finest speculative fiction, which can include, but is not limited to, work influenced by the postmodern science-fiction of Kurt Vonnegut. We love Vonnegut’s dark humor, but please avoid mere imitation. We welcome all forms of previously unpublished fiction—one story per submission. We are enthusiastic about all work painted with speculative fiction’s broad brush: fairy tale, magical realism, fabulism, the fantastic, horror, Afro-futurism, science fiction hard and soft, and everything in between. The winner, runners-up, and any honorable mentions may be offered publication in the North American Review’s summer issue. Additional finalists and semifinalists may be offered publication in a future issue or on Open Space. Results will be announced in January.


2025 Contest Information

  • Contest Opens: August 1, 2024 at 10:00am CST
  • Contest Closes: November 2, 2024 at 2:00am CST
  • Entry Fee: $23.00USD
  • Entry Length: 500–10,000 words
  • Winner’s Prize: $1,000.00USD
  • Contest Judge: Kevin Brockmeier


The Judging Process

  • All submissions to the Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize will be handled through our online submission system, Submittable.
  • Simultaneous submission to other journals or competitions is allowed with notice should your story be accepted elsewhere.
  • Work previously published online or in print is ineligible for submission.
  • Submissions are gathered through Submittable and packaged by the Contest Manager, who may not serve as a Contest Reader or Coordinator.
  • Submissions are read by the Contest Coordinators, who are NAR Editors, as well as by fifteen or more Contest Readers, most of whom are undergraduate or graduate students at the University of Northern Iowa.
  • Contest Readers receive the initial entries and select a slate of semifinalists.
  • The Contest Coordinators then reduce the semifinalist list to a pool of finalists; these poems are sent to the Prize Judge.
  • The Contest Judge selects a Winner, Runners-up, and possibly a number of Honorable Mentions from the pool of finalists.
  • All finalists and semifinalists will be announced on the NAR website in an Open Space post.


Manuscript Preparation Rules

  • Each entry can consist of only one file.
  • We only accept Microsoft Word (.docx) and Google Doc (.doc) files; we do not accept PDFs.
  • Remove all identifying information from the document: no names, addresses, or other identifying information should appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Remove all pagination as we have an internal system for managing page numbers.
  • Do not include a cover page.
  • If possible, please use single-spaced Times New Roman 12pt font with one inch margins.
  • If possible, center and bold the title at the top of the page using Title Case.
  • Entries over 10,000 words are ineligible, and please note we determine word count using Google Docs, which may yield a different—usually smaller—count than other programs, and here’s why.
  • These rules allow for a consistent double-blind reading and management of the contest, which reduces the possibility of unconscious bias.
  • Disregarding these rules may result in disqualification; no refund will be offered.
  • Should you have questions or concerns about your submission, please send a message via Submittable or contact the Contest Manager at nar@uni.edu.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • All contact with writers will be managed through Submittable and the NAR email account, nar@uni.edu.
  • We will accept multiple submissions, but each submission will incur the $23.00 entry fee.
  • We will accept submissions from domestic and international writers.
  • We will accept novel excerpts so long as they stand alone as a complete short story with beginning, middle, and end.
  • We will accept up to two flash fiction stories per entry—typically defined as 500-1,500 words—as well as works up to one story no longer than 10,000 words, but most of our finalists and all of our winners have had word counts in the 2,500–7,500 range.
  • We love experimental fiction; however, if publishing your piece would require unusual formatting, please include a brief explanation of your layout preferences on the last page of your manuscript; unusual formatting will not affect your consideration for the prize, but it may necessitate publication online rather than in print.
  • Current University of Northern Iowa students are ineligible to submit.
  • Friends of the Contest Judge are ineligible to submit.
  • The Entry Fee includes a copy of the summer issue (a $15 value) in which the Winner will appear. If you submit multiple times, we will send you subsequent issues, rather than multiple copies of the same issue.
  • The Contest Coordinator may offer publication—in a future issue of North American Review or on Open Space—to any notable work submitted to the contest.

Announcing Past Winners