Winners of the 2019 Kurt Vonnegut Prize in Speculative Literature

Nearly two hundred stories were submitted to the first annual Vonnegut Prize in speculative fiction.  Finalists were sent on to the 2018 contest judge, Karen Joy Fowler.


First Place:

Placebo by Zachary Tyler Vickers


Runner Up:

Camera Illumina by Alex Sheal


Honorable Mentions:

The Shadow Artist by Jeffrey Higa

Retrospective by Alyssa Green



By the Sea by W.P. Osborne

Battis by Bipin Aurora

The Power by Luke Blue



Redundancy by Jeff Fleischer

The Guards of Pirates’ Wharf by Phedra Deonarine

We Are All Wearing Jackets by Ben Black


The winner and runner-up, Placebo and Camera Illumina, will appear in forthcoming issues of the North American Review.  The contest director also accepted both Retrospective and The Shadow Artist for publication in the magazine.

About Karen Joy Fowler:

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. Her most recent book, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker. She is the co-founder of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the current president of the Clarion Foundation (also known as Clarion San Diego). Fowler and her husband, who have two grown children and seven grandchildren, live in Santa Cruz, California.


About Kurt Vonnegut:

Kurt Vonnegut's long friendship with former North American Review editor Loree Rackstraw brought him often to our hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa. We are proud to honor the legacy of that friendship with a fiction prize that recognizes speculative writing with the wit, irreverence, humanity, and stylistic daring of its namesake.

The prize director is Brooke Wonders; this year she will be away on a professional development leave. Jim O'Loughlin will serve as director of the Fall 2019 prize in her absence. We are thrilled to announce next year's judge for the prize: Andy Duncan. Duncan's short stories have received the Sturgeon Award and World Fantasy Award and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Shirley Jackson awards. 


Many thanks to Lucy Carson, assistant to Karen Joy Fowler, for being a delight to work with. Thanks also to our preliminary readers for the prize: Grayson Becker, Matthew Brady, Jenny Brannan​, Kelly Brockett​, Danielle Dunagan​, Sarah Fluegel​, Theresa Folan​, Benjamin Hirdler, Tait Larson, Chris Mitchell, Josh Mostaert​, Jennifer Perez, Ashley Shelton, Audrey Simpson, Randi Smith, Seth Thill, Hunter Thompson and Brooke Wiese.


We welcome all work painted with speculative fiction’s broad brush: fairytale, magical realism, fabulism, the fantastic, horror, Afro-futurism, science fiction (hard and soft), and everything in between. Regretfully, if you are a friend or close associate of this year's contest director or judge, we cannot accept your submission. Deadline for submissions: October 1. Results announced in early December.