New Suns: A Short Fiction Contest

Graphic header for the New Suns short fiction contest featuring a futuristic city being written by a hand.

Congratulations to our contest winners:

1st Place | Anne Zhang

2nd Place | Maya Sabatino

3rd Place | Astrid Liu

4th Place | Joseph Mann

Read their works and many others in our digital collection!

We also invite you to view a recording of our culminating reading event, Refractions.

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There is nothing new

under the sun

but there are new suns.

- Octavia Butler -

Throughout her life, writer Octavia Butler leveraged the power of fiction to reshape our sense of what is possible. Her stories do not merely explore the world in which we live—they demand our exploration of worlds we cannot yet envision. Future worlds in which our inherited ways of being are wholly ruptured and new, more just, realities can form.

This spring, the SLC Discovery and Language Exchange Programs invite you to join Butler’s legacy of radical imagination by creating and submitting your own visionary narratives. We seek bold works of fiction longing to be real—creative writing that speaks into existence the new suns under which all human beings might better thrive. Your story should give us a glimpse both of the future you imagine and of the paths by which it came into being. What is it like to live under your sun? What phenomena, technologies, risks, or revolutions conspired to make this living possible? What work, if any, is left to be done?

Download our contest flyer here!

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All entries will be featured in our digital archive. Authors of the top entries will be invited to perform at our final reading event. In addition, the following prizes will be awarded:

1st place: $75 gift card, iPad and Apple Pencil, One-Year Masterclass Subscription, SLC Swag Gift Bag
2nd place: $75 gift card, iPad and Apple Pencil, SLC Swag Gift Bag
3rd place: $50 gift card, Apple Airpods, SLC Swag Gift Bag
4th place: $50 gift card, SLC Swag Gift Bag

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The contest is open to all current UC Berkeley undergraduates.

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Entries will be reviewed by a committee of SLC Discovery and Language Exchange Programs peer and professional staff.

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  • We recommend a submission length of 1,000-1,500 words. Entries must be no more longer than 3,000 words.
  • Entries must be submitted via Google Form by 11:59 PM PST on Monday, May 17.
  • Files should be uploaded in .doc, .docx, or PDF format. Do not include any identifying information in the document.
  • Entries must be the author’s original work and previously unpublished. Entrants retain all rights to their work.
  • We welcome multilingual writing and writing in languages other than English. We request that entries written primarily in non-English language(s) be accompanied by an English translation. (Translations do not count again an entry’s word limit.)

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Entries should clearly respond to the contest prompt and demonstrate thoughtful use of form and language.

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Writing Community

Go solar in great company by signing up for one or more of our upcoming community writing sessions! To support you in getting your entry over the finish line, we have scheduled a series of writing times during RRR and Finals Weeks. From our "Meet, Greet, & Generate" sessions to our May 16 "Solar Sunday" last-minute writing marathon, we hope you'll connect, converse, and create to your heart's content.

Don't see a time that works for you? Just RSVP to join our mailing list and let us know when you'd like to see additional hours. We can't wait to write alongside you!

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Please reach out to with any questions regarding the contest or submission guidelines!