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2024 Short Story Contest

The 2024 Parsec Short Story Contest is now open! Submissions will be accepted until March 31, 2024.

The theme for 2024 is A.I. Mythology

Whatever our feelings on AI, we can’t escape the fact that it’s here and that its influence is growing. This prompt invites the writers to imagine what sorts of mythology might be developed in response to the growth, as well as what sort of mythology AIs might write about themselves.

Please note: Even though the theme is AI, we do not wish to see stories written by AI! We trust those of you who choose to submit to honor this request!

This is a Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contest. We want to emphasize that any sort of “artificially created intelligence” qualifies for the story theme–it doesn’t strictly need to be through technological advancement! (Hex from Discworld comes to mind, or the Archive from the Dresden Files. Both artificial constructs are born from magic rather than tech!)

Eligibility: The contest is open to non-professional writers– those who have not met eligibility requirements for SFWA or equivalent. Broad strokes, if you have earned more than $1000 through selling your writing, you are ineligible to participate.

Previous first-place winners and current contest coordinators are ineligible to enter.  

Visit the Short Story Contest page for Full Submission Requirements

Feb 2023 Parsec meeting

February is poetry month at Parsec!

Love is in the air so show your love for SF/F/H by bringing your original poem to the Feb Parsec meeting. Attendees are encouraged to bring short and effective pieces to read.

Bruce Boston will be our our guest!
Bruce is an accomplished SF Poet and the author of sixty books and chapbooks, including the dystopian novel The Guardener’s Tale and the psychedelic coming-of-age novel Stained Glass Rain.

Bruce will read for us “Interstellar Tract,” and some other poems from his latest collection, Spacers Snarled in the Hair of Comets, which is entirely SF poetry.

His fiction and poetry have appeared in hundreds of publications, especially Asimov’s SF Magazine, Amazing Stories, Analog, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Nebula Awards Showcase, and DreamForge Magazine. Boston has received the Bram Stoker Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Asimov’s Readers Award, the Gothic Readers Choice Award, and the Rhysling and Grand Master Awards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

Meeting Information:

Date: Saturday, February 18, 2023

Program begins: 1:00 pm (ET)

Register for Zoom
The Squirrel Hill Library will not be available to us in the First Quarter of 2023.

Did you miss the January Parsec meeting?

You can now catch a recap of Crystal Crawford talking about her Kindle Vella experience on our YouTube channel!

Sept 17, 2022 Parsec Meeting

Our guest in September is author and PARSEC member Donald Firesmith. Donald will deliver a presentation on the importance of realism in speculative fiction.

Join us in person on Saturday September 17, 2022 at the Squirrel Hill Carnegie LibraryRoom B.
Meeting begins at 1:00 pm
A Zoom option is available for those unable to attend in person.

Donald Firesmith

Donald Firesmith is a multi-award-winning author of speculative fiction including science fiction (alien invasion), fantasy (magical wands), horror, and modern urban paranormal novels and anthologies of short stories. Prior to retiring to devote himself full-time to his novels, he earned an international reputation as a distinguished engineer, authoring seven system/software books based on his 40+ years spent developing large, complex software-intensive systems. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, his daughter Sera, and varying numbers of dogs and cats.

Donald’s recent books include the Hell Holes series; apocalyptic science fiction, horror, modern paranormal fantasy, action and adventure novels. 

When giant holes mysteriously appear in the frozen tundra above the Arctic Circle, they provide portals for a demonic invasion from Hell.

Hell Holes, by Donald Firesmith

Every month Parsec invites new guest speakers for informative, lively discussions on everything science fiction, fantasy, horror, writing, publishing, podcasts, speculative fiction and more! Meetings are free to attend and open to the public!

Library masking rules: Unvaccinated or Partially Vaccinated: Wear a Mask. Fully Vaccinated: Masking is Optional. Masks required at all times in Children’s Area.

2022 Contest Winners!

Announcing the winners of the 2022 Parsec short story contest, Hearth, Song and Table!

This year we had a Youth category (for under 19 entrants/current high school students). We are thrilled to announce the first ever winner of the youth category is Dot Rodgers with the incredibly whimsical “A Clockwork Hoopoe”

Coming in third place, A.P. Hawkin‘s (@ahawkwrites) wonderfully atmospheric “Whalesong” this was an incredibly cool idea, and hooked all of the the first readers from the start!

In second place, we had Scott I. Kircher‘s “Forgotten,” which tells an amazingly personal story while also setting up a world that feels vast and tragic! No small accomplishment with only 3500 words to work with!

First place went to Lucy Zhang‘s (@Dango_Ramen) short story “It is Possible I was too Sheltered.” A piece that manages to be equal parts atmospheric and wholesome (and has one of the BEST opening lines of any short story we’ve ever had entered!)

The First place winning story can be read in the 2022 Confluence program book. If you would like a copy, contact Karen at For a $5 donation to Parsec (covers S/H) she will mail you one.

We would also like to thank our judges, Chelsea Abdullah (@chelsabdullah), Michelle Renee Lane (@MichelleRLane), and Timons Esaias for taking the time to read our finalists!

Big thanks go our to our first readers, Penelope Smith and Ivy Speight, who likewise volunteered to help read through the submissions and pick out the excellent finalists!

And a HUGE thank you to our sponsors, Timons Esaias and Mary Soon Lee.
We couldn’t do this awesome contest without the support of these wonderful people and the Parsec members who offer their support every year!

Next year’s contest theme will be “Preserve or Purge,”

We can’t wait to see what awesome stories everyone comes up with!
Our exuberant coordinator, Alfred Smith, (@HarmonicAuthor) already has one amazing judge lined up and waiting on responses from two more. Check the short story contest page for updates on the 2023 contest.


Join us for the October Parsec meeting
Saturday 10-16-2021 at 1:00pm EST

Our guest authors, Michael A. Arnzen, Scott A. Johnson & Frank J. Oreto will entertain us with frightful readings of their own horror stories, and feed us goodies galore about the craft of horror writing!

The Zoom moderator will open the room at 12:30 for an informal social time.

Parsec meetings are always open to the public and FREE to attend!

Register in advance for this Zoom meeting

For even more fun, wear your Halloween costume to the meeting and be entered to win a copy of the Parsec Ink 2021 anthology, Triangulation: Habitats!

About our guests:

Michael Arnzen is the four-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Grave Markings and Play Dead. Arnzen teaches fulltime in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, in Greensburg, PA. Known particularly for his experiments in minimalist horror, in such books as 100 Jolts and The Gorelets Omnibus, he invites readers to subscribe to his newsletter at, where they can get free short-shorts delivered to their inbox when they least expect them.
Creative Horror:
Social Network :

Frank Oreto is a writer and editor of weird fiction living in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. His work has appeared or is upcoming in Pseudopod, the Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Frank also co-edited two volumes of Parsecs annual anthology Trianglulation. When not writing he spends his time creating elaborate meals for his wife and ever hungering children.
Like weird fiction? I write it. You can find links to free stories and audios at my author page:

Scott A. Johnson writes horror, dark urban fantasy, and science fiction. He is the author of eleven novels, multiple short stories, and three books of true ghost stories. He has an MFA from Emerson College and teaches in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. He is currently located near Austin, Texas.
Visit the website:


Nov 20th: Cat Rambo talks about her upcoming new release, You Sexy Thing, the difference between writing short fiction and novels, the Satanic Panic, and RPGs. and all the great online writing classes she offers through the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers.

Dec 18th: Holiday Party! More information coming soon.

January 15, 2022: A special presentation panel on costuming!

Feb 19, 2022: The month of love and poets.

March 19, 2022: TBA

Use the registration link at the top of this post to register once for all of the upcoming Parsec meetings.

Have an article, note or announcement that you would like to see published in the Sigma newsletter?
The deadline for submissions is always the first Sunday of every month – Use our CONTACT FORM to send your information to Joe Coluccio, our Sigma editor.

Media notice: PARSEC staff may choose to record, live-stream, or otherwise capture or record images and comments during the Zoom event. By registering for this event you agree that Parsec may use your likeness in the screen captures and recordings to publicize, reproduce, exhibit, distribute, broadcast, or digitize the resulting content for use in marketing, promotion, and advancement efforts that may contain your likeness . This may include publications, marketing videos, advertising, websites and/or other public marketing for any purpose consistent with the Parsec status as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. If you prefer that your likeness not be used, please turn off your camera during recordings. Announcements will be made prior to the start of recordings and/or image captures.