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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

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 publicity@confluence-sff.org. 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.

2021 Parsec Short Story Contest winners

1st place – Jennifer Gives her Heart to Radioland” by Matthew McHugh

Matt McHugh was born in suburban Pennsylvania, attended LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and after a few years as a Manhattanite, currently calls New Jersey home.

Website: http://mattmchugh.com 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mattmchughdotcom


Matt will be reading his story, Jennifer Gives her Heart to Radioland, for the video reading series on the Parsec Ink YouTube channel. Subscribe today to receive the notice when the video is available!
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2nd Place – Fishing by Carter Lappin

Carter Lappin is a female author from Southern California. She has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her writing experience includes being scheduled to appear in an upcoming WorldWeaver Press anthology.


3rd place – Living Stagnant by Lucy Gray

Lucy Gray is a fiction writer and an electrical engineering student. She began writing short stories recently to explore emotions and possibilities as a writer, just as she had previously explored as a reader. In her spare time, she enjoys embroidering, reading, and spending time with her family.