100 Year Starship Announces Canopus Award Contest Opens, Adds Category For Africa Writers

The 2023 100 Year Starship (100YSS) Canopus Award for Excellence in Interstellar Writing, a prize recognizing the finest fiction and non-fiction works that expand our understanding of the challenges, opportunities, pitfalls, and rewards of interstellar space exploration, is now open for submissions and nominations.

This year’s Canopus Award will be made in seven categories. The first five categories are for Published Works with awards made for Long Form Fiction (including novels, novellas, and graphic novels), Short Form Fiction, Long Form Non-Fiction, Short-Form Non-Fiction, and Digital Presentation (including videogames and interactive experiences).

The categories for Original Works are based on this year’s 100YSS theme Who Owns Space?” Awards will be given for Original Short Form Fiction (1,000-6,000 words) and Original Short Form Non-Fiction (1,000-6,000 words).

In addition, one new award is being introduced this year: Original Local Short-Form Fiction. The Original Local Short-Form Fiction category is open for any resident of Africa to submit.

The Original Local Short-Form Fiction category is open for any continental African to submit.  Africa has a rich literary tradition and is bright with creativity, with innovative creators ready to solve problems and make life better for all its countries. Original Local Short-Form Fiction shines a spotlight on African writers actively exploring the future.

This year’s theme, “Who Owns Space?” explores the future of humanity in space. For thousands of years, humans have looked up to the tapestry of stars, sun, moon, and lights in the sky—a compelling, if unreachable constant, connecting distant lands and cultures—an inheritance of all people. Space exploration, space-based technologies, and derivative capabilities, as well as its vision and magic, face a dilemma. Today, while more and more reachable, will the sky and space remain the inheritance for us all? Beyond the legal interpretation, today the very dream of space is being rewritten. Dr. Mae Jemison said, “Space isn’t just for rocket scientists and billionaires.” Yet, for many, the perception is that space is exclusive to only certain people and countries. Writers are invited to explore the possible paths ahead in space, to help identify how various actions, technology focuses, policies, individuals, and communities, and even the stories we tell over the next ten years may indelibly fix space exploration objectives, gatekeepers, and benefits for decades into the future.

Speculative fiction writer, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Nebula award winner, multiple Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy award finalist), is serving as a judge with 100YSS for the 2023 Original Local Short-Form Fiction Award. Ekpeki said: “As the origin story of storytelling, from where humanity first emerged, Africa has a long chapter in the story of humanity’s journey, as we travel even further. To this end, I’m excited to partner with the 100YSS and Canopus award to share stellar African tales with the world and create portals & platforms for our teeming storytellers, a rocketship for our suppressed but expanding cultural cosmos that stretches from the great beyond where our ancestors lie, to beyond the stars our deities inhabit.”

100YSS is accepting submissions from African continental writers for Original Local Short-Form Fiction of 1k to 15k words, from now till November 30, 2022. You can see more guidelines here. And submit here.

Finalists will be selected from the submissions and will be announced in December. Canopus judges will then select one winner. Winners will be announced and honored during a special award ceremony at 100YSS’s public event, Nexus 2023.

The Canopus Awards will be presented during the 100 Year Starship Nexus 2023 event held in Nairobi, Kenya January 31 through February 4, 2023. The Nexus 2023 theme is “When Space, Purpose, and Culture Collide.” The Nexus is designed to be: “THE space gathering to experience, connect, contribute to, envision, inspire & be inspired, create, share, explore, learn and foster an extraordinary future while building a better world, here and now . . . Nexus brings together the range of human experience, skills, knowledge, creativity, passion, commitment, resources, cultures, technologies, policy, investment, education, art, perspectives, and motivation needed to achieve such an extraordinary future.” Nexus 2023 will be a virtual and live event allowing participants from across the globe to participate.

The Canopus Award’s namesake is the second brightest star in the night sky.  It has occupied a central role in the human journey over millennia from an auspicious herald of planting seasons to a major navigation star for civilizations from the Bedouins of Sinai to the Voyager probe. 

A key initiative of 100YSS, an independent, long-term global initiative working to ensure that the capabilities for human interstellar travel, beyond our solar system to another star, exist within the next 100 years, the Canopus Award invites writers and journalists to join the adventure.  Led by former astronaut, engineer, physician, and entrepreneur, Dr. Mae Jemison, 100YSS is building a global community that is capable of mounting this audacious journey.

“Storytelling is essential to communicating and concretizing a vision.  A story well told—fictional or non-fictional—pushes us to consider how, where, who, and why we advance, stagnate or regress,” said Dr. Jemison.

Prizes include a spectacular crystal award, publication, and sponsorship to 100YSS special events and programs.

100YSS is currently accepting submissions for Original Local Short-Form Fiction until November 30, 2023. Finalists will be selected from the submissions and will be announced in December. Canopus judges will then select one winner. Winners will be announced and honored during a special award ceremony at 100YSS’s public event, Nexus 2023.

For more information about award criteria, nomination, and submission, visit CanopusAwards.org.  To nominate or submit works to the Canopus Award, visit CanopusAwards.org.

[Based on a press release.]

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