Here at Lifehacker, we’ve made our stance on LeVar Burton and his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads, pretty clear: We are grateful for and appreciate them both. Back in 2019, former Lifehacker staff writer Nick Douglas selected the two-parter where LeVar reads “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” (part 1, part 2) as his pick for the best podcast episode of the year.
Then, a few months (that now seem like a lifetime) later, in April 2020, Lifehacker managing editor Meghan Moravcik Walbert penned a post entitled “LeVar Burton Will Read to Us, Thank God,” in response to the announcement that he’d be reading stories live on Twitter three times a week. If ever there was a time we needed a calming, reassuring voice, it was then. (And also now, and the entire time in between.)
Now, we’re back with more good news: From now until the end of this month, you have the opportunity to submit your own speculative fiction short stories for LeVar to read on the podcast. Here’s what to know.
The LeVar Burton Reads writing contest
In collaboration with FIYAH Literary Magazine and Tor.com, the LeVar Burton Reads podcast is currently holding its first writing contest — and Burton will read the winning speculative fiction (sci-fi/horror) short story on the podcast’s tenth season.
Here’s more from Burton himself, via a statement on the podcast website:
For a couple of seasons now, we’ve been trying to figure out how to conduct a short story contest with all of the submissions coming from listeners of the podcast. I’m happy to report that we have finally cracked the code! It is my extreme and joyous pleasure to announce the inaugural LeVar Burton Reads short story writing contest. #bydhttmwfi
The contest prizes are:
- First Prize: $700, publication of your story on Tor.com, and having LeVar read your story on his podcast (estimated retail value: priceless)
- Second Prize: $350, publication of your story on Tor.com
- Third Prize: $140, publication of your story on Tor.com
Submission guidelines and other rules
But before you get started, you should take the time to review the contest’s submission guidelines and rules. The theme is “Origins and Encounters,” and the judges are “interested in stories that examine the magical joys and tragic pitfalls of blended civilisations and cultural exchanges in all their forms.”
The information provided is quite thorough, so take advantage of that — including instructions on how to properly format your submission.
Other guidelines include:
- Submissions should be between 2,800 and 5,200 words.
- Submissions must include speculative or fantastical elements. Works of the Indigenous fantastic, the other-worldly, and alternative histories are welcome.
- Sexually explicit works or those depicting graphic violence/gore are not a good fit for this contest.
- No simultaneous submissions, reprints, fan fiction, or excerpts of longer works will be considered.
- Submissions must be prose. Poetry, scripts, and screenplays will not be considered.
Finally, a word from FIYAH:
While FIYAH is a limited-demographic publication, this contest is open to all. We highly encourage listening to previous episodes of the podcast to familiarise yourself with LeVar’s tastes.
How to submit your short story
Once you’ve finished your story, fill out this form to submit it — along with your name, email address, and a brief bio of 500 words or fewer telling the judges about yourself and your work.
All submissions must be received by 1:59 pm AEST on September 1, 2021. Contest judges include Diana M. Pho and L. D. Lewis, with the final selection being made by LeVar himself. The winner will be announced on October 16, 2021.
Good luck, and we’ll see you next time.