Attention: Thoughtful young writers between the ages of 14 and 18. Do you have what it takes to write an original, highly imaginative science fiction story that scores cash money? Give it a try! Write it up — keep it under 2,500 words — and submit to the Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society by March 31st — electronically or by snail mail.

If you’re intrigued but don’t know the science fiction genre all that well, check out anything by Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles), Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land), or Philip K. Dick (A Scanner Darkly, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), whose works were often adapted into blockbuster films, like Androids which became Blade Runner — and you might consider certain works by literary goddess Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake), who won the first Arthur C. Clarke sci-fi novel award in 1987 for “Handmaid.”

Visit the equally geeky and intriguing webpage, Resources for Science Fiction Writers, to absorb 10 reasonable, recommended “Rules of Writing Sci-Fi,” including, “Good science fiction is good science, good science fiction has a sense of wonder, and good science fiction changes the world for the better.”

Jack Laurence Chalker was an award-winning sci-fi author as well as a history teacher in Baltimore City Schools for 12 years. He helped to found the BSFS in 1967. Chalker was best known for his Well World novel series–most of his stories involve the radical physical transformation of the main character. The author died in 2005, and the writing contest was named in his memory beginning in 2006.

Contest judges will be plucked from the membership of BSFS, Inc. Winners will be contacted before the May 25-28 Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, their names announced to the public at the next Balticon on Memorial Day weekend “just before the Masquerade at 8:30 pm.”

Submissions ranked first, second and third will receive cash prizes of $150, $100 and $75, respectively. The three winners also receive complimentary registrations for Balticon for themselves and their parents or one guest each. Underage scribe victors will also receive a free Balticon T-shirt. Convention’s guest of honor this year is prolific American sci-fi writer Jody Lynn Nye.

For complete writing contest rules and guidelines, go here.

For past winners’ stories since 1998, go here

Best of luck, young earthlings!