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Scientology holds its ‘Writers of the Future’ awards out of season, but same lavish display

Our readers know that as far back as our Village Voice days, we’ve been trying to warn the science fiction/fantasy world that “Writers & Illustrators of the Future” is a lavish and expensive contest because Scientology uses it to burnish the reputation of L. Ron Hubbard and, by extension, the church itself.

Our 2012 report made a direct tie between the contest and Scientology’s horrific abuses, but each year we still see sci-fi hopefuls wringing their hands, wondering if maybe Scientology is using the contestants and winners in some self-serving way.

We are grateful that one of our readers was watching carefully as the contest held its awards ceremony last week. Usually the event takes place in April each year, but it had been cancelled the last two times for the pandemic.

Here are our reader’s observations of what went down this year, along with photos that the contest itself posted to its Facebook account…



[Contest director Joni Labaqui welcomes the winners to a week of festivities]

I tracked the festivities all week. They began when the writers arrived Saturday, October 16. I counted 15 of them in the photos.

There was no awards event in 2020 because of the pandemic. This year’s event was for both 2020 (Vol 36 of the anthology) and 2021 (Vol 37). Not all winners could attend because of travel restrictions, according to the contest’s Facebook account.

[The obligatory pilgrimage to the L. Ron Hubbard Library at Author Services]

At the beginning of the week, guests were given bags with bottled hand sanitizer, hand wipes, yellow and green wrist tags that I have no idea what they signified, and a booklet called How to Keep Yourself & Others Well — the one Scientology has been handing out since last year. The masking dropped out a great deal as the week went on. By the time we hit the awards event, folks were masked or not. There was no consistency.


[Goodwin, shilling for Ron]

The writers were housed at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The illustrators, 13 of them by my count, arrived on October 17 and were housed there as well. I believe both the writing and illustrating workshops were held in the hotel. Out of a potential of 48 winners for the two years, 28 arrived and one winner skipped the week and flew in for the awards event only. Tons of photos were taken and posted at the contest Facebook account. There was also blogging going on by a couple of winners.


[Author and contest judge Tim Powers gets fitted for his tux]

Several fun and traditional events took place during this week: the reveal of both WOTF volumes 36 and 37, signing copies of the anthology, authors meeting the illustrator of their story, special attendees at the workshops, movies, tours, etc., all documented with photos.




The awards event was held on Friday night, October 22, at the Taglyan Cultural Complex in Hollywood in the Grand Ballroom, capacity 500. The guests were seated around big tables, ten per table. I doubt there were 500 guests there; I’d estimate 150 to 200 max as it was a relatively quiet crowd, too quiet for 500 guests. The camera never panned to the back of the room so all I could see was about the first four or five rows of tables. I saw the number 17 on a table several times in the video so I know there were at least 17 tables. Jim Meskimen and his wife Tamra attended, but I didn’t recognize any other celebrities.


[Always a lavish production]

The event was broadcast live and I picked it up through the Facebook site. The event opened with a song by some lady wearing wings, and dancing men with wings. And the stage was also decorated with wings, a visual I found a bit garish. I checked the WOTF anthology Vol 36 to find the cover art was done by Echo Chernik and has wings. The video that came after the song and dancing was actually quite enjoyable. It had a guy flying through time, seeing old time authors. I distinctly remember the name Jules Verne. From there it went forward eventually coming to the likes of LRH, Bradbury, etc., and continued forward to more contemporary science fiction/fantasy authors. So, all this time, this guy is going forward to the future and the way he is doing that is flying with wings through halls. As the video nears the end, we are swooshed back down the halls and past the famous writers to the present. My point is … lots of wings.


[Jacobs back on stage]

The event had begun and was emceed by Gunhild Jacobs, introduced as Executive Director of ASI. Speaking of ASI hierarchy, Emily Goodwin (Phil Jones’s lovely daughter) is Vice President of ASI. Meliva Koch is Editorial Director of ASI. John Goodwin (Emily’s husband) is president of Galaxy Press. Joni Labaqui is Contest Director. All this information is taken from the Facebook site. I saw a receptionist at ASI in a photo but I didn’t recognize her.

The actual Awards event was quite unremarkable to me; just the usual presenters of awards, a speaker named Toni Weiskopf of Baen Books, with WOTF 36 winners standing on the left of the stage, WOTF 37 winners on the right. Honestly, every single winner had to speak so the event went on for seemingly forever. I would guess that about 75 percent of the winners acknowledged LRH. ASI and Galaxy Press rated well over 90 percent. Others acknowledged everyone under the sun, moon and stars; mom, dad, siblings, grandma, friends, teachers, mentors, writing groups, you name it. The next time I watch an awards event, I will expect hazard pay.

After all was said and done, the Grand Prize winners were announced. We hadn’t seen Joni Labaqui since day one or day two but she now was introduced and appeared briefly to introduce the presenting judges. Two Grand Prize winners could not make it to the Awards and sent along short videos which were played. One other Grand Prize winner was crying too hard to speak. The last winner was short on words. The agony was, thus, over.


[The gang’s all here]

Although we were told there were travel restrictions that affected attendance, we did have a winner from Turkey attend. Other winners who could not attend were from Australia or New Zealand, China, Vietnam, and Iran. That’s all I wrote down.

The WOTF anthology is now published in a trade paperback edition. All the illustrations are published in the front of the book, at least as far as Vol 36 is concerned. My opinion is that Frank Kelly-Freas and Algis Budrys would never have allowed this change from mass market paperback to trade paperback as it violates the very definition of story illustration and the original layout of the anthology. But, changing times, Kelly and Algis are gone, and who am I to question it?



[Emily Goodwin, the day after the event]


Bonus items from our tipsters

The Magic of OT!



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Source Code

“Now, the MEST universe is all very well but it’s all illusion. Well, one doesn’t want an illusion, so he can’t have an illusion. And when he was very young, why, Christ was all right, he was very friendly, as a matter of fact, and so on. But that’s mostly — people, you know, they have to believe in that sort of thing. And they did once, but it requires nothing but faith and, of course, they can’t have any faith anymore and they did have hopes on that once in a while, but actually religion doesn’t lead anybody anyplace in the final analysis because you never get your wish anyway so, of course, one can’t survive on the basis of spirits and religion, and so forth.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 27, 1951


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Deutchland Uber Alles was Germany’s WWI slogan and song — Germany over the Allies. An East German (Commie) ship not only dropped their anchor over ours and fouled it but also had its lines over ours when we went to move the ship. The anchor was unfouled by Karl Rosenkranz our master diver and the operation was competently supervised by Captain Robertson. Condition I is congratulated on a smooth move. As it is shallow here, we can only leave at high tide to avoid ticking a propeller on the bottom.” — The Commodore, October 27, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Eternity is not infinite. This is a lie. Infinity and eternity are perceptions, postulates utilised to fixate people in the idea that their only option is the Eternal Life Cycle and Eternal Life. We simply vanish our participation in eternity and in doing so restore our ability to choose, decide and act in accordance with our own innate capability for truth. Eternity is a finite cycle of action which audits out. Eternity is Now. Reality is Here. We are Present. We are present, here and now, in this time, space, illusion and form, at this precise location and moment, in the present. It all audits out in PT.”


Past is Prologue

1996: An anonymous account was posted this week of people who had psychotic breaks while under Scientology’s OT 3 processing in Australia. “I know of two spectacular cases where the persons involved went full-blown psychotic and required round the clock supervision. A then-friend of mine, a quite muscular ex-crim was asked to be a guard there, but he had doubts. He came to me and asked me my opinion, and I said that since he was still on parole at the time, he should stay clear of it! If the shit hit the fan, it would be the easiest thing in the world for them to drop the whole stinking load right on him. He would go down for false-imprisonment, kidnapping, the works. He took my advice, and they got someone else. One case I know of, a Japanese man who was attempting OT III apparently went psycho type III PTS and started talking to little green men non-stop. He stayed like this for weeks. I think they eventually bundled the guy onto an airplane and got him the fuck out of Dodge. Someone recently surprised the shit out of me by coming out with the location – Gosford, New South Wales Australia.”



Random Howdy

“Maybe you mocked up another version of yourself in a blackout and forgot about it. Ask Marty, it probably has something to do with Quantum Buddhism(c).”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference December 17 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for November 2.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9, 2020 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Masterson accusers cite Marsy’s Law to head off ‘arbitration,’ and Scientology pounces
[TWO years ago] A Scientology front group that duped celebrities for Narconon: It’s baaaack!
[THREE years ago] Russell Miller’s 1987 biography of Scientology’s founder is still astonishingly good
[FOUR years ago] KID CORPS: Scientology wanted to turn children into little machines of Sea Org efficiency
[FIVE years ago] Surprised Tom Cruise called Scientology a ‘beautiful religion’? You shouldn’t be.
[SEVEN years ago] Gay Ribisi, our friend Mark Ebner has your Scientology plaques — want ’em back?
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology Is In Your Capital, Working Your Jenna Elfman
[NINE years ago] The Scientology-Nation of Islam Alliance: Sideshow or Armageddon?
[TEN years ago] Mark Ebner on Scientology and South Park: Rathbun is Definitely Leaking Authentic ‘Intel’


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,466 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,971 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,491 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,511 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,402 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,709 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,577 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,351 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,681 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,155 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,471 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,037 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,956 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,124 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,705 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,966 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,002 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,717 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,242 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 597 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,772 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,323 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,472 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,792 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,647 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,766 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,122 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,425 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,531 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,929 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,805 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,388 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,883 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,137 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,246 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 27, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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