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Ad Astra Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop
June 16 - 29, 2024
"Repeat Offenders" Spec-Fic Writing Workshop
June 30 - July 13, 2024
Writing Retreat for alums also available

Learn to write SF that sells.
Using the short-story form, we help you master the elements that create great fiction.
Led by McKitterick since 1995, continuing James Gunn's tradition starting 1985.

Taking applications now!


2023 Workshoppers

2023 Workshop cohort
sitting: Vince Vasudevan, Erin Jade Luna, Philip Baringer.
standing: Sarah Margree, Chuck Von Nordheim, Leah Bond, Patricia Crumpler, Chris McKitterick.
Not pictured: Jean Asselin.

Instructors

Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop

"Repeat Offenders" Advanced Workshop

Writing Retreat for Alums

How to Apply

Housing

Costs

Scholarships

Donate

Diversity, Inclusivity, and Commitment to Equity

History

Transportation

Lawrence in the Summer


 

For 2024, award-winning SF author, scholar, and educator Christopher McKitterick continues his residential, two-week workshop on speculative-fiction storytelling. He also again offers his residential "Repeat Offenders" advanced spec-fic writing workshop for alums, plus a Writing Retreat for alums. Scholarships are available.

The Ad Astra Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop is designed to serve writers at all levels - those who have just begun to publish, those who need the final bit of insight or skill to master the elements that create great stories editors want and readers love, and for published authors who want to grow their writing or refresh their skills through an intensive workshop experience.

We work with all flavors of speculative fiction including fantasy, hard SF, horror, magical realism, slipstream, speculative philosophy, and so on. Though the workshop is useful for writers of all lengths, for practical reasons we use short-form works to master the art and craft of creating great spec-fic.

McKitterick strives to put together a creative cohort that's diverse in genre, backgrounds, and experience, with an emphasis on developing a mutually supportive cohort adept at respectfully offering useful critiques and accepting feedback in the positive spirit they're offered to help everyone learn and grow not only as authors but as members of the spec-fic community.

We also offer short and extended online and hybrid offerings throughout the year, including our Science into Fiction writing workshop series.

Instructors

Christopher McKitterick
Workshop Leader

Ad Astra director Chris McKitterick leads the workshop, participating from when the application period opens through the end of the cycle and beyond, critiquing every story, giving short talks on the topics and writing, and checking up afterward to see how everyone's revisions and submission process is going.

Since the 1990s, he has taught science-fiction and creative-writing workshops, seminars, masterclasses, and full-semester courses at the University of Kansas and around the world. In 2018, he was one of three finalists for the H.O.P.E. (Honor for Outstanding Progressive Educator) Teaching Award, the most prestigious teaching award given at the University of Kansas.

He's led the intensive summer Spec-Fic Workshop since 2010, and co-taught it since 1995. In 2016 he founded the "Repeat Offenders" Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop (advanced workshop for returning alums), and founded the AdAstranaut SiF workshop series in 2022. and first took James Gunn's Science Fiction Writers Workshop in 1992, then served as guest instructor from 1995-2009, leading the redesigned Spec-Fic Workshop since 2010. in 2016 he founded the "Repeat Offenders" Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop (advanced workshop for returning alums), and the Ad Astra "Science into Fiction"" workshop series in 2022.

Chris' short work has appeared in many publications. His "Ashes of Exploding Suns, Monuments to Dust/a>" made the Tangent Recommended Reading List and won the AnLab Reader's Award for best novelette - his first major fiction-writing honor. He regularly publishes nonfiction, and a poem or two became lyrics for songs. His debut novel, Transcendence, is in its second edition. He recently finished a couple more novels, Empire Ship and the first book of The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella, and has several other projects on the burners.

EEn route to becoming an SF scholar, writer, and educator, Chris studied astrophysics, education, classics, and psychology. He's been taking professional writing and science workshops (and university courses) across the country since the 1980s. He earned his BA in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he ran two observatories and a planetarium and served as assistant instructor for physics and astronomy courses. He spent a year teaching K-12 in the Montana Badlands, then began formal SF writing and literature studies in 1992 with James Gunn at the University of Kansas, where he earned his MA in creative writing and continued post-graduate studies ever after. Then for nearly a decade he worked for gaming and tech companies in Seattle, spending summer vacations co-teaching the SF Workshop and SF Institute with Gunn. In 2002, KU recruited him to teach SF and writing full-time, where he developed many offerings. He never stops learning, including at The Schrödinger Sessions quantum physics workshop and the LaunchPad Astronomy Workshop.

Chris first launched Ad Astra as a KU Center (announcement) in 2021 after having directed James Gunn's original Center for the Study of Science Fiction with Gunn and Kij Johnson from 1995-2022, then expanded it into the non-profit Ad Astra Institute for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination in 2023. In addition to doing all things Ad Astra, he rescues wild animals, lives with many beloved critters, gardens, and watches the sky. He just got married in fall, 2023!

Read more about Chris here (formal bio), or here, or hang out with him online: Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Xitter | YouTube | Christopher-McKitterick.com

 

Special Guest Instructor
Philip Baringer

Phil BaringerWe are privileged to announce that for Week Two of the Spec-Fic Workshop, plus both weeks of the advanced Repeat Offenders Workshop, experimental particle physicist and science-fiction expert Phil Baringer joins us this year as Special Guest Instructor!

Philip Baringer, PhD, has more than 35 years of teaching and research experience. He's KU Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy who's received numerous awards for his teaching, including the Department Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Kemper Award for Teaching Excellence, and the University Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) Excellence in Teaching Award, chosen by graduate students in Physics and Astronomy. He served as inaugural speaker for Ad Astra's Science into Fiction writing workshop series, also participating in the developmental and critique workshops, where he not only shared his scientific expertise but also a deep understanding of SF narrative. For nearly 20 years, Phil has co-taught "Science, Technology, & Society: Examining the Future Through a Science-Fiction Lens" and "Science into Fiction" writing workshops with McKitterick, taught several SF Honors courses, served on many graduate thesis and dissertation committees on SF writing and literature, serves on the nominations committee of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short SF, and is a ravenous SF and comics reader.

Baringer's research focuses on experimental particle physics, particularly production of the top quark. He's a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid collaboration, an international group operating an experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research's Large Hadron Collider. Baringer believes in the importance of communicating science to a general audience. He has also received the Steeples Award for Service to Kansans, an award that recognizes faculty members for sharing their teaching and research with the people of Kansas.

Phil will participate in Week Two of the Spec-Fic Workshop to provide a fresh perspective on your revision, and for the full run of the Repeat Offenders Workshop. He plans to join us for dinners and other hanging-out throughout the workshops.

Read more about Phil on his KU bio page, LinkedIn, or Google Scholar.


We continue Gunn's tradition of inviting special guest author-instructors to help provide diverse perspectives on what makes great spec-fic, and we've often enjoyed the writing advice and camaraderie of visiting authors and editors.

Simultaneous scheduling and adjacent meeting spaces with other spec-fic writing workshops (such as Johnson and Webb's) provide valuable opportunities to intermingle with the other groups in our building, and to discuss writing from different perspectives outside regular meeting times. Attendees also have many opportunities to socialize with one another, and many build life-long relationships.

Other recent special-guest instructors have included Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, and John Kessel.

Pat Cadigan dispensing wisdom
Special guest instructor Pat Cadigan dispensing wisdom.
 

Andy Duncan with his writing notebook
Special guest instructor Andy Duncan with his writing notebook.
 

James Gunn and Jeremy Tolbert critiquing in our dorm lounge
Workshop moment with special guest instructor James Gunn, 2013
Gunn (left) and Jeremy Tolbert.

"James Gunn is as sage as they come."
-Trent Walters, from a Workshop review for SF Site.

2018 Workshoppers in our scholarship-hall lounge
2018 Workshop cohort
sitting: Pat Cadigan, Julian Richardson.
standing: Achilles Seastrom, Jean Asselin, Mary Fluker, Kathy Kitts, Theodore Nollert, Sarah Worrel,
Patricia Crumpler, Sanna Breytberg, Ian Martinez-Cassmeyer, Chris McKitterick.

 Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop
June 16 - 29, 2024

Ad Astra Institute director McKitterick's intensive, residential workshop normally meets every weekday afternoon for two weeks, and we often begin with an informal get-together with Kij Johnson and Barbara Webb's SF/F Novel Writers Workshop attendees on Sunday evening beforehand at 6:00pm in the space where we'll get acquainted and plan for the coming weeks.

His advanced "Repeat Offenders" Workshop (for alums) also runs two weeks, though some attendees stay longer or shorter. We have the full building to ourselves, and are a short drive from lovely downtown Lawrence, where many go for dinner each evening. Starting last year, you'll have a kitchen and refrigerator to simplify making thrifty meals!

Young Gunns 2013 in our scholarship-hall lounge
The "Young Gunns" of 2012
Front (left to right): Joan Slonczewski (2012 Campbell Award winner), Sheila Williams (editor of
Asimov's), Sheila Finch (Campbell Award juror and author).
Back: Abigail Godsell, Laurie Walker, Marcy Arlin, Andrew Genova, Evan Mielke, Chris McKitterick.
Not pictured: Andy Duncan, Sarah Fischer, James Gunn, Chris Kelworth, Kathy Kitts, Chuck von Nordheim.

In addition to workshop sessions, you also have time for writing, recreation, socializing, and individual conferences. This workshop is very much a community-building event!

In the final week, we often give semi-public readings to prepare you for a writing career - don't worry, we provide training for that. If attendees are interested, we might also plan for public readings in downtown Lawrence, where many attendees go together for dinner each night.


Kij Johnson at the 2019 SF Summer Workshops reading in the Lawrence Public Library

Preferred length is the short story (up to 6000 words), though writers frequently turn in short-shorts (around 1,000 words) or longer works. If you write novelettes or novellas, please limit your submissions to less than 24,000 words total. Short-shorts and flash fiction are welcome, too!

Due to the structure of the workshop, we cannot take up more than three works per person, even if they are short-shorts or flash fiction, so keep that in mind. If you are writing a novel, consider instead Kij Johnson and Barbara Webb's Novel Architects Workshop held in conjunction with this short-form workshop, because it's challenging to give useful feedback on just a few chapters.

Young Gunns 2011 critiquing in our dorm lounge
The "Young Gunns" of 2011
Clockwise from left: Bradley Denton, Jack Ryan, Isaac Bell, Tepring Crocker, Kara Tan Bhala, Chris Kenworthy, Kathy Kitts,
Mark Silcox, Chris McKitterick, Chuck Von Nordheim, and James Gunn (back to camera on left).

Everyone comments on every story, we analyze each story for publishability, and encourage writers to submit their work for publication. We might also work on exercises, discuss successful fiction, and more. After the workshop, each year's cohort usually remains in regular contact for at least a year, supporting one another's writing careers and often continuing to critique their work. The workshop is more than a two-week adventure; it's a community!

Young Gunns 2008 in action
The "Young Gunns" of 2008

Apply starting February 1. Applicants are notified about acceptance starting in mid-March through the June 3 deadline, so contact us as soon as you can! We continue accepting applications until the Workshop fills or until the deadline - contact Chris if you wish to apply after the deadline to see if there's still space.

Young Gunns 2005 in our dorm lounge
The "Young Gunns" of 2005
Standing: Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Mark Grover, Larry Taylor, Fran Van Cleave, James Gunn, Harold Agnew, Nolen Harsh.
Kneeling: Chris McKitterick, Mary Rose-Shaffer, Eric Warren, Karen Schwabach, Mandy Earles, Pat Buehler.

The workshop offers a three-hour (minimum) session of manuscript critiquing, discussion, and other exercises each afternoon, starting at 1:00pm and running 4-5 hours each weekday. The rest of the day is free for writing, study, consultation, and recreation. Most nights we gather for group dinner together either in our meeting space (which also has a kitchen!) or on the town, and then many gather for late-night movies and conversation. Attendees revise one manuscript over the middle weekend and often work on an exercise or two. Many participants exchange more manuscripts during and after the Workshop, so be prepared to share more if you find interested readers!

Workshoppers stay in regular touch with their cohort via our discussion and Discord groups, return for McKitterick's Repeat Offenders Workshop, and many build lifetime working and personal relationships.


Special guest instructor Bradley Denton and Nathaniel Williams playing the blues, 2011 Workshop.

Does the Workshop help attendees get published? Most alums have not only gone on to publish, but to win the field's most prestigious awards. Among these are multiple award-winning authors Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton, Andy Duncan, John Kessel (all former guest authors), and many more. Two Workshop graduates have won the grand prize in the Writers of the Future contest. Full list of alumni publications and awards coming soon, but we recently learned that about 90% of recent attendees have gone on to publish - perhaps the strongest record for any SF workshops! The system seems to work.

Young Gunns 2004 at Vermont Street Barbeque
The "Young Gunns" of 2004

"Repeat Offenders"
Advanced Writer's Workshop
June 30 - July 13, 2024

Return to the scene of the crime to reinforce lessons from prior workshops and reconnect with alums. Since 2016.

Chris McKitterick offers an advanced (and less formal) two-week workshop exclusively for alums (aka "AdAstranauts" or "Young Gunns") of the Spec-Fic Workshop.

Repeat Offenders offers the opportunity to work with similarly trained writers - and special guest instructors - on whatever projects you have underway. Details are customized for each year's attendees, but we usually plan project-development sessions (either short and long work), traditional workshopping, theory and business talks, and so forth, and time for writing (some come primarily for a writing retreat and to find inspiration from participating in discussions): Details to come as we work out everyone's wishes. This is not only a time to further develop your writing, but also a great chance to get advice and feedback on ongoing, longer projects - and to meet up with your cohort again!

This year we are privileged to announce that for both weeks of the Repeat Offenders Workshop, experimental particle physicist and science-fiction expert Phil Baringer joins us this year as Special Guest Instructor! the brilliant and kind experimental particle physicist and science-fiction expert Phil Baringer joins us as Special Guest Instructor for both weeks! In previous years, Phil Baringer, Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton, Andy Duncan, and James Gunn have also joined us.

Enrollment is usually limited to 10 active participants (we allow more who wish to attend as a writing retreat, Housing space permitting), so apply early!

By June 3, contact Chris McKitterick. We usually fill up as fast as (or faster than) the traditional workshop, so best to contact me ASAP. Please use the Google Forms application to help manage things, or drop an email (spec.fic.workshop@gmail.com) - include in your message:

Do you want nothing more than a writing retreat? That's cool - just let us know. You're welcome to participate in others' dev or crit sessions, and check-ins and professionalization discussions, plus the usual evening hangouts of course, and we're setting aside our room for morning Write Group (quiet writing time).

2023 RO Workshoppers in our workshop space
2023 Repeat Offenders
Phil Baringer, Patricia Crumpler, Kristen Koopman, Alisha Ashley, Chris McKitterick, Rachelle Smith.
Not Pictured: Chuck Von Nordheim.

2018 RO Workshoppers in our scholarship-hall lounge
2018 Repeat Offenders
Seated (left to right): Pat Cadigan, Patricia Crumpler, Kathy Kitts.
Standing: Anna Sherer, Kristen Koopman, Adam Cheney, Jean Asselin, Rebecca Dorf Landau, Rachelle Smith, Sarah Worrel, Chris McKitterick.
Not Pictured: M. Luke McDonell.

2017 RO Workshoppers in our scholarship-hall lounge
2017 Repeat Offenders
Front: Pat Cadigan.
Second row (left to right): Rachelle Smith, Sabrina Starnaman, Patricia Crumpler, Chris McKitterick.
Back: Jalyn Powell, M. Luke McDonell, Adam Cheney, Kristen Koopman, Kathy Kitts, Jean Asselin, Sarah Worrel.
Not pictured: Andy Duncan.

2016 RO Workshoppers in our scholarship-hall lounge
2016 Repeat Offenders
Front (left to right): Kristen Koopman, Jalyn Powell, Gregory Scheckler.
Back: Carolyn Kaberline, Jean Asselin, Kathy Kitts, Chris McKitterick, Rachelle Smith, Shawn Frasier.
Not pictured: Isaac Bell.

Writing Retreat for Alums

As in prior years (space allowing), we also offer a Writing Retreat for alums wanting to focus on their writing and reconnect with fellow AdAstranauts and Young Gunns.

"I had no TV, no internet, and no other distractions. Just a hermit-like room with a view of the Kansas horizon.
I wrote 30,000 words in a week, and built momentum on my book that didn't fade until October.
When I needed human company (better yet, the company of other writers), I had lunch and dinner with the Workshop participants.
It was glorious."

- Wolfgang Baur

Alums of our writing workshops are welcome to co-habitate in the same building as those attending the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop or "Repeat Offenders" Workshop for up to four weeks, coinciding with either or both of the formal workshops. There are no classes, though Retreat writers may choose to organize their own critiquing sessions or sit in on workshop sessions so you can enjoy the creative energy that develops around a workshop with the freedom and privacy to use your time as you wish. Attendees are free to write, revise, study, socialize, sightsee, and consult privately about their writing with other Retreat or Workshop attendees.

This option is only available to alums of the workshops, and on a space-available basis. Because of when we need to turn in enrollments to Housing, please let us know by June 1 if you'd like to join us for the AdAstranauts Writing Retreat either through the upcoming Google Forms application or by writing Chris directly (spec.fic.workshop@gmail.com) and letting us know the dates you wish to stay.

How to Apply

Apply starting in February

Enrollment for the traditional workshop is limited to 10 enrollees (often 6-8 for greatest personal attention), so if you wish to attend, be sure to apply early! Positions go quickly. To reserve a spot for this year's Writers Workshop:

  1. Between February 1 and June 3, fill in this Google Forms application.

    My goal is to build a productive, supportive cohort by selecting a diversity of writers whose approaches and writing styles I feel will work well together, so please let me know a little about you and your writing philosophy and creative goals. We fill our ranks quickly, so don't delay! I accept applications during this period on a first-come, first-considered basis - be aware the Workshop usually fills by April. I continue a rolling series of acceptances until the workshop fills or as we get late drops and additions. If you are not accepted, I'll provide suggestions about how to improve your chances of getting in during the rolling-acceptance period, or for next year.

  2. If you cannot upload it through that form page, submit to Chris McKitterick (spec.fic.workshop@gmail.com) a sample story in proper manuscript format (using 8-1/2" x 11" layout) that you wish to have critiqued during the Workshop. Maximum length: 4000 words. For clarity when emailing, please use the subject line "2024 SF Workshop Application."

  3. If you are accepted, congratulations! Be prepared to have your work ready to submit to the group before June 7 (sooner is better!). I'll contact you with detailed information about the Workshop and an invitation to our private discussion group.

  4. Between acceptance and June 7, submit your to-be-workshopped stories (a total of 3 short stories or some combination of stories, novelettes, or novella, staying under the maximum of 24,000 words, combined) via our online group for distribution to other participants. Please identify your preferred order, as that affects which ones our Special Guest Instructor critiques (McKitterick critiques all three). You may submit these one at a time or all at once. For ease of distribution, submit only in .doc or .docx format via our private group.

If you are accepted, you'll be informed how to register and pay, and must do so in advance to hold your slot in the workshop.

"Repeat Offenders" Workshop applicants do not need to submit a story in their application, and generally have more time to apply - but if you wish to participate but it's after the deadline, please contact Chris (spec.fic.workshop@gmail.com) to see if there's still room. Housing is the primary challenge for Repeat Offenders Workshop rather than cohort size, as we have greater freedom for scheduling critique, developmental, and discussion sessions, and lots of folks arrive only planning to find developmental support for a new project.

2016 Workshoppers in our scholarship-hall lounge
2016 Workshop cohort
Front (left to right): Sarah Worrel, Caitlin Rogers, Andy Duncan, Andrea Corbin, Christopher McLucas.
Back: M. Luke McDonell, Izzy Wasserstein, Gregory Scheckler, Shawn Frazier, Dylan Henderson, Laura Wilson Anderson, Chris McKitterick.
Not pictured: James Gunn.

Housing for the Workshops
and Writing Retreat

This year we plan to stay and work in the brand-new Stouffer Place Apartments on the University of Kansas campus, where we held last year's SF Summer program. It's a dorm-style structure divided into full-featured apartments within. We'll hold the workshops on the same floor of the building, so your commute is only a short walk down the hall.

Apartments in Stouffer Place come fully furnished, and we can order linens service (which Housing will wash each week), or you can bring your own. Shared living room furniture includes a couch, accent chairs, coffee table, end tables, entertainment stand, and bar stools. Shared full kitchens have a stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and combined washer-dryer. Private bedroom furniture varies slightly by number of roommates. Housing costs are separate from tuition, because we sometimes host local attendees who do not need a room.

As a college town in summer, Lawrence also boasts a number of AirBnB-style places and hotels.

2017 Workshoppers in our scholarship-hall lounge
2017 Workshop cohort
Front: Wendy Van Camp, Pat Cadigan (right).
Back, left to right: Chris McKitterick, Desirée Neyens, Stephanie Grossman, Emma Cook, Anna Sherer, John-Paul Hurley, Hilary Ritz, Dominick D'Aunno, Patricia Crumpler, Chris Kelworth.
Not pictured: Jean Asselin, Adam Cheney, James Gunn, Kathy Kitts, Sarah Worrel.

If you'd like to help future attendees, please consider making a donation!

Costs

Several scholarships are available, so don't let cost be a barrier to applying - just let us know if you are interested in being considered for a scholarship (and how much you need) when you apply. We try to price our courses fairly, and those who can afford to pay full cost help subsidize those who cannot. We also seek donations to help offer more scholarships, so if you'd like to help someone attend our programs, consider donating!

Full-price costs to attend McKitterick's SF workshops or writing retreat for 2024:

Please complete your registration and make all payments before you begin, unless you make special arrangements. After you are accepted, we will send you payment instructions (the payment form includes donation options to help support other writers in financial need). We accept Zelle (use adastra.sf.institute@gmail.com to make a payment or scholarship donation), PayPal (which takes an additional 3.4% fee), or check. Please send checks to:

Ad Astra Institute for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination
1809 Indiana St.
Lawrence, KS 66044

Meals, housing, and incidental costs rise the longer you stay, so plan appropriately.

Join the Ad Astra community and reach for the stars!

Scholarships

Generous supporters enable us to offer scholarships for those in need to attend our workshops and other courses. We are deeply grateful to our donors who help make our educational program available to worthy writers, educators, and scholars who might otherwise be unable to pursue their professional education - thank you!

Scholarships can range from $50-$1000, with occasional full tuition scholarships. We especially encourage people from historically under-represented groups to apply. In order to be considered for a partial or full scholarship, you must request one when applying, and how much you might need in order to attend. As-listed costs for our workshops and other events are for those who can afford full price; those able to pay the full fees help support those who cannot.

SFWA Givers Grant Scholarship

Thanks to the SFWA Givers Grant, we have been able to offer several scholarships for writers to attend our workshops. SFWA Givers Fund Grants are intended to aid projects that align with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association's mission to promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing around the world. This fund is made possible with the generosity of donors from the speculative-fiction writing community and partnerships within the publishing landscape. If you'd like to donate to this endeavor or another SFWA charitable fund, you can do so here.

ConQuesT and KaCSFFS Scholarship

The Kansas City Science Fiction & Fantasy Society (KaCSFFS) has long supported our educational outreach programs, and we hold an annual fundraiser at their ConQuesT SF convention in Kansas City. If you'd like to help support Ad Astra, consider supporting our local fan organization and attend this fun event!

AdAstranaut Scholarship

Finally, thanks to individual donors and Ad Astra staff, repeat attendees can also earn scholarships for both our summer residential workshops, year-round Ad Astra Presents "Science into Fiction" short workshops, masterclasses, residential workshops, seminars, and more designed for speculative-fiction writers, educators, and fans, led by our staff and a variety of other SF authors, editors, scholars, professors, and experts to provide participants with deeper understanding of SF and the vast array of human expertise necessary to stay on top of the ever-accelerating change that shapes human civilization - and even what it means to be human.

We offer micro-scholarships for repeat attendees (of either the residential summer workshops, short Ad Astra workshops, or both): Repeat participants enjoy an additional $50 scholarship after their first full workshop and $100 scholarship after their second. To recieve this scholarship, be sure to mention you're an AdAstranaut or Young Gunn (a couple names alums call ourselves) in your application, and if you're requesting the $50 or $100 AdAstranaut scholarship. By making our offerings affordable to those who might not otherwise be able to attend, we hope to increase accessiblity for all while offering a broad, diverse set of writing instruction for AdAstranauts dedicated to growing their creative skills and STEM knowledge.

If you'd like to support further scholarships for our attendees, let us know! Our goal is to be able to offer our educational program to everyone, regardless of their financial status.

The Ad Astra Institute is a registered 501(c)3 educational, arts, and research nonprofit. If you wish to support our activities by making a charitable donation to help others attend the workshops who might otherwise not be able to, contact McKitterick (cmckit.sf@gmail.com). We accept Zelle (use adastra.sf.institute@gmail.com to make a direct donation), PayPal (which takes an additional fee), and checks; please send checks to:

Ad Astra Institute for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination
1809 Indiana St.
Lawrence, KS 66044

We also partner with Farbeyond Books - a fantastic spec-fic bookstore - which donates at least 50% of all sales to Ad Astra, so if you have books you'd like to donate, let us know. Your donation is fully tax-deductible!

Thank you so much to our donors and supporters! You make all this possible.

Young Gunns of 2003 outside the dorm
The "Young Gunns" of 2003
Front row:
Kij Johnson, Jeannette Cheney, Betsy Boyce, Nolen Harsh, Terry Mackey, Adrian Simmons.
Middle row: Harold Agnew, Thomas Seay, Pat Buehler, Jennifer Schwabach, Cliff Johns, Kelly Green, Betty Hull.
Back row: Wolfgang Baur, David Kirtley, Rod Rogers, Frederik Pohl, Chuck Marsters, Larry Taylor, James Gunn.
Not pictured: Chris McKitterick (photographer)

Diversity, Inclusivity, and Commitment to Equity

edited frame from the 
Tank Girl comic that says, This story can be wonderful. We can be magnificent. We can turn this shit around.Everyone enjoys equal access to our offerings, and we actively encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study. We especially encourage people from historically under-represented groups to apply for our courses and scholarships. Many of our other courses are available to be taken in hybrid format (if space is available) to help enable those who might not be able to attend in person to participate, and we happily make accommodations to enable everyone to enjoy the fullest experience. Click here to see our thoughts on diversity and inclusivity and our commitment to equity.

The Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) coordinates accommodations and services for eligible KU students. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodation and have not contacted the AAAC, please do so as soon as possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number is (785)864-4064 (V/TTY). Also please contact us privately about your needs in this course.

Transportation:
In Lawrence and from the MCI Airport

By car, Lawrence is at the intersection of US 59 and I-70 (Kansas Turnpike). The west interchange is closer to campus. Lawrence can also be reached along the lovely Kansas Highway 10.

If you're driving, our housing facilities have nearby parking. McKitterick and Johnson usually leave a vehicle or two on-site for attendees to use while in town. Friends also often offer to give rides to and from the airport for less than the cost of a shuttle (especially when carpooling with others).

The nearest major airport is Kansas City International (MCI), about 50 miles from Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International (MCI - "M" is for "Mid-Continent") airport can be arranged through one of several airport transport services, including:

Notes:

 

Maps

University of Kansas map.

Kansas Union map.

Lawrence bus routes and maps.

Google Maps centered on the KU Kansas Union.

History

SFWA Science Fiction Grand Master James Gunn established the workshop in 1985 and led it (with appearances from many authors and editors) until 1995, when author and long-time co-instructor McKitterick began co-teaching; Kij Johnson also co-taught from 1995-2002, before branching off her own Novel Architects Workshop (the development of her and Barbara Webb's previous SF&F Novel Writing Workshop), which traditionally meets in the same space. At 87 years young, Gunn stepped down from teaching in 2010, handing off the workshop to his protegé McKitterick but still dropping in from time to time as our permanent special guest to offer words of writing wisdom (until his death at 97 in 2020) - 2013 marked the start of Jim's centenary year during the Repeat Offenders Workshop (July 12), when we celebrated his life.

From 1985-2019, we held the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop exclusively as an intensive, two-week, residential program. The pandemic changed how we offered things, and between that and our move under the umbrella of the new Ad Astra Institute for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination means we've learned a ton of new ways to offer not only our traditional workshops but also an ongoing, year-round series of interdisciplinary bi-monthly workshops (series 3 is coming soon!), seminars, talks, masterclasses, write-ins, and much more led by a wide diversity of experts in many fields - plus of course the best spec-fic authors, editors, and educators - designed to help writers gain what we hope is the most well-rounded educational experience in SF offered anywhere! 

Recent guest instructors have included Philip Baringer, Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, and John Kessel. Earlier guests included Betty Anne Hull, Theodore Sturgeon, and Frederik Pohl (who served as special-guest instructor for nearly two decades). Stay tuned for upcoming announcements!

James Gunn's 1992 SF Workshop - what first brought Ad Astra director McKitterick to Kansas.
Back row: Frederik Pohl, Chris McKitterick (my first year!), John Ordover, James Gunn.
Front row: Tom Crice, Dan Gollub, Rebecca Bates, Sheila Hartney, and...

Lawrence, KU, and Ad Astra in the Summer

For anyone who hasn't visited, Lawrence is a wonderful, lively, small city in the Kaw River valley, filled with art, events, and activities. Lawrence and the University of Kansas are about 30 miles west of Kansas City and 20 miles east of Topeka. Summers can be hot, but meeting and housing spaces are air-conditioned.

Among its many amenities, the University of Kansas contains a large science-fiction collection (including a number of single-author paper and manuscript collections, such as Theodore Sturgeon's) and other great reference collections; museums of natural history and art; and sports, theater, and lots more. Lawrence offers many excellent restaurants and shopping and recreational opportunities. Kansas City is less than an hour away. Nighttime opportunities include dinners, games, movies, live concerts, star-gazing sessions, and of course discussion about writing and more.


View of KU from the Ad Astra library.

The Ad Astra Institute holds a beautiful collection of speculative-fiction books and writing and science reference libraries, plus a great deal of SF historical paraphernalia - one of our attendees describes it as a "shrine to science fiction." For two years, our office and library lived on campus overlooking Potter Lake and KU's central park. We bring selected works and custom displays from this wonderful collection to many of our events. This is where we've held some of our writing workshops plus some write-ins and other events, as well as in KU scholarship and residential halls, the Lawrence Public Library, and elsewhere.


Part of the Ad Astra library and SF artifact collection.

The nearest major airport is Kansas City International (MCI), about 50 miles from Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International can be arranged through one of several airport shuttle services, or by arrangement through Ad Astra staff. By car, Lawrence is at the intersection of U.S. 59 and I-70 (Kansas Turnpike) or K-10. The I-70 West Lawrence interchange is closer to campus. Lawrence can also be reached along lovely Kansas Highway 10.

We request that attendees demonstrate vaccination status and stay away if feeling signs of illness - many of our events stream live via our YouTube and Discord channels, so you won't miss out even if sick. We want to help keep our AdAstranauts healthy!

"Science into Fiction" Spec-Fic Writing Workshops:
  Series 1: "The Higgs Boson in This Particular Universe"
  Series 2: "Creativity and the Brain"
  Series 3: "Writing in (and about) the Age of Artificial Intelligence"
  Fall 2024 Series 4: "Six great stories and what makes them work: The science of SF writing"

Chris McKitterick's Spec-Fic Writing Workshop & Repeat Offenders Workshop

Kij Johnson & Barbara Webb's SF&F Novel Writing Workshops and Masterclasses

Speculative-fiction writing resources

Scholarships

Connect with Ad Astra

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We believe strongly in the free sharing of information, so you'll find a lot of content - including course syllabi and many materials from our classes - on this and related sites and social networks as educational outreach. Feel free to use this content for independent study, or to adapt it for your own educational and nonprofit purposes; just please credit us and link back to this website. We'd also love to hear from you if you use our materials!

This site is associated with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA), AboutSF, and other organizations, and its contents are copyright 1992-present Christopher McKitterick except where noted, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License: Feel free to use and adapt for non-profit purposes, with attribution. For publication or profit purposes, please contact McKitterick or other creators as noted.

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Creative Commons License
Works on this site are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

updated 4/11/2024