Graced with a beautiful cover by Bob Eggleton, WOTF 35 continues the landmark tradition of stunning artwork complementing the year’s winning entries in this highly-acclaimed contest. I read this anthology every year and I have never been disappointed. Commencing with an introduction by David Farland and another by Echo Chernik, the first story is Untrained Luck by Elise Stephens and illustrated by Aliya Chen; a riveting tale that sets the creative bar very high. The First Warden by Kai Wolden and illustrated by Alexander Gustafson is up next, and this excellent story had me glued to the book. The Damned Voyage by John Haas and illustrated by Allen Morris reaffirmed my faith in this anthology. At this point we are treated to an essay and a story by L. Ron Hubbard. The story, The Idealist, is illustrated by Brian C. Hailes. Hubbard’s fast-paced prose is always a delight to read.
The next sequence of stories are all vivid and exciting. Thanatos Drive by Andrew Dykstal and illustrated by Qianjiao Ma; A Harvest of Astronauts by Kyle Kirrin and illustrated by Sam Kemp; and Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler by Wulf Moon and illustrated by Alice Wang. This section is rounded out by Tips for Embryonic Pros by Mike Resnick.
This brings us to Dean Wesley Smith’s Lost Robot which was inspired by Bob Eggleton’s One of Our Robots Is Missing cover artwork. Smith’s tale is great and this combination sums up the quality and the creative inspiration evident in every annual edition of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future anthology. The next three stories are equally as exciting and refreshing as everything that came before: Are You the Life of the Party? by Mica Scotti Kole and illustrated by Josh Pemberton; Release from Service by Rustin Lovewell illustrated by Emerson Rabbitt; and Dark Equations of the Heart by David Cleden illustrated by Vytautas Vasiliauskas.
The final section offers Advice for Artists by Rob Prior, and a wonderful tale called Yellow Submarine by Rebecca Moesta and illustrated by David Furnal. The final stories are An Itch by Christopher Baker illustrated by Jennifer Ober; Dirt Road Magic by Carrie Callahan and illustrated by Yingying Jiang; A Certain Slant of Light by Preston Dennett and illustrated by Christine Rhee. I really enjoy the diversity of these stories, and each corresponding piece of artwork was a perfect match. Overall, this is the primary Science-Fiction and Fantasy anthology I purchase.