Clarion is the finest science fiction and fantasy writer's workshop in the USA. It is held in early summer at Michigan State University in East Lansing. It lasts for six weeks -- six of the most intense reading and writing experiences possible. It has been called boot camp, and that's accurate, even down to the sleep deprivation and bad food

Critiques form the foundation of this short story workshop. The participants, usually about 18 of them, drawn from all over the US, Canada and other English-speaking countries, read and critique one another's work each day. Any speculative fiction is considered and critiqued honestly by the group, including experimental fiction and horror besides traditional fantasy and science fiction. During their time there they read and critique 100 to 200 stories, with the assistance of the instructors. Clarion has six instructors each year, all accomplished authors, who each attend for a week, except for the anchor team of two who are there for two weeks. Past instructors are Kate Wilhelm, Damon Knight, Ursula K. LeGuin, Harlan Ellison, Frederik Pohl, Samuel Delany, Joe Haldeman, A.J. Budrys, Octavia Butler, Spider Robinson, Tanarive Due, and Judith Tarr. 2001's instructor's were Steven Barnes, Kelly Link, Pat Murphy, James Patrick Kelly, Mary Turzillo and Geoffrey Landis. Each has a unique teaching style, even to the point of contradicting one another. Private conferences are given, incuding one with a visiting editor, Shawna McCarthy in 2001.

There is a Clarion West that takes place in Seattle, and runs in a similar way, but the two are not operated by the same group. Both workshops are respected and attract both new and experienced writers and instructors. Octavia Butler taught at Clarion West in 2001.

Besides the great teaching, the friendships formed among paticipants can last a lifetime. For example, Jim Kelly and Bruce Sterling attended the same session in the 70s and are still speaking. 2002 will mark the 35th Clarion, and its reputation only grows.

An in-car entertainment company based in Tokyo, Japan that makes a variety of products including car audio systems, navigation systems, mobile CB transceivers and car TV & video systems.


Clarion started out in 1940 as the Hakusan Wireless Electric Company, who began to manufacture and sell battery-operated radios for households. The "Clarion" brand name was launched in 1947 and the company became the first car radio maker in Japan in 1951. In 1954, Clarion came to an agreement with RCA on AM/FM and the company produced its first car cassette deck in 1968. 1976 saw the arrrival of Clarion's first business-use karaoke (!?) system on the market. In 1980 the Semiconductor Laboratory was completed in the Tohoku Factory. Factories were soon opened up in Mexico (DIPESA, 1986) and the United States (CMCA, 1987). In 1989, ADDZEST became Clarion's brand for aftermarket Clarion car audio products.

Clarion's efforts in the field were rewarded in 1990 with the Nissan Quality Control Award. 1992 marked the release of NAC-200 car navigation system and a combined car audio/cellular phone system. J.D. Power Associates ranked Clarion as best overall OEM car audio supplier in its product quality survey in 1993. In 1996, Clarion released its Vehicle Imformation & Communications System-compatible (VICS) car navigation systems and the 10Mbps high-speed SS wireless modem was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 1998 was a big year for the company, with Clarion's PD Division acquiring the QS9000 (a standard dictated by the three largest automobile manufacturers in the US), developing the AutoPC with Microsoft 1 (the world's first on-board personal computer), developing a GPS receiver with Rockwell and releasing a voice-operated car navigation system. In 1999, a DVD-based car navigation system was released on the market and a 10Mbps engine for wireless LAN was developed. 2000 saw the founding of Clarion Sales Co., Ltd. (CSA) and Clarion Devices Co., Ltd. (CDC) as well as the founding of the car navigation company HCX. In 2001, Clarion moved its head office to Hakusan, Bunkyo-Kai, Tokyo.

1. What happens if it crashes? (LOL) ;-)

Flash back to 1995. I was finishing college at Indiana University and trying to break into publishing, either as a writer or as an editor or a layout designer -- I wasn't picky! I just wanted to work with books. I was full of enthusiasm but almost entirely lacking in clue. A woman who hosted a small campus writing group -- she assured me that my writing was "totally publishable" (ha! no.) -- told me about the Clarion Workshop and suggested that I should apply.

The Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop was founded in 1968, and when I attended, it was hosted by Michigan State University in East Lansing (the organizers decided to trade mosquitoes for beaches and moved to UC San Diego in 2007). It's a six-week-long workshop attended by 18-20 students who have a different professional author (or team of authors, such as Tim Powers and Karen Joy Fowler) leading classes each week. Pro editors frequently come in on the weekends to give short sessions. All you do is write speculative fiction (likely something close to 5,000 words a week), read (probably 90,000 words a week), and critique your classmates' work. Some have called it "boot camp for SF writers" and that's fairly accurate -- it's an intense experience that galvanizes some writers and traumatizes others.

I'll admit to something shameful: I was a little cocky going in. Academia trains you to be competitive, and I'd unfortunately taken to heart our writing group leader's assurance that I only needed Clarion for the networking opportunities it provided. I was used to being a straight-A student, used to being the smartest kid in the class. I figured I'd get in there, impress the instructors, write a few stories to make everybody happy, leave with my address book filled with new publishing contacts and get back to working on my first novel.

I had my illusions blasted into itty-bitty bits the first night I was there. We'd met for our introductory session, and at the end we received photocopies of a few stories that students had already handed in for critique. Kelly Link was one of the students, and her story ended up at the top of my pile. You may have heard of her; she's won a Hugo award, three Nebula awards, and a World Fantasy Award for her fiction.

The story I held in my hands that night? It would win a World Fantasy Award just a few years later. Yeah. It was that good, and a few paragraphs in, I realized that not only was I definitely not the smartest kid in this class, I wasn't even close. I needed to shelve all my dumb-ass academic notions that the workshop was some kind of bell-curved competition. I needed to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open and learn how to write.

After Clarion, I ditched the novel I'd started (Mediocre! Cliché!) and focused on trying to get short fiction published. I wanted to learn my craft, and my new personal goal of selling 50 short stories became my post-workshop apprenticeship. And I don't regret my decision; it took me quite a while to sell those 50 stories, but what I learned in the process -- both about writing and about publishing -- was invaluable.

Clar"i*on (?), n. [OE. clarioun, OF. clarion, F. clairon, LL. clario, claro; so called from its clear tone, fr. L. clarus clear. See Clear.]

A kind of trumpet, whose note is clear and shrill.

He sounds his imperial clarion along the whole line of battle. E. Everett.


© Webster 1913.

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