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.