Scientology's 'Writers of the Future' Contest Loses a Participant After Our Expose

WOTF19Cover.JPG
In 2000, a quantum physicist in Ithaca, New York named Carl Frederick decided to try his hand at writing science fiction. Two years later, he was named a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. The next year, 2003, he did even better, winning a quarterly first prize for his short story, "A Boy and His Bicycle," which appeared in the anthology pictured at the right.

In 2002 and 2003, Frederick was flown out to Los Angeles to enjoy the fruits of being a contest winner.

"You're never treated anywhere in your life as a writer better than you are there. Tuxedos, parties on rooftops -- there were even paparazzi. They give you the whole works," he says.

This year, Frederick was invited back as a past winner to help put on the week-long workshops that a new set of winners will enjoy during their week of pampering this April.

But then, Frederick read our March 12 story about the troubling connections between Scientology's alleged abuses and an administrator of the contest, which the church owns. He announced in our comments section some stunning news: "After reading Tony's article and the comments, I decided to sever my Writers of the Future ties and forgo the free trip/vacation in L.A."

Last night, I called Frederick to ask him about his decision.

"I had blinders on. Self-fitted blinders. I didn't want anything to get in the way of my appreciation of the contest," he says. "I still think the contest is a good thing. But once you've gone through it, you should probably leave. It's the long-term association that I have a problem with," he says. "It implies an acceptance of everything."

I asked him what those first experiences with the contest were like, when he was starting out as a writer relatively late, after having already worked for NASA's Institute for Space Sciences, running his own tech company, and building a robot for OMNI magazine just before it closed in 1995. (Check out Frederick's bio -- it's something else.)

"The winners get a writers workshop for a week in California. We read a lot of Hubbard's fiction. Honestly, it's not the world's greatest fiction, but in the pulp era, who knows," he says. "The point is to promote Hubbard, certainly."

Winners get to spend a week in workshops led by writers Tim Powers and Kevin Anderson, who he says are not only great teachers but terrific people. Since getting published in the 2003 anthology, Frederick has become a prolific published short story writer, appearing nearly 40 times in the science fiction magazine Analog.

CarlFrederick.JPG
Carl Frederick
A decade after his first contest, he was invited back this year to talk to the new winners. But after reading our story, he changed his mind. It wasn't an easy decision.

"I feel good in my mind that I did turn this down, but I am conflicted about it," he says. "They really do a lot for us. I've had nothing but niceness from these guys."

I told Frederick that I hoped our story might motivate some of the big names among the judges to demand some answers from Scientology. What happened to Barbara Ruiz, for example, the Author Services executive director who was seen helping church leader David Miscavige run "the Hole," the now notorious office-prison for fallen church executives at Scientology's international headquarters east of Los Angeles? I told Frederick that a Jerry Pournelle or Orson Scott Card had a much better chance of getting an answer to that from the Scientologist adminstrators of the contest than I ever could.

"I don't think they would explain, and I don't think Card or Pournelle would ask," Frederick tells me. "The judges -- how much they know, or how much they want to know is probably small," he says.

As for his own role in the contest, he wanted me to know that he wasn't just giving up an all-expense paid junket to California. He also benefits from the publicity efforts of Author Services. Frederick is a frequent contributor to Analog magazine, but his longer fiction he puts out himself as e-books. And publicity help from Author Services is just about the only publicity he gets. It was difficult to walk away from that, he says.

"I have to admit that I pumped for this, to be invited this year as a successful short story writer...and they did. And everything was fine, until, quite frankly, I read your article," he says. "There's just the time when you can't close your eyes to that kind of thing. I feel queasy about it. I don't want to be associated with it even tangentially.

"Ethical decisions are easy and cheap if they don't hurt. But this one hurt. I have to think I've done the right thing, and I think I have," Frederick says.

Frederick wasn't the only writer we heard from after our story ran.

We also received this e-mail from writer Paul Batteiger, who was a quarterly award winner in 2000 for his story, "Like Iron Unicorns"...

I was a winner in 2000, the same year as Frank Wu (who I did not become acquainted with until after). I always kept a wary eye on the Scientology aspect, though I was never proselytized to or harrassed about the religion in any way. My wife won the illustrators contest a few years afterward, and said they would not even speak about it if asked. We were both well paid for our work and the experience was very professional, overall.

There is a cluster of winners out here in Tulsa, OK. Algis Budrys passed the coordinating judge position to my friend KD Wentworth when he became too ill to continue, and she has always encouraged people to enter through our local writer's group. Neither she nor Algis were ever associated with Scientology, then or now. I have met numerous winners over the years and never met a Scientologist among them.

I just became leery of the whole thing after a while. Even though I took part in convention panels to promote the contest for years after, I don't know if I would do that again. The church has just begun to creep me out, and I feel embarrassed to have my work appearing in books emblazoned with L RON HUBBARD. Given the creepy, homophobic, fascist vibe of the whole church, I just don't want to be a part of it anymore.

But the news of an actual "concentration camp" and "vanished people" really shocked me. That is so far beyond anything I expected. This cult has operated at the fringes of the law for so long, what will be next?

And last night, we got another e-mail from Batteiger, after we responded and told him of Frederick's decision to cut ties...

I think there's a huge urge on the part of the writers to deny that there is anything wrong with the contest. Because it is a good contest and the prizes are substantial. Winning can be a great experience -- having people you have heard of, read, and respect read your work and say "you are good" is a tremendous boost to a young writer. And the Author Services people were always very personable. They call you to tell you you won, and the person who calls knows who you are and has read your story -- it's the opposite of impersonal.

So the contest can be a great experience, and the writers involved with it really want it to be kept separate from the church, but the more coverage the church gets as being batshit insane, the harder that gets. You have authors like Tim Powers (a great guy, by the way) who has done the workshop many, many times and has a lot invested in it -- not just time, but reputation. I think a lot of people -- me included -- just wish the contest was an entirely separate thing. Because there comes a point where the level of creepiness from the church overcomes the 'firewall' around the contest, and it becomes impossible to ignore. There are some kinds of awfulness that no amount of 'separation' can make up for.

I've sent a message to church spokeswoman Karin Pouw, informing her of Carl Frederick's decision to turn down the church's invitation. I'll let you know if I hear anything from her.


**********
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories, which tend to come out each and every morning at 8 am, but can suddenly appear at any time of the day. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories. As for our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week's best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology's wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.

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226 comments
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Chris J VonTanner
Chris J VonTanner

I have told people for years to stay away from Scientology...I can't tell you how I know this, seriously, the person that told me is still in hiding.  Lost and lonely, I'll call her Sue, met a group of scientologists from southern CA. She felt welcomed and stayed on for 4 years.  During this time, she was kept awake for days at a time, not allowed to sleep.  Broken she did anything they asked. Then she had an awakening and thought she would leave, because she wanted to get married and have a family and this place didn't seem to be the kinda place for this to happen.  Then an amazing thing happened, she met a man, got married and was ready to get pregnant.  A couple of years went by and she was still not able to get pregnant, so she insisted that she and her husband needed to go to a doctor outside of the Scientology compound.  Her test came back great, then her husband was tested.  Six years prior to their marriage he was given a vasectomy.  Records finally exposed also showed that she was his fifth wife since he joined the 'church'.  She was terrified and in the middle of the night, after months of planing, she went for a walk and disappeared.  Picked up by family members and transfered to a different state and a name change she still lives in fear.  She knew of 'the hole' and heard rumors about it and what had happened to her ex's other 5 wives.  Her life has been destroyed, she doesn't trust anyone, even those that could help her and definately she will not take any medication, for her severe depression, for fear of being drugged and returned to the scientologists and 'the hole'.GET OUT AND STAY OUT!

David
David

"I had blinders on. Self-fitted blinders. I didn't want anything to get in the way of my appreciation of the contest," he says. "I still think the contest is a good thing. But once you've gone through it, you should probably leave. It's the long-term association that I have a problem with," he says. "It implies an acceptance of everything."

I have major issues with this. Either it is wrong to be involved, or it isn't. Basically, this implies it is ok to accept what the CoS does on a short term basis as long as you recant later.

If he said "I know think it was wrong to accept the inital trip etc but I can't turn back time and I have learnt from my mistakes," that is one thing, but it certainly gives the impression that he would do the same again.

Morgie55
Morgie55

Wow, that's really too bad.  The false stories by Ortega interviewing former members is not too surprising but then a noted author falls for it and does not take his own experiences into account.  Of course Hubbard's name is on the books -- he invented the contest, duh.  I don't expect an answer and I'm not debating the issue.  Just that the slanted stories based on rumors are really too much.  No information on people getting off drugs and having great wins in life is ever mentioned.  Talk about prejudice.  Wow!

Carisa Marion
Carisa Marion

It's really a shame actually that the disgrace at being associated with such a mafia like organization has to ruin such an incredible program.   I was in the cult for 33 years and of all the events I ever attended, The Writer's of the Future Awards ceremony was my favorite. I really love how LRH wanted to help these writers and I was actually proud of something the Church was doing for the first time I think.  Because there was no regging of the winners, there was no trying to get them on course or on staff, it was just truly to help them in their careers.  It was really nice to see and they were sooo appreciative and gracious.  This was a few years ago.  I remember it was like going to The Academy Awards and in fact was in the same location where the Awards had been held back in the elegant days of Old Hollywood. The amount of love and "theta" in that room was way beyond what you'd see and feel at a Flag graduation or Miscavige event.  It was truly a night to remember. I met many of the writers and illustrators collecting autographs in two copies of the book of the year's winners' works so I could surprise my son with one.  He has never considered himself a Scientologist but he is a big reader of Sci Fi and did cherish that autographed book.  Those writers were just really cool people!

David Keith
David Keith

Kevin Anderson and Tim Powers work for Scientology? I'll have to remember not to buy their books again. I was going to pick up Tim Powers new novel, but scratch that!

I already knew Jerry Pournelle and Orson Scott Card were right-wing, homophobic jerkwads, so I'm not surprised they work for those con artists. But, I wonder if Card's Mormon Church knows he works for another "Church".

BloodyRue Andrue
BloodyRue Andrue

The United Nations Sci-Fi event.

forum exscn net showthread php?22441

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

As DodoTheLaser said, your friend is probably an someone in the Sea Org before the rule, one of  those that were grandfathered in on the rule. 

Hubbard, himself, did LSD and reported this in a letter to the FBI which you can find on the internet. At some point late around 1970-71, he added 'No LSD' to the list of Sea Org requirements based on his "research' that LSD could not be sweated out, that it effected the thinking processes and made it difficult to audit a PC on the whole track or some such.

Others have pointed out that Hubbard hated having people in the Sea Org with a history of having taken LSD because the effects of LSD included a kind of freedom to think outside the box, which Hubbard had no use for in his underlings and in his game to control the planet. :)   

Jelenko2
Jelenko2

Unrelated to the main topic.I was wondering if there's any logic to the mission to 'clear this section of the galaxy' and the space opera that claims Xenu transported all those aliens - now body thetans - to earth.If they are only on earth, what is the need to clear other planets?

scilonschools
scilonschools

That is brilliant news, I find it curios that Science Fiction writers/readers could not question the CoS ethics & intentions.Secret society's built on slave labour (and sometimes eating the slaves too!) is normal fodder of so many sci fi stories!

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

I love how Rathbun doesn't see the complete hypocrisy in calling out others for not having a conscience on his blog today and speaking out while he refuses to speak out about the horrible things he did while acting as the chief enforcer for the cult.  He still lies about things he did, he must need it to sleep at night.

Rathbun is such a hypocrite and liar.

LRon
LRon

The fantasy author Neil Gaiman wrote, "For value for money I have to recommend L. Ron Hubbard's massive Battlefield Earth - over 1000 pages of thrills, spills, vicious aliens, noble humans. Is mankind an endangered species? Will handsome and heroic Jonny Goodboy Tyler win Earth back from the nine-foot-high Psychlos? A tribute to the days of Pulp, I found it un-put-downable. And all for £2.95".[13]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

"The Writers of the Future Contest has not only provided a place where new writers could break into print for the first time--but it also has a record of nurturing and discovering writers who have gone on to make their mark in the science fiction field. Long may it continue!" --Neil Gaiman, Authorhttp://www.flipkart.com/books/...

OTVIIIisGrrr8!
OTVIIIisGrrr8!

We in RTC are aghast at Tony Ortega's monstrous policy of Disconnection directed at members of the wholly secular and completely nonreligious Writers of the Future contest.

That Ortega would attack a nonreligious group of science fiction writers shows that his madness knows no bounds. We in RTC suppose that Tony Ortega will next mindlessly attack Acura automobiles because COB drives an Acura.

Where does it end Tony?

The fact that Ortega is attempting to publicly humiliate other writers does not speak well of him as a writer. Ortega's mad dog attacks reveal his his insecurity, jealously, and pettiness as a writer. Ortega does not want other writers to be successful as their writings would show how shoddy is work is by comparison. 

We in RTC have never attacked the Village Voice nor have we asked its third rate stringers to stop contributing their smut, pornography, pro-abortion, pro-drugs, and pro-homosexual articles to the Village Voice. We in RTC believe in free speech. While we protest the Village Voice and its sexually deviant profiteering, we are not out attacking its advertisers or contributors. Rather, the Village Voice is hypocritically attacking innocent contributors to Writers of the Future. This is de facto censorship and Ortega is now boasting that he has put Carl Frederick's head on a pike.

Well done Tony.

Why don't you attack poor Haitians next? We ask because we in the Church of Scientology are funding libraries for poor Haitians. Should they also be attacked for associating with Scientology? Likewise, should the 20,000,000 poor people that Scientology is helping in the 15,901 countries of the world be attacked for reading and applying the precepts contained in The Way to Happiness?

Why is Tony Ortega practicing a campaign of Disconnection against Scientology? Are all peoples to be disconnected from the Church by Ortega's Psychiatric campaign of terror against all things Scientology? Do we have no rights in Scientology? According to Tony Ortega the answer is yes: Scientologists and their friends have no rights and should be attacked every day in every way.

Finally, if only to summarize it all, Tony Ortega is guilty of an egregious attack on Carl Frederick's constitutional right to freedom of association. We in RTC will widely promote Ortega's attacks on the civil rights of writers in a special upcoming edition of Freedom Magazine.

Lovetoread
Lovetoread

Check out the link to Carl's website in the article.  Carl's books are available at Amazon for Kindle and some other e-formats for only $4.  These are full-length 250-300 page books.  I just bought SF-Lite and am going to start reading this evening. 

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

This is a wonderful article, Tony. ツ

Carl Frederick & Paul Batteige, your values with your actions is key, so many people make decisions with the idea that some short-term benefit can be bought while violating their own values. I am so glad you picked *truth, not tolerance.* You're both honorable men for coming forward and making such an outstanding decision.

What I find sad is Scientology dilutes, contaminates the truth. It's scary the abuse behind the facade of Scientology's glitz, glamour, money and front groups. If only they treated, celebrated all their members like the winners of the 'Writers Of The Future' contest. The sad truth is most of them are paralyzed by fear of attack from their own religion if they dare speak out about the human rights abuses within it.

"The Truth must stand alone; Scientology contradicting it and hiding it is counterfeit!" 

Too Much
Too Much

Tony! Clemens & Spenser is supposedly going to be having more bad news handed to them by Miscaviage flunkies some time this week according to rumors from one of the "147" people still inside Scientology at Gilman, if they can be believed. (147's accuracy is maybe 60% so far.)

Do you happen to know how Clemens & Spenser are getting paid for their services? Money up front with additional checks as billed? Or perhaps they get paid at the end of all litigation and then have one big bill? I would expect that C&S have not divulged how they expect to get paid for their services (not to mention their ruined reputation.)

Elizabethan
Elizabethan

Kudos to Carl Frederick  and Paul Batteiger for not continuing connections to such a group. The love bombing, free trip and PR is nice but the Intention and Purpose behind it is only to promote Scientology, DM and all they stand for. They are trained how to get what they want and  the true purpose is hidden. Know it's not easy, but guaranteed you will not regret and will sleep much better knowing you did the right thing.  Thank you gentlemen!

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Tony, this is going to be a BIG downstat for you know who. Dear Indies, this is a fine example of a "merchant of chaos"actually being a merchant or rather a servant of justice and truth.

Thank you, Tony.

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

"Tuxedos, parties on rooftops -- there were even paparazzi."

Whoa, the concept of fake paparazzi... what a show!

LightOfTruth123
LightOfTruth123

"Ethical decisions are easy and cheap if they don't hurt. But this one hurt." Frederick says."

So true, good for you, Carl.

H_Jentzsch
H_Jentzsch

You, nor ANY of your $cientology cult buddies, have EVER proven any of your claims of your "great wins".  Demonstrate OT Powers, produce a "clear",  show us an unbiased study of Narcocons effectivesness.  You people talk a lot of smack and never produce anything to back it up.  Big empty promises and Big empty churches.

Noah Miller
Noah Miller

Whoah ignore my comment just read the post on his site. I'll slow down more in the future.

Anyway-- I think there's a lot wrong with the offshoot group, and I wish they would speak openly about more than just the modern stuff. I wish they would discuss Hubbard and the tenants of their religion. Not just how much one man has somehow corrupted everything. But I just don't see that as something they will ever get around to doing. It seems like there's two speeds when it comes to Scientologists, full bore and burnt out.

I long for the day when there are public debates about the veracity of the claims in those massive tomes of gibberish.

Jgg
Jgg

  Yes, he made threats against Frederick.  Spread lies about him.  Harassed his friends and co-workers.  Lied about what he did while involved in this group.  Let him know how opposed he was to have Frederick involved.

  Ok, ok, all he did was alert the public that the contest was affiliated with Scientology, and one of the writers, on his own, without talking with Tony in advance, decided to disassociate himself, but let's not make subtle distinctions.  Scientology isn't really that different from other religions.

Too Much
Too Much

Not even remotely funny.

OTVIIIisGrrr8!
OTVIIIisGrrr8!

After proving to them how grossly out ethics they were, the law firm of Clemens & Spencer agreed to have we in RTC audit them in lieu of legal fees. Clemens & Spencer has gone so far down the dwindling spiral that it will take at least 5,000,000 hours of auditing to just get them to 2.0 on the tone scale. These people are kicked in the head and in very bad case shape. 

wannabeclear
wannabeclear

I'm guessing they were paid a big fat retainer up front and will continue to bill hourly.  What does DM care?  He's got billions in ill gotten gains to work with.

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

Because Rathbun posted about this story and used his blog to berate those that don't do the same.  He definitely won't let in any critical replies so I have to leave it here.  Maybe one of his sycophants will finally get a clue by reading what non-Marty lovers have to say.

OTVIIIisGrrr8!
OTVIIIisGrrr8!

Jgg: We in RTC loved your first paragraph. It made us want to immediately hire you as a lead writer for Freedom Magazine.But then we read your 2nd paragraph and realized that you have been harmed by Psychiatry because you are "rational." Rationality is actually a deadly wog aberration that has led to entartete Kunst and all other modern evils.

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

This part is actually very funny to me!

"We in RTC are aghast at Tony Ortega's monstrous policy of Disconnection directed at members of the wholly secular and completely nonreligious Writers of the Future contest."

The irony of it all.

bobx
bobx

I thought it was a howl.

OTVIIIisGrrr8!
OTVIIIisGrrr8!

The TRUTH is never funny.

That is why we have outlawed Joking and Degrading in the Church of Scientology. 

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

L1C has never been that expensive. Life is good though for a lawyer treated with L1C and all the stupid cash.

Jgg
Jgg

  If C&S billed them for 1,000 hours a day, their bill would still be less exaggerated than Scientology's claim of "millions of members."

Noah Miller
Noah Miller

I'd love to take some of that money. I'm immoral enough to pretend I'm repurposing peoples hard lost money to the church for a good cause... Namely a nice Marina Del Rey apartment. 

Call me DM, lets chat, I'm sure I can do something pointless to inflate your ego that takes up very little of my time. 

Noah Miller
Noah Miller

Ah no problem. I stopped keeping up with his blog a while ago, some of his vids were a good peak into the mindset of the church during his time. But the whole thing quickly turned into, in my opinion, the same tactics and stonewalling with very little openness and honesty. Same shit different shade of paint. 

It'd be one thing if he and his were talking about the state of their religion and really examining it to the core. Even if people disagreed I'd love to see the discourse between true believers, reformists and ex-believers. His site and movement was the closest thing to that, but was quickly shunted into scientology-lite with a heavy serving of finger pointing. 

judgement day shall come
judgement day shall come

DeckcardCain,  I am very glad we have Tony Ortega's blog and ESMB (ex-scientologists message board) to have freedom of expression which is a foreign concept to the cult-for-brains Marty Rathbun. In my view Rathbun he is a proponent of hubbard's mind control tactics and the squashing of any critical thinking that does not fit his agenda.Miscavige in my view is an sociopathic opportunist who used Rathbun as henchman for as long as it suited him.Rathbun saw fit to be his henchman as long as he was given the power to perpetrate the atrocities on dissidents for his own distorted pleasure while seeking a place in the cult hierarchy. These weren't just "brownie points" he was scoring as they had the blood of lives he ruined on his red hands. He really can't come clean as the danger to himself is too great.When Rathbun saw that he was not going to share in the spoils he ran for the hills. This is the stuff organized crime novels are made of. 

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

I realized that it read as coming from left field after your post; sorry about that.  Sometimes his blog is infuriating and the fact that he is so blind to his own hypocrisy is astounding and I just need to vent.  It tells me that he never left his cult identity behind.  He never even deviated from it, which makes him a danger to society.  

grundoon
grundoon

"Degenerate art is the English translation of the German entartete Kunst, a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art." - Wikipedia

wannabeclear
wannabeclear

Joking was clearly outlawed as none of them seem to have much of a sense of humor.  However, degrading seems to have become a finely honed art form, especially by DM, using it to torment those who are taller, smarter or more clever than him.  So...pretty much everyone.

Noah Miller
Noah Miller

See I'm thinking more like being one of those PIs who follows someone forever... I don't recall who it was but one of the stories was about a PI following an ex-member for almost 20 years now. I'd walk up to that guys house, get a good relationship with him and split the cash-- And exploit the hell out of expenses. 

wannabeclear
wannabeclear

Noah, it's so not worth it.  No matter the amount of money, I know you have no desire to lick the tiny tyrant's high heeled (lifts, you know) shoes.  Or his bathroom floors either...

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