Sam Cook

The 2002 L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Awards

This past weekend, August 17th to be exact, Author Services Inc. hosted the 18th annual L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards ( at the Hubbard Library two blocks west of the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California. As an aspiring science fiction author who has submitted several stories to the contest, I was in attendance and reveling in the company of such luminaries as Jerry Pournelle, Frederick Pohl, Yoji Kondo (Eric Kotani), K.D. Wentworth, and Frank Frazetta, just to name a few.

If you love wonderful science fiction, go to the above site and follow the links to buy the anthologies. Each paperback book is well worth the price. 

It was a gala evening, filled with original music, jokes, laughter and tears. I wish I could have taken pictures during the ceremony, but as they were filming it, this was prohibited. Next year I will bring a camera with high-speed film. I did get pictures during the party following the ceremony, however.

The high point of the ceremony was the presentation of the Golden Awards for the year's best illustration and story. Imagine my pleasant shock and surprise when it was announced that these would be presented by Sean Astin. I almost squealed like a schoolgirl when he came onto the stage. Not a very manly or dignified display for an aspiring writer, I am sure.

Following the long and thunderous applause that accompanied his arrival, Sean began by saying how much he appreciated the efforts that writers put into the stories they produce. He then asked the question, "I wonder what Mr. Tolkien was thinking when he noted that Hobbits are short and have large, hairy feet?"

He then answered his own question with, "Probably not much as he was probably telling the story to his children and just jotted it down on a piece of paper. However, that one-second note from him meant that years later, a cadre of actors would spend months having cold, sticky, damp rubber prosthetics glued to their feet."

He then cautioned all of us to think very carefully about what we put into our stories as we may be condemning some poor actor to months of discomfort. This elicited a great deal of laughter from the audience, as we immediately knew to which actor he referred.

He then noted that, as many of us already knew, he was a director and that he was actively canvassing for ideas to turn into film. My mind instantly flashed to how wonderful it would be as even a minor writer on one of his projects. All I need to do is control my urge to squeal when he is around - and swooning is straight out.

Following the ceremony, a party was held honoring the recipients of this year's awards. Last year I proved myself a complete idiot at these things by being too terrified of all the big names to say more than a few words to any of them. This year was much better, though my heart was still pounding loudly for most of the evening. The pictures that follow were taken during this party. 

Click the picture for a larger version. This will open a 640 width image. Click the HIRES link below the picture for a 1024 width image.

Pompous Sam


This is me trying to look as dignified as an affair of this nature requires. Unfortunately, all I managed was the demeanor of a constipated politician. Would you vote for this man?

The air I breath


This is my heart and soul, the sweet Debra Cook, my wife. We celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on the 14th of August. How or why she puts up with my nonsense is beyond me. I am just gratified that she does.
Dr. Jerry Pournelle & The Cave Troll


Dr. Jerry Pournelle has been one of my heroes for most of my life. He is a scientist, scholar and educator, and one of the finest writers I have ever read. His columns in Byte Magazine (  have helped me fix computer problems on more than one occasion and his website is a daily source of interesting comments and observations. Jerry has a website - Please go there and subscribe. It is worth every penny.

Last year I managed to stammer out a, "Can I shake your hand, Dr. Pournelle?" while madly pumping his hand up and down. He calmly replied, as he tried to pull his hand back before I broke something, "I think you already are." This year, I remembered to bring one of his books and he was gracious enough to autograph it for me.
Beauty & The Beast


Another picture of Deb and I. You can see a painting of L. Ron Hubbard behind us hanging above a lovely fireplace. The Library is a beautiful place, a true testament to a great man.
My motivators


This wonderful couple is Bill and Gigi Troemel. Bill and I were in the U.S. Marine Corps together. Gigi has been goading me to publish the stories I write for quite a number of years. I have finally relented to her prodding. As a result, I have been forced to ride in limousines, wear tuxedoes, and associate with some of the biggest names in science fiction. Both of them are my closest friends. Thanks for the support you two!
The Cave Troll & Joni Labaqui


The lovely lady standing next to the cave troll is Joni Labaqui. Joni administers the contest, among other things, for Author Services. She is an amazing person who seems to be everywhere at the same time. I just wish she would tell me where she gets all of her energy.
Sean Astin reunites with The Cave Troll


Following the ceremony, all of the presenters and winners were sequestered in a room where photos were doubtlessly taken in wild abandon. After this, the room was opened to the rest of us and we were allowed to mingle with the exhilarated winners and tired presenters. Sean was here talking with people and signing autographs. I asked him to sign my program for the evening and my friend Bill snapped our picture.
The autographed program


Close-up of the autograph


We spoke for 10-15 minutes about the movie. I commented that Bill had come back after he turned him loose outside Moria (referring of course to my friend Bill). He laughed and said that there was a lot more footage of Bill taken than was seen in the movie. Perhaps we will see some of it in the Extended Edition. He signed my program after this which explains his rather cryptic remark, "In honor of Ol' Bill."

He seemed genuinely touched when I mentioned that I had seen the movie 23 times. At one point, I stated that the movie was the greatest film of all times. He said he wasn't sure of that, but that he appreciated my sentiment nonetheless.

The press of people wanting an autograph started growling at my monopolizing his time, so I had to move on. It was also approaching 1 AM and most people were starting to leave. I could also see how tired my wife was, so I closed the evening and headed back to our hotel. I had a very hard time sleeping that night as my mind kept wandering to several script ideas I have. Hmm, I wonder if makeup can create really long noses?

Addition: After creating this, I found that Dr. Pournelle  had taken a few pictures during the ceremony. He has graciously consented to my sharing them with you.

Jerry Pournelle's co-presenter


2002 Jerry Pournelle

The awards are presented by a pair of luminaries. Last year, Dr. Pournelle complained, as he was presenting an award, that he had been appearing at this event for seventeen years. In all those years he had only been partnered with Larry Niven or other older gentlemen presenters.

This year, Larry Niven was not in attendance. Considering the lovely lady Dr. Pournelle was paired with this year, it would not surprise me to find that he had hidden his automobile keys.

My sincerest apologies to this lovely lady, but I cannot remember her name. I know she is an extremely famous actress from the large and tiny screen, but old age has dimmed my wits and I cannot remember who she is. If anyone recognizes the lovely and talented lady, would they email me with her name at Thank you.

Hal Clement


2002 Jerry Pournelle

Following Dr. Pournelle, Hal Clement noted that this was his first year presenting. As you can see, he was fortunate to also be paired with a lovely lady.

Alas, I cannot remember her name either, though I am certain I have seen her in several shows. Once again, if anyone recognizes her, I would really appreciate an email with her name.

Frank Kelly Freas & Laura Brodian Freas


2002 Jerry Pournelle

Ten-time Hugo award winning illustrator Frank Kelly Freas and his lovely and talented wife Laura Brodian Freas, an art and music historian, rest following the awards ceremony. By this time, most of the revelers had moved to the party. The luminaries had to remain in this room for pictures. I cannot believe I shook the hand of the one of the great men who shaped my imagination with his art. How did a dirt farmer from the hills of Virginia ever get in here?

Sergey & Sean


2002 Jerry Pournelle

Sergey Poyarkov, an amazing artist, with the one and only Sean Astin. Sergey looks as thrilled as I was that Sean was there.

What an evening!

2002 Braxton S. Cook, All Rights Reserved