Self-Published Science Fiction Contest: Meet Team 7’s Bunch of…Judges

Dearly dubbed spacebo by the judges, the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest, or SPSFC for short, is a newly minted sibling contest to Mark Lawrence’s infamous SPFBO, brought together by Hugh Howey (author of the Silo series) and Duncan Swan (author of Monstre).

Although proud to stand on its own, SPSFC aims to do for self-published science fiction what SPFBO has been doing to fantasy for a long time now. To boldly go where self-published authors have already gone before and to highlight those enterprises (thank you thank you, I’m here all day) with distinction and a shipload of fun.

If you’re curious to know more about the workings of this contest, head over to Hugh’s announcement post, but the gist of it is: 300 books, 30 judges, 1 winner who stands to be awarded a kickass trophy. Not to mention the love and adoration of the people. But what’s that next to a hugeass railgun?!

SPSFC's railgun logo. They're just that cool
Railgun logo. They’re just that cool

As a long-time devoted science-fiction fan, it was a huge pleasure to be chosen to join the competition as a reviewer. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to journey through the worlds of self-published sf and find what lies beyond the (event) horizon.

To all the authors who have put their books in our hands, it’s an honor to read your work!

And because no adventurer conquers alone, I’ll be reading alongside a fantastic crew of reviewers, a joint venture of Wyrm’s Worlds and Fantasy Book Critic, so keep an eye on both blogs for any updates and announcements.

We’re beyond excited to dive into new sf and discover a bunch of bookholes we call fall into. Meet the team ahead and tune in tomorrow for the 32 books we’ll be reading for round 1.

To keep up to date on the contest and what both judges and authors are up to, follow SPSFC’s official pages on Twitter, Facebook, and website.

Team 7


I started Blogging out of the sheer need to be able to talk about books, even if it was into the void. So, Beneath A Thousand Skies was born at the end of 2019, and it has grown beyond anything I could have imagined at the start – and was a fantastic way to get through the last year and a half. I love the opportunity to discover new books, and talk about them with like-minded people. I’ve become increasingly focused on Self-Published/Indie SFF as well during that time, and it’s a community that I am delighted to be joining soon – and one that I will continue to shout about on the blog.

3 Favourite Reads:

  • The Turing Test – Chris Beckett
  • All The Weyrs of Pern – Anne McCaffrey
  • Goodbye to the Sun – Jonathan Nevair

What bought me into Sci-Fi?

I got into Sci-Fi, in the same way, I got into fantasy through the Dragon-riders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey which straddles that boundary, particularly books like Dragonsdawn and All The Weyrs of Pern, and from there I moved onto her Acorna Series and Crystal Singer,

What I love most about Sci-Fi?

I love that Sci-Fi lets you not only ask questions about the future, about the climate, about the universe but also offers the opportunity to play with the possibilities. There is nothing set in stone. You can look at it anywhere from the near-future to the distant future, from near space to the furthest reaches of space – and it’s fun to see the different approaches and interpretations. I also have a massive soft spot for Cosmic Horror, and just asking what else could be out there – the good, the bad and the ugly.

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Paul is an avid reader and sometimes writer, hailing from the gelid shores of North East England, where he lives with his glorious wife and two cat-shaped demons.

Raised on The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, he fell in love with fantasy at an extremely young age but soon began devouring science-fiction after his mother stole him a copy of 2010: Odyssey Two from a hospital library.

In a previous life, he’s been a biomedical scientist and an immunological researcher, but these days is a civil servant who spends his days wishing he wasn’t.

3 Favourite Reads:

  • The Stars my Destination – Alfred Bester
  • The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
  • Stormblood – Jeremy Szal

What bought me into Sci-Fi?

The first ‘adult’ Sci-Fi novel I remember reading was 2010: Odyssey Two, which my mother acquired for me after seeing it a hospital library, and I’d been obsessed with Stars Wars from the moment my eyes were able to focus. Falling in love with Sci-Fi was inevitable given my love of reading and scientific aspirations.

What I love most about Sci-Fi?

The possibilities? In Sci-Fi literally everything is possible, and often times it’s spectacularly prophetic.

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My name is Chelsea and I have a book buying problem. I am a big fan of both fantasy and sci-fi, with an aim to step into as many fictional worlds as possible. My main platforms are YouTube and Instagram, with random rambling on my Twitter, where I shout out books I love and vlog my weekly reading. Come say hi!

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Born and raised in Mumbai, India. Mihir Wanchoo is a physician and a Masters graduate. He is an avid book collector and longtime reader of fantasy, thrillers and Indian mythology with additional interests in historical fiction and urban fantasy.

Favorite writers include Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly, David Gemmell, , James Clemens/Rollins, Craig Schaefer, Rachel Aaron, Rob J. Hayes, Richard Nell, Ilona Andrews and many others.

Mihir is also a diehard fan of the Indian Cricket team and Chelsea Football Club. Mihir currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family, and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books.

Connect with Mihir on:

Arina's avatar. Illustrated photo of a brunette with hair tied in a bun. In the background, a sci-fi looking halo.


Arina gets their rocks off from pew pew, worldbuilding, and mecha dragons. They caught the reading bug as a child and has since nurtured it into a powerful hive, spreading the satisfying buzz of indie and inclusive literature.

An astronaut in another branch of the Sacred Timeline and a book blogger in this one, they’re an avid reader and gamer with an affinity for programming and languages, a (TT)RPG buff by disposition, and a chaotic neutral by alignment.

Other than co-piloting Wyrm’s Worlds, they haunt the awesome, slightly creepy halls of Queen’s Book Asylum, and somehow snuck their way into writing for The Nerd Daily and The Lesbrary.

3 Favourite Reads:

  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick
  • Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

What bought me into Sci-Fi?

Half sequestered by my father’s love for the Dune saga, half by watching Star Wars repeatedly since childhood. And perhaps a 3/4 just thinking space and tech are so freaking cool.

What I love most about Sci-Fi?

How prescient it is while letting us dream. Looking back on older works of sci-fi, it’s amazing how much of it bled into the modern world; that speculative seed is an amazing thing to watch bloom. Mostly, I love how sci-fi blends my love for tech with my hunger to imagine.

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