Workshops and Masterclasses

The Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination holds numerous workshops throughout the year, offering a deep-dive into writing science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other spec-fic genres. These are unique opportunities to study with key Ad Astra author-educators and enjoy expert feedback. 

This page presents Ad Astra sponsored workshops, as well as those from affiliates. A resource page dedicated to highlighted workshops and events from others in our space is forthcoming.

For 2023, award-winning SF author, scholar, and educator Christopher McKitterick resumes his residential, two-week workshop on speculative-fiction storytelling. He also again offers our residential "Repeat Offenders" advanced spec-fic writing workshop for alums.

Traditional Workshop

The traditional workshop is intended both for writers who have just begun to publish or who need the final bit of insight or skill to master the elements that create great stories editors want and readers love, and for published authors who want to grow their writing or refresh their skills through an intensive workshop experience. We work with all flavors of speculative fiction including fantasy, hard SF, horror, magical realism, slipstream, speculative philosophy, and so on. McKitterick works hard to put together a creative cohort that's diverse in genre, backgrounds, and experience, with an emphasis on developing a mutually supportive cohort adept at respectfully offering useful critiques and accepting feedback in the positive spirit they're offered to help everyone learn and grow not only as authors but as members of the spec-fic community.

Repeat Offenders

Repeat Offenders offers the opportunity to work with similarly trained writers - and special guest authors - on whatever projects you have underway. Details are customized for each year's attendees, but we usually plan project-development sessions (short and long work), traditional workshopping, theory and business talks, and so forth, and time for writing (some come primarily as a writing retreat and participate only in discussions): Details to come as we work out everyone's wishes. This is not only a time to further develop your writing, but also a great chance to get advice and feedback on ongoing, longer projects.

See the Traditional Workshop and Repeat Offenders pages for more information and instruction on how to apply.

Traditional Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop / "Repeat Offenders" Spec-Fic Workshop July 2-14, 2023

  • June 18-30, 2023 / July 2-14, 2023

  • In-person in Lawrence, KS, and online

"AdAstranaut Writing Workshop Series: Through the Stars Through Stories"

Become an AdAstranaut and start your journey to the stars through stories

"The Higgs Boson in This Particular Universe: Facts, Speculation, and the Story of a Little Ripple with a Big Bang" is the first of our ongoing series of talks designed to inspire creatives with cutting-edge research to help come up with ideas, develop stories, and do in-depth worldbuilding in science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative-fiction works.

We’ll have a Q&A and discussion right after Phil’s talk, a story-idea brainstorming and story-development session the weekend after, and then another weekend speculative-fiction writing workshop six weeks after the talk where we’ll critique stories inspired by these ideas (and others).

Get more information and apply for the AdAstranaut Spec-Fic Writing Workshop Series #1 here.

For support, accountability, and solidarity, Ad Astra Center director McKitterick and other staffers will host write-ins several days each week, and our Ad Astra Discord channels offer tons more support, ideas, and community. You can also find the Ad Astra SF Center on social media at Facebook,  TumblrTwitter, and now YouTube (sign up for the mailing list if you don’t want to miss news of upcoming events).

Phil is not only a brilliant experimental particle physicist who’s been part of discovering the Higgs boson using the Large Hadron Collider, he’s also a huge speculative-fiction fan and co-taught “Science, Technology, & Society: Examining the Future Through a Science Fiction Lens” with McKitterick (as well as other exciting courses using SF to dramatize and better understand complex physics ideas). And he’s a long-time friend (whom McKitterick Tuckerized in his first Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella novel… called Ad Astra Road Trip).

Baringer will even be joining us for the story-development and writing-workshop sessions! Where else (except the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop) can you get science-expert feedback on your fiction?

McKitterick hosts this event and leads the workshop and developmental sessions for this cycle, so you’ll also get expert creative feedback (he's an award-winning writer who’s been teaching successful writing workshops for 30 years, as well as a variety of spec-fic courses for students, pros, and educators). Most of his alums have gone on to publish, start magazines, teach, and more, and our growing creative community stays in touch year-round.

In future events, we’ll continue to invite experts, spec-fic authors, and other brilliant minds to share their insights and inspiration with our AdAstranauts.

Our talks and Q&As will steam live (as will developmental sessions, workshops, write-ins, and more for those who register) and become available for later viewing on our YouTube channel (and listening, hopefully, on podcast), so if you aren’t local or can’t attend live, you can still fully participate.

"I'm so excited to launch the year-round AdAstranaut program," McKitterick says. "It’s designed to provide the deepest, broadest, most comprehensive education for folks who want to learn how to write, understand, and teach spec-fic available anywhere - essentially, we've designed the optimal program I would have wanted for myself when I first began my journey into the SF universe (only better because now tech allows us to offer these things globally and asynchronously).

"I firmly believe that the modes of inquiry speculative fiction enables offer our best hope for understanding the diversity of human experience and helping build a better shared future. If you don’t need an MFA (and good luck finding one that specializes in speculative fiction - or even allows or understands it), consider taking our workshops and becoming an AdAstranaut!"

Go here for full details, and go here to apply.

Stay tuned for more spec-fic courses and events as we get rolling!

AdAstranaut Speculative-Fiction Writing Workshop Series #1

  • Sept. 17-18 / Oct. 15-16

  • In-person in Lawrence, KS, and online

Are you working on – or thinking about – a science fiction or fantasy novel you want to write? Novel Architects Kij Johnson and Barbara J. Webb can show you how to build it. We have almost twenty years of experience teaching writers how to plan and build SF/F novels, helping everyone from experienced professional novelists like R. F. Kuang and Tina Connolly to talented new writers just getting their start.

The Fantasy and Science Fiction Online Novel Master Class is eighteen hours of talks and discussion directed toward helping you design and detail your best novel. By the end of the class, you’ll have been presented with the tools necessary to create a novel: the specific requirements of the form and genre as well as novel-focused discussions of character, worldbuilding and immersion strategies, plot and structure, and BB.

This master class is not a workshop, but nine sessions that include advice specific to your projects.

Full details and how to apply.


Novel Architects Master Class for Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels

  • Jan 5 - Feb 2, 2023 | Online

  • 9 sessions twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 Central


Celebrated science fiction and fantasy author Kij Johnson will lead a developmental workshop for writers of short science fiction and fantasy. This week-long event will be held in person in Lawrence, KS, June 13 through June 17. The workshop will be small, with no more than six individuals admitting. Workshop hours will be 1-4 each afternoon.

Areas of focus

The scope of the workshop will be determined by the attendees in the weeks before the workshop starts, but may include:

  • classic workshopping of completed stories
  • developmental discussions for early-stage stories and ideas
  • writing or reading assignments
  • discussions and talks


Attendees will be responsible for securing their own housing. Lawrence is a charming town with great restaurants, about an hour from the Kansas City airport. Professor Johnson’s home will be used as collective working space social clubhouse in the hours before and after class.


$800 payable on acceptance. A scholarship may be available.

How to apply

Send an email to 

Subject line: 2022 Short Story Workshop Please include your name, contact information, a paragraph or two about yourself and your writing, an email address of phone number for a personal reference who is not a family member, and a 2-3 page sample of your writing.

Deadline for applying

April 15, 2022. Professor Johnson aims to make her decisions by 4/22, and will then send further information to attendees.


Kij Johnson’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Developmental Workshop

  • In person, June 13-17, 2022 | Lawrence KS