Established in 1969 and based in Johannesburg, Science Fiction & Fantasy South Africa (SFFSA) is a club for fans of both science fiction and fantasy. Membership benefits include:

Monthly meetings 
Annual mini-conventions An extensive library
Quarterly  Probe fanzine
NOVA Short story
Much much more!

International and country members are more than welcome 

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The Nova Short Story Competition is our annual competition for budding writers of science fiction and fantasy short stories. Usually contested in two categories, General and South African, the competition is open for entry from April until 30 September annually. Winning entries, finalists and seleceted other entries are published in Probe.

2016 Nova Short Story Competition Now Open


The Nova Short Story Competition FAQ can be found here.

To download a zip file with the entry form, guidelines and rules, in Microsoft Word (.docx) and Acrobat (.pdf) formats, click here.

2015 Nova Short Story Competition Results

Title Author  Rank  Prize
10 Mike Hardaker 1st Place R2000
A Harmonious Tale Sean Watkins 2nd Place R1000
The Desert Does Not Forgive Sharon Angus 3rd Place R250
The Office Dragon Brian Warner 3rd Place R250
The Cleansing Hope Lester Top 10  
Error #451 Leon Louw Top 10  
Lost in transition Deon Schneider Top 10  
The Passenger Deon Schneider Top 10  
Travelling Brian Warner Top 10  
What we do Anton Taylor Top 10  

Nova 2015: Final Judge's Comments


This is one of the best selections of SFFSA short story entries I have yet had to judge, and it was a privilege to be asked to choose the winners. There is an almost complete absence of "sciensplaining", when the narrator feels obliged to spell out history or technicality, explaining the science of the fictitious scenario in excruciating detail that stops the story dead. In the winning story, this is achieved naturally and through convincing dialogue. Only two of the top ten stories fell briefly into sciensplaining, making the judging a welcome change from previous experience with the South African category. Having said that, don't take too much for granted or leave too much unsaid, as it robs the story of context, meaning and relevance.


"10" is a clear winner.


10, Mike Hardaker

From the very first line, 10 is beautifully written. It is also brilliantly conceived, and carries off the theme and plot consistently and convincingly. The climax creeps up on us almost unnoticed, just as it blows us away. One of the best stories I've ever read in the SFFSA competition.


Runner-up is "A Harmonious Tale"


A Harmonious Tale, Sean Watkins

A fascinating story, well told, with a powerful climax but an unlikely epilogue. It's a superbly contained story with most of the action taking place in one room. Ironically, the moment the action moves out of that room, the consistency of style and pace begins to dissipate. A core strength of the story is that no narrator explanation is given for a complex process, but it is clearly understood through natural dialogue and actions.


Joint third are "The Desert Does Dot Forgive" and "The Office Dragon".


The Desert Does Not Forgive, Sharon Angus

A story told with tremendous command of language and impeccable style, but without much plot and with a predictable conclusion and epilogue.


The Office Dragon, Brian Warner

An enchanting tale about what happens when traditional magical creatures become bureaucrats. The plot is somewhat thin but strangely satisfying.


Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order of author's surname:


The Cleansing, Hope Lester

A potentially good story undermined by a disjointed and unsatisfying plot, haphazard asides by the narrator and the absence of context.


Error #451, Leon Louw

A well-told and fun story, but with little substance. The epilogue is too explicitly spelled out.


Lost in Transition, Deon Schneider

Too much explanation and too many adjectives get in the way of a story that starts as cliché, complete with stereotypes of Cape "bergie" and stupid aliens, but ends quite beautifully.


The Passenger, Deon Schneider

Well-told story but suffers from similarity to Zombie-virus and astronaut-returns-with-deadly-cargo plots.


What We Do, Anton Taylor

Post-apocalyptic scenario that offers little more than scenario. The descriptions of scenes and settings are gritty and realistic, but with little context and confused linkages, eventually making survival from frequent injuries unrealistic.


Travelling, Brian Warner

A fascinating concept but no plot and only a sequence of emotions expressed during an experience in the distant future. Could have served as a good background to a story.


Arthur Goldstuck

For a historical list of  winners click here.
For a list of stories published in Probe click here

2014 Judges

Arthur Goldstuck 

The competition is sponsored and judged by Arthur Goldstuck of


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For more details, you are welcome to email the convenor of the Short Story Competition.

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