Team Tar Vol On and SPSFC3

The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition is back for its third year (SPSFC3), and we are running it back at Tar Vol On with a lot of new faces in the team.

To try to make for a more sustainable competition, we’ve scaled things back a little bit in the third year, with around 225 self-published sci-fi novels split among nine teams. Does nine sound like a weird number? Yes. But trust me, it makes the semifinals so much more straightforward. You’ll see. The semifinals and finals are also changing a little bit, with the semifinals dropping from 30 books to 18 (two semifinalists chosen by each team), and the finals dropping from seven books to six.

For those who followed the competition last year, most of the rest will stay the same. There are still three rounds, and the first half of the competition will feature each team sifting through an extensive slush pile to find two books to push to other teams for the semifinals. Keep an eye out for another post introducing our slush pile and talking a little bit about the process we’ve chosen to narrow it down. But for now, let’s meet Tar Vol On’s biggest team yet:


You know me, I’m back for another year as the titular Tar Vol On. I was primarily a fantasy reader a couple years ago, but I’ve moved much closer to a 50/50 split through a combination of SPSFC and my short fiction reading pushing more sci-fi authors into my hands–it’s hard to have Clarkesworld as your favorite magazine without drifting in the sci-fi direction.

Near-future sci-fi with small, personal stakes is overrepresented among my short fiction favorites, but you don’t see that quite as often in novels. But I love a good first contact story and generally appreciate complex characters and conceptual experimentation. Wall-to-wall action is less my thing, and I may be passing the thrillers to teammates in the early stages of the competition.

I’m excited to be here helping to discover and shine a light on great indie sci-fi. I’ll be posting my personal reviews and the full team reviews here on the blog, but you can also find me on Twitter (X), Blue Sky, and Reddit under the name “tarvolon,” as well as Goodreads under my own name. When I’m not reading and reviewing books, I’m hanging out with my wife and three kids, or I’m doing something that involves hockey, basketball, or one of three different sports called “football.”


Hellooooo I’m Azrah! I’m a big SFF lover who is constantly trying to make my reading reflect my equal love for both genres (fantasy reads are still dominating but the gap is getting smaller each year!) I predominantly enjoy Space Operas and Dystopian novels as well as stories including Time Travel or Superheroes.

I’ve started to introduce more indie/self-pub books to my tbr over the last year or so and I’m really excited to be a part of SPSFC for year 3 of the competition!

I post my reviews on my blog, Goodreads and Storygraph. Otherwise you can find me and my bookish flat lays via @bookish_az on Instagram, or on Twitter (same username) where I yell about football as much as I do about books.


My name is Bowen Greenwood, I’m here because I love sci fi, from the old Asimov and Clarke stuff to the usual suspects these days: Star Wars, Dune, Stranger Things, and the German TV show Dark.

My reviews are always posted on X-Twitter @BowenGreenwood, and on Amazon and BookBub if I have something good to say.

I’m also an indie writer, my book Onslaught was in last year’s SPSFC. I didn’t have the right book to enter this year, so I offered to judge instead.

My mysteries and thrillers can be found at www.BowenGreenwood.com, and my science fiction can be found at www.ExileWar.com. I may post SPSFC reviews at either of those sites, I haven’t really made up my mind yet.


Hello, my name is David Hoffer. My debut novel, Melody, was a finalist for SPSFC2. During that process, I came to appreciate the format and transparency of the contest. I now think of the SPSFC as the Nebula for the indies. I’m a judge this year to support authors and give something back to the indie community. Also, because I love SF, obviously.

When it comes to books, I love stories that explore the human condition through the prism of science and an ever-expanding understanding of the universe(s). The more I learn, the more I wonder, and I look for that in the books I read. Some of my favorites include Dune (Herbert), Foundation (Asimov), The Martian (Weir), Ready Player One (Cline), Murderbot (Wells), Bobiverse (Taylor), Old Man’s War (Scalzi), and LOTR (I know, fantasy).

I’ll post the occasional update on my Threads account (@davehofferauthor). Once the quarterfinals come around, I’ll post reviews on Goodreads (if I liked the book). You can always find me on david-hoffer.com, where I’ll link all these things.

Other than reading and writing, I love to surf. I used to ride the big waves, but nowadays am content with a three to four-foot swell on a glassy day.


I’m Mark and this is my first time judging with the SPSFC. I enjoy reading almost everything — science fiction, fantasy, romance, thrillers. Rather than genre, I’m more interested that the story be well-told and have characters I can get emotionally invested in. In my day job, I’m a writer and editor so I’m used to assessing works of fiction.

When I’m not reading or writing, I like to nap with my cat, Strider, cook family dinners, tend to my vegetable garden, work on our constantly under renovations house, and cheer on my favorite hockey team.


My name is Paromita, I’m from India. I love reading books and try to read from a variety of genres – fantasy, science fiction, general fiction, classics, mysteries and the occasional historical fiction. In science fiction, my favorite authors include Ursula K Le Guin, Jeff Vandermeer, Margaret Atwood, Philip K Dick and Octavia E. Butler. Some favourite books include Flowers for Algernon, Annihilation, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Left Hand of Darkness and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

I am very happy to be joining SPSFC 3 as a judge for the first time and look forward to reading many great books. I post reviews on my Goodreads account.


I’m Rari and I’m from India as well. This is my first time being a judge in any sort of competition. I’m an author and editor and I’m used to reading books of various genres. I am an avid reader though I read mostly fantasy for my leisure reading. I write both Fantasy and Sci Fi and I have been a contestant of this competition the last two years. Two of my books have made it to the semi final stage of SPFBO in 2019 and 2020.

When I’m not reading or writing, I watch and re-watch CDramas and write fanfiction. I post most of my reviews on Goodreads. I do have a blog where I post my reviews occasionally.

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