Sorry I'm pushing the envelope with getting this judgery posted, but it's been a crazy day! If you missed the fun, go check out the stories from Tuesday here. Otherwise, read on to see what the judge had to say:
First, thank you all for writing your stories. I am amazed and overwhelmed by the response and the range of interpretations. So many great stories! Each is wonderful, and unique.
All are winners. Each of you has created a possible world that did not exist before. That is a fantastic gift, and thank you for sharing it.
It is an honor and delight to read all these stories, and to choose among them is very, very hard. First, let me comment on each one--
Pop Pop and Puddin’ Pop Take on the Universe by Bullish is just overflowing with energy and the infectious style is out of this world. And it's a universal reality-- a youngster wanting to drive on her own. This is such a fun story!
Mountain Top Experience by @CharlesWShort is a story of character, courage and integrity. The main character faces the physical challenge of the mountain itself, and the moral challenge presented by the other boys. But only alone on the mountain top, does the future leader receive the wisdom of the aliens. A very thoughtful and inspiring piece.
Contact by Emily Karn is a wonderful example of world-building. The culture is marvelously described, and the made-up words are used to good effect. What is the Prophecy? Is this unexpected contact an end or a beginning? I think of first contacts in our history and wonder what this contact may bring.
The Giver's Song by @rowdy_phantom depicts a different world and alien culture. Here is a story of connection and communication. The foundling who may be an emissary, the Givers and the Listeners. "We are only stories." What a beautiful story.
Love at First Sight by @CaseyCaseRose is set on a fairly new terraformed world. The narrator's grandparents were among the first ones here. There are still new trees, which reminded me of a new subdivision, and new neighbors. The arrival of a boy her own age is an exciting thing. It's a story of two lonely kids hesitantly making friends. I loved the catadillo, and the dinosaur sealing their friendship.
Magical Marsha by @pamjplumb is a different story of friendship. This time, there are three friends about to go their separate ways now that school is over. I love how all the things Marsha has done make sense now that they know she's an alien! Can you imagine the kind of send-off the friends will be planning....
Probing Questions by @zevonesque does not disappoint. The questions are a big part of the story. And it starts with a great first line--"the sky was wrong." It goes from humorous situation to genuine terror in the final question. Great finish!
Aliens and Tea by @MakingFiction gets my vote for the best opening line---"the sky decided it would spell words with clouds." And it has the most hilarious made-up word--the "Questionalienology Manual." This is so funny!
Stormy Weather by Penname has great characters in this tale of a romantic quarrel between the two storm deities. Their actions and feelings are all-too human. I loved the descriptive language and mythology here! And maybe this explains the strange weather.
Cloudy Below by rashatayaket depicts a world turned upside down. Some great lines here--'fall forever into the ground". Only the blind man is not affected by the unnerving reversal. This is such a fresh and imaginative take-- so wonderfully surreal.
The Visit by Stella takes an entirely different approach. Amid all these alien worlds, this story feels so down-to-earth. There is real alienation here. And I love how the special challenges are incorporated into the story, not dictating it.
God's Dilemma by @geofflepard is such a vivid tale of survival in the midst of senseless destruction. It could be any time, anywhere. It seems to be describing an alien world. What is going on with the mysterious drones and then the green food crates, children taking shelter in the caves? This alien world is the world we live in. It is here, and now.
Red Dirt Alice by Denise Calloway starts out with vivid description. The rain on the shiny red surface of the car, the road, the farmhouse set the scene for the strange things to come. The mysterious family history, the old letter, all add to the eerie feel. Is this the back of the mirror? Haunting and mysterious.
Seeking a Man Who Enjoys the Beach, Seafood by Michael Seese gets my vote for the best title. I love how the challenges are incorporated into this story of a blind date that seems like a disaster and turns out to be an unusual and perfect match.
The Sky was Our Savior by Patrick Sahl is an imaginative take on a classic s-f story of alien invasion. I love the humor and science in it--the atmospheric pressure, the grainy photos, the moon rocks. Also has a very nice finish--the day it all ended. Well done!
56 Crows by @goldzco is the most unsettling and surreal. There is a sense of foreboding from the very first line. Why are the crows falling out of the sky? It becomes increasingly ominous, signs and numbers, as the pictures change to a single picture of a map--and the last line--"They led me here, to your house."
Once again, I am astounded by the variety and visions in each of these stories. I cannot pick just two. So, here are my picks--
Special Challenge--Contact--Emily Karn--for the most creative world and words to describe it
Story--Love at First Sight--Casey Rose--for a new world and new friendship
Both--Probing Questions--A J Walker--for the first line and the final question
Special Challenge--The Giver's Song--necwrites--for beautiful language and story
Story--God's Dilemma--@geofflepard--for alien world that is here and now
And the winners--
Special Challenge Champion--The Visit--Stella Kate--for seamless story using the challenges in wonderful economy of language
Grand Champion--56 Crows--Carlos Orozco--for turning a world inside-out and leaving an ominous mystery