WOOHOO!!! We had three strong entries this week! If you missed any of them, you need to go read them first here. Done? Now let's read what the judge had to say:
I had so much fun reading these! And with three wonderful pieces to work with, I didn’t have to resort to the e-babysitter this week (for that I am grateful). I realized when generating the prompts, I may be… alienating some folk with genre. Maybe I should have bracketed [extra-terrestrial] as it pretty much shoe-horns creativity into SF (unless, like one dragony entry, one brings fantasy into the mix too). I’m sure our late Mr. Nimoy appreciates those voyaging few who boldly went there (I certainly did). So, since everyone gets some sort of recognition, let’s get right to it:
Honorable Mention: "Letter from Home" by RTayaket—What a great concept for an alien race! The idea of regularly swapping genders reminds me of an Ursula LeGuin series. I adore the way SF can cast new light on our preconceived notions. The way you end ties the whole thing together. Since it begins with a focus on the alien’s gender and ends with the feeling of acceptance, it makes me think that gender-issues are what might make the MC character feel like an outsider. Thus the ending answers many of the questions raised during the tale: the MC’s quiet curiosity and acceptance of the alien, his/her apathy over the poodle, the immediate focus on the gender switch (rather than the more immediately obvious purple skin), the willingness to reject Mom’s ultimatum (and Mom’s willingness to pose one). I would love to see this theme explored in a longer piece.
Special Challenge Champion: "Returning to the Stream" by Foy—Oh, this one made my trekkie heart just sing! (I might even dare to "squee" but we’re in Nimoy-mode, and out of respect, we simply cannot go there). Incorporating the Vulcan language in the psychiatrist’s dictation (and that you made it instantly recognizable in your description) the allusion to Amok Time (sniff) and Returning Home, the evocation of cool logic right down to the very glacial eyebrows and lips of the psychiatrist—all worthy of Trek fan-fic (a tough crowd to please)! I love the way you explore the concept of what psychiatry might be like to such a stoic species—no empathy, no encouragement to let it all out. The ending made me sniffle a little, as it welcomes Nimoy into the world he made famous. This is such a sweet tribute.
Grand Champion: "Honali" by Rebekah Postupak—The spelling of Honali with an "i" almost threw me off, I was ready for Puff, and the sealing wax references. I loved the weaving of fantasy and SF, here. [After seeing who wrote what: Ha, ha! Why am I not surprised?] What sold this for me was the wonderful balance of dialogue, internal dialogue, and action that all lay out a complex friendship between an elf and a dragon. You caught me right up in this world—and I didn’t care from whence references might have been drawn. The conflict comes right away with the contrast between the first spoken and unspoken words we get from the elf. And with every new contrasting layer between the said and unsaid, the tension grows up to the heart-wrenching moment of the elf’s silent, "Don’t leave me". The twist is a happy one and even though it is unexpected, there are hints that lead up to it that sell the twist (particularly the dragon’s warm-not-mocking voice). So well crafted!