WOW! You all brought your A-game this week! Seriously! I enjoyed every one! But you don't want to know what I thought of them; go read what the judge thought:
Guys and gals, this was a really strong week overall, thank you all so much. Sorry I can’t pick eight winners, a handful of these tales would win a “slower” week. You should all be very proud of your stories.
“The Bargain” by Quenby Olson @QEisenacher
Quenby gave us the tale that is ultimately comes the closest in flavor to Something Wicked. Not a required part of the assignment, but it delighted me all the same. I only wish I had more awards to hand out this week, this was an awesome field of stories.
“Egyptian Sun” by Melina Gillies @melinagillies
The opening paragraphs contain several nice similes. I’m always a sucker for a good desert tale, particularly one involving excavations. This one leaves me hungry for more backstory—and it’s always a good thing to leave and audience wanting more. I enjoyed the richness of clues scattered through this tale of Rebekah’s completion of prophecy and victory over the sinister Tinker. The portal’s open, what happens next?
“Ghost Watch” by Sheri Williams @AuthorSheri
The first few minutes of being a discorporate soul must surely be the most confusing. Sheri gives us a look at a fresh ghost who is trying to figure out the new rules. And the ghost watch is engraved with a prediction that is both true and (maybe, eventually) untrue. Let’s hope that our newdead (to coin a word) protagonist finds grandpop and that happy closure.
“Abandon All” by Nancy Chenier @rowdy_phantom
Now we come to our (“Race the Clock” unofficial-award winner). Nancy got her story in with 10 minutes to spare, and we almost missed it. (Sorry Nancy!) It’s an upbeat little tale about nurturing hopes in a post-apocalyptic world. Not all hopes are abandoned after all, and with just a little loving care, they can make a remarkable recovery. I particularly enjoyed seeing a hope described as “a child’s drawing of a star.” There’s a strong metaphor here, and there’s more depth than apparent on the first reading. Loved it.
“The Portal into Summer”
by Geoff Holme @GeoffHolme
The title and first line draw a grin from a lifetime SF addict, and Geoff gives us a tale of a prophet who uses her knowledge to turn a quick buck. This could be a classic case of pandering to the judge. But the saleswoman kidnapped the kitty, and that’s always going to lose some points. (boo hiss Geoff, Mike only went for the princess!)
“The Spice Seller”
by Ophelia Leong @OpheliaLeong
A character-driven tale that’s heavy on the wild oats. We have at least four people (and possibly one mule) that are interested in spicing up their holidays. The interaction between the sales girls, Mitzi and Angelina, is subtle and wonderful. The combination of nudges (desire, loneliness, and third-wheel) that eventually push Mitzi into action are also wonderful.
Special Challenge Champion
“Winds of Change”
by Lauren Greene @laurenegreene
Grandpa seems to be quite a prophet, and completely unflappable. He finds himself suddenly homeless, and stoically goes to work constructing a shelter. He’s losing his granddaughter, too—something he accepts as inevitable. He doesn’t even seem much concerned that the Yankee salesman is responsible. Each of his expect-the-worst predictions comes true, one by one. I bet it sucks being right all the time.
by Michael Simko @Michaelsimko1
Michael gave us a prophet who wagers everything on superstitious awe. Of course, he’s on a time limit and in a serious hurry. The gutsy move ultimately pays off. This tale has a classic sword-and-sorcery flavor; it could easily fit into the universes of Howard or Burroughs or Leiber. Very nice indeed.