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Sunday, July 5, 2009

And the winner is...

And so once again we've made it through the 4th of July weekend with our eyes, fingers, ears, and most of our nerves intact. No one in the immediate neighborhood fired off any really heavy ordnance this year; whether this is a result of the OPD's aggressive ticketing of violators last year, the general economic downturn, or the media outcry over the racially offensive Run Hadji Run firework, I don't know, but I'm guessing it's unlikely on #1, quite likely on #2, and you must be kidding on #3. However, the Parents of the Year did leave the Teenage Mutant Ninja Jerkoff home alone last night with an apparently endless supply of firecrackers, bottle rockets, and roman candles, so we decided to skip the town fireworks show in Scotchgard Park, stay home ourselves, and keep the fire hoses on standby.

It turned out to be unnecessary. We had a long, sleepless, but otherwise uneventful night, and now it's Sunday. The neighborhood incendiaries have died down to the occasional pop of a bottle rocket or rattle of a string of firecrackers, the dog is no longer trying to dig her way through the basement floor, and I'm at last able to give some attention to the Friday Challenge. Trying to get caught up, then:

6/26/09 - After Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Given the nature of the 6/26/09 challenge, it was somewhat difficult to tell which were serious entries and which were mere jokes. Tom in particular threw out a lot of promising titles, but none of them with any descriptions. And of course, anyone who could suggest The Sound of Music and Nazis, well...

Ultimately, I pared the list down to these.

WaterBoy, The Brothers Karamazombyov. Some thought has definitely gone into this one. I think the details show promise. But then, to end with an old Mel Brooks joke—well, not really that old. I mean, there are Mel Brooks jokes that have been found carved into Egyptian obelisks reliably dated to the 26th Dynasty. Still...

My advice: wait until after you sell the pitch. Then start sneaking in the old Mel Brooks jokes.

Ben-El, Don Coyote de la New York. I don't know what to say about this one. Probably that I'd retitle it to A Spanish Werewolf in New York and get myself sued for doing so, but I think this bugger could actually work—if it was taken seriously enough, and if there was enough gratuitous sex. For further reference, check out the collected works of Mario Acevedo.

Henry, Romeo and Juliet and Werewolves. Just write the book, okay? After looking at dozens of bestselling paranormal romances in recent weeks, this one would fit right in. (And according to Karen, who's currently got a three-novel-a-week habit, fully half of them are reworks of the Romeo and Juliet plot already, so why not just cut the crap and go straight for the real thing?) If it was my idea I'd update the setting and change the names—and change my own name, while I'm at it—but bring this one in at around 70,000 words and give Juliet a good kick-ass fight scene or two and a big sex scene in Act V, and you've got a bestseller. God help us all.

Torainfor, Little Shadow Women. Wow. This isn't a pitch for a book; it's a pitch for an entire series. Christian Vampire Romance? If you just de-Louisa May'd this one a bit and tightened and focused your pitch, I think you could get a Christian market publisher seriously interested in this and own the genre: be the next Charlaine Harris. If I were you, I'd give some serious thought to developing this further.

Arisia, MS Open Window. I'm afraid this one mostly confuses me. It's very well-written, as always, but I just don't get it. Something must be lacking my education.

Al, "Three Movie Trailers". At first glance— and at second, and probably also at third— I said, "Naaaah," but at fourth glance, what the heck: I did say to make it shameless, didn't I? The novelizations of the screenplays of the movies based on the plays? The titles need work, but factoring in extra credit for working Bruce Campbell into each pitch—minus a small deduction for failing to work in Kenneth Branagh—and we've got our winner. Al, come on down and claim your prize!

6/19/09 - "The Singular Singularness of Singularity"
Turning now to the previous week's challenge, we have three very strong entries. After reading, and rereading, and rereading them again, here are some comments.

Torainfor, "Asimov's Levy". As always, this one was beautiful, just beautiful. John Sladek would have liked this one very much, as it carries the Laws of Robish through to the horribly logical conclusion that somehow, despite all his vaunted intelligence, always eluded Asimov. Artificial intelligences reaching the realization that the only way to avoid harming humans, or by inaction allowing humans to come to harm, was to ensure that humans were never conceived in the first place? Remorselessly, horribly logical. I love it.

As for the story itself, I think it's one more rewrite away from being publishable. It feels like it's about ten percent flab, but as to exactly where that ten percent is, I can't quite say at the moment. I'm sure if you put it away for a week and then look at it again, you'll see it yourself.

The Bandit, "Moderation of the Community". I have to confess, I loved this one, even if no one else did. If I was editing a magazine, I'd buy this one.

I'll admit that at first glance it put me off a bit, by reading more like the ending of a story than an actual complete story. And that name: "Drodabbabob." If Torainfor's story is one tightening-up rewrite away from being marketable, this one probably needs two.

But then I realized: we don't need the backstory. In the tradition of fifty or sixty years of great little 1,000-word vignettes, we pick up all the backstory we need en passant as we drive straight to the punchline. The story of Phynx, Klizz, and —shudder!— Drodabbabob's odyssey to Cyterra probably doesn't need telling; what matters is what happens to them once they get there.

I could be wrong. Show me, oh, five more scenes the equal of this one, and I'll agree that there's a novel in Cyterra. But even as it stands now (and with the good tightening-up rewrite mentioned earlier), this would be a terrific 1,000-word filler in a magazine.

If there were still magazines. But that's another story.

Henry, "Stories from the Singularity". This week Henry wrote what clearly was the fan favorite. And it is a wonderful story; it's got that great Kipling "Just So Stories" vibe going for it. It's a clever little tale, told marvelously well, and would work very well if read aloud. My only objection to it, and it's a slim one, is that the idea seems a touch shopworn, like I've heard it before somewhere in the stories of Kuttner or Bradbury or someone like that. But as I said, it's a very slim objection, and my observation is that most people prefer an old tale told smoothly to a new story with jagged edges.


So after thinking it over, and talking it over, and giving it another night to gestate, we've decided to drop back and punt. Each story is very strong, but in a different way, and we can't reach consensus. Therefore Torainfor, The Bandit, and Henry; awards and kudos for all entries this week, so come on down and claim your prizes.

6/12/09 - "Chapter Five"
As for the 6/12/09 Challenge: while I've already announced that Snowdog is the winner, I never explained why. Therefore—

Therefore, crud. I'm out of time again. Maybe Tuesday.

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