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Friday, August 13, 2010

The Friday Challenge - 8/13/10

Henry Vogel reports on his four-day weekend at NASFIC. He was disappointed. Join the discussion...

M gives us his impressions of the very same NASFIC. He was not disappointed. Amazing how two people can be in the same place at the same time and see totally different things, innit? Join the discussion...

Kerlsey Fitzgerald proposes dusting off the operating table, cleaning the cobwebs off the electrodes, reopening the story morgue, and taking another, closer look at some of the stories that were originally written for the Friday Challenge. How about it? Do you have a story that you're trying to market, that you'd like to submit to the group for comments and critiques? Join the discussion...

Ultimate Geek Fu bids a fond farewell to the late Patricia Neal, and asks about big name stars you first discovered in a science fiction movie. Join the discussion...

ApolloKioku takes the win in the 7/30/10 Friday Challenge, "The Rabbi, the Nun, the Talking Dog, and Everything", Kersley Fitzgerald exposes the glaring weakness of the velcro plot, and the inmates discuss the view from their respective locations in the asylum. All this and more, this week in THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE.

And now for the current challenge.

"Postcards With an Edge"
Here are the entries for the 8/6/10 lesser Friday Challenge, in which we challenged you to write a story as if it were sent on four postcards. Entries are presented in approximately the order in which they were received:

Miko, "Pilgrimage to the Holy Land"

Arvid Macenion, "Postcards Home"

M & Avery, "Postcards" (drop.io, password "challenge")

Carmine Vrill, "Dear Samantha" (drop.io, password "challenge")

Watkinson, "Postcards With an Edge"

If we've missed any entries, or if anyone has snowdogged in an entry after the deadline, please let us know so we can fix this list. As always, even if you haven't posted an entry this week—even if you never enter in any week—you are invited to read, comment on, and vote for your favorites. Don't be shy about leaving feedback on the writer's sites, either. Writers thrive on knowing that somewhere out there, someone is actually reading the words that they have written. The winner will be announced Sunday evening.

And now for this week's new challenge.

Planet of the Dogs
This week's challenge was inspired by Triton, or more specifically by Triton's entry in the 7/30/10 challenge, "The Rabbi, the Nun, the Talking Dog, and Everything."

I want to reiterate: I liked Triton's entry a lot. It has some really good things going on in it for a very short story. But it also has a distinctly 1950's vibe to it, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that feeling emanated from one particular point: that Xanthor might look like an alien German Shepherd walking on his hind legs, but in terms of speech, behavior, and thought processes, he was human. (And the more I think about it, perversely reminiscent of a particular character from Jim Henson's Dog City.)

So let's take two steps back and one to the side, and reconsider this. If canines were independently to evolve into an intelligent, tool-using, and ultimately space-faring species, what would they look like? How would they behave? What would their technology look like? What sort of tools would canines feel it necessary to invent?

Simply the idea of dog breeds in itself: that's the result of thousands of years of human meddling in canine genetics. So let's start all over with—oh, coyotes, not wolves. After all, here on Earth, it wasn't the gorillas that became the dominant simians, but something more akin to the chimpanzee. Let's posit that untold ages ago, on some other world, something happened to change coyotes so that they became a bipedal (okay, the legs, hips, and spine need to change), tool-using (ditto for the shoulders and rib cage), intelligent (okay, no more mail-ordering anything from Acme), species.

And now fast-forward a few millennia, and give us a few quick paragraphs describing the moment of first contact between humans and a truly alien, but canine-based, species. What would they look like, to human eyes? What kind of social structure would be evidenced in their behavior and interaction with each other? With ears that hear in a completely different slice of the audio spectrum and canine mouth parts, how would they even communicate with us? How would they communicate with each other? What would they smell like?

Wow. This has turned out to be a bigger challenge than I thought. So I guess it behooves me to put up a bigger prize than usual, and the obvious choice would be one signed copy of that rare, out-of-print, sci-fi classic, Maverick, written by yours truly. After all, it's only fair to show you how I solved the same problem.

As always, we're playing by the loosely enforced and rarely updated Official Rules of THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE, and playing for whatever is behind Door #3. The deadline for this one is midnight Central time, Thursday, August 19.

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