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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Friday Challenge — 4/29/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

xdpaul starts a column. It's short. • Join the discussion...

Henry Vogel offers a compelling insight into the new Smurfs movie, but the truth is much more sinister: Smurfs are actually what Neo would have seen, if he'd taken the blue pill. • Join the discussion...

M posts the first Deadline Reminder in six months (yes, that's me... but it would have been a very short list without mentioning this!). • Join the (almost non-existent) discussion...

All this and more, as Henry celebrates Tell a Story Day and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

Editor Bait (a.k.a. "The Good Friday 120-Word Page Turner")

As of the deadline for our current challenge, we have received the following entries (listed in their order of appearance within Files > Friday Challenge 4 22 2011):

  • "Under the Gunn" by Al
    (120 Words - Under the Gunn.txt ... phx_cameraman)

  • "Late" by Watkinson
    (120 words.docx ... stuart_watkinson)

  • "A Liberating Delivery" by Triton
    (A Liberating Delivery.rtf ... tritons_tales)

  • "Book Opening" by Henry
    (Book opening.txt ... hlvogel)

  • "Charles and the Apocalypse" by Rich M
    (Charles and the Apocalypse.rtf ... rmatrunick)

  • "Dawn" by Triton
    (Dawn.rtf ... tritons_tales)

  • "Down in the Hollow" by Triton
    (Down in the Hollow.rtf ... tritons_tales)

  • "Geek, the Game of Champions" by Arisia
    (Geek, the Game of Champions ... arisia4tfc)

  • "Guardians" by Arisia
    (Guardians ... arisia4tfc)

  • "Man Versus Machine" by Rich M
    (Man Versus Machine.rtf ... rmatrunick)

  • "Myrmidon, first version" by Ben-El *
    (Myrmidon, first version.doc ... sonofolorus)

  • "Myrmidon, second version" by Ben-El *
    (Myrmidon, second version.doc ... sonofolorus)

  • "Soul Cutting" by miko
    (miko_SoulCutting ... bohemianinbabylon)

  • "Novel Opening" by topher
    (novel opening ... topher_fridaychallenge)

  • "Old Secrets" by Triton
    (Old Secrets.rtf ... tritons_tales)

  • "Really Big Islands" by Michael D
    (Really Big Islands-Michael.rtf ... michdonalds35)

  • "Return to Earth" by Ryan J
    (Return to Earth ... pipecleanercreatures)

  • "Scout's Honor opening" by Henry
    (Scout's Honor opening.txt ... hlvogel)

  • "Suckering the Nazis" by Triton
    (Suckering the Nazis.rtf ... tritons_tales)

  • "The Guitar" by Arisia
    (The Guitar ... arisia4tfc)

  • "The Invisible Mark" by Arisia
    (The Invisible Mark ... arisia4tfc)

  • "(The Unseen World, first version" by Ben-El *
    (The Unseen World, first entry.doc ... sonofolorus)

  • "(The Unseen World, second version" by Ben-El *
    (The Unseen World, second entry.doc ... sonofolorus)

  • "The Watchmakers Gift" by Rich M
    (The Watchmakers Gift.rtf ... rmatrunick)

  • "Timeline" by Arisia
    (Timeline ... arisia4tfc)

  • "To Save an Ear" by Triton
    (To Save an Ear.rtf ... tritons_tales)

  • "Wreckage" by Arisia
    (Wreckage ... arisia4tfc)

  • "Zombie Funeral" by xdpaul
    (XDPaul FC Throwdown ... dpauleness)

An enthusiastic "Huzzah" to all who have entered! The judges are now considering your submissions. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 1 May 2011.

* I was disconcerted to note that Ben-El had a couple of "first version/second version" entries, after I specifically prohibited more lengthy setups in 120-word chunks. Reading the content convinced me that, although his entries might take place within the same world, they are stand-alone setups for completely different stories... or could be. Regardless of how you read any entry, please judge each submission as a stand-alone work.

"Ooh, it's fuzzy!"

And now for this week's Friday Challenge.

Oh, wait... we should probably clear something up, before we go any further.

Last week I clearly stated, "This is NOT an "M takes over!" post. I fully expect and intend for the rest of you to take turns swinging the brickbat."

I still expect that.

So why am I the one announcing another challenge, hot on the heels of last week's challenge? Well, for one thing, we don't (yet) have any idea who will win last week's challenge. Ideally, the winner will suggest a new challenge, lift hizzerher tail with pride, and serve a week's duty as High Territory Marker. Ideally.

We also have a few new participants, any of whom might be declared this week's winner, but who might not feel quite comfortable stepping into the territory-marking role on such short notice.

Or "real life" might reasonably intervene for the winner, at some point. We've no shortage of real life these days.

In the interim, and as necessary, I'd like to keep the cognitive wheels spinning. Therefore, I'll be proposing challenges — and arranging for their disposition — whenever we hit a slow point. If anyone objects, please feel free to submit your own challenge, and it will be gracefully put up instead. (Alternately, if you have a brilliant idea for a challenge but still haven't won, that is also reasonable grounds for submitting your idea.)

And now — now that we've clarified our intent — it is time for this week's Friday Challenge.


Little Fuzzies.


Give it fur and an endearing nickname, and you can probably sell any alien you dream up. Sell it in spades, that is... as long as you don't cross over into the fatally cutesy easier-to-mock-than-appreciate realm, and name your critters "Mogwai" or "Ewoks," or something else so drenched in saccarine that the audience eventually decides it would be more fun to barbecue their little furry carcasses than to purchase your lovingly endorsed product placements.

Creating the critters ain't as simple as it sounds. Not only must you find a suitable name, you must be able to convey the essence of your creation in a modicum of text. Back of a box of Cheerios? Dostoyevsky, by comparison. If you want to capture the hearts, minds (and potentially pyloric sphincters) of the world, you must be able to convey a suitable description in less text than I've already used.

I'll give you 150 words.

This time we are playing for two categories of prize: The coveted most-iconic-alien-critter-that-hasn't-been-marketed-yet endorsement, and the mention-that-critter-again-and-I'll-gouge-yer'-eyeballs-out award.

Anyone can enter, except for me. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be independent of the others. You are not allowed to supply a more lengthy alien sketch in 150-word chunks, and you are not allowed to build on anyone else's setup.

You are explicitly prohibited from using existing critters, regardless of their status in the real world or any existing work of fiction. Your entry must be your own creation. Fur is technically optional.

Everyone is asked to vote, and to say a few words about what they liked, and why. Or to say a few words about what they disliked, as the case may be; by submitting an entry, you implicitly agree to accept criticism, because there will probably be some handed out, and no one is immune. When voting, please rank a work as either "0" (not so good), "1" (not as bad), "2" (could have been better) or "3" (pretty good stuff!). If you give either a "0" or "3" vote, feel free to argue in support of your reasoning.

Don't like the negativity? Feel free to think of the levels as "0" (Not bad for a first attempt), "1" (Right on!), "2" (Holy cow, I wanna buy this now...) or "3" (Sweet mother of God, how did you write something this awesome?!!). The point is to clearly differentiate, and rank according to your own preference.

For the purposes of this challenge I will be serving as High Territory Marker. (I didn't make up the title! Blame Guy Stewart.)

As of now, we are playing by the loosely enforced and slightly modified rules of The Friday Challenge. All entries are due by 6 AM Eastern time on the morning of Friday, 6 May 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 8 May 2011.

Oh, there is one more thing... but it is the most important! Have fun. Always have fun.
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