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Sunday, July 31, 2011

And the winner is...

Our thirteenth challenge is a return to the Thunderdome, as the combatants smuggle in a few unconventional weapons...

If any either of you are able to take a second look at your own work, and see ways in which to improve a concept so that it can be more successfully developed, the effort will be worthwhile.

Those of you who vote are allowed to assign a range of “0” to “3” points, per entry. Since challengers may not vote for their own stories, a bonus of 2 points is given to a participant's highest-ranked work, if that participant also takes the time to vote on the other entries.

Official judges receive a 30 point allocation, to assign as they see fit. The only restriction is that at most, only half of those points may be given to any single entry, and there is no requirement for a judge to use the entire 30 point allocation.

Triton is about to put on the “Editor Hat.” It's sort of like the “Sorting Hat” they use at Hogwarts (“You aren't shooting the sharpest marbles in the sack, are you, Ron?”), but a little less sarcastic.

Triton: Two intrepid souls were brave enough to submit stories for this Challenge – Ryan J and Tyler Tork. If you're new here, Tyler, welcome! If not, then welcome back! Remember, guys: I'm just trying to be honest here, so please don't take my criticism personally.

Now, on to the reviews:

An Elegant Weapon, from a More Civilized Age

“No Business on the Night” by Tyler Tork

Triton: Since this is an excerpt from a novel, there's obviously a lot going on that goes unexplained. That doesn't really matter, though, as far as this particular challenge is concerned. The point of this week's exercise was to come up with a creative and cool hand weapon, so that's my primary focus. The gun seems to me like a derringer, but with East Asian(?) embellishments. Very stylish. I like it. Operationally, though, it's still just a conventional firearm, so, for the purpose of the challenge, it's not what I would call terribly creative or original. I think some really exotic hand-made ammunition would have made a positive difference.

Ryan J: 2.5 / xdpaul: 2
Triton: 5
Total: 9.5

“Nanites” by Ryan J

Triton: Remember the show Jake 2.0? This story reminds me of that, except the nanites are destructive instead of enhancive. And the gun has some range to it instead of being just a fancied-up syringe. I'm pretty sure I've seen similar devices elsewhere, too, but I can't put my finger on exactly where. Pretty neat SF gadgetry, but, since it seems so familiar, it doesn't really blow me away. I'm also not sure that blowing across a “tiny barrel” would produce an audible whistle, especially if we're talking about something the size of a hypodermic needle. One thing I do like, however, is the status screen – this indicates that the gun isn't just a dumb projector, but is involved with the computing and programming part of managing the nanites.

Ryan J: voted! / xdpaul: 1
Triton: 6
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 9


Bearing in mind that this mid-summer challenge (lucky number thirteen!) caught us with fewer participants on both ends of the equation, we still wound up with a very close result:

2nd Place: 9.0 points — “Nanites” by Ryan J

1st Place: 9.5 points — “No Business on the Night” by Tyler Tork

Congratulations, Tyler Tork! As winner, you are hereby invited to propose next week's challenge, scheduled to be announced the morning of Friday, 5 August 2011.


So what was the lesson of this challenge?

Triton: I would like to heartily thank both participants for their stories. Neither weapon was bad, but, at the same time, neither one really knocked my socks off. Tyler's gun definitely has some sex appeal, but Ryan's has a wider range of function, so it was kind of a wash. One guy went for creativity of form, the other for creativity of function. I think the solution is to attempt to be creative in both realms – perhaps design a nanite gun made of black steel with gold vines and birds on it. Or something like that.

In the end, as far as scoring the challenge is concerned, it was the nanite gun's status screen that tipped the scale for me, because that elevated the device to something more than just a tube with springs and a trigger. So congratulations to Ryan J. Having said that, I definitely hope to see more submissions from Tyler in future challenges.
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