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Sunday, August 14, 2011

And the winner is...

We celebrate summer in the Thunderdome, by veering off the spec-sheet!

If any 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.

Tyler Tork is about to put on the “Editor Hat.” It's sort of like the “Sorting Hat” they use at Hogwarts (“An editor hat isn't supposed to be used for... oh, never mind.”), but a little less sarcastic.

Getting Off the Label

“The Mean Streets of Apache Junction” by Sean

Tyler Tork: Sean's untitled entry struck me as more creative in its perversion of technology. It's quite convincing that replicators would lead to obesity even in people who didn't have a survival-oriented reason for it. Quite often the only reason I avoid eating junk is by not having any in the house. The nanny computer was great, and also a convincing consequence of the technology. It's very plausible that the red-shirts would be more conscious of their survival stats than even keen-eyed viewers. The whole attitude toward Kirk was lots of fun, and the wrong-name noogie incident made me smile.

(style 4, challenge score 6, total 10)

Arisia: 2.46 / miko: forgot to vote with an actual number!
Tyler Tork: 10
“Miko's Un-Fazed Error” bonus: 2+
Total: 14.46+

“Fazed” by miko

Tyler Tork: Miko's entry with the phaser as weapon of horrific retribution was also an interesting idea. It wasn't made clear in the narrative (I'd have preferred it to be), but I can imagine the mob might prefer it because of the nasty side effects. A shotgun would kill someone just as dead, but this might be more of a deterrent to others who hear of it. Of course, a shotgun's effects are also much more horrific than the tidy corpses you see on TV, with a neat hole and a little red on the shirt. So really, this story could've been written with shotguns and TV and motorcycles and garages instead of phasers and CerebroVision and hypercycles and hangars, and been more realistic because I couldn't bring myself to believe that the mob in the 25th century or whatever would be just like the mob of the 1930s except for their toys. It wasn't quite clear whether he really intended to write in the Star Trek milieu or just borrow the weapon, but the phaser was the only thing here that reminds me of Trek -- and of course in Trek it's a cleaner weapon even when not used for violence (e.g. I recall them heating rocks with it to keep warm). So from the standpoint of meeting the challenge, I preferred Sean's story.

Miko's entry was more skillfully written, however. By introducing a second character and having them doing things -- checking their equipment, hiding in the hangar -- the reader gets some information through dialog and action, and the bits of telling don't seem out of place since they're short and in the context of the action. By comparison, Sean's protagonist gives information to the reader by talking to himself and thinking loudly (though the interaction with the computer is nice), and there are a fair number of adverbs, a few 'said' bookisms, and punctuation errors (yes, I do count off for punctuation -- as do editors and agents). I've seen much worse, of course, but Miko's piece was a smoother read (though it had a few apostrophes out of place also).

Overall, tough call. Readability is important, but I did feel that Sean's entry was more in the spirit of the challenge.

(style 6, challenge score 3, total 9)

Arisia: 2.45 / miko: voted!
Tyler Tork: 9
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 13.45


Both challengers made a strong showing, but unforeseen voting anomalies (how difficult is 0, 1, 2, 3?!!) resulted in a decisive victory:

2nd Place: 13.45 points — “Fazed” by miko

1st Place: 14.46+ points — “The Mean Streets of Apache Junction” by Sean

Congratulations, Sean! As winner, you are hereby invited to propose next week's challenge, scheduled to be announced the morning of Friday, 19 August 2011.


So what was the lesson of this challenge?

Tyler Tork: Never get involved in a land war in Asia?
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