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Friday, August 5, 2011

The Friday Challenge — 8/5/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

STUPEFYING STORIES closes to submissions for the Halloween issue. • Join the discussion...

Daniel Eness says “Thou shalt not steal,” which appears to be a completely original injunction. • Join the discussion...

Bruce Bethke goes seriously in-depth on a lamentable Bakshi fantasy, but somehow misses the redeeming qualities of the this Rotoscope tracing photo from the film. • Join the discussion...

Tyler Tork wins the An Elegant Weapon, from a More Civilized Age challenge, and judging of The Thing without a Name (Greater Challenge) is rolled into the slush pile for STUPEFYING STORIES. • Join the discussion...

All this and more, as National Raspberry Cream Pie Day continues to make a few of us drool, and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

You Should Have Seen

As of the deadline for our current challenge, we have received the following entries (listed in their order of appearance within Files > Friday Challenge 2011 08 05):

  • “Gull Whisperer” by Ryan J

  • “It Happened on Woodland” by xdpaul

  • “Observing Brian” by Tyler Tork

  • “Working Late Again” by Watkinson

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, 7 August 2011.

Getting Off the Label

And now it is time for this week's Friday Challenge, courtesy of Tyler Tork:

It's hard to imagine all the consequences of a new thing. Star Trek anticipated cell phones... but they failed to guess that such a device would also send text and photographs, or that people who put on plays would routinely remind the audience to turn them off. When Harry Potter's crowd get into a fight, they try to disarm their opponent; but why does nobody do the obvious -- spell their wand to automatically return to their hand if they didn't deliberately release it? Why do none of them carry a revolver? Returning to cell phones, aren't they more convenient than owls?

It's impossible to realize all the results of your sf-nal premise (and sometimes, inconvenient to your plot!). You have to put yourself into a lot of heads and think through a lot of angles, to anticipate the off-label uses of your technology. But doing so can add depth and realism to your setting.

Your challenge, should you decide to accept it, is this: choose a speculative premise from SF or fantasy, that we've seen before. Write a scene (or story) of 2000 words or less. Show someone who's affected by the whatever-it-is in way that we haven't seen before but that seems obvious in hindsight. Either it's a problem for them, or they're taking advantage of it somehow, or combining it with something else that the author might not have intended (like bringing a revolver to a magic wand fight). Try for originality and subtlety, and for showing more than telling.

Anyone can enter, except for Tyler Tork. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be independent of the others. Your entry must be no longer than 2000 words, and you are not allowed to build on anyone else's setup.

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 Tyler Tork will be serving as Ye Olde High Marker, Voluntarily Walking th' Plank.

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, 12 August 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 14 August 2011.

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