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Sunday, November 6, 2011

And the winner is...

What would your life be like if you woke up and learned there was no such thing as The Friday Challenge, and never had been? Now there's a scary notion...

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 numerically 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.

Arisia is about to put on the “Editor Hat.” It's sort of like the “Sorting Hat” they use at Hogwarts (“Don't tell me there's no such thing as magic! I remember magic.”), but a little less sarcastic.

Arisia: Having pondered on these stories for almost two days, I am still having trouble figuring out how to allot my points. Both are potential candidates for the SSS (Stupefying Stories slushpile).


“The Blink of the Quantum Eye” by Jack Calverley

Arisia: Jack's story is the thought-provoking kind, written in a classic, British style reminiscent of 1984 and other "What are we doing to ourselves?" novels. It makes the reader take a hard look at society, ethics, and human motivation. There are enough bits of humor sprinkled in to keep us from ending up totally depressed. I found myself thinking of the Judge Dredd movie. That had similar unexpected and humorous consequences of life being suddenly different.

It seemed a little long for a short story. It could become a novella, or it could benefit from cutting some out. It could also benefit from more excitement. There was too much mundane and not enough adventure.

Jack Calverley: voted! / J.M. Perkins: 3
Arisia: 14
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 19

“Untitled” by J.M. Perkins

Arisia: John's story is more the emotion-provoking kind. The reader is pulled into feeling the characters' bewilderment, aloneness, powerlessness, and hopelessness. It is a study in experiencing loss. The ending is very good, and also unusual, in that it just accepts loss and lets go. Most SF stories are about triumphing over whatever is happening.

The attempts at explaining what was going on were distracting to me. They seemed a little far fetched or unrelated to believe. If you were trying to depict denial, then it was not quite clear enough.

Jack Calverley: 3 / J.M. Perkins: voted! / miko: (tilted!)
Arisia: 15
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 20


In a beautifully choreographed display of memory and loss, our challengers emerge as follows:

2nd Place: 19 points — “The Blink of the Quantum Eye” by Jack Calverley

1st Place: 20 points — “Untitled” by J.M. Perkins

Congratulations, J.M. Perkins! As winner, you are hereby invited to propose next week's challenge, scheduled to be announced the morning of Friday, 11 November 2011.


So what was the lesson of this challenge?

Arisia: In the end, I assigned points based on my reaction as a reader. I was more engaged in John's story. Slightly more. But both did a good job at creating a fascinatingly different universe and showing possible reactions to it.
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