Before YouTube and reality television there was a brief but passionate interest in pain artists. I performed in the cutthroat Rust Belt. Local TV news crews were often present. Men laughed uneasily, women screamed, and children watched open-mouthed. The occasional groupie would even follow me from an Econo Lodge in Buffalo to a Super 8 Motel in Detroit and back again. I posed for photographs and signed autographs. Times really have changed.
My boss, a serious-minded operator, never ad-libbed. “Ladies and gentlemen, according to the FBI you will probably be stabbed, shot, or raped at some point in your life. And if—God forbid—you should resist and injure the man who is attacking you … ” My boss melodramatically paused. “If you should harm that man who wants to kill or rape you, well, you will probably end up in jail. And what will happen to him? He will get your house. He will get your life savings. He will be entitled to a lifetime of government benefits … ”
The complimentary chicken dinners remained untouched. All eyes were fixed on me, standing off to the side, stoic.
We received 423 international entries in this contest, and their creativity was exceptional. Contest judge Dr. Erin Macdonald gives her reasons for awarding the top three prizes:
First Prize: First Man by Mjke Wood Second Prize: Mall by Else Fitzgerald Third Prize: Domesticity Complex by Sasha de Buyl-Pisco
Judge: Dr. Erin Macdonald
Astrophysicist & Sci-Fi Lecturer
FIRST PRIZE: First Man by Mjke Wood
Judge’s comments: I thought this story was a great example of using science and the suspension of disbelief we often have to do in sci-fi set close-to-home to actually create tension for the reader. You know something is a little off, because the science is explained just enough to keep you questioning what is really going on. The imagery and setting was vivid enough that I continued to think about this story and picture it long after reading.
By Mjke Wood
The landing is gentle, a kiss and a roll. No wind. No drama. I step down off the lander, place a foot on the yellow surface, and pause.
“Astarte, this is Ishtar Base. Looking good. A balmy day here at the beach.”
“Good to hear, Ishtar Base. I have clear video feed. Go to it.”
Will anyone recall those words in years to come? No. It can never be the same; each ‘first’ diluted by the firsts that went before. The Moon, Phobos, Mars … Neil Armstrong had no idea how great a giant leap was his.
There’s a ticking clock. This mission to hell will be brief. Surface temperature 460C, hot enough to boil lead. Atmospheric pressure: ninety times Earth normal. Survival time measured in minutes: each one, precious. Continue reading “SCIENCE FICTION – CONTEST RESULTS”→