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. (more…)