Gernsback Writing Contest Final Round

The readers have spoken and chosen.

Eighteen of the 77 stories submitted to our first-ever writing contest have been selected to advance to the final round of judging by our SFWA member judges – Cat Rambo (current SFWA President) Dave Creek (author and editor) and Jack Clemons (author, Amazing Stories contributor and former NASA rocket scientist).

The judges are tasked with selecting the final ten selections, and designating 1st thru 10th place positions.

First thru third place will receive 6 cents per work in prize money;  all ten finalists will have their stories published online here on Amazing Stories;  all ten stories will also be published in an electronic edition anthology.  (There may be a print edition as well!)  (All ten finalists will receive 6 cents per word for their anthology appearances.)

I was very pleased to see that the stories submitted represented a rough 50/50 split in gender – in so far as we’re able to judge by first name (and any other hints provided);  we did have a couple of “Chris’s”…There were 35 stories submitted by authors with female-sounding names and 42 submitted by authors with male sounding names.  (45% / 55%)

Of those stories moving on to the final round, 13 are from male-sounding-name authors, 3 from female-sounding-name authors and 2 for which it is difficult to make a determination.  Not as good a mix as the original submissions (and we’ll be looking into our process further as far as we’re able).

We employed ten readers (from among Amazing Stories regular contributors who have some background in evaluating stories) – 5 men, 5 women.  Stories were assigned to each reader on a rotational basis, with the only thing determining assignments was the order in which stories were received.  (The first submitted story was assigned to the first reader, the second submission to the second reader, etc.  The order list of readers was alphabetical by last name.)

Other cool data:  We received stories from the following countries:

United States, Canada, Korea, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Israel, Russian Federation, Sweden and Spain.

Several Canadian provinces were represented, as were several counties in the UK.  In the US, we received submissions from MN, WI, MI, MT, OR, CA, PA, DC, NY, MA, MD, AR, AL, TX, KS, CT and NJ.

If nothing else, this level of response strongly suggests that Amazing Stories is read the world over!

On a bit of a downer note, we did receive a handful of submissions (though far fewer than anticipated) from authors who apparently wanted to make it VERY CLEAR that they were affiliated with one or another group of Puppies:  they yelled at Submittable (in their notes) and chose pseudonyms (with fake contact info), along with choosing themes that made it clear they were sending in stories consisting of puppy-related message fiction.  Clearly some “authors” have not yet learned that in the SF community, when we have a disagreement, we go off and do our own thing, rather than trying to screw with someone else’s thing.  Need I mention how unprofessional such an act is?  Didn’t think so.

And, on a downer note of another kind:  despite our strong imprecations to authors, many still do not know how to format a ms for submission.  The rule in that area is:

  1.  READ the submission guidelines
  2. FOLLOW the submission guidelines to the letter

Against my better judgment, I allowed quite a few stories that did not follow guidelines to move forward to the reading phase of the contest. Next contest I will not be as forgiving.  (The next time around I will decline to accept improperly formatted ms;  submitters will be allowed to resubmit.)

All in all I think the first GWC SF Writing Contest is turning into a success; I’ve read what the judges are going to read and I hope they don’t mind my saying that I think they’re in for a tough time!

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