Yes. I am going to play the game of listing a whole bunch of relevant stuff before I actually get to listing who won. Sorry, but that is apparently the way the game is played. (Anxious authors, please feel free to scroll.)
First I would like to thank everyone who submitted stories to the contest. We had 73 entrants out of a total possible 100 (pretty good for our first time out!) and only a small handful could be deemed non-serious submissions (stories that were probably submitted for the sole purpose of “proving” that Amazing Stories is biased against puppy-related nonsense. None of those stories moved on to the final round of judging because they were nowhere near as good as the stories that did. Call that political bias if you want to).
I only mar these proceedings with the preceding to illustrate how far, wide and petty the puppy nonsense has gotten. Future contests will include the rule that if I believe a story has been submitted for no purpose other than to screw with the contest or to “poke a stick into SJW eyes”, the story will be summarily rejected and the author will be barred from future contests. If authors want to play games with their submissions, feel free to waste your effort, since there are only two criteria at work for the GWC contest: does the story meet the theme and is it well-written?
Making those determinations was our fine crew of initial readers, contributors to Amazing Stories all. I’d like to thank: Karen Anderson, Stephen Bianchini, R. Graeme Cameron, M. Christian, Judith K. Dial, Dianne Lynne Gardner, David Hardy, Jack Hillman, Michaele Jordan and Ann Stolinsky for their hard and dedicated work.
You may recognized several of those names. You should also recognize that the wide-range of talents and experience possessed by these individuals is certainly unique and more than qualifies them for making the initial selection of stories that would advance to the second round of judging. If you click on their names above, you’ll be able to learn more about them and will have access to their posts on Amazing Stories.
Our process for distributing stories to the readers was the following*: as a story was submitted, it was assigned to a reader on a rotational basis. Stories 1 thru 10 went, in turn, to readers 1 thru 10. Story 11 went to reader 1, story 12 to reader 2 and so on. Randomness was completely in evidence as it was based solely on the order in which submissions were received.
The readers were tasked with collectively forwarding 20 stories for the first round of judging. Some readers recommended no stories (of those they read) with most recommending 1 or 2 and a handful recommending 3.
In the end we ended up with 18 stories (out of 73, as near to 25% of the total submissions as to make no difference).
Why eighteen instead of twenty? Those eighteen stories stood out. Filling in those two remaining slots would have meant trying to winnow a good handful of stories that were all equally “almosts” and we collectively decided that there was a clear divide between the eighteen already chosen and the rest.
Those eighteen stories were sent off to our three SFWA judges – Cat Rambo (current President of the writer’s organization), Dave Creek an author and anthologist and Jack Clemons, author, former NASA engineer (Apollo & Shuttle) and regular contributor to Amazing Stories. All of them have vast experience with science fiction, writing and the business of writing. We could not have landed a more appropriate set of judges. I’d like to thank them as well, not only for their hard work (they spent a full month and then some wrestling with the submissions) but also for exemplifying one of the SF community’s finest traditions – that of paying it forward.
The judge’s first task was to winnow the eighteen stories down to 10. Which leaves us with 8 runner’s up. Those stories and authors are, in alphabetical order by author:
Chris Doly – Winter and Summer
Bjorn Engstrom – Mathilde
Amy Herring – Quantum Love
David Nestor – Swallow the Sky
Shawn Proctor – The Mercurian Family
Kara Race-Moore – Tour d’Olympus
Mark Russell – Heliopolis
Jon Zeigler – You Say Goodbye
I have been assured by our judges that their task was not an easy one. Being told that your story didn’t quite make the cut is certainly a disappointment; however, all of these authors should be encouraged to focus on the fact that they almost made the cut. A different set of judges, a different editor, may very well have decided differently. Above all, these authors are on the right path and we look forward to hearing more from them in the future.
The judge’s next task was to determine which of the remaining ten should be a Top Three finisher and receive the prize money, leaving 7 stories to fill out our Top Ten (all of which will be published in a forth-coming anthology from Amazing Stories).
Those seven stories are (in alphabetical order by author):
James Harper – A Clean Start
Vince Liberato – Parental Guidance Recommended
Jeremy Lichtman – Bob the Hipster Knight
Stephen Power – The Sounding Cataract
Alex Shvartsman – How Gaia and the Guardian Saved the World
Karen Skovmand – The Mesmerist
Trent Walters – Awake the Snorting Citizens With the Bell
And now, without further delay (except for rambling on and on in an effort to build as much tension in the audience as possible) our Top Three Finalists (in alphabetical order by author):
Stuart Barton – Lost Phoenixes
Matthew Downer – Size of the Fight
Sean Monaghan – Penny of Tharsis Montes
As stated previously, all ten of our finalists will have their story published here on Amazing Stories (we’ll have a release schedule shortly) and in an accompanying anthology which will, in fact, be the very first issue of AMAZING STORIES BI-ANNUAL. (Amazing has had an Annual, a Quarterly and the magazine itself has been published on a monthly, bi-monthly and irregular schedule, so we had to go with Bi-Annual.)
Our top three finalists will be receiving prize money to the tune of 6 cents per word for their work (up to $120.00 each, depending on actual word count).
All ten of our finalists will also be receiving payment of 6 cents per word upon the release of the aforementioned anthology. They’ll also all be receiving “certificates suitable for framing” and copies of the forthcoming anthology, not to mention the readers, the judges and my heartfelt thank you for having participated.
Finally, I would like to thank our anonymous sponsor, without whom this contest would not have been possible.
Amazing Stories Bi-Annual will be published in both electronic and print formats and will be released in early 2016.
Our second contest will be announced shortly.
*tallying submissions based on the identity of the author has become one way that our field measures inclusiveness. Our contest was announced as widely as was possible (no author was directly solicited); our review process was anonymous. Details regarding percentages and data can be found here. We are currently examining ways to make both submissions and final results more widely representative of our community (without resorting to quotas or artificial restrictions) and welcome any suggestions along those lines.