Wow. Jesus. That was hard. First, I went through all the entries looking for two things: 1) Do I really love it, and 2) Is this the best or only entry from this person. That got me down to 35 entries. I want to say, at this point, that there are a lot of entries that didn’t make this cut that make me really, really, want to read the story, and that all of the entries from here on did.
The next phase was hard: I asked my self how much did I want to read the story, plus how well did it imply things about the world? I sorted these into, “Oh, fuck yes,” and, “almost oh, fuck yes.” There ended up being 19 “Oh, fuck yes” entries.
I got it down to 15, then glared at the spreadsheet and realized I had to change the rules a bit. There will be 5 honorable mentions, 5 runners-up, and 5 winners. All of these are listed in the semi-random order my spreadsheet put them in.
Here are the honorable mentions:
- Experimental Error: “The very last issue of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence ran an editorial that considered whether robots were sentient and if so, whether they were capable of understanding that we were, too.”
- Chris Wallace: “I bought my watch because it was self-winding, purely mechanical, and had no electrical parts, which is why I still love it and why it’s the only thing that still works.”
- Stevie: “I have always wondered if we woke her, with our shaft drillers and our tunnel borers, or whether, instead, it was the natural rhythm of her life to sleep and wake, and this was just her time; she has never answered me, and longevity is seldom the fate of those who presume too far on the patience of a god.”
- Jsimon: “The dog-spirit nipped playfully at my toes, which made me realize I’d already drifted some distance from my body.”
- evergreen: “I woke up when the subway pulled into the Haight Street station and the police got on to ask the riders to show their bar codes.”
Here are the runners up:
- Pamela Dean: “All the trees and goblins had run off the vases again, so that Daisy was furious and the Queen, as threatened, fell into the most annoying sort of decline.”
- mandrake: “The Cloud was full of lunatic scientists, leaders, and the occasional Pope, but the first of the Uploaded to remain sane turned out to be a twelve-year-old-girl with terminal cancer and an excessive love of Hello Kitty.”
- Private Iron: “I have no time to tell stories, but my dim-witted friend here keeps copious notes, some of which are highly incriminating and all of which are heresy.”
- Star Straf: “Every morning I wake to fresh scars that my body double earned in the war.”
- Nils Weinander: “On a cold September morning, an exiled angel lay on a roof above a backstreet in Norrmalm, Stockholm, watching two garbage collectors pulling back in horror as they found a mutilated body behind a container.”
And, finally, the winners. Five of them, all of whom will receive autographed copies of the next Incrementalist novel:
- bckinney: “The legionnaires drove the sandgrouse from the oasis, and the spirits from their shrines, but they could not quiet the ghosts on the salt-flat wind.”
- Jo Walton: “Grandma always told me if things got bad to look for a Carthaginian ship, and now, with cops from seven planets on my tail and the High Priest of Baal so close he was practically tying knots in it, I took a glide around the port trying to look as if I was taking an idle interest in spidersilk and shadesong instead of weighing up whether I was desperate enough to take her advice.”
- chaos: “The murder charge didn’t stick because I’d backed him up first, but that left me on the hook for neuroprivacy invasion and the HIPAA violations that go with that, not to mention old-fashioned assault and battery.”
- Cpaca: “It was a simple mistake – they told me it was Wednesday, so I figured the Norse Gods had won here.”
- Barbara Robson: “In 9,998 out of 10,000 parallel worlds, I am madly, passionately in love with you, you bastard.”
And, everyone who entered: Please write those stories! I want to read them!