SF Writing Results: Fan-fiction

Only one prize this time, and since there were so few entries I did the judging myself.Forgive the “pseud-putting” comments, as most people in the insti would call it. Just trying to go with what everyone else did. 🙂

The fan-fiction prize goes to Aswin Krishna for his short story Overwatch:

The Half-Life universe was a very good choice for this contest, because the “canon”, the original games, has several unexplained parts and scope for filling in, which led to better coherence between the story and what came before it. It follows the pattern of the canon in narrative structure, as well: the entire story is told from a single point of view, the plot is strictly linear, and even at the end, some questions are left teasingly unresolved. The writer demonstrates a great degree of familiarity with the original source, and weaves an entertaining tale without taking any excess liberties with the material.

I honestly didn’t get the ending, but I liked it all the way till there, and the somewhat “sudden” and unexplained ending seems to be in the “spirit” of the games anyway. I haven’t played them, just heard lots and read up on wiki, but this IS meant to be what happens between the 1st and the 2nd,right? The victory of the Combines, I mean. Maybe if I’d read up on it before I’d read your story, I would have been better prepared for the ending. 🙂

Also, the On-the-Spot event is tomorrow and then again on Saturday. Slightly nervous over turnout, and whether people think my topics stink. Wish me luck!!!

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SF Writing Results: Short Sketch

That’s in,too, so I’ll finally have these up at the Shaastra site soon. Here goes:

Astronaut 26 3
Record Button On 28 2
Lijo 25 4
When he was a Cockroach 24 5
The Ironic Ambush 19 8
The Superhero who could not fly 21 7
Zatheran 24 5
A Chat with my AI Program 22 6
The Last Rites 29 1

Yes, I have points and all that. 🙂 . This is what the judge had to say about the winning entries:

  1. The Last Rites, by Amey Asgaonkar and Archana Paranjpe:convincing/compelling: Concept – 7
    whether it draws you into its world/whether you find it exciting or moving: Atmosphere/Immersion – 8
    whether you feel the characters come alive as real people:characterisaion – 7
    whether you feel you have learned something, gained some insight, been amused, or enjoyed reading it: Effect – 7

    I liked the premise of this work, as well as the fact that it creeps
    up on you at the end instead of being flashed in your face at the
    outset. I also found the paradox of Superman’s long lost home
    being his nemesis also interesting. The story proceeded well and
    you really got a feel that this is the sort of thing Supes may
    actually say if he were feeling particularly defeatist. I found it
    poignant, and the fact that it provoked some emotional reaction in
    me is probably the reason I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Record Button On, by Vinayak Sapru:
    convincing/compelling: Concept – 6

    whether it draws you into its world/whether you find it exciting or moving: Atmosphere/Immersion – 7

    whether you feel the characters come alive as real people:characterisaion – 8

    whether you feel you have learned something, gained some insight, been amused, or enjoyed reading it: Effect – 7

    While the concept of this story wasn’t particularly unique, the ending premise was funny enough to add something to it. The dialogue (monologue?) was reasonably written and well paced, and the insertion of atmospheric text cues for sound effects did well to add to the mental imagery evoked by the story. The character was suitably interesting enough, and again, the little twist at the end did a lot to save the gory melodrama that the story threatened to descend into towards the end. I did find it amusing, and I was satisfied by the atmosphere introduced.

  3. [No Title] Astronaut.doc, by Harshvardhan Krishnamoorthy:
    convincing/compelling: Concept – 7
    whether it draws you into its world/whether you find it exciting or moving: Atmosphere/Immersion – 6
    whether you feel the characters come alive as real people:characterisation – 6
    whether you feel you have learned something, gained some insight, been amused, or enjoyed reading it: Effect – 7

    The premise of this story is probably what saved it from the others. While not unique, it was compelling and well executed, which is an important aspect of concept execution. The story and atmosphere was plausible, though I feel it is important to avoid an excessive jargonisation of speech patterning, which, while suited to the story, can lead to glassy eyes.  Nevertheless, it probably provided the least simplistic moral tale available, and evidence of a thought process that has gone into concept execution is apparent.

And that’s it. Congrats and sorry, people. Now, I have to give this whole thing to the webops guy to put on the Shaastra site. Also, will miss the Golden Jubilee Conclave, I think, no invites and I hardly think I can bug my core like they told me to 😦 . Have more shaastra work anyway. And apparently, public holidays don’t apply to D and C slot profs, so have that as well.

SF Writing Results: Conventional

They’re in! They were in a few days back, actually. These were the entries I shortlisted(in no particular order):

  1. “Ip Op”, by Siddharth Sareen (“Ip Op.doc”)
  2. “Kratos”, by Lakshmi Priya Gopal (“New Document.doc”)
  3. “Big Red Button” by Arun Chaganty (“scifi.doc”)
  4. “Stone of Sisyphus” by Amey Asgaonkar (“stone of sisyphus.pdf”)
  5. “Ralph’s Simulation”, by Mathew Syriac (“Ralph.doc”)
  6. “Youngboy” by Anand Natarajan (“Youngboy.pdf”)
  7. “21 Minutes” by Rahul Jaisheel (“21 minutes.pdf”)

Personally, I thought all of them were quite decent- in stark contrast to the VAST majority of the entries. Yeah, I’ll edit out that part when I put this up on the Shaastra site. 🙂

And the results, as decided by Cory Doctorow:

The winner is “Big Red Button” by Arun Tejasvi Chaganty: Congratulations
on encapsulating so many different contemporary anxieties —
outsourcing and the future of labor, the tension between spirituality
and and technology, education and its discontents — in a short,
Frederic-Brown-esque story that nevertheless manages to have an actual
person in the midst of it.

The runner up is “THE STONE OF SISYPHUS” by  Amey Asgaonkar: The choice
of Albert Camus as imperial bureaucrat in an alternate French empire is
demented and inspired. Madcap poli-sci humour abounds here. Like all
alternate history, this is a deeply contemporary story — a little
slapstick, but nevertheless great work.

Third prize goes to “Ip Op” by Siddharth Sareen.

First time I sent him the entries he only gave me the first 2, and selected the third after I mentioned that we had three prizes to give away. His last message was the shortest email I’ve ever received, just three 2 letter words: “Ok, Ip Op” 😀 . Man, he’s efficient!

I’m giving quite a bit more prize money to this than to the other 2 categories(because of the quality of entries, the judge and the number of participants), so I’m thinking the split will be 1500,1000 and 500 bucks for first, second and third. The other category results aren’t in yet, but everything should be ready within a few days.  When I have the whole thing I’ll probably put it up on the Shaastra site. Keep watching this space!

Even MORE Science Fiction News!

Well, the topics have finally been “finalized”, and sent for publishing. Should be up within a day now. I’m not sure whether there any issues with me mirroring them on this blog, but I think I should hold off at least until the ever-busy webops coordinators upload them on the main site. But I can tell you two things that just about everyone has been asking me about:

  1. You are supposed to mail your entries to onlinesciencefiction@shaastra.org. The details on how I would (really REALLY) like your subject lines to be formatted are given (will be given) on the main site: nothing too complicated, just “Online SF Writing Category: [Conventional or Short Sketch or Fan Fiction] [title of story].
  2. The last date is September 21st. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but when it comes to deadlines, that never seems to matter.

By the way, I also have an account for on the spot sf (sciencefiction@shaastra.org) but if you have any doubts you’re much better off mailing me directly on my normal account. Or commenting, which basically does the same thing. 🙂

For those with additional doubts, here is a small part of an email conversation I had with a very enthusiastic science fiction fan working in Wipro. The vast majority of his doubts/gripes should have been cleared by the new tab on the OSF page, but I thought these deserved a little additional clarification

1) Frankly, I found the FAQs for OSF unrelated to the contest (it is simply ripped from the
on-the-spot contest). I wish to confirm if there really are two contests in Science Fiction, the
on-the-spot one and the online one.
1) There are two contests that you can enter independent of each other (and 2 prizes,too), but according to the Shaastra Events roster it is only one event, and there is only one event coordinator (yours truly). I simply separated the pages for clarity’s sake, because I’d received complaints from others that they couldn’t really tell which rules applied where.
[…]
3) And no details about the judges, the evaluation procedure or anything more is given, which I find odd for a webpage coming out of Shaastra ’08 website. You guys can always put a watermark in the background saying ‘Page under Construction’, can’t you?
To be perfectly honest, besides our one “celebrity judge” for the Online Contest, we haven’t really decided on the final judges. I hasten to add that we have a list of people who have agreed to judge: we simply haven’t confirmed with them, since there is after all over a month left. I realize that I didn’t specify the evaluation method, but I believe I have described the type of entries I am looking for in sufficient detail. I had hoped that would be enough information from the point of view of a contestant. As for things like prize money and the like, even I am in the dark. I have yet to receive information from the Events Cores(the people in charge of all the Events) on what I will be allocated.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll probably upload the topics later as well. Participate!

More Science Fiction News

[Almost] Final pages are up! Well, unless you point out any further problems, that is 🙂 . And don’t tell me there are no topics and no deadline and what adress the entries should be sent to. I KNOW. I’m SORRY. They’ll be up within 2 days, I promise.

Here are the links:

About the splitting into 2 pages thing: besides the fact that we (me and the guy who’s officially supposed to tell me if I’m screwing up, my QMS coordinator) thought it would be clearer this way, the idea was also to make sure that people who might not be coming to Shaastra at all and just browsing through the Online Events would also get to see that there is an online portion to this event. And since I’m not sure this is mentioned in the pages(coz, you know, it’s pretty obvious), you CAN participate for both. You can even send in as many entries for the online event as you want- and that IS mentioned.

Oh, soon-to-be-public secret for all my dear readers: The deadline for entries is September 21st.  Topics, this deadline and other details will be put up August 21st. And we’re taking “open”, topic-less entries,too. So if you wanted a 2 day head start, this is it. Go!

Science Fiction News

First and foremost, the Shaastra Science Fiction Writing web page is up: have a look!!!

All the details are there, although I must admit it looks a little incomplete. Anyone with any suggestions whatsoever, do comment, email or tap me on the shoulder when you see me on the street. As you’ll learn after you visit, there are 3 categories, conventional story writing, short sketch writing (it’s supposed to be like an extract; it is NOT supposed to be a summary) and fan fiction writing, which I must admit I am slightly concerned about implementing. I want to leave it open to as many different books and ideas and authors and genre-bending works as possible, but I would still like to give some sort of topic, as a “seed crystal” of sorts, especially for those who haven’t been very well acquainted with the whole business of fan fiction.  All categories, by the way, accept stories of sufficient merit from topics other than the ones that are given.

Oh, and if I haven’t mentioned this yet: Cory Doctorow is judging!!! Only the “conventional” story category of the online contest, but still!!!

In other news, Tor.com is finally up. It looks interesting, although it might be a little over the top for those who aren’t hard core science fiction readers. It has tons of commentary and posts by several of the biggest names in the field, and free stories.

That’s all for now. Will keep posting later. Meanwhile, I really do want suggestions.

Oh,and…

…I am the Science Fiction Writing Coordinator for Shaastra 2008!!! Look out for further posts, I’ll be putting up progress reports here, and problem statements,too, before I put it up on the actual Shaastra website.

Exams going on, maths was good, I think, can hope for a B, though C is still more likely. Next up, solid state devices on saturday, electromech on monday,networks and systems on tuesday and science fiction on thursday.

Oh, and go to Lost Generation. I promise you’ll love it. My new anthem!!!