Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

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SEPTEMBER 2019 - MICROSTORY CONTEST (COMMENTS ONLY)

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message 1: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
Theme: Bored AI
Element: Something, anything, to do with garbage.


message 2: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments "Theme: Bored AI
Element: Something, anything, to do with garbage. "

Sounds like the opening scenes to "Wall-E"

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910970/...


message 3: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1025 comments Great story Tom!! Good work!


message 4: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1025 comments C, I'll never look at my mower the same again. Nicely done!


message 5: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Thanks, Justin.


message 6: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1079 comments Justin wrote: "Great story Tom!! Good work!"

Thank you, Justin.


message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1079 comments C. wrote: ""Theme: Bored AI
Element: Something, anything, to do with garbage. "

Sounds like the opening scenes to "Wall-E"

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910970/..."


That's the second time you've made mention of that, C. That movie must have had quite an effect on you.


message 8: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Yes. Was a perfect fit with this month's theme.

- C

Tom wrote: "C. wrote: ""Theme: Bored AI
Element: Something, anything, to do with garbage. "

Sounds like the opening scenes to "Wall-E"

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910970/......"



message 9: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 366 comments Got a story up. Not sure when the deadline was or word count. It is still 750? Mine was 745.


message 10: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1025 comments Nice one Marianne! For some reason I envisioned the creature from the South Korean movie, "The Host." Good work!


message 11: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 366 comments Thanks, Justin. Things from the toilet mutating a long fiction tradition ;)


message 12: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1079 comments Good one, Marianne. (I was reminded of "Free Willy," myself.) The talking buildings seemed to give off a Ray Bradbury vibe.


message 13: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 366 comments Thanks, Tom. Actually, I have written here about sentient buildings before. The anti-boredom vibe is more stick it to the man, and if Willy gets free too, a double win ;)


message 14: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 366 comments And I am only now noticing that the rules are clearly posted in a separate post. Doh!


message 15: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
You're good Marianne. 750 is the limit, excluding title, author or other mentions. Welcome back!!!

Taking the poetic angle on my story. A bit dark, but I hope it entertains.


message 16: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Jot and Marianne, well done!

Jot: Wow! Did you just toss that together during a free moment between telephone calls?

-C


message 17: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
Thanks man. Took about 4 hours to put that together, though.


message 18: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1079 comments Jot wrote: "You're good Marianne. 750 is the limit, excluding title, author or other mentions. Welcome back!!!

Taking the poetic angle on my story. A bit dark, but I hope it entertains."


Stunningly beautiful, Jot. (Ruminations of Skynet?) I was reminded of Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth, Yet I Must Scream."


message 19: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
Thanks Tom! Have read that verse before, but it differently fits.


message 20: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Nice story, Marianne! I loved the WTF reference.

-C


message 21: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 366 comments Thanks, C. I let the mind go where it will ;)


message 22: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 366 comments Thanks, Jot. Dig the epic poetry :)


message 23: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1025 comments Great stories Jot and Jack!


message 24: by Jack (new)

Jack McDaniel | 246 comments Thanks, Justin


message 25: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
Thanks guys


message 26: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1025 comments Okay, I've made some very small tweaks to my story. Hopefully it makes it a bit more clear. The boredom comes in when the AI puts itself in standby mode, and as it begins to calculate PI at the end. Too subtle perhaps, but the whole story is subtle. You are getting the "stream of consciousness" perspective from the A.WA.R.E AI as it takes care of its garbage day routine. It queries its drone nodes for status to see how long it is taking and how much has been completed. Then human bodies begin showing up... Unfortunately for our AI, biological pathogens are the least of its worries...


message 27: by Paula (new)

Paula | 924 comments Justin, I found your story crystal clear, to begin with. Sorry anyone made you feel it needed explanations. It's a very fine piece; send it to magazines.


message 28: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1025 comments Oh thanks Paula, I do appreciate it! No one did, but I thought I could clarify a couple things with just a few slight changes. I appreciate any outside perspectives on my work, good, bad or ugly! I hope you're able to find a new publishing home for your book!


message 29: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
For the website version of the contest, was thinking of having a ranking, but not based on a simple win percentage. Makes no sense to have someone win the first time and never participate again while maintaining a 100% win average.

Would need a point system based on a win count, vote count, participation count and perhaps other factors. A few mathematically oriented people here. What equation would you suggest?


message 30: by Jack (new)

Jack McDaniel | 246 comments Might be best to have a minimum number of contests entered to qualify, like 10. All of this might get a bit tricky though. Right now each entry is a comment. On your site you might want to create a page for each. The data can be used and manipulated then.


message 31: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
LOL. 10 of course would put you on top. Given your contributions, I'd say you deserve to be there.


message 32: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
Mostly, I want to be able to have other award types. People deserve recognition for their efforts.


message 33: by Jack (new)

Jack McDaniel | 246 comments Hall of Fame. Something like 5 wins or more with links to the stories.

Cool.

Could link to website, Amazon and Goodreads pages


message 34: by Jack (new)

Jack McDaniel | 246 comments Could even turn it into a monthly magazine. Submit stories after logging in. Top 5 or 7 vote getters appear in the next issue


message 35: by Paula (last edited Sep 17, 2019 05:17PM) (new)

Paula | 924 comments Surely the rating algorithm would have to factor in the number of persons entering--and number voting--in each contest. And you would want to rethink letting anyone in the wider sf group or Goodreads generally, even if unknown to this sf microstories group, vote in the contests.
Sorry if that sounds picayune, but I've just been looking at Daily Kos's and a couple other political "polls" and it makes one very skeptical about polls and weird-form vote-counting. I believe the operative phrase would be "how to obfuscate with statistics."
However, if you're going to run the group, or a monthly magazine, based on vote count, please note that this removes some of the (imho) best writers to have participated in these monthly contests--many of whom have already dropped out, of course. This in fact brings out again the very major difference in aesthetic taste between those active in the first three years of this group and those most active since.


message 36: by C. (last edited Sep 18, 2019 08:19AM) (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments I'd suggest we incorporate a rating system into the review process. It's a standard numerical classification that cannot be messed with so Jot has a uniform method to tally results and scores. Partial or non-standard rating scores are excluded. So here are some suggested categories to rate a story (1-5 Hypernova stars):
A. Overall story enjoyment
B. Writing quality
C. Scientific content quality. (This is a science fiction writing contest after all.)
D. Emotive quality
E. Ending strength

Here, as an example, is how I would rate my story this month, "The Problem with Spot":
A. 4 B. 4 C. 3 D. 3 E. 4 Total score 18.

Jot can tally the numeric scores each month and offer annual (or quarterly) best in category prizes. A Darth Vader tie or scarf would be nice. : )

-C


message 37: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
I wasn't planning on changing the primary voting system for the stories, I was talking about an annual ranking system for the authors.


message 38: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1025 comments Great story Chris! Loved it!


message 39: by Chris (new)

Chris Nance | 449 comments Justin wrote: "Great story Chris! Loved it!"

Thanks Justin. :)


message 40: by Paula (last edited Sep 18, 2019 03:22PM) (new)

Paula | 924 comments Jack wrote: "Could even turn it into a monthly magazine. Submit stories after logging in. Top 5 or 7 vote getters appear in the next issue"
There are only 6 or 7 regular story-contributors each month, so how would this differ from current mode?
C wrote "A Darth Vader tie or scarf would be nice. : )" --category scoring, if you must go "ranking" one another, certainly is a good idea, though, and those are excellent categories. ;)


message 41: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1079 comments Justin wrote: "Great story Chris! Loved it!"

Seconded, Chris. Definitely one of your best. My compliments.


message 42: by Chris (new)

Chris Nance | 449 comments Tom wrote: "Justin wrote: "Great story Chris! Loved it!"

Seconded, Chris. Definitely one of your best. My compliments."


Thanks, Tom. I really appreciate it!


message 43: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 366 comments My 2 cents. I do this for fun and to keep my sanity. I have no interest in ranking systems, and if I happen to win one month, I raise a glass, and that is about it. But this is just me,


message 44: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
Understood Marianne. For me, the primary purpose for this contest is educational, at least that is why I started it. Since its creation, I have grown tremendously as a writer, with the help of the members, but there is always room to improve. The secondary motive is to provide name recognition to the members. This second part I fear I have failed, as I have not figured out how to make it more mainstream. Though, once I get my head over water, would love to create this on a website for sci-fi and other categories. I would to see if a ranking system helped or hurt.


message 45: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Jot,

Suggest we try it next month, and see how it works out.

-C


message 46: by Paula (new)

Paula | 924 comments Jot, who would be doing the rankings?
As I've been seeing on a photographers group on FB, as soon as rewards are involved (in that case, having the top-ranked "photo" be the profile shot for the following week), the collegial, mutually supportive spirit among the people involved either fades bit-by-bit or simply vanishes. Otoh, using outside "judges" only works if everyone agrees the judges are capable (though, of course, that's true with peer rankings too).


message 47: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
C, it wouldn't be based on a single month and should impact the way votes are tallied now. Perhaps it would be a yearly thing to highlight one writer each year based on something like total votes received. Not sure.


message 48: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Grading 5 categories is much easier than writing a critique so we'll get more feedback and deliver more value to contributors. More contributors, more readers. So it grows not shrinks.


message 49: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1229 comments Mod
You are certainly welcome to do that on the critique thread, unless specific authors requested their stories not to be critiqued.


message 50: by Paula (new)

Paula | 924 comments I loved your story, Greg. The situation/worldbuilding, the liveliness of it, the visual vividness, the ending! Terrific.


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