It’s that time once again – time for more Clarity announcements! Today, the Judges’ Picks and the Directory’s Pick. These are stories that were amazing, but for whatever reason were not chosen for the top three. Each judge singled out one of them for special recognition:
Harmony – Jaymie Wagner
Judge: Angel Martinez
Stories that take risks tend to catch my attention, and Harmony certainly does that. The author cleverly illustrates humans attempting to communicate with an alien collective, but the humans need someone who thinks differently for any chance of success. Both a metaphor for the rewards of communicating with someone on their own terms and for the ways in which thinking beyond the binary can expand our universe, this story packs a lot of meaning into less than three hundred words. By the end, the story wraps us in warmth and inclusion. Lovely and well-crafted, this story will stay with me as a bright spot of time.
Franklin – Jordan Ulibarri
Judge: Ben Brock
Once again, it has been my pleasure to judge Queer Sci Fi’s Flash Fiction Contest. This year, I have claimed Franklin as my judge’s pick for the anthology. I loved the old crone in the story, her goodness and mischievousness, and how she drank tea. The clever spin at the end was heartwarming. A line that stuck with me was, “Raised by parents who wished for nothing but his safety.” I wish more parents felt this way about their transgender children.
Telegram From the Netherland – Alex Liddell
Judge: Lexi Ander
I’m a bit of a gamer at heart and I love fantasy movies. I really adore the ones where there is a prophecy like, “No Man Can…” and then someone comes along and does it. Makes me so happy. Telegram from the Netherland runs along the lines of both themes and I loved it at first read. This is a letter from what I’d call the field archeologist, Veritas Yorrage, to their supporting university, Archibald Terrabane. The communication is smothered in narcissism and what should be momentous news is instead a letter of chastisement. The page sent by Archie was not only late, but does the unthinkable and everyone is traumatized and inconsolable. I laughed my butt off and applauded the page for knowing zirself and doing what ‘no man or woman’ could do. LOVED IT.
No Crime Unseen – Blaine D. Arden
Judge: Ava Kelly
A story of the underestimated, a team sharing a precious resource, a superhero tale, if you will. The older nonbinary character stood out in this one; it’s rare that we see elders as the attacking blade in fiction these days. The disability representation was another thing to catch my attention, although in the real world there are no feline friends to lend a helping paw. Even so, the cat’s eyes are obviously not a replacement; this comes out of the page with the initial vertigo, and we follow, confused, until… it’s made clear.
Magic Mirror – Lori Alden Holuta
Judge: J.M. Dabney
I was honored to be able to judge this year’s Clarity writing competition. In doing so, for my judge’s choice, I chose Magic Mirror. As I have a weak spot for Lesbian characters I enjoyed the interpretation of the usual fairy tale. The story was cute and made me smile, I’d loved to see more LesFic fairy tales out there.
And now on to the Director’s Pick. Actually, there are two from me this year, because there were two stories I just couldn’t choose between, and because I can. :P
Happy to Help – Alison J. McKenzie
Director: J. Scott Coatsworth
Every year, I choose one of my favorite stories from the hundreds submitted to name my Director’s Choice. This year, I had two that I just couldn’t choose between. This is one of those stories–deliciously creepy and weirdly sweet. It stuck with me long after I read it. Even voodoo priestesses can care…
Refraction – Gordon Bonnet
Director: J. Scott Coatsworth
Every year, I choose one of my favorite stories from the hundreds submitted to name my Director’s Choice. This year, I had two that I just couldn’t choose between. This is one of those stories–just beautiful and pure and sweet. It made my little gay heart sing…
Congrats to all the picks!