After carefully considering the stories from July, and taking into account the bribes we’ve received from both the Assassin’s Guild and the Guild of Green Tea Microbrewers (guess which one we take more seriously), we have officially chosen the top three stories for the month.
The winner this month, sailing to victory with just the right amount of pluck and verve (whatever that is), is The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, by Ahimsa Kerp. Besides having a catchy title, the story blends just the right amounts of alternate history, cultural references, characterization, and conflict, with just a dash of steampunk for flavor, to create a truly enjoyable and impactful story. It’s the kind of story that makes you ponder for a moment, and then dash to Wikipedia to find out more about the Boxer Rebellion. You know, that kind of story.
The Second Place Award goes to Past Another Sky, by Scott Birrenkott. It’s a space western, a sub-genre of science fiction that all too often devolves into cheeseball tales with bad dialect and spaghetti western aesthetics. Birrenkott manages to mix in just the right amounts of frontier cowboying with far future colonization so that it doesn’t overwhelm the story. In fact, the emotional conflict and excellent buildup were bigger factors in earning this award than the setting.
And in Third Place this month, we have Ammyland, by Forrest Johnson. This tale blew us away by giving us a new Alice in Wonderland, where Alice is in charge of the fantasy land, and she’s a little creepy in an adorable way. Johnson added just enough whimsy to keep the story light, and then brought it down to earth with a punch in the gut at the end. A beautiful punch in the gut.
Stay tuned for more great stories in August! Punches in the gut sold separately.