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May & June Responses and Winners


Tony, aka Kells
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Thank you to our entrants in the "Do What Is Right, Not What Is Easy" Writing Challenge! As it's the last day in June, I'm pleased to bring you the results of this Challenge.

The judges agreed unanimously that "The Wind Knows a Song for the Ages," written by the writer behind Lt. JG Ren Rennyn, should be our winner! Please join us in congratulating him and our runner-up, the writer behind Lt. Kaitlyn Falcon and "Orders and Consequences." Many congratulations to you both and a big thank you to all of our entrants!

I'd like to recognize my fellow judges for this round: the writers behinds Fleet Captains Cascadia Rainier and Toni Turner and Lieutenant Sal Taybrim. My special thanks to the judges for writing extra reviews for this round to ensure that every story received two!

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"Reality of command"
Writer's Character: Atherton Grix
Judge's Character: Toni Turner
This was a well-written entry, in that it told the story of why and how Commander Cain found himself in such a predicament. It was indeed a complicated turn of events as Mr. Grix explained in detail, giving the reader a satisfactory account of the circumstances that brought Cain to the point of almost losing his career in Starfleet.
Although I liked the story, I kept waiting to find a better sense of remorse in Cain. And the fact that he chose to become a political pon, rather than face a court marshal for disobeying orders that caused fatalities, didn't say much for Cain's ethics, nor the Admiral's for offering him another ship. For those reasons, I had a difficult time equating that this was a true "Reality of command" in all cases. But that is not to say it doesn't happen in our real time, or that it won't in the future.
Overall, it was a very solid story. Well done, Mr. Grix!
&
"Reality of command"
Writer's Character: Atherton Grix
Judge's Character: Cascadia Rainier
This was an interesting take on the overall theme this month, offering a glimpse of the aftermath of an obviously difficult decision that caused the death of others and the downfall of a Starfleet command officer. Of course, as we learn as the story comes to its end, things are not always as they appear. A secondary course of action is interjected towards the end, giving the afformentioned officer another way out - a way that he takes.
Overall, the story has all of the components of a potentially good tale, with a plot that is not only alluded to having already happened, but one that is played out throughout the story itself. I enjoyed reading the story, having met Cain IC at least once. At the same time, I felt as if some of the spelling errors detracted somewhat from the overall feel of it. I also felt that the story ended on a flat note, without actually having climaxed to its potential heights. Finally, it's never made even remotely clear just why this Nova class was needed by this Admiral, or why it's important enough to wipe clean a court martial worthy offense, which might have offered a lot of depth to the story otherwise.
Still, on its own, the story was certainly intriguing and appeared to close the chapter of an officer who had been with the fleet for some time (and whose writer has moved on to a new character) which is always nice. There is the potential for a future, despite the actions leading to the current point, and we may not have seen the last of Arden Cain. This was a great addition to a very strong showing this time around. Thanks for sharing this with us and I look forward to future entries!
***
"Orders and Consequences"
Writer's Character: Kaitlyn Falcon
Judge's Character: Toni Turner
Mr. Falcon spun a tale reminiscent of "Swiss Family Robinson," taking into account that command was more like a family decision. It was simple question of going fight the Fury without back up, or follow orders? . . . but Mr. Falcon made it much more than that with words that flowed seamlessly from on sentence to the other as he presented every provocative thought. I kept asking myself if he ever stopped to realize that Starfleet Command could have had a plan in mind for the Fury that any interference would have messed up. Regardless, the story held my interest, and was well worth the time to read.
Well done presentation, Mr. Falcon!
&
"Orders and Consequences"
Writer's Character: Kaitlyn Falcon
Judge's Character: Cassandra Egan Manno
Good work here! Many Challenge stories that center on established characters will either spend no time offering those characters origins or they'll spend too much time hashing through a character the writer has known for much longer than the audience. In this case, neither is true, even though this writer has clearly written for Robert Falcon for a long time. The story itself is paced well and has a clear arc toward its conclusion, and I applaud it for being able to juggle so much when not just Robert himself but multiple characters and the Yorktown are part of an ongoing plot. However, I'll offer one note for potential revision there: It seems to me that there aren't necessarily stakes for Robert here, and that, by the story's end, though things may change in the future, we haven't been shown and have no guarantee that the events of the story and Robert's musings will have an impact upon what happens next. I would like to see more of these stories entered in future Challenges, but I think that they'll only be stronger if they're forced to stand alone not just in terms of their characters but also in the consequences for those characters. All in all, some very good work here, and I do look forward to the next entry!
***
"River of Time"
Writer's Character: Irina Pavlova
Judge's Character: Cascadia Rainier
This story was an interesting tale involving everything we love about sci-fi; time travel, distant worlds, and impossible plans. Underneath it all was the idea of right and wrong in a quite ambiguous sense. Was it right to want to go home? How would that change time? Was it the right choice to avoid the plans that were made? We can all relate to the desire to return to a point in our past to right the wrongs made, and in this story that return is possible. The question remains, however, is it right?
As such, this story really fills in the theme of this particular writing challenge. It was easy to read and easy to follow. The biggest downfall in my eyes, and a place where potential improvement might be made next time, is near the end. The turnaround from a well planned mission to return to her home back in time to her crying and scrapping the plan was overly fast compared to the rest of the story. I feel as if this emotional part of the story had so much more potential and could have been far more impactful if given the attention other aspects of the story had been given. I really wonder where it could have gone had this climax been as deep as the rest of the story.
Aside from that, the entry was a good example of good writing challenge material. I wholly enjoyed the read and I can't wait to see what you enter next time. Time travel is a topic we all consider, being involved in science fiction. Is it right though? That is something we can only really explore here, and you've done a fine job of that and more!

&

"River of Time"
Writer's Character: Irina Pavlova
Judge's Character: Sal Taybrim
This story was very smoothly written. I felt the descriptions and dialogue flowed well, and carried the reader along at a good pace. I particularly appreciated your attention to canonical detail in this work. There are a lot of little historical facts in there that ring true from various Trek episodes. This grounds this story in a canonical reality and gives a little headnod to readers who know Trek canon well. I also appreciate you posting the song that inspired this work and your thought process behind it. I believe that having a song as inspiration helped give this story a strong narrative form.
To make this story stronger, I think you could add more emphasis and exploration of Pavlova’s internal conflict. It is such a fast turn around that it leaves the reader wanting. Starting with the conversation with T’Sal the story could slow down and get fleshed out. There is the classic sci-fi debate of time travel (does one small chance cause a cascade effect that could drastically alter history, or does time flow like a raging river and one small change is but a tiny pebble thrown within) – how does T’Sal convince Pavlova that her journey will drastically alter history (after all, Kirk brought Gillian Taylor back with him on his slingshot and history seemed ok…). Perhaps most importantly exploring what about the Duronis Embassy really calls to Pavlova. What can outweigh the desire for home? What about the people mentioned has formed such a strong bond with Pavlova that she turns back?
Overall I feel that this is a very good structure and a strong idea that could use more fleshing out to make the whole narrative feel complete. This story shows good improvement and I look forward to seeing further entries!
***
"The Wind Knows a Song for the Ages"
Writer's Character: Ren Rennyn
Judge's Character: Cassandra Egan Manno
"The Wind Knows a Song for the Ages," Ren Rennyn
I both admire and commend this story first for its cleanliness and its solidity, and though that might sound like faint praise, I use it very intentionally to start off this review. The writer knows what he's doing, not just with regard to his work on the level of the sentence, but also when I consider the arc of the story overall; Dr. Atell's character arc is pleasant to track and is both suited and sized for a story of this length; and the plot of the story isn't either overly simple or too ambitious, given the story's length. "The Wind Knows a Song for the Ages" -- which, by the way, is an absolutely fantastic title -- is one of those rare stories for which I can't immediately suggest a direction for revision, mostly, in this case, because it's built so well. If I had one recommendation for this writer's future stories -- because I certainly want to see more from him! -- I'd ask him to have more fun with experimentation. What would happen to the story if it wasn't wrapped up quite so neatly, or if it was first or second person, or if it was epistolary? This story shows off the writer's chops very well, so I'd encourage him to break his mold. However, I don't want to detract from the fact that this was a very good story told excellently -- very good!
&
"The Wind Knows a Song for the Ages"
Writer's Character: Ren Rennyn
Judge's Character: Sal Taybrim
This story gets major kudos for keeping me engrossed and guessing to the very end.
I particularly like how you created characters for this, instead of taking already created characters. These characters were given life and personality in a very short amount of time, in a way that sucked the reader in. In many ways this feels like a piece that was created for an audience and it shines for that fact. I felt like as a writer, you were crafting a piece for others to enjoy, to chew on and think about. I greatly appreciated reading it.
In the end, the only thing I wished for was a little more insight into Altell and why she was so driven, and so focused on her scientific preservation over the life of her lab assistant. Truth be told this is a minor quibble – something that came out on a second reading. The first reading I was simply hooked on finding out what they would find and whether Roupo would make it through.
This story makes the reader struggle with the concept of ‘right’ as it carefully balances in a morally grey area. I find that balance is the most intriguing part of the story in the end, the question of whether it is more right to preserve life or knowledge.
Overall a fascinating and thought provoking read!
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