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May & June Responses and Winners!


Tony, aka Kells
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Happy midsummer, all! I'm pleased to bring you the results from our May & June Writing Challenge "From the Past."

Our winner for this round is Ed, aka Captain Diego Herrera, for his short story "Not Until This World Burns." Close on his heels in the rankings was Marissa, aka Captain Kalianna Nicholotti, with her short story "Lessons from the Past." Congratulations to both of them and to everyone who entered!

A new Challenge will be up early in July and will run through late August. Until then, I would like to thank my fellow judges for this round: the writers behind Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Commander Jhen Thelev (Lieutenant Sinda Essen), and Commander Melitta Herodion.

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“Questions and answers from the past.”
writer's character: Alexander Richards
judge's character: Toni Turner

Lieutenant JG Richards delivered what his title promised in this well-told story of discovery and motivation.

I was impressed by the fact that Captain Barnabus, even though looking forward to a shore leave, made the decision to investigate the wormhole first. It was very Starfleet of him. Although while the investigation answered the question of what had happened to the USS Tycho, NCC -1977, there still remained his questions about the wormhole that had taken it 33 years prior.

I also like the fact that the incident brought about a fraction of personal discovery. . . "Do I regret ever having joined Starfleet rather than becoming a family man? Not for one moment, though I do sometimes find myself wondering, when I am alone, what if . . .? ”

Thank you, Lieutenant Richards. Well done.

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"Lessons from the Past"

writer's character: Kalianna Nicholotti

judge's character: Jhen Thelev/Sinda Essen

I must admit I approached this story with a slight reservation. A story with no dialogue is always something of a gamble.
But appearances can be deceptive and 'Lessons from the Past' was a joy to read, quite literally.
The lack of speech paid off, dealing as it does with memories - although our minds are good at remembering sights and even smells, rarely do we remember exactly what a person said. In this case, dialogue would have felt intrusive and jarring to the contemplative mood.
Presenting snatches from the lifetimes of a Trill symbiont was a great way to approach this topic and Nicholotti presents us with half a dozen completely different hosts. Different, and yet connected by a number of themes, most prominently love and a deep interest in the unknown, be it space, science, future or even death. The presence of the symbiont is always there, not just to pass on the lessons of the past, but also to learn new lessons along with its host.
Nicholotti's writing is beautifully poetic. Lines like; "questions not even asked yet would have answers" and "[the] impression that the star itself was dying, as rays of yellow, red, and orange bled into the water and spread in the waves" create a story that is evocative and thoughtful, as much about the future as it is about the past.
Wonderful.

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"The Light of Darkness"
writer's character: Hannibal Parker
judge's character: Aron Kells
This story places itself strongly within the genre of military sci-fi, which gives it an immediate opportunity to shine as it's not something that, with the exception of a couple of memorable DS9 episodes, Trek has done. Within that genre, it takes the Challenge's topic to heart and examines an important battle in the early service of Hannibal Parker, then a young marine officer. However, once under the surface of this attractive veneer, the story breaks down a bit. There's nothing very uniquely Parker about this story, and even his rallying cry is taken directly from Starship Troopers -- a disappointment for me, because I'm intrigued by Parker's character and I was intrigued to see one of his early experiences. The battle itself didn't carry much tension as I was certain Parker was going to survive and I wasn't vested in the Ha'Rouque character. However, the fact that the writer took on the challenge of writing about bloody military maneuvers in a universe in which that's generally not too accepted gains many kudos, and I'd like to see more of young Parker in the future.

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"Life in Memoriam"
writer's character: Ben Livingston
judge's character: Aron Kells
This story takes on the immensely challenging task of explaining what happens in the moments we like to think of as empty. Or, put another way, it tells us what happens when nothing's happening for this character, and it does it very well. The wandering reflection amidst the structural device of the push-ups provides a nice ebb and flow to the narrative, and this is, all things considered, a very lovely take on the in-between. Its length is just right, too, as any longer would give way to a sort of mental rambling that this character wouldn't do: He reflects as he gets ready for his day and then he goes to it. Well done!

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"Not until this world burns"

writer's character: Diego Herrera
judge's character: Melitta Herodion

When I started reading this piece I first thought that I was going to be reading about a character's exploits before or after a night of heavy drinking. As I read more though I found that I couldn't have been more wrong. The topic, "from the past" could refer to any number of things from a single past experience to the impacts of culture or tradition and how a person deals with one of those things. This story, "Not until this world burns" tackles all three (past experiences, ancient culture of a character's race and tradition) and it does so beautifully and in my opinion, it also does it successfully.

As well as being well written this story made me want to look up the various details of Andorian society that weren't spelt out as the story progressed. I particularly had trouble with the different gender and family references but with that said I wouldn't ask that to be changed at all. I found that this story was excellently crafted using imaginative and deeply descriptive descriptions as well as truly heart felt emotions for each of the characters. To me though one of the best features of this story was how as the story progressed layer after layer of past influences were added which created the overall and very memorable effect and I deeply enjoyed reading.

Very well done.

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