Stupefying Stories is currently CLOSED to unsolicited submissions. For more information about what we’re likely to be looking for when we reopen to submissions, see our Submission Guidelines, but be advised that they are subject to change.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Friday Challenge: 11/17/2017

We got a really nice response to the 11/03/17 Friday Challenge: so much so that we’ve decided to make an arbitrary change to the rules. (Is that in the Official Rules? “We reserve the right to make arbitrary changes to the rules at any time.” If not, it will be by the time you read this.)

Instead of posting the top three entries and then asking you to read them and vote, we’re contacting the authors, as we’d like to just plain publish the top entries, and then run a reader poll to select the best of those, the winner to receive some sort of as-yet-undetermined bonus.

Frankly, I think this will be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to trying it.



Now, as for the 11/17/2017 Friday Challenge: back when we worked to maintain our listing on Duotrope, we found we didn’t really need a calendar. We could pretty tell which month it was by the kinds of unsolicited stories that showed up in our slush pile. In January, we saw lots of stories with no real ending that were clearly the first chapters of the novels the writers had started and failed to finish during NaNoWriMo. In March, we saw lots of submissions from students in creative writing classes, who had clearly selected the option of writing a story over writing a term paper. In June, we saw lots more of the same, only this time with a cover letter proudly announcing the author’s graduation with a BFA or MFA in Creative Writing. From late August through the end of October we saw lots of horror stories that were coming in far too late for us to use in the October issue, and beginning about mid-November...

Well, there’s no way to put a happy face on it or make it dance with sugar-plum fairies. Beginning in about mid-November, we began to see an avalanche of awful Christmas stories. “Santa Claus: Serial Killer.” How many times have we seen that one? “Alfie, the Union Organizer Elf.” “Vampire Rudolph, Terror of the Christmas Skies.” And I long ago lost track of how many almost-funny quasi-technical monologues we saw that explained exactly how Santa managed to make that fantastic 24-hour delivery run with a tiny sled pulled by eight reindeer.

In the past, that was one of the absolutes in our submission guidelines: Absolutely no Christmas-themed stories! But this time, I thought, just maybe, just this once...

Okay. (And I know I’m going to regret this later.) The floodgates are now open. Go ahead. Get it out of your system. What we’re looking for this time is your absolutely worst Christmas-themed SF/F story. What is that story that jumps into your mind every time you go to the mall and suffer the saturation bombardment of holiday music? What is the one line of some insipid Christmas carol that really sets you off?* What is the most ridiculous must-have toy ever to be inflicted on parents? What is that hideous story you have hanging around in the back of your mind in exactly the same way that that godawful Christmas sweater your aunt gave you is hanging way in the back of your closet?

Now, go write a short, preferably funny (and I define “funny” quite loosely: those who know me know I have a particularly mordant sense of humor) story that let’s it rip, and send it to:, Subject line: 11/17/17 Friday Challenge

Given that for most of us next week will be spent in an orgy of gluttony followed by a tryptophan coma, the deadline for this one is midnight Central time, Thursday, 12/7/17.

Have fun!


* For me, it’s the line in Mel Torme’s Christmas Song: “Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow.” I keep flashing on Village of the Damned.


Arisia said...

Next thing you know, you'll be accepting stories about cute cats.

GuyStewart said...

It is a VERY good thing I wasn't eating the black bean and taco meat "nachos" or drinking my iced tea when I read the comment on "Village of the Damned". I'd be packing my laptop up and heading to Best Buy for a thorough cleaning...

David The Good said...

"It's Christmas in the Coliseum, with all of the folks from Rome!"