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Friday, November 9, 2018

Bad Imitation Lovecraft Contest: AND THE WINNER IS...

After taking an entire week longer than originally planned to reach a decision, and after doing my best to pawn the responsibility off on someone else recruit celebrity judges to help guide our decision-making, I am delighted to announce two things:

1. That after a surprising amount of debate, we finally have settled on a clear winner for the Bad Imitation Lovecraft Friday Challenge, and

2. That doing the Friday Challenge one more time turned out to be fun, so we’re going to repeat it and issue a new challenge later today.

Before we do so, though, I’d like to direct your attention one more time to the entries we received and the readers’ comments thereon: contest entries and comments. As you consider the entries and read the comments, please remember that the Friday Challenge is both a penny-ante writing contest and an audience participation feature. You need not have submitted an entry in order to read and comment on the entries.

Are we all clear on that? Good. Then, in the thoughtful, considered, and unappealable decision of the judges, the top entries are, in win, place, and show order:
WINNER: “The Questioning Sanity of an Antiquarian Man,” by Micah Castle   

FIRST RUNNER-UP: “Garden Shoggoth,” by Gregg Chamberlain 

HONORABLE MENTION: “The Deliberate Work of the Generational Scrivener Richard Edwards,” by C.S. Humble

A few words of explanation now seem in order. C.S. Humble’s entry really nailed the Lovecraftian style, and while it’s missing a few of the usual verbal touchstones of proper fitz-Lovecraft—Arkham, Miskatonic, ichor, etc.—I actually learned something new from my conversation with the author, when I asked if forbadding was a typo: “Forbade is the past-tense of forbidding. And it was one of Lovecraft’s little favorite things, to take an antiquated word in its past tense and give it the -ing treatment to suggest an oldness to its syntax.”

Well. You learn something every day, if you’re not careful.

Next, Gregg Chamberlain’s entry, “Garden Shoggoth,” was the clear reader favorite, and almost the winner. However, David Gullen’s comments caused us to go back and re-read the challenge as originally stated:
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write one paragraph—beginning, middle, or end of a story, we don’t care—of truly rancid, turgid, clotted prose, in the inimitable and yet all-too-often imitated style of the legendary H. P. Lovecraft. Throw everything you’ve got in there: Arkham, Miskatonic, pustulence, ichor, eldritch, sunken R’lyeh—get it all out of your system. Give it the whole fnlakghing works. Extra credit for making it all one single ghastly run-on sentence; double extra credit if you can correctly identify this kitchen utensil and work its properly Lovecraftian name into your contest submission.

With that in mind, we had to agree with Gullen’s assessment: “Garden Shoggoth” simply made too much sense to be bad, and “The Deliberate Work...” actually showed promise of being the beginning of a good story and left us with a vague wish that Humble had written more.

So why didn’t Robert Hobson win, for being the only one to correctly identify the “eldritch cleaver?” Well, Mr. Hobson is kind of a ringer here: we’ve already published several of his stories and have several more in the pipeline. So, while we didn’t exactly disqualify him for being a slumming pro, we figured he’d be able to handle the disappointment of not winning, and would be happy with a shout-out to his home town. BERWYN! 

Thus, after taking all the foregoing factors into consideration, we finally settled on Micah Castle’s entry, “The Questioning Sanity of an Antiquarian Man,” as being the entry that best answered the original challenge. It is one spectacular twisted, clotted, strangely punctuated run-on sentence, that truly deserves to be recognized as an outstanding example of Bad Imitation Lovecraft (I should say, intentional Bad Imitation Lovecraft; we’ve seen far worse unintentional examples in our slush pile), and well deserves to be the winner of the $25 Amazon gift card. CONGRATULATIONS, MICAH!

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank celebrity judge Thomas R. Smith for taking the time to read the entries and offer his thoughts on them, even though I ignored all of his opinions. Thomas and I go way back—not merely to his running the writing group where I first hammered out the first draft of “Cyberpunk” or to his introducing me to the works Alfred Bester and Philip K. Dick—but even further, back into some sort of weird quantum entanglement that stretches across decades and defies explanation. What’s most important here, though, is that Thomas also knew August Derleth, and if you follow the link to Derleth’s Wikipedia bio, you’ll see how you, now, are just three degrees of separation from Lovecraft himself. Simultaneously cool and weird, innit?

And on that note: thanks for participating, and stay tuned for the new Friday Challenge, to be issued shortly!

1 comment:

Mark Keigley said...

I Wholeheartedly agree with the outcome!