Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Pete Wood Challenge • “Desert”

The Pete Wood Challenge
is an informal ad hoc story-writing competition. Once a month (or so) Pete Wood spots writers the idea for a story, usually in the form of a phrase or a few key words, along with some restrictions on what can be submitted, usually in terms of length. Pete then collects the resulting entries, determines who has best met the challenge, and sends the winners over to Bruce Bethke, who arranges for them to be published on the Stupefying Stories web site.

You can find all the previous winners of the Pete Wood Challenge at this link.

This time the challenge was to write a microfiction fiction piece keying off the word, “desert,” whatever the writer might interpret that to mean. As usual, the results have ranged from amusing to disturbing. Without further ado, then, the winners are…

First Place:  “Internal Combustion” • by Gustavo Bondoni

Second Place: “Rain Dancer” • by Sylvia Heike

Third Place: “No Justice for Deserters” • by Pauline Barmby

Honorable Mention:

“Treasure Hunting in the Old City” • by Christopher Degni

“Egg Disputes Beneath the Desert’s Quietest Erg” • by Jason P. Burnham

Thanks to everyone who gave this challenge a try, and we look forward to seeing what you can do next month with the next Pete Wood Challenge!

Pete’s Picks: Best Desert Movies

  1. The Flight of the Phoenix. (1965) Jimmy Stewart and four other Oscar-winners crash-land in the Sahara and have to fight to survive. If you think Stewart is just a stammering likable every-man, think again. His flawed pilot is a leader and an asshole. Based on the novel by Elleston Trevor.

  2. Lawrence of Arabia. (1962) The desert has never been so beautiful. Based on the life of T. E. Lawrence, a real-life Indiana Jones and probably the one man most responsible for the mess the Middle East is today. For more info read With Lawrence in Arabia by Lowell Thomas.

  3. The Road Warrior. (1981) Best prolonged action/chase scene ever. Starring a souped-up Jensen Interceptor and some forgettable Australian actor you’ve never seen before—Mel somebody.

  4. Sahara. (1943) Humphrey Bogart and his M3 Lee tank and crew take on and beat the Nazis. Filmed using an M3 because by the time this film was made the M3 was surplus, having been replaced in front-line service by the far superior M4 Sherman.

  5. The Lost Patrol. (1934) Early John Ford film. A British cavalry patrol in Mesopotamia (Iraq) loses its C.O. to a sniper and the sergeant has to step up and take command of the mission, with no clear idea of where they are or what exactly the mission was. Featuring Boris Karloff not in monster makeup and Alan Hale Senior, father of the Alan Hale Junior we all know and love from Gilligan’s Island. Based on the novel Patrol by Philip MacDonald, and notable now mostly for all the ideas swiped from it and reused in later films, including the above-mentioned Sahara.   

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