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Friday, February 10, 2012

Tick Tock

Time flies, and it's already February. Last month, just like clockwork,  the Flash Fiction contest held by Canolli Capalini came to its conclusion, and while it's too late to compete, you're still in plenty of time to take part - by reading the stories, and perhaps thinking about joining in next time. At the R.F.Burton Public Library, three residents, Jedburgh30 Dagger, Fire Broono, and Serafina Puchkina, told me a little about the event.
Serafina Puchkina: Miss Capalini is an amazing builder and gets full credit for the contest, which runs from December to mid January each year. The rules and description are posted on our not-ning, a great resource for learning about Babbage.
Fire Broono: Community is important here - and events keep us interested and united - like the Oiling Festival!  My first time here, I was  invited to display one of my builds there, so I moved in!
Jedburgh30 Dagger explained that the stories can be no more than 600 words, and she should know, her offering 'The Key to all our Futures Past' won a prize, and is my favourite, along with The Keys to the Kingdom by Bookworm Hienrichs.
Most of the entrants are local (though possibly not 4th placed Crap Mariner, in many ways the ketchup at the buffet that is SL writing) and bring to their stories a sense of the place they live in, which makes it all the better that one can sit down within that world and read the stories here. The Flash Fiction collections for this and past years are on a little table just inside the door of the Library, and easy to overlook, but once you have them, you can snuggle down by the fireside, or try the great outdoors, Caledon Style, perhaps choosing the Vannevar Bush Reading Garden, where I recently ran into Librarianissimo JJ Drinkwater.
JJ Drinkwater: The garden is named after a RL scientist. His article "As we may think" prefigured not only networked computation, but even the web.
Glaubrius Valeska won the competition with his story "To Her Heart", inspired in part by a dream. His fine house in the center of New Babbage is an ancient piece of steampunkitude, and contains portraits of  many heroes, including Poe, seen here. Last year, Mr. Valeska attempted an offering for the contest, but in the editing of it ended up with "a mess". This time he's cracked it, ending up in fact with two prizes - his re-working of a very old joke took 12th place.

The Key to Success by MacKnight Culdesac, maker of music boxes, came in second; here he stands before the books containing his, and all the other stories, at the R.F.B. P. L. Emerson Lighthouse took the third spot.
MacKnight Culdesac: It was more of a challenge than I had expected. The theme was simply 'Windup Keys'. A simple concept; still, I had to go through several times, reducing the word count on what I thought was already a very short story. This prize will pay my rent for many weeks. I moved here in June, and have been very happy. In the month of December, we had 4 community competitions, including this Flash Fiction contest. I hadn't entered any competitions before, and this contest is actually the 5th prize I've won here since Christmas, most for building, which I consider my primary effort. Here, it seems, entering a competition greatly increases you chances of winning.

Canolli Capalini:  I've been enamoured for years of Flash Fiction, and thought it might be a good thing to bring here.  A shorter format - notecards and thInc books - gives people a chance to show a moment in time, which can be part of a larger story, in this case, Steamlands. I always panic the first 2 weeks of the contest because I keep thinking no one is going to submit anything, but then in the last week, they flood in! In previous years the response was limited, but last year, I was completely blown away by the response. This year has been wonderful too.  I read on average 3 or 4 stories a day, with my morning coffee. It should also be noted, there is a cash prize to the winners. Occasionally anonymous people  match what I offer. The hardest part is waiting for entries! Making  textures for the thInc books can be demanding, I'd love to say choosing the story is the hardest part, but usually I know it when I read it.  Many stick with me, either because they're poignant and strike a chord, or for a turn of phrase, or because they're just plain entertaining. These people in the steamlands are a uniquely creative bunch!


Serafina Puchkina said...

Thank you for highlighting the R.F.Burton and the Flash Fiction contest. The stories are so fun to read, and the contest pulls amazing talent every year.

Mr. Crap Mariner said...

If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But if critics throw tomatoes, make ketchup.

A displeasure, as always.


Wizzy Gynoid said...

I take it that the R.F. Burton Library is named after Sir Richard Burton. One of my own heroes and a good choice - the 18th century adventurer who discovered Lake Tanganyika and the source of the Nile. He was one of the first white men to do the pilgrimage to Mecca and translated the 1000 and 1 Nights, among other notable things.

Wizzy Gynoid said...

oops. misspoke. Burton was 19th century.

Thirza Ember said...

All that, and he found time to Romance Liz Taylor! Extraordinary life, I'm a huge fan, too Wizzy.