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Summer 2017 Judge’s Report

This round, Vanessa Gebbie had the difficult task of picking three winners from a long-list of fifty stories. Here’s why she picked the stories she did:

First Place

Fly Away Home by Helen Rye

A worthy winner in a strong field, and a terrific flash. Yet again, I am astounded at how much can be carefully packed into a tiny suitcase. I much enjoyed this piece for many reasons, not the least for its originality—flipping back and forth between bald technical communication and the musings inspired by of all things, delightfully, a stray ladybird hitching a ride.

I loved this piece for many reasons, not the least that it leaves me with so much to ponder, even after many readings. The underlying concept of leaving this beautiful, fragile world—so wonderfully evoked in so few words—because one day we might have to survive, is chilling. Turning one’s back on what is known and striking out into the unknown, listening to the echoes of childhood safety for a split second. The persistent thought—can we ever really leave the past behind?

The language in this piece is great, its effective juxtapositionings, its lyricism: ‘this ocean that aquamarines the bright planet’ set against the baldness of automated systemspeak: GLYCOL EVAP OUTLET temperature down around 58. This juxtaposition, to my mind and ear, acts as echo to the themes of the piece, emphasising the distances to be crossed, perhaps the unbridgeable difference between here and there. The poignancy of leaving much-loved richness and colour for a monochrome future, even if it is bright. The two creatures named, the ladybird and the blue whale—I am put in mind of ‘all creatures great and small—and the fact that we might well have the choice to leave, take our technologies elsewhere. They don’t. I hope this piece is shared widely. It certainly deserves to be. Many congratulations to the writer.

Second Place

Stop, Stop, Stop, Go by Stephanie Hutton

I much enjoyed this intriguing flash, the tightness of the prose and meeting this wonderful character. I was drawn to the shimmering nature of it—a twist of synaesthesia-meets-irreality as this writer creates a believable, slightly magical/disturbing series of events for this character who struggles to control her own body, as if that body has taken over, such that she has to control her hands, consciously—then her feet. I particularly loved the concept of the spoken word becoming concrete, and the delight of the baby in the ‘now’ and its subsequent shaming—very thought-provoking. Another terrific flash. Congratulations to the writer.

Third Place

Medium Sliced Humanity by Taria Karillion

I thought this was a very neat flash, the collision of two worlds, which on the face of it seem so wide apart, but actually, more similar than that. Again, so much carefully packed in—a filmic piece, covering a series of simple actions told in spare prose, whilst telling a much deeper more resonant story. Congratulations to the writer.

Published in Summer 2017


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