The Nova Short Story Competition is
competition for budding writers of science fiction and fantasy short
Usually contested in two categories, General and South African, the
competition is open for entry from April until 30 September annually.
entries, finalists and seleceted other entries are published in
2015 Nova Short Story Competition
|A Harmonious Tale
|The Desert Does Not Forgive
|The Office Dragon
|Lost in transition
|What we do
Nova 2015: Final Judge's Comments
This is one of the best selections of SFFSA short story
entries I have yet had to judge, and it was a privilege to be asked to choose
the winners. There is an almost complete absence of "sciensplaining",
when the narrator feels obliged to spell out history or technicality,
explaining the science of the fictitious scenario in excruciating detail that
stops the story dead. In the winning story, this is achieved naturally and
through convincing dialogue. Only two of the top ten stories fell briefly into
sciensplaining, making the judging a welcome change from previous experience
with the South African category. Having said that, don't take too much for
granted or leave too much unsaid, as it robs the story of context, meaning and
"10" is a clear winner.
10, Mike Hardaker
From the very first line, 10 is beautifully written. It is
also brilliantly conceived, and carries off the theme and plot consistently and
convincingly. The climax creeps up on us almost unnoticed, just as it blows us
away. One of the best stories I've ever read in the SFFSA competition.
Runner-up is "A Harmonious Tale"
A Harmonious Tale, Sean Watkins
A fascinating story, well told, with a powerful climax but
an unlikely epilogue. It's a superbly contained story with most of the action
taking place in one room. Ironically, the moment the action moves out of that
room, the consistency of style and pace begins to dissipate. A core strength of
the story is that no narrator explanation is given for a complex process, but
it is clearly understood through natural dialogue and actions.
Joint third are "The Desert Does Dot Forgive" and
"The Office Dragon".
The Desert Does Not Forgive, Sharon Angus
A story told with tremendous command of language and
impeccable style, but without much plot and with a predictable conclusion and
The Office Dragon, Brian Warner
An enchanting tale about what happens when traditional
magical creatures become bureaucrats. The plot is somewhat thin but strangely
Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order of author's
The Cleansing, Hope Lester
A potentially good story undermined by a disjointed and
unsatisfying plot, haphazard asides by the narrator and the absence of context.
Error #451, Leon Louw
A well-told and fun story, but with little substance. The epilogue
is too explicitly spelled out.
Lost in Transition, Deon Schneider
Too much explanation and too many adjectives get in the way
of a story that starts as cliché, complete with stereotypes of Cape
"bergie" and stupid aliens, but ends quite beautifully.
The Passenger, Deon Schneider
Well-told story but suffers from similarity to Zombie-virus
and astronaut-returns-with-deadly-cargo plots.
What We Do, Anton Taylor
Post-apocalyptic scenario that offers little more than
scenario. The descriptions of scenes and settings are gritty and realistic, but
with little context and confused linkages, eventually making survival from
frequent injuries unrealistic.
Travelling, Brian Warner
A fascinating concept but no plot and only a sequence of
emotions expressed during an experience in the distant future. Could have
served as a good background to a story.
historical list of winners click here.
For a list of stories published in Probe click here
The competition is sponsored and judged by Arthur
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details, you are welcome to email the convenor of the Short Story Competition.