Welcome to results!!!! Short ‘n’ sweet today, gang, as even dragons are forced to be on the wing at times. Sigh of relief all round, I’m quite sure… Though if you check back later, I intend to add a pic explaining things. Yes, I taunt, I know, and if I were better behaved, I would feel badly about that. Or at least apologize. (My mother always said, “Apologize first; the feelings will follow.” Me, aghast: “You want me to LIE?!”)
More Ring of Fire badges awaiting announcement — thanks to those of you who’ve been patient. To newcomers: if you’ve written stories at least three Fridays in July, your name can go up on the Wall of Flame. Each badge you earn equals a chance at the jackpot of prizes at year’s end. Read all about it here!
Speaking of ill behaved, judging Vol 3 – 33 was Dragon Team Eight, A.J. Walker & Voima Oy. They describe their adventure better than I would, so I’ll leave it to their silver tongues to share that with you.
AJ: The story began many moons ago – well probably just one – when A.J. Walker was patiently rubbing each of his real ale bottles with a sad care and love waiting for something to happen. Then suddenly, puff! indeed more like PUFF!! a genie appeared in the form of a dragoness. It was not what he expected from a bottle of Jaipur IPA, but hey AJ takes what he gets.
‘Eh up love!’ Said Rebekah the Yorkshire dragon, for Rebekah was her name. ‘You’ve got yourself three wishes lad and no mistake. Be quick though – time is money and apparently I’m from Yorkshire – who knew!?’
Predictably AJ wished first for a bottle opener.
Second he wished for a grand selection of stories to be put before him.
And thirdly he asked for a boss partner to review the magical tales with him.
So it was that the genie delivered in spades, before disappearing she said “Good luck” and “I’ll see you next week” – as dragons do.
AJ found another bottle opener later and realised he could have instead asked for another Jaipur – though that would have been greedy.
Voima and AJ were separated by an ocean but connected by words and the – gotta be a folkstory- interweb and laid into the tales of magic, treasure, death, caves, palaces, hovels, the desert and the sea with great gusto- and not a little trepidation. There were beautiful poems and fabulous prose of morality and immorality. In short the 1001 Nights led the FFF community to a myriad possibilities – and it was wonderful.
The task was difficult with so many wonderfully successful slices of fiction. On another day some of the other stories not mentioned could get a merit but today is the day and it is what it is. That said the top stories were the top stories on any given day and no mistake. We don’t even know who we’ve chosen, but 1001 congratulations to all of you. And we’ll done to everyone you all done good.
VO: Thank you, AJ. I, too, am honoured to serve as judge, here. Thank you to all you marvelous writers who make your magic. Thank you, Catherine Connolly, who sent us the stories so we could read them truly blind. And thank you Dragon Queen, who makes this magic possible.
Now, on to the results–
Powerful writing: Emily June Street, “Azita’s Stories.” VO— Stories that must be told. Very powerful writing–and thought-provoking piece. AJ –a powerful contemporary tale with some lovely sad prose – ‘lashes instead of kisses’. Indeed.
Funniest If Slightly Off the Mark: Craig Anderson, “Genie-Us.” VO— So clever–the genies discussing working condition–great dialogue and characters. Really funny! AJ— loved the idea of the meeting discussing their masters – particularly the guy with ultimate wishes requesting an omelette (it would have been bacon every time for me though).
Dylyce P. Clarke, “This Night Is All We Have.” VO –Lush and sensual descriptions, a beautiful love story. AJ — Great use of colour and the other senses to evoke the place and a fabulous poignant ending. Lovely.
Marie McKay, “The Dance.” Beautiful prose poem. fluid and graceful language–evocative as all the nights of Arabia. This one is haunting and lovely.
THIRD RUNNER UP
VO — Vivid descriptions of a harsh world of very poor, and rich and privilege, in which water is a precious commodity. The violets are a luxury in this world, such fragile beauty. I love the language, the voice of the rich man describing this world, and his encounter with the boy. It is poignant and atmospheric. A beautiful story.
AJ — The poignant story of a rich man assuaging his guilt some little way by buying bottled water from an urchin has great atmosphere. He doesn’t trust the urchin enough to drink the water (but hopes his plants can benefit from it) but wants to do something for the young man — and his ancient eyes.
SECOND RUNNER UP
VO — There are three hours to Laramie. It could be a good trip, telling stories, but that’s not the story. There’s a bad guy, with a gun. The suspense rises. There are three hours to Laramie. Could you tell a story to save your life? This is a real thriller with a great twist ending. What a ride!
AJ — The story of a powerful independent woman all alone in the desert being picked up by a baddie with a gun – it was never going to end well. Some lovely description and simple dialogue in this Arabian Nights with a twist. The story was solid and we all love a surprise ending.
FIRST RUNNER UP
VO — This is epic! Meta fiction, references to the X-files in the title, David Bowie, genies, street urchins, ,magic lamps, wishes, stories within stories–and then there is The Great Writer of all the stories, and the characters who wish to be in another story…wonderful work!
AJ — We go to all the trouble of getting the authors name’s taken out of the pages (thanks @fallintofiction) and what do they do? They start putting them in the prose. If such behaviour continues we’ll have to get the stories redacted!
Notwithstanding the name dropping, both of us thought that it had to be in the top two. A story with multiple layers for us. Writing about this writing lark and the lovely petulance of the genie who just wants to grant a wish- any wish! Go on make a wish. Well, nearly… but second is good too.
And now: put on your dragon clogs and DANCE WITH ME!!!! IT’S first-time
“Behrouz and the Fortune Fish“
VO — This is masterful storytelling. It’s a story within a story–“Tell me a story.” “Okay, my son. I know a good one.” The story unfolds through dialogue, back and forth, growing bigger and bigger. “How big was the fish, papa?” “Bigger than a castle.” We can see the city within the fish, the bazaar in the city, the people, the beautiful clothes. I, too, wanted more of the story, but “it’s time for bed, now, and these clothes won’t sell themselves.” It’s a marvelous tale in the Arabian Nights spirit, and a wonderful story of love between father and child. Pure magic!
AJ — Great imagery and story told as dialogue in true Arabian Nights spirit. The story is tight and the dialogue between the child and his father work brilliantly. A fish as big as a castle now that’s a fisherman’s tale if ever we’ve heard one.
Congratulations, Brian! Practically leaping out of my dragonskin for joy here. Please stand by for your very own totally gorgeous and cool winner’s page — I’ll tweet like mad once it’s up — and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap with your email address so I can interview you for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature! And now, here’s your winning story:
Behrouz and the Fortune Fish
“Tell me a story.”
“Okay, my son. I know a good one.
“Once upon a time there was a young boy called Behrouz. His parents were mean, treating him more like a slave than a son.
“Behrouz’s mother made beautiful clothes which his father sold at a market across the sea. But, when his father fell ill, Behrouz was forced to cross the sea himself.
“That night, halfway across the sea, the water began to churn, rocking the boat violently. Before Behrouz knew what was happening, a Great Fish rose up and swallowed the boat whole.”
“How big was the fish, papa?”
“Bigger than a castle.”
“But Behrouz was okay. He lit a lamp and sailed his little boat further into the fish. He wondered if he would ever find a way out when he washed up on the shore of a strange city.”
“Indeed. Now the people of the city had never seen such beautiful clothes before and they began to bid for the garments. In no time at all Behrouz had sold everything, making more than enough coin to show for it.
“The people of the city wanted more and so Behrouz was released from the Great Fish on the promise that he’d return with more from the Outside.”
“Did he go back, papa?”
“Perhaps I will tell you tomorrow. For now you need to go to sleep. And I need to load up the boat. Those clothes won’t sell themselves. Good night, little one.”