In the spirit of supporting speculative fiction writers in New Zealand, we held a short story contest that was judged by the inimitable publisher and writer Nathan Crowder. We always get a brilliant array of stories from our New Zealand brothers and sisters, so he had quite a challenge ahead of him when he approached that slush pile. Nevertheless, he managed to choose two stories that rose to the top.
FIRST PLACE goes to A.J. Fitzwater for the story "The Mary-Jane Effect." Congratulations on a superb work of speculative fiction, A.J.
About "The Mary-Jane Effect", Nathan says, "More and more, I’ve started to realize what a raw deal young women get in our culture. While I’d like to hope things will get better, there’s always room for things to get worse, for things to get…weird. And it seems they don’t get enough representation in Sci-Fi, which was in the background of my mind around the time I read “The Mary-Jane Effect” the first time. I can’t tell you what it’s about or how it ends. That’s for you to figure out. Sci-fi doesn’t always give us answers. But man do I love the vision, and the questions, that this story raises. Without a doubt my favorite story that I’ve read all year."
2ND PLACE: The runner-up position, no small feat, goes to M. Darusha Wehm for "Modern Love," a story that creeps up on you and takes you by surprise before you even know what's stalking you. Bravo, Ms. Wehm.
About "Modern Love", Nathan says, "Love is weird. Our perceptions of a relationship—either real or imagined—are a funhouse maze of blind corners and mirrors. What a prime breeding ground for a story that tends towards the strange. This little delight lured me in and took me somewhere completely unexpected. Love is weird. But this story is a gem."