Sunday, July 10, 2011

Science Fiction - Volcanoes, Craters and Melting Eyelids with Elena

"Science Fiction is the improbable made possible." Rod Serling

What a great lot of imaginative stories this week! Hot topics included, volcanoes, Neil Armstrong and twins. Most of you included all the setting and character elements set for the challenge, but keeping to the science fiction genre proved to be harder. Magical elements appeared in nearly all the stories, which meant they were more fantasy than science fiction.

There were lots of tasty beginnings, quite a few crunchy endings, but many of the plots went a little bit soggy in the middle and lost their way. It can help to have a brief outline of the plot in mind before you start writing.

Best beginnings: Callum's, "It was another ordinary day at school in the crater," Kendra Smith's attention grabbing, "Gulp! I Zeeblebarf just ate the mighty, monstrous, massive, monumental, mammoth sized super supreme ... bbbbuuuurrrrpppp ... ham ... buuuuurrrrpppp ... burger," with its great use of alliteration, and Claudia Weston's lovely "I can't get to sleep, it is utterly impossible with "the lights" flashing purple and orange against my window pane."

Best ending goes to Imogen Wiseman "My name is Zeeblebarf but my friends call me Zeebie. I am only 8 years old and my powers are so bizarre that I could turn you into a frog if I wanted to. If you don't mind I have to go now."

Best single image to Thomas Beckett, "The Professor's eyelids melted off like icecream on a cone on a hot day."

There were also some horribly (in a good way) inventive characters created. For instance, Thomas Coulter's flesh eating strawberry called Derrick, with his razor sharp teeth called cuttles, made a debut appearance, as did Zeeblebarf's friend, Potato, invented by William Laughton.

Dylan Rush and Felix Cameron's stories both made great use of the first person and were full of energy.

Jamie and Harriet, whose iced tea tasted like "squashed cheese with salt and boiling water poured over it," and Hannah Berry (who also had great character development) used the senses and detail to bring their stories to life.

But there can only be one winner ... or maybe two.

The winner of the intermediate category is Caroline Moratti. As a writer, one sure way of getting the audience on your side is to make them laugh. Caroline made great use of humour with her wonderfully funny parodies of Doctor Who, Star Wars and Star Trek characters.

The winner of the primary category is James Kerr. James' story was fast paced and energetic, with great sound effects. I also liked the clever use of time travel (and super powers) and the open ending.

Special mention also goes to Joshua Thompson and Matthew Illing for their superb stories.

The Great Blue Void

by Elena de Roo

Zeeblebarf took his last measurement - finally, his map was complete. As far back as he could remember, he knew he was destined to be a map maker. He had made it his life-long task, to complete a survey of the world, but in the end, it hadn't taken as long as he had thought. Here he was, still young, with his survey all but finished. Now what?

Next to him, the wall of the world sloped steeply upward, as far as he could see. How far it extended above the tangled canopy of the rain forest, was impossible to tell. But he did know, from his survey, that the jungle stretched unbroken in all directions. He also knew that the world was an almost perfect circle - if you followed the wall for long enough in one direction, eventually you would end up where you started from.

Once, he'd asked Beeblebarf, one of the elders of the tribe, what was beyond the wall? The great blue void, was his answer. He wouldn't say any more. After that, Zeeblebarf would occasionally catch a tiny glimpse of blue, through the leaves above. He had a hundred questions he wanted to ask, but it seemed he was the only one who was curious.

The others in his tribe thought he was odd, bizarre even. 'You have to understand, Zeeblebarf,' they'd say, 'that you're a new generation. You see things differently to us. You can put two and two together and make five hundred, but we only ever get four.'

They were twenty six, in total. The others carried out their assigned tasks - collecting rock samples, mining the earth for radioactive materials, maintaining the power packs. They never asked Why? or What if?

As he looked up at the steep wall, Zeeblebarf knew what his next task would be. The others were right - he was different. He couldn't live out his days not knowing what what lay beyond. But how to start?

He thought back to his years surveying the circumference. Had there been any part that looked climbable? As far as he recalled, it was equally steep all around. Then it came to him. The crevice ... that was it. That would be his way out.

It took him two weeks to find his way through the undergrowth, but this was something he was used to. The crevice was just as he remembered it - a jagged crack in the rocks about a metre wide, forcing its way upwards, like a bolt of lightning, towards the great blue void. He had no idea how far up it went, but there was only one way to find out.

He wedged himself between the two rock faces, and slowly and carefully, using opposing forces, see-sawed his way upwards, towards the unknown.

How long had he been climbing? He'd lost track of time. The view from the crevice was limited to a tiny slice outwards, upwards and below. The tree canopy must be far below him by now, but he didn't think about that. His vision was trained on the crack of blue far above, that was growing, ever so slowly, larger and closer.

It was many hours later, but at last Zeeblebarf crawled out of the crevice. The light was so bright here. The featureless earth looked faded, the space above glaring, over-exposed. He supposed it would take a while for his vision to adjust. Nearby, some large hairy creatures ate the tender green shoots which grew everywhere underfoot. Judging from their anatomy they would be very slow moving compared to the creatures in his world. So this was the great blue void. How flat and empty it looked.

A strange sound made the air around him vibrate. What did it mean? He couldn't understand. He tried signalling, but the sound just got louder and more shrill ...


The boy and his father were moving their herd of hairy moonstock out of danger. Usually the cattle wouldn't venture this close to the crater, but an unusually dry year had driven them to eat the long grasses which grew near the edges.

'Dad, look!' shouted the boy, 'some kind of metally, stick insect thing's crawling out of the crater. It's got purple eyes. No, wait ... maybe they're not eyes ... they're flashing orange now.'

'What the ...? said his Dad. 'By golly ... I wonder ... I say, I never expected to see anything like this in real life. It looks just like the picture in The Classic Robots Manual. If I'm not mistaken, this one was the last of the Eebelbarf series. If you'd have come along to the Classic Robots Club with me last month like I asked, you'd know all this. Doctor Eebelbarf? Ring any bells? No?

'But Dad, it's getting away.' The boy sighed, he knew his father was unlikely to listen to him, once he'd got started on one of his long winded explanations, and he was right.

'He was famous back in his day. Because of the dangerous levels of radiation in the crater, he designed a series of robots to explore it instead. Twenty six, the good doctor made in total - one a year. A different model for every letter of the alphabet, from A-eeblebarf to Z-eeblebarf. But none of them ever returned. The Z model was the doctor's last hope - a new generation nanotech robot, with advanced, artificial intelligence, that could adapt to any terrain. Of course he's long dead now, but if only he could see what we're seeing now, son ... Hey, where's it gone?'


Zeeblebarf rotated swiftly along the flat ground of the vast blue void, leaving the shrill noises far behind him. He had a survey to complete.


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