Back in April 2011 we launched the Fantasy Book Review Fantasy Short Story Competition. As with any competition in its first year we were unsure as to how it would be received and how popular it would be. Thankfully it was a success and the excellent entries have given – and are still giving – us hours and hours of reading pleasure.
I know that many entrants have been waiting patiently for the release of the shortlist of 9, which I have had to keep pushing back while we read are way through almost 100 stories that came in during the last 2 days of the competition. And we still haven’t finished but we are almost down to single figures now!
Although I hadn’t planned to do so I cannot think of any reason why I shouldn’t publish the longlist as it currently stands. The list below will grow larger should any of the remaining stories score highly enough.
Before you look at the the list I just want to quickly explain the rating system we have used. We marked every story out of 40, awarding up to 10 marks each for originality of fantasy theme, characterisation, plot and overall quality. Any story that received 32/40 was very, very good. However, the stories listed below all received 33/40 or more and as such were just that little bit special.
The list below will be whittled down to 9, and then to 3. If you were on the longlist but do not make the shortlist then I hope you are not too upset – I reckoned (hopefully accurately) that you would like to know just how good we thought your submission was.
So, without any further ado, here is the current longlist, ordered by the date they were read and rated. I have included small snippets from the judging notes to help explain what exactly it was we liked about each story:
- Adlers by Elaine Peake
A thoroughly delightful story, well-written and featuring great characters and a great plot. Both engaging and charming;
- The Price of Envy by Stephie Hall
A great story that gets right to the root of what fantasy literature is all about and why it can have such a significant and everlasting effect on a developing mind. It also shows clearly how the loss of imagination and the loss of innocence are unfortunate side-effects of maturity. Powerful with bitterness and realism;
- Night Swimming by Judy Upton
A near-faultless short story written with great confidence and skill;
- The Ladder by Pete Clark
A chilling tale, containing elements of horror. A disturbing and excellently written short story that will make any parent confront their worst fears;
- Of Demons by Tomos Lloyd-Jones
A fantastic little story with a nice touch of dark humour at the end. Laugh out loud at some points, it is well written, amusing, and highly entertaining. Overall a great short story;
- Horrific Accident by Alice Whitfield
Top-notch characterisation as the author shows a keen observational eye. It was a brutal, depressing story of real life in a tough and often uncaring world;
- The Dwarf by George Poles
In a Brothers Grimm-style tale, the beautiful people of a kingdom buy deformed dwarves, the uglier the better, which they place beside them in order to set off their own good looks even more. A short fairy-tale that contains a lesson to us all;
- Spellbound Dreams by Dawn McKinley
A short story from a very talented author – everything was to a high standard;
- Coin-Operated Boys by Kirsty Logan
In an unusual short story, women can buy coin-operated boys who are perfect mannequins that act like humans, to be hired and used by ladies who need some company. An inventive plot, with a sinister undertone;
- The Hearing by Mark Torrender
A superb short story of a man who sues his Guardian Angel, for not saving him from a life changing injury, only to find out some home truths;
- Legacy of the High King by Robert Kelley
An excellent and interesting story about a man who is dragged into a story he doesn’t understand, where no one tells him the rules;
- Night-whisperer by Ian Smethurst
A tale of revenge against a Necromancer of intense power who is beaten by a victim of one of the Necromancer’s spells. Interesting to read and intelligent;
- The Tower of Truth by Oliver Eade
A fantastic story about a man who, at a fair, enters a ride and is shown the past/present and future, but unfortunately doesn’t heed the warnings given;
- Scholar’s Reprisal by Thomas Dipple
A story of betrayal from a king who wants more power but is served instead revenge by the people he tried to betray. It would make a good longer story as well;
- Senescence by David Rudden
Original, great characterisation and plot and all held together by an excellent narrative. A real gem of a short-story, powerful, thought-provoking and memorable;
- The Ogre’s Elevator by Noel Williams
A lovely, magical little story featuring paper aeroplanes and ogres;
- Can you keep a secret? by Fabienne Maria
Well, this one was a bit of a surprise! It took me three days just to open the attachment, and when I did the story itself did not have a title. Not the best of starts… But the story itself turned out top be a little gem, very original, good plot and characters and a great plot. A really unexpected success;
- To Ashes by Kat Zantow
I really liked this story of two people who have escaped from a firestorm that has destroyed their city, but who go back to finally lay to rest the ‘Patron’ who ruled and eventually cursed it to ruin. Moving amongst significant points, the ashes are mixed and tattooed onto the girl’s back, in a prison for the Patron. It’s very well written, with an urban fantasy feel but more fantastical, with magical tattoos and hellhounds roaming the charred city streets;
- Howl by Rheanna-Marie Hall
A wonderful little story about a Halfling whose son is taken from her and the revenge she seeks on the humans that stole him;
- For All Time by Jean Marino
An intriguing story of time travelling. When a man from the past falls into our future, sparks erupt between him and the woman who rescues him;
- River Song by Cheryl Hartsell
A beautiful story of two people who are no longer living, finding each other with the help of their dead relatives;
- Arran of the Blood Red Army by Martin Leyland
A great story about a boy on a trip with his aunt and uncle who discovers that he is able to see into a magical realm and discover his destiny, by helping protect very powerful magical artefacts.
- The things we don’t say by Sonya Selbach
An intruiging story of love lost and conspiracy. The story twists from memories to the present so we never know the full details, it leaves you wanting more.