Table of Contents

Judges Comments

This was a tough decision, as all three were well written and had their own strengths. I found myself going back and forth between them as I read and reread, trying to make up my mind.

Honorable Mention

“Annihilation” by Robin Abess is my pick for Honorable Mention. Robin managed to fit a lot of story into those 500 words, and really painted a complete picture. Because of her detailed writing and strong use of imagery I got a good sense of the world she imagined, and of the character of Lira. I like how the story begins and ends with the red button, and how Lira, who didn’t study her history, seems bent on repeating the mistakes of the past.

All honorable mentions will automatically be entered in the drawing for a paperback copy of Song Stories: Volume I after it is released next month.


Handwriting Analysis
By Jeffrey Hollar

Ultimately, I decided that “Handwriting Analysis” by Jeffery Hollar was my favorite. 

I like the idea that some problems can’t be solved, especially when the prompt is about the end of humanity. While many science fiction writers suggest we will wipe ourselves out in some sort of global war, Jeffery’s story actually has the world working together to thwart the impending doom. Rather than the world ending abruptly in some sort cataclysmic event, humanity wastes away slowly, as the Earth and her resources finally give out. These are very creative ideas about the end of mankind, and they were executed perfectly. What really sold the story for me was the strong voice and wry sense of humor in Jeffery’s writing. And that I would probably be laughing right alongside the narrator. I always seem to find humor in the most inappropriate situations. Overall, “Handwriting Analysis” was an enjoyable read, very well done.

“Statistical analysis concludes the continued presence of species: Homo sapiens within the confines of ecosystem specified constitutes a null profit proposition. Corrective measure indicated by analysis is removal of species: Homo sapiens from the confines of ecosystem specified with maximum expediency by most decisive means available.”

While most of those present in the control room reacted with stunned silence or confused ignorance, my undeniable response was unrestrained laughter. We’d all just been given a crash course reminder of the old adage to not ask questions you didn’t really want the answers to.

I suppose, at its core, the project had seemed not only viable but ingenious. It was no longer solely within the purview of a small clique of alarmist tree-huggers and end-of-days crackpots, but common knowledge that Mother Earth was screwed.

With a population floating around 12 billion souls, the elitists and intellectuals were learning a lesson the most uneducated Third-World matriarch already knew. No matter how well she could stretch what she had, there would come a point when children wanted for more than Mama had to give.

We’d exploited every natural resource to its breaking point. We’d engineered and synthesized every artificial element within our knowledge base. We’d modified and enhanced every square foot of the planetary surface to support habitation. Bottom line? It wasn’t enough.

Project Phoenix was seen as humanity’s best and last potential solution. Over the course of the next five years, the best and brightest bent our efforts to the most ambitious technological endeavor in all of recorded history. That solution involved inter-linking a dozen Cray Titan supercomputers resulting in a hybrid…creation capable of maximum energy efficiency while providing an exponential increase in capabilities.

Simultaneously with this hardware triumph, the programmers, climatologists, biologists and all the other –ologists busied themselves providing all of the software input Phoenix would require to evaluate the crisis and postulate a resolution. Twenty-seven brilliant minds became irretrievably unhinged in the deal, but every omelet requires broken eggs, we rationalized.

Our beleaguered world watched and waited once Phoenix was brought online. The sheer number of variables to be factored in was expressed only by theoretical mathematics. To the common man, the talking heads merely expressed it as being a really complex question with no easy answer. Well, it turns out the anchorpeople were pretty wrong. While the question was unaccountably difficult, the answer should have been obvious to us all.

So, while my colleagues, co-workers and fellow condemned folk wrapped their monkey brains around Phoenix’s response, I was already laughing at the absurdity of our situation. We had asked our Techo-God to answer our prayers and answer It had. Oh, it would take Phoenix a week or so to complete the calculations and finish up the machinery required but that was no longer of any consequence really.

The true import of what Phoenix had arrived at came down to something as simple as this: the handwriting was on the wall and the words that hand had written were “Goodbye Humanity”.

Leave a Reply.