This is a different type of blog post for me: I'm going to promote a contest, but not one of my own. And the subject of this contest is contrary to something I firmly believe: that we shouldn't analyze fiction to death (as is done in typical high school English Lit classes... gag!) but rather to simply enjoy the totality of the reading experience. But with that said....
This contest is sponsored by two of my favorite authors: my friend, Bruce McAllister, whose Hugo Award-nominated story "Kin graces the pages of my Alien Contact anthology; and Barry Malzberg, who co-edited (with Edward L. Ferman) one of the best SF anthologies ever, Final Stage1.
First, the caveat: This contest is open to Facebook members only. If you are an FB user, then simply "friend" Bruce McAllister and you are good to go. If not, then just sign up for a free account and then search for -- and "friend" -- Bruce McAllister. FB is no big deal, it's not painful, and you don't have to use the app after you sign up -- other than for this contest, of course.
Bruce and Barry have co-written a story entitled "Going Home" that was published in the February 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. Now I realize we're still in 2011, but this particular issue has already been printed. In fact, the Asimov's website currently features this February issue. You may be an Asimov's subscriber, or you can find copies on the rack at Barnes & Noble, and certainly at your favorite SF specialty store, and online as well, including ebook editions. And Asimov's has donated 15 copies of the issue to Bruce McAllister for readers who wish to participate in this contest but for one reason or another are unable to obtain a copy.
Here's the issue, and the reason for the contest: Even though Bruce and Barry have co-written "Going Home," they do not agree on the story's meaning. According to Bruce's Facebook post on December 16:
The Asimov's issue with "Going Home" is out and should hit the stands soon. After a brief email exchange yesterday, however, Barry and I discovered we're not at all in agreement about what the story means. (Yeah, you'd think -- co-authors and everything -- but no....) So a contest: FREE copies of my novel Dream Baby and Barry Malzberg's John Campbell Award winner Beyond Apollo to the three readers out there who can come up with the most creative (read: insightful and/or deranged) interpretations of the story. 500 words max. Deadline -- March 15 . FB members only, yes. Winning entries (or excerpts) will be posted here with much fanfare. This should be fun.
So here's a chance for you to put those interpretive skills you honed in your English Lit class to good use, and possibly score a free copy of the award-nominated Dream Baby from Bruce and the award-winning Beyond Apollo from Barry. And, I assume, the authors will gladly sign/inscribe their respective books for the winners, too.
Courtesy of the authors, here's the opening paragraph to "Going Home":
Bob—Arrogant as this sounds, I've decided I'm going to bring the Golden Age of Science Fiction back even if I have to do it single-handedly. It's been lost for a long time, and someone's got to bring it back, given what's happening. Yes, I know, Mitchell Litton has been known for three decades for his cynical, earthbound, ankle-biting, technophobic, earthbound novels—and I wrote them because they were my truth at the time (the alcohol, two divorces, Chiara's pregnancy at 16, my mother's and sister's deaths in the same year, the bankruptcy, and the awards nastiness), but I remember what it was like to be young and read those stories; and now that I'm facing, as we all are with the slow spread of this "Armageddon virus" that's taking the world, my own mortality, I see now that those stories held older and bigger truths than the ones I delivered. In any case, I want to be part of it again. Like going home, yes.
—from "Going Home" by Bruce McAllister and
Barry Malzberg, Asimov's Science Fiction, February 2012
As Bruce states on his Facebook page: "Finally, after 40 years, got to co-write a story with old friend and mentor Barry Malzberg."
1. If you should choose to track down a copy of the Ferman and Malzberg anthology Final Stage, be sure to seek out the reprint Penguin edition only -- not the original Charterhouse hardcover edition. There was some controversy regarding the hardcover edition because a number of the stories were revised and edited by the publisher's editor without Ferman's or Malzberg's -- or any of the affected authors -- knowledge or permission. The original texts of all the stories were restored in the Penguin reprint edition. Anthology historian Bud Webster has written a lengthy essay on the original Charterhouse edition entitled "Anthology 101: The (Non)Final Stage" that you'll find quite enlightening, with input from Ferman, Malzberg, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and others.