Season Five Short Story Category Winner Announcement!
A story about a father and son's interplanetary pursuits.
Congratulations to, our Lunar Award winner for his short story, “Apollo Days“, which is posted on his Substack called Speclectic. Jack’s science fiction short story is one of many submitted for season five, our first of 2024. The same winning badge will now represent each season and category for the entire year in order to help build brand recognition. Let’s discuss Jack’s story, and our two honorable mentions, which all teach us about how deeply held beliefs can drastically impact our relationships.
I was delighted by the variety of speculative short stories submitted for season five. Our audience tends to lean fantasy, especially for the first chapter category. To have a wider representation of science fiction, as well as a few stories that were harder to classify, keeps me guessing. While I favor science fiction in my personal reading habits, the Lunar Awards is for all flavors of speculative, as it speaks to the diversity of writers and readers.
It’s no surprise based upon the submissions that the winner and honorable mentions were all science fiction tales. There were a few fantasy jewels among the participants, but the depth of character and story really shined this season against backdrops containing science fiction elements. This is true of “Apollo Days”, our winner, which focuses on the relationship of a father and son from two very different generations trying to find their purpose in an uncertain future.
I’m a sucker for a character driven narrative, a difficult to achieve outcome when worldbuilding within grand epics is so appealing. I’ve been asked several times by other authors how to make a character driven speculative story, a topic I’m going to write about in the near future. For ready to read examples, check out “Apollo Days”, and the honorable mentions, “Game Over“ and “You Go First“. They all focus on a key component — relationships.
While relationships can be considered external influences, they are shaped through intrinsic desires and motivations. Events and environments certainly play a part in a character’s decisions, just like in “Apollo Days”, yet we’re drawn into a tale about two men who must follow their instincts. The son is full of dreams motivated by lifelong aspirations. The father embraces practicality brought about through circumstance. Jack Massa does a great job of taking a well-trodden theme — generational disconnect — and unpacking it amidst an interplanetary journey.
Jack also gives us a taste of the inciting incident, letting it move along the plot, while staying focused on the father and son relationship. Linnhe Harrison and Johnathan Reid take a similar approach in their stories, letting a single event push the character’s actions forward, but never straying off course. Emotionally, Jack’s story gives us a common sense of longing, Linnhe’s an heir of helplessness and Johnathan’s a taste of revenge. They each approached the relationships from very different perspectives.
One final note I’ll make is that we’re seeing a healthy mix of seasoned and new authors submitting, some with larger audiences and others with a couple subscribers. I question my choices when I read a story with many likes and comments that simply doesn’t resonate; then I realize it doesn’t matter. Much like the characters in our stories, the state of life’s affairs, including subscriber counts, can be completely out of our control.
The best response is to keep writing, even if I’m the only one reading it… for now. It may just land you a Lunar Award.
Once again, thank you to our sponsor, Plotted Out, run by Natalie Phillips! Head over to Plotted Out to read great stories, listen to author interviews and be inspired.
The winner of the First Chapter category will be announced in another week. Thank you for your patience and for inviting us to experience much larger epics.
In the story “Game Over”, written by, two women approach an unavoidable milestone from different perspectives.
In the story “You Go First”, written by, we learn of a group of primate explorers who find their station in life unacceptable.
(In no particular order.)
“Buster Heyman” by
“Contact Tracing” by
“Words of the Wood” by
“Keep off the Grass” by
“The Only Way to Win“ by
“Tom and Tommy” by
“The Host” by
“The Servers” by