Discover more from Lunar Awards
Season Three Short Story Category Winner Announcement!
A fantasy story about a sorceress embarking on a perilous journey.
Congratulations to, our Lunar Award winner for her short story, “Riding the Viper“! Let’s discuss Caroline’s story, and our two honorable mentions, which tantalized us with rich worlds, thick with mystery and fantastic supernatural elements. Many thanks to this season’s judge and sponsor, , who faithfully read all of the stories and is providing a Storyletter XPress six-month comp to the winner.
Caroline is also being rewarded with a six-month comp to the paid tier of the Lunar Awards and a $25 monetary prize!
(Caroline, I will send you details about the prize pack and badge using the subscription email I have on file for the Lunar Awards.)
I want to make sure everyone who submitted understands how much I appreciate all of the hard work that goes into crafting these fantasy and science fiction short stories. It’s very difficult to pick a winner because it gives the false sense that the remaining tales were somehow told poorly or weren’t worth telling at all. While short stories do need refinement, it’s rare that I’m wholly dissatisfied. Many of these stories could stand together in a published collection of speculative fiction.
The difference is that unlike a publisher, the Lunar Awards has no editorial voice. You’re the editor, and the vision you present is all yours, of your own characterization and style. It’s the reason why I like presenting these awards. We receive an eclectic mix of submissions, and each has its own merits and an equal chance of being selected. Highlighting and rewarding that originality is a fulfilling process, even though it has to lead to some disappointment for others.
Don’t be discouraged if you didn’t win or weren’t given an honorable mention. Use it as an opportunity to refine your voice and to join a like-minded community of writers who are doing the same. In the very least you’ve found a safe place to showcase your hard work and have an ongoing discourse with other talented writers. In the coming week, I will have an open discussion thread where we can meetup and chat more!
Without further ado, here is Winston talking about this season’s winner:
What an honor it has been to guest judge season three of the Lunar Awards. Reading fiction has never felt like work to me, especially not with the vast variety of worlds and characters showcased in these submissions. It doesn't hurt that Brian's genius choice to limit the word count made the process extremely accessible and fun.
I came in expecting great stories, but you all delivered. It was difficult for me to choose only one winner and two honorable mentions. Of course, with each judge comes a particular taste, and just because I chose the stories I did doesn't mean the others weren't good enough. The nuanced flavors between the entries were subtle, so I re-read a good portion of them to make sure I understood their uniqueness.
The art of the short story is tricky. For me, I enjoy a well-crafted world that can be easily expanded upon with my own imagination. The tiny, crunchy breadcrumbs dropped by the writer to lead me on an adventure where by the end of it, I feel satisfied, but not stuffed, with information and questions (I'm not hungry, I swear).
"Riding the Viper" by Caroline Barnard-Smith is one of these exemplary tales. The setting and character are well-established amidst an entertaining and beautifully described action sequence that snarls the attention in its 'lichen-ravaged fingers.' Even though it's a short story, I'm familiar with this world, like I've been a part of its history somehow.
Caroline has a special ability to seamlessly world-build while moving the plot forward, judiciously utilizing the limited space to bring past, present, and potential futures together. Once the Moonfire viper makes an appearance, I need to read an entire novel featuring these majestic creatures.
The honorable mentions were absolutely incredible, as were many others. I'll leave it at that for now. If you'd like to hear specific feedback on your story, don't hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to write up a paragraph or two summarizing my thoughts.
Thanks for allowing me to guest judge and read your amazing stories! I encourage you to taste-test all of the stories listed below. There's a little bite of something for everyone to enjoy. ~ WM
In the story “The Orchard Hounds”, written by, two girls from very different cultures must work together to find freedom.
In the story “Retirement”, written by, a man works his life away in a dead-end job, discovering that retirement comes with a hefty price.
(In no particular order.)
"The New Saints" by
"The Wordsmithery" by
"Off-Road Extremism" by
"The Last of Us" by
"The Geneleon" by
"Match Made in Seven" by
"Finnbar's Last Stand" by
"Hello, Mercy" by
"The Ball" by
"The Rodent Conundrum" by