Zoe’s Tale ARC Winners

I’m happy to announce we have two runners-up and one winner for the Zoe’s Tale ARC contest, in all y’all were asked to explain the events of August 19, 1994. If you want to know who they are, click through.

Runner-up #1 is Rob Davies, for these following two short bits:

Ah, that was the day that, in a fit of pique, Jonas the Alphabet Man struck the letter “K” from our racial memory. He giggled like a schoolgirl for a few minutes. Then he put it back.


That morning my son held his breath and stomped around because we wouldn’t buy him a pony. We tried to get him to breathe, but he was stubborn, just like his dear old dad.

We buried him a few days later.

Then we bought a pony.

Runner-up #2 is Gimmie, who provides us with statistics (note that I suspect that he or she is from Europe, because there are periods where US folks would use commas, and vice-versa):

The night of 19 August, 1994.

4.789.677.003 ideas were born.
80% involved sex.
45% were already forgotten after five seconds.
10,5% were big ideas for a novel, 1 of them eventually got blurbed on Whatever, another was unmasked as fiction on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
5,6% resulted in a divorce.
0,0001% had the solution to world peace, unfortunate it was thought up by a cat who’s owner mistook his message for peace as a cry for food. The cat had a nice diner.

30.887.239.969²³ spermatozoa went on a voyage that night.
99,99% panicked when they discovered they were out in the open air. They died within
five minutes.
0,004% kept bumping against glass. Then the cold came.
0,005% got on the right racing track but were thwarted by another team. The other
team was sponsored by milkman inc.
0,001% Made it to the egg. They were very pleased with the result nine months later.

3.987.452.221 pounds of food was consumed
74,5% consumed by humans. Icecream was a favorite that night.
25% consumed by animals. They loved their grass.
0,5% consumed by mould. Silently plotting their bid for world domination
0,0023% was human consumed by animals. Eight pandas had indigestion afterwards.

256.666 persons claimed to have a supernatural encounter.
68% claimed to be abducted by aliens. They had the sore ass to prove it.
12% said they spoke with God. One actually had.
11% reported they were terrorized by gnomes. The gnomes allied with the mould.
9% encountered a ghost. 20 people had watched a video seven days before.

3.798.333.113 pairs of shoes were used.
77% suffocated due to sweaty feet.
12,5% conducted sabotage against their slave-masters.
6% were thrown away. Enduring afterlife on the seventh tier of Hell: the fiery field of
chew toys for dogs.
4,5% were missed in action. They will be remembered.

23.566.016 acts of kindness were perpetrated.
68% involved candy, flowers and remembering a birthday or anniversary. They had an
assistant with a good memory.
18% was a kind word or two. Being kind only takes a minute sometimes.
12% was helping old ladies across the road. 255 grannies yelled they didn’t need to cross
the road.
2% was extraordinary. You can rent the movies to see it.

Both Rob Davies and Gimme will get an autographed book. They should e-mail me for further details.

The winner is from John F, for this tale of sandwiches and dueling labor philosophies:

First off, I want to make it clear that I had nothing to do with the hamsters being found where they were in the following investigation of the scene. I know there’s been a lot of rumors and whispered allegations to the contrary, but those are nothing but lies. Scandalous lies.

Now that the record’s been set clear on that point, let’s get on to what my part in that… unprecedented event actually was. At around 5:30 PM, I was sitting in the hotel lobby preparing to eat a large ham sandwich, lightly flavored with Dijon mustard and finely ground fragments of Hitler’s mustache. Don’t you judge me. The evil makes it tangier.

Anyway. Just then, as I was about to bite down into this culinary masterpiece (the more esoteric ingredients for which cost me quite a pretty penny, let me tell you), Ayn Rand entered the building wearing a sensible but well-cut dress. Now, some shameless fabricators will attempt to persuade you that she was also sporting an enormous magenta afro several feet in diameter, but this is nothing but the purest chicanery. It was obviously mauve.

She swiftly strode across the lobby and snatched my (very expensive) sandwich out of my dumbfounded hands. She thereupon proceeded to take a large bite out of it. “Hey,” I protested. Swallowing, she turned her gaze to me. “I believe that the pursuit of my own happiness must be the paramount moral purpose of my own life, while the happiness of others must be their own concern and theirs alone. Also, I was hungry,” she replied. Pausing, she licked her lips to retrieve a stray scrap of seasoning. “Mmm. Hitlery.”

Just then, the ornate domed skylight of the lobby burst inwards with a shattering crash as half a dozen burly figures rappelled down on what appeared to be shimmering beams of energy, headed by a seventh large figure with a robotic right eye. Ayn Rand whirled to face them. “Space Bill Haywood!”, she hissed, her afro swaying gently from the speed of her movement. “How did you find me?” As his men swiftly encircled her (and me, in the process), he replied: “Never mind that! By the powers vested in me by Presidential Decree 17045.3 of the Space Lenin administration, I hereby arrest you for crimes against The People!”

Seeing my opportunity, I tentatively raised my hand. “Ah, excuse me? She also took my sandwich.” Space Bill blinked his remaining human eye – apparently noticing my presence for the first time – as his men handcuffed a snarling Ayn Rand, being careful to avoid her ‘fro as it whipped about dangerously. “Really? Outrageous! We shall add a count of first-degree sandwich-taking to her list of charges immediately! Mulligan! Seize that sandwich as evidence!”

As one of his men swiftly took my sandwich and stuffed it into what appeared to be some kind of portable evidence locker, I attempted to interject. “Er, I was actually hoping to get that ba-” Space Bill, ignoring me entirely, cut me off by thundering to his men: “Swiftly, now! Return to the Labormobile!” He and his men dashed over to their hanging energy lines (contrary to some reports, they did not in fact move with a wobbling gait), and were quickly drawn back up, a struggling Ayn Rand suspended beneath them.

And I was left there, bereft and sandwichless. And for the last time, I swear I don’t know why they found those hamsters in there.

I know why. But I’ve said too much already. Poor hamsters.

John F, send me an e-mail from the address you left your comment from and I get that signed Zoe ARC to you as soon as possible.

And thanks everyone who played along. This was one of the best contests ever. It was very hard to choose .

28 Comments on “Zoe’s Tale ARC Winners”

  1. Damn Fine stories! Sorry I didn’t win, but really…Can’t say I could compete with those.

  2. Congratulations to the winners!

    In my initial reading, I somehow missed the bit about the Space Lenin administration in John F.’s story.

  3. I know there’s a profound lesson in publication here, about the lack of exposure one might find in “professional” publications and the abundant exposure enjoyed with publication on Whatever. I don’t quite have my finger on it entirely, but it’s something that I’m sure every writer would love to grasp intimately. I’ll just say it was a fine contest that I enjoyed keeping up with, and I think the winners were chosen perfectly.

  4. Congrats to the winners, this was great fun.
    I found myself seeing where I fit in the stats – ice cream is a favorite.

  5. You forgot the most important thing they won:
    The ability to include Whatever contest winner on resumes and biographies.

  6. NICE JOB! Congrads!! That TOTALLY rocks. I am totally jealous!

    I also wish I could write stories as well as I can write music…Perhaps the next contest I will submit a musical version of a short story.

  7. Congratulations to the winner and the runner-ups!

    I think these are the perfect winners too. Out-of-this-world original. The statistics were awesome and I admire them.

    I would have liked to win—heck, who wouldn’t—but there’s no way my stuff would have been able to compete with any of these.

    There was a lot of top-notch stuff in those comments. I can imagine how hard it was to choose.

  8. The winner was good just for the phrase: “Mmm. Hitlery”. That cracked me up.

  9. Congrats to the winners and thank you all to the contributors. I lost several hours, but gained a great deal of entertainment. Another thank-you to our host!

  10. Bueno. Excellent choices for the winners.

    And best of all, a good time was had by all.

  11. “(note that I suspect that he or she is from Europe, because there are periods where US folks would use commas, and vice-versa)”

    As far as I know we use commas in Europe to break up the big numbers too (well we do in the UK and Ireland). And surely it would be more correct to use a decimal point in the percentage figures, rather than either a full stop (period to you US folks) or a comma (except standard computer keyboards for some odd reason don’t seem to come equipped with such a button).

  12. Ed, the usage of comma to separate digit groups and dot as decimal separator is limited to most English-speaking countries. The rest of Europe generally does the opposite (or separates the digit groups with a space or a different symbol, like ‘ or ?).

  13. Congrats to the winner and runners up.

    All the accounts of that day were really fun to read.

  14. Good lord, Rob Davies. That end of that second blurb introduced my nasal passages to my ice water.

    It was worth it.

  15. Great stories for the winners. I don’t envy John having to pick from among those entries; I read quite a few.

    But I think any entry that manages to invoke Godwin’s Law as a condiment does, indeed, deserve a win.

  16. Congratulations to the winners! There is one thing I will say: It is the first time a story of mine has been seen by more than just my eyes. (Yeah, there is a reason for that.)

  17. My congratulations to the winners. This was one of the best contests I’ve ever entered. I had a lot of fun just looking through the other entries.

  18. Hah. Heh. Bleurgh. NUmbers and what-have-you…

    In English-speaking countries, it is common to use “,” as a separator between “groups of thousands” and use “.” to separate the intereger and fractional part of a number.

    In at least Sweden (and, I suspect, most of the Nordic countries), a “.” is used to separate thousands and “,” is used to separate the integer and fractional parts (it’s referred to as “the decimal comma”).

    I don’t know how widely spread it is in Europe, though I believe Germany uses the same conventions as Sweden does.

  19. Congrats to all 3. Glad Rob Davies got a shout-out (Rob, you’re *horrible*! And very funny). And I really enjoyed Gimmie & John F’s. I had fun writing mine too.

    But damn you, Scalzi! I must now prepare my black-hole device for Ohio targeting…

  20. First, props to all who participated. I’m sure it was deliciously difficult to choose in the end.

    ‘Twas a learning experience for me. Namely:

    1) Writing is editing. It’s about how something is said. Or not said.

    2) My writing needs work.

    3) I _want_ to work on it.

    #3 is the biggie, I’d say.