A black robe, powdered wig, and gavel may be in order – I'm going to be a judge . . . of the first Black Marks Literary Award that is. It'll be for a perviously unpublished science fiction novel. There will be a cash prize of $500, plus the option of publication.
So, if you have a virgin science fiction novel manuscript kicking around that you think is a winner, check out the guidelines, and read them carefully, because they warn:
Any guidelines that aren't expressly followed are grounds for automatic disqualification.
What will I be looking for in picking the winner? What I usually look for in the genre – I hope to get my mind blown. Give me daring feats of the imagination!
I like my sci-fi psychedelic rather than narcotic.
Or, to use a bullfighting metaphor: For me, science fiction should be a burladero rather than a querencia.
For those of you non-aficonados out there, here are the definitions from Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon:
Burladero: a shelter of planks set close together and a little out from the corral or barrera behind which the bullfighters and herders can dodge if pursued.
Querencia: part of the ring that the bull prefers to be in; where he feels at home.
These days, too much science fiction is hunkered down in a querencia rather than surviving close calls in a burladero.
So, go ahead, leave the safe zone, try to blow my mind. It'll make my day. But it won't be easy, I've been soaking my brain in all kinds of weirdness since my Atomic Age childhood. It's made me a bit jaded.
But what's life without challenges?