While this isn’t the contest news some are waiting for: a new mini-contest!

I’m not the only one who has been amused by John Scalzi’s blurb for Sam Sykes just released book BLACK HALO. The blurb reads: “I do not wish Sam Sykes Dead.” High praise, indeed! Still, it leaves me wanting more. So: a weeklong mini-contest!

HOW TO ENTER AND WHAT: Either comment here, on the relevant post on Bull Spec’s Facebook Page, or reply to the relevant tweet from @bullspec on Twitter, with an even better backhanded evil blurb than Scalzi’s. OK, I know, that’s impossible. Just do the best you can. The winner will receive — well, it makes sense, doesn’t it — a copy of BLACK HALO. (The one pictured below to be precise. Only with less camera flash reflecting off of it.)

ELIGIBILITY: The book will be sent only to folks who can receive USPS media or flate rate (US postage) mail. So: US (yes, Hawaii and Alaska), US territories, etc. If you’re outside this area please do enter anyway, because, well, it’s fun and you might still win. I’ll just only be able to send the book to the US mailing address of your choice. Hey. Worldwide postage ain’t free.

DEADLINE: I’ll round up the submissions next Friday, April 1. I can totally see the winning entries sounding like April Fool’s jokes already…

UPDATE: Winner is posted here.

Third Bear Carnival contest winners.

I found this sitting in “draft” when trying to tie up some loose ends, and apologize to the winners for the lateness of the post — though they did get their books long ago. For this contest, I asked readers to submit reviews of non-existent books, tied however loosely, to Jeff VanderMeer’s recent collection The Third Bear.

Well, two came through with shining colors. The first comes from Stephen Gordon:

Two Weird by Jeff VanderMeer (2012) 

Jeff VanderMeer produces remarkable collections of short fiction, and Two Weird, his latest since The Third Bear, is no exception.  If the collection has a unifying theme, it would be the manner in which language, in its gaps and failures, can produce a dread deeper than that instilled by any monster. The first and last stories are illustrative.

The first, “Two Weird,” is set in the aftermath of Macbeth and relates the interrogation of two of the weird sisters by Macduff (the third having been killed during their capture). The sisters reluctantly hand over manuscripts ofMacbeth and its alleged sequel, insinuating a terrifying paradox of intertextuality and fate.

The final story, “Turtles All the Way,” is as a mashup of The Matrix and Borges’ “The Garden of Forking Paths.” Whereas The Matrix presents a horrific world (“the desert of the real”) paired with a shiny but illusory cybernetic projection, each world in “Turtles” is a projection of some other, with the web of worlds never ending, although sometimes looping. The protagonist, a lonely young woman named Differance, travels from world to world fruitlessly seeking meaning, always a signifier, never a signified.

Stephen Gordon writes short stories that are just a little weird and a little fantastical. He can be found on the web at facebook.com/ironnoir,twitter.com/ironnoir, or ironnoir@gmail.com, as you please.

The second comes from Chapel Hill Comics‘ Andrew Neal, and comes with a bit of a profanity alert:

Almost Eaten by Goldilocks 

Review by Baby Bear

In casting herself as a hero in her new book Almost Eaten, Goldilocks has reached down into the deepest depths of her delusions and pulled forth the biggest, steamiest pile of shit I’ve ever tried to read. She’s no Robin Hood. She stole my porridge. She’s a burglar, a thief, and, as this book makes clear, a liar. Simple as that. Memoir? More like Mem-whore. If I ever cross paths with that little bitch again, her she’s going to have to call her second book Eaten.

Whew. Well, that’s about three months overdue. I do promise that it won’t take that long to announce the winner of the Teen Writing Contest which I hope to post quite soon.

Bull Spec Teen Writing Contest judged by Ann VanderMeer!

“Imagine two vast armies separated by a plain. Gryphons. Dragons. Mech walkers. Knights. Wizards. Rows of muskets. Rows of laser rifles. Rows of cannons. Velociraptors. Robots. Chariots. Hovercraft. Between these armies stand two teens. Siblings. A brother and sister. They hold outstretched hands, stretching out their other hands toward the armies, willing them to stop…”

So. I’ve wanted to figure out some way to help send a young writer in the area to the incredibly awesome Shared Worlds summer writing camp for teens at South Carolina’s Wofford College for a while. Next summer’s (2011’s) program is scheduled for 17-30 July, with (among others) instructors Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, Nnedi Okorafor, Will Hindmarch, &c. Yeah, wow! You can read about Jeff’s thoughts on teaching there via Matt Staggs at Suvudu. Yeah, wow! While it’ll take further fundraising to make it all the way, it’s time to get things started, as registration is already open.

What: A flash fiction contest for area teens, with stories inspired (in part, very loosely, or not at all!) by the opening paragraph in this post, on the theme of: teen siblings trying to stop a war. Magic. Technology. Either/Or/Neither. Fearlessness. Hope?

Errata: Stories must be at least 500 words and at most 1000 words, not including the title. (Stories may also be untitled, that’s fine.) One story entry per person. Stories must not have been previously published.

Eligibility: Residents of the Triangle area of North Carolina who this coming summer (2011) will be rising 8th graders through rising 12th graders. So, currently in 7th grade through 11th grade.

Prize: $50, publication in Bull Spec #5 (around late March, 2011), and a contributor copy of the issue. Further, if the winner is accepted to the Shared Worlds program, a partial scholarship ($200) will be provided along with fundraising efforts to get as close to the full tuition ($2000) as possible.

Note: You don’t actually have to want to (or be able to, you may have summer plans already, etc.) go to Shared Worlds to enter and win the $50 and publication. The age/grade requirement above still stands, however.

Judges: The judge for the contest will be award-winning editor Ann VanderMeer. YEAH, WOW!

Runners-Up: Outstanding runners-up, if any, will be mentioned by name and title of their submission.

How: E-mail your story either in the body of the e-mail or as an attachment, whatever, to [contests at bullspec dot com]. Please include your legal name, the name under which you want the story mentioned or published (if different), your mailing address, and your age and current grade level at which school, or if homeschooled or unschooled. Please use the following subject line: TEEN CONTEST ENTRY: <Insert Your Name Here>.

When: Deadline for entries is high noon EST, Friday, 25 February 2011. So you’ve got a little less than six weeks. Winner and runners up (if any) will be announced by high noon EST, Friday, 11 March 2011. Update: If this deadline is looming a little too largely and you are working on a story, please let us know and ask for an extension.

Other: Please, spread the word! Libraries, high schools, middle schools, etc. If you’ve got questions, drop me a line at [sam at bullspec dot com].

The Third Bear Carnival very belatedly continues!

OK. The first of a couple of contests about to kick off before the Ides of December are upon us. Remember back in September, when Stephen Gordon (and Dan Campbell, sadly ineligible) posted some good ideas for how to give away 3 copies of Jeff VanderMeer‘s The Third Bear as part of an even-then ridiculously late entry to Matthew Cheney’s The Third Bear Carnival. Stephen won a copy for his trouble, and has a chance to win another in time for holiday giving. (Sorry Dan, still ineligible.)

The Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer

But there’s a catch: there’s only 2 copies available now! (Hey, I’m keeping one for myself. Executive decision. Contest runner’s rights. &c.)

So here’s the contest. Starting now (like: NOW!) send at most ONE e-mail to [contests at bullspec dot com] with the title “CONTEST: THIRD BEAR CARNIVAL” and the contents being a blurb-length (100-200 words) review for a nonexistent book, complete with book title and author, inspired (however broadly) by The Third Bear. Be creative, be funny, be surreal. 2 winners (chosen by me, the executive decider, &c.) get announced on the blog and copies of the book. Valid entries must include the name to whom to credit the review and a mailing address to which to send the book. And, sorry, it’s available only to where the deliciously inexpensive USPS media mail travels, so that’s the United States, its territories, bases, embassies, etc. But you know what? You can enter the contest from elsewhere, but if you win, you don’t get mailed the book. Fair enough? Yeah. Sorry about that.

Deadline is one week from NOW: Wednesday 15 December at high noon EST. Happy insanity!

Third Bear Carnival: a Bull Spec contest with 3 identical prizes. First, the meta contest.

I’m quite late to the festival which is/was Matthew Cheney’s Third Bear Carnival. But to make up for this tardiness, I have 3 copies of Jeff VanderMeer’s recent collection The Third Bear which need a good home:

The Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer

Actually, I have 4 copies. But the first 3 copies are for a contest to be determined by a preliminary (meta?) contest, which itself awards the 4th copy as its prize.

Confused? You have barely scratched the surface of bizarre, in any number of ways.

So, contest the first: in a comment on this blog post, design for me a contest which gives away the other 3 copies. You have a little less than one week. At or around noon (Eastern US Time) next Monday (20 September), I will pick the winner and start said contest, to be open for one week. The winner of the first contest gains immortal fame, etc. and also one copy of The Third Bear for themselves. The winner(s) of the second contest gain, of course, immortal fame, etc. and also one copy of The Third Bear as well.

Eligibility: anyone may submit one contest idea and even win, but books are eligible to be sent only where USPS media mail travels. Be creative. Be … creative.

A truly "diabolical" contest.

The writing blog Diabolical Plots is having a little contest to celebrate its hit counter rolling into five digits, and what better way to celebrate fun base-10-centric milestones than with a giveaway? So I sent David Steffen an extra copy of Bull Spec #1 to give away.

But there’s a catch. Both Diabolical Plots and Bull Spec like to do interviews, and are asking you to give an idea of somebody in speculative fiction to interview. For the full details check out the Diabolical Plots post on the contest, and good luck!

And if you just can’t wait a week to find out if you’ve won, you can always order a copy of your own. Just sayin’. (Or head to one of the 12 Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill bookstores carrying Bull Spec and pick one up today!)