October 23, 2017 at 6:23 pm #78922
The Gauntlet Arena, 2017
WYRM’s go-home show
Gauntlet Fan #1: Yep. Probably the worst tickets you’ve bought to this thing yet. Balcony?! Thanks, bud.
Gauntlet Fan #2: It can’t always be sunshine and rainbows, you know. What did you want, the VIP box?
Fan #1: No, but it would have been nice to see the Gauntleteers. From here, Alexis looks like a fly, Sammi looks like an ant, and Travis looks like a baby caterpillar.
Fan #2: ‘Baby’ caterpillar? There are baby caterpillars? I thought they were all about cocoons, and secret transformations, and stuff.
Fan #1: Secret transformations. Look at you, author of Smithsonian’s Animal Kingdom over here.
Fan #2: Well, thanks.
Fan #1: Good thing there wasn’t a butterfly challenge in the Gauntlet this year.
Fan #2: What do butterflies have to do with this?
Fan #1: Holy shit, man. Let’s just watch the results. Someone’s in the ring, announcing them now. Shame I can’t make out who…
As sometimes happens on the verge of a major scene in fiction, there is a flash of light. Maybe you like it, and maybe you don’t, but flashes of light are real, even in reality. I know because we all judged this past round of the Gauntlet, and that’s how we all felt. Blinded by the task that lay ahead.
Up to this point, we have asked you to review a modern classic of short fiction (hoping you’d go beyond the pale), invited you into an all-too-real horror story, challenged you to revisit and reexamine why a favorite novel is a favorite in the first place, and then demanded you go far, far away. You three that remain have shined the entire way. You have honored this competition, and in my eyes, helped to legitimize it. But our challenge was up next. No matter how much we enjoyed these three final stories, we knew we had the Highlander curse: in the end, there could be only one. So here we go, without further ado, in very special order.
This prize of $50 and an in-depth review goes out to a strong, strong Gauntleteer, so strong in fact that he was crowned champion last year. In every round this year, he looked poised to do it again, but alas, nothing is a certainty in the tournament of tournaments. Travis treated us to a tale wrought with colorful characters, mythology, and tons of potential, set in the vicinity of a famous volcano. It made a few of us want to go read some L. Frank Baum. Congratulations on third, Travis. We hope to see you back here, sir. Bring your GIFs, and your A game, not that you need any reminder.
The prize of $75 and an in-depth review is claimed by an individual who evoked emotion in both her writing and her reviews. She’s inexorable, exuberant, and oftentimes poetic, and beyond that, she is cool. Congrats to you, Alexis! Your final story built a society from scratch, upon a rock in the ocean, in a place where there is no history of people or much of anything. I thought you rocked the Laurentian Fan, and the next time I see the ocean, I’m sure I will give a thought to Isla and her unlikely people. You are welcome back to the arena any time.
Gauntlet Champion 2017
And then there was one.
The history of regaining a major championship is marked by perseverance and commitment. This next individual has a lot in common with competitors who have done this very thing. For boxing, it’s Floyd Patterson. For MMA, you may think of Randy Couture. But if you’re a writer and critic, and the Gauntlet is where you compete, then there is only one Sammi. We didn’t know if it could ever be done, but from all of us, a sincere congratulations. Your story, set in a distant coordinates in our solar system, also devoid of history, brought to life a very real character, with palpable dread and dreams. It was a very smooth ride that left us wanting more.
Sammi, since your debut and win in 2013, we know that you have always been a cautious and private person when conducting yourself online. We admire that. I know we have made other arrangements for payment in the past ($150 this time around), but we owe you two championship pins now, and really would like to talk at least a little bit about you and your writing. Please? If you don’t want us to, that’s fine, but you are the only person to win the Gauntlet twice, and, while I’d have to check again, I believe you have now competed in the most Gauntlets, too. You definitely have in this incarnation of the contest. It’s not required, but we want to share a sample of this story and your preferred author’s handle. As for pins, do you have a P.O Box maybe? Of course, you also win an in-depth review.
Soon, the End Credits will roll, and we will all go home. But I think we’ll remember this Gauntlet for a long time to come. I’ll be in touch with the three finalists soon, to arrange payment of your prizes, and to ask what item you would like one of us to review. Remember, you are allowed either one short story, or one chapter.
See you soon, and congratulations to all!
Steven and WYRMOctober 23, 2017 at 7:20 pm #78923
Thanks for making this another fabulous Gauntlet season, Gauntleteers! You are all my heroes, and I’m hoping with all my hopes to see you around here again next year.October 23, 2017 at 8:18 pm #78924
Congratulations, all! Man, what a Gauntlet season! Sooooooo much talent.October 24, 2017 at 1:00 am #78927
Congrats and well-fought to both of you, Sammi and Travis! Man, I really really enjoyed this last round even more than all the last. I mean, the research fought me, but there’s a certain thrill when things come together after being difficult. 😀 Many thanks to the judges for your service! I hope to take another shot at that pin next year. 😀October 24, 2017 at 1:48 am #78928
This was a great Gauntlet year, and I want to thank y’all and previous years of competitors and judges. Every year I’ve entered the Gauntlet has been awesome for me–the first year and this, my last year, being the best. (I’ll go into my reasons why in a separate conversation.) I’m absolutely willing to come back as a judge or something, but my goal has been, for the past several years, to get a second win, and my failure to do so has been what kept me returning. I feel like I’ve grown a lot thanks to the Gauntlet, and I’ll miss the competition, without a doubt.
I’m absolutely willing to have this story excerpted, with the handle of Samantha Jenkins. I think that for the purposes of my review, I’d like to know your thoughts on Intrusion. It was something of an unexpected diversion from my normal.October 24, 2017 at 3:50 am #78932
I’d have to set aside the personal bias I’ve harbored over the years, and delete all my old rants about you, but I think you’d make a great judge. 😉 In all seriousness, iiiiit’s kind of something I have to take back to WYRM, but I like the sound of it. For sure I’m going to miss you competing in the Gauntlet though. Man. And, your kind words about this contest mean a lot.
Say, do you have another copy of “Intrusion” you could email us? Some of the entries for older rounds got themselves eaten, it seems.October 24, 2017 at 4:39 pm #78935
It’s done and sent. Thanks again, WYRM.
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