Winner’s Sample: “Blindness”

We’d like to present our Gauntlet Champion, Dimitra Nikolaidou, in a little better context. During these past four rounds, she proved to be a well-rounded competitor not to be trifled with. She answered our challenges with the kind of storytelling, criticism, and sense of humor we demand. You should pursue her articles over at, and her short “The Garden of Daedalus V” now posted in the Quantum Shorts competition! You can follow this rising Greek author for updates on Twitter (@D_Nikolaidou). But the best place to start getting to know her lies below.

Here is a sample of her winning entry, written in under two weeks for our Final Round.


(From “Blindness” by Dimitra Nikolaidou)

His foot slipped, and he fell.

But as he fell, among the snowdrops and the flame and his own short gasps, he saw her. And she was everything he had been promised. And he did not scream, even as his back hit the frozen ground and the world went away.

“I had never thought it would be her.”

Plato’s grandfather kept saying the same thing every time they opened the window. He had been blinded early in the days of the new regime, when taking the eyes of artists was more common than the rain, and the violence had taken all his words away. And yet, every time the shutters unlatched, this single sentence was let out, floating in the air between them.

He glanced at his grandfather, then turned towards the small part of the square that was still visible from their apartment among the tall buildings and the weighted clotheslines and the rusted antennae. The statue of the masked woman in its middle was the only shade of white among a sea of dirty concrete.

Almost a thing of beauty.

He laid against the windowsill, looked down. Every woman walking in the street looked exactly the same, the bones of their faces twisted in the exact same shape to form the same flower-like mask. Hands covered under gloves, clothes similarly cut. Not even his own eyes could tell strangers apart.

The policewoman in the corner was a different one again, as far as he could tell by her height and the way her uniform fit, and the apartment opposite them had been vacant for three months now.

No, Grandpa had to mean the statue. Brave Lady Manya, the first one to free herself from the tyranny of beauty that held all women captive before the new regime took over and elevated them, whether they wanted it or not.

“I am going for a walk,” he told his mother, backing into the room. She turned her head around, her hands still on the keyboard. She was worried about him. He felt it in her stance. It had only been three weeks since he had been released. Grandfather’s silence though had seeped through the walls of this house, and she only nodded as he picked up his tiny camera and put on his coat, the slits of her eyes turning back to her screen.

Final Results

Hello World. It’s the Gauntlet.

After weeks of challenges, writing, critique, of trials and tribulations, we have our winners’ circle. News broke on Twitter, and in our forums the night it happened, but now let’s get it in our News reel. There were 35 warriors of letters this year, and many of them shined.

  • Our 2nd Runner-Up for 2015 is Sammi Jenkins, the 2013 Gauntlet Champ, and perennial contender.
  • Our First Runner-Up is Daniel Ausema who was strong throughout the competition, both as a writer and reviewer (despite how crazy the challenges got).
  • Our Champion is the newcomer, joining us from Greece, Dimitra Nikolaidou. Stay tuned, because we’d like to tell you a bit more about her!

Final Challenge: Their Quote, Your World

“Their Quote, Your World”

Your Final Challenge is to visit Proverbia ( a large cache of philosophy, and use their quote of the day as the inspiration for a short story. However, that quote must also be used as the basis for worldbuilding within your story. You have three days (including today) to choose a proverb, so don’t think you can hold out forever if you don’t like what you see.

This is the two-week finale. Visit our forum for details!

Third Challenge: Gauntlet’s Razor

“Gauntlet’s Razor: the Speculative Review”

Your challenge is to review the story introduction provided in our forum, but also to speculate on where the story may lead. You cannot simply review the two given paragraphs; there must be a focus on what’s to come, and why you think so. You don’t get to read the whole story until after the deadline is up. That’s when we find out how good you really are.

2nd Challenge: Cure THIS.

Your next challenge is to write a story about a cure. It does not have to be a cure for a disease or a misapprehension, though it may be. It does not have to be a story about the discovery of a cure, though it may be. The cure does not even have to be a good thing. Just write a story about a cure. If you see where we’re going with this wild notion, you just might have the constitution for the creative freedoms we are about to grant.

Details in forum!

Gauntlet Closed for Sign-Ups

That’s right, our first round has concluded, and with it, our registration period. That means we turn our attention to those Gauntleteers who remain. You can still sign up as a spectator, which is fortunate, because these contestants will need every one of your well wishes.

1st Challenge : Natural Selection

Natural Selection”

Your first challenge is to choose a ‘Nature’s Future’ story from Nature’s science fiction page (Nature’s Futures) and to review it with all of your honest criticism. You may select any of the ‘Futures’ you wish to review. There is only one real stipulation. You may not choose any stories that contestants themselves have published in the magazine (We’re in the company of some authors who get around, after all. And that you may take however you wish.)

Please visit the forum for details. 🙂

Still Not Sure? Let’s Clear Some Things Up.

Are you like that American swing voter who needs to be sure that all the candidates are really over the age of thirty-five, before you’ll go to the polls? Are you the sort of fashion cop who won’t sit with us just because we wore sweatpants two days in a row?

Well, we’re here for the people who are interested, but have questions or concerns before they take us on.

  • The biggest question we get is about our contest timeline. Sorry if that’s not handy, or in the same spot as it was a year ago. We keep that on ‘The Challenges’ page, under both the ‘Guidelines’ and ‘Gauntleteers’ tab now. Here:
  • Also, we are experiencing issues contacting users automatically who have a hotmail/msn/outlook email via the site (myself included). If this applies to you, please allow some extra time for us to reach you from our separate email.
  • Lastly, in any competitive format, there are always those who have a gripe. You do yourselves no favors by whispering about your gripe. Don’t keep your gripe to yourself, or succumb to gripe gossip. We will not hear it! Seriously, contact us here, or sign up for the forum, and air it out in front of a crowd. We ain’t scared. And we don’t bite either.


Gauntlet Open. Will You Sign Up This Year?

Well, here we are. On the precipice. At the threshold. The tipping point, about to go over the edge. We don’t know what’s down there waiting for us at the bottom, but it will surely be a fun ride.

The Gauntlet, Literature’s challenge of legend, has arrived. If you can write fiction and fiction reviews, and have even the smallest of chips on your shoulder, you should sign up. A combined $275, critique of your work, and priceless plugs, are up for grabs. And by the way, it’s free to enter. You just have to fill out this thing.

Maybe it’s too complex. Maybe the tough schedule just doesn’t work for you, or we organizers are too churlish for your refined tastes. Or maybe the only one holding you back is you.