We received a lot of strong submissions for the Creative Writing Contest, and we’re thrilled to finally announce the winners. (I was the slowest judge — my bad.)
This post lists the winners, and a few other notes.
Note on private submissions
Some winners originally shared their entries through a private form so that they could submit them elsewhere if they didn’t win a prize.
I’ve now cross-posted those entries, with the date of their original submission, so that everyone can read them. (I’ve used the Forum Archives account if the author didn’t have a Forum account.)
These newly available entries include our first-prize winner!
The $10,000 first prize goes to atb, for The Unweaving of a Beautiful Thing:
It had been eighteen minutes since Death had arrived and the witch had refused to be taken.
The spell was like spiderweb, intricate threads woven into the world, and Death had paused to admire it. They’d known that the witch might fight, for the powerful often greeted them with defiance. Fire had been flung at Death in every hue, while others they’d visited had attempted deceit, offering up innocents cloaked in their own guise. One wizard had tried a love spell, not understanding that Death already loved them all. But the witch’s web was something new; it was an attempt to trap Death in its threads. It was elegant and audacious and cunning, and yet…
“You are aware,” said Death, “that this approach will fail?”
We had promised that at least one of these prizes would go to a nonfiction entry, but we had two fiction entries in a perfect tie for second. As a result, we’ve added a third “second prize” to account for our highest-scoring nonfiction entry.
These $3,000 prizes go to:
- Do Good Better, by Andrew Kao
- Counting the Living, by apprenticebard
- The Toba Supervolcanic Eruption, by Jackson Wagner
Because of the extra second prize, we’re only awarding three “third prizes”.
These $1,000 third prizes go to:
- The Detection, by Raymond D
- I See Dead Kids, by Eneasz Brodski
- Noumenon, by Ben Stewart
These eight entries earned a $250 Honorable Mention prize:
- The Sorcerer in Chains, by Swimmer
- Brighter than Today, by Raymond Arnold (referred by Dancer)
- 3524, by Andrew Smith
- A Social History of Shoes, by Lawrence Newport
- Via Negativa, by Anonymous Lemur
- What You Do, by Justis
- Utopia, lol?, by Jamie Wahls (referred by Andrew Clough)
- The Reset Button, by Joshua Ingle
What’s next for the winners?
I’ve contacted the authors to let them know how they can collect their prizes. If you’re a winner and didn’t get an email, send me a DM.
Because I’m no longer at CEA, I’ll leave detailed plans to the next Content Specialist. But I do think we’ll be widely sharing the entries on social media, and I expect that we may end up using them (with authors’ permission) in some of our online resources.
If you think any of this work should be read more widely, please share it yourself! Let’s get these people the readers they deserve.
Also: If you have any ideas for how CEA could make use of all this great writing, leave a comment or send me a message!
Potentially could these be released as audiobook/podcasts?
Quick thought: I think it might actually be pretty high impact, and clearly worth the relatively low time/money required, for someone to do pretty good human readings of these and release them as episodes in one podcast feed.
This is based on things like:
We could instead have machine-read versions. But I'd guess that, for fiction as an outreach tool, human-read versions would be sufficiently more appealing and engaging that it's worth the extra time/money.
(I haven't tried to verify any of the above, e.g. haven't checked how many high impact people got into EA/rationality via the HPMOR podcast as opposed to reading it.)
EDIT: Also, if that seems to go well, it may well be worth following that with:
So there may also be some good value of information, rather than just the expected impact of having recordings of these particular entries.
This is something I might give some thought to doing. One question is where it should live — I think the two most obvious options are the Nonlinear Library podcast, or on a new 'EA Fiction' podcast feed (advantage of the latter is that it could continue running if it goes well, disadvantage is it's maybe a couple extra hours to set up).
Incidentally, I also think it would be valuable for someone to produce table reads of some of the conversations MIRI recently published.
Please can anyone let me know if you would like to help read or edit something for either this EA fiction thing, or the MIRI conversations? I expect it would be possible to get a mic sent over, or at least compensation for your time.
If the eventual human-read versions of this creative stuff and/or the MIRI conversations are high quality in my view (see below), I'm willing to personally guarantee (say) at least $500 for a mic (if the person doesn't have one already and it costs that much) and $20/hr for up to 5 times as many hours as the cumulative total run time across all the episodes produced, with the guarantee being capped at $1500 total.
Great! Both the MIRI conversations and the creative writing pieces amount to a bout an audiobook's worth of content, so I think this would be best if multiple people helped record them. Plus it could be useful to have both male and female voices for some.
I would be happy to project manage either of these things if there's enough interest!
I'd quite like to help read some of these. I strongly agree that a table read of the MIRI conversations would be good: given their conversational nature I think a lot of people would find them easier to approach as a recording than as a text log.
Also, my impression is that the Fable of the Dragon Tyrant got a lot out of having a nice video version. If the recordings go well it might be worth considering commissioning an accompanying video for the top prize winner at least.
I hope we can have narrations of these stories, it would be great! (Authors: if you want to read your own work, I could help post it/edit it?)
I read the winning entry into the EA Forum podcast here ... Spotify link here.
I hope more are forthcoming .
oops. some audio issues -- a silence gap. Should be fixed now.
Thanks everyone for all of your work! I look forward to reading these.
If anyone wants to publicise these I made a folder of a load of instagrammable excerpts from each of these - I will be posting them on my EA group account, but feel free to use them as well.
Contests like this seem to generate great content!
Meta note: is there some systematic way to discover and hear about EA forum contests/prizes? My experience is that despite checking the forum front page fairly often, usually when the winning entries show up on the front page. Some page on the forum listing all prizes would be useful – does this exist?
There's the "prize" tag. Any user can tag posts (or suggest new tags actually).