April 2017 (Issue #29)

The premise for Issue #29 was

SPACE

We challenged contestants to write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which the concept of “space” (which can be a noun or a verb) plays an important role. Contestants could interpret “space” any way they wanted–literally, metaphorically, or any other way.

We received 193 contest entries and chose five stories for prizes and one for inclusion in the “guest writer” category. One of our prizewinners and our guest writer have been published in OTP before, but the other four authors have not. Three of this issue’s stories are speculative fiction and three take place in the real world.

CONTENTS:

Valentine was a diagnostic analyst. His job was to work out why the riot had happened. Rena’s job, though, was to work out what might happen next.

FIRST PLACE: Valentine’s Dilemma, Mark Bilsborough’s speculative story about difficult choices in a world that’s falling apart.
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Maybe it was too late to assert herself now. But it had to be now before it got to be never.

SECOND PLACE: Time and Space, Gita V. Reddy’s real-world story about the demands of an extended family.
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I reached out for the electrode contacts—and yes, I know you’ll tell me they’re not necessary. But it’s easier for me to believe I can control a ship’s journey when my hands are touching something that wires directly into the Stretch Drive.

THIRD PLACE: Stretch Points, Chris Kelworth’s speculative story about space pirates and other navigational hazards.
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Technically, Grandpa needed launch authorization codes from Grandma before he could go. She wasn’t giving them to him.

HONORABLE MENTION: Dust to Smart Dust, John Burridge’s speculative story about funeral rites and family conflict in one possible future for humanity. 
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She started to laugh. How can that be that they suddenly become so happy about nothing? He fetched his cell to Google “Down syndrome.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Care, Responsibility, Respect, Knowledge, Jesse Falzoi’s real-world story about a semi-legal housecleaner who gets in way over his head.
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I snuck a look at her as she worked, wishing she were someone else. Someone happier, friendlier, not so weird. Unfortunately, we were stuck with her for a while.

GUEST WRITER: Welcome Home, Doree Weller’s real-world story about making room for unexpected family. 

Note: Photo courtesy of www.Pexels.com