Our November 2019 Writing Contest
This contest is now closed to submissions!
The prompt for this contest has been...
Write a story about a person whose life was changed by a newly-invented technology.
Some additional notes:
- Stories of any genre are welcome. You don't have to stick to sci-fi.
- The change in question can be for better or worse.
- Please keep your story under 1,500 words in length.
We have 1 honorable mention:
"The Bubble Bursts" by Janet Coburn
This foray into fanfiction is a great honorable mention for this contest because Janet took the time to give both a positive and negative spin on this technological development. For Glinda, it's absolutely mortifying that her magic isn't as impressive to the Munchkins as it used to be. For the Munchkins, this is a huge step up from their previous situation and they're getting to see and do more. Janet's writing style is clean, organized, and the story quickly gets to the point.
And the first-place winner is...
Essia with "A New Beginning"
Thanks to Essia's succinct, yet detailed depiction of a world that's come to rely on a system of bots, I think she demonstrates how well she grasped the contest subject. She also has a way of including a lot of information about what has gone wrong with this technology, a worry that a lot of people have about AI and other innovations now, without overloading such a short entry. Her story is believable, futuristic, high-stakes, and very developed for its length.
Read the winning entry below.
A New Beginning
The world is ruined. Destroyed. Desolate. Silenced. Most might believe it to be for a good cause, but not me. Everywhere you turn buildings are wrecked. Abandoned. No one wants to work anymore. But why would they want to? Why work when you can sit around playing games all day, or sit around messaging friends that are two inches away. This mess, this horrible invention, was created by Marcos Lebatin. He created robots that can read your mind and do what you want. He believed that it would help the world become less stressed, less busy. And in a way, it did. But it did much more. It made people so obsessed that they started relying completely on their robots. All they had to do was think it, and it was done. Their reliance was so strong they left running the government to the robots. It’s a horrible disaster, and people are going to die from it, from not eating the right foods, never staying fit, never working. It's ruining their minds.
But I know how to stop it. To stop all this. I need to get into the main computer, which is blocked by three hundred layers of coding to hack. I click a few things, and I’m past the first layer. Hmm, something is not right. It shouldn’t have been that easy to get through the first layer. Something appears on my screen. It reads:
Trying to hack into the system, huh?
“Who are you?” I reply.
Jake. Jake Lebatin. I’m Marcos’s son.
I choke. The inventor Marcos? I didn’t think Marcos had a son. And shouldn’t this kid already have clearance to get in? “Why are you in the system, and why was it so easy to get through the first layer?”
I’m trying to get in myself. And, I helped you through that layer. Why are you in the system?
I start to type my answer but then pause. Is he going to tell his dad about me? But then again, he can help me get through the other layers. No, he’s not trustworthy. Before I can decide on what to tell him, he says something.
If you’re trying to shut down Dad’s bots, I can help. That’s what I’m trying to do. And I think it’d be easier with both of us working on it.
I feel uneasy about this, I thought for sure Marcos Lebatin didn’t have a son. But I still type the response. “Ok.” We type code after code in together, and all the while we are talking. After a few hours, we finish the last layer. We got in.
Now, all you got to do is shut down the bots.
I start shutting them down, then hesitate. He should shut them down. I wouldn't have gotten through without him. “No, you shut them down.”
In a few seconds, all the bots collapse onto the ground. When I should have been feeling proud of myself, all I felt was defeat. The bots had been servants for so long that no one knew what to do. The buildings needed to be fixed, food needed to be made, streets needed paving. All this work needed to be done, and yet no one knew how to do it. The world had to start all over again. It had to start new. I worked so hard for this. And somehow, it still didn’t seem right.