“History, Aristotle says, represents things only as they are, while fiction represents them as they might be and ought to be.”
— Albert J. Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man
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Even in our supreme confidence (or was it naive optimism?), we didn’t expect to receive 169 submissions for the libertarian short story contest we held with Students for Liberty. But we managed to read through all of the stories and zero in on the best ones in time for our scheduled announcement today. You can read SFL’s official announcement on their website. I’m going to reproduce some of that information here and add a few words of my own.

Without further ado, here are the contest winners and runners-up:

The Winners

  • 1st Place: “The Coals Burned Low” by Ahmed Khalifa
  • 2nd Place: “House of Refuge” by Michael DiBaggio
  • 3rd Place: “A Masterpiece of the Literature of Liberty” by Jack McDonald Burnett

Runners-Up (in Alphabetical Order by Author)

The winners will split $500 in cash prizes — with $300 going to the first place winner, $125 to the second, and $75 to the third.

All winners and runners-up have also won one year of supporting membership in the Libertarian Fiction Authors Association (a $60 value) for free.

All 10 stories will also be published in a special fiction issue of SFL’s Ama-Gi magazine sometime in April as well as in a forthcoming ebook (and maybe also print) anthology produced by the Association. Keep an eye on SFL’s website and ours for updates.

Reflections on the Contest

As you can imagine, judging a contest like this is not easy. There were many stories to read and little time to read them in. Complicating things further, the contest was open to any genre and qualifying submissions ranged from just over 1,000 words to just under 10,000. A few stories were dropped from consideration for going over or under the word limit or for being submitted in a (corrupted?) file format we couldn’t open; always follow submission guidelines, folks!

In the end, we evaluated the stories based on a combination of three major criteria:

  • the presence of positively portrayed libertarian themes or values;
  • the quality of the writing (which is as important, if not more so, than the libertarian message);
  • how closely the story followed the contest writing prompt.

I think we all would have liked to see more stories written for the contest with the writing prompt in mind. Many of the submissions appear to have been written before the contest was announced and were submitted whether or not they even remotely addressed the writing prompt. We received some good stories that just didn’t fit closely enough. Again, follow the submission guidelines and you’ll have a better chance of winning.

That said, we did receive quite a few good stories — unfortunately more than we could give recognition to under the contest rules. Whether or not you won, we hope you will enter the contest again next year.

I give my thanks to everyone who participated in this contest or helped to promote it, especially to Students for Liberty for helping us put this event on.

I encourage everyone who submitted a story for the contest, and those who thought about doing so, to join the Libertarian Fiction Authors Association. We welcome both published and aspiring authors, and basic membership is and always will be free. We can help you become a better storyteller and promote your work.

P.S. Help us spread the word on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook:

About the Author

Geoffrey Allan Plauché Founder

Geoffrey is an Aristotelian-Libertarian political philosopher, writer, editor, and web designer. His academic work has appeared in Libertarian Papers, the Journal of Libertarian Studies, the Journal of Value Inquiry, and Transformers and Philosophy. He lives in Houston, TX with his wife and two children.

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  • George Donnelly March 20, 2014, 2:22 pm

    Congratulations! I wish I could reading the winning story right now. Looking forward to the ebook.

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