Judges’ dilemma: good Space Western Senryū—don’t require a bribe. — ed, N.E. Lilly

First Place

Red sands of Mars
My footprints alone
Stretching back to the horizon.

Mark L. Van Name: Good space western tie and human feeling.

Second Place

Cowboys on a ship
have no cattle to lasso
so they rope tribbles

Honorable Mentions

consciousness exists
only in its echoes:
who can resist shouting?

† Mark’s Pick: Lovely mix of images and human emotions. Barely a space western, but close enough in tone that I counted it.

flashing lights of stars
dance never-ending cancan
squinting eyes shrivel

Mark L. Van Name: Very good images and human counterpoint. Barely a space western, but close enough in tone that I counted it. A very close second to being my judge’s pick.

alive three months
Sterling-Suit lashed to hull
Jake burned on re-entry

Mark L. Van Name: Nice irony and ties to space westerns.

on the range
space cowboys apply
SPF 5000 sunscreen

Alana Joli Abbott: Because getting a sunburn out in the black is mighty painful.

Standoff under two suns. Fire!
Still Standing. No blood. Oil drips.
Damn robots.

We hesitate to welcome
the artificial:
tomorrow we won’t.

Mark L. Van Name: Not at all a space western, but I liked the simplicity of it enough that I gave it a high score.

stagecoach floats empty,
bushwhacked at asteroid gulch,
seals broken, skull-like

throughout robot ghost
town, metal cows quietly rust,
lowing like chimes

Seamus Kevin Fahey: evocative... dig it.

Ships blast off for space
for the asteroid roundup;
rocks for lunch again

Alana Joli Abbott: The last line of this one made me laugh out loud. There’s such disappointment implied that this must be a regular occurence. Rustling those wily asteroids and only getting rocks for lunch? It’s a rough life!

for sale: plexiglass
stetson — oxygen filter
noisy, but still works

† Alana’s Pick: I love the construction of this poem: the advertisement placed in the paper on a frontier planet for a used stetson surely has a story behind it. I can almost hear the sound the old, used filter makes, and imagine the dings in the old hat.

coughing up red dust
a dental practise, absurd
he plays out his hand.

Seamus Kevin Fahey: random... in a good way

shot of whiskey
the whore reaches for my gun
with her tentacle

Seamus Kevin Fahey: I get the western, I get the sci fi, I get a moment... what’s not to like?

planetary rings,
sagebrush moons, red-tailed comet —
ranch’s back forty

he was fast and slick
eight pistols simultaneous
from slimy holsters.

Alana Joli Abbott: This is why the best gunslingers have multiple arms—or tentacles as the case may be. I wouldn’t want to play poker with this fellow either. Brilliantly done!

meg’s missing
in the circus-ship’s wake
and its sad-eyed, mouthless clowns

Mark L. Van Name: My nominee as weirdest, which I consider a good thing.

Seamus Kevin Fahey: I like the description... and I know a girl named Meg...

echoes of mirth
metal grips the hard man
where lust had hoped for flesh

Mark L. Van Name: Good images.

Breaking human hearts
With bullets or cold silence
Is the outlaw way

Telepathic horse
but the horse can’t speak and the
sheriff don’t speak horse

bullets fly spaceward,
nicking moonlets — gunfight at
zero-g corral

In space
Lone Ranger’s lovelife
Absolute zero

he was a half-breed
which side would he choose
the reds or the blues?

† Seamus’ Pick: Clever way of taking on the challenge.

Alana Joli Abbott Alana Joli Abbott is the author of two fantasy novels, Into the Reach and Departure, the co-writer for Steampunk Musha RPG, and has contributed to several gaming resources. Ms. Abbott lives near New Haven, CT, where she often partakes of the city’s famous thin crust pizza. This is her first published comic.

Mark L. Van Name Mark L. Van Name is former Executive Vice President for Ziff-Davis Media, and the head of a technology assessment company in the Triangle. He’s authored or co-authored over a thousand computer-related articles and one technical book, co-founded the Sycamore Hill Writer’s Workshop, co-edited Intersections: The Sycamore Hill anthology, and has sold over a dozen SF short stories. His fiction has appeared in such places as Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, The Year’s Best Science Fiction (Ninth Edition), Jim Baen’s Universe, and multiple anthologies.

Seamus Kevin Fahey Seamus Kevin Fahey was working as a Writer’s Assisant on Battlestar Galactica for two years before being promoted to staff writer. Meanwhile he helped create a story arc for the Battlestar Galactica: Origins comic series based on the show, and also won the Slamdance teleplay competition for his script “Ghost Town”. In 2007, after he was promoted to Staff Writer, he wrote his first script for the series’ fourth season, which is also his first professional credit. He was recently hired as Story Editor for the new NBC show, Kings.

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