To those of you on my email list who gave your votes for what Clarion wants, my thanks. I'm glad I put it up for a vote, because it's hard to objectively judge the appeal of your own work. No one liked the Pristine Dome, the thriller/alternate history piece set in a divided Cold War era Japan. Lots of people liked The Nightmare Collector. Here's my updated list of what I'm submitting, and my public commitment of when I'm finishing them. Feel free to harass me in public - that's the point of posting this here!
Story #1 - completed on 15 Dec - The Nightmare Collector - a technology is developed to develop PTSD, to record nightmare images from traumatized people, in an attempt to treat the disorder. A community of fetishists arises that collects women's nightmares. One man has to confront the morality and hypocrisy of what he's doing and the nature of his flawed character when his own wife, an Iraq war vet, has her own nightmare recordings stolen. (Note: in a creepy twist, I'm the nightmare collector; every nightmare in this story is a real recurring nightmare I took from a woman I knew.) I'm getting this one out of the way first because it's the one I've least developed so far.
Story #2 - 31 Dec - The Tuesday Fire at the American Place - a shy and awkward thirteen year-old boy growing up in an American refugee village in Eastern Siberia tries to impress the daughter of one of the village's Russian commanding officers, by reading chapters to her from the diary of his grandfather, an officer in the old U.S. Marine Corps during the December War against China. In the process he finds things out about his own family, as well as the Russian officer's. (One of my original picks.)
Story #3 - 15 Jan - Cherax Destructor - an American drug runner and a giant, bioengineered, multilingual crawfish share stories and cigarettes on an island off the coast of Honduras. They seem to have a good relationship - the man helps feed the crawfish, the crawfish kills law enforcement and rival drug runners - but the man isn't just there with the crawfish as an innocent drug runner, and the crawfish begins to figure this out.
There was a tie for third place and I picked Cherax Destructor instead of one of my own original picks, The End of Everything, because people seemed more enthusiastic about it and End of Everything is a moody and not very uplifting meditation on the possibility of meaning. In addition to not wanting to be depressed, I'm betting that Clarion wants people to demonstrate an ability for pacing and action and dialogue before they get all Camus. Plus, giant chain-smoking crawfish that speak Mayan are funny.