Officials at Bucks County Community College have announced that Lauren Pierce, a sophomore at Council Rock High School South, has won first place in the third annual Bucks County High School Short-Fiction Contest.
Elizabeth Luciano, the literature professor who coordinates the contest, said the 15-year-old Churchville resident was awarded the top prize of $200 for her story, “Dear V.”
In addition, 18-year-old Jamie Hallman of Coopersburg, a senior at Palisades High School, won the $100 second-place prize for “Reset.” And Levittown’s Julianna Taggart, a 17-year-old junior at Pennsbury High School, placed third and won $50 for “The Monsters Within,” Luciano said.
Faculty of the college’s language and literature department made the final selections, noted Luciano.
The final judge lauded “Dear V.,” Pierce’s winning story, as “a psychologically complex crime story with a deftly delivered surprise ending that turns rereading into a real pleasure. Its prose is often sophisticated and stylish, and bespeaks a delightfully sinister sense of humor. Best of all is the story’s understated but persistent commentary on social class as a divisive force in American life.”
Commenting on Hallman’s second-place story, the judge said, “A bold and trippy bit of storytelling cut from ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Black Mirror’ cloth, ‘Reset’ does what great sci-fi always does: illuminates present-day social issues and demands that its audience confront its own fears and anxieties about them. Its depictions of U.S. schools are especially well employed towards those ends, and there’s some terrific and imaginative descriptive writing, too.”
The judge called “The Monsters Within, Taggart’s third-place story, “a wildly imaginative sci-fi romp symbolically representing to readers a whole host of torn-from-the-headlines contemporary issues: overpopulation, the robot-labor revolution, environmental destruction, and the loss of the family as a stabilizing social unit. It’s powerful and unafraid of the dark, as its closing lines forcefully demonstrate.”
Since college campuses have been closed since March, Luciano hosted an online celebration May 23, featuring all three winners reading their stories. The celebration can be viewed at bit.ly/BucksShortFictionContest.
A short-fiction contest for Bucks County adults will be held this fall. Further information will be available later this summer at bucks.edu/shortfictioncontest.