Trigger Snowflake and his wife Coraline were taking brunch at the Coffee Emporium when Barbara Dimatis, the proprietor, came over.
“I am so sad!” Barbara said. “Why is that, dear?” Coraline replied. “The finalists for the SysLiCon Award for Best Poetry Salon have been announced. And I had really hoped that the Emporium would have made it on this year.” “What? But? I know at least two dozen people who said they nominated the Emporium for the Salon category!” “I know. Well, we may see it in the data, once the Mercury SysLiCon is done.”
Nine months later, again during brunch, Barbara Dimatis approached the Snowflake table.
“You remember, a last year, when I was surprised that the Emporium was not a finalist for Best Salon?” “Yes, you were quite upset. Wasn’t she, Trigger?” “Well, the nomination statistics were just published.” “What? SysLiCon was over months ago! Aren’t the statistics usually available right at the end?” “Normally, yes. But, this time it took months. And looking through them, I noticed that The Coffee Emporium was explicitly disqualified from the Best Salon category!” “Oh, no! That must feel horrible for you!”
A few months before SysLiCon, on Mars.
Olaus Frond started to open the package he had just received. It should be the nominations for some of the SysLiCon award categories. As he flipped the first tab, with a hand trembling from anticipation and eagerness, he had a sinking feeling in the stomach. As the package opened, a small cloud of very small paper confetti puffed out of the box. He quickly peered inside, hoping this was only the normal detritus that paper collects.
His stomach now having the same feeling as unexpected free-fall, he saw that there was no such luck. A small portion, maybe a tenth, maybe a sixteenth, of the ballots has simply fallen apart during interplanetary transport.
Not knowing what to do about this novel situation, Olaus simply sighed and started normalizing and tabulating the nominations within the categories he were responsible for.
Around the same time, Luna Javier Finch was having an early dinner, when there was a knock on his door. He sighed, stood up and walked to the door.
“Who is it?” “Mr Finch? There is a hypercom for you.” “Hypercom? Who?” “They did not say. Please open.”
Incredibly perplexed, he opened the door. A courier extended a pad.
“Please sign here, Mr Finch”
Once he’d signed, he was handed a box, with an attached handset. He closed the door, brought the box to his kitchen table, then spoke into the handset.
“Javier Finch, to whom am I speaking?” “Ah, Mr Finch. A delight. I am Felix, the mayor of Sunspinner City, the host city for QuicksilverCon. I understand you are the function head for awards?” “Ah… Felix… Yes, that is correct.” “Good, good. Well, it so happens that, as you know, we have promised to provide interplanetary transport for every finalist, for every award.” “Yes, I am aware.” “Good, good. Now, there are some issues here. You see, some of the people we suspect may end up as finalists are on the No Land list here on Mercury. And you can see that this puts us in a bit of a pickle?” “It sounds problematic, yes.” “So, it would be good if none of them end up as finalists. It’d be SUCH a shame if they fly all the way to Mercury, just to have continue inwards, wouldn’t you say?” “Er, well, the integrity of the voting process…” “We here on Mercury are well aware of voting processes. How do you think I have won the mayoral election the last six times?” “But…” “Good, we understand each other. The hypercom will print the No Land list when we hang up. Bye!”
As Javier slowly placed the handset back in its cradle, the box buzzed, and several sheets of paper came out of a slot.
“Hmm”, Javier thought, “let me have a quick look… Barbara Dimatis?”
Barbara Dimatis sat down after a long week of working and answering the question ‘but why were you disqualified’ with ‘I have no idea’. She opened her copy of “The Solar System Times”, one of the system’s premier news sources.
System Literature Convention Awards Cloaked in Scandal!
The annual System Literature Convention, an event belowed by poetry afficionados throughout the system, has been rocked by a substantial scandal. This was revealed due to a careful study of the statistics required to be published for the awards process.
Among those wronged were Barbara Dimatis, of Fort Corallium, in Jupiter orbit. Ms Dimatis is the proprietor of the Coffee Emporium, a venue that has been holding celebrated poetry salons for the last few years.
Ms Dimatis has been somewhat controversial, in that she has a strict ban on Sulphur artists attending her salon. We have not been able to reach Ms Dimatis for a comment. Other artists who have spoken out include Gail Newman, who was nominated both in both Best Poem and Best Epic Cycle.
Mx Newman says that their poem “Dark and Stormy” was nominated for Best Poem, but is also part of their poetry collection “Nights”, was excluded from the Best Poem category and then the collection failed to get to finalist status in Best Epic Cycle. “It is a shame”, they said, “that they didn’t ask me, I would have preferred Dark and Stormy stand on its own, leaving Best Epic Cycle to other worthy contenders”.
When asked about what happened, the person if charge of the awards process, Javier Finch, only said “We have only applied the rules and laws under which we had to operate.”
Future developments will be reported by “The Times”, as they unfold and are verified.
Trigger picked up the latest dispatches from the Snowflake mailbox, before setting off to the Coffee Emporium, where his beloved Coraline would be engaged in conversation with Ms Dimatis.
He walked through the swinging doors, saw his wife and Barbara at a table, walked over and sat down.
“I brought the latest Comments. Let me hand them round, so we can read and react.”
Not three minutes later, Trigger was distracted from his reading by Ms Dimatis loudly inhaling. He looked up at her.
“Hmm?” “Oh, Trigger, this is astounding!” “What? What?” inquired Coraline. “Here! See! It is a Letter of Comment from the SysLiCon Brand Office. It seems that they have admonished and dismissed both Olaus Frond and Javier Finch, for their involvement with the Awards debacle at QuicksilverCon.” “Hm, well, that is well-deserved”, said Trigger, before taking a sip of quite excellent coffee.