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May/June 2021
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In our most recent competition, participants were tasked to change the title of their favorite SF/F story to its synonym, then recreate the plot based on its new title—the funnier the better. Congratulations, kudos, and commendations to the winners. If you didn't win, please keep entering, participating, and persevering.
A shout out to the many fine entries (many of them, oddly, based on The Lord of the Rings) who sadly didn't place. Just know that your competition was fierce.
Thanks to John Ordover and Melissa Lee Shaw, who helped find the cream of the crop, the liniment of the harvest.
Original: The Matrix, directed by the Wachowskis
Synonym: The Spreadsheet
Accountant Thomas Anderson pivots when, after using a what-if function, he learns his reality is #NULL!
—Zack Lux
San Jose, CA
Original: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Synonym: Gloaming
Isabella Swan forsakes the sunshine of California for the misty, rain-swept highlands of Scotland. There she falls for the gorgeous kilted vampire Edward McCullen. Unfortunately for Bella the only blood-sucking is done by the hordes of local midges.
—Nigel Parsons
Cardiff, Wales
Original: Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Synonym: Master of the Bands
Frodo didn't know what he was getting into when his uncle entrusted him with his ol' band. Could he inspire the nine mismatched companions to play together in perfect harmony, and get them all the way to the Mordor Middle Earth Finals? If anyone can make a fly beat, it's these fools.
—Jenna Hanchey
Reno, NV
Original: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
Synonym: The Impossible-to-See Mister*
(*As per the Royal College of Surgeons of England, surgeons in the UK were historically referred to as "Mister," as they didn't attend university; they only completed apprenticeships.)
Well's not the way to describe the poor patient, who despite being wrapped head-to-foot in bandages, has no luck securing an appointment with a senior medical surgeon. This comedy/farce will leave you in stitches, as the receptionist insists that the doctor can't see him yet.
—Wil Walker
Catton, Norwich, England
Original: The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
Synonym: Return of the Monarch
A butterfly returns to claim the throne of Gondor, but proves entirely ineffective at stopping the Dark Lord Sauron. Because it's a butterfly.
—Zack Shephard
Enumclaw, WA
Original: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Synonym: Jurassic Estate
Miss Cera Tops III was interrupted on her daily stroll of the English countryside by a rude man, wealthy bachelor Timothy Rex. On the insistence of Cera's mother, Miss Tops and Mr. Rex have several run-ins. Despite Mr. Rex's arrogance and Miss Cera's preconceptions, the two find love.
—Fernando Buendia
Roscoe, IL





If you've ever seen the long-running TV game show Jeopardy!, you already know the format: the question is the answer. It's the same with this tribute to the show, with our own F&SF spin.
Here, the title of a SF/F story—from either print or screen—is the answer. It's up to you to ask the question. Make it funny, and you too can achieve fortune and glory, minus the fortune. (Thanks to Patrick J. O'Connor for the suggestion.)

Answer: Star Wars, directed by George Lucas
Question: What is the name of the conflict between Alpha Centauri and Betelgeuse for top billing?

Abide by them:

  •    Mail up to six entries per person.
  •    Keep each entry to 50 words or less.
  •    Include your snail mail address.

Send entries to Competition Editor, F&SF, 240 West 73rd St. #1201, New York, NY 10023-2794, or email entries to to Be sure to include your contact information. Entries must be received by July 15, 2021. Judges are the editors of F&SF, and their decision is final. All entries become the property of F&SF.

First prize will receive a signed copy of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, courtesy of Ballentine Books. Second prize will receive reading copies of three recent releases. Any runners-up will receive one-year subscriptions to F&SF. Results of Competition 102 will appear in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue.


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