How much can you really say in 55 words? Maybe you could recite a knock, knock joke or two—but that’s not original content, and if you’re going to say something, at least say something fresh and unexpected. Is 55 words enough space to create characters? Establish a setting? We might be giving out spoilers here, but we know that it is, in fact, possible to do all of these things with a mere 55 words, and we know this because 27 years ago New Times founder Steve Moss began the paper’s annual 55 Fiction competition.
For the second year in a row, we invited guest judges to wade through the stacks of 55 Fiction entries and impose order on chaos, selecting the very best to print in our annual 55 Fiction issue. The judges were San Luis Obispo County District 3 supervisor and former Cal Poly English lecturer Adam Hill; vinyl collector and long-time bookworm and bookstore employee Ken Samuels; and New Times Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach—unless, of course, you disagree with their selections, in which case: A pack of wild monkeys broke into the office and made the selections for us.