Lou Antonelli's "On a Spiritual Plane" attempts to cover similar ground, but there's a crippling contradiction between the short story form, which requires some measure of crisis for the protagonist, and the author's evident desire simply to set up a world that is confirmatory of the narrator's Thomistic metaphysics. The confirmatory bias wins out, and the result is a flat piece of message-fic.
The remaining three nominees--"The Parliament of Beasts and Birds," "A Single Samurai," and "Turncoat"--are laughably bad, at the levels of conception, characterization, plotting, sentence-by-sentence execution, and even all the way down to individual word choice.
Short Story Ballot:
- NO AWARD