The winner of SFX Pulp Idol 2008 has been revealed. It's James McGraw, originally from Stockton-on-Tees, who wrote a short story called "Charlie's Angel", about a modern-day miracle in which a boy is granted the power to play beautiful piano music by a young angel. Congratulations to James - commiserations to other entrants. The list of 10 runners-up will be made available at a later date.
This is the third year that Pulp Idol has run. Organised by SFX, the world's biggest and best sci-fi and fantasy magazine, it challenges readers to write their own work of fantastic fiction in 1000 to 2000 words. Many hundreds of entries were received and the SFX team, aided by guest judge Robert Rankin, whittled it down to James and 10 runners-up. Of James's winning story Rankin - celebrated author of many humorous fantasy novels - commented: "When I read this short story I somehow knew those rooms and could see those people and hear the sounds of the piano. Making the choice is a very subjective thing [but] this was the story that made the hairs stand up on my arms and me go, 'Oh yes.'" Our thanks to Robert for helping us with the judging this year.
SFX reader James McGraw is 27 and works at the National Audit Office. He described himself as "astonished" that he'd been picked by Robert Rankin and the team as the winner, and tells us: "I used to write a fair amount when I was younger but I've been away from short stories for a while until SFX started the Pulp Idol contest, and that gave me a pretext to get back into it! I was wondering, 'What if a miracle actually happened?' and that's the idea that sparked the story of 'Charlie's Angel' - it was a useful discipline writing to the strict word limit".
The winning story "Charlie's Angel" will be published, along with the 10 runners-up plus an exclusive sample chapter from the new book The Pirate King by fantasy author RA Salvatore, in a Pulp Idol book available free with issue 175 of SFX. It will be on the news-stand on Wednesday 24 September 2008. The Pulp Idol 2008 competition and the Pulp Idol book are sponsored by Hasbro, the publishers of RA Salvatore and also of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. You can discuss the Pulp Idol 2008 result now over on our forum .