The National Book Foundation is pleased to announce its “3 Under 13” awards, honoring the most promising young fiction writers in the New Republic of Nebraskansashoma, the remnants of the former United States of America, established following the climate-change triggered inundation of coastal populations and resulting resource civil wars which ended with the final division into the Republic of Nebraskansashoma and what is now known as “The Watery Wasteland,” which, according to available lore, is populated with a mutated race of gill people with little interest in maintaining a vital literary culture.
The award was inaugurated as the “5 Under 35 Awards” in 2006, and designed to recognize and support young writers in their early careers. The number of honorees was reduced following the collapse of the power grid in 2045, and subsequent disappearance of the production and distribution of written matter. The age designation was lowered to reflect the dramatically shortened lifespan caused by widespread famine, antibiotic-resistant plague, general lawlessness, and violence.
Without further ado, here are your “3 Under 13” honorees.
Do You Remember the Dolphins, Grandma? Because I Don’t
by Jackson Peele (or Poole?), age 9 (approximately).
This short, but powerful meditation on the vagaries of memory and natural change was found scratched into the bricks of a former elementary school that was apparently used as a final shelter for a band of migrants prior to their ultimate demise at the hands of the wildling tribe of what was formerly known as The Dakotas. The author’s name is not confirmed because it really is difficult to make out the precise letters of a text carved out using a semi-sharp object such as a nail.
Help, They’re Coming
by M(?), age unknown
Probably a child under age 11,
judging from the size of the bones in the remains
A suspense thriller and unforgettable narrative seared into the consciousness through its economy of language and non-stop action about a child trying to alert his/her mother to the existence of a hostile band of cannibals who have invaded their camp. Told in a series of short chapters written on paper scraps with the burnt end of a stick, Help, They’re Coming keeps you in its grips from word one to word fifteen, the last word, “here,” as in “They’re here.”
The Problems of Illiberalism and Incivility:
How to End Mass Slaughter by Cannibals
and Other Post-Civilization Barbarians
by Daniel Stephens-Brooks, age 13
Squeaking just under the age limit is this author, created out of the stored DNA of elite early 21st-century opinion-makers that was originally harvested by MIT scientists who imagined an Earth 2 on a terraformed Mars, populated entirely by some of the most erudite, most horny, and whitest dudes, plus some billionaires and some chicks for procreating. Technically, this is not a work of fiction but it may as well be.
Congratulations to our “3 Under 13” honorees. The one remaining living writer will be given an extra half-ration at the holiday feast of stones and gruel.
See you in 2091! (Maybe.)