Readers, prepare to cringe: the winners of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton contest, which challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels, have been announced. You might not know the book Paul Clifford, but you definitely know its immortal first line--"It was a dark and stormy night." And now, the grand prize winner, and the shortest winner in the contest's 29-year history, is:
"Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories."
Besides the overall winners, there are genre-specific categories. Here's the best worst crime opener:
"Wearily approaching the murder scene of Jeannie and Quentin Rose and needing to determine if this was the handiwork of the Scented Strangler--who had a twisted affinity for spraying his victims with his signature raspberry cologne--or that of a copycat, burnt-out insomniac detective Sonny Kirkland was sure of one thing: he’d have to stop and smell the Roses."
The sci-fi winner:
"Morgan ‘Bamboo’ Barnes, Star Pilot of the Galaxia (flagship of the Solar Brigade), accepted an hors d’oeuvre from the triangular-shaped platter offered to him from the Princess Qwillia—lavender-skinned she was and busty, with two of her four eyes what Barnes called ‘bedroom eyes’—and marveled at how on her planet, Chlamydia-5, these snacks were called ‘Hi-Dee-Hoes’ but on Earth they were simply called Ritz Crackers with Velveeta."
And a dizzying array of terrible--dare we say, unbearable--puns:
"Detective Kodiak plucked a single hair from the bearskin rug and at once understood the grisly nature of the crime: it had been a ferocious act, a real honey, the sort of thing that could polarize a community, so he padded quietly out the back to avoid a cub reporter waiting in the den."