Authors who received a physical IFComp Prize

What did you pick and why?
And can you show us a picture of it ? :eyes:


Do you mean recently/last IFComp or “any time in history”?


Any time in history, forever and ever!


I am the lucky possessor of what is apparently a hard-to-find print copy of Aaron Reed’s book via IFComp prize:

I’ve also gotten a copy of Ryan North’s Romeo and/or Juliet but I loaned it out and don’t have it to take a picture. This book is still available in print and e-format.


Two prizes:

  • The escape-room-in-a-box game Unlock! The Island of Doctor Goorse, donated in 2020 by, I think, Sarah Willson? Embarrassingly I never got around to playing this - I got it so I could bring it to my board gaming group, but it turned out they’d already solved it. I have a week off next week so I’m just going to do it myself now that I’ve remembered I have it.
  • One of @Draconis’s cuneiform seals from the 2023 pool, the one that says “You can’t see any such thing”, along with a really lovely note. I haven’t yet actually used the seal as it’s meant to be used. It’s just a really nice object to roll around in my hands.


@rabbit @Draconis How is the seal meant to be used? Roll it in ink and roll it on paper like a stamp? Stuff a scroll into it? Roll it into wax?

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I also forgot - I chose a copy of the ergodic novel S which Emily Short has reviewed.

Also this may be peripheral…I created a museum-quality replica of the Golden Banana of Discord that I hoped would become a community traveling heirloom, but unfortunately I didn’t pack it well enough and it broke during shipment to its first recipient.



Clay, traditionally, but any soft material works! I used Play-Doh for testing.


So do you just print it on clay? Why is it called a “seal” and not a stamp or something?

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My general understanding is that often you would roll it onto clay and then affix the clay to close a container, much like later you’d use a wax seal to seal a letter or an inspector would seal cargo on a sailing vessel – it’s an indication that the goods inside are as promised, as guaranteed by the person who used the seal. And of course they could be used to authenticate important documents. But the practice is ridiculously old and widespread (we’ve got cylinder seals going back several thousand years BCE) so there’s a wide range of variations and evolution.

(Waiting for @Draconis to weigh in to see if I got that more or less right…)


Often the King had a unique ring that could be pressed into sealing wax closing a letter, so you know it’s an official missive from high up and not a forgery.

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Pretty much, yeah! Remember that documents back then were also written on clay (letters, tax records, everything), and often sealed in a clay envelope, so clay’s the material you want to authenticate. When clay is your most abundant resource, you use it for everything!


Yeah, makes sense! One of my favorite ancient-world anecdotes is that we have a better view of the Assyrian empire than several comparable states because there was a massive fire in Ninevah that messed up the city, but fired a huge number of clay writing material so that they were exceptionally well preserved.


In 2007, for the Chinese Room, we picked a used copy of Twisty Little Passages, mostly because the $50 cash prize split between two people and then translated into GBP would have been about £12.50 each at the time, and so a book was a cooler prize. My coauthor Harry took ownership of it, & I presume she still has it (in any case I eventually went and bought my own copy).

For a similar reason, in 2011 I picked the book Plot vs Character, which I still own. In 2012 I picked the RPG-ish thing Bhaloidam, which I was never able to convince anyone to play, but I I think I still have. In 2015, the cash prizes were more generous and the exchange rate was more favourable and we placed well, so Melvin and I just split the $200.


Last year I picked the book Unnatural Ends written and donated by beloved IF author Christopher Huang.

Unnatural Ends

I enjoyed it!