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Science Fiction Sugar Smackdown On The Food Network!

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Last night, the Food Network's "Sugar Impossible" challenge involved making a four-foot-tall sculpture illustrating a science-fiction theme out of pure sugar. And it had to have moving parts. Sugar robots, aliens and weird mutants competed for a $10,000 prize.

What makes for good science fiction? How can we create speculative works that are moving and stand tall in our imaginations? These are deep, enduring questions — and the Food Network's sugar contest helped to answer them.

Here's what the contestants came up with:

The tension was as thick as corn syrup: "This is a sugar nightmare!" "The pastry gods are angry with me today. I'm in Hell."


The best lines of the episode came from one of the judges: Carol Pinchefsky, the contest editor of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, who at one point expressed sympathy for one contestant's setbacks, but then opined that his entry "looks like a Venetian mask and a scorpion had a baby. A very ugly baby." More importantly, she broke it down for us: "Science fiction is about writing with both sides of your brain." And she said that the star-dragon with its wee galaxy, on top of the industrial setting did not strike her as sufficiently science-fictional — the planets were just thrown in to add a science-fiction veneer to an otherwise non-science fiction piece.

And the transluscent, bat'leth knife-waving monster featured above won the $10,000 first prize, as well it should. Sweet!