This is the sixth year that the BBC has run its short story competition - only open to authors who have already been published - and throughout this week you can listen to the shortlisted entries.
The winner will be announced on Monday 26 September live on BBC Radio Four's arts programme Front Row and will receive £15,000 which must make it one of the most lucrative - as well as prestigious - short story competitions in the world. Honour and glory is great, but it's even better when it is backed up with some money, especially as there are few paying markets for short stories.
The runner-up gets £3,000 and the other three authors £500 each.
This year's shortlist is:
'Rag Love' by M J Hyland
Set in Sydney, a magnificent cruise ship is in harbour and all one down-and-out couple want is an hour together in the top suite. Described by the BBC as "eerie".
'The Heart of Denis Noble' by Alison MacLeod
This story is drawn from real life; it shows Denis Noble, the pioneering systems biologist, awaiting an operation on his heart – the organ that he has spent his whole adult life studying – and looking back to consider the relationship between the heart of love and the heart of science.
'Wires' by Jon McGregor (runner up last year)
A young woman's life flashes before her eyes as an unusual object flies towards her windscreen on the motorway.
'The Human Circadian Pacemaker' by K J Orr
As an astronaut attempts to re-adjust to life on earth, how will his wife cope and can their relationship ever return to its old rhythm?
'The Dead Roads' by D W Wilson
An American road trip story where two old school buddies try to win the affections of a free-spirited girl; then a mysterious man enters the picture...
Each of the shortlisted stories will be broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4 at 3.30pm from today Monday 12 September. It's also available as a free podcast available to download for two weeks from www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/nssa.
Margaret Atwood says that writing is an apprenticeship and that we all learn from our masters, some of them are alive and some of them are dead...This short list should offer a real insight into contemporary writing that demands attention. I'll be listening and learning (and probably disagreeing with the judges)