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  • Locked thread
Mar 21, 2010

Gau posted:




Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

Dad, please put down the bottle...

Dad noooo!!

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


Benny the Snake vs Sebojo Brawl submission

Special thanks to Sitting Here and God over Djinn for much-needed input. Thanks y'all :)

False God

(1189 words)

My name is Jordan and I was here to try to convince my Dad to leave a death cult.

“Dad, please,” I pleaded with him as he bowed in front of the macabre shrine of Santa Muerte. “Please, we miss you.” My words fell on deaf ears as he kept worshiping at the foot of the shrine.

The local patron saint of death and mortality, her image is a corrupted version of Our Lady of Guadalupe; a skeletal woman clad in robes, wearing a crucifix around her neck. In her right hand, she holds a scythe ready to harvest souls while in her left she holds a globe, symbolizing her dominion over all. Like my father, other worshipers were presenting their tributes of flowers, incense, and candles to the feet of the shrine while praying for her blessings and forgives.

“Dad, please-” I tried again before I saw a familiar face walk inside and across the aisle. “Father Aguilar?”

I've never seen my pastor angry in my entire life and when I saw him, he was absolutely livid. He immediately made his way to the front and stood next to the false idol.

“Step down, padre!” a heckler from the audience said.

"How dare you desecrate our Lady's shrine!" another person shouted.

“Shrine? Blasphemy!” Father Aguilar exclaimed. “This is not a shrine, it's a pagan idol! And all of you are dooming yourselves to a life of torment and hellfire!”

“Who are you to tell us who we can and can't worship?” Another heckler called out from the crowd.

“Exodus 20, verse five,” Father Aguilar quoted. “'You shall not worship or serve a false idol; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God!'”

“Where was your God when my girlfriend was kidnapped by the Cartel?” a voice from the crowd called out. “She's dead now!” she shouted as everyone else roared in agreement.

“Please!” Father Aguilar pleaded with the crowd. “I ask you, why worship death when you should instead worship our lord and savior, Jesus Christ? Who died for your sins to ensure us all everlasting life?”

“Get him out of here,” said someone else as the crowd got up and pulled him down from the shrine.

“Please, listen to my words! Salvation lies not in false Gods but in the one true God!”

I followed Father Aguilar outside as he was thrown out of the building. And there he was, his hands over his face making a silent prayer in despair.


“Jordan!” Father Aguilar hugged me. “What are you doing here, my son?”

I dropped my head in shame. “My Dad’s in there. I've been trying for weeks to get him to come back to church, but...”

“I know, son,” he said sympathetically.

“Father, this cult has him in their grasp and I have no idea how to get him out,” I told him.

“Don't lose faith, Jordan,” Father Aguilar told me in spite of his obvious doubt. “The Lord will help us find a way.”

I gave a half-hearted smile. “But Father, it's not like we can call fire down from the heavens.”

The story of Elijah and the false prophets was my favorite in the Bible. I was joking, but the Father stared at me. “Who says we can't?” He asked.

“Wh-What are you thinking, Father?”

“Does your father still have his gun?”

“Yeah but it's for killing coyotes. Why-”

“Just bring it and meet me here.”

I showed up later on with my Dad's shotgun and found the Father holding a gas can and I immediately knew what he had in mind. Walking in, I fired a shot in the air to keep the crowd in check as the Father stepped up to the shrine.

“In Second Kings, the prophet Ezekiel challenged the false prophets of Baal by seeing whose God would send fire from the heavens first,” he said as he doused the statue of Santa Muerte in gas. “Let's see if your God would stand my test of fire!”

He pulled out a lighter and lit the statue. As soon as it erupted in flames, they were extinguished by some unseen force. A host of spirits appeared and enveloped Father Aguilar as he levitated in the air.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” he pleaded as the spirits filled the air with unearthly shrieking. They flew inside him and after a moment of deathly silence, Father Aguilar screamed in pain and burst into flames. Nothing of Father Aguilar remained except his charred skeleton which fell to the ground in a pile of ashes.

I was hyperventilating as I held the shotgun in a death grip. I locked eyes with the idol. I knew at that moment, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was damned.

A glint of light caught my eyes and I looked down towards my chest. I was wearing my rosary under my shirt. And it was glowing.

I grabbed my cross as another host of spirits appeared from the idol. Just as it flew at me, I took my rosary out from underneath my shirt and held it above my head. I wrapped my fingers around the glowing cross and I felt a warmth flowing through my hand which coursed through my veins and radiated around me. The miasma dissipated and I heard the idol screech. The spirits flew around the idol and transformed into a giant, skeletal dragon which spread its wings and roared at me.

My rosary wasn’t just a simple cross--it was a symbol of my faith, my conviction, and my belief in Jesus Christ. It was that which Santa Muerte, in her complete dominion over death, could never extinguish. So why did Father Aguilar burn while I still stood? Because I had what he didn’t--the faith of a child.

Focusing my faith into it, the light formed into a suit of armor. I threw my hands up and it formed into a sword and shield. The dragon took a deep breath and spewed hellfire from its gaping maw. I raised my shield and blocked the flames. Before the dragon could get its second wind, I ran towards it, jumped as high as I could, and wrapped my arms around its neck.

The dragon bucked and thrashed trying to throw me off. I pulled myself up on its neck, raised my sword above my head, and thrust it straight into the back of its neck. The dragon screeched as I gritted my teeth and ripped it's head clean off. The beast collapsed and I fell to the ground while everything formed by the spirits of the dead and my faith evaporated. As the shrine disintegrated, I stood in front of a whole crowd of people with their faces transfixed on me in fearsome awe.

They bowed. They chanted my name. They repeated it over and over again. My eyes gaped. My body was covered in cold sweat. When I saw my Dad bowing in front of me, the horror finally became reality--I had become a false god. I screamed as I heard a raspy voice laughing triumphantly in my ear.

Your move, skippy :getin:

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:siren: Thunderdome Week CVIII Results: The Dewey Decimal System :siren:

Despite a nonzero number of stories featuring corpses and dismemberment in what was supposed to be an upbeat week, despite an alarming number of entries the endings of which inspired me to cry to Heaven for understanding, this was a good round to judge, as quality was generally high. The positive tone of most of the pieces even meant we smiled a time or two!

THE WINNER is Grizzled Patriarch in a unanimous decision. Congratulations on a beautiful entry that successfully, gracefully melded the melancholy with the sweet, a redemption from your earlier loss that you have fully earned.

HONORABLE MENTIONS go to docbeard for enjoyable SF that made good use of his Dewey Decimal class and to Schneider Heim for a fine take on Greek and Roman religion that ended with hope, if not happiness, just as the prompt requested.

THE LOSER: Dirtbag Diva, worse stories have been submitted to the 'Dome, but you had the misfortune to write a boring, ploddy tale without an ending that made much sense in a week when there were no greater qualified horrors.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: Skwid, your entry wasn't loathed by all, but James' collection of junkbin relics didn't impress anyone. Your ending sailed right over upbeat and landed in saccharine.

Gau. Your story was well written. That spared you contention for the loss. Not everyone managed an upbeat tone successfully, but you're the only one who didn't seem to try. You know what isn't uplifting? A swim through a sea of corpses. People thrown by floodwater into broken glass. Denial of divinity because the world is too terrible for it to exist. Epicurean philosophy holds that pleasure is the greatest good, and mass death gives me remarkably little of that.


Crits and a special surprise are in store. Thanks for a largely successful week that raised our spirits, guys! Grizzled Patriarch, you're up!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 06:43 on Sep 2, 2014

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Short Crits for Week CVIII: The Abridged Versions

In-depth crits are still to come, but they'll take me some time to write, so I thought I'd try something new and post the notes I made as I read the entries. These are largely based on first reactions and may miss subtleties that I'll hopefully address later.

Hammer Bro.:


(I have a somewhat more in-depth and serious crit for this already written, so watch for it when I finish and post the rest.)


Morning Bell:

A yarn of wool?

Yarn of wool??

Sapphire voice?

Prefect for weaving?

Bird's voice doesn't fit the tone of the prose 'til that point at all.

Not great in terms of punctuation. Dialogue's a problem.

Seems headed for horror. Interested in how this will be upbeat.

Izolda's lines too forced/cloying.

Not a winning piece, probably mid-range. Aimed for a fairy-tale tone and almost hit, but the tone came at the expense of bloat; the animal contests feel rote, included because fairy tales should have three challenges. Prompt: Check; well done.



Iffy grasp on tenses. Staccato rhythm that's slightly distracting. Nobody has a name. Too many scene breaks; some could be condensed. Predictable once he gets tangled with the dummy, and the last line feels forced again, but this isn't that bad. It needs editing, but it deserves to live. Mid-range. Prompt: Check; well done.



'he appeared to be exceptionally wealthy, and know nothing about hovercars.' CHAIRCHUCKER!!!

Who's telling this story?

Knew it would be about mechanics in space. Knew it. Was hoping for mechanics tinkering with actual stars, but this is okay too.

Cute ending, but it doesn't really end, just stops. Wanted more. Not CC's best, but maybe worth smoothing out and expanding a bit and keeping. Mid-range. Prompt: Check; smart-assedly done, but it counts.


Amused Frog:

Oof, British quotation marks.

Heavy on the science, but that's fair given the DD class.

Overly mechanical. One character has no personality. Which planet isn't even established--presumably Mars, but the story doesn't say. It handwaves a lot.

I assume the ending is upbeat, but how does it work?? They increased the moisture levels even outside, suddenly and all at once, after two years, with no sign of improvement at all to that point? I'm not a hydrologist or geologist or meteorologist, but I don't buy this. Low middle. Prompt: Good stab at it, but story got lost.



Well-written prompt failure. The dictionary is an incidental detail, exactly what it shouldn't have been. In no way is this about dictionaries. A shame, because it's otherwise the best of the lot so far, but it has other problems: no resolution to why the family left, no real plot or ending at all.



Opening could be good stuff, but it's told more than shown, and it drags. No life to it.

How'd she end up knocked up by this guy? I'd kick him in the groin.

Not actually buying his hostility. Feels forced. Might as well have him kick dogs.

Seriously, how did she end up with him? It makes no sense.

I like this one. It's not perfect. It won't win if the week is good, because there's a lot of room for better. But the steps in age work well, and the parallel between Fern and Holly planting weeds/not being allowed to plant weeds is lovely, and the end beat feels right... it doesn't all cohere, though. Holly isn't in this ending. She drops off-screen after she plants those weeds, and that strikes me wrong. She almost doesn't matter to the story--a failed relationship would have been enough without a kid being involved, and Fern's crisis could have been loneliness/selfishness instead of 'Am I a bad mom?' She could have taught any neighborhood kid about plants instead of her daughter. If Holly's role in the story could be easily supplanted then something is awry.

Prompt: Check; well done. High middle or low high.


Mons Hubris:

Yay! Oyster farming! I was hoping for this!

Combines the problems of Nethilia and Amused Frog: the first paragraph tells me a lot via infodump about preparing to dive for oysters. Too many mechanical details such as the diameter of the bucket. No juice. If I weren't already interested in diving for oysters I'd probably be bored.

Conversational infodumps.



It's a very good thing I'm interested in this subject. Honestly, I like some of the details, but it's reading like a nonfictional account of how diving has changed in the past fifty years. A lot of research has clearly gone into it, but the writer got tangled up in showing his/her work and lost that whole 'story' thing.

For flash fic with no scene divisions, pick one PoV character and stick with her.

Oh god that last spiel of Great-Grandmother's. More infodumping. These people don't talk like people. The note is more cloying than upbeat. Prompt, though: Check; well done.

Low. I can tell effort and care went into this, but a good story didn't come out. More practice will help. The description of Hatsuo's dive was good, and I want to like the characters, which is more than I could say for an unsalvageable piece.



Maybe I've read too many hedge knight stories, but it's obvious from the word Go where this will end. Not expecting to be surprised.

"Whatever" sounds weird in the world/time period suggested.


I got the idea that Nathan was a peasant who'd painted a device on his own shield the first time. Feels slow in general. It could be the I-know-where-we're-headed factor again, but once the dragon is mentioned, it might as well attack already. Nathan's line about loyalty is good. Belief, not as much.


Why isn't the king wearing a helmet? SAFETY FIRST YOUR MAJESTY

Yup, it went right where I thought it would, with a touch of incredibility when a blacksmith was able to make a perfect eye shot at range with a sword. Too familiar, too predictable, too stock. Prompt: Check; well done. Low middle.



Hmm. Hits the prompt. Decently-to-well written. Very light. Wastes a lot of time on catching the cat, which can't substitute for a plot. The cat is a cliche talking cat/familiar--I'd be more impressed if he were some other animal. I don't hate this at all, but I don't like it as much as I wanted to in the first section, when I thought it would go somewhere more significant than a minor revelation/twist. Middle. Would be high middle or low high for prose but low middle for not having much story.


Sitting Here:

I really like this, except the ending. It offers more questions than it resolves, ie how do people become 'zappers' (all electrocution?), how did one woman gather so many of them, how did she communicate with raw electricity in a setting that looks so much like modern day, etc. I don't like Dr. Sanchez either, actually. She comes off as smug! And 'meatspace.' Shudder. But it's otherwise a beautiful, unexpected take on the prompt that bobbles at the finale. Best so far, could be a credible winner... but its ending is, ironically, a downer. High.



Seeing how this turns upbeat ought to be good.

...I'm starting to bet on prompt failure. There aren't enough words available to turn 'I swam through a bunch of floating corpses' into a happy story.

The hell, Gau? You are throwing people into shattered glass. This is not the stuff from which raised spirits are made.

No. No. This is not uplifting, and it turns the Dewey Decimal class into an anti-theist moral delivered with all the subtlety of ten thousand corpses hitting a skyscraper. 'Some people didn't die' isn't a happy ending, and even if it were, a happy end can't make up for a story that's nothing but depression otherwise. I'm disappointed and irritated and seriously considering a DM despite the quite decent writing.


Dirtbag Diva:

'her and Rajeev were'--oh, heavens.

Dull opener. Some of the details about Nicole are interesting, but mostly it's bland exposition.

Typing out the textspeak is really grating.

Really grating.

More infodumps, and it turns out asset evaluation is kind of boring.

Only divorcees are legally 'Mrs. <their own first name> <husband's last name>,' as far as I know.

None of this is interesting. None of it.

Okay, in retrospect, Nicole's reason for leaving work is a little interesting, but neither I nor anybody else needed that much detail on the Millers' mortgage when it came to so little. Nicole's summer vacation didn't come to anything either, did it?

Wait, what? What is that ending? What's supposed to have happened in this story?

I may have my candidate for the loss. I've seen worse, but this is a non-story that isn't upbeat so much as noncommittal. Maybe a second read or a conversation with Djeser and Rhino will make that last bit make sense.



He couldn't find three words to cut anywhere?

This is infinitely better than PA's musical horror entry already.

'his cheek wiggled slightly' is far too distinct a phrase to repeat.

What? The story held my attention from the second wiggling cheek all the way to the end, but I'm going to need to do some research to hope to understand it--and I'm not sure the hope will be fulfilled. It reads like a scrap from a larger sci-fi text. 'The Goddess' means nothing to me and is never explained, ditto the 'goddess stone' or why this particular woman has it or what it means or... anything at all.

Merits a second read with Wikipedia on hand. Probably a good thing it follows a worse piece, though. Still much, much, much better than the electroshock adventures of Mr. Ritz; I'd kind of hate to DM it because of that. Prompt: The Dewey Decimal class checks out, but 'upbeat' is a stretch.



I'm hooked with the first paragraph. Love this.

Loving the second paragraph too.

Book titles should be underlined or in italics.

Mary's dialogue re: tablet feels a little too author-manipulated--it's too exactly the wrong thing.

I can't help but wince at the thought of reading by candlelight. Ow! Their eyes!

Not liking Lucy's plan here. It's incredibly shortsighted: if the rest of the town has power but the library doesn't, no one will come to the library at all. They'll sit at home reading tablets. Seriously?

I like how this ends in theory, but it's... not that likely, unfortunately. Maybe I'm wrong; maybe Mary went mad for her tablet when the power first came on but quickly figured out that having it didn't change the world. To forget about a new toy/gadget altogether so soon after getting it, though? The message--as much as I agree with it--is also heavy-handed, and it's like there's a scene missing between the fuse box and Mary at the end. I enjoy this one. It speaks loudly to me. Still.... High middle. The fuse business is just too much.



Wry build? Wiry, maybe?

Tenses! Is this in past tense or present?

'Revolutionary War' needs capitalization.

Huh. Recording phones. Do shows like this still happen? I was getting a real old-timey feel from James' patter.

Wait, who's telling this? I had the impression too that James was not the viewpoint character. Details like 'the glisten in his eye hasn't changed at all' sound distinctly like someone else describing him (as well as being in the wrong tense).

Cute idea. Not a story. The artifacts in question are too low in quality for me to believe the big audience or fame. Maybe I could suspend disbelief if there were more to the piece, but there's not: it's a vignette that wraps up too sweetly, downright saccharine, although it certainly meets the prompt. Prompt: Check; well done. Low middle. Shows potential in the writer.


Grizzled Patriarch:

Nice first line--this is another of those stories where I've got to see how you make this upbeat.

Oh. Ohhhh. This is beautiful. It's melancholy enough to bend the prompt, but... hopeful ending. Yes. Water features. Yes. I can't find fault with this.

It has an excellent chance at my winning vote if no one else takes fire. Prompt: Check. Gorgeously done. High.



'The play of shadows cast by the mining lamps hovering overhead against the intricate stonework compounded the illusion of trees.' There's technically nothing wrong with this sentence, but it reads as too long. I had to read it over and over before I could parse it.

'those tree.' You're killing me, docbeard.

What are they mining on Europa? Ice? Could be.

Aww. This one took off after that first bit. There's not much about it I don't like. Kellen and Jacinta's friendship has rough charm, and I like that it stayed friendship and didn't turn either romantic or super-sisterly; sometimes a friend is a friend. Mining and sculpture are both stronger influences than computer data, perhaps. It still meets the prompt. The idea of storing data through a sculpture garden is also friggin' awesome. It's happy without being saccharine--a solid hit all around, and if it weren't for Grizzled Patriarch he'd be in good shape. As is I'm seeing an HM in his future. Prompt: Check; well done. High.



Ennnnh. These chains of commas aren't starting us off on the right foot.

Huh. Chaotic cosmic tree prof. This is going to be one of FM's odd ones, isn't it?

So far this isn't working; maybe it's that I'm in the wrong mood, maybe the commas just got to me, but I'd care more about Elizabeth's school troubles if she were talking to a human being and not a cosmic tree. The absurdism doesn't add much except a layer of imagery.

'inaudible but tangibly reminiscent of the impossibility of cuddles and the lack of bedtimes stories that goblets of champagne offered.' I would love this if 'tangibly' were at all the right word. I kind of love it anyway.

Oh god did he rewrite crabrock's pedostory to be about a tree and a demigod? Is the tree going to hand the demigod his self-pub book about kiddy-diddling now, because if he does--I'll be honest, I will laugh my head off. Then be horrified. Then keep laughing.

Okay, this won me over, kinda-sorta. Once the narrative stopped dwelling on how the tree and room looked, the weirdness felt less wallpapered on. Creepy perv professors are creepy and unpleasant to read about whether they're human or tree, and personally, I'd rather he'd burned up, but the end beat is still pretty good. Prompt: Check; well done. Low high. It's not winning material, but I'm smiling.



Cute, rushed, a little bugged, and good for what it is. Doesn't have a chance of winning, but he didn't disgrace himself with what I strongly suspect is an eleventh-hour entry.



What is it about 'upbeat' that has so many people writing about floating corpses and severed limbs? 'Course, this is probably a holodeck scenario or something.

Oh, dear, is Tabitha on site to kill or kidnap the girl rather than to save her? I suspect so. (Nothing upbeat yet, by the way.)

Not really anything upbeat in the whole thing--I found Geraint giving his dog up to be more sad than uplifting and a cruelty to the dog to boot. Does it have a dog's brain? I couldn't tell, and being abandoned by its longtime master because he's done with his ex wife would be very sad indeed if it did. If it's just a toy it's less distressing, but this version of 'I'm finally moving on' feels empty and flat instead of renewing. It's sweet that Tabitha let him take the girl home. As with Gau's, however, the bit of sweet and light at the end--and at least there is some!--can't counterbalance that most of the story is not upbeat in the least. I do like that you didn't go with a holodeck after all. Prompt: Check on the Dewey Decimal class, but swing-and-a-miss on the mood. Low middle. Would probably be high middle if it hit the prompt: the writing is solid, the characters engaging.


Schneider Heim:

Book titles should be underlined or in italics.


'The sole god who was not in the play'--oh, heck no. Misstep here. The Greek pantheon had so many gods who aren't as widely known as the major players.

Aww. It held me through the end. Other than the above, the research on the myth was top notch and incorporated beautifully into the story. The lines within the play aren't too great (some are better than others), but it is a production of amateurs; it doesn't take much handwaving to believe in them. I could see HMing this. I like the idea! Prompt: Check; well done. Middle high.


Ironic Twist:

'1642 words, gently caress it' makes it almost impossible for this to win, but honors could still be given.

Blog post. This may not bode well.

Is this Jonathan Livingston Archaeopteryx? It all feels very familiar.

Scale's banishment seems sudden and uncalled for. (Jonathan and his first pupil were banished in JLS though!)

The fable part, other than being JLS + "The Ugly Duckling," is good. The closing half of the frame story is terrible. The whole could absolutely have lost 300 words or more and been just fine and probably the better for it. Even though I like the thing about birds and lightning, I would ditch the frame entirely.

This doesn't exactly have anything to do with fossils, but Archaeopteryx can only be a fossil bird to us, so okay. Maybe the frame was intended to put Arc and Scale in that context so it'd fall within the prompt; if so, nice thought, but it's not worth it. I don't know how upbeat this is. The close of the frame is meaningless: I don't know the speaker, don't care about his/her tattoos; Scale's new identity is a weak hopeful note when we just saw Arc torn apart by raptors. The mood doesn't make it to upbeat. I can see an attempt, however. Prompt: Check, but not completely successful. Good writing + Dewey prompt success - broken word limit - upbeat prompt flub - seriously did you set out to rewrite Jonathan Livingston Seagull or is it just a happy accident = middle.



I have to be over halfway into this story by now and I'm only seeing the barest hint of the Dewey Decimal category, which is particularly sad with this one. Rare books are awesome. The missing bird idea has my interest, but it's running on long. Yes, yes, birds are disappearing from the pictures, I get it.

WHAAAT? What was that ending? What the hell? What did this have to do with rare books?

Okay, wait, I think I see... sort of. The dead birds are somehow upset that the protagonist collects and appreciates their pictures instead of their living bodies. Probably a so-busy-taking-pictures-she-doesn't-really-notice-what-she's-taking-pictures-of thing. Problems: why would birds care, at all, and why would birds disappear from book covers; the birds in paintings probably never existed. The protagonist also looks at these photos all the time. It's hard to believe she doesn't love birds enough. And would they rather she trapped them in cages and collected them living? And again, what does this have to do with rare books? That manuscript she's working on doesn't fulfill the prompt; it's too incidental, like HopperUK's dictionary.

I wish this weren't so far off base, because Mr. tude's record is poor, and this story isn't terrible. Some bits are fun to read even if it doesn't gel into a working narrative. It might still DM for prompt failure though. Low.



'Janitor' shouldn't be capitalized.

'the bleach, polka-freckled stain'--polka-freckled??

'It was mark was what caught my attention.' Dammit, Phobia.

'Shuffled/shuffling past' is too distinctive to repeat.

'The Club.' The hell? Put down the shift key.

He has a carton of cigarettes in his pocket? Is it a pocket of holding? Bet it should have been a pack.

Glass is going to be incidental to this story, isn't it.

'"Look, I'm just... I'm still working' DAMMIT PHOBIA.



'Soccer.' Shift key. Put it down.

'just know'


Whaaaaaaaaaaat. This is a rambling mess. It has jack all to do with glass; 'I saw a girl reflected in a window once' does not count. The woman being Fate doesn't explain the scar. Or the lighterless flame. Or anything else. The proofing is terrible. If I had to guess I'd say the writer started out with one idea and rambled off track before the ending, with no time to stitch it together into a coherent story. This makes nearly as little sense as a Voliun piece. Prompt: Failure, although the last line is upbeat, or would be if I weren't too busy scratching my head to appreciate it. Low. Likely DM. Possible loss.



Opening's a little frayed. 'He would lay on his floor and color with his crayons, but his parents would not put them up on the refrigerator'--I can't blame them; I don't put crayons on my fridge either.

How's the dad James, Sr. but the kid RJ? Is there an older brother?

'and appeared as it had grown as'

'The floor he landed one'

More glass in this one than in Phobia's. I can imagine this leading to etching, so I'm hopeful.

'RJ stayed with his back pressed against the class'--that is one large child.

Oh man oh man I want to draw on glass with a diamond pen! Not really, the sound would be horrible. I love the idea nonetheless.

'cloudy airie' FFS.

The description of RJ's flowers isn't matching with their informed terribleness. How are his drawings terrible? Are they really?

I do enjoy the lady screaming at little smiley faces.

Hmm, okay. I don't think an etched picture would look that different seen from its other side, but maybe there's magic involved. The father's still a jerk for only appreciating his son when RJ excelled at something. That takes some of the heartwarmingness from the ending. RJ still deserves better. I like the glass house and the etchings and even the everything-is-ugly-from-the-wrong-lens conceit; I'm not sure about the hide-and-seek game that leads RJ to the house since it's not clear who he's playing with.

Oh. OH! I just got the James, Sr / RJ Mij thing! Oooh, okay, that's neat from the reader's perspective, but I don't get how it works for the characters. Does everybody but RJ think his name is Jim? He doesn't seem to reverse spoken words otherwise, and he would have heard his name long before he could ever read it....

The cool ideas in this one don't quite come together. Prompt: Check; the Dewey Decimal class is well done. It's more or less upbeat. Middle, possibly high middle for being fun to read, but the flaws drag it down.



The MC's a robot, I bet. On the one hand it's cool that the writer can establish 'robot' without ever saying it, but on the other, the text keeps dancing around the issue, and I hope I'm not supposed to be surprised when the protagonist's metallic nature is revealed.

Okay, whew, no. Good. JuniperCake gave the reader credit for intelligence.

'I did not know of it's true capabilities'

Aww. Nice story. I'm incredulous about an entire forest springing from one tree with so little direct help, but okay. I appreciate that the writer didn't go straight for time travel. Prompt: Check; well done. Would have been in the high middle. Maybe low high?

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 06:10 on Sep 14, 2014

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Since we judges discussed our findings in IRC, we may cover similar ground, since we're now aware of the stuff we brought up with each other. That said

:frogsiren:WEEK 108 CRITS PART 1 - Hammer Bro. through Dirtbag Diva:frogsiren:

Hammer Bro. - Emotional Nudity
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this one, since it ended up disqualified. If you were going for emotional sincerity, I think you were on the right track, but the cinema veritas of submitting in writing without any revisions locked you into some pretty rough prose. Also, thanks for telling us about your (possibly fictional) masturbation habits. I didn't hate this as much as the other judges did, but that's because they were making "oh nooo" noises at me and I went in expecting something more along the lines of "the time i bought a dildo and stuck it up my rear end" as opposed to a decent E/N post.

Morning Bell - The Shawl
I am the folklore dork, so you garnered a lot of favor with me for going that route with it. There were a few things that stuck out at me, though--Crow's tone is inconsistent and a bit jarring compared to the tone of the narration itself. He's got the voice of Rocket Raccoon most of the time, but occasionally slips into the same storybook tone of the rest of the piece. On top of that, your main character feels almost passive about the flowers getting destroyed--he drops them and seems to make no effort to preserve them. Sometimes implausible things happen in folklore, but wouldn't he try to catch his tear or protect the flowers? Also, both dad and his girlfriend are kind of flat characters, one being a generic slap-man and the other being a girlfriend-quest target. Folklore is a great place to introduce strangeness into a story, because folktales can take that mythic dream-logic quality, but even though I liked the beasts, I think you could have done more to make it an interesting tale.
Opinion: Good

Pseudoscorpion - MK9
There might have been a good story in here, but here's the big issue all three judges disliked: You jump around way, way too much. Kaishai pointed out that there was a past-present pattern, which I didn't pick up on at all, mainly because I was confused trying to keep up with the constant shifts. The problem wasn't that you just jumped back and forth between two scenes, but you seemed to be jumping between whole new scenes, like you were showing us a trailer for a movie about a dolphin trainer. Also, the ending confused me, which is a common theme this week (along with good ideas executed poorly and daddy issues); he and the dolphin got injured but it seems like they're getting some kind of disciplinary probation? I didn't get what they'd done wrong. Maybe if the story hadn't jumped so quickly, I could have followed things.
Opinion: Low

Chairchucker - Vavoom
I know this wasn't trying to be serious, but as comedy, it felt like the first draft of a comedy sketch. There's elements that are introduced but never really tie into any payoff in the end, or gags that are just kind of "here's a weird thing". The main character is annoyed at Celeste's girliness, but that doesn't lead to anything. There's the thing about his safe having comics, but he takes the comics anyway. The bodyguard is introduced just for a gag about how he's not really committed to the job. They're all padding out a simple story, and while they could probably work with some tweaking, it feels like too many unrelated silly bits crammed in without enough time spent focusing them into a cohesive story. Not saying it wasn't fun to read, because it was, but in the end I just wondered what was the point of most of it.
Opinion: Average

Amused Frog - Tipping Point
You put a lot of focus into explaining how this was supposed to work, and it kind of came at the detriment of your characters. I can't say a lot about them, because they didn't get much screentime. And then in the end, I was kind of confused. It's wet all over? Why isn't the water following the law of gravity and pooling at the lowest point? Why weren't they looking all over if they were pumping all over? Why were they looking in the pits if there were lower areas elsewhere? You focus a lot on the technical details but then the followthrough at the end doesn't feel technical enough and leaves a lot of open questions.
Opinion: Average

HopperUK - St Martin's Summer
I like history and I'm not sure of the historical context here. I am undone. :negative: Aside from that, I thought this was generally a good story, though it ended on a kind of negative note, and without really resolving any of the conflicts--she's still trying to get to wherever her family is going, Thomas is still in the process of dying, and all that's changed is that she's now got a gift from him. I liked the ideas at play here, giving someone a dictionary and telling them to read things they don't agree with. I also felt like the emotions seemed pretty real for a child making a friend, and getting caught up in this whole exodus that she doesn't exactly understand, but which she has some idea of--that balance between understanding and vagueness was good. In general, liked the writing, but the plot could have used more of a firm resolution, and I don't see how this was that upbeat.
Opinion: Good

Nethilia - Resurrection
I liked this more on the first read than I did when I went through it and thought about it. You've got a decent emotional struggle of a woman up against a tough society. The problem is that everything outside of her tends to be there mostly to make a point. Her mom is kind of a jerk, but boyyyyy is her husband a jerk. I mentioned this to the other judges, and we couldn't understand why she'd get married to someone like that. I mean, knocked up by a guy who's a jerk is one thing, but if she's married, I'd expect that she'd have had to stick around him long enough to get an idea of what he's like. Yeah, yeah, being a jerk lies in the heart of us all, but it seems like she's weirdly committed to this guy before she decides to leave. Similarly, her daughter comes up once, helps her see her work with new eyes, then we don't hear a peep about her when she's presumably eighteen or twenty five. There's also the issue that as soon as I read the beginning paragraph, I knew what the rest of the story would be about. Writing stories about empowerment is fine, but empower your characters in interesting and unexpected ways.
Opinion: Good

Mons Hubris - The Last Pearl Diver
First entry, woo! Okay, time for the bad news: this isn't a great story. Time for the good news: It's far from being the worst, even this week. You've got a decent conflict with some emotional stakes, but the two big problems are the dialogue and the Wikipedia blurb in the middle. Dialogue-wise, it doesn't come off as very realistic. They speak almost in the same formal tone as the story is written in, and the formal tone works fine for narration, but in dialogue, it has to be a little looser, especially if it's supposed to be modern people talking. One of the worst things that sticks out to me just glancing at it now is that Hatsuo just won't stop calling her Great-Grandmother. Think about that, do your friends go "Hey Steve! Okay, Steve. You're a pretty cool guy, Steve." Saying someone's name distances them just a little bit, because it sounds like you have to draw in their attention. Normally, in dialogue, you don't address the person you're already talking to. Also, like I mentioned, there's a part where you morph into a Wikipedia entry on the effects of climate change on coastal Japanese marine life.
Opinion: Average, shows promise

Entenzahn - Underdog
I like stories about self-made knights. Kaishai said that was called 'hedge knights' which is apparently a George R R Martin term. At any rate, I like the idea of a blacksmith starring in a fantasy story, and I like things where common people take up uncommon vows. Some of the writing is a little rough (does a knight really say 'whatever'?) but I was willing to go with it until the end. See, you'd expect a story about a self-made knight like this to highlight how his devotion or humility lets him win where others failed, but here...I guess he doesn't run off? But the climax of the story has him jumping into the air and nailing the dragon in the eye. Truly, the self-made knight was the only one with the inherent qualities a flying javelin toss and hit a bullseye? It's a kind of arbitrary ending that doesn't tie back to the story. Also, king is a jerk, king is like a dad, rack up another for daddy issues.
Opinion: Good until the end/Average at the end

Meeple - Thought and Memory
I enjoyed this one overall, though I thought the pacing was a bit off and the reveal at the end ended up feeling a little out of nowhere--though it was a good idea. In the beginning, there's about one hint that she's a witch, and that's it. It comes off that she's just got Alzheimer's and maybe dementia. Then, there's a long stretch in the middle where she gets up to the roof, then finally we get more supernatural elements where the cat talks. The rest of it is fine and enjoyable, but you kinda lost me there in the middle to the point where witchcraft suddenly being important again was kind of a sudden gear shift.
Opinion: Good

Sitting Here - The Wire
I think you like sensory tendrils, cause I got that image both from your trains story and from this one. I liked it for the most part. The writing worked, and I was willing to overlook certain scientific properties that didn't really make sense because it was a pretty nice story. Then there was kind of an arbitrary joke about measuring dick sizes at the end. I don't have a whole lot to say about this because my opinions were generally pretty positive. Though what happens with the bits of her that just fizzled off when she was starting to lose her waveform? Does she just have chunks in her memory now? Weird.
Opinion: Good

Gau - Tomorrow in New York
This is written well and the imagery is evocative enough that as I was reading about a tsunami crashing into the front of an office building, I wasn't thinking to myself about whether an office building in New York would even survive a tsunami, and whether the subways would collapse or what. So you wrote well enough to get suspension of disbelief, at least until later on in the story. Asim is kind of a nothing character because he's only there to toss in that viewpoint for the main character to have their angry sperg attack against. Seriously, your main character comes off like a jerk. Also you seem to have sailed completely over the upbeat part of the prompt, so I don't know what to say to that.
(I secretly think that your story and Blade_of_Tyshalle's are in the same continuity.)
Opinion: Good

Dirtbag Diva - Park
Another newbie! Yay! Also, sorry for your loss. This is another one where my opinion kind of sank after I thought about it some more. The pacing here is very strange--she starts out worrying about herself, then changes to fretting about this client she has to see, and ends up quitting because the stress of seeing people like this is just too much for her. Then, after having quit her job, she goes and gets a new job at a parking garage that has a garden.

The problem is that these things aren't connected enough. Clients are connected with her job, yeah, you could write about that--where the conflict is whether or not to quit, and at the end, she decides to take the plunge and quit. If you wanted to keep all the plot beats, you need to find a way to connect it all into a meaningful story with conflict and resolution. Here's my attempt to find the story you didn't know was in there.

She works the same job, okay. She's got a planter with some flowers that she keeps watered, because she thinks it adds a bit of happiness to her otherwise grim office. After someone comes in she finally quits; she can't bring that happiness to the people she sees come in. She takes her flowers and leaves, and on the way home, she sees a garden in the parking garage, and it speaks to her, the beauty within the otherwise grim space. So she gets hired there, plants her flowers in the garden, and helps it grow even more beautiful.

In a story as short as Thunderdome stories, you can't really afford to get sidetracked with things off the main plot rails. Get a solid conflict, and write your story around that. As it is, it leaves her getting hired at the parking garage almost inexplicable beyond simply that she wants peace and likes flowers. There's no solid emotional resonance to why she does it, it's just a weird new thing. Anyway, this is a bunch of words to say that even though you lost this week, don't feel discouraged. I think the issues with your stories are easily fixed and you can have a stronger story next time.
Opinion: Average, can be good with better planning.

Djeser fucked around with this message at 08:23 on Sep 2, 2014

Aug 2, 2002

Gp, pm me an avatar you would like and i will replace your td losertar. If you don't have one in mind i will find/make one.

Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
and the deranged degenerates who only want their


Grizzled Patriarch, nice job on the win.

Seb, thank you for the crit.

Kaishai, thank you

for not failing me.

Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
and the deranged degenerates who only want their


Phobia posted:


I'm sad. I need a laugh. Tell me a joke. A story with a punchline. 150 words. Boo hoo.

Gau posted:

I enjoy competent, thoughtful results no matter the speed.

Apr 29, 2007

Why would an ambulance be leaving the hospital?

Thanks for the crits!

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.

Well that was a pleasant surprise to wake up to! Let's see what we've got here:

Thunderdome Episode CIX: Attack of the Clones

T.S. Eliot said, "Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal." This week I want you all to wear your influences on your sleeve. Pick an author whose work you enjoy, bludgeon them over the head, and steal something from them. It can be a setting, theme, a character archetype, stylistic flourishes, or anything else along those lines.

The twist is that everything else must be completely different. So if you pick, say, H.P. Lovecraft, you can write a piece of cosmic horror, but I don't want to see any purple prose or quaint New England towns. Or maybe you want to write a slice-of-life story in that famously archaic prose style (please god don't do this)?

Basically, I want you to steal from your favorite authors and then weave it into something original. Same usual rules apply: no fanfic, no erotica. Parodies at your own risk.

Word Count: 1200 words

Grizzled Patriarch
Ironic Twist

Signup Deadline: 11:59 pm EST on Friday
Submission Deadline: 11:59 EST on Sunday

:siren: When you sign up, or at least before signups close, let me know which author you are picking. :siren:

Brave Doppelgangers:

Tyrannosaurus (Chikamatsu Tokuzô)
tenniseveryone (Ernest Hemingway)
Phobia (Dorothy Parker)
God Over Djinn (David Foster Wallace) :toxx:
Sitting Here (David Foster Wallace)
cargohills (H.G. Wells) :toxx:
Skwid (Lemony Snicket)
crabrock (Ernest Hemingway)
Djeser (J.G. Ballard) (800 word limit)
Entenzahn (Jim Butcher)
sebmojo (Italo Calvino)
newtestleper (Donald Barthelme)
Blade_of_tyshalle (Matthew Woodring Stover)
Amused Frog (Iain Banks)
McStephenson (Ray Bradbury)
Benny the Snake (Jim Butcher) :toxx:
SurreptitiousMuffin (Ted Berrigan)
Thalamas (Neil Gaiman)
Fumblemouse (J.P. Martin)
Hammer Bro. (Jack Vance and Brent Weeks)
Kaishai (Agatha Christie)

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 15:53 on Sep 7, 2014

Apr 12, 2006

I'm in.

Edit: going with Chikamatsu Tokuzô

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 18:21 on Sep 2, 2014

Feb 8, 2014

Having wussed out of a long-forgotten Thunderdome, I return with my tail between my legs, still hankering to be in.

EDIT: And since nobody else is (kinda thought everyone would) I'll do Hemingway :clint:

tenniseveryone fucked around with this message at 07:57 on Sep 3, 2014

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.

Not in, but I can judge if you'll have me?

Jan 26, 2013


Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
and the deranged degenerates who only want their


I've known my choice for this prompt long before I joined the Dome.


" I hate writing, I love having written. "

- Dorothy Parker

I do not know how that works but I guess I'm in this week.

Phobia fucked around with this message at 15:13 on Sep 2, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.

PoshAlligator posted:

Not in, but I can judge if you'll have me?

Works for me!

If anyone else wants to step up and take the third judging throne, let me know here or in IRC.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards

in, :toxx:, and I'll be doing my best David Foster Wallace impression

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




Hmmm who's an author I like with a distinct style that--

God Over Djinn posted:

in, :toxx:, and I'll be doing my best David Foster Wallace impression


Looks like me and toxxo here are gonna have an old fashioned Wallace-off, and all that type of stuff.


Apr 17, 2014

I've failed twice already, so I'm in with a :toxx:. I'll be shamelessly stealing from the works of H.G. Wells.


cargohills fucked around with this message at 18:22 on Sep 2, 2014

Aug 20, 2011

I got tired of being a loser so I spent money to not be a loser anymore.

I'm going to try and submit something actually worthwhile this week, jumping in with Lemony Snicket.

Skwid fucked around with this message at 16:15 on Sep 2, 2014

Aug 2, 2002

I'll be writing about feminism in the style of Hemingway, only because I dare not insult Gabo's memory by trying to ape his style, RIP.

Apr 12, 2006

:siren: TD CVI CRITS :siren:

Erogenous Beef - Scattered, Smothered
Loved the name.

There were a couple things I was disappointed in. The first one, and this is a strange one, is all the snow. It makes me feel like this is set somewhere else. Vast swaths of the South never get snowfall. Maybe up in Appalachia, yeah, sure, but never so much as you’ve described. Knee high snowfall would be a catastrophe. I’m sure you could cite plenty of instances to the contrary but I’m just saying it threw me off. Plus, you know, everybody’s casual indifference to the weather made it feel like it was a common occurrence. With that being said, the weather did suit your story. You used it well.

The second is the dialogue. Bits like “I oughta run you down, you fuckin’ wife-murderer” and “You ride, but nobody but me gets to drive her. Where to, Mister Deputy, sir?” and ““You ain’t got the balls, boy. That’s why you’re stuck in a dead-end job in this no-horse town. You’ve never had the balls to stand up for nothing to no-one, lest you’re waving a piece around” … It’s way too… Fake? I guess? Its too heavy handed. There’s no subtlety. I feel like most of your dialogue is just placeholder stuff so that you can come back and give it more nuance at a later. Except you forgot to come back.

And its crazy that I disliked your dialogue so much because some of your prose. Man. poo poo like “Today, bitter silence slouched in that same space, draping its arms around the two men like a drunk being carried home. On its lap reclined the ghost of a dead girl.” is just loving beautiful. I wished I hadn’t been outright told that Earl was a wife murderer and instead just giving me little glimpses. Lots of uncomfortable tension. And let the reveal build a little more slowly. Have the “Did he actually do it” be a question that drives me to continue reading.

The devil needs polish to fit. Your writing because a little frantic. The pace gets off. Stuff like that. Slow down and feed me the meat.

Fumblemouse - The end of the line
Cousin loving seemed a little low for you. I thought you were going to do something really fun with the lead up. Play with the expectations a bit. Disappointed you went the way you did.

This story made me laugh a few times. Well done.

Well written. Enjoyable characters. It gets a little muddy in the end though. A little unclear what’s happening. Why did the lady suddenly have magic powers (or did she?) Who knows? We the collective judges could never figure out what your ending meant.

Good characterization. Good dialogue. Strong story. This was clearly NOT set in the American South which maybe I should have knocked you off the HM list for but… well… You played to my interests. Great job writing about a real rear end hat of a guy and not completely turning off your reader.

Entenzahn - Tapper Ware
Are you making a tupperware play with your title? Because that’s what it seems like and god I think its atrocious.

White folks aren’t traditionally associated with voodoo. Weird science? Yes. Heathenism? Sure. Devil worship? Absolutely. African-American folk spirituality? That’s a bit out there. If you’re going to stretch credibility in this way then you need to give me a bit more into why this plantation owner’s son is dabbling into black mysticism. Otherwise you make me think “eh, this dude thought voodoo sounded cool but didn’t do any research.”

You’ve got some pacing issues. Very descriptive about pointless stuff early on and then you rush right through your ending. Cut to the chase. Don’t waste my time setting up your story, setting up your action, just get to it! Give me the good stuff!

I didn’t believe your dialogue. It felt very stilted. You were trying to set up this fun, loving relationship between Moses and his wife but it didn’t come across at all. We didn’t get to know them well enough. We didn’t get to watch them converse over something meaningful.

Like I said, the ending was super rushed. Very unpolished.

Your last line didn’t hit for me at all.

Obliterati - The Rivers Still Run
Heavy handed as gently caress. Not sure how Southern Gothic this is. Seems like you really wanted to set a story somewhere else and shoehorned into being an immigrant grandmother. I didn’t get a good sense of her being very Irishy. Did not like this one.

Grizzled Patriarch - Cobwebs
I pushed for this to get an HM. It’s not a super complex story. You telegraph your next move. It wasn’t terribly creative. Buuuuuut! I liked it! It was very basic but I liked it. You didn’t gently caress up anywhere. You let me know what was coming next but kept it interesting. I found it to be sufficiently creepy and readable and engaging. My fellow judges didn’t think it deserved an HM because of its aforementioned weaknesses and that’s understandable. Man, keep it up! This was good! And its been fun watching you grow as a writer!

Club Sandwich - Creek Run
You should hit the enter key after each paragraph.

Your opening is strong. Something interesting has happened (Joe burned down a gas station and is now on the run). This is intriguing. This to keep reading. I want to know why he burned down the gas station, what’s going to happen to him, what’s his motivation, blah blah blah. Then you gently caress it up by including this huge long unnecessary info dump. Who the gently caress cares? What does his backstory matter? You were so vague of why the people of Anderson dislike the Daltons that nothing makes sense.

Having him burn down the gas station because he “ felt as if the dark presence of all his father’s animosity towards the town was hanging over him” is maybe the stupidest possible motivation you could have come up with. Other than “just because” I guess. In flash fiction (and in writing in general) you can’t waste words. If all that backstory that you gave me doesn’t directly line up with something else that happens then it is pointless. Why include learning how to fish with jumper cables if it doesn’t come back up?

gently caress.

Also- he jumps into the water and its only chest deep. That’s weird. And why are his bones aching? He seems like he’s supposed to be a young dude. Are you just being wordy? Are you just thinking that that would be a neat little description? It doesn’t make sense. loving stop including unnecessary poo poo.

“It was a sound that he could only describe as boot heels scraping on sandstone” -- I don’t know what you are trying to describe here.

I feel like you got so caught up on this neat little world you created in your head that you never got around to actually writing something with a plot and with characterization and what not.


Anathema Device - untitled
Your biggest issue here is clarity. I don’t understand what the court ruled on. That the kids shouldn’t go see their dead mother? First of all, properly accented the word would have helped (ie mémère).
Secondly, I thought Memere meant grandmother? But then you say that Grandfather and Grandmother are shouting and… what the gently caress?… What am I reading? Third, why use Memere and not use a similar (assuming cajun here because Southern Gothic) term for the grandparents. A grandpappy or something would have helped. And also it would have helped to be consistent. Don’t go back and forth, Mom and Memere, pick one. I spent my first read through not understand characters.

How old is your main character? Your narrator’s tone is inconsistent. Switches age and vocabulary.

What the gently caress is going on in your ending? I have no idea. Zero clue. What were you trying to get across?

I like the idea. But Jesus. What a mess.

Sitting Here - The Forest
The forest is her mental prison, right? It’s a safe place she went to to avoid dealing with the tragic whateverness of Michael, right? I couldn’t really figure this story out. I couldn’t figure out much more symbolism than what I’ve already said. What was the dangerous white thing? What happened to Michael? Was Michael’s whatever touched upon and I simply missed it or was it not touched upon? I don’t know.

Also, this could have been set anywhere. I feel like this story really missed the prompt.

Well written though. As always.

Fuschia tude - The Devil You Don’t
Unpolished. Very unpolished. Story is overly cliche as well. Your ending comes out of nowhere, resolves nothing, and makes no sense. Dialogue is just atrocious.

God Over Djinn
Your stab at this. Man. I loved it myself. You are one of those writers I hate to read sometimes because I think your ideas are just so loving cool that I want to copy them and immediately start writing something similar. I fought hard to HM this.

One nitpicky note: I wish I had gotten the sense that what had happened in the story had happened in real life. Hit me up if that doesn’t make sense.

Phobia- Swines
One day you’re going to start writing before Saturday/Sunday and maybe you’ll win. You created an awesome sense of dread and disgust. The plot needed a little more polish though and the ending was weak. The ending was too predictable. I know you can come up with something more interesting or at least find a more interesting way to say it. But ya just ran out of time, huh? Again.

bromplicated - The House of Memories
It got a little unrealistic when the gun went off. It seems like you wanted to burn the house down but didn’t know how to get there. Nice build up to that point. I’d recommend outlining your story because I could read where a new idea came to you. It changed the flow and the cadence of your writing. This happened several times. You wanna be more consistent.

Meinberg - Old Growth
Your dialogue is poorly written. It’s bad, it’s unrealistic, and it doesn’t sound natural. And, perhaps worse of all, most of it is completely unnecessary. Cut anything that isn’t vital. Try and reword everything that is. Get your writing tight and you’ll be in better shape.

Dumb reason for the news crew being there. “Oooh we heard a spooky old house is really old and really spooky. Let’s go shoot a story over there.” Dumb. Give me some motivation! Give me something! What if the crew thinks the idea is stupid and so they’re goofing off and said goofing up triggers the evil whatever. Gimme something to follow.

Ugh. The plot just gets dumber as I read.


crabrock - A Castle if She’s Willing
Yo, you made it rain with excellent sentences. Just across the board there are really neat little things tucked in every which way. That was awesome. That got you the HM despite the fact that I felt like there was very little substance to the piece. Lot of good words. Kind of weak plot. The curse thing seems a little tacked on. I would have liked more psychological motivation as to why your MC has to work the fields. Has to work the land. Has to make things right. Right now its just… he’s got to *becuz*. I just wish there was more to it.

Noah - What Comes Next?
Man! This was a strong contender for the win. Really great play on the prompt. Having the commonly known tropes gently caress with the main character was brilliant. Really enjoyable to read. Maybe you could have used a little something more in the beginning to help accent that? Make a bigger note on the person’s nerves or the effect of the drugs or something.

Ah! Your ending feels just slightly incomplete. It doesn’t quite hit but I don’t know how to tell you to fix it. It feels funny is all.

Nethilia - Come Little Children
Once again, you enter in a well written piece. However, I think sometimes you let your energy (for lack of a better word) get the best of you and while what you are writing is all *good* its not always all *necessary*. Trim your fat. Your dialogue is generally strong, as well. That’s something I love. I’m a big dialogue person. With that being said, I did find your nine year old to be a little too self aware for my liking. It made your story start coming off as preachy. You gave me plenty of breadcrumbs to follow your meaning. Lemme get to it on my own.

When I finished, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to have a sense of dread or a sense of happiness that the kids disappeared. Another judge said “both” and thought it was good. I’m not sure I agree.

Morning Bell - Tennessee Blues
You shouldn’t start stories with a character waking up. Its boring (unless there is something especially compelling about the wake up). I know it seems like a logical place to begin but really it just delays your reader from getting any interesting information. Cut to the chase. If you start at “Laura was in no mood for his jokes” what is lost?

You have some weird inconsistency things going on. How does Ratboy have “plenty of time for the gym” while they are on tour? Why does he know Tennessee’s state motto?

Way too comma splices. Some of it is stylistic. Some of it isn’t. Cut it out.

Your ending is really rushed and I don’t understand why any of this is important. And not just the ending. The story in general. You spend a lot of time talking about this tour and then there is a gaunt man who doesn’t even get a name and then the story is over. This isn’t a story. You are just throwing words down on a page because you are used to be oh so clever and getting away with poo poo without having to worry about the craft.

This isn’t particularly Southern gothic either. Sure, you have set it in Tennessee but the setting isn’t important. It isn’t significant. If they’re not playing the blues and instead of describing marshes you describe deserts and put this in Mexico City instead of Knoxville… its the exact same story.

hammer Bro.
If there is a push for DM then it’ll get it. I don’t know if it deserves it. It certainly isn’t very good. But you wrote a story. There is a plot. There is characterization. Everything is just kinda sloppy.


Kaishai - Still Water
Very good. Very foreboding. Nice foreshadowing. Nice use of dialogue. My one super nitpicky critique is that I think you would have been better suited making Nicole the granddaughter rather than Jefferson’s sister. Or making Jefferson a grandson, as well. It makes the inheritance thing make more snes.e


Oxxidation - the Vigil
You are a good writer but I don’t think this is a good story. You wrote a lot of pretty words in a lot of pretty ways. And that’s nice. But your flowery, elaborate descriptions fail you at the most crucial moment. “they’d learned about what had happened to the dark while they’d slept, that every shadow became an open mouth” - That’s not enough to carry the weight of your entry. Because of your established pattern of elaborative descriptions I did not realize that you were being somewhat literal here. Or maybe totally literal? I’m still not sure what you mean. You were depending upon your idea to haunt your reader’s mind, for your reader to fill in the blanks, but you were too vague. Left too many blanks. And you introduce this too late into your story. Sure, you give foreshadowing but the foreshadowing is useless because it is meaningless at the time that we receive it. You open up with getting some gas to fight the darkness. Okay. Cool. But then you start talking about dead corn stalks rattling like curses and cracked lips and an old, rusted out bicycle. Well-written stuff but its distracting! Its all set dressing! It doesn’t contribute to the story in a meaningful way. It distracts your reader from what is important.

“and the small wet things that would leap from puddle to puddle underfoot” -- This is kind of a douchey way of saying frogs, don’t you think?

“The wood of his front porch was so dry and shrunken that the boards cried like animals.” - this is neat

You dropped the ball with Charlie. You could have definitely worked his death into a reveal. And his death itself is too unclear, too. I understand that He (your nameless protagonist) blames himself for Charlie’s demise but I don’t understand why. Was it actually his fault? These would be things that would be nice to know. You have to leave me some breadcrumbs to follow. All I got was “howling Charlie’s name amidst the devouring shadows of the corn.” You have tendency to be waaaaay too vague. There’s a fine line to be found.

I’d like to point out, too, that at this point I still didn’t grasp that darkness would kill you. I thought for a long time the darkness was symbolic of Charlie’s death haunting them or something.

Elle’s motivation to suicide(?) is unclear. She seemed okay. Sure there were some sniffles and a desire to relocate but it came out of nowhere for her to just die.

Ooh, immolation suicide. A little cliche. Gasoline covered moon lighting up the sky blah blah that was nice, though.

In conclusion, cut out the bullshit.


You know what? That goes for everybody.

:siren: GENERAL NOTE :siren:

Cut out the bullshit.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

In with the apocalypses of J G Ballard.

Called shot: 800 words max.

Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

We're doing crits now are we

:siren: Everybody still cares about Week 104 :siren:

Hi! I read all the week 104 stories and at the end I was mostly like “Hmmm okay.” There wasn’t anything outrageously bad, or excellent, and a lot of above average stories that had different things going for them. Truly it is a great age where you can judge a week of Thunderdome and not feel like killing yourself.

Meeple - This Ring of Storms
Good use of flash rule and prompt. Actually this is decent. I like your language and your pictures come across clearly. It’s all very distant though: you’re being vague in the beginning and you mostly just rattle of themes and transitions in the middle, without giving us any detail. But the message is there, the role reversal is there and I think you’re sucking up to me so that’s a plus.

Unfortunately you wrote Thunderdome fanfiction.

At the party: You recited a joke. A crowd assembled around you but halfway through it became clear that the joke was going to be racist. Everybody slowly backed off and avoided you until you left the party.

Duke of the Bump - Home Fries
When I started reading this I thought I’d be looking at this week’s loser, but then it didn’t turn out too bad. The story is there and I think it hits that sweet spot where it uses its framing devices to explore a character without being too focused and obvious about either. Prose is very flabby and rough and there’s too much telling in places.

At the party: You spent a lot of time sulking in the corner but as you kept sipping punch you opened up a little and people realized that you weren’t as much of a dumb nerd as they’d thought.

Nethilia - Artist Quality
This is missing a red thread. First it’s about your crayons and midway through it starts being about your relationship to your dad. It’s nice and sweet and personal, but the problem that is introduced in the beginning is your lack of crayons, and the plot ends when you get them.

Child-Nethilia’s simple and innocent wish to just be able to draw made me root for her and there’s enough anecdotal material to make this come to life for me. Very emotional ending.

At the party: Everybody thought you were very witty and charming, although (or because???) none of them talked to you for more than ten minutes.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Closed Windows
This is one of those thin personal dramas that Thunderdome likes to write when it tries to do “serious stories.” It doesn’t work for me. I don’t know who the girl in the picture is (is she an affair or part of his porn collection?). Most of the story is internal monologue. The discovery of the picture and her subsequent behaviour could have been the entreé to the full story, but it doesn’t pass off as main dish.

I mean I think the mystery woman is supposed to be an affair but the whole photo situation doesn’t make any sense.

Also you didn’t tell a story in a story.

At the party: You forgot to bring a present and were forced to improvise a really bad excuse for it.

Number 36 - They'll Understand
This is such a mixed bag of nice ideas and poor execution. Your plot idea is original, but it doesn’t always make sense (how quickly can you learn to fight?). Your character has a clear motivation, but everybody, including himself, rightfully calls him an rear end in a top hat for it. He’s selfish, and he’s a poser, and he doesn’t have the redeeming qualities or staunch opposition that I’d need to root for him.

It reads rushed in places. The part where he just goes “I learn fight now *snip* Today is fight day.” is one such part. The intro to the fight also happened too quickly. You have some good flavor there and I would have liked to taste a little more of it.

At the party: You grabbed a guitar and rocked out. You were drunk, but so was everyone else and now nobody remembers if it was good or bad, only that was “certainly something”.

docbeard - Why
I know it’s in your title but that whole “People keep asking me why” thing felt kinda forced as a theme. You could have toned it done a couple notches and still come away with a good or even better story. The underlying moral dilemma is very interesting as it is and the whole part where she refuses to explain herself comes off a little silly to me.

You did a good job of revealing your setting as an organic, relevant part of the story. Having humanity try to raze an earth occupied by super-rational alien forces is an interesting twist.

Entry is clunky in some places. I’m going to go ahead and guess that you ran out of time for this. It’s still a very complete and fresh story with some interesting alliances.

At the party: You were some douche from social history class that gave an unsolicited speech about bourgeois decadence. You’ve rehearsed it well. Everyone clapped a little.

Dr. Kloctopussy - Untitled
A story that starts at the bottom and races further down at breakneck speed. The intensity of your prose makes it really exciting to read. The POV shifts are well-employed to contrast the frantic lunacy of drug girl with the silent, bitter annoyance of the reasonable one. A nice example of how to write family drama.

Biggest caveat is that it’s not very filling. It reads so quickly and then it’s over before the actual problem (drugs) has been coped with. It doesn’t really go anywhere, very slice-of-life.

At the party: “Dude, try this poo poo. It’s, like, totally the bomb. You wanna fly man? You wanna fly?”

Obliterati - Just Testing
I was sincerely confused by this story. It’s like one of these convoluted pieces where the protagonist tries to trick herself only she also has alzheimers and there’s a murder mystery? That’s pretty much all I can say about it because I don’t get it. I guess you were too smart for me. Congratulations!

At the party: You were already wasted when you came to the party, and most of what you said was incomprehensible to anyone until you passed out on the couch.

Grizzled Patriarch - Jumpers
Okay, cool, you got the prose down. You should use your newfound superpowers to tell a good story.* Or any story. This is more like a well-written eyewitness account out of some paranormal newspaper. Why did any of this happen? Why is it relevant? How is the protagonist involved, and what did he learn from it?

You are clear in your narration, but at the end of the day you just throw a bunch of wacky stuff at me to see what sticks and that’s not good enough.

At the party: You were jealous of docbeard and started to tell a story of your own, only you were clearly retelling copypasta from the internet and somebody called you on it. It was very awkward and everybody thinks you’re a doofus now.
*Congratulations on preemptively following this advice.

crabrock - You Are Invisible
Tbh this isn’t very good as a CYOA since there’s a lot of choices but only two real endings. I want to be taken around a trip of vastly different possibilities. Instead the main events are mostly set in stone and I’m only allowed to fill in the details on my way to being a) a badass or b) a dumb nerd.

It’s entertainingly written and the subject matter is easy to identify with (obviously a plus with CYOAs) so I still came away liking it. You could have made better use of the medium though.

At the party: Somebody pissed in the plant pot, carving a smiley face into the earth. All the signs point to you being the culprit.

Sitting Here - A World Behind Worlds
You’re a good writer. This is nicely written. But it’s not a strong story.

The subject matter is very touching, and your way of implicating the domestic abuse is subtle and burns slow enough for me to have an aha-moment in the middle of the piece. That said I don’t get how knowing there’s a bunch of magical creatures who won’t or can’t ever do anything to help you is making it easier for the boy to have the crap beaten out of him every day.

The pig was pretty cool.

At the party: You were someone else’s mom. You were very charming and polite but the party didn’t really start until you left.


Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

Also I'm in and I'm going to rip off Jim Butcher like the illiterate prole I am.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

In with Italo Motherfuckin' Calvino

e: v Hakuna your matatas; you'll get it on time v

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 21:11 on Sep 2, 2014

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

sebmojo posted:

In with Italo Motherfuckin' Calvino

You better have my mother loving brawl by tonight. I look forward to reading it.

Mercedes fucked around with this message at 21:51 on Sep 2, 2014

Jul 22, 2007

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Oxxidation - the Vigil
You are a good writer but I don’t think this is a good story.

You wouldn't know proper scene-setting if it ripped your balls off. Brawl me.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

I got bored with yelling about MLP fanfiction so now I'm back to yell at you.

:siren:Week 108 Crits Part 2:siren:

PoshAlligator - Under the Museum
Another story of the good idea, poor execution brand. Kai and I both liked your take on the idea of genre art, but around that idea, everything else felt shakey. I didn't understand your character's motivations, or what a Goddess Stone was, or why she wanted it. I didn't really get the timeline of what was happening, either--'mouse' and 'monitor' in the beginning set me up for a modern story, but then later on it becomes clearer that this is some sort of sci-fi thing. Well, okay, but these are still ancient people? Except then she's the great-great-granddaughter of someone in there, so it's got to be in about the past 100 years that this happened--so why are there no records of it any more? All their records are lost, but what about other people's? It just doesn't make a lot of sense, and a lot of things are left unexplained or only briefly explained. It comes off as seeming a bit like you were thinking it out as you were writing, then didn't go back and revise to make the ideas clear.
Opinion: Low

Bromplicated - Faces in the Dark
My first big issue with this one is that it's a little pandering. I know that as writers we all value books, but even so, writing a story about how books are so great comes across as a little heavy-handed. It's one of those easy things that no one really disagrees with. That aside, your writing was fine for the most part, though it did seem odd that people were coming into the library during the blackout--I had to reread it to make sure I didn't miss that they were trapped inside. A little more explaining that could have been nice (like someone's comment that the library is the only fun place to go now that the power's out). And then, well, the main character acts like a cartoon baby trying to pull the fuse for the library to preserve it. I get that she cares a lot about it, but when this happens, it makes her feel less emotionally sincere and more like a caricature, and with the kind of heavy message going on, it added to the unrealistic feeling.
Opinion: Average

Skwid - The Fantastic Collection
Woo, another new TDer! And, oof, you got a DM. Here's the things that bothered me about this one. First, the setting is pretty unclear--it seems like he's doing this out in the middle of the wilderness somewhere? That could have used more explanation. (An amphitheater off the side of the highway?) Second, the reactions of the characters are unrealistic given what he's showing off--it's a crappy fiddle, a device (not sure what kind) that doesn't work, a tooth, and then a singing whisk. The whisk is the only one that's kind of interesting, but supposedly this group of items inspires a whole new interest in his show. Then, the ending is just super-sappy--try cutting it after the first sentence or two of the last paragraph. And, lastly, you overuse exclamation marks in your prose--it's okay in dialogue, but outside of it, using it too much weakens it and makes it meaningless, like you're trying to force us to be excited when we're not. Also, there's strange tense errors up and down--that's the sort of thing you nip in the bud when you're doing your editing pass.
Opinion: Low, but can definitely improve

Grizzled Patriarch - Love Like a Deep River
The judges unanimously liked this, and for good reason. It's got an ornate style, but you keep the ornateness from getting in the way of your description. There's some places where the after-death perspective gets a little strange (he's drifting up through the chimney, but then he's also the ashes) but overall, it's an interesting way to tell the story and you launch into it from the first line, so that's great. I love it when people lead off with interesting things, because that's a solid way to keep up the momentum in your story. I may have read it too quickly, or I missed the slight details at some points, because it took me a little bit to understand why the ashes are fired into clay (because it's clay from the bank, and so his ashes can stay there with her), but in the end, it's a well-constructed story that begins with death and ends with a happy, touching image.
Opinion: Very good

docbeard - Discovery
I liked the idea in this one, but I think I liked it least out of the judges for two reasons. First, the reveal that Jacinta was planning her own way of getting attention seems to come quickly and seems odd given her attitude in the beginning, and second, I just kind of didn't like how evil EarthCorp was here. This doesn't feel like 'acceptable limits' stuff, it feels like they're being straight-up, Captain Planet villain evil. Yeah, destroy an alien archive for a bit of money, it seems like a hugely dick move for a tiny payoff that'd net them a bunch of negative PR. Other than that, the story was fine, I just felt like the evilness of Head Office made it seem a little ridiculous for ostensibly a serious story.
Opinion: Good

Fumblemouse - Higher Education
Another one where I liked the idea more than the execution. This one kind of reminded me of Chairchucker's, in that both set up a premise, have a series of gags related to that premise, and end with a callback to earlier in the story. It took me until the fourth or fifth paragraph before I realized that being a god was literal, while Planet Elizabeth was figurative. As for the rest of the story, it's a bit hectic, though amusing. I see the hints you dropped in now that I've read the whole thing and I'm going through it a second time. I'm not entirely clear what the dynamic between the two of them was, though--Kai said something about how he'd slept with her, but to me it just seemed like he'd cheated, not specifically with her. And then, like I said, it ends with a callback to the beginning. It was a fun read, but again like CC's, less focused than it could have been, and probably longer than it needed to be.
Opinion: Good

Tyrannosaurus - Love
I've got a feeling this was a don't want to fail, just put something quick out there thing? At any rate, it is good, just short and doesn't really have much of a plot to comment on, but you probably already know that--it's more of a tableau of these two characters. It unfolded nicely though, and the idea was good. I liked that slow reveal of writing to his lover -> he's married -> she doesn't mind -> because she's done it before -> he's just crap at it. It was well-written, and I enjoyed reading it, and importantly, it was short. What's with judges lately and assigning big word counts? Not that I'm bitter about having to read 32,832 words in a day to keep people from yelling FIJI GIGI at me.
Opinion: Good stories fast stories

Blade_of_tyshalle - A Heart of Broken Glass
holodog holodog :3
Apart from the holodog though, this story is vague and tends to build up to nothing much happening. I'm not sure what your main character's job is--freelance courier, I'm guessing? In the beginning, there's a buildup to a sense of dread, then the reveal is that it's his ex who's here on a similar job. There's a bunch of dialogue, she runs off, action happens offscreen, and then they talk again, she leaves, and he gives his holodog to the girl he's kidnapping because of ???. I get the feeling that you're trying to tell your character's relationships through dialogue, but the way you work dialogue is in these big passages with no attribution and no action happening in between, so it feels like everything stops for them to chat, which shouldn't be happening in a cyberpunk thriller, or whatever genre this is meant to be. The resolution feels weak to me too, because we resolve his relationship conflict, sort of, but the only resolution to 'find the girl' we get is that he found her, not that he got her out, and there's no reason given for why her parents want her, why she's there, why Tabitha had to kill a bunch of people, et cetera. It feels like a focus on his emotional life, which is fine, but which comes at a detriment to the more external conflicts and details in the story.
Opinion: Low

Schneider Heim - Aphrodite and Hephaestus
You showed off your research drat well in this one, so good job there. And the writing works, so also good job. I didn't like this as much as Kai, though, because I felt like for an allusion to mythology, Bernardo and Camilla are almost too on-the-nose for Hephaestus and Aphrodite. Kai pointed out that it's why he's drawn to Hephaestus in the first place, because he has so much in common, but I felt like it just overstepped that identification into being Literally Hephaestus. It's a good story, and a good use of your material, but it was a little too just-so for me.
Opinion: Good

Ironic Twist - YX
Your story isn't really how dinosaurs work, but the framing device you gave it assuages that by making it clearer that it's supposed to be some kind of parable. In trying to figure out the intent of the frame, I guess that the story was 'about' being gay (i.e., feeling different from others, finding someone like you who helps you realize why you feel different, getting kicked out of home, having that friend of yours get beat up for being different, vowing to help other people like you), but it applies also to being trans (which is what you said you were going for) and probably other things as well.

It's a decent story and plenty evocative, but it's not good enough to compensate for going way over the word limit, especially given that you could have trimmed it down a lot. I don't give a good god drat about word limits though since I'm not head judge. I think a bit less extra words in the story and a bit of work refining the framing device would make it stronger.
Opinion: Good

Fuschia tude - Rare birds
This one starts off with a cool idea and spirals down into boredom and not making sense. The idea of birds disappearing was great, it's weird, it's interesting, it makes me want to know more. But then it gets weird--they're disappearing because they're angry? Why are they angry? Is her manuscript making them angry? If so, how? The thing with seeing a crow fall asleep too is kind of inexplicable--so all she had to do was apologize to one bird? I didn't like the Non-Euclidean Locators bit either, it felt kind of weird and not really consistent with the more quiet absurdity of birds disappearing from photos and books. I think the story would have been improved by making it more personal, giving us a better idea of why the birds are angry, what's so important about her manuscript, that sort of thing. The inexplicable-in-a-good-way becomes just confusingly inexplicable by the end.
Opinion: Low

Phobia - Lovestruck as a Window Washing Lifeguard
This feels like the prologue to something. I didn't really get what the conflict in here was supposed to be, though I did pick up very, very early on that the reveal was going to be that this girl's name was Fate. Also, is she some kind of mythical being? Is she the embodiment of fate as a concept? If so, then what's with her non sequitur powers like using her fist like a lighter? And the scar? Like Fuschia, you leave a lot of questions unanswered and it ends up just making the ending unfulfilling. You can write fine, I know, but this feels kind of like you just started writing with a vague idea and filled it in as you went.



Opinion: Average

crabrock - The Glass House
Another where the idea is better than the execution. Everyone else comes off as mostly just a jerk to him--even his dad just stands there like 'good riddance' until he sees his son draw good. Like, what the hell, he's still your son. We don't really get any idea of what he does wrong beyond drawing badly, and everyone's really mean to him about that, so it comes off strange. What did work for me was the witch, because she's got some kind of interesting powers and it had the feeling of one of those weird Vienamese ghosts that's a vampire that's just a floating head or a fart zombie or something. That was nice and the descriptions of the drawing were fine, though your prose did feel kind of rough here and there were a number of typos that ended up in there because, and this is a stab in the dark, you were in a bit of a hurry.
Opinion: Good side of average

JuniperCake - Standing Vigil
This was pretty good, and because it's pretty good, I wanted to let you know. The beginning was thematically appropriate enough that it led me to thinking about story ideas remarkably similar to what this story turned out to be. It was a good setup that got me in the right frame of mind without overly telling and without cluing me in to what the ending was going to be about. You humanize artificial intelligences in a clearly inhuman but also clearly emotionally intelligent way. There was a bit of humor in there, but it didn't detract from the story, and all in all it was an enjoyable end to an enjoyable week of judging. Even if I did have to read a whole ton of words.
Opinion: Very good

Amused Frog
Sep 8, 2006
Waah no fair my thread!

In with Iain Banks.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Oxxidation posted:

You wouldn't know proper scene-setting if it ripped your balls off. Brawl me.

Ohhh lordy I will judge the hell out of this. Trex: you in?

Aug 2, 2002

sebmojo posted:

Ohhh lordy I will judge the hell out of this. Trex: you in?

fast foward to the future: oh look nobody turned in this brawl

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

sebmojo posted:

No more extensions from me (or for me), regardless of circumstances.

Oct 30, 2003

In with Donald Barthelme

Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.

Matthew WoodrINg Stover :black101:

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Airman Jim versus the Leviathan!
1200 words

Jim gritted his teeth against the freezing wind and the cold metal of the eyescope. Below him the cloud sea stretched out, dominated by a single huge, drifting cumulus, drenched with peach and purple from the setting sun. Through his brass eyescope Jim could see a flyer doing a sweep, the faraway buzz of its engine like a mournful wasp. He shoved the scope back into his pocket and shut his eyes tight to stop the self-pitying tears. It’s not fair, he thought. I’m a better airman than any of the other kids.

The lookout tower shuddered; someone was coming up the ladder from the Mountainhome. “Jim, you up there?”

Jim had a sudden, juvenile impulse to slam the hatch and dog it shut. It passed. “Hey, Zak.”

Zak’s heavy-browed face peered up at him, hair cropped close for the pilot’s helmet he wore every day. “Stormin’ out like that ain't gonna change Marshall Rockford’s mind, cuz.” He gripped the steel rungs and heaved himself up onto the platform. “You’re just gotta learn to pick your moments, you know? Jim? What are you looking at?”

Jim had stood up. “That … that cloud’s moving against the wind.”

Moments later there was a booming low-pitched thump. The huge cumulus cloud swelled, split, then burst like a watermelon hit by a bullet. In its place was an immense black zeppelin, cloud jets still spewing their obscuring mist and its huge guns coming to bear!

Zak gasped in awe-struck horror behind Jim. “It’s … the Leviathan!”

The forward guns spoke and the patrolling flyer exploded in a gout of flame. Jim hit the red alarm button and dove for the hatch as the siren started to wail, with Zak right behind him.

Below, the Mountainhome was in chaos; its rock walls trembled in sympathy as the exploding shells of the pirate zeppelin Leviathan slammed into the mountainside. Zak and Jim pounded into the flight bay. Marshall Rockford was the center of a tornado of activity, rattling out orders and instructions.

Jim was squinting out the bay door at the spray of antlike flyers pouring out the the vast grey pirate zeppelin when the Marshall noticed him. ‘Get that kid below with the others! We need to seal the vaults!”

Jim pushed down the spasm of anger. This is more important than you, Jim. He looked to Zak, whose face was pale. “Fly well, cousin.” Without waiting for a response, Jim ran.

The vaults were far below in the oldest part of the Mountainhome. Jim skidded round the corner leading to the lift; but the door was already shut and the cables were whirring. It would be minutes before it got back. Jim turned to start for the Long Stair, then gasped as he saw a pirate flyer whir past the window, a thin plume of black smoke coming from its engine. It’s heading for that old landing bay below!

Jim took the last few stairs down to the bay on tiptoes, then peered round the corner. The ugly flyer, covered in garish splashes of paint, was crouched on the platform. There were bullet holes in the cockpit, and Jim could dimly see a slumped body in the co-pilot seat. A man in flight leathers was hunched over the open engine coaming, his back to Jim, less than ten feet away.

Just then there was the crack of an explosion from a shell landing nearby. The pirate’s head turned at the noise and he saw Jim, frozen at the foot of the stairs. His bearded face cracked in a vicious grin. “Fresh meat, hey?” With deliberate slowness he reached for the pistol at his waist.

Jim felt a wash of loathing for this filthy interloper rush through him, sweeping away his paralysis. In a single smooth motion, he pulled his brass eyescope out of his pocket and hurled it, end-over-end, into the face of the pirate. The pirate yelled and threw up his hands, staggering back towards the drop.

Jim covered the distance in a heartbeat, slamming his gloved fists into the man’s chest. There was a moment where the pirate’s grasping, dirty-nailed hands almost grabbed Jim, then it was over and the pirate was off the edge and falling to the rocks far, far below.

Jim walked, jelly-legged, to the stairs down; then let out a puff of breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding when he saw them blocked by tons of rubble from the impact of the last shell. He chewed his lip for a few seconds, looking up at the looming Leviathan and the dozens of flyers surrounding it, sparking with cannon fire given and received. Then, decision made, he laughed; his voice was cracked and raw in his ears.


The pirate flyer was a skittish minx of a thing in the air, its engine howling anxiously at him and wanting to flip him over and dive for the cloud sea at anything harder than a twitch. With aching care he put the craft into a slow dive and grinned as he felt it firming up. Airspeed, that’s what you like, isn’t it? Jim slammed the throttle in full and howled with glee as a huge invisible fist pushed him back into his seat.

A final burst of speed put him up over the top of the zeppelin and he was bringing his flyer round in an tight arc towards its stern, wind whistling through the holed windscreen, when the pirate flyer shuddered. Lines of tracer fire etched themselves against the darkening sky. Jim gulped, and pushed forward until his craft was careening along the skin of the zeppelin, its black armoured surface a blur not thirty feet beneath him.

Then with a rush he was past the Leviathan, pirate flyers buzzing around him. Don’t mind me fellas, he thought. Just one of the gang. Jim saw them break from their formation to attack the Mountainhomer who’d been on his tail and gasped. It was Zak’s flyer!

Not a moment to lose! Jim jammed the pirate flyer into a loop so tight he could hear every seam protest. His eyes dimmed at the force but his gaze stayed locked on the zeppelin, its open bay door coming closer… closer… NOW!

Jim jammed his thumb onto the trigger and the flyer writhed as it spat out four lines of fire that slammed into the open bay, cut a line of devastation across the flight deck and ripped gaping holes in the fuel tanks. A searingly bright blossom of fire erupted from the open door engulfing three of the pirates and the Leviathan bucked like a huge dying beast. Jim thumbed the trigger again and another pirate disintegrated into flaming wreckage.

Zak’s flyer was twisting up the side of the falling zeppelin. Jim followed him with a roar of opened throttle, then grinned like a wolf and flicked the radio to Zak’s channel. “Airman Zak of the Mountainhome, this is… this is Airman Jim. And I think we got some flying to do!”

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 10:14 on Sep 18, 2014

Club Sandwich
May 25, 2012

I know this is late, but sebmojo, your crits are phenomenal. Thanks a lot.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool

Club Sandwich posted:

I know this is late, but sebmojo, your crits are phenomenal. Thanks a lot.

they werent when i entered

out of 3 entries, i only got 2 crits that were more than 3 sentences. i think i am cursed if i enter.

also gonna try and enter next week since my weekends are slowing down :)


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007





they werent when i entered

out of 3 entries, i only got 2 crits that were more than 3 sentences. i think i am cursed if i enter.

also gonna try and enter next week since my weekends are slowing down :)

I will give you a full crit of the entry of your choice if you link it in the thread.

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