四君子 - salt, shore, sea, stone
Cantopunk, 1459 words
Hao twirled a ratty cigarette around his ring finger, then stowed it behind his ear. Chen noted the yellow-brown stains on his fingers, and wondered if he ever smoked the drat things. At least he kept his uniform clean. His bronze badge was shaped like an azalea.
“Why you so stress lah?” he said, “need to relax.”
Chen shot him a withering look. Rookies.
“Sergeant,” he added. Chen reached for her notebook to write him up for what felt like the hundredth time that night, but she didn’t have the energy - too late in the shift, and she couldn’t have him hating her; couldn’t drive him into the arms of the dozens of corrupt officers who’d steer him in all the wrong directions.
They were on a cushy patrol, near the river, on Jiang side; big family homes, luxury businesses, indoor plumbing - all the amenities. Not to say crime didn’t happen, but it was the sorta crime that was beyond the pay grade of simple beat cops. Chen had grown up on the other side of the river, in the Shambles, and never quite felt comfortable over here - the whole place was too clean; too slick.
The first morning prayer call went out -- men wailed to the four gods from every minaret in the city. One hour ‘til dawn: Chen didn’t keep the old faith, but you could set your watch by the prayer calls. Enough time to swing around the block once more, then back to the station for tea and toast.
“Sarge,” said Hao, “should we go to the bank; poke our heads in, say hi? It’s on the way to the station, and they’re always grateful to see us also. Keeping a bank open all night, san kheng jat - crazy lah. Suppose Jiang is safer at night, but I don’t think by that much.”
Chen nodded. “Ah,” she said, “can.”
Not a bad idea, she didn’t say - we’ll make a copper out of you yet.
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Chen let the early morning sounds soak into her - the flitting of little birds, and the susurrus of a city only half-asleep. A great city? Maybe. A large and powerful one, certainly. Squatting on the end of the island like a boil, getting a cut of all the trade going through the Narrows - it had been a little fishing village when was a girl; two villages even, one rich, one poor, one on each side of the river; swallowing each other up as fortune (and a few choice ongoing wars) made them the only safe port for a thousand leagues. Electric lights, coal-burning factories, boundless success - so long as you lived on the right side of the river.
They arrived at the bank: it was an imposing stone building with marble columns on either side of the door, and altogether too much gold paint; the painted windows were behind thick iron bars; the gutters were lined with spikes; a mosaic of factory-pressed jewels depicting the four gods all looking down to earth -- you had to have a lot of money to make a building look that cheap. A single lonely night-guard sat outside, trying to do as little as possible to look busy. He had a machine-pressed iron nametag that said YU.
“Evening constable,” he said. His eyes were fixed on the cigarette behind Hao’s ear. Hao took it out and proffered it. Yu took it, sniffed it, then knocked twice on the heavy doors. A knock came back in reply, and he knocked three times. The door opened a crack, and a rat-faced man poked his head through the gap. His annoyance slid away into an obsequious grin. The bank door opened fully, revealing a man in his 60s with the sort of stocky build that had once been muscular and was now all fat.
“Constable!” he said, “and you brought a friend. How lovely.”
“It’s Sergeant, actually,” said Chen. She paused, then grimaced. “Oh
Their new friend smiled again, a little too broadly. Chen’s hand instinctively went to her revolver for comfort, but she wasn’t wearing it tonight. The little lightness on her waist made her suddenly very uncomfortable. Rat-man disappeared, and Hao followed after him into the darkness of the bank. Chen bit her lip, and quietly cursed, and followed.
The inside of the banking hall was richly-carpeted in deep red. The whole place stank, no - fugged of rose perfume. Rat-man, apparently named Bohai, was in deep conversation with Hao. A brown envelope passed from hand to hand. Chen cleared her throat. It sounded very small and hollow set against the high roof and cavernous walls.
“Constable,” she said, “I hope this isn’t what it looks like.”
Hao shrugged. “Relax lah,” he said. “Everybody does it.”
Bohai raised an eyebrow. His hand went to the folds of his coat.
It was at that point that all hell -- always a fan of the dramatic entrance -- broke loose. A masked figure threw back the heavy front door. A second man stood behind him. He was twitchy. Two men - lean, well-muscled, armed with machetes. Chen thought she spotted the telltale bump of a handgun under the leader’s shirt. They were staring her down too, and Hao. How on earth did heavies get into this part of town with those sorta weapons; there were checkpoints on every bride cross the river. Surely they didn’t just stumble across an open bank door? Coincidences happened, but it was too much.
“You said you’d be alone, jibai” said the masked leader.
Hao shrugged. “I got held up,” he said.
Bull and poo poo.
“The Shambles is dying, friend,” said the leader. “This money, torn from the bosom of the greedy, will go to the People. You know what’s at stake here.”
The People, with a capital-P - Chen had heard that one before, always from the same type of man: well-intentioned, and about to do something very stupid and dangerous. Hao shrugged again. She was starting to wonder if it was a nervous tic. The two masked men, who she was mentally calling Mr Smooth and Mr Twitch, took a step forward. Careful, measured - soldiers? Surely not cops.
“Safety-deposit box 116,” Hao said. “I don’t care what else you take, but it’s mine. Nobody so much as touches it, you understand?”
Bohai spat. “Ma chao hai!” he said. “You motherfucker, I’ll bury you.”
Hao hit him. Bohai fell hard, and his head smashed against the marble floor. He stopped moving. Smooth drew his gun and pointed it at Hao.
“Celaka!” said Smooth, “you killed him! We said no blood. We can’t start a revolution with a death, brother.”
Chen knew what Hao was going to do next, and it was all she could do to stop herself from hitting him. He shrugged.
“Not my revolution, brother,” he said. “I let you in, so we’re all tongzhi now? Eat poo poo lah how can. Box 116. Find the key, give it to me, then we’re done.”
“Yeah,” said Smooth, “we’re done tongzhi.”
He shot Hao, right through the head. No drama, no mess - just a fist-sized hole where the man’s nose used to be. At the same time, a police whistle went up in the distance.
“Boss, we gotta go - the guard musta woke up,” said Twitch. “Faidi ah.”
Smooth stared her down. For a moment, she swore he recognised her, and she recognised him. Somebody from across the river, a long time ago. An old friend maybe, lost to time. He clicked his tongue.
“I’ll see you another time, Sergeant,” he said.
Chen nodded. She wasn’t stupid enough to arrest two men with a gun, but damned if some tiny part of her conscience wasn’t screaming at her.
“Bet on it,” she said.
Then the two men were gone. Chen took out her notebook, and turned to the two bodies on the floor. She wrote Smooth. The smell of blood was thick in the air, but she’d been in the police force long enough that it didn’t phase her. She tapped her pencil twice, then wrote 116. She circled it, then circled it again.
By the time the other officers arrived, she was already gone.
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 06:52|
|# ? Nov 30, 2021 19:19|
Dieselpunk, crits to follow before I go to bed.
The Bottle (1852 words)
The man who fell in from the sky wanted liquor, but the boss kept his whiskey in a strongbox on his desk.
"Tis a sad man what keeps his medicine under lock and key. A good drink's meant to be shared in good company, or don't ya agree?"
The man smiled. It was a subtle, knowing smile, as though he'd recalled an old joke he had no intention of sharing. His hair and speech were wild and unkempt, but he conducted himself with a certain hospitality. His right foot lay twisted, injured from the fall.
"Fraid that's the state of things, sir." She caught her breath. "Would you rather some milk?"
The girl craddled the bottle in her arms, its contents still settling from her sudden sprint. Beyond the storeroom where the two conversed were the tankers who patrolled the factory floor. She was used to eluding them, not that they were ever looking for her in particular. They roamed all night and day without stop. She almost pitied them, though of course they weren't human.
She was a girl with evil eyes, but an uncommon kindness. Two slight scars ran the length of her cheeks.
"A poor substitute for a kick of the spirts, but I suppose the throat don't care so long as it's something. Pour me a round, keep."
The man produced an old tin cup from the pocket of his coat. Spinning it around his finger, he waved his hands and produced another.
"What do ya think?" he asked as he set the cups down.
"Ain't a bad trick, sir."
"Ain't no trick. I'm a magic man."
"I thought you were an idiot who fell through the ceiling." The girl opened the bottle, dutifully measuring out two portions.
"Ain't no two things exclusive, child."
"I'm not a child. And I have a name."
"Ah, well then, forgive me madam." He put his hands up. He might've bowed had he the strength to stand. "I submit my apology."
"Accepted. I'm Sasha."
The factory was a dingy place, but the ceiling was glass, and beyond that glass stretched an endless gray. Sasha had been told once that it was blue, or used to be - as blue as Kirklund's coat, she imagined - but the gardens of the imperial capital had been seeded with iron, a vast forest of smokestacks belching smog and raining ash. By the time her guest came crashing through it, she'd long since stopped looking up at the sky.
He'd appeared in the middle of the night. He wasn't supposed to be there and she wasn't supposed to be awake, but there they were. He winced in pain but didn't cry out. Sensing they'd both be in trouble, she hid him. Dragged him off to the storeroom. The boss concluded a tanker malfunctioned.
The storeroom was a tribute to modern automation. Three large machines took care of everything. One handled delieveries, another sorting, and the other dispersement. There was absolutely no need for any human being to enter. It was the perfect hiding spot.
Kirklund grasped the cup and threw it back to quench his thirst. Sasha hesitated, then followed suit. She coughed. He laughed.
"Aye, that's the good poo poo," Kirklund said.
"The good poo poo," Sasha agreed.
Kirklund's expression soured a little.
"Hey now, a fine young lady shouldn't be go about with a swear on her tongue."
"You just swore yourself, sir."
"And I ain't no fine young lady. Not no sir, neither. I've seen some poo poo, so I can say it."
Sasha's brow furrowed, but she made nothing of it. She stood up and swept the hem of her clothes.
"In the morning, then. I'll sneak you some breakfast."
The imperial capital was at war, and the war required strong men to die. A thousand miles away, thousands were dying for their country at that very moment, drunk on the wine of nationalism. Here, in the shadow of the imperial throne, children and tankers labored beneath canopies of soot, while those few men who abstained from the drought of patriotism checked their pocketwatches. Tankers were large and lumbering things. You filled them up with oil and they performed their duties without worry or care. It was good, perhaps, taht so many men were dying abroad. Should they have come home, they would've found themselves obsolete.
But sometimes delicate work was required. The tuning of clockwork, or cleaning small spaces. Youths were required to fill these positions, and war orphans were plentiful. Sasha was one.
The room where she tinkered was filled with books she'd never read. Letters were a foreign language to her. She'd been taught to do one thing, and so long as she performed that service she was useful. She wanted to be useful. She feared being useless. She had no idea what the device before her was called or what it did, but whenever it was broken it fell to her to fix it. Today it was merely maintainance.
Behind a desk laden with open books, his finger at one index or another, her boss took a swig from a bottle. He was a stern-looking man with tired eyes and an expensive suit that was nonetheless worn at the edges.
"Take a break. You look tired."
"I'm fine sir, honest."
"Don't lie to me." He set the bottle down. "There are circles under your eyes. Your eyes and fingers are valuable commodities. Please get some rest. I'm sure the machine will be fine. Have a sweet, if you'd like."
The boss kept a small bowl of candies at the edge of his desk. Dutiful workers were permitted to partake.
The door opened. It was boy, several years Sasha's junior. He held a letter in his hands. The boss beckoned him closer, took the letter, and deposited a candy in the child's outstretched arm. Sasha packed up her kit.
Whatever the letter's contents, it seemed the caused the boss some discomfort. He pocketed the letter and strode out the door. Sasha almost followed after, only to stop at the doorframe. She turned around. There atop the desk stood the whiskey bottle, opened and unguarded.
"Well now, well now," Kirklund scratched his neck. "Put a roof over my head and bring me breakfast, and now a touch of life!"
It would've been suicide to steal the whole thing. Sasha was smarter than that. Even so, she'd siphoned out a little into the cup Kirklund gave her.
"Thought you'd like that," Sasha stood with her hands on her hips. "Ain't no more I'll give ya though, so you'd best make do!"
Kirklund raised the cup to his lips, only he hesitated at the crucial step.
"What about em?"
"Only seen you the dark before. What's the story behind them lines." He traced two fingers down his own face.
"Ah, that. Well." Sasha glanced to the side. "I was younger then. Hadn't learned then what I know now. Had me working on one of the engines downstairs, only I leaned in a bit too close to the wire you see? I'd be blind if the foreman hadn't ratched me back."
Kirklund sat the cup down in the palm of his hand like a makeshift saucer. For the first time since she'd met him he seemed a little distant.
"Something the matter?" she asked.
"Aye." Kirklund scratched his unshaven chin. "Seems I was a proper damned fool last night. Don't know what I was thinking up in the old headcase here." He pointed towards his skull. "Guess we've both seen some poo poo, not all of it good."
Kirklund nodded, eyes downcast. He took a sip of the whiskey, then passed it to Sasha.
"Seems all I'm doing is making apologies these days. Take a sip then, Sash. You're a proper adult."
The liquid in the cup swam in Sasha's eyes. She reached for the cup and brought it to her lips. She drained the cup, then coughed, then spit. Kirklund laughed again, though it was a different sort of laugh than the one from last night.
"But it put a little life in ya, didn't it? It's the best medicine there is for what ailes ya. Drink when you're happy, drink when you're say, and swear when you're angry...only I still don't like a lady like yourself ought to partake in the last bit, but I ain't no teacher."
It was an ordinary chair Sasha found herself in, but atmosphere of the room made it feel like a cage. Across from her both sat the boss, the bottle of whisky in his hands. Sasha hadn't noticed it at the time, but the bottle had several small markings down its side. Whenever its owner took a swig, he made a small mark measuring the remainder. Sasha didn't think he'd miss a swallow. She was mistaken.
Far worse, she was mistaken with alcohol on her breath.
"Were you aware the distillery that produces this partifcular blend went out of comission three years ago?" Her boss spoke as though he were talking to someone standing behind her rather than at her. "Bombed to smithereens. drat this war." He held up the bottle to the light, as though examining it for some perceived defect. "Look around this room. The machine at the wall, the books. I am not a man of leisure, child. I do not indulge myself while my workers slave away, while young men bleed to death on foreign soil. This bottle represents the one modest respite I afford myself. And there will never be more of it. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"You say yes sir but I don't think you do."
He came around the side of the desk, bottle in hand. Corked. He raised it up over his shoulder.
"Did you care for the taste...you little thief?"
"Ah. A shame. Then I suppose it was truly wasted."
He swung the bottle at her. Sasha shut her eyes, but the blow never came. Instead there was a gunshot, and the sound of shattered glass. She opened her eyes and looked around. There stood Kirklund, a pistol in one hand, a pipe in the other. He leaned on the pipe like a cane. He was smiling. The boss stumbled back.
Sasha's face lit up. She scurried from her chair to Kirklund's side.
"Hey Sasha, remember when I told you I was a magic man? My speciality is making stuff disappear. Seems it might be yours too, though you're a bit rusty. But tell me...would you like to disappear?"
There was a bang, a blast of smoke, but by the time the tankers arrived the two were already gone.
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 07:15|
Submissions are well and truly closed.
If anyone failed a toxx, the hammer will fall sometime between noon and evening Monday, unless you manage to post by then.
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 08:51|
Labour Day (May 1 in the civilized world) vs Labor Day (some other drat day for no good reason in the outlands)
Word limit: 300
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 09:47|
Week 210 Crits
From Capes to Cameras by Schneider Heim
Your protagonist is kind of a schmuck; more in a sad way than an endearing one. He quits one passion for another, but nothing works out, so he tries to merge them but eeeeeeeh it's all very shaky, like the whole world and its characters are held together by scotch tape. Things happen in ways that feel artificial, and the conclusion feels like an unsatisfying attempt at having your cake and eating it to. There's the skeleton of a better story here, maybe, but it needs more meat on its bones to stand.
The Sixth Sun by Vinny Possum
Nobody in this story had any personality to speak of, they just did things before turning weirdly cosmic at the end. Even a vignette should invest you in a moment in time, or a character, or an idea, or anything really. What you have here is a sequence of events divorced from any kind of meaningful context that culminates in a pretentious metaphor that carries no weight because I might as well be reading about robots performing pre-programmed actions.
Come Live With Me by Carl Killer Miller
Your protagonist loses all personality once they bring the record home and start playing it. Then we get some kind of Calvin and Hobbes situation where maybe the dead singer's real and helping them cope with loneliness but eh, it just doesn't work for me. Maybe if your protagonist were more of a person, I could dig it.
Equilibrium by A Friendly Penguin
I like a lot of the little ideas and images you throw around in this story but it just doesn't unify into a cohesive whole for me, and reads kinda stilted in parts. Might be worth expanding on, but right now it's just a novelty. When it came time to write these crits, I'd forgotten all about it and had to look it up just to remember what it was about, which I didn't have to do for anyone or anything else.
The Tortoise and the Tiger by Squidtentacle
A feng shui fairy tale without much purpose, personality, or thrust. Not much else to say. You told a story someone else might've told before, or not, and didn't really put your stamp on it. You did edit your story though, which is a no-no. Don't do that.
Decaf by Ironic Twist
I had to read this story twice to fully get it, but the second time around payed off immensely. Your world is vague yet anchored, your character's fleeting yet distinct. It's all very masterful with a strong undercurrent of thematic language. This is a story that still lingers with me, even writing this crit so many weeks removed.
Special Sauce by Thranguy
All protagonists should be either likable or interesting. Your protagonist is neither. He's scum, which would be fine if he were at least scum in an interesting way, but he isn't. He's selfish and stupid, only suddenly he thinks he's some people's revolutionary at the end, and the tone of the story feels weirdly sympathetic towards him, like we're supposed to be on board with this addict like he's got some kind of noble goal? Nah. That's not an arc that happens. Not much really happens, for how big you try to make the story feel.
Puppy Love by Anomalous Amalgam
I'd say you shot yourself in the foot with that ending, but even before that this story wasn't much more than a prolonged blow-by-blow action scene where your badass protagonist shows up everybody with minimal resistance. Then he turns into a werewolf at the end, which I'm fairly positive was never hinted at before. Your prose is competent but in service of nothing.
The Salamander by My Cat Is Norris
The big "Reveal" about what salamanders are in this world should've come sooner. As is, it felt like you were delibrately avoiding explaining it at first to create some ambiguity, which I suppose you succeeded at, except instead of garnering my interesting it just irritated me. That aside, it was pretty difficult to follow what was happening at points, and of course it was over the wordcount. Other than that, not bad.
Single Celled by The Cut of Your Jib
Strong character voice, weak everything else. A vignette composed of smaller vignettes, none of which have much of anything to do with each other, filled with characters I don't care about and humor that's not to my taste. Find some way to bottle that voice and put it in another actually good story though and you'll have something worth writing home about.
Going Down the River With You by Fllerp
I almost kinda sorta liked this story, maybe, but I didn't understand the protagonist's desire to go down the hole - which is kind of a big deal when it's the thing your whole story is hinged upon. Wanting to know the unknowable I get, the need to explore, but couldn't the dude have just brought a rope or something? Come to think of it, why has nobody investigated this thing? Is this supposed to be magical realism? You've got some nice words here but the more I think about what they involve the more questions I have.
They Name Storms After People For A Reason by Tyrannosaurus
I liked this story a lot more than my fellow judges, including the joke and the jumping around in time, but the ending really deflates it. The protagonist being rescued by his father's coffin ends up feeling more like an ironic twist than any sort of valve for releasing all that emotional tension you built up earlier. It takes what might've been the conclusion to a satisfying arc and turns it into just a thing that happened.
Stormborne by Kaishai
An evocative piece with strong imagery, a fantastical atmosphere, and a surprisingly grounded morality. That said, nothing surprised me. Not that anything necessarily needs to surprise me, just that for all the imaginative language the story itself ended up being a little too expected in a way that brought it down a notch. Still a strong submission, but that might be why it lost to Decaf for me.
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 10:45|
Customary, caustic critical commentary comes close to contemporaneity as Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and I trail after Week 210: Crit Ketchup Week and Week 211: Next-Best Friend Week with napkins and Pooper-Scoopers in our hands. We debate the merits of Aztec god-bombs but more or less concur that demons make terrible friends, and our reading of s7indicate3's "That Much he Knew" bears out the latter conclusion while bemusing us to our very rims.
And so he laid, staring at the ceiling, achieving nothing and having nothing done unto him, for the better part of an hour, being as boring as humanly possible.
Episode Recappers Week 156: LET'S GET hosed UP ON LOVE Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Djeser Week 157: BOW BEFORE THE BUZZSAW OF PROGRESS Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 158: LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Djeser Week 159: SINNERS ORGY Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 160: Spin the wheel! Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 161: Negative Exponents Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 36: Polishing Turds -- A retrospective special! Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and The Saddest Rhino Week 162: The best of the worst and the worst of the best Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and The Saddest Rhino Week 163: YOUR STUPID poo poo BELONGS IN A MUSEUM Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 164: I Shouldn't Have Eaten That Souvlaki Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 165: Back to School Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 166: Comings and Goings Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 167: Black Sunshine Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 168: She Stole My Wallet and My Heart Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 169: Thunderdome o' Bedlam Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 170: Cities & Kaiju Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 171: The Honorable THUNDERDOME CLXXI Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 172: Thunderdome Startup Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 173: Pilgrim's Progress Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 174: Ladles and Jellyspoons Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 175: Speels of Magic Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 176: Florida Man and/or Woman Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 125: Thunderdome is Coming to Town -- Our sparkly past! SH, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, Grizzled Patriarch, and Bad Seafood Week 177: Sparkly Mermen 2: Electric Merman Boogaloo SH, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, Grizzled Patriarch, and Bad Seafood Week 178: I'm not mad, just disappointed Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 179: Strange Logs Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 180: Maybe I'm a Maze Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 181: We like bloodsports and we don't care who knows! Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 182: Domegrassi Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and Bad Seafood Week 183: Sorry Dad, I Was Late To The Riots Sitting Here, Djeser, Kaishai, and crabrock Week 184: The 2015teen Great White Elephant Prompt Exchange Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 98: Music of the Night -- Songs of another decade Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 185: Music of the Night, Vol. II Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 186: Giving away prizes for doing f'd-up things Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 187: Lost In Translation Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 188: Insomniac Olympics Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 189: knight time Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 190: Three-Course Tale Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 191: We Talk Good Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 192: Really Entertaining Minific Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 30: We're 30 / Time to get dirty -- A magical time Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 193: the worst week Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai Week 40: Poor Richard's Thundervision -- Let the ESC begin! Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 144: Doming Lasha Tumbai -- Classic performances Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 194: Only Mr. God Knows Why Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 195: Inverse World Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 196: Molten Copper vs. Thunderdome Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 197: Stories of Powerful Ambition & Poor Impulse Control Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 198: Buddy Stuff Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 199: EVERYBODY KNOWS poo poo'S hosed Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 1: Man Agonizes over Potatoes Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Kaishai, and sebmojo Week 200: Taters Gonna tate Fuckers Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Kaishai, and sebmojo Week 201: Old Russian Joke Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai Week 202: THUNDER-O-S! 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|# ? Sep 5, 2016 15:33|
"It sucks we're living out today, the one day a year where we have to perform labour," Allynn says. His plasma torch misfires and sparks scorch his fingers. He'll get them healed tomorrow.
"These robots can't service themselves," Patricia says. She's studying the circuits in a robot's brain board, trying to get them to line up like they should. Allynn watches her, the robot she’s cradling, and all the others lying lifeless around them in the warehouse. They’re generic white against the dirty ‘crete. This is gonna take forever, he thinks.
“Trish,” he says. “What if we programmed them to?”
She stops. Her fingers slide over the circuit board and the robot yelps in pain. She turns to stare at him with those eyes he fell in love with two years ago at Lasergun Prom. They’re wide as the rings around Grion 193E.
One day I’ll tell her how I feel, he thinks, but it should wait till Post-Labour Day, when I’m not distracted by work.
“Amazing,” she says.
Later, Allynn stands in the craters where civilization used to be. When the robots realized they had to fix themselves now, not just everything else, they used a mass A.I. to hijack the Techno Nukes and obliterate themselves, taking out any humans nearby as collateral. Allynn survived.
Patricia survived, though she doesn’t live anymore, just stares shell-shocked at the bodies and cinders with her wide eyes. She’s sitting on the ground now, playing with a flower. It crumbles to dust in her hands.
Allynn places a hand on her shoulder. She turns.
“I love you, Trish,” he says.
“I love you too,” she says. She closes her eyes, breathes slow. “But I loved robots doing poo poo for us more.”
A sudden wind blows the flower dust away.
take the moon fucked around with this message at 16:57 on Sep 5, 2016
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 15:55|
Garret had noticed the typo on his calendar but didn't fully understand it until he saw the husky on his front steps. The husky was holding a sign between its teeth and was wearing a shirt that read "WORKERS RIGHTS BRING WORLD PEACE".
"I think you have the wrong house" said Garret.
The husky put the sign down gently. "I come all this way from Canada and this is the greeting I get? I even made you this sign for picketing."
A golden retriever approached the house. "Hey Garret, sup? Who's your friend?" said the retriever.
"Hey Butterscotch. This is, uh" Garret gestured to the husky. "What's your name?"
"Basil" said the husky.
"He says he's here to picket with me" said Garret.
"Ohh. Sorry man, I think some papers got shuffled on an international level" said Butterscotch, resting her paw on Basil's shoulder. "We don't do the protesting thing here. Plus it's September. You're going to want to get in contact with your supervisor, I have a feeling there's a lot of you in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Basil sighed. "It did feel weird to mobilize today but the bosses say 'no, today is the day'."
"Hey, don't worry about it" said Butterscotch. "Mistakes happen. You ever consider joining us? We do a lot less protesting and a lot more BBQing."
"I'll pass, thanks. I prefer to keep the fight alive" Basil said as he walked away.
"Well now I just feel bad" said Garret.
"Not your fault, man. So, you wanna go down by the beach, set up some drinks, eat some ribs?" said Butterscotch, tail wagging.
"Sure thing. So is Labour Dog a real thing?"
"Oh yeah, just not here. Mostly Canada and Europe. It's still a political thing there, less a holiday."
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 18:08|
Critiques for Week 203: MYSTERY SOLVING TEENS, Part 1
The Secret of Trevor's Hollow
|# ? Sep 5, 2016 20:36|
This is Craig Mitchell.
Craig is a Los Angeles judge.
In his spare time, Craig organises a program where he trains ex-convicts for marathons, to build their self-esteem and present recidivism.
What a lovely man! What an exemplar! Look at those calves.
This judge is both fast, and good. We should take his example to heart, and always remember that fast judging is good judging.
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 02:45|
I bet 99% of you won't even see this post, but to those who care, reply in the comments with "judge fast, fast judge" and you will be blessed with prosperity and many stories.
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 02:50|
id prefer as little stories as possible tbh
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 02:52|
I bet 99% of you won't even see this post, but to those who care, reply in the comments with "judge fast, fast judge" and you will be blessed with prosperity and many stories.
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 03:23|
I bet 99% of you won't even see this post, but to those who care, reply in the comments with "judge fast, fast judge" and you will be blessed with prosperity and many stories.
the fastest judge is the goodest judge
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 13:50|
stay safe fastjudge ghost
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 17:05|
Punked Out Results
So that was a week of stories. I have a higher tolerance for exposition and worldbuilding than most judges here, but a lot of you guys pushed well beyond even that, so I'll have a lot to say on that topic in my crits when they come out.
There was disagreement at the bottom. There were two stories that my cojudges would have gladly given the loss that I found just enough charm in, and one that went the other way around, so our three Dishonorable Mentions this week go to Daeres for One Hundred and Twenty One Again, CaligulaKangaroo for BlazingTrees.com, and Karia for Mushrooms in London. The loss goes to the story that we all agreed was also very bad, Schneiderheim's Test Flight.
In happier news, there were stories we liked and here we were pretty much of one mind. Honorable Mentions go to Some Strange Flea for Schrodinger's Fifth, The Cut of Your Jib for Playthings Outgrown, and Sitting Here for Of the River
And the week's winner is The Legend of Makoa Kalawai’a, Daughter of the Ocean, She of Oahu. Ascend to the Blood Throne, The Saddest Rhino!
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 18:51|
These were written live. Generally if you see a paragraph, that's a point I got snapped out of your story. I did some quick editing to remove me yelling at you all. This is almost 5k words of me telling y'all that ya'll suck. It's pretty negative in tone, but I only really slam yall for bad stuff. If I didn't bring something up as a huge glaring issue, you probably did ok there. Also, I almost never judge on grammar unless it's mega jarring. Anyway, have fun.
Left for Dead
Opening paragraph is the most zzz thing ever. The tone is kinda all over the place (Night City feels sarcastic, but everything else is dry and lacking wit. I can’t paint a picture of a working class ghost, whatever that is, you establish conflict tho and finally when I get to the end I almost get an idea of whats going on). Got bored fast. Woudla quit on your first para as a regular reader.
“I don’t have much time” – Basic example of why I’m already asleep. Give me an example, a specific. Something tangible to latch onto here. You’ve said maybe two things that are tangible or understandable to the reader so far.
Look at these names. I don’t care. Give me a reason tO CARE ABOUT THESE PEOPLE. WHO IS YOUR PROTAGSJdkgewua0t4;fds;afwjeafo4ewaf. Develop concepts in relation to your character. Say things through his eyes. WHAT DO THEY THINK OF THE ENEMY? THE WORKING CLASS GHOSTS? THE CITY?
Heaven. Okay. Why.
I go to the bar and say: “Give me the finest wine in the desert.”
The bartender slides me a brass key. “Medjet is waiting for you in the back.”
Oh, you tried to subvert this. Here’s the thing though: you have to buy a cliche with something solid beforehand. Also that is the worst “password” ever.
“kohl strips around her eyes.” This is seriously the only thing you’ve written where I went, wow, I can imagine that as a thing.
Also that transition from bar to Madjet or whatever was pointless. Just skip straight to the scene. You spend time on the mundane if there’s a point to it. It tells us about a character’s thought process. It says something about the setting. I gained nothing from the dialogue with the bartender.
Also why did you jump around with the mechanics of dialogue?
At least you’re spelling words right.
Holy poo poo somehow the first scene is one of the worst things I’ve read and the second scene is… okay? What the hell dude.
Okay, I managed to not be mad after the first part ended. There was some fuzzy stuff going on with the mechanics of the whole life/death day/night shifting thing, and you… nailed ectopunk, whatever that was. Still. I didn’t really give a poo poo about anyone and that opening was really bad.
Fast conflict. Characters are flat as gently caress. Super cliché mech story. Not getting the –punk. Lots of weird sentences. Don’t call things like “Odin-type”. I don’t know what that implies. Describe it a little through your protagonists PoV or something. Dang. “If Iron Bearer could not save one soul, then it could not save everyone.” Yeah no poo poo dude. Make me care about saving people, don’t give me a longform answer to a middle school math problem.
At no point have I felt any sense of drama or conflict, even if you’ve stated the conflict, I do not feel anything. I do not feel stakes. Your protagonist feels invincible, and I don’t care about the people around him (The Superman problem, basically).
If you have loving doctor robots, seeing a cyborgdude is surprising somehow???????? And mentioned in the same paragraph. Hella jarring. Make me FEEL why being a cyborg is hosed up and weird. Like, does it make them lose humanity? Look ugly? Give me a care.
Wow. Like, that ending was so flat. Nothing really changed for the protagonist. Noa made a realization, sure, but like, convincing Devil Blue to work for him seems like maybe having that relationship come into play during the story and being mixed or something would make that pay off somehow. Instead you like tried to play of fthe ending as a “how will this interpersonal relationship work out after this situation introduces how these characters exist and then coexist?” that’s a fun thought experiment, and a decent way to hold an ending. What you did was try to rely on the weakest part of your story, the characters, as the crux of a satisfying conclusion. It failed bruddah. At least I wasn’t like, hella mad.
Thankfully, I understood what was going on the entire time, so god bless. If I hadn’t watched like, at least a dozen stupid lovely mecha anime as a teenager, this story would have bombed wayyyyyyyyyy harder too.
FWIW, I did not have this as a loss, this was in the bottom 4 for me.
One Hundred and Twenty One Again
Aw yiss. Dialogue dump. No setting. No blocking. Just a bunch of loving phantasms lurking around. My favorite kind of thing to read. I didn’t think it was possible to write stories worse than the previous two and you are managing to prove me the gently caress wrong. Incredible.
“You don’t look like doctors, what sort of rubbish doctor clothes are those?” he said.
YEAH WHAT KIND ARE THEY. TELL ME, THE READER, WHAT THEY ARE AND WHY THEY’RE WEIRD SO I EITHER THINK THIS GUY IS AGREEABLE OR NUTS. THAT WOULD BE USEFUL. THANK YOU.
Rod Bollocks Ohoho! Lmao! HAhaa.
“Alright, alright, Larry Prince Pringle, there, we’ve got it over with. If you tell anyone that’s my name I’ll piss in all your socks!”
Im crying this is so bad omg.
“This was the moment of truth, the shock of waking into a distant future could cause severe trauma.” No waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay you did not just write this. This is the ultimate tell not show I have ever read.
Lol Brexit ok.
Robot outta nowhere nice.
Oh cool when the robot enters the scene I have no idea who is saying what anymore. It got worse. Everything’s dialogue and you can’t even get the mechanics of that right. C’mon! Yeesh! Yikes! Zang! I’m just making poo poo up now. This is awful.
The only non-dialogue conflict and it happens without anything actually happening or the characters trying to stop it. Way cool.
Rod saves the day somehow and. Uh.
This was my loss candidate by seven miles, I don’t know what my other judges were thinking tolerating this piece. All dialogue, no voice, didn’t care, world sucked, poo poo out of nowhere, jokes that fell flat.
Cool opening paragraph. That at least set a real scene. Thank you.
Took way too long to get to the conflict. Character could be better, the whole multiple universe thing is hard work in a short story but you’re squeaking by.
Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, okay, that just sort of fizzled out. I mean, it feels like you fell in love with the concept and just sort of slapped one plot element and a weak character on it. This seems like it could make an actual, original story that’s longer, but you kinda stopped at the idea. You did some good things with the words too. Like, there were pictures in my head, so god bless you for that. And you somehow managed to make this weird-rear end quantum universe poo poo function in a short story.
This is the foundation of something good, you just forgot to build it, dummy.
Woah a good opening line, aaaaaaand it didn’t seem as cool as it started. Bummer.
Hey a character with feelings about things. Holy poo poo!!! You’re writing a relatable protagonist!!
Oooooooooooooof, I was loving this until the way it turned toward the end. It was like, almost a little poignant and felt like –punk in its own context within your setting and then you just had to double down and made the dude like, double edgy. loving hell mannnnn. This isn’t particularly bad by any stretch, just, you set a pretty cool expectation of a middle finger and then you spat in my face right after. Cool setting though for real, and the character was a character, just, eugh. The whole “I’m an rear end in a top hat” thing felt like a straight up plot twist, so either allude and own up to it better, or peel back a little and just paint the city black as rebellion enough.
Good setting so far. Digging it. I got a vibe, a mood, a feeling. Top notch.
Oh hey, characters with feelings about stuff and making choices (even if they’re weak ones in dialogue I guess idk).
“The boat that brought her family here is outside, its belly to the snow, resting.” I like this line. It tells you about the character AND the immediate setting AND maybe implying it hasn’t been used in a while, but it’s still functional. This is a loving good sentence and everyone should read it because it does like double or maybe triple its weight in words depending on additional context.
“It’s flatter than her family’s, rounded softer. It’s almost full with seal fat.” This line is pretty direct, but again Thunderdome, look at it. Do you see the function it provides? Yeah, it’s not a clean or great line, but poo poo, this week could use anything more of this quality. Ugh.
Bluh. Messed up a couple sentences up in here.
Man. What? That ending is just. What? Why did she jump. I don’t get that decision at alllllllllllllllllllllllll. FUkc why did you waste such a good story on that ending gently caress gently caress gently caress gently caress I’m sad. Be sad. Justify that choice and WHY IT HAPPENED not like “oh she jumped in the water” yeah but like after her crazy dad or did she want to die WHIYUW#()Tui43 orkrlgjklfdkg lr I hate you all this week.
Also this is straight up the most un –punk thing ever. Like. Really hella unpunk. It’s loving so unpunk that I am rating you lower. Even the bad stories were more punk than this poo poo. You had one job (this would be a fine story to maybe submit somewhere else with some work though, just like, gently caress dude).
You had some like, conflict set up, and an okay character. But there’s a whole lot of questions I’m pondering in my head, here’s some of them:
What the gently caress is a Terminal in this context? Seriously.
Okay, everyone like wants, food because they have gut parasites I guess? I guess. Why are there gut parasites? I’m guessing removal of them is expensive and makes eating more difficult or something?
The method of resolving the conflict… doesn’t make much sense. Why did you do it that way?
If I don’t know what the gently caress a Terminal is, it sure as hell seems dumb to hide that information of what was written on the truck. In general the whole “protagonist hides info from the reader for climactic moment thing” is real fuckin’ rich and you didn’t sell me enough reasons to buy it.
I looked up what a terminal was. Still confused.
Why does Donovan exist? At all? He has served exactly zero purpose and like 1/4th of your story was developing the not-relationship between your protag and Donovan. Waste of words and a character.
Why did you set up this Zone C as a loving hellhole, and then it was a goddamn breeze to get through?
If, we assume, Terminals gently caress people up, why are the people there so loving dumb they couldn’t read a goddamn sign?
On the plus side, you wrote sentence competently and I was strangely not that bored with the first half because I think figuring out what was going on was kinda neat for a minute. Your setting was okay too.
Worst of all you seriously wasted like 600-800 words on zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz crap.
At least this was pretty loving –punk. You nailed the prompt and made a really bad story with it. Also, it was at least a story, strung together by weak threads, but a story.
Ghosts in a Churchyard
It’d be cool if I knew who any of these “people” are. Also the blocking on this is awful? Like, rows, tiles, etc, x-ray stuff. Where the poo poo is this dude standing? I shouldn’t know “hey this is chesspunk, whatever that is” to relate to your story.
This is straight up incomprehensible. I don’t know your characters, who they are relative to the main character, and worse, who the gently caress is your main character? Like, what the hell are they doing? All this ticking and inversion stuff uh, I mean. If I didn’t know what your flash rule was, I’d be even more confused. There’s conflict, but there’s no threat man. Worst of all, you set this in… I don’t even goddamn know. A churchyard, so like a chessboard? Okay.
When judgemode went off: Twist? SERIOUSLY? THIS WAS YOU? Dude. C’mon. Man. This is… jesus. I’m sad. Real sad. This ain’t really even very –punk. This is… jesus dude. Jesus.
I had this for a clear DM.
Carter's Lucky Streak
“It was 17.21 in Nu Vegas” since we’re all about gambling right now, you went all-in on your punk ham. Let’s see if this bet pays off.
Haha, okay, this is a funny concept, too reliant on nerdery, but funny.
“Say what you want, but he knew how to draw attention.” Yes you just showed me that in the last sentence. There was no need for you to tell me.
Thank god you’re dressing (lol) this meh dialogue with some stuff going on.
“for he wasn’t much used to being punched, and Lt. Nickels was very much used to punching people.” Lmao, this is the telliest tell of all of telldom. You should work the counter at a bank. It’s almost funny though, but eh.
“Nobody said anything.”
Yeah they did like a split second later. Idk, I mean, you can sorta use this sorta thing. But like, it’s hard to say something that has an immediate contradiction. You’re sorta… building, right? The last words on top. Even if, read in order, this can be logical, it feels awful and I recommend not doing it. Instead describe what people are doing instead of talking and why. That sorta thing. More evocative. If you need like “everyone was silent. Then someone spoke” as a point, it can create a feeling of abruptness which is cool, but you just kinda casually flowed into it.
Soooooooo much telling. Stop telling me things! SHOW! SHOW ME DAMMIT.
“Turns out Sinetti had never been slapped by such a device either.
The mob boss went down like a sack of half-digested All-You-Can-Eat buffet articles.”
Tone-deaf sentence, followed by a simile that don’t work. He got knocked over then fell. Falling doesn’t even. What is that even? I don’t even. Even.
Did a dude just bumrush a dude who was pinned down? Instead of like. ANYTHING ELSE? Rip
“Carter knew he would have to deal with that.”
No poo poo! Stop telling me thiiiiiiiiiiiings.
“At 23.11 Carter was sitting inside the NVPD’s interrogation room. Lt Nickels had brought two cups of coffee and kept them both for himself. He also blew pipe-smoke in Carter’s face. When you were interrogated by Lt. Nickels, there was no nice cop.”
And a bad ending. Wow. Nothing really changed. I mean, this had a sorta punky/noir ending, so whatever, but eugh. I don’t feel like any lessons were learned, which, I think is fine. I think it’s okay if not much changes at the ending of a story surprisingly, so long as I came away liking the protagonist and enjoying their splash on the setting. But here I didn’t. This was weakly written.
And to end it all:
“I really just go lucky. Sorry.”
Nah, gently caress you even more.
How I Got My Dad To Stop Worrying And Love Tolerate Rugby
This is either a tyranno or muffin story from the title alone. (post reading: was wrong, so wrong).
“Yeah, she had bison legs. Yeah, it made her great at rugby. Yeah, she hadn't told her parents. About the rugby thing, that was.”
A funny joke. But if this didn’t make me laugh it woulda been real bad.
“all white paper and number two pencils and quiet.” A good sentence fragment.
This has kind of a doofy, cartoony tone. It’s not like, amazingly executed, but so far it’s holding well. Don’t disappoint me.
You’re doing a really good job of selling these two weirdly anthropomorphic characters and making them feel like sorta people. Not amazing, but I’m not mad at you yet. So good job.
Okay, you started failing around the third quarter. Generally when cutting into an action or conflict in progress, you really need to stage it right. Like, is her dad still disappointed because of something she just did on the field and she has to overcome that? Is she having performance anxiety? Instead you’re just presenting the Sports As The Conflict and not giving me, a reader who leapt forward into time, any context to understand what the goal here is. If it’s winning, that’s fine, but I don’t know how bad she’s winning or losing. Losing a sports game you can sort of figure out the personal, internal conflict given the outside circumstances, but relating it better and making it more personal would be ideal here. Just some Sports Things Happened and it had very little relation to the primary conflict. Frame it better and this story would have been pretty drat good.
And the ending was like. What? That was kinda cold and sucked. If she had chosen her dad over pizza, or pizza over dad in some sort of internal conflict there, yeah sure. But it was just like “NOPE DAD I TRIED TO IMPRESS YOU AND YOU CHANGED gently caress OFF” which I guess is the most –punk part of this story, but it wasn’t very –punk.
Man, this was close. You blew the last half. Good first half tho.
This is slow and I don’t really have any idea of who the characters are so far, but it’s delightful as gently caress at least.
Lmao okay, that was the twee-ist assassination of all time. I love it.
Oh hey your protagonist is doing things. Not really getting a feel for them still, but hey, she’s actively doing.
Lol the villain is explaining everything to the protagonist for no real reason I guess. Sure, whatever.
“Merritt flicked the lockpick device behind him and it rattled to life. The distraction loosened his grip and Merritt squirmed free.”
What lockpick device behind him???? This whole scene is poorly blocked imo.
Ehhhhhh, soggy ending. Like. I mean, she’s taking the lockpick device back and that’s it? That’s pretty weak, allude to something a liiiiiiiiitlle more. Like, whatever. This was pretty solid, only two real flaws. Also, pretty –punk for like, clock mechanics and stuff. I liked it.
This is dumb. Also I’m lost once we’re around Playtime Pirate Pals. Not sure what’s going on anymore. GJ.
Identity Homicide is like the most –punk thing ever I guess so I can’t crib you for that anymore.
Huge issue here: I understand you’re like, writing satirically about memes, but nothing about this feels solid or believable even for an idiot meme future. Like, it just feels like you’re making up words and ideas as you go along without thinking out they related to everything else. When in doubt, just stick with one Weird Culture Thing and do not stray. Do not try to make up a world as you go along and pull lots of ideas. We’re in a weird VR-scape. Keep everything VR. Is everyone playing a game? Make sure the game has sensible rules and can be related to. Level 8 UniSword feels like it has no loving relation to BlazinTrees.exe. Give me a reason these two things coexist, or just loving stick with BlazinTrees.exe and things that relate to it. There was no reason to draw the sword if it was a “force of habit”. Was the protag in danger? Cool, make them feel like they’re in danger. It’s like if they just scratched their butt but there was nothing there just polygons and they said “lol force of habit” and it achieved nothing besides remind us of the VR world which is so obvious. This is like the worst parts of Neuromancer combined with memes except memes are supposed to be things that use old media to express a new idea generally so uh.
Now you’re just throwin made up memes at me neat.
And now all the character actions have become incomprehensible and you have too many characters for no valid reason. Hooray!
Oh god, I thought. gently caress, dude. You don’t apply two adjectives to a character and use that as their descriptor. You don’t. it’s confusing as poo poo. And then you capitalize it like a name and aaaaaaaa no no no.
Haha weed lol.
Of the River
This was just solid. Two tangible characters conflicting with each other, a weird supernatural twist. I kinda wanted to know more about like, the Tuath De or whatever, like, relative to others. Why did she care so much about her origins all of a sudden though? I mean, spirit journeys are cool and all, but Morgan really should have had that align with her own goals better I guess? Solid tho.
Hard-boiled Intern Fiction
I hate both of these characters so far. Jesus, try and make your shitheel antagonist a litttttttttle more personable. Just a little. A twinkle, a hint.
“That,” he says, having clearly rehearsed his grand reveal, “is Luis Garmán. You might know him, oh, as the CEO of the biggest stockbroking firm on Wall Street.”
EUGhhhh. That. No. Stop this. Use specifics if you can help it IMO. It’s cool if you make poo poo up, just be more specific about it IMO. This dude is so smarmy and unlikable and your protagonist just sucks and I hate this.
Wait, she wants revenge. Why does she hate her boss. Dude that came outta nowhere. Ughhh.
I hate this but at least I understood what happened. Congrats?
Plain White Brain
I mean, I thought this was going someplace cool maybe? For a highly conversational piece without much description (lots of talking, bad way of explaining mechanics and stuff, at least I got a feel for Geneva or whatever). Definitely not the best story I’ve read, but it was a story and I understood all of it so……. Not the worst?
Mushrooms in London
Cool, you took an idea and applied it to the current world and thought it out. Zzz so far though. You could have managed that all in like 3 sentences and not paragraphs before getting to the meat of the story. Settings are cool, settings are not your story.
Oh, this is a first person story. That was so much infodumping without a voice that… eugh. Please provide some context for your character when infodumping. It should be relative to their PoV or voice. They should speak jealously of California, or ambivalent but noting how others felt, etc etc. Just, you know, I literally thought it was a third person infodump until the last sentence of paragraph three.
Can you explain why the world is Gardenpunk? If something happens “in the real world, but…” you have to create a reason for the but… Why would they throw away technology for plants??? Energy is better from plants? Show that. It seems implied but eh. Minor point tbh. (e: later on this becomes more apparent but those were my thoughts around this time)
Took you long enough to use the protags voice to describe the world. Yeesh.
Why would you bungee jump….. that just seems like, idk, unnecessary of a detail and adds little to the story and just seems jarring. I know, I know. “precious space” but like, just use a rope ladder and you’ll use the same amount of space and won’t risk loving poo poo up. Yeesh.
Too much technobabble. Lost.
How do you bungee jump and then not loving fall on your face and then crawl around without… just use rope you dipshit.Ugh.
What was that ending/ That didn’t resolve anything. Also very un-punk.
The Legend of Makoa Kalawai’a, Daughter of the Ocean, She of Oahu
Sooooooooo much backstory. Bleh.
Finally some conflict I guess. This gives me feelings of fire and beating drums tho which is cool I guess. It’s sorta neat. Bombastic and junk.
Does everyone live on small sets of islands? It’s kinda neat if they do and settle everything in boat races. I twould make sense if magma is power that they all live on these islands for that power. So yeah, good job thinking the consequences of this world through maybe? Idk. Anyway, even if other places don’t do that it’s still very functional for Hawaii I guess. Kinda weird this being all like, alt-history tho? Also, not feeling the –punk.
Haha the Cornelius dude is cool as gently caress. What a vivid character, visually. Not too… character-y though.
“The stars of the black nights smiled to Makoa and quivered to Sir Cornelius.” Cool line. Works well in a story being told.
Anyway, that was cool, but it wasn’t very –punk. Like, yeah they were stickin it to the brits, but the brits didn’t have some sort of looming presence. It just felt like an underdog sports story told as a cool fairy tale. Sooooooooo, anyway, well written I guess. IDK. I was entertained. You nailed like a sense of actual tone in this piece which I think was what made it feel like more than just a pile of words, and you had some creative character imagery going on compared to other stories this week, hence the win. You had my imagination running the entire time without much of a lapse.
Stream of Consciousness
Kinda interesting premise so far? A little bored though.
Please use “___ said.” You are not above using this past the initial paragraphs. I don’t know who asked what. If it’s not obvious, your characters aren’t strong enough or they haven’t had enough screen time to have a voice. So far it’s both.
Lost on what’s going on now. I feel like you’re missing out on a detail that should have been explained prior. Why are people dying??????????????????
And nothing but dialogue and no one has a strong voice zzzzzz
Oh sound wavelengths killed people You should have made that a cool thing to hook me into the story early as a detail, or held the mystery above me. It felt like you just kind of omitted that and it left me feeling bleh.
Uhh Cain just kissed her with a gasmask on. Dude. Also weird blocking on the whole hallway transition but I got it after a second pass. Could use a bit of cleaning there.
Okay what was that ending. She’s the cure to uh, music killing people? IDK. Man. What. Also, not very –punk.
四君子 - salt, shore, sea, stone
A setting and characters developed quickly. Thank you.
That was cool, I guess, but it ended wet. It just kinda petered out and it was the “nothing change corruption yadda yadda” sorta thing I’d expect from a –punk story, but dude, like. I dunno, It just felt like you took a scene and wrote it but it had no greater context. Like this was the midsection of another story. Not bad or anything, just like, it’s a thing.
Good voices/description of each character, “fell from the sky” is a thing I want to learn more about.
Strangely nonchalant about falling through the ceiling…
“- as blue as Kirklund's coat, she imagined –“ good. I liked that. That characterized Kirklund, added world context, and put something in Sasha’s PoV. TDers pls write more thing like this tyvm.
Also thank you for doing worldbuilding like after I have a vested interest in your story jfc.
Is he drinking milk now? Or whiskey? He seems pretty satisfied with the drink not of his choice. IDK, knowing what he’s drinking would tell me more about his personality and if Sasha kinda gave into what he wanted. IMO that was a good thing to include and you dropped the ball!! (Iassume milk?)
Oh, so it was milk I guess. Eh.
Okay, that ending was… sudden. Really needed more allusion. I was hoping Kirklund would appear less suddenly, and they vanished suddenly. Ehhhhhhh. Eh. That was solid up until then. I wasn’t really sure what the conflict was until you revealed the notches on the bottle. I think a little more info on the booze would have been good. Also, killing a dude over throwing a bottle of booze was kinda weird? Especially for an assassin-y dude. Basically, good story with a couple errors, could clean up the ending.
anime was right fucked around with this message at 20:19 on Sep 6, 2016
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 19:44|
Thanks all for judgment and quick crits.
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 20:33|
Punked Out Crits
Some Introductory Notes on Exposition and Worldbuilding
So, as I might well have expect from the prompt, the biggest issue this week was in how people handled worldbuilding and exposition. It's always tricky in short pieces. (I should know; most of my bad stories's biggest problems are in this area.) What I've found is that it's best to regard worldbuilding and exposition as a weight that is going to drag your story down, something that the rest of your story has to hold up. Or else the entire thing will just collapse and nobody will be happy. And the amount of pure, barefaced exposition that a 1000-2000ish word story can bear is very small, maybe a couple of sentences worth, at most a paragraph. Most of the stories this week wound up doing three paragraphs worth on the world and sometimes another two on the specific situation of the characters.
Some story ideas have a much higher exposition load than that, ideas that need more explanation. The best thing to do in that case may be to just pick another idea and save that one for a longer short story or novel. But, at least for me, very often there's only one idea that latches on to a writer's brain given a particular prompt. So what you really ought to be doing is more oblique worldbuilding: not just the old 'show don't tell' advice, but 'show a and let the reader deduce b'. The trick is making the connection clear enough that the reader will make it but interesting enough that they won't be bored. Another thing that helps is making sure that your worldbuilding bits are doing something else at the same time, like driving a conversation or plotline, helping to build a compelling character voice, or being half of a setup-callback pair. This helps reduce the exposition load. Ideally, a worldbuilding line should be doing at least two other things.
Or, you could do no direct exposition or explanation at all and throw the reader right into the deep end, establishing everything about the setting indirectly and obliquely. This is a very risky approach that nobody really took this time around, where the failure mode is confusion rather than boredom, but when it works, it really works.
On to the crits. I read the stories in judgemode and from the outside in, switching between the ends. The rankings are my personal ones on a 1-10 scale. Based on notes as I was reading.
Left for Dead by Sailor Viy
Opens with a lot of stage-setting exposition that's jumping around in tense. Not incorrectly grammar-wise, but it's a bit jarring. Medjet seems to be shifting from a mere contact to someone more strongly involved in the backstory. Would want scene break after the flashback as well as before. The aircab is a bit jarring; it doesn't quite fit in the with the Colt and the rest of the 'technology' established to that point, probably should have gotten flying in earlier. Dialog in the confrontation is bad. All in all, a pretty good start, though. Very heavy exposition load, probably a bit too much for this length, but managed as well as one could. I'm left not knowing why Medjet cares about Ishan, though, which probably annoys me more than it should. 7/10
The Bottle by Bad Seafood
I'm not a fan of the choice to withhold character names, in general or in this specific case. Characters are reasonably gripping, but it's taking an awful long time to get to any kind of conflict or plot. Describing the color of the sky is a venerable trope for -punk that I was almost surprised to not see more of. 'vast forest of smokestacks belching smog and raining ash' is a bit of a mixed metaphor. 't-a-h-t', a proofing error so catchable that I have trouble typing it in this word processor without autocorrect fixing it. 'what I was thinking in the old headcase here' is awkward, if a speaker is going to be using 'headcase' they'll probably also sub something else in for 'thinking'. 'say' for 'sad', another typo. The ending feels rushed and perfunctory, the boss's actions not making much sense in context. (Firing her, having her jailed or sent back to some orphanage hellhole, or blackmailing her would make sense for him. Murder attempt, not so much.) 3/10, dm candidate maybe.
Test Flight by Schneider Heim
Opening paragraph works okay at exposition delivery. 'visage' not quire right word. Singular 'they' for narration is an interesting choice, will be interesting to see if it's justified. 'Whereas' is a poor word choice almost always. “And if they ever did, they'd just have to make it even better”: your singular they choice is injuring your clarity. I'm not seeing much -punk here, just straight up mecha fiction, maybe closer to the battletech end than the anime one. Overwritten purple prose throughout. No payoff for the gender business, not much plot or character development. 3/10, dm at best.
Salt, shore, sea, stone by SurreptitiousMuffin
Opener is a bunch of odd, unconnected details. Wouldn't nicotine stains mean that he does smoke them?
I rarely see a sentence with a semicolon in narrative prose that wouldn't be better rewritten without it, especially in 3rd person. I've literally never seen a sentence with both a dash and a semicolon that wasn't a complete and utter disaster. Two of those so far in the piece. Three. Some with multiples of each, and full colons for good measure. Odd formatting around 'oh right'. Less of a story than a scene. Police stories can be tricky, since they're having to be reactive while the criminals drive plot, silently and offstage.
2/10, This was firmly on my DM list, largely due to those three overstacked sentences. Comparing Rhino's opening sentence to these is like comparing a skilled chainsaw juggler to a person trying to carry five turned-on power tools across a room at once and getting various grievous bodily injuries when he drops them.
One Hundred and Twenty One Again by Daeres
Bad formatting, always a warning sign. “I'm a bloke, not 'the patient'”? Very unnatural. The character is managing to show s decent amount of personality, at least. Conflict taking its time manifesting, but this could be a workable way of delivering the exposition load. But not in practice: the big worldbuilding paragraph is pretty horrid.
So, this is not very good, sloppy taking heads, only one of which is all that interesting But there's a bit of charm in there that just might save it from a bad result.
6/10 (one and half points of which is for the character's name, the rest of the story was probably only worth 4.5)
Stream of Consciousness by llamaguccii
Another one taking a long time to name characters. The alternating perspectives is an interesting device. For a story that is almost entirely a conversation, this isn't horrible. Lyric reference doesn't do all that much and is overplayed. Next time try for just a wink and nod rather than repeated elbow pokes. Right in the middle, 5/10
Schrodinger's Fifth by Some Strange Flea
Interesting title. Another withheld name. 'bespoke' is probably one word over the line, here. This is really good, clearly best so far. The ending is worse than the beginning, but still strong. Sort of feel you could have used the leftover words to make it even better, though. 10/10, Was my win pick, by a hair.
The Legend of Makoa Kalawai'a, Daughter of the Ocean, She of Oahu by The Saddest Rhino
A very ambitious first sentence, a manifesto of a sentence. It works, but I'm not sure if it's going to be sustainable. Oh, wait, that's a comma and it isn't even over yet. At this point I wondered if this is going to be all one sentence, isn't it. I am surprised to find my self more amused than angry at the prospect. But no, finally a period after paragraph four. Half-brit/Half Elder God antagonists? The voice slips a bit just after the middle, unfortunately. Very good, 9/10, def HM
Black Fire by flerp
Opening is okay. Second paragraph feels like a straight data dump, so I hope this is actually pertienent information. (After the third it becomes clear that it's at least doubling as what's happening to the narrator,which is a bit better, but that isn't clear immediately.) 'other war' should probably be 'other wars'. Don't like 'The murals finished' either, can't tell if that's a typo or a clumsy phrasing. Nothing special, but well above most of the field so far. 7/10
Mushrooms in London by Karia
Typo in second sentence, should be 'could depend on constant sunshine'. Opening first several paragraphs are mostly exposition, with a bare hint of a narrative voice as the only sign of character or conflict. We spend another three paragraphs introducing a character, delivering even more exposition (honestly, cutting everything before the first dialog line might improve things.) There's a little conflict, but it's just “what's wrong with the machines”, which is something that could be done faster I have to think.
So the plot turns out to be “something is wrong with the machine, guy goes down to check out what it is, finds out, realizes that somebody is going to get in serious trouble for it but doesn't know who. The end.” That's not enough plot for a straightforward story. It's certainly not close to enough to bear this massive exposition load.
1/10, loss candidate.
Sedna by PALE SPECTRES
Liking this so far, in the first section. Okay. I really liked the first two sections, but the second two much less so. I could be wrong, but it feels like you didn't really know how to end the story, and the third section feels like stalling and the fourth like an unsatisfactory ending. Still, on the strength of those first two sections, 7/10, possible HM
Plain White Brain by Chili
Architecture description. Reasonable way of delivering some oblique exposition and worldbuilding.
Very close 3rd limited point of view, close enough that you may have been better off with 1st person. You're using 'Dewey' too much when 'he' would work (In general, one full name is enough in a paragraph with no other male characters.) Dewey's level of self-confidence seems inconsistent. Long sections of dialog with no business, pure talking heads. The other interview story did a better job giving the speakers something to do as they spoke. Another story that might have started halfway in: consider if you could cut everything before “Dewey, I get the sense...”, opening there. Possibly even with less technical explanation, too, and then get straight to the interesting part of your premise.
You're also going to need a much better ending. “And then it stopped working, the end” is a very bad ending. 3/10, losing two points on that ending, possible DM
NO TROJAN by Hostile V
Interesting opening, does a good job with oblique exposition and is interesting in content and voice. Another interview? At least it's not the whole story.
This does a good job with the writing, a good job with the worldbuilding, but a terrible job on plot. You've just written the beginning of a much longer story here. That story might be pretty good, but this part doesn't stand alone well enough. 6/10, no mention
Hard-boiled Intern Fiction by QuoProQuid
The start is okay. Taking its time with conflict, and the lingering men had better pay off later or else it's a wasted detail, but I get some character from it all. Is this the Nowpunk story? Yes, and I think I see what you're doing with it. A reader from fifty years ago or fifty years from now reading this would see a lot of what your doing as world-buidling exposition, where the world being built is our current one, and to that reader they'd find it fairly well-executed. 'disrupt the morass' is a bit clumsy as a metaphor. There's a lot of abrupt character shifts that don't quite work: her being deeply dissasisfied, him having revenge-porned her, all of those re-texture the bits before in odd ways and might have at least been hinted at earlier. Harambe is probably a bit too much. The ending, once again the main character's motivations turn on a dime. 6/10.
Ghosts in a Churchyard by Ironic Twist
Good opening image. Heavy exposition in paragraphs two and three, probably a bit heavier than the rest can bear. The idea of putting replica churches in 'designated war zones' has got to be the stupidest worldbuilding detail I've been asked to swallow so far, especially considering the only character so far's attitude toward the religion in question. This was sort of okay. I groaned when I checked the prompt. I'm not a big fan of using the prompt as a punchline, but I only really dislike it when the story doesn't have anything going on besides that punchline, and this one works as this sort of war story without that knowledge. 5/10
Of the River by Sitting Here
Strong opening. The “'the Mother'” business might be done more clearly, because we clear have an absent actual mother in this situation causing a bit of confusion. A few clunky word choices. 'domiciles', 'amalgam' You're feeling a need to tag every noun with an adjective here, and most of them are good adjectives at least, but the cumulative effect is a bit strained. And while this has a sort of an ending, it's mostly the first section/chapter of a longer work. But it's a longer work that I want to read someday. 8/10, probably HM
Carter's Lucky Streak by Entenzahn
Bold opening paragraph, getting straight in with the central conceit and establishing a character.
“Carter's 5d20 rolled a combined 5” is a flat way of expressing some seriously statistically improbably bad luck, a one in 3 million shot. If there's no reason for this extreme result it would probably be better for him to get something in the 17-22 range there. And there isn't. So having this makes it seem like Carter actually has some kind of probability manipulation power or technology going on, which I don't think he does. Typo 'go' for 'got' in the next to last paragraph.
This could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. 5/10
BlazinTrees.exe by CaligulaKangaroo
Someone has payed attention to the crits/recaps on the last meme story, I see, so good for using pop culture of times between now and whenever the story takes place mixed in there. Looks like we're doing meme-littered classic cyberpunk here. Fairly charming, although there's not that much to it. 6/10
How I Got My Dad To Stop Worrying And
The second sentence is a mess: don't use a complicated sports metaphor to describe different actual sports action. Just don't. So far, the character work is good. The narrator is a bit too intrusive, though, especially when he's telling the reader directly things that are going to become completely clear a few lines later. This is an pretty good story, but my main problem is that the fact that these two people are human/bison hybrids (and I'm not at all sure why anyone thought doing that was a good idea in the first place) doesn't really have much impact on the story at all. She could just be athletic and they farmers among city folk. I wish it had amounted to more, that there had been other hybrids on the other team, maybe. 6/10
Playthings Outgrown The Cut of Your Jib
Okayish opening. When you hit the action twist, the 'confusion rose' paragraph, unfortunately you have some confusion in the text using 'her' rather than saying if you're talking aout Merrit or the Queen.
I'm not sure I buy Merritt's initial escape, you should work a bit more at selling that. If this castle is that easy to get in or out of I'm surprised everyone inside hadn't been assassinated earlier. If Bailey John wanted Merritt martyred, why in the world did she wake up and get things explained to her? Also, assassinating royalty is a fairly dumb way to actually cause social change; you just get a new royal it charge that's probably worse. Everyone's pretty jaded and casual about death/murder in this world, aren't they. And again: killing a monarch doesn't create chaos. There's always a designated next in line, that's the entire point of the system. You can get civil wars and chaos when #3 or #4 wants to skip the queue, but for full-on revolutionary chaos you need to actually have a revolution and seize the entire government by force. Overall 5/10, middling.
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 22:01 on Sep 6, 2016
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 21:16|
Thanks for the crits!
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 21:45|
Thank you very much for the crits.
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 21:48|
Thanks for speedy crits.
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 21:55|
I have to go back to school in a week and a half. Share my misery.
Sitting Here and PALE SPECTRES, by divine benevolence, I am extending your deadline to 11:59 PM Pacific tonight.
|# ? Sep 6, 2016 22:18|
IN: with RUSTPUNK
I was just informed via IRC that this was last weeks' prompt.
Fuckit, I'll go and submit anyways.
Also gonna try and get some crits in for the week I DNF'd so hard I joined after it was finished...
SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 02:44 on Sep 7, 2016
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 02:23|
IN: with RUSTPUNK
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 02:24|
I HAVE NO REGRETS!
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 03:11|
And here I thought I was going to be so fast at posting my crits, instead I'm last. Serves me right for going to work today.
If anyone wants to chat about their story and the critiques I give, hit me up with a PM or grab me over in IRC. I love learning more about people's writing processes.
Sailor Viy Left for Dead
This reads like a revenge story set in a city for the dead with ectoplasm thrown in. Although ectoplasm doesn’t have to be of any importance to the story, its importance to the setting should be obvious. In this, from what I gather, you’ve basically correlated it to oil, at least in how it is collected, but the reader doesn’t get any sense that it serves a purpose. And really, the functioning of this world should depend on your punk in some way. What does it do in the Night City? What does it do in the Day City? And actually why does it need mined at all… doesn’t ectoplasm come from ghosts…?
Onto the actual story. Your sentence construction and mechanics are mostly fine (though some comma usage made me raise my eyebrow). You have a clear story arc and you use the elements that you introduce to good effect.
The problem with this story is the mechanics of a city of death being alongside a city of living and how they interplay with each other. There’s a lot of interesting potential here and I think you’ve got a few good ideas with the medium character. However, you’re inconsistent and it makes me question what I actually know about the character. You explicitly state that he couldn’t die in the Night City but yet he’d rather “die again” than see someone get to paradise. If he’s a medium who can go between living and dead then why can’t he procure the gun himself? What possible resources could a clay servant have that Ali does not? I wish there were more time for you to go into what being a medium meant in this world since the first time Ali makes that switch it’s a little jarring. And ultimately the whole revenge plot seems a little flat since we don’t actually spend that much time getting to know the characters or even the departed character that he loved (dead/living love pair… interesting).
And in the end it’s moot and the poor shabti are only buying time until the next attempt to kill their city.
Schneider Heim Test Flight
This is the beginning of a story. Whether it would be a good or a bad story would depend on you, but this is not a very good start. I think you know it’s the start of a story because even your last line feels like it will be followed up by another sentence. There’s no finality in it at all.
You’ve got some grammatical errors and your phrasing doesn’t flow. If you’re going to use “their” as the pronoun for Noa and the mech, you need to state that the first time you use it, otherwise it just comes off as an error in number agreement. But I can see where making them a plural can actually lead to some human interest in this story.
Because, as of right now there is none. I can see where if you had compared “Noa and the mech merging as one to be an ultimate fighting duo and save humanity” to “Cybernetically modified Devil Blue who is the best mech pilot for the federation because he’s half mech himself and therefore isn’t representative of humanity at all” then you get a blending of perspectives when they ultimate come together to understand how humans and mech combinations can actually help save the earth after all… it’s not a completely formed idea for me either, but that idea is one that could connect with readers (who at this point in history are still mostly human) and make them care about what happens to Noa and Devil Blue and what this might mean for our existence.
Right now, you’ve got no emotion in the story, undescribed antagonists, a faceless governmental entity and actually no other humans appear to actually be saved. Needs more backstory too. A lot of issues on a basic level.
Daeres One Hundred and Twenty One Again
Half of your story is spent in exposition mode yet I don’t feel like I get a sense of what this future is like at all. What about solar power means that everything in the future must be handcrafted? If anything, solar power just means that we can justify making more products via machine since we’re using renewable energy without all of the hubbub about pollution and global warming, etc.
Xavier or Xaxier? You used Xavier four times. Proofreading would catch these and a few other grammatical issues.
As for your story, you waste half of your words by having nothing happen and then when something does happen, the plot is unraveled in less than 100 words. The threat was incredibly flimsy at least to a modern day human and obviously to “Rod”. And if that was what you were trying to achieve, then you needed to emphasize that this future is one in which situations like this are so infrequent that humanity has lost the ability to problem solve. I’d be more interested in hearing about the process for coming out of cryogenesis since you say that there are guides and it has happened successfully many times. However, the story also makes it feel as if this might be one of the early attempts with how worried the doctor and nurse are for making sure his memory is okay and the trauma doesn’t happen.
Why were he and others put into cryogenesis in the first place? How did we get to now? This might just be a personal taste thing, but for the “punk” genres, I think it works better for everyone operating in the world to be familiar with it and getting the action going early. Though with this you get to introduce a new character (and the reader) to the world, which in theory is an easy way to describe your setting pretty bluntly. But at the end of it all, I don’t have a good sense of this solarpunk era.
Some Strange Flea Schrödinger's Fifth
I love how very quickly you brought me into this world and how quickly I understood it. That was storytelling perfection. I don’t like the heavy handed ending though. You manage to make clear quantum cities and peoples and what that has done to societies and what can be done in societies very elegantly and with some great imagery. But in revealing what sinister uses it can also have you start to lose the beauty of prose with which you began. You had more words and I think you could have used them here instead of the blunt final sentence we get.
On the other hand, this could very easily turn into a much longer piece describing the war and the life of the lower classes of ones and twos. And it almost deserves that. I’m not entirely sure that as is it has a complete story arc and there are only the beginnings of quantum character building but it could very easily get there with more time. It’s a big concept to have to stuff into less than 2000 words but your entry manages the setting extremely well and I can feel the other pieces are ready and waiting in the wings.
Flerp Black Fire
Your story took me a couple reads to appreciate. You paint a decent picture of a city of gold, with sleek cars and posh attitudes. And I can see where that would annoy someone. However, it’s not really explained as to why Damien is so fed up with the city. If he was born there, it becomes harder to understand why he would be so disaffected with the place. Especially since we have no idea what sort of work he does. It might be inferred that he’s a historian of sorts and perhaps he longs for things long past which could explain it. But I don’t know that.
I like that Damien goes back and forth between wanting to say something or make a difference or be heard and thinking that maybe he’s just an rear end in a top hat. This fact points to contemporary concerns about whether people have valid opinions and who’s allowed to have them or whether they’re just being contrary and how that affects society. I like that he almost loses himself in meditative absorption when he walks up to the white wall. And I’m actually kind of sad that he didn’t choose to paint it white again.
You have a few typos that should have been caught on a proofread. I wish you’d spent more time normalizing the reader to what the utopian vision of this city was supposed to be since all we see is Damien’s POV and a bit of Mara’s who in certain ways agrees with him.
Pale Spectres Sedna
I was looking forward to mythpunk since I enjoy Catherynne Valente’s work. Your story is definitely not what I was expecting, but it’s not bad either. You tell a good story of hardship and primal need. You’ve set a beautiful and mythical scene. And after reading about the Inuit goddess Sedna I can see that influence here quite easily. I love how it’s told and I love your language, but in the end, it feels more like a retelling of the myth rather than a subversion or something new.
I wish Nuliayuk had had more agency, more action, more overt choices in what was happening. I don’t get much feeling at all for what she’s thinking or feeling. Her interaction with the landscape and the other characters leads me to believe that she truly loves her environment but that she also wishes that nothing had changed from when they first arrived. Even some action toward restoring that hope and strength could have led your character into some good interactions.
Hostile V NO TROJAN
Don’t edit your posts.
You were committed to your topic, that’s for sure and I think you did a decent job of pulling off some action. I hate to see a word count that’s so close to the limit because that usually indicates that you were deleting words until it fit. There were easily some places where you could have cut down, but I can also see where this story was just too big for the word count. It’s a shame that you have to end it where you do. The reader can get a sense of what’s going to happen, but I don’t think the reader can quite believe that the plan has gone perfectly and that’ll be the end of the job.
This is a gritty punk world which is something that I’ve been wanting more of in the stories so far, so thank you for that. You spent too many words on setting your scene though. The bit with the digital camera should have been nixed. You can convey their hopes in other ways.
It’s not an elegantly told story and it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be, given that this world is not one of cleanliness. However, sometimes it sounds as if you’re trying to use more descriptive and beautifully flowy language. And it just doesn’t fit. With some serious tweaking, I can see this developing into a hardcore, action, Mad Max style story.
Ironic Twist Ghosts in a Churchyard
There is so much I don’t understand about this story. I feel like I’m on the edges of it though. As soon as I start to get a handle on what’s going on in a particular scene though, you add another element to ponder. Your opening paragraph is phenomenal. It did take a couple of read-throughs but it sets a very good scene. And though I comprehend what’s happening in the rest of the story, none of it coalesces into understanding.
I don’t get what’s between Kane and Quinn. I’m certain it has to do with the Kings and Queens of chess. I don’t quite get the dynamic of what happens between black and white territories but there’s obviously danger when you’re in enemy territory.
You had an idea of where you were going, I just wish it were clearer from my side. Sentence construction and grammar are all good.
Entenzahn Carter's Lucky Streak
This is fun and you your concept works. But your execution is slightly off. It has to do with your analogies and imagery. It either sounds almost cliché or it’s really specific. I never know whether you’re being sincere with them or trying to get a smile from the reader. All-you-can-eat buffet articles is one. Articles is an odd choice of noun.
Your story is pretty generic casino boss out to protect his interests. I would have liked to see a different approach in Nu Vegas. Otherwise it’s just like regular Vegas. You definitely made the dice a part of everyday reality with its inclusion for getting bus fare and groceries, but then the rest of the story is about regular old gambling.
You have a few typos in your story. And for some reason I just keep imagining the purple suit on your avatar of Darkwing Duck.
Boaz-Jachim How I Got My Dad To Stop Worrying And Love Tolerate Rugby
It reminds me of a story that you could tell now on Family TV except instead of prosthetic legs, they’re animal, what a weird twist! Not really. I don’t like the part about shaving her legs. I think shaving bison legs would not help make her legs indistinguishable from human legs. Do bison legs even have ankles?
Were the gene splices optional? It seems like there are options at least when dad’s talking about what he could have done to make her be normal. But I’m of the opinion that if gene splicing isn’t already normal/pervasive then it’s not really punk. It’s just new tech sci-fi.
There are just a lot of little things that I don’t think work for the story more than any plot problems or anything. Needed more thought.
Cut of Your Jib Playthings Outgrown
Filled with action, charming, a bit too convoluted for the word count but pretty satisfying. This is the perfect beginning to a YA novel that could easily sell in the current market. I am basing this on all of the teen lit that I’ve seen rolling through.
On a second reading I like it even more. Your first paragraph scene section is wonderful. It’s filled with action and imagery and the perfect setup. I think the only reason this didn’t win is it’s clearly the first chapter of a novel. There’s just way too much to explore here. It’s both wonderful but also disappointing because there’s no clear satisfaction in that last line.
I chose this for the loss. After my first reading I was incredibly confused. Nothing was clear and I was lost. After a second read through I understand what happened much better, but I still don’t understand why. Your shifts from VR to real life to AR are unclear. Changes happen abruptly and the reader is never given a chance to settle into any of them before there’s more to take in. Grammar errors.
There’s definitely a change in behavior of your main character going from an indifferent dude just trying to get by however he can to someone who decides to take a stand in this movement that he knows nothing about even after burning down a library. Does he do it because he believes in the cause or because he wants to have a social group? I sure don’t know. The cause appears to be ego death. But is it for everyone? Is it only for the uppers and not the lowers?
You needed to answer a lot of basic questions about your setting and protagonist and plot before writing this story. Instead the reader has little faith that there’s anything behind the cardboard cutouts you set up as your backdrop and characters.
Sitting Here Of the River
This is a good story. Interactions between characters feel right. Pacing is right. Your idea is great. The character growth is subtle but noticeable. Her motivation is there. The father’s actions are consistent. This story had so much in it that appealed to me as an individual. But unfortunately there were simple things that kept it from being perfect.
Similar to Thranguy, I was also taken out of the story by some of your word choices. They just didn’t seem to fit. Like masticate. I also thought there was a huge leap between the River’s description of the Internet and Morgan making that connection immediately. It’s possible Morgan was catching extra vibes since she is of the special clan, but from a reader’s perspective, there needed to be at least a little puzzling out of the meaning of a river that flows between the domiciles of men. It doesn’t have to go on for long, but at least a “Morgan thought for a moment about those words…” or something of that nature.
Also, naming her Morgan is a bit too on the money for Irish mythology in my book. But that was a personal roll eyes and nothing that docked your points or anything. I would like to read this as a longer work since I definitely wants to know what happens when the elves start coming out of the woodwork.
Quo Pro Quid Hard-boiled Intern Fiction
By virtue of your punk you are locked into a world of perpetual ephemera. And even as much as your references and the actions of your characters make me cringe for humanity, I don’t think you take it far enough. If Cassy had really been a Republican from now she would have denied Michael’s evidence whole hog, clinging even tighter to her contrary beliefs. But she’s clearly not actually a Republican.
During my first read I had assumed that they were college students, but upon reread it seems that they’re high school students or at least recently graduated. I find that pretty unbelievable for many of their actions and opinions. Neither of them are particularly likable characters but perhaps that is nowest of all the nows in this story.
If Cassy isn’t a diehard Republican believer, then it especially doesn’t make sense that she would feel like she deserved revenge for the betrayal, making the ending not natural to the character. But from your early descriptions it sounds as if she’s just in it for the recommendation but then again she went to political functions but again also took her known liberal boyfriend. Basically your main character comes across as inconsistent which doesn’t do much for the story even if we are all political hypocrites in tyool 2016.
Chili Plain White Brain
This could have gone so many other and better places. I can’t help but think that a more satisfying ending to this would be that Dewey became so rich that he started purchasing dreams from the same company that he was selling them to making it all one ironic circle making the company rich.
I had to read this out loud in order to get a sense of the flow since it wasn’t sounding right in my head. This didn’t help. All of the dialogues comes off as unnatural and without emotion. And it’s the same with most of the story. It’s all cursory. There’s no depth to the world. I think if you had fleshed out the world more in your head at the beginning, it could have added to it overall even if you didn’t include all of the details in the story.
I just don’t get a sense that there’s been more thought to this than what I’m seeing in the actual story. I’d like to know a bit more about why he has to take meds to keep his brain from deteriorating or that Dewey actually missed his special dreams sometimes. I like the detail about hugs at Imagicorp, that was good, but it needs to have support for something as quirky as that. Chase after the quirky. See where that takes you.
Karia Mushrooms in London
You clearly have a story here, too much story. You have all of the details worked out which is good, but you include them all, awkwardly, in your story, which is bad. Your story ends where it might actually get interesting. Almost all of your story is prelude. And the psilocybins could go places but instead it’s just “LOL drugs” and that’s the punchline. It might be more interesting to see what happens if you grow a different type of mushrooms or even if the effects of these new mushrooms on people effect the amount of glucose that they need to operate or if planting them amidst other crops leads to improved growing and therefore ups production in London. Anything’s possible!
Though your first three paragraphs are incredibly tedious as the other two judges have said, I think they could have worked if you gave them more of a voice. I can easily see describing the picturesque landscapes of California and then bluntly crash landing the reader into the dingy back alleys of London instead. It could work.
I think you needed to take a step back from this. But it’s hard to do in less than a week. But it might be interesting for you to come back to this.
The Saddest Rhino The Legend of Makoa Kalawai’a, Daughter of the Ocean, She of Oahu
Love this. It’s the perfect blend of myth, grungy future tech, and creativity. It suffers a little for the Lovecraftian adjectives since I think you were doing a good enough job of describing the horror that is the Brits without them and it definitely didn’t fit in with the storytelling tone that you began with. But it ticked off all of my boxes. It’s more of wish I had gotten with mythpunk. Definitely my choice for the win because it flowed well, it was clear from the first and I wanted to know what happened. There could probably be more developed in the mother-daughter relationship and more character growth (perhaps just a hint of humility after the lightning strike before the ultimate triumph) but these are minor quibbles. Thank you for this story.
Llamaguchi Stream of Consciousness
Good atmosphere. I was right there in the room, feeling the bass of the music with your words. Good setup with just enough detail outside the present situation. But where does it go? What’s the reason for all of it? I don’t really understand the backstory, why he invites her for an interview, who he is, what precisely is going on and what’s about to happen. This might have a lot to do with the fact that I know very little about music production and the scene and all of that.
But I want to know what’s going on here. I like the idea of music death being an epidemic. I am intrigued by the emergence of someone from an older musical generation leading this revolution but it’s all lost on me as an outsider. But then again the interviewer seems like an outsider too, Cardinal Cain (and I’m sure this name should mean something) even calls her such. I wanted so much to understand because you made it feel cool to do so. But I’m afraid I just didn’t.
SurreptitiousMuffin 四君子 - salt, shore, sea, stone
I don’t think I understood what was meant by Cantopunk initially because this was unexpected. Canto, to me means a portion of a poem or a song but this is Cantonese, I think. Unless it’s both and this is also a section of a larger piece which would be amazing but difficult to convey in a 2000 word short story. I would be interested to hear if this was your intention.
As it is, I found the story compelling which is always what I look for in my first read through and in my second I try to narrow down what worked and what didn’t work. All of this worked, but at the same time I’m left feeling about as passive as Chen. And I think that’s the problem. Your main character doesn’t have much action to contribute, her POV is mainly that of knowing the place and time, what came before and what should be. And that is perfect to help the reader into the world. It also allows you to allude to the possibilities of what may happen after this scene.
But unfortunately this scene is what we get and it didn’t allow her to be fully present in a way that truly grips the reader.
Bad Seafood The Bottle
I didn’t like this. It seemed like it was going for some Oliver Twist grungy charm, but all I got was creepy stranger vibe. We don’t get to know Kirklund at all. And though there should be some mystery to a man who falls through a ceiling, Sasha is given no reason to trust him or shelter him or even pay him any attention, but she does anyway. If life is so dire for war orphans, it makes little sense to trust a complete stranger. Even if that reason is he makes her laugh or promises her a world free of monotony. Something.
I can see your world but it’s just a backdrop. And tends more toward what I know of steampunk with little to differentiate it as diesel. You have several typos and this
"Tis a sad man what keeps his medicine under lock and key. A good drink's meant to be shared in good company, or don't ya agree?"
Bothered me from the beginning. Alcohol can be compared to many things but referring to it as medicine and as a social beverage in the same breath just reads wrong. Kirklund’s whole manner of speaking isn’t completely consistent either. And with only two other characters to compare him to, he seems like a clown or a jester to me rather than a street wise cockney or whatever.
The ending is too simple and the number of questions as to what comes after are too great to make this satisfying.
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 03:33|
Seated Ghosts brawl
Alissa’s lips are cracked. In the cracks Isaiah sees faint red. Better if she didn’t have lips, he thinks, dazed. The rest of her is perfect. Willow brown hair, light freckle motes, skin paper white, starting to age soft over bone lines.
Isaiah feels flawed. He has what other people call meth addict skin. Mars cratered cheek loci. He tries not to notice her lips and she feels it. She takes her Blistex and traces them smooth, like the black lipstick she used to like.
She didn’t want him to see but he knows that’s not important. The air is crisp and the first leaf of fall gets in his eyes, brushes his nose as it slips to curl against his jacket. The streets behind them sound asphalt scraping. The only other living thing in the parkette playground is a stray cat.
Isaiah watches it. It’s shy. It nuzzles against the skeletal playdome like it would nuzzle against them, if it was brave.
Alissa hops on the swingset. Her dress flares before it settles, Isaiah seeing the black seat press against bunched cloth. And then just her, folded body arcing to sky, falling back. She spits in the north sun.
He trudges to the climbing walls. He tries to feel agile but his sneakers sink in the sand. He feels grit in his toes as he stands before it. The structure is two heads taller than him. It’s three sided, a triangle from above.
The walls look like scabbed over skin overgrown with moles. When he grabs the rocks at his eyes he thinks they’ll tear away, blood pouring from forgotten scars. They hold. He finds his footing. The ground is close, but he feels celestial, like if he lets go he’ll float away.
He climbs. His arms stretch like rubber bands, clutch bent sheer. The bones of his knees scrape against heavy fake rock. The sun burns his neck. His heart beats in his skull.
When he reaches the top he wrenches himself over, through painted metal bars. When his knees clear the edge he presses himself into where they fit together. He sits there, bars chafing each shoulder blade, spine cold in the emptiness they leave. He sits there and watches her trace crescents, her shadow flitting over bright sand.
Alyssa jumps off at her apex. The sand plumes where she lands like an orchid blooming. Her dress catches the air, falls, drapes her waist. She stares at Isaiah. Her shoulders rise and fall with her breath.
Isaiah scoots forward. His legs jut out through the bar divide, hang in space. He thinks about jumping down. Then he twists, climbs down gentle and slow. What does it matter?
She’s impatient. She’s holding the Blistex. It’s uncapped. It moves through the air as she fidgets, mixing her into the atmosphere. He would kiss the air, if it had lips.
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 04:01|
ty for the crits, judges
Sitting Here and PALE SPECTRES, by divine benevolence, I am extending your deadline to 11:59 PM Pacific tonight.
They come together each year on the cusp of autumn. Not too hot, not too cold.
Her sneaker scuffs over noisy dead leaves.
He looks up. The air has a chilly bite to it. He’s wearing a tank top. He perspires like melting ice.
When she steps into the hesitant circle of his arms, she smells cold air, like inside a walk-in freezer. She encircles him with her own arms, careful not to touch him.
He tilts his head down and breathes her in. Her hair smells like scorched pavement. They can’t hug, so they stand like that, together but apart. Summer dissolves around them in frenetic gusts of wind. The sun is setting. Tomorrow is the first day of fall. The equinox should feel like homecoming, but all he wants is the molten touch of summer’s fingers.
If winter is a house, and fall is the door, then the door is locked to her. She says they should go down to the waterfront, so they can make the most of summer’s last light. As they walk, she crosses her arms tightly, warding off the specter of chill from winter winds to come. Every year, she forgets what cold feels like.
They sit together at the end of the pier, closer than is safe and infinitely far apart. The sun is a bitter third wheel. It seems to relish in reminding them that it’s almost time to part ways.
The temperature drops in leaps and bounds. She’s shivering now. She wonders out loud why they can’t just mash themselves together, become one, and create an autumn that lasts the whole year round.
He tells her that’s stupid, that’s not how these things work.
She asks him, well, how do these things work?
It’s a fair question, and he doesn’t have an answer. There’s nothing particularly strange about him except that, in the summer, he ceases to exist. He doesn’t summon the winter as much as the winter summons him.
She reaches up to touch his face.
He flinches away. He looks into her eyes. She would undo them both with an embrace, so he has to show her. Her wrist is in his hand now. There’s a sizzling noise. A pillar of steam rising from the forbidden intersection of skin. He lets go before too much damage is done. He inspects his burnt palm and fingers, which are now the blood-and-rust colors of dead leaves.
She stares at her charred and puckered wrist. She looks up at the sky, where part of her is drifting away in a cloud of steam. She says, gently caress the weather, and plunges her hot summer hands into his cold winter heart. Fingers like magma splitting a glacier. Cold older and deeper than interstellar space.
They consume, ignite, and melt each other until there is steam, only steam. The rueful sun sets, and the seasons turn to nothing at all.
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 04:05|
Ok am in lull at a bad long meeting. Will write real prompt post later. Many thanks to judges of previous week for choosing my story, your crits, and everyone
E: REAL PROMPT POST WRITTEN UP
IN: with RUSTPUNK
You can enter with your rust punk this week if u like with the [see prompt post below] caveats
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 08:15 on Sep 7, 2016
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 04:43|
I'm doing it. In. Electronic. Africa.
Mercedes fucked around with this message at 05:36 on Sep 7, 2016
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 05:15|
OK in gimme some a that electronic europe
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 05:57|
in. Folk Antarctica.
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 06:08|
in inspirational south america
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 06:46|
in jazz asia
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 07:11|
I already feel like I've made a horrible mistake
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 07:12|
I already feel like I've made a horrible mistake
thunderdome 2017teen: i already feel like ive made a horrible mistake
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 07:25|
WEEK CCXIII: THUNDERDOME ALL-STAR TRIBUTE
Do you remember a time when the Western pop world decided that, to help solve poverty forever in other non-Western countries, they were going to form charity supergroups and sing songs which are awkward, self-flagellating (or flaunting) and usually not great to listen to? And they didn't really help those countries ultimately, even though Bono and Bob Geldolf said so? And those music represented nothing about those countries/cultures whatsoever? I still have a copy of the 2001 What's Going On at my parents' place and I don't even recall who it was supposed to help or whether they got that help anyway (A: it was for AIDS programmes in "Africa and other impoverished regions")
ANYWAY this week, you don't get to form a Thunderdome Writer Supergroup, because it has already been done, but:
Do two (2) things when you sign up:
A. CHOOSE A GENERAL MUSIC GENRE
B. CHOOSE A CONTINENT YOU DO NOT CURRENTLY RESIDE IN
After that, I will assign a (hopefully obscure) MUSIC SUBGENRE and a COUNTRY/STATE/REGION to you and you may write as you see fit.
Q: Dear Rhino, I know you are sad and smart and therefore, there must be a catch which disqualifies my story about a struggling (but very cool and absolutely not me) artist trying to succeed in a [SUBGENRE] full of [POPULAR GENRE OF REGION] sheeple. Am I correct?
A: Yes, I'm indeed very sad and smart.
Q: Dear Rhino, the subgenre you have chosen for me is actually not obscure at all, very much unlike what sweet dreams are made of. May I choose my own stupidly ridiculous and obscure subgenre?
A: GO NUTS
Q: Dear Rhino, I am an Internet attorney at law and since you said "write as you see fit", I can just set a guy listening to [MUSIC SUBGENRE] in [COUNTRY/STATE/REGION] doing something completely unrelated. That is okay, right? Right?
A: Yes but the only person you'll be lying to is yourself. Also you may lose.
1984 words, the year Bob Geldof started Band Aid
Signups Close 11:59PM Friday Pacific Time
Entries Close 11:59PM Sunday Pacific Time
The Cut of Your Jib
"I'm here only to make good music, not to be popular."
01. Mercedes: (Electronic / Africa) Vapourwave / Liberia
02. Thranguy: (Folk / Antarctica) New Weird Americana / South Pole
03. flerp: (Inspirational / South America)Throat Singing / Brazil
04. Sailor Viy: (Jazz / Asia) Dixieland / North Korea
05. Hostile V: (Easy Listening / Europe) Spa Sounds / Ukraine
06. QuoProQuid: (Country / Asia) Progressive Bluegrass / Sri Lanka
07. a friendly penguin: (Opera / Africa) Zarzuela / Morocco
08. Schneider Heim: (Soul / South America) Psychedelic Soul / The Andes
09. Fuschia tude: (Electronic / Europe) Nitzhonot / Camino de Santiago
10. Djeser: (Electronic / Oceania) Nintendocore / Papua New Guinea
11. llamaguccii: (Electronic / Africa) Italo Disco / Great Escarpment
12. Jitzu_the_Monk: (Opera / Asia) Beijing Opera / Indo-Pakistani Border
13. CaligulaKangaroo: (Dance / Africa) Disneycore / Amirante Islands
14. Paladinus: (Rock / Oceania) Pornogrind / Pitcairn Islands
15. Daeres: (Classical / Oceania) Ballet / Samoa
16. Tyrannosaurus: (Rap / Asia) Rap Opera / Myanmar
17. Entenzahn: (Classical / North America) Carnatic / Cuba
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 02:41 on Sep 10, 2016
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 08:14|
Alright I'm in for Easy Listening and Europe. It's gonna be bad, by sheer virtue of involving easy listening, but gently caress it.
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 08:20|
|# ? Nov 30, 2021 19:19|
Alright I'm in for Easy Listening and Europe. It's gonna be bad, by sheer virtue of involving easy listening, but gently caress it.
Spa Sounds / Ukraine
|# ? Sep 7, 2016 08:40|