Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Locked thread
Solitair
Feb 18, 2014

This statement is a lie!


Anyone wanna trade crits with me?

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Okua
Oct 30, 2016


Solitair I could give it a try :)

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Deltasquid posted:

good criticism and stuff

ty for the high quality crit.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Each of the critiques I’m going to post is structured so that it hits first impression, summarizes the story, names a distinctive feature, then goes over some strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, this shows each writer what one idiot reader (me) got out of it. I am implicitly assuming each author had something important to say. Sometimes, I might miss something other readers find obvious. Hopefully it’s all helpful; the goal is to be constructive but honest.

Since it's UraniumPhoenix's week, I'm going to use the style that he uses for his crits. Here is my critique of:

Aquariums by Deltasquid

First impression: The title and the placement on a space station, to me, draws a clear parallel between these smug-rear end klopoh fish and these space-dwelling humans. Made clear obviously when he makes his half-hearted attempt to smash his way out into space (no fresh air out there, sorry bub). I also figured we'd learn more about what happened to the unwell waiter after the garcon is guarded with his information, which, well, we kind of do? I was thinking we'd get some more action than we do, to be honest.

Summary: A temp worker gets an opportunity to work at an upscale restaurant under somewhat mysterious circumstances, sees some weirdo fish, then starts making more and more outlandish gaffes. Then he tries to break out of his figurative aquarium, is restrained, sent back to Earth, then tells us the incidents kept happening until the restaurant closed its doors. Nothing too crazy. The message is that zoos are bad? And that we should be vegetarians? I think? Between the mink-coated woman and co. talking about the eradication of the dream-eaters, the insurgent fish, and protag's escape attempt, that's what I'm getting.

Distinctive feature: I liked the fishception dialogue that protag starts delivering in the second half of the story. I could have used more crazy talk, to be honest.

Strengths: The story is pretty clear. There are very spots where I had any confusion about what was happening, who was speaking, etc. If that sounds like faint praise, stick around and read some TD stories, and you'll see that it's no small thing. I also think you do a good job of conveying the protag's growing confusion about what's happening to him, and of having him react normally--that is, basically trying to ignore his headache and power through, instead of coming to the obvious (to the audience) conclusion that the fish are screwing with his brain.

Weaknesses: The best piece of advice I received from a TDer was to start my stories when they get interesting. You, in fact, gave me that advice on my story for this week, because apparently I don't learn. I am now giving it to you. There is a lot of exposition in the beginning of this story that doesn't really do much. It sets up the situation, sure, but that could be accomplished in a sentence. Things only get interesting when the fish start messing with him. You could start with him saying something inappropriate at a table, or him staring at the fish tank, or any number of things. I also think you choose to describe the wrong things, or decline to describe the interesting things. You give us a somewhat thorough description of the fish tank (which I get might be part of your overall theme--these fish are kept in captivity only at great, and conspicuous, effort), but give us no real description of the fish. Are they just normal looking fish? Or are they the blobfish from your prompt?

Overall response: Not enough happens in this story. And not enough crazy stuff happens. There is a clear reference to old world imperialism, about the exploitation of exotic lands, but we get very little description of anything exotic. What we do get is alluded to, more than it is seen. I also think you make the wrong choice with your ending. The protag essentially does nothing. The story I want to hear is about the waiter who actually smashes the aquarium--which I only just now realized is maybe ambiguous? I guess that could refer to the fish aquarium, or to the station, since that's what the protag tried to smash? Anyway, there's a seed of an idea here. Needs more work, though.

Deltasquid posted:

Aquariums
1300 words

I was working at my usual joint when a garcon from Le Bon Vivant asked whether anyone could fill in for a waiter who’d had an emergency. The request was sudden, he admitted, but any help would be greatly appreciated and paid overtime. I knew my temp agency worked with Le Bon Vivant, and I figured I could use the extra cash, so I stepped up, hoping that I could perhaps even impress the maître d’hôtel enough to be permanently transferred to the upscale rotating restaurant.

The waiter smiled gracefully and offered to lead the way, as if anybody living on Epsilon Station were 'was'--indefinite pronouns like anybody/everybody/etc. take singular verbs unaware that Le Bon Vivant occupied the entire top floor by itself. While pacing through the halls, I casually asked what had happened to the garcon I’d be filling in for.

This is all exposition. It needs to be something else, too. Characterization, tone setting, something. But it's just straight telling.

“Oh, he just became unwell.”

“He got ill?”

“No, not ill. Just… Unwell.”

And that was all the conversation I could get out of him. Again, do some characterization here. Does the protag press for more? Does he give him a weird look? Or you could just cut this. I think if you ended the conversation there, we could figure it out.

***

Like the rest of the station, the restaurant’s inside was spacious, sleek and clean. Nonetheless, the burgundy velvet on the walls and the mahogany touches on the furniture gave Le Bon Vivant an old-world feel, despite their specialty ostensibly don't need this. Le Bon Vivant's specialty is known, or it's not a very good restaurant, I'd say being alien cuisine. Only the fact that Jupiter and its moon Europa were visible through the windows on the far side of the restaurant suggested that we were in space. What else would give that impression?

All the other waiters had dark, parted hair, and most had a pencil-thin mustache. To make me blend in at least a little bit, the head waiter handed me the red and white uniform with matching waistcoat. I quickly changed in the lavatories and returned to the kitchen, where I was briefly introduced to the staff.

The kitchen was positively massive. At any given time, a dozen chefs were tirelessly charging from one end of the room to the other, juggling a wide variety of appetizers, starters, main courses and desserts, all of them containing at least one extraterrestrial ingredient, which was the main draw of Le Bon Vivant. you've already said this Usually, it was some sort of alien seasoning, but the restaurant was famous for its five-course menu called “The five stages of life,” which used one or other alien fish and its roe as base ingredients. This is all telling. You've missed an opportunity to show us what crazy extraterrestrial fish food looks like.

On the far end of the kitchen was a large aquarium holding at least twenty such fish, which lazily floated at the bottom. Somewhat clashing with the general aesthetic of the place, the side panels of the aquarium were held together with industrial-looking metal plates and bolts, and a conspicuous, what is so conspicuous about this canister? Why should I not expect a fish tank to have something like this? tubular canister was fitted underneath it, humming obnoxiously. It also had a side compartment, which could be sealed from the main tank.

“Is this fish tank under a lot of pressure?” I asked one of the chefs. He looked up from a dish he was garnishing as if I had just inquired whether bears relieved themselves in woods.

“Those are klopoh fish, above, you say they use 'one or other alien fish', and there are twenty such fish in the tank, but here only refer to one type of fish. unless klopoh fish refers to all varieties of fish coming from Europa? which live kilometers under the ice of Europa. At surface pressure, they distend and die.”

“And that thing on the side?”

“We goad a klopoh in there there for our signature dish. Reduce the pressure at just the right speed, and they turn inside-out. Here, this tray’s for table six.”

I pictured the process and wished they could just serve lobster instead. I like this detail

***

I brought starters to a table which had chosen the five-stages menu. It was a sort of vitello tonnato: thin slices of veal marinated in a klopoh cream, served with capers and bread. The company of four were having a discussion about the many wonders our solar system held, which we could admire since recreational interplanetary travel had become affordable.

There are a lot of terrors out there, too.

The table was taken aback, and it took me a few seconds to realize I’d just said something.

“How so?” a heavy-set man with thick glasses, apparently the oldest person at the table, asked.

“I mean, you know. Some of the aliens out there defy the mind.” I was sweating bullets. “Like those nightmare-inducing creatures on Venus?”

The man nodded.

“Right, I see what you mean. Nasty critters, those were.” He turned to enlighten his dining partners. except Mrs. Mink already knows about them? Also, given that this dude knows what the protag is talking about, I'm guessing these were a widely known creature or event or something? “Some sort of endolith that fed on dreams and induced nightmares. Mostly affected children, which is why it took so long for the colonists to figure out what was happening. But the endoliths were eradicated soon after.”

“Good riddance, too. I can’t stand the thought of some xeno feeding on our children’s dreams,” a woman with mink coat added.

***

Back in the kitchens, I closed my eyes and massaged my temples. I was so very certain I hadn’t wanted to speak back there, and yet words I had not even thought had come out of my mouth. On top of that, a nasty headache was setting in.

I sighed and rolled my shoulders in an attempt to regain my composure, whereupon I noticed all the klopoh in the fish tank were lurking on the side of the aquarium closest to me.

“Are you feeling well?”

The head waiter put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a concerned look.

“I’m fine, just… overworked. It’s been a long day.” Sheepishly, I added: “I feel like the klopoh keep glaring at me.”

The head waiter studied the tank with a raised eyebrow.

“They’re fish. How could they glare?” Then, with a hint of exasperation, he said: “Just bring these plates to table seventeen.”

***

Over the course of the evening, I got worse and worse. I progressed from merely tired to nauseous and, for the first time since moving to Epsilon Station, claustrophobic. I tried to power through, at least until the end of this shift, but worried I wouldn’t make it. In desperate need of a break and a cigarette, I hastily distributed the last plates from my tray.

“Enjoy your meal,” pricks.

The table had gone silent.

“I beg your pardon?”

I was too light-headed to see who had asked. I tried to come up with an explanation, an excuse, anything, and when I failed, I simply turned and fled. Crossing me on the way to the kitchens was the head waiter, taking long strides in panicked damage control mode. unclear--is he cutting off the protag, or headed to the table? Expected the next bit of dialog to come from the head waiter

I barged into the kitchens. The sous-chef jolted and nearly dropped a moelleux on the floor. “What is wrong with you?”

Are you afraid of captivity?

“What?”

I shoved him out of the way, saw those goddamned fish turn in sync to follow me around the room, and reached for a pan hanging above the furnace. I couldn’t think, needed fresh air, direly. where are you planning to get that on a space station? A nearly irresistible urge told me to just bolt into the restaurant and smash a window and get the gently caress out of here. does he say this out loud? in the rest of the story, italics denotes something the character says out loud but unwillingly. don't think that's the action here

The sous-chef, recognizing my ill-advised intentions, intercepted me on my way out and tried to claw the pan out of my hands. “It’s happening again! Another one is feeling unwell!”

Everybody in the kitchen dropped what they were doing and dogpiled me. Somebody pressed the back of my knees to force me on the ground, and a hand on the back of my head pinned me against the cold kitchen tiles. I struggled and screamed.

“It’s the fish! It’s those loving fish, they’re getting under my skin!” I wish they were actually getting under his skin. that would be more interesting.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the klopoh glowering smugly. :smug:

***

Needless to say, I became unemployable at Epsilon Station. I did find work on Earth, eventually, but kept up with the news from Epsilon. Two more incidents took place before Le Bon Vivant closed its doors for good, although the official statement implied the rotating of the restaurant caused the nausea amongst its staff.

I don’t know how true that is.

But I do know the last waiter who became unwell has smashed don't know if you meant to use the present perfect, but that would imply that the smashing of the aquarium is ongoing. stick to simple past here the aquarium.

Welcome to Thunderdome!

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


also give me a flash rule

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Some Crits for Week 237 - ALIENS

I like aliens, and sci-fi, so here are some short impressions/crits.

Twiggymouse - Bob

I see the word count, read the first couple paragraphs, and my eye starts to twitch. The parenthetical aside after the first word is not a good sign of things to come. Nor is the inactivity of this alien and the lack of clear setting...are they in space? In a lab? Where is the alien? You say that its pulsating "seemed to keep it off the ground," so is it floating or not? It's all so vague and boring.

Then we meet the characters and they are all flat cutouts, interchangable parts. Lots of yawning, drifting off to sleep, talking about dreams, a lecture about the nature of life, and still the alien isn't doing anything interesting. Much like the story.

Finally something interesting happens with the baseball game but then you over-explain everything in the next dialogue section, which, incidentally, has too many people talking and not enough attribution. Four characters all talking at once is very tricky to handle without confusing the reader so you have to be a lot more careful, or reduce the number of speakers. Then more over-explanation, he gets his leave, sees Bob again, the end.

Overall a very unsatisfying story, full of words that don't ever get anywhere particularly interesting.

Deltasquid - Aquariums

Writing is good and engaging. The setting is clear and interesting with some nice details. I can picture the klopoh fish, the bustle of the restaurant, and the snooty clientele. The gradual transformation of the waiter is handled well, but I think it needed more. The prompt asked us to explore something about people, which I don't think was fully explored in this story. Other than the protag verbalizing his inner thoughts and subsequently getting sick I don't see much character development here.


Thranguy - Five Years after Christmas

Obviously a lot of ideas in here, and deftly written as usual. It made me curious if you have read Embassytown (by China Mieville), for there are some parallels here with how you treat the Shouter language with the Ariekei from that novel. But in some ways yours is almost deeper and multi-tiered, evoking a deeper sense of the importance of language to their culture. The human drama was okay, although the murder I didn't find particularly relevant. Perhaps on a re-read I might see how that ties into the larger ideas of the story.

SurreptitiousMuffin - LEGION/MANY

Now this is a cool little piece, colorfully written in such a sparse tone. The first person plural is very effective at conveying the collectiveness of the spores, their distributed intelligence. The menace they present to their human hosts is a satisflyingly presented, an ever-present undercurrent as they describe their conquest, their ongoing fight to persist on the backs of their human hosts. No extra words here, and it is effective.

Djeser - Colorado Star

A cute story with a good heart. Took me until halfway into the story to realize Sally the drunk was the narrator, looking back because of your use of third person to describe her early on. Not the wrong choice, but it did confuse me a bit. Your use of colloquial language was effective. It's not always easy to know how much or how little to use— too heavy and it intereferes with intelligibility—but you did just enough to give it charm and authenticity without it getting in the way.


Solitair - Collective Soul

Starting the story with two paragraph of exposition doesn't exactly grab my attention or make me care about what's happening.

The construction of this story as a two-way conversation between the alien and scientists would maybe work if there more grist to work with. As it is, we have the difficult to read ALL CAPS BAD GRAMMAR alien who says something, then the scientist translates it for us, asks it another quesiton, repeat. It seems like the alien wants to help the reduce the disfunction in Arnette, the only way it knows how it to 'remove' the nodes (citizens) so it kills some folks. We don't really get to the bottom, and the ending is particularly unsatisfying as he asks for assistance in getting rid of the dysfunction but the scientist plays dumb and the story ends.

My problem with the story is it's all too dispassionate and emotionless. Nothing is revealed about Jensen at all, it's just the gradual unveiling of the alien's motive for the killngs. Which in my mind isn't enough to build a story upon.

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 23:49 on Feb 21, 2017

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

A more detailed crit:

Chernabog posted:

Two and the Same.
2505


Dr. Nisha Khatri let go off the samples, shattering them against the rocky beach into hundreds of pieces. She watched with horror as the world came to an end. The brightness of the explosion faded and an enormous black cloud expanded rapidly across the sky, engulfing the entire Earth in darkness. She held on tightly to a palm tree, bracing for the impervious winds that were sure to follow. The wall of air hit her in full force nearly tearing her away from the tree's bark. When the wind calmed down she finally let go, exhausted. Right off the bat the cause and effect here is confusing - it seems like dropping the samples caused the explosion, and it's only later in the story that it becomes clear that's not the case. Also, being that close to a nuke where you basically get knocked off your feet is gonna kill ya right away.

“We need to get up higher!” Nathaniel yelled.

Nisha nodded instinctively despite knowing he wouldn't be able to see her through that pitch black darkness. She switched on her flashlight and saw him picking up his backpack and rope. The emp would have knocked out the batteries in her flashlight, no?

“Let's go,” he said.

They made their way up the mountain as fast as they could manage, though climbing with such a small amount of light had proven to be more challenging than they had anticipated. Extra words here, of course it would be hard. As they advanced, the sound of crashing water roared louder in the distance.

“I told you we should've gone earlier!” Nisha screamed over the thunderous noise. I don't think tsunamis give you so much thunderous and crashing warning. I'm struggling to suspend my disbelief here.

Nathaniel didn't reply but he hurried his pace. As the tsunami approached the sound became louder and the sea breeze scent stronger. Had they not chosen to ignore the warnings they might have stood a better chance of surviving the initial nuclear impact. However, they knew that even if they survived the impact, the ensuing radiation would wither and doom the entire Earth. but they did survive the impact, so I don't understand this.

Nathaniel intercrossed his fingers and helped Nisha climb onto a boulder.

“Give me a hand,” he said as he extended his arm towards her, “just a bit more.”

Nisha lowered her arm but it was too late. The water came crashing down on Nathaniel in a tumultuous rage, swallowing him whole. Nisha was pushed back. The waterline receded quickly and she emerged unscathed. kinda convenient that the tsunami just reaches Nathaniel but doesn't quite get her, one boulder up on the mountainside

“Nate! Nate!” She yelled.

There was absolute silence. Nisha scanned the lower levels of the mountain with her flashlight. There, she found Nate, laying over a rock with his head bleeding. She climbed down and put her fingers on his throat. He did not breathe but there was still a pulse.those two things usually go together - you don't have one without another She pinched his nose and began breathing life into his mouth. After a few repetitions he violently coughed the water within his lungs. Finally why finally?did she wait a while?she bandaged his head wound. She leaned down and kissed his cold lips.


A chirping bird woke her up. The sound was comforting, it meant that at least some animals had survived. She knew that without sunlight they would die eventually, but perhaps some life on Earth would be able to go on; Maybe some bacteria would survive or even some deep sea creatures or birds, even, apparently.. Then again they would have to deal with the radiation and the obliterated ecosystems. Life itself was at risk of extinction and it was a shame that no human would be left to study the post-apocalyptic evolution of the remaining species, if there were any.

Everything was still dark. Nisha brushed her wet black hair away from her face and turned on the flashlight. Nathaniel was still on the floor floor implies they are in a room somewhere. maybe you mean 'ground?'where she had left him; still unconscious, still breathing. She turned around and saw an infinitely clunky adverb use long tentacle coming from the sky, it's faint white glow contrasting against the stark blackness of the sky. At the tip of the tentacle was a smooth white orb that slithered across the air towards her. She fell back and screamed.

“What the gently caress is that?” who is she talking to? the bird?

She grabbed a rock and threw it at the orb. It dodged effortlessly and continued moving towards her. Nisha stood up and sprinted away but tripped on a rock. The impact on her elbow caused blood to trickle down her forearm.

“Leave me alone! What are you?” She said as she turned towards the creature.

The tentacle quickly wove around her like a coil, the orb stopping before her eyes. A face formed on the sphere's surface as if it had been extruded from a ball of clay, an exact replica of Nisha's face.

“What the gently caress is that? Leave me alone! What are you?” the creature repeated.

“That's my face! You don't get to use it,” Nisha protested.that's sort of funny

The fake version of Nisha frowned, then released its hold off of her and recoiled across the air towards the backpack that lay on the floor. Two tentacles emerged from the back of the head and it began rummaging through Nisha's belongings. It pulled out a camera, inspected it for a moment and tossed it away. Then a pen. It grabbed her logbook and deftly scanned through the pages.

“Knock it off! First you grab my face and now my things,” Nisha said as she caught up weird blocking, was she running towards it?to the creature.

The tentacle turned towards her but remained silent and motionless. Nisha hesitated but walked up to face the creature. At that point it wasn't like there was much to lose: she could die to that monster now or in a matter of days to the radiation. A couple of minutes passed bu proofread the creature didn't move or react. so wait nothing happens for several minutes? Why put a pause in the middle of the story like that? I can imagine them just frozen, waiting for the author's next cue...

“Well, I don't have time for this,” Nisha said as she abandoned the creature and walked towards Nathaniel. “Maybe I do but it doesn't matter.” does she or doesn't she?

“I have synthesized your language. We may now communicate without impairments.” The creature finally said in a mechanical voice.

Nisha turned.

“What do you want?

The creature remained silent and motionless once again, eyes unblinking. Nisha frowned. The skin of the alien began bubbling like boiling water and a humanoid body was spit out from the underside of the dangling head. It was smooth and glassy and featureless. Even though it seemed functional the creature remained hanging from the sky, still connected to the tentacle on the back of its head. Nisha gagged.

“I apologize for the communication delay. My brain was thousands of light years away, and while I have the means to send information faster than the speed of light it still has its limitations,” the creature said. I guess that explains the long pause from before?

“Your brain…. was what? Light years? I don't even know where to start.” Nisha's face held an expression of fascination and confusion. held is an awkward verb in this context, makes it wordy and tell-y

“Oh yes indeed. I just made a new brain over here. It is located within this fake body.”

“You put what where? Oh, just forget it! Can you like… change to another face? Talking to myself is creeping me out,” she shivered. “And for heaven's sake, can you land on the floor? It looks like you are in the gallows with that thing coming out of your neck.”

The creature's facial features shifted along the orb's surface until they no longer resembled Nisha. At the same time the creature landed on the floor.

“I apologize, mimicry usually works to incite dialogue.”

“It's not mimicry if you do it half-wrong. And stop apologizing…” Nisha paused.

“I don't have a name. I am a brain of the universe.”

“God?”

The alien smiled awkwardly. While its spoken language was perfect its body language was not.

“No. I am sentient but not omniscient. My senses are limited to the reach of my probes, such as the one you saw earlier. what probe? Seems to reference something earlier that isn't mentioned. You and I are two of the same, I'm just more developed.”

“Oh great!” Nisha, replied. “Well, I'm gonna call your advancedness 'Sen', for sentience.”

Sen made a reverence did you mean reference? with a hand gesture Nisha could not recognize.

“So what brings you here anyway?” She continued, “I don't know if you noticed but the Earth is undergoing a bit of an apocalypse.”

“Precisely. My probe caught an energy spike that was unaccounted for. That is usually a sign of intelligence.”

“If you can call this intelligence,” Nisha waved her open palm through the darkness. oh right it's pitch black. How is she seeing anything?

“Hm...”

Sen closed its eyes. Rays of sunlight broke through the smoky sky, revealing a second white tentacle that sucked the polluted air around it. A whirlwind of smoke and dust followed its every move as the air began to clear at a steady pace.

“That is amazing! You are siphoning it.”

“Not siphoning, processing. We don't want to remove the atmosphere.”

Nisha nodded.

“Unfortunately I can't do anything about the radiation. The remaining humans will have to wait it out.”

Nisha's face of excitement turned sour. 'face of excitement' is awkward wording

“So we are hosed either way. I'd be shocked if the nuclear winds didn't poison me already.” yeah that was made clear earlier, no?

“I apologize, I have done what I can.”

Nisha's dark brown eyes wandered off into the distance. Her analytical mind had always tried to anticipate the future, to stay one step ahead. To be prepared for every probable possibility. But nothing had prepared her for a nuclear war breaking out from nowhere, nobody had been. 'It won't happen' everybody said. 'The leaders know what's at stake'. They sure did. earlier in the story you said the ignored the warnings, which contradicts this paragraph

The reality of the situation was that neither she nor anyone could fix it, apparently not even Sen, an amazing creature that most biologists wouldn’t have even dreamed off.proofread And here she was sulking instead of taking advantage of her last few moments on Earth. yeah sulking isn't really what she seems to be doing here. odd choice of word

“I know,” Sen interrupted her thoughts, “You have many questions.

“Did you just read my mind? Are you telepathic?”

“No, I have met many other beings around your level of development and they usually think in a similar fashion. Telepathy doesn't exist. And besides, talking is a telepathy of sorts.” makes you think

Nisha cupped her chin between her index and thumb.

“Alright, here it is. I am the only one of my species, I don't have a gender and don't reproduce. I do evolve however. While my sentience does not go all the way back to the big bang – that's what you call it here on Earth right? – I can trace back my existence for millions of Earth years. I am quite possibly the oldest and most intelligent being in the entire universe. My body spans across many galaxies. Obviously that is huge for a human, though it is not much in regards to the universe itself. What you see right here -talking to you- is just a diminutive appendage. Every fraction of a second I make millions and millions of computations to ensure none of my appendages run into a star or meteor or black hole. And all those calculations are without considering the sensory data I collect simultaneously. As you can imagine, interpolating your language and speech patterns from the small sample provided is something within my computational possibilities. As a matter of fact, right now I am communicating with several thousand beings across the universe.” cool so he's smart

“So you are God,” Nisha replied, “What could you possibly want from Earth? Or from me? I'm not even a spec proofread of dust to you.”

“As I said earlier, I am a brain of the universe. I'm here to experience, anything and everything. And you are too. I know what it is like to feel pain and so I try to diminish it. Unfortunately I don't think I can do anything else for Earth. I cannot bend the laws of physics.” kinda seems like he can, what with the giant tentacles reaching down from space and all

Nisha lowered her gaze.

“Though I do have an offer to make you. And everyone in this planet who will take it.”

“Go on.” Nisha said.

“I can assimilate you, absorb your body and consciousness into my own. My organism can withstand the radiation.”

“No! That's horrible.”

“I know how it sounds, but you would not die, your mind would still be your own. It would just be integrated into my own. I am like a colony for consciousnesses. Imagine all the planets and galaxies you could see, all the wonders in the universe. All the creatures you could study. There are endless words out there still waiting to be discovered.”

“If all you want is to assimilate other beings why don't you just go ahead and do it? It's not like I have any power to stop you.”

Nisha crossed her arms.

“It does not work that way. I cannot take an unwilling mind, nor I would want to. convenient plot device If the assimilation is rejected it will cause death to the subject, and a minor but not negligible disruption to my systems.”

Nisha sighed and lifted her gaze towards Nathaniel. Even if he survived the head trauma the radiation would get him eventually.

“Can you save him?” She pointed at Nathaniel.

“And anybody else who's willing,” Sen added.

“I will take my chances here on Earth. I can't… be assimilated. But please, save him.” why not if she knows she's a dead duck anyway? you should give her a reason to resist

Sen nodded and closed its made up eyes. His expressions had already begun to resemble human ones. Hundreds of thousands of white tentacles appeared on the sky, spreading through the air like thunderbolts moving at a glacial speed,glacial thunderbolts? confusing imagery here dividing and branching off towards different locations around the world. The land darkened under that canopy of tendrils. Sen walked towards Nathaniel and extended his arm.

“You understand this could kill him right? I do not know if his consciousness will accept the assimilation, though his weakened state could prove favorable.”

“Do what you can,” Nisha's voice trembled.

Sen lowered his arm. From its palm emerged a bubble of white material which engulfed Nathaniel. The bubble drained back into the tentacle leaving nothing behind where Nathaniel had been. Sen's features began twisting and changing into those of Nathaniel. His long protruding nose appeared, then his split up chin and wide eyebrows. The white skin changed its hue as if a drop of blood had been dripped onto a water surface, his freckles and imperfections popping to the surface of the skin.

Nisha gasped.

“Is that really you?” She said.

“Yes and no,” Nathaniel answered, “I'm still me but I'm also so much more. I cannot describe it.”

He extended his arm.

“Come with me.”

Nisha grabbed his fingers and let them go, then walked around him. She caressed the tentacle attached to his skull.

“I don't...” She hesitated, “this is so weird.”

“It's still me. Remember when we first met? How I screwed up your experiment? I thought you'd never forgive me, but then you did.” I don't understand how that convinces her to assimilate...?

Nisha smiled, then closed her eyes. A mantle of warmth and excitement enveloped her.


Nisha swam in a stream of consciousness. Some people she knew were there along many many more she hadn't ever met. The vast majority of the consciousnesses were alien, and they were all hers as much as she was theirs. In the blink of an eye she understood all the mysteries she ever wondered about and many more she hadn't even known existed. She knew of stars and planets situated millions of light years away and creatures that seemed to be pulled out of a dream. It was as if thousands of doors had been opened and all the knowledge had come pouring in into her psyche. As wondrous as this knowledge was, there was something that stood out to her: the perfect understanding of Nathaniel's mind. Their minds had melded together while still retaining their individuality. They were now two and the same and the entire universe was open to them.

So the idea of an alien appearing to save humanity after a nuclear war has some promise, but they way it's presented here is not very satisfying. The giant sky tentacle is not convincing, and the dialogue is too casual considering the stakes involved. Think about what makes each character interesting, and mine that for your dialogue and motivations. Nisha just sort of reacts to what's happening, decides not to assimilate and then quickly changes her mind for no apparent reason. I guess she loves Nathaniel (evidenced by the kiss) but she's so blase about the whole situation any emotional intensity is negated. You reference it again at the end (and in the title) but it's not a theme carried throughout the story, which is a shame - it would improve it greatly.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Thranguy posted:

:siren:Thunderdome CCXXXVIII: Lie to Me:siren:

Judges:
Thranguy
newtestleper
?


it's me. i'm the question mark.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME




WEEK 232 CRITS PART 2/3

Twist gets his own critpost because hoollyyyyyy gently caress. Anyway, the other crits should happen more quickly now

Alouette

Your sins: Making me crit this monstrosity, uuughhh, god.

But so, it was actually pretty okay. For the judges it fell mainly into the category of "weird and intriguing but not 100% satisfying, maybe like 85% satisfying which is still p good imo".

So, first I want to talk about the italicized parts, which are I guess the guidelines/rules for playing a spirit. I think they start out too poetic. You should start with the practical advice, and then go into the flowery stuff about speaking with arms and legs and whatnot. It might be better to open with the bit that talks about what clothes to wear, for example. By including the standard operating procedures for fake ghosts, you kind of gave yourself an easy way to dump in some exposition that would've been awkward otherwise, and I appreciate that. But the actual narrative is also very flowery and flowy, like the ephemeral memory of a tendril of a lost lover's hair. It would feel more balanced if the italicized bits contrasted with the rest of the prose (in the beginning, at least).

I like the scene in the bar, when they're discussing the legend of Alouette. It's the first time I feel any warmth and texture in your protagonist. Although in general, there is a hollowness to a lot of the conversations in this story. Some of the banter feels more like a meet cute from a romance novel or something. There's a lot of words spent on teasing and misunderstanding but it feels kind of forced because I don't get a sense of the characters' relationships outside of each scene. I'm mainly thinking of Ray as I type this. She was easy to peg as the saboteur early on because everything between her and the narrator feels so forced. And then, just in case it wasn't obvious enough, you do the whole "keep your enemies close" exchange and ugh.

Speaking of Ray, I didn't find her fate very satisfying. She basically gets violently punished for being the thinly veiled antagonist. It's not even clear why she'd want to sabotage Tammera, tbh. Like, they're all just people doing their jobs. The competitiveness between the girls comes across a bit like cattiness for cattiness's sake. I can't figure out what anyone, especially Ray, has to gain by being bitchy and malicious.

There are a couple moments that felt dramatic but I didn't think the story "earned" them. The ones that stick out most are in the same section, when Tammera is realizing that Ray betrayed her (and then wound up in the ICU).

quote:

I cry without making any sound, because I’ve gotten so drat good at my job, me and the twenty parallel versions of me reflected in the mirrored walls of the elevator, all bent over and crying silently, we’re all just so drat good at our job.

Honestly, this little freakout doesn't feel non sequitur, exactly, but I feel like...it's trying to drag me along emotional currents that the story didn't fully develop. This is the reaction of someone who is at the end of their rope. I get that Tammera is in a lovely situation, but at no point in the story do I get a tangible sense her job is taking its toll on her. In fact, the narration feels pretty aloof. I don't get an especially strong sense of what's in her head. Like, the so drat good at our job bit is what sticks out the most. Okay, so, she's a professional ghost, which means her job entails being silent. I would think that someone who was this much at their wit's end with the ghost shtick, someone who is really feeling the strain of their work persona, would show that more in their interpersonal relationships. But the story doesn't really give me that. There's not even a whole lot of internal monologue to work with. So this feels like a super abrupt escalation of emotions.

Another line that didn't jive well was this one:

quote:

“I’ll be right back, I promise,” I say, because my promises mean nothing.

IDK, I just think if you're going to say something like "because my promises mean nothing" you should uuuuuh show your character breaking some promises? or at least struggling to keep promise. So this bit sticks out as kind of melodramatic.

Now for the ending. The very first paragraph kind of soured me on Tammera a bit. Like, here's this woman who's obviously crazy or homeless or something, and Tammera's like "notice me sempai, I'm sad about my ghost job". It's fine if you mean for her to seem self centered and preoccupied with her own melodrama, but it doesn't really read that way. So it's awkward.

Theeeennn you back load the story with a bunch of childhood trauma, and while it certainly explains some things, it feels like you created this character whose personality you have to retroactively justify with a sad story.

More stuff the story didn't quite earn:

quote:

Hands, countless hands poking through my blurry vision, slicing through the air, grasping at snowflakes, rubbing themselves together to stay warm. Hands turning my pale heart over and over like a digital watch. Hands reaching for me, grasping my hand in theirs, then tearing it off at the wrist, jagged scraps of skin left behind. Tearing off my arms, my legs, clawing out chunks of my torso as they work their way up my neck to my head. I feel fistfuls of hair get yanked out, ears ripped off like ripe vine fruit, eyes clawed out through bright sockets and tongue clawed out through a smiling mouth because I suddenly know, right then, that no one will ever get my heart, because I plucked it out from my chest myself, and I laid it in a gold box and hid it away where no one would ever find it, and even I don’t need it anymore. I know what a human heart looks like. It’s not special.

I can feel you desperately trying to create some kind of parity or connection between Tammera and her Alouette alter ego. The heart thing feels especially forced, since we've only seen Tammera be a fairly decent human being.

Nila gets completely dropped, leaving me confused as to what her role in the story was. Like, the interactions were good (except where they drank like 3 glasses of wine in the span of what seemed like 5 minutes), but when I try to pin down her role in the narrative, I come up with nothing.

The final scene is, IMO, a total misfire. It just doesn't resonate at all. First of all, you already used up the whole "guy wakes up and interrupts the fake haunting" routine. Like, I was already suspending disbelief that people wouldn't simply stay up late to try and see the ghosts for themselves. And then two people do that exact thing, more or less, so I'm like, oh, I guess it does happen after all.

I have no connection to the old man, there is nothing super profound about the final image that the story leaves us with. It's is part of an overall disjointedness in this piece IMO. You're juggling Tammera's relationship with her job, Tammera's relationship with the other girls, Tammera's relationship with Nila, Tammera's relationship with the hotel as a set/environment, and Tammera's relationship with her past. These plot elements all kind of bump against each other, but don't weave together. Some of the subtler moments, like the old woman with the soap, don't read as especially significant, even though I can tell the character is feeling profound things.

So, by now you're probably like WTF why did this HM. Well, I like the concept of the hotel and the services it provides, even if I think they need to be developed better. I like the ambition; this has the shape of something compelling and haunting. you just need to connect the different bits of plot better. There needs to be a stronger through line--something Tammera/her Alouette persona wants, maybe? I didn't get a strong sense of her desires. She basically just wants to not be hosed with, but she goes out of her way to engage Nila for unclear reasons.

The prose is gorgeous in some places and overwrought in others. I maintain that the italicized "how to be a fake ghost" bits need to be a little more sober and plainly worded. That would balance out the more ornate narrative prose.

In spite of all the above, this wasn't a chore to read at all, which is always a risk with longer short stories. I hope you continue to develop this piece, because it's worth it IMO.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Sitting Here posted:

WEEK 232 CRITS PART 2/3

Twist gets his own critpost because hoollyyyyyy gently caress. Anyway, the other crits should happen more quickly now

Alouette

Your sins: Making me crit this monstrosity, uuughhh, god.



sincere thank you for the putting-up-with-me-being-an-rear end crit, SH :mrgw:

Twiggymouse
Mar 4, 2013

Well, take this with a grain of salt, but

Many thanks for the crits.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Thanks hawkland, great crit.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


also thanks to Thranguy for the earlier crit, as well :ortiz:

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Congrats on the twofer, Thranguy.

Please allow me to remind you, however, that this is supposed to be a thread about bad words, not good ones.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


BeefSupreme posted:

also give me a flash rule

your narrator cannot be unreliable because of drugs, mental illness, or knowingly lying to the audience.

(this is a good rule for all entries to follow. yes it's hard.)

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Weeks XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XIX, XXI, and CCXXXVII: Are You Receiving Me Clear? There's Others Out Here!

A few more old stories get their overdue due, then it's back to current events with crits for the most recent negative mentions.


Week 11: Betrayal, by Zdzislaw Beksiñski


Bad Seafood, "Rainmaker": The beauty in this is hidden under a crust of difficulty. It shouldn't take so much thought to parse it. The first line, good as it is, connects poorly at best to the rest; My love, it says, and I imagine an adult and a romance. But later the narrator reads as a child, lifted and carried by the Rainmaker. Your words paint the marksman as a mythic figure, one arrived from the dust to save the town, but then he's nothing. And as for "sewn to breed hope"--! Go back to this story now that your skill has increased. Untangle the pronouns, make the things that should flow flow, and leave the things that should be strange strange. It's potentially amazing.

*****

Chairchucker, "Car": Thank God for you, Chairchucker, and for the groansome punchline you submitted in this grimdust week, even though it doesn't hold up to thought at all. I couldn't begin to guess why Cameron and the farmers have tied Justin up and stuffed a rag in his mouth other than to fiddle with my expectations, but more than that, how did the farmers miss the car he was driving? Did it appear amidst them one day, wearing a tag on the bumper that said Hi! I'm Justin's!? I'd laugh harder if the setup weren't so flimsy, but oh, well. I'm glad if a little surprised you didn't get smacked for this: it's not as fun as the asexual dwarf PI.

*****

sebmojo, "White Stone Rise": Take my incredulity that your mechanics were ever this bad as a compliment. Two people talk in the fourth paragraph, and the punctuation is a sufficiently shameful hash that I hope this story looms over your head at night and whispers "Commaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas" to you until a single tear of oil and salt mars the plated plane of your face. You don't prod much at the questions of what the stone is, what it wants, or how it transforms into a cathedral. I don't mind the mystery in the first two--that's the sort of story this is, though leaving everything vague keeps the piece ephemeral. I wonder about the last. Did Slattery cut it? Maybe he should be a mason instead of a farmer, so the stone "speaking" to him first would have a sort of logic and invite questions re: how aware of the village the stone was even before it broke through.


********************


Week 12: Hateful Protagonist


sebmojo, "Serial": Would all this cutting and hiding make more sense if I knew something about the spider in the accompanying image, I wonder. You shouldn't make me wonder that. The prompt asked for a villain the judges could hate, and for my money yours doesn't qualify: too inhuman. Too eldritch. I can't hate a spider monster the way I could a person who massaged the murderous spreadsheet and hid the bits (ha, whether you intended that to be a pun or not). The comparison to a spider is perhaps overdone when the story says again, in the last paragraph, LIKE A SPIDER, as though I might have missed it the first time. You and spiders, huh?


********************


Week 13: Real Natural Horror


Kleptobot, "The Wrong Warzone": I thought at first it was a symptom of my overexposure to Thunderdome stories and unfair to you that I figured the opening for some sort of fake-out, but would you look at that, Kevin is indeed a nutbar murdering innocent laser-tag janitors. Lindsay's reaction of shaking her head and walking away from the corpse is remarkably blase, I must say. This PTSD story surely isn't supposed to be satirical. But the CAPSLOCK OF RAGE, the "evil shooter," and other over-the-top choices disembowel the horror you're going for, so I come away feeling like I've just watched one of Monty Python's less successful sketches.


********************


Week 14: You Shouldn't Be Here


toanoradian, "Untitled": You delightful weirdo. Outside TD, this would make no sense. Inside TD, it makes some sense as a tiny meta story about itself. It shines as a sassy response to the word-count restriction, especially since it high-fives the prompt on its way out into the depths of spaceless space. I find I like fiction about punctuation, which says sad things about me, I'm sure, but it makes this particular ficlet a lot of fun. I still don't know what Voliun was thinking when he tried to rewrite it, though.


********************


Week 15: Sharp Vision Sooths Strong Reaction


Noah, "Revolution": Why in the names of the holies does Thunderdome have so many stories about secret lizardmen? Is this even the first one? Lord. On my first read I felt out of the loop, so I looked up Toby Nugent. Ted Nugent's son? (Who wouldn't be called Toby, Jr., would he, since Toby isn't Ted's name?) So I'm looking at political satire, I guess. Getting so specific doesn't work in the story's favor: you're writing about a man comforting his "good" lizardman wife in the wake of an assassination that's bound to increase anti-lizardman sentiment, etc. etc., and what you're driving at comes across without you dropping a name to add an extra jab at the Nugents if the reader happens to know who they are. Despite that, this is the best secret lizardman story I've read for Thunderdome by virtue of its combined absurdity and pathos.


********************


Week 16: Oh the weave we web


sebmojo, "Strangers when we meet": What's impressive is how much of your world and its mechanics I'm able to pick up with so little infodumping and such oblique context clues. I don't know what precisely Victoria did or why doubling the time stream was so bad, but I know she's been in exile and now is on the run from an assault on her reality by parties as capable of manipulating it as she is. Up to a point, that's all I need. But then the doubles meet, exposit--vaguely--and vanish, and while it isn't quite a To be continued ending, why did I care about any of that again? You cut too many corners in trying to fit so much story into a tight limit.


********************


Week 19: How Deep Is My Fuckin' Love


Benagain, "Dharma": Your dudes are a shade histrionic, and I'm at a loss for why right before a bachelor party is a particularly bad time for a break up, but otherwise? Fun. The narrative voice is good. If I'm not buying the protagonist and Jack as True Love Everlasting, I do buy them as a couple of goofballs sweet on each other. That said, I'm confused about the protagonist's team. First he's grouped with a bunch of stoners who are already out of the game, then he's with Brad and his posse. Huh? Draw a clearer connection between the potheads and the rest of the guys if you ever come back to this.


********************


Week 21: Welcome to My Sensorium


Bad Seafood, "Lighthouse": A couple of weeks' worth of luck at least must have gone into keeping this muddled opening to a story that never happens out of the DM pool. I appreciate the narrator's voice in the first couple of paragraphs; I appreciate the effort to get into the perspective of a blind man with synaesthesia, but the result is confusing, only sometimes in an artistic way. More critically, there's nothing else here! A blind man arrives at his father's house for a birthday party. That's all. I'm curious about the lives of these characters, which doesn't make me any happier that this scrap is all I get.


********************


Week 237: A Way for the Cosmos To Know Itself


llamaguccii, "The Long-Winded Shortness of Breath": Whir is singular and should have a singular verb. Why would a being that doesn't hear sounds claim its voice squeaks and crackles? What does a plant without eyes know about sight? Your "alien" perspective--how are these things extraterrestrial?--keeps returning to human reference points, and this enhances the vibe of small bitterness it gives off, I think, because this thing is defining its existence entirely in relation to something it hates. The prose reads well to a point, but but it loses luster after it descends into a rant.

*****

Jay W. Friks, "Loud until silent by Jay W.Friks": You know better than this title and this format. Your mechanics are also rougher than usual, to put it mildly: the first sentence is missing a hyphen, the second tells me a cloud of vaporized wood and metal ran to a cellar, the fifth uses the wrong preposition (to in place of in), the sixth is in the wrong tense (it ought to be in the past perfect, since the story opens with the trench already there), the seventh has an unattractive comma splice, the eighth has a capitalized word that shouldn't be, etc. So many errors get between a reader and a story. A lot of work lies ahead of you if you proofed this before posting and saw no problems, but my suspicion is that you didn't, which is better for you in the long term but aggravating for me in the short. The story as I understand it is that a man in Aleppo is visited by a parallel-universe alien, which abducts him, reads his mind (with his consent), and sets him down in another world that's closer to his version of paradise. The moral appears to be that bombs are bad. It's not that I disagree, but there are quiet ways of committing atrocities too, so I'm not sold on "go live where people aren't so noisy" as a good answer here; even if I were, the alien abduction is a significant distraction from the horrors-of-war theme. I'm interested in Aleppo as a setting and in Omar's perspective, but neither is used to full potential.

*****

BeefSupreme, "More Human Than Human": I regard your shameless handwaving of critical issues of space travel, physics, and life in general through narrowed eyes, sir. At the same time--what the hell! Resource management isn't the fun part of any space sim. Alas that the glossing over of problems doesn't stop there: everything seems convenient and effortless for these refugees. I'm missing any sense of tension regarding what might happen. The blue sun frays my suspension of disbelief almost as much as the infinite food supply, and there's less excuse for it. Not all SF has to be hard, realistic SF, but this goes so far the other way that it's like a story made up off the cuff by a bored and talented child. When the danger does come, it's as ill defined as everything else. What is the Marshall clone? Why does it stab Liz? Why is the response to leave entirely without investigating the mystery, given that a planet is enormous and would offer other places to settle? Although I enjoy the character interactions before the team makes its landing, the ending is terrible--almost more so for how little Liz is hurt--and I'm not sure what the alien contact is meant to be telling me about humanity.

*****

newtestleper, "Landings": The concept of salvaging space debris to survive, I like, and I like much of the description of Delia's interaction with the whatever-it-is, but concept and description are all that you have. What's the story, that something alien was out in the Kuiper Belt at one point? What does it say about people, that they'll keep their eyes on the prize even in the face of wonders? Touché, but that point still wants more of a story to illustrate it. You stop when you've only just started and kill your entry in the doing.


2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 38, 39, 42, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 78, 80, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 111, 114, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122, 124, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 153, 154, 155, 156

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 08:48 on Feb 22, 2017

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014

This statement is a lie!


Chernabog posted:

Thanks hawkland, great crit.

Okua posted:

Solitair I could give it a try :)

Okua, "The Grand Escape from Humanity"

First of all, it looks like you pressed enter mid-sentence here:

Okua posted:

My attic room was built of dark wood, the roof slanted so that little sunlight came through a small window. On the floor, empty cages contained only empty nests and useless notes. Gone were the animals I had studied. All I had
left were a few starved goldfish and prayers. I then fed the goldfish to the only thing that mattered.

In the second scene, the one where the narrator has the alien jellyfish cutting on his ship, there are two places where you leave two blank lines between paragraphs instead of one, and I'm unclear if this is meant to indicate the passage of time in the same place. I don't know how long it's been since the guy started sailing with it, and that whole scene has a 'reel missing from the movie' effect.

That said, the finale works pretty well. The imagery you chose to depict the alien growing to apocalyptic size at the end did actually make me go "oh poo poo." Unfortunately, the build-up is kind of bare bones, telling me the minimum of what I needed to know to get to this point. It needs more fleshing out, but at least I get the gist of your story's intended progression.

Solitair fucked around with this message at 07:15 on Feb 22, 2017

Okua
Oct 30, 2016


I'm just writing my impressions as I go.

Solitair posted:

Collective Soul
1298 words

Area 51: GOOD AFTERNOON.

Jensen typed those words into the keyboard at her station, as she'd done every day since the other technicians hooked the specimen up to it. Years had passed since it was brought to Area 51, and in that time experimentation proceeded in a continuous twenty-four hour cycle. The director wanted to know everything there was to know about it, considering the nine people it killed before the proper authorities caught wind of it.

Here, it's unclear to me whether Jensen is the director or not. And I would think this specimen being an actual alien lifeform(!) alone is enough to justify wanting to learn about it, no matter who it has killed, but maybe this is a world where aliens are common knowledge?

quote:

X: FIND COYOTE DEER ARNETTE TEXAS. SEVERAL PEOPLE SPARSE DISTANT. MYSELF CLOSE COLLECTED. MYSELF SYNCHRONICITY ELECTROMAGNETISM. OTHERS PLANET SYNCHRONICITY SOUND VISION. CURIOSITY. AREA 51 OBSERVE MYSELF PRESENT. MYSELF OBSERVE ARNETTE TEXAS PAST.

At least they had that much in common.

I can just make out the gist of what's being said, but it took me a while to figure out what it is they have in common. It also doesn't seem like you're doing much with the concept of Jensen and the alien being alike in their purpose, both being observers.

quote:

The citizens of Arnette, Texas had conversation with each other, often about topics other than their careers. There were wealthy neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods, as was the case with every other town Jensen had ever been to. Both were ubiquitous signs of the human condition, with most humans considering the former to be a perk of being alive and the latter to be regrettable problem that could be curbed but never truly eliminated.

Why are you telling me what humans think about conversations and poverty?. I know, I am a human. It made me think that maybe Jensen was going to turn out to be an alien, too.

quote:

The mold in the tank, with its microscopic cells working in perfect sync, had formed a sac of ganglions with an uncanny resemblance to an animal's nervous system, but lacked the ability to process these simply concepts.

Without that last part, you'd be showing that the alien is inhuman instead of telling it.

quote:

Area 51: CAN YOU SEE ME RIGHT NOW?

X: SINGLE AREA 51 NODE VISIBILITY. MAJORITY NODE LOCATION UNKNOWN.

That aspect of its biology needed further study. Jensen made a note of it before she decided to focus on the most important matter.

More observer/bering observed stuff. I thought this was going to be a theme, but it's just thrown aside. There could be a power struggle going on with the scientists wanting information the alien is withholding (on purpose or otherwise), and in that context this reveal could have carried more weight. Being observed without your knowledge is an unsettling thing!

quote:

Area 51: WHY DID YOU KILL CHESTER MURRAY?

Chester had been the first casualty reported. He had suffocated in his sleep one night. While his family had been devastated by the news, more distant acquaintances assumed that his health issues had caught up to him, making the discovery of mold clogging his trachea a surprise. Of course, by the time of the autopsy, he wasn't the only one.

X: QUESTION KILL. ARNETTE TEXAS DISTRESS SURVIVAL.

That question would have way more impact if you didn't follow it up with a bunch of exposition. I'd leave Chester's details to the reader's imagination - perhaps with just a hint about his cause of death - or put the exposition earlier in the story. And why is Jensen asking about him when there were nine people dead?

quote:

If that distressed, but alive town knew that its citizens had been killed by something sapient, they would want more substantial answers than that, as did the director. Jensen would have to try a different tack.

"That distressed, but alive town" sounds awkward to me. If it is distressed, it is by definition alive - even though alive is an odd adjective for a town. You also refer back to the town with "they", so maybe it should have been about those distressed citizens.
(and there's a spelling mistake).

quote:

The only link connecting the victims, aside from them living in or near the Arnette city limits, was the strained relationship they had on the people they lived with. Chester Murray was an alcoholic who made his wife and children miserable. Patricia Gallagher was the landlord who imposed draconian rules on tenants who put up with it because they thought they had no better options. Lorelei Weston had recently come out of the closet, only to find that her devout Christian parents and siblings weren't having any of her sexual identity. If the mold couldn't tell the difference between those situations, perhaps its senses weren't that fine-tuned, after all.

Again with the exposition/telling that slows the conversation down. Instead of puzzling out what happened from what the alien says and/or clues/foreshadowing from earlier in the story, I'm just getting the answers served, and that's boring.

quote:

Area 51: EVERY NODE YOU DEACTIVATED ONLY MADE THE SITUATION WORSE. THE NODES YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD HELP ONLY GOT MORE MISERABLE. YOU HURT ARNETTE, AND IT MIGHT BE A LONG TIME BEFORE THOSE NODES GET BETTER.

I like this. Up until now, the all-caps speech has been very technical language. Now the mood changes. Jensen describes what has happened on the most basic emotional level - "You hurt Arnette" - and here the use of the town's name like they're talking about a person works. Jensen gets to show emotions! Empathy and humanity.

quote:

Assistance with what? Jensen wasn't sure if the mold could even articulate the answer if she asked. For a moment she sat in her chair and buried her fingers in her hair. Then she got up, printed the conversation log, and left the room to present her findings: another incremental breakthrough, with much more stumbling around yet to come.

Aaand its over without nothing really getting... resolved? Since it was mentioned at the beginning that they've had this speciment for a long while, I didn't really know whether anything new came to light in this conversation. What are the stakes of the story? And does Jensen have a personal stake in this? Because it seems like a failure to communicate doesn't lead to any consequences.
The story is centered around dialogue, but you keep putting it on hold to deliver exposition.
All in all some trouble with telling instead of showing, with some ideas/themes that could perhaps be pushed a little further.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Kaishai posted:

BeefSupreme, a bored and talented child.

best compliment I've ever received ty kai

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

I'm just gonna keep going with impressions/crits

llamaguccii - The Long-Winded Shortness of Breath

The perspective is brave. How do you write about organisms that don't speak, breathe, hear, or see? So right off the bat I appreciate the difficulty. After reading it once I looked up the critter you got and upon re-reading it the descriptions made more sense. Much of the prose and imagery is good, particularly towards the end. My only beef is the underlying sense of bitterness that underlies it. For such noble beasts they seem unduly worried about us humans, about how we percieve and treat them. Truly zen creatures wouldn't waste time worrying about 'lesser' beings such as us, and certainly wouldn't write a 372 word litany about how we mistreat and don't understand them. But I did like this overall, a good effort.

Metrofreak - Expansion

Cute, but not much happens here. Needs proofreading, there's several glaring errors. I was waiting for a deeper conversation between the two cellmates, something that might provide some insight into either of them, but nothing ever develops. So it ends up being sort of bland and forgettable.

Jay W. Friks - Loud until silent

A lot of run-on sentences, grammar problems, and comma splices throughout. Formatting only emphasizes the lack of variation in your writing. Slow down, let the prose breathe a bit. The whole piece seems rushed and disjointed.

I'm guessing that you're pretty new to writing fiction, which is fine, but go read and analyze how authors that you like develop a scene, develop characters, write dialogue. Then write another story and read it out loud to yourself. Does anything sound awkward? Forced? Re-write it. You have a habit of repeating words, sometimes twice in the same sentence. Watch for that and try to vary the words and sentence structure to make your writing more vibrant and interesting.

flerp - sound

I have to admit I laughed when Jim grabbed the beard from the toaster. Proofread!

I liked the characters, the scenario was fine, the aliens at first I thought were made of pure sound but that never really became clear. Perhaps that was intentional. I'm struggling to see how the protag suddenly had the epiphany that the aliens were hurt by the sounds. Which made me wonder if it was all in his head after all, so if that was supposed to be ambiguous it worked. The reveal that the protag had murdered someone seemed wedged in there awkwardly, didn't really advance the character or the plot as far as I could see, so I didn't understand that choice. But it was a fun read so I'm not gonna beef too hard about that.


Okua - The Grand Escape from Humanity

Another entry I enjoyed reading. The pacing was good, the imagery vivid and the motivations of the protagonist clear. I had a few quibbles with your use of passive voice such as here:

quote:

A woman's shrill scream was left to sound and resound outside with no reaction from any of us.


but overall the prose was strong. Storywise, I don't understand why he took the aquarium down to the ocean, for surely he must have known he would lose the jellyfish-god. to the sea...if he was so dependent on the vials of blood then why risk losing it? It would seem a more natural motivation to horde it rather than risk setting it free. But overall really enjoyed the story.


Dr Klocktopussy - Shells

I have to admit a groaned to myself a bit at the beginning when it became clear this was going to be a "relationship story" rather than a cool alien mystery...I wanted to know why did they leave? Who were they? But then as the story unfolded I realized why you made the choice you did — it made for a more human, more interesting story. Of all the stories this week I think you nailed the prompt most completely. James is so utterly affected by the aliens and by extension Heather as well, as she evolves in her reactions to his rejection. It is well written, emotional, pleading, and well deserving of the HM it received. Despite my original skepticism this became one of my favorite stories of the week.

Killer-of-Lawyers - Eternity

Hey another strong entry! Not sure why this didn't HM because it's a risky move, telling the story entirely from the world-alien's point of view. A few previous stories have tried this with mixed results—but you pull it off extremely well. The alien voice is convincing, his perspective strong and engaging. Prose is rhythmic and strong. Your descriptions of the alien-human contact are clear and then the poignant ending hits the right spot.

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 16:42 on Feb 22, 2017

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


BeefSupreme posted:

Welcome to Thunderdome!

Good crit, good man. Thank you.

Hawklad posted:

Some Crits for Week 237 - ALIENS
Deltasquid - Aquariums


You, too.

Also, in for this week.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


Great crittin' guys. Very much appreciated!

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Ready to get lyINg. :p

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Here's another one:

The Cut of Your Jib posted:

Last Flight of The Konstantin
2630 Words

Captain Baran slid himself through the jungle of wires he created and out from under the navigation console. He was soldier by training, but hoped he remembered his engineering course well enough to get the computer back online.

“Well, Sklyx,” he said, “here goes nothing.” He arched his eyebrows at the creature he rescued during his escape from an abandoned alien museum where he spent better part of ten thousand years frozen in stasis. Sklyx resembled a cross between an ant and a mantis, and stood waist high to the Captain. Under the bright fluorescents of The Konstantin’s bridge, he noticed for the first time that Sklyx’s shell shimmered with an ever-changing pattern like an oil-slick. way to wordy to capture my attention, especially so early in the story

Sklyx returned his hopeful glance by rubbing its two feathery antennae together to produce a cheerful sounding song. With that, Baran punched the button on the console. The navigation display lit up, and both edged closer and closer as it ran through the boot-up sequence. The projector kicked on and a holographic star map filled the cramped space.

Baran slumped in the pilot’s chair as he saw large parts of the map filled with flickering glitches and scrambled flight paths. It was too much to hope for. The time in storage must have corrupted the data.

He cupped his hands over the bridge of his nose, index fingers pressed into the corners of his eyes. Just like the flight computer, there were gaps in his memory. His training was intact, a few details of military service; but he couldn’t recall the circumstances of his capture. Nothing personal. So much of his life just missing. Deep down, he knew there wouldn’t be anything left of his former life, anyway. Ten centuries will do that. He was alone, now. At least the hum of The Konstantin through his chair was familiar. But a few memories to hang on to would go a long way. Byproduct of cryo-sleep, he supposed. There must be something he was forgetting. Maybe in more skilled hands, the repairs — this paragraph could use some pruning. You use a lot of words to say he has memory loss

The clatter of arthropodal legs on the steel panels under the console roused him from his ruminations. Sklyx was wedged under the nav panel. Its pointed abdomen stuck out, waggling furiously. The star map flashed and went dark.

“Sklyx,” Baran shouted as he lurched forward in the chair. He froze as the map flicked back to life. The Konstantin’s location blinked clearly in a bright, red contrast to the the cool blue of the starfield. “What did you do?” he asked. The question began sharply, but the anger was replaced with awed disbelief by the time he finished.maybe its personal preference but this really seems to overexplain his emotions. If your dialogue was better you wouldn't have to explain the emotional shift

Sklyx kept waggling and his back legs slid furiously, unable to find purchase on the metal floor. Baran smirked as he realized his companion was stuck. His hands hovered, one hand on either side of the Sklyx’s hind-quarters as he took a breath. The oil-slick patterning shifted wildly. Then he grabbed the creature. Its shell was cooler than the air, smooth and dry. The fluctuating patterns spiraled around his hands, waves of rainbow color pulsated from where his fingers made contact. He pulled, and Sklyx popped free from the maintenance hatch and back into Baran’s lap as they fell backwards through the hologram. so wordy to explain such a simple motion.

“Calm down, Sklyx.” said Baran with a chuckle. “You were panicked, that’s all. I don’t know what you did, but you got the computer working again. Nice job, buddy.”

Realizing it was free, Sklyx’s patterning slowed to gentle ripples. One of its antennae brushed against Baran’s cheek and he felt a tingle like static electricity.

“OK, that’s enough now.” Baran hefted Sklyx off and got to his feet. There were still gaps in the map’s data, but now they could plot a course. The Konstantin’s fuel gauge indicated enough power left to make a jump or two, and hopefully find a station capable of making repairs.

Sklyx clacked its mandibles excitedly as it gestured with its antennae towards a star cluster not too far away. An proofread binary system, but the name designation was still garbled.

“What’s there? Is that home?”

Sklyx sang an upbeat tune, the feathered antennae vibrated so quickly the air rippled, distorting the hologram.

“Well, that’s where we’ll go, then. Sound good?” Baran tapped a series of commands in the console and the starmap updated indicating their course towards Sklyx’s planet. He didn’t remember the computer working this fast when plotting a new route. Surely, Sklyx couldn’t have made improvements to the computer? No way of knowing. hmmm didn't he just improve it though? why the ambiguity?

He supposed the atmosphere there must be compatible—then again, maybe these creatures didn’t breathe at all. Sklyx might be friendly, but he wondered about the rest of its race. Hopefully they wouldn’t try to eat him on sight. Then a more sentimental thought hit him. He wondered if Sklyx had a mate, or family of some sort. Did they live long enough to be waiting at home, holding out hope that Sklyx might one day return?

There was one way to find out. Baran locked in the flight path and the hum of the engine grew to a rumble then a high pitched whine. Motion trails flew from his hands, Sklyx, and the ship all around him, like looking at a mirror through a mirror. Then everything froze. For a moment, even his thoughts stopped. Then the wormhole was closed behind them and space returned to normal. Dead ahead, Sklyx’s planet glowed under the spectrum of dual stars. gotta say that was not a very satisfying description of traveling through a wormhole. Seems like it might be more visceral.

so why exactly is he going to the bugs home planet? after 1000 years does he not have anything better to do? why did he escape and why did he rescue the bug in the first place anyways?

The Konstantin circled into orbit, and the readout indicated breathable air. More importantly, signs of life. “Are you ready, Sklyx? We’re heading down.”

Sklyx hopped to the co-pilot’s chair and its antennae stretched towards the viewscreen as they entered the atmosphere. Foreign mountain ranges and oceans grew larger as the ship descended and Sklyx grew more excited. They’re not foreign to Sklyx, Baran realized. This is its-his?-her? home. Maybe they didn’t even use pronouns like that. It was Sklyx’s home. yeah we established that already

Sklyx ran to the airlock before the ship even settled on a rocky patch of soil protected on three sides by low hills. Baran popped the hatch and out bounded Sklyx. As Baran exited, Sklyx dropped to the ground. Mandibles clacked and legs tapped rhythmically on flat stones in time with a slow bowing of Sklyx’s antennae. The Captain felt the rumble of the low frequency call in his feet as it reverberated through Sklyx’s body and into the ground.

It grew stronger and louder, and Baran realized it was coming from deep under the soil. Closer until even the metal of The Konstantin clattered on the stony turf. Then the ground erupted all around them as burrows reached the surface and they were surrounded by hundreds of Sklyx’s species.

Sklyx scrambled up and spun around, momentarily ecstatic, tweeting a high pitched vibrato. Sklyx froze in place before drooping in dismay. The silence weighed heavy, and Baran finally realized none of the Sklyx-species returned his friend’s call. None of them could. Their antennae were gone.

A few stumps and stubs of antennae remained, wiggling impotently. This wasn’t evolution at work. They were intentionally silenced. Butchered. Baran felt rage boil in his throat like acid, but he too, was unable to communicate with them. okay so finally we have a plot point. But why is Baran so furious? He barely knows these aliens, didn't even know for sure this was their planet, for all he knows maybe this is normal.

“Sklyx,” he implored, “what do we do?”

Sklyx returned his question with the grim note of a plaintive violin. Baran felt the despair in it, and the hardened military man crumbled inside. The anger drained to a sick pit in his stomach.again, seems melodramatic He reached towards his companion and placed a hand on Sklyx’s serrated foreleg. The iridescent pattern, this time, swirled towards Baran’s hand, and where he touched was like the eye of a storm.

But their moment of mourning was cut short as they heard the buzz of engines in the distance. Another ship moved towards them, and from the sound, Baran knew it moved fast.

He negotiated the ranks of Sklyx’s brethren as he ran for The Konstantin. Rather than burrowing for cover, they seemed paralyzed. Baran called for his companion to follow, but Sklyx too, was paralyzed.

From the cover of his ship, Captain Baran drew his sidearm and flipped the safety. Like everything else, the nuclear pill that powered his weapon was nearly depleted, but it was still good for a few shots.

As the unknown vessel approached, he caught a song similar to Sklyx’s and understood why none of the native species could move. The call somehow subdued them, in the same way Sklyx could summon the others. He hadn’t considered it until now, but Baran seemed to understand the gist of Sklyx’s calls, and gleaned the meaning on some basic level. How could the creature convey human emotions he would recognize through song? It must be more than that. They might be some sort of empathic group consciousness. He was just picking up on the fringes of the cloth, but the Sklyx-species here seemed inextricably woven together. The entire species mutilated to prevent uprising, and however they were bonded, that was being hijacked. wow that's a lot of insight to glean from a crowd of mute bugs its almost like the author is trying to shoehorn a bunch of information in here

But the time for introspection was over as a helix-shaped craft whistled overhead. The spinning ship generated the hums that froze Sklyx in place. Baran ducked under the short atmospheric aileron and hugged the hull of his ship. An aquiline wedge of a ship floated over the crest of the hill and touched down near The Konstantin. Its own landing door dropped open and Baran leveled his pistol.

Two humanoid figures emerged, shining in the harsh light. For a split second he thought they might be robots, drones of some kind, and he wrapped his finger around the trigger. But as they came closer and passed through the shadow of their shuttle, he saw human faces through their windowed helmets.

He felt his bile rise at the same time he felt relief. Helping Sklyx lead directly to finding other people, but he didn’t expect them to be the subjugators of Sklyx’s home planet. Time for some answers.

“Freeze. Don’t move,” Baran shouted. They spun to see him huddled against his ship, gun aimed squarely at them and complied. Captain Baran rose slowly and walked towards them with a measured pace, never lowering the pistol. He was close enough to make out their features, through their visor-glass. “What’s going on here?” I thought the air was breathable why are they wearing suits?

They couldn’t disguise their surprise as they saw him, and the closer of the two struggled to speak, as though she had forgotten how. Then he heard her voice in his head, muffled like a staticky intercom. “This is The Konstantin! How did you . . . where did you find it?”

“What do you mean?” Baran replied. “It’s my ship. I’ve been the captain since. . . .” But he didn’t know when. “How are you doing this? Talking to me?”

She seemed confused at first, then answered like it was obvious, “Through our implants.” Her intonation rose at the end, as if a question. why is that a question?

“Keep going.”

“Umm . . . we harvest the antennae of the Talam and once processed they’re implanted around the speech center of the brain. It enables telepathic communication. You wouldn’t be able to hear me if you didn’t have one. Everybody has one, they’re implanted at birth. So. . . .”

Baran ran his hand through his greying hair and felt the thin stripe of a scar on his scalp. It couldn’t be. “How dare you. This isn’t right.” okay so how did he get one?

“Look, we’re just administrators, OK? Farmers, basically. We’ve been here for generations. Thousands of years, harvesting the Talam. They’re just bugs.”

“They’re not—” Baran couldn’t restrain his anger any longer and fired a shot into the ground near their feet. The soil evaporated under the blast to a small, hardened crater. seems like an overreaction

“OK, OK,” she said, as the two raised their hands in alarm. “Calm down. No one needs to get hurt. Just come back to plant with us and we can work something out. TalCorp keeps the location of this planet a closely guarded secret. I’m sure we can get you anything you want to keep it that way. Pretty clever of you, stealing The Konstantin to get the coordinates.”

“That’s my ship!” Baran retorted.

“Can’t be. The Konstantin’s been archived on Earth for thousands of years. One of the first warp drive ships. The entire planet’s a museum nowadays. Captain Baran was the brave explorer who discovered the Talam. I wasn’t even sure it was real. Never been to Earth.”

His own people turned him into what? A monument to his own achievements? Baran felt the edge of madness creeping towards him. His head spun. so wait he has no idea that he's been here before? that's a rather large reveal. Hopefully you will explain why he has such a huge gap in his memory, like maybe it was wiped?

“Enough.” he said. “Turn off that signal. Free Sklyx. The Talam.”

“We can’t. It’s a subconscious process. We generate the subdue signal and it’s amplified through the rebroadcasters,” she said, gesturing towards the helix-shaped device floating overhead. “Our implants are designed that way.”

Whether by nefarious design, or degradation from cryo-sleep, Baran couldn’t remember any of this. It must be true, they didn’t have reason to concoct such a lie. why not? he's pointing a gun at them so there's a pretty good reason right there “Take me back to your base,” he commanded, and marched the two back onto their shuttle.

“Send the coordinates to The Konstantin.”

The woman closed her eyes for a moment. “It’s done.”

“Now release Sklyx. They’re paralyzed.”

“I told you, we can’t. Once we leave the area, the Talam will be able to move again, back to their breeding tunnels.”

Captain Baran was at his breaking point. If this was the way humanity turned out he had enough of it. “”Off the ship—”

“But—”

“Out!” The two ran down the ramp to the stony ground outside. Baran took a deep breath and steady his nerves. He checked his pistol charge. Then he fired. One shot, and the man dropped. Second shot, and the woman fell beside him. The gun’s energy was spent, and so was Baran’s. wait what? he just stone cold murders them? Why? didn't they just give him the coordinates of the plant? The first humans he has seen in over 1000 years and he decided to wax them? Doesn't seem like these two are exactly the bad guys here. Maybe the author wanted to get them out to the way to advance the plot...

The signal stopped and in a matter of seconds, the Talam returned to their burrows, leaving Sklyx standing alone, staring at Baran.

Cautiously, Sklyx approached him, and edged around the slain humans. Baran felt emotionless. His mind was blank. He closed his eyes and concentrated on Sklyx. Can you hear me?

The reply wasn’t like talking to the people. It was fuzzy, odd. But he understood. Yes.

I’m sorry, Sklyx. I’m going to put a stop to this. That’s not even your name. What should I call you?

It is good. Sklyx is the song of our bond. It is not my name, but what is between us. Yes?

We have a long road ahead. Will you travel with me?

Yes.

“Thank you, Sklyx. I’m sorry.” Baran boarded The Konstantin. Not enough fuel to get to another system, but enough to achieve his current purpose. He activated the remote pilot. The coordinates to the processing facility were already programmed. He took one last look around, then climbed out. He solemnly closed the hatch for the final time.

Baran and Sklyx rose high in the air aboard the TalCorp ship, and far off in the distance, they saw the spires of the plant. With a few console commands, The Konstantin lifted off the ground and made its lonely way towards the compound. They watched as it shrank to a dot. Then there was a blinding flash and The Konstantin was no more. The facility was no more.

Sklyx’s song echoed through the cabin of their acquired ship. Baran felt comfort and hope. He worked his way through the ultra-modern computer, with a little luck (or he hoped not, telepathic intervention), found the flight plans that would take them to the corporate headquarters world of TalCorp. He set it as their heading. He asked Sklyx again if he wanted to stay here. Sklyx continued the hopeful song for another moment before Baran deciphered a lucid thought from: I can hear the eggs. They are strong and growing. They will wait. We must save them. Let’s go.

Overall it is very heavy-handed with the morality and I really don't understand the motivation of Baran at all. Why does he care so much about the bugs in the first place? He is so torn and gut-wrenched by their plight, so much so that he just straight murders some fellow humans over it, but its not clear at all why. Obviously Talcorp is the big bad guy here so maybe spend more time addressing that. The writing is very tell-y in describing his emotional responses. Use stronger dialogue and internal monologue to put the reader inside his head and maybe we might understand why he feels the way he does about Sklyx & co.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


I would like a flash rule please

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Crit of Solitair's Collective Soul

First impression: having an alien species make literal observations is one way to answer the prompt, that's for sure. I wasn't sure where this was going at first, but I liked the alien communication quirks from the start. Jensen seems inconsequential to me, which you formalize early by having the alien call her Area 51, rather than her name. Which is part of your point, but it doesn't give me any attachment to the character. I was hoping for some physical interaction or action of some kind (but that's probably just me, I love action). There are some Solaris vibes here, which is always a good thing.

Summary: A scientist sits down at a terminal, one of many scientists who have done just that, apparently, and starts to talk to an alien glowing fungus. She talks about stuff, the alien replies, she asks more questions, etc. Then she stops talking to the alien, for some reason? Not really sure. That's pretty much it for the plot. The alien views humans through it's own life patterns, such that it sees cities as singular organisms. That leads it to view dysfunctional pieces of the city as diseased cells, effectively, and it tries to act like an immune system, to remove them from the body. Turns out that human dysfunction, bad as it may be, is a part of life. And that killing people is definitely worse than living with them. Also this alien, which can distinguish other instances of its own species as separate nodes, it fundamentally misinterprets humanity. So maybe it's not so intelligent. The end line, about more stumbling, might be another thought here about how we can never actually know stuff, we're just fumbling in the dark for close approximations of the answers.

Distinctive Feature:
The alien dialogue stands out, for sure. The lack of tense and the unusual grammatical structure make it unique. I could very easily see this going very poorly, but you pull it off well. I'm not going to attempt to learn your grammatical structure to see if you are consistent throughout, but I buy it through the length of the story. It is foreign enough to convey a difference in communication, yet comprehensible enough that I don't have to spend much time attempting to untangle the mess. Good stuff.

Strengths: As I said above, you pull off the alien speech well. Your prose is clear. You've got a interesting idea here--an alien species arrives, adapts, observes, and then even tries to be compassionate (though it fails, rather spectacularly). I like your concept for the alien species (though I wish you'd have given it a name--something the scientists call it or whatever). It's cool. I like that each instance finds it's own adaptations (and only what it needs to survive, as opposed to redundant human adaptations). The alien misunderstanding and subsequent action are interesting, that killing could be considered compassionate, from a certain (misinformed) point-of-view.

Weaknesses:
First, I think the information she discovers might be considered more than an incremental breakthrough. Jensen is also pretty flat, not a particularly interesting character. That's okay, since the alien is the focus here, but you give a lot of words to someone who adds little to the story, in any way. I don't think the narration pieces do much of anything for you, really. There are a few pieces of information we get from there, but we could either have done without them or gotten them in the 'dialogue'. I also think you give us too little about the people that died, and much too late. We could have been drawing conclusions much earlier, piecing together this alien observation along with the scientist, but we are effectively told it at the end. So the pacing is weird, in that sense. Also, how did this fungus get captured? Would be interesting if the fungus basically stood down, after its assessment of the success of its 'solution'.

Overall Impressions: I like this story. It held my interest well for a story in which nothing much happens in the present. I like your imagination, and I like the plot details of the story. I think there are a few ways that you could polish this and make it better. I could see an interesting version of this story where we're just reading a chat transcript, or something. But you've got a solid piece, and a great first entry. Looking forward to reading more.

I was going to do a line crit, but I don't necessarily have a ton specific to say, so I'm going to not do that.

Welcome to the dome

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


Solitair posted:

Collective Soul
1298 words

All right, I'm critting this as well, since we're bot FNG's here at the 'dome.

When I first read this story, I didn't like it very much. Beefsupreme seemed to like it though, so maybe I'm just stupid (entirely possible IMO). I'm giving it a second try now.

The Alien's speech impediment is still confusing to me. I think you overdid it just a bit. You could have it forego plurals or singular versions of words and not conjugate its verbs and you would achieve the same effect without making me reread the alien's sentences thrice. You probably sorta kinda knew this because Jensen seems to spell out/translate the alien's replies in her inner thoughts, which is frankly the only way I could follow what was happening.

And honestly, your story pretty much hinges on the speech gimmick. Other than that we have a researcher asking questions and the alien mold answering. We find out the alien was trying to help and not malicious, but as Beefsupreme said, the murder victims are only introduced and immediately resolved halfway through or at the end. Maybe this would have worked better as a whodunnit story? Or giving all the terrible things the alien did up front?

When the story ends, we have indeed learned a few things about the alien. It has some sense of ethics. It feels shame, probably. But other than that, not much happens.

A strong point in your story is probably your prose and description of the alien, which I can vividly imagine. Unfortunately the whole story takes place in a single lab room. Maybe introducing another character and having Jensen discuss things or walk around would have allowed you to give her some more characterisation?

Another thing I liked was your sense of pacing. I know mentioning "your story was short" as a good point sounds like a backhanded compliment but the dialogue did progress smoothly and you didn't tiptoe around the story you wanted to write. You could have easily dragged it out with a thousand more words of Jensen stumbling and fumbling around in the dark, but you didn't, so that's good.

In short: You had a good idea but I'm not convinced about the execution. Speech gimmick stands out but also dragged down the story IMO. The pacing was good. You opted for a story that's nearly entirely dialogue, stilted due to in-universe requirements, and I would have liked to see your write more prose because those were the best words in this story. I can't gauge how well you write dialogue because, again, Jensen only talked to somebody with a mandatory speech impediment from both sides to communicate.

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

I've come this far, I'd might as well finish the rest of them:

BeefSupreme - More Human than Human

Best not to drop the 2095 date in there, it started me thinking about how improbable it is that in 80 years we'd have mastered warp drive and colonized the galaxy. What's up with Marshall swearing, and then all the attention you give to it? Jarring. If he's going to swear, fine, but pointing it out and even giving it the all caps plus bold treatment took me right out of the story.

I find it hard to believe it is only upon atmospheric entry that he first imagines what it might be like when they find a planet. I mean, that's been their only goal for three years and you make it a point to mention how bored they are. I'm also going to complain about the planet, you just made it Earth but substituted the color blue for green. Reminds me of the old Star Trek TV show where they go out into the desert, slap a filter over the camera, and call it an alien planet. Not the most creative choice.

The aliens left me with a bunch of unexplained questions, and not in a good way. Little nondescript brown things with alien eyes, okay. Then the clone appears out of nowhere and decides to slice open his ship-mate, gets taken out by a log, then on his way back to the ship he takes a moment to appreciate again how blue the trees are. It's just a flesh wound hurrah! Then then take off and have a good cry at their misfortune. The aliens have no real identity or motive at all.

Not sure what the overall message is supposed to be, or how the alien contact changed them other than now they need to find a new planet. Just not enough going on below the surface in this story to make this story memorable. I did like the 'launch the refugees into space' idea, think it could have some potential. Although why were they refugees in the first place? Sayid sounds like a surfer dude, not exactly refugee material. Perhaps I'd care more about them if I knew why they were put in this situation.


newtestleper - Landings

I like the idea of desperate humans struggling for metal scraps from the 'space-forged missiles' although it is not clear why they are in such dire straits. Why is the Earth being bombarded with so many meteorites that salvaging them has become a cottage industry? Once Delia finds the alien rock/lander the reveal was a bit underwhelming. The lander is some sort of warning, I suppose, perhaps from a benevolent alien intelligence — danger is coming? Seems from the setting that it's a bit late for a warning, things already seem lovely if there's a steady stream of missiles blasting down from the sky.

quote:

How many millennia had it lay hidden in the Kuiper belt, and what was it doing ending its life in front of her?

I know you were going for ambiguity but why ask questions your story doesn't even come close to answering? At least give the readers some information to draw their own conclusions — your story doesn't, which makes the end result frustrating.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




36 hours left to get in on this week.

Also, I'll give flash rules myself if specifically requested (or if the other judges don't answer a request after about a whole day or something.)

Okua
Oct 30, 2016


...
I'm IN, and give me a flash rule asap.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Okua posted:

...
I'm IN, and give me a flash rule asap.
Use in your story:

Uncommonly powerful acid
-and/or-
A building that used to be a library

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

I would like a flash rule please

An irresponsible short-cut
-and/or-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l475gwnuV9k

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


hey what the hell even is a surreptitious muffin anyway

u suck

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME




BeefSupreme posted:

hey what the hell even is a surreptitious muffin anyway

u suck

muffin you curdled twat get in here

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


BeefSupreme posted:

hey what the hell even is a surreptitious muffin anyway

u suck
I will gently caress you

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

None of you bitches are loving anyone.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I will gently caress you


Chili posted:

None of you bitches are loving anyone.

i dont know what to believe anymore

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME




BeefSupreme posted:

hey what the hell even is a surreptitious muffin anyway

u suck


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I will gently caress you


Chili posted:

None of you bitches are loving anyone.

since you boys seem so hot and bothered we'll make it official

CHILIBEEFMUFFINZ BRAWL

Your prompts are:

inescapable gravity
story must focus on a long term monogamous relationship

2000 words max
due by 11:59 PM PST on 3/2/17

TOXX UP, DIPSHITS

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Chili posted:

None of you bitches are loving anyone.
u think u can get off saying this? your a dick and dicks don't get off around me

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Sitting Here posted:

since you boys seem so hot and bothered we'll make it official

CHILIBEEFMUFFINZ BRAWL

Your prompts are:

inescapable gravity
story must focus on a long term monogamous relationship

2000 words max
due by 11:59 PM PST on 3/2/17

TOXX UP, DIPSHITS
lol :toxx:

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe


:toxx:

:toxx:

:slick:

  • Locked thread