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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Four in the morning. I pick the best times to edit.

Lighthouse (545 words)

In the twenty-three years I have known him, never once has my father permitted me to touch his face.

No, no. That’s a lie. Sorry, yes. I’m sure of it. I just don’t remember. When I was small I am sure he permitted it. A small child so alone and curious. It was expected then. Not now that I was older. It was then that he took exception to it. He understood, I am sure, but did not like to be reminded. I understood, of course, yet could not help myself but to envy the child who had so intimately known his father’s face. His father who now lived faceless.

Nevertheless he was my father, I his son, and today his birthday.

It was Claudia who greeted us. My sister, that fascist songbird. A sweet-natured girl with venomous teeth. Her gentle cruelty is unmistakable. I fear for her husband sometimes. Her future one, I mean. The current model, more occasionally. Wet and folded, I smiled and extended my umbrella into the darkness where it was taken from me and vanished into the void. For a moment I stood adrift until Audrey pulled me back into the intimacy of close contact. I introduced her. Audrey, like Audrey Hepburn. A charming girl I’d met in the city just this year. Mixed Japanese, or so I was told. I decided not to embellish. I’d never seen one, after all.

In the wake of our welcome, the tipper-tap of the rain resumed its typewriter concert on the shingles of the roof. It stood muffled now and uncertain, but enough for Caroline to strike. Under temperate conditions I'd have caught her, but masked in rain the girl moved invisible. I felt her hands at my shoulders as she yanked me down to her level. Her laugh was mine. I’m sure she is beautiful. I combed her hair and clasped her face. There was a mark on her cheek. It shouldn’t have worried me but it did. Caroline will be Caroline.

“Stirring up some trouble I see.”

“Only a little.”

“Mother’d probably prefer that you didn’t.”

I felt the sway of her face between my palms. She disagreed.

“Mom doesn’t understand anything.”

Well that was certainly true enough. I smiled and stood and returned to the world of adults. Mother was waiting apparently. And father with her. Claudia took Audrey. She would show her around. Left by the door, I shucked off my shoes to reacquaint myself with my preferred method of navigation. Beyond the callous of the wood-furnished entry rolled the endless shag of the hallway carpet. Mother and father were in the living room, whose soft and simple carpet I could never forget. Mother herself didn’t talk much these days. Not that she’d talked much then either. But she’d let me touch her face, and that was enough. I counted more wrinkles this year, a number I decided I would keep to myself. Even so she smiled.

I quarter turned to father. I always quartered turned to father. Always a quarter turn and always to the right. I offered my hand to the darkness. In turn the darkness enveloped me. A warm embrace from an uncomfortable sweater.

“Good to see you Marco.”

“Happy birthday papa.”

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


How about a kind of scorecard thing? Everyone's best and worst, ranked only against themselves, their strengths and weaknesses as decided by the triumvirate.

For example:

BAD SEAFOOD (15 submissions)

Strength: Talking the talk.
Weakness: Walking the walk.
Best Submission: That one thing that was pretty okay I guess.
Worst Submission: Whatever he wrote this week.
Should Probably: Learn what a beginning is. And a middle. And an ending.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


The scorecard thing needn't be that complicated, really. Could just boil the whole thing down to everyone's best and worst; two sentences to remind us where we're going and where we've been. A little tonic of pride and humility. We could pick each other's or all convene. Whatever works.

Similarly, strengths and weaknesses. No reason we can't keep it simple. "Snappy dialogue, stiff descriptions." Four words. A little praise and a little homework.

Honestly though, Capntastic's got it pat. You could throw this whole thing out if it meant more regular critiques.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Stream of consciousness sword and sorcery.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFa1-kciCb4

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


The Saddest Rhino posted:

this feels like it should be part of a bigger narrative.
This probably describes a lot of my output, actually. I know Martello's called me on it once. And Sebmojo. It's a bad habit from my early years I've never really shaken when it comes to short fiction.

And now Rhino. Third time's the charm. Time to fix this.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Now perhaps you have thought to yourself Gosh That Seafood Seems An Okay Sort But One Wonders Why He Never Writes Stream Of Consciousness well wonder no more.

Seriously though I hate this stuff, stream of consciousness; reading it, writing it, which is why I picked it, and sincerely apologize to whoever has to critique it.

Additionally contains swords and not much sorcery, which is a genre I've never written before and probably shouldn't again.

The Lion and the Jackal (686 words)

Got some sharp teeth on that one there that Slaglander look at him high horse strutting about face of stone. But those teeth when he smiles must’ve spent years honing them image of Kuraket their god the maneater only eats virgins – such a waste – least it frees up an old man like myself. But those teeth could collect a good copper for those here from any seaside settlement seems a shame to leave them where they be in the mouth of a captor. Slavery’s a nasty business but I suspect I’ll make out I usually do it’s the young ones they work to death should be more concerned for the young one they shackled to me even if he is bigger than the rest took his sword took his shield took his armor practically naked but for a bit of leather and cloth those Slaggers think themselves generous heh.

He’s a strong one that one strong eyes strong will won’t break I don’t think they’ll work him to death before they work him to submission. Cuts his feet on the rocks and the glass in the sand but won’t say a word course I wouldn’t either but I’m used to it. Stands a greater animal than all of us like a general or a son or a sun’s blinding hot drat this heat won’t they rest? There’s those teeth again that laugh cold as ice that man Slaglander all of them cold as ice in their blood.

Son why did I think son I have no son no don’t even know his name though that won’t matter soon.



I can’t leave him like this I can’t leave him I can’t.

Where is it where the tooth silver from the man in Kauppei the Slagger drat them if they’d known I carried a piece of their countryman there THERE tucked away yes yes there easy does it catch the light now he sees it. Take it take it you know what this means well as I take it take it takeittakeittakeithere he goes into the lock a quiet chip and they’re both broken. Knows to hold up the chain no stranger to circumstance they’ll be keeping pace wha-umphf!

Paft-falak sand mouth trip fsht fsht what’s he doing getting both us killed Slaggers coming closer they’ll see know chains loosed flay us both drat it boy could’ve run what’s he dOH CAUGHT HIM off the horse round the neck that’s it choke him choke him sent to his gods to my feet to my feet there’s another round the back sword drawn take a fistful of sand GOTCHA don’t think small of a little old man now the keys where’s the keys somewhere midst the fabrics gotcha GOTCHA the lock the lock these shackles get them off the boy’s still fighting killed that one now the other dancing sideways sword in hand swing of steel trace the curvature through the air to the neck to the blood crimson spurt another dead drat but he’s good breathless beaten standing still the remainder flee drops his chains while the slaves look on.

He’s looking to me look to me they all look to me what do I look like I don’t understand I can’t understand his speech foreign nonsense least he’s grateful now he turns towards the sun not the way we came must have business down that way lost his sword took a new one and a horse waste not want not I suppose.

Free again slaved again what a cycle hands free there we are wrists sore careful careful look at that such a rash rest are worse I imagine no time for that no none at all. The goddess smiles like the Slaglander smiled yes those his neck’s been broken but his teeth those teeth oh how lovely let’s just take those come on now come out out out with it ooouuut ouuuuutttya one there’s one one two two twoooooooo two three three even just a handful’s threeeeee three four fouh that’s chipped no good this one then that’s four now five…

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Bad Seafood posted:

Woe Is Me Bullshit.
Huh, that reads a lot more self-pityingly than I actually intended.

Requesting permission to edit out unintentional self-pity unless Thunderdome protocol demands I stand by my shame.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


So this was a neat little story.

Iroel posted:

Stretched Out
By Iroel

Truth is a compliment I pay to my sentences, thought the peddler. A drachma for an ear, two hundred for the rest. Not really a body, more like a paste in a cube. Even the ear was a pink and soft string being pushed out from a machine in the back of the store. Knowing the perplexity of humans the peddler curved a little bit more his hunchback figure and explained. It’s Crohn’s principle: we irritate the interior part of a wormhole so it extrudes the matter faster. It’s like a very long tube, all the way to Kahi Nub. The hole, it’s very small, that’s why it comes out like this, like ground meat. The girl in front of him looked dumbfounded. That’s what they always looked like. He grabbed her face, squeezed open her mouth and scrubbed the inside of the cheek with a metal rod. You know, he continued, those red patches all over the back of the night sky, they are called erythema nodosum, they are harmless though. He picked a little bit of the pink paste, scraped it into a cube and then showed her the connected screen. Could she really read? See, they match, he said, this is your brother. Of course they match, they always match, no one could prove otherwise.
Your opening starts strong but gets a little unwieldy as it goes. I'd imagine it is the peddler's desire to obfuscate both the reader and the customer, but throwing us in the thick of it immediately risks stranding us rather than intriguing us. The first couple sentences though are good, if they could be trimmed a bit for rhythm. Mostly little things. "A drachma an ear" flows a little better than "A drachma for an ear," as you've written it. Few other rough spots but not too many, and I'd imagine you'd know to look out for them reading it a second time.

Additionally, your culling of quotation marks. It actually works, and works pretty well. It takes strong character voice to establish dialogue where none is denoted and I think you accomplish that. I wouldn't recommend it for everything, but here it serves to your benefit.

Iroel posted:

Once in his life he witnessed a pyoderma gangrenosum. It was far from harmless. It started as a series of red dots, like bug bites that look itchy. Then it spread in space, a mass of necrotic tissue, swallowing people and houses. The gangrene looked purple, he remembered, and got one of his houses along with his slaves and family.
Bad use of simile, "Bug bites that look itchy," but otherwise a competent paragraph. And yeah, paragraphs; I like what you do with them here. Anyone reading this who isn't Iroel, if you haven't read his submission in its original format I would advise you to do so. The constant constricting of the words for an aside before springing back to the heart of the story creates a surprising sense of intimacy, like the author is leaning in to tell you something extra you ought to know. Iroel has included footnotes without actually including footnotes, and it only enhances his story.

Iroel posted:

He cared about one of his slaves and whenever he saw a human he wished he would not have to reincarnate so as not to hold dear any other.
I like what this sentence is trying to do but it reads awkwardly.

Iroel posted:

He left the house so not to be amputated like the rest. He hid in a desert fortress, where people go to be forgotten, and lived off of his trade in that enormous bazaar. It seemed to him an interminable time.
Kind of the same deal here, though that bit about the desert fortress really stuck out in my mind (in a good way).

Iroel posted:

She compared the signs on the screen with the writing on a scrap of paper. She didn’t really know what they were supposed to mean, but she barely had anything in life, let alone certainties. The horrid hunched figure asked for three hundred drachma. She didn’t have the money and he didn’t have the time, or so he said. It took her two years and all her family’s savings to come up with that money. How could she come up with the rest? Wasn’t her effort already enough to honor his memory? When that thought struck her, she felt like she had won the money she wouldn’t spend after all.
Viewpoint shift! Actually works pretty well, though obviously better with Ireol's indentation in place. The last sentence in particular is very powerful, though it isn't my favorite sentence in the piece.

Iroel posted:

She never told anyone that she remembered the day when her parents found in the fields the boy that would become her brother. He was bleeding copiously, so much so that even her father could not take pity.

From more than ten miles away a doctor walked all the way to the house. He lifted the covers and looked at the wound. The boy’s a little anemic, he said, undress him and he will be better, and if not, he is only a boy, he is only a boy. He sang the last words.
I've combined these two to talk about them and the story as a whole. For science fiction, the story almost carries itself like a fairy tale. It's a pretty vital element to the whole thing, and here shines strongest, or rather most obviously. The segments themselves though don't add a whole lot outside of flavor.

Iroel posted:

She worked so hard for that money. It was voluntary serfdom, all the way into the colonies, spitting blood and laying bricks for the vanity of other species. She did not only lose two years of her life up there but also ten years traveling. Her hands, rough and broken, did not look anymore like a woman’s hands, so much that when she got back home she fell in love with a clerk for his soft and short fingers.
Solid bit of sentiment, but worded awkwardly. Had to read each word individually there in the middle, so as not to lose track of the thread. Something like "She'd lost two years; ten in traveling" sums up your point more tidily and with less gymnastics.

Iroel posted:

The clerk was young, lived his life and then got older while barely having met her.
This is my second favorite sentence.

Iroel posted:

His body was kept with all the others in a freezing cell. They empty out the bodies and dispose of the entrails by incineration and then transport them to the archive. From the archive the bodies are pushed through to the planets and homes where those who loved them pay for the price of transport. If no one claims the body it is just kept there, frozen and on record for posterity.
A paragraph that does its job. Nothing fancy. Nothing terrible either.

Iroel posted:

When he had decided to leave for one of the colonies she met him half of the way between their home and the port. Wouldn’t you stay at least for my sake, she asked her brother. Should I stay and just learn to be indifferent to their pain? I really don’t know. Should I just kiss the hand that breaks my jaw? I really don’t know. And is there any point ever having children? Oh, I don’t know.
Another viewpoint shift, and here it gets muddled. Did she bring back her brother or didn't she? I mean, obviously she did, since this is him, but we're missing a huge chunk of the in between. She suddenly has the cash to save him when she didn't before, and the ethical dilemma that characterized her beyond Concerned Sister up and vanishes. I'd actually say this trainwrecks the end of the story except for one thing.

Iroel posted:

He left and he never called, nor visited or came back. It was like if he were dead until he died.
This is my favorite sentence. That last one. Couple stray words, but the idea behind its construction rings beautifully.

All in all this was a pretty good effort from a guy who doesn't do sci-fi. You trip over your words at times and play with the information a little too liberally, but your use of the tone and the limitations of your own craft do you a service. I would like to read more stories that played with the format as you have done here.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Fanky Malloons posted:

Dishonourable mention goes to Bad Seafood for horrible punctuation neglect that basically made his piece unreadable. Stream of consciousness does not mean that you don't have to use commas, fool.
I was actually wondering about this. Most of the places I poked around for tricks of the trade made it quite clear lack of punctuation was part of what made it stream of consciousness; that without (or rather "With") it was just internal monologue, which I already knew how to do. I actually thought I'd get blasted for having periods at all.

Nevertheless, I accept your judgement. Let it be the albatros 'round my neck, till such time I have fought my way back to the land of the living.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


This thread has been the first time I've had anyone to write for in a long time; first time I've received any real criticism, or any real accolades. I sucked and for the first time someone told me why. Even managed to get published in there somewhere. So thanks, all of you. You are all ruthless bastards and may you continue to be so until the day you die.

It's been an honor to serve.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Flash Fiction Thunderdome - If This Were Any Other Thread We'd Be Banned By Now.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


The envelope was dry and cracked, and I didn't like the way it crinkled when I reached inside. It was a gun, a Luger, old and familiar. I turned it over in my hands remembering. I gripped the handle, raised the sights. I pulled the trigger, a hollow click. Then another. And another.

"Thought I was out. Thought I was done."

"Thought wrong."

On the hill out the window there's a tree where a mother used to take her son. He's not around anymore but she still goes there. Sometimes she brings a book. Usually she doesn't. Today she was gone and it bothered me, though I couldn't begin to tell you why. I shot a second glance in case I was imagining things. In case I wasn't. Sure enough, she was gone.

"...Do you think-

"No."

I stopped and thought and chuckled at the darkness. I examined my glass and found it wanting. Another round. I offered the darkness but it refused.

"Right. What was I thinking."

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Sebmojo is not actual legit cyberpunk.