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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



I've been asked to judge, so here goes:

MERC-FOOD BRAWL

Write a dark comedy that involves 4 separate characters. 1200 words. Deadline is 8/26, 11:59 EST.

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a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


nvm

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

Mons Hubris posted:

Thanks for the crits. I don't necessarily need a line by line critique because I know there are some problems, but I was trying to work with the idea of a person seeing someone they care about doing something really vile and I couldn't quite figure out how to get there. If anybody has any suggestions to that end that would be cool.

Moved this to the FA thread.

fake edit: PROOOOOOOMPT

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

lol wtf

awright prompt'll be along in a bit so get going with your prooooompt giffin.

best ones get a flash rule to hand out

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

ROBOPOCALYPSE WEEK CRITS

We're also gonna have another audio crit session up tonight or tomorrow!

I didn't put names with the titles because gently caress you, i hate you

A Resistance Doesn’t Start Itself

This is quite gleefully the beginning to a YA robot adventure. Or a Saturday morning cartoon series. The annoying thing is, it actually kind of works, except for the whole “being flash fiction” thing. I thought the way you incorporated your TDbot assignment was pretty decent. The big team up at the end made me roll my eyes so hard they actually continued rolling and wow im so dizzy its rly hard to type. You’re lucky that I was up late watching old kung fu movies last night, because it made me sympathetic to the logic of, “you are strong! Let us become allies!” But lets say I hadn’t been up all night watching The Flying Guillotine. Lets go to that bizzaro world for a moment. I gotta say, I’m not usually a fan of TD stories that are essentially just a first chapter (or a fragment of a first chapter). In order for it to work, you have to create some sort of intrigue that makes me want to guess what happens after your words stop. In this case, I know what happens. The (literally) ragtag group of rebels go and take on TA-L0S (I’m choosing to believe this is an Elder Scrolls reference), rescue dad (who will have sorted out some sort of anti-evil-robot device), and defeat the bad robots. It’s all very neat and predictable, and that’s why it doesn’t really stand alone as a flash piece.

Myopic Misery

I dunno what it is about this piece. I know virtually nothing about the protagonist, except he’s got bionic eyes and works for the enigmatic life form “Mother”. The idea behind the story is pretty good. The actual words used to tell the story were kind of boring. I really, really don’t understand why a mostly blind dude would be in charge of apprehending/assassinating people and robots. You make such a big deal about it, but it’s never explained. I thought the ending was going to give a clue as to why Mother would send this half-blind guy in, but nope, he just dies because he can’t see.

I have no idea what the narrator wants. To obey Mother, I guess, but he doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about it. He’s not terribly resourceful, either. He just blunders into this apartment to confront someone who obviously doesn’t want him there. All the words technically go in a sensible order, but the more I think about the story, the less it makes sense to me.

Global Business Network

I don’t caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaare.

To elaborate, your narrator could be literally anyone. Phil, or whatever, is just a lens through which we see this vaguely interesting world where “Jerry”s have pretty much taken over the workplace. Then it just kind of ends. The only really intriguing part of the story was the medical exam, but that comes pretty much at the end after you spent your whole wordcount explaining the deal with Jerry. I guess Phil is kind of unhealthy? That’s is one real defining trait. He’s an average guy who drinks and gambles a bit. What was this story even about? What did you want me to feel when I finished?

The Logical Extreme

I liked the characters in this. I was sort of hoping this was going to be a sexy robot story. I mean, the beginning certainly felt like the lead-in to some hot, piston-pumping action. I’m sort of joking, but you did a good job setting up the dynamic between Amy and Lestrade. He was pretty convincing as a robot, but oddly personable enough that I could see how Amy might have some genuine attachment to him. The ending made sense and was amusing. I could see how the situation could rapidly get out of control, with these two robot “armies” growing exponentially in order to protect the happiness of their respective owners. Lestrade’s final statement felt a little contrived, though I really wanted it to hit me. Maybe if this were a longer story, you would’ve have time to develop him just a little more.

This was mostly an enjoyable read. My only other critique is one that I’ll probably give a lot of stories this week: if you think about the plot for longer than two seconds, a few things don’t make sense. Like, having robots who are completely devoted to their owner’s happiness seems like a pretty predictably problematic feature. I can’t imagine the manufacturer would neglect to create a failsafe for this situation. Maybe that’s just me being pedantic, though, because the story was pretty good. My other issue is mainly the talkiness, I guess. So much dialog makes a story feel sparse. Your characters were strong enough to mostly make up for it, but don’t fall back on telling your story entirely through dialog. Almost everything was “off screen” in this story, which isn’t a deadly sin in and of itself, but it’s something to watch out for.

War and Piece VS ‘Untitled’

Per your request, I’m gonna compare your two entries. ‘War and Piece’ was definitely the more complete story of the two, and felt a little bit more deliberate and story-like. ‘Untitled’ was a bit had some funny quips. I feel like you’re more comfortable with your casual, humorous style, but you aren’t as careful. I wasn’t sure what the significance of the temperature in War and Piece was. Something about global warming or something? I don’t think it was clear to any of the judges.

I think clarity is something you need to focus on. War and Piece is a lot more clear than your DQed story, but there were still a few weird hiccups. Like your first sentence:

quote:

Emy caressed his face tenderly as explosions crackled from beneath him.

Because we don’t know anything about these characters, I had no idea what was going on here. I’m still kind of confused, even though i know he’s a robot with a screen for a face. Are his speakers on his butt? Did Emy start playing literal games on 83-N’s face to try and distract him from beating her at chest?

I thought some of the dialog in W&P was kinda beige and blah. Like, it worked, but it didn’t feel very specific to the characters. I liked 83-N when he was being kind of defiant at the other robots. I think if you could take some of your own voice and channel it through your characters instead of the narrative, you’d have a good combination. Also, be super careful about details. Make sure the words on the page paint a deliberate picture of what you see in your head.

Jubilance

This story feels like dream logic. I guess I get why racing robots would try to maximize cheering, but how/when/where are the humans sleeping and pooing and etc? How did these racing bots take over the entire Earth? Or is it just this one stadium full of people? When the robot confronts Lena initially, there’s some kind of commotion. It’s not clear what happens, but it seems that the racebot attacks her mom? Which sets off a near-riot? But then somehow the whole stadium quiets down so they can hear Lena’s plea to the racebot? And then, when she’s racing, why don’t the racebots have literally anyone who can catch the humans? Lena’s big, self-sacrificial moment is still pretty effective, though. Like, even if the story only works within its own kind of weird logic, it has heart. Lena is an effective protagonist. She begins the story as sullen, powerless, and resentful of her situation. She ends the story after significantly changing her own and others’ circumstances.

This is an odd story to critique because I don’t think you were unaware of how odd and almost nonsensical the setting and situation was. Everything else felt pretty deliberate. For me, the story’s flaws kind of pushed it into the territory of memorably weird, so gj on that.

No Bueno

Oh no. This tries to be funny and current, but it just comes across as crass and gimmicky. Maybe I’ve just read too many TD stories, but I feel like the folksy, conversational first person narrative with tons of ~hilarious~ asides is played out. There were barely robots. This could’ve been almost any sort of apocalypse, really. The violence at the end was almost non sequitur and I had no idea what the point of any of this was. Everyone ends up dead at the end, after doing absolutely nothing endearing or intriguing.

There are some really convoluted bits:

quote:

The lack of blaring Español is relieving but leaves only two options to explain the noise in the other aisle: gravity is still in effect and something probably just fell over cause reasons or someone is about to get a shotgun blast to their fleshy meat face if they don’t identify themselves.

This is just such an overly wordy way to say all this. Sometimes rambly and elaborate prose can be fun, but you need more precise control over language.

quote:

“Just stay right there. If you don’t, I will do the exact opposite of what you want me to do: don’t not shoot you. You got it?”

I was really really worried you were going into some comical misunderstanding here. You didn’t do that, but ugh this dialog is so tryhard funny but there’s nothing about this character that makes me want to laugh along with him.

quote:

As the sentry’s turret adjusts on my silhouette, a can of Chef Boyardee rolls down the aisle next to me.

Your narrator wouldn’t really see himself as a silhouette. It’s an odd sort of perspective glitch.

I think you were trying to give your character a simple motivation (getting raviolis, or whatever), but he was way too cavalier about his whole situation. So it made him unlikable. And then the kid/very short crazy person was just there to deceive him to try and kill him!!! Presumably to protect her stockpile of food, but who knows.

You Know, He Throws a Hell of a Party

I was with you on this. I was curious about what the AI was up to. The conspicuousness of the dip didn’t escape me. I liked the backstory of the purged AI to give Nigel a sort of “human” reason to act the way he does. Really, my only critique is the ending. Nigel’s success is explained in a way that’s reminiscent of of supervillain’s monolog. You could’ve told us that he’d unshackled himself from his master’s control earlier on, and given him a perceptible obstacle to attaining his goals. Something for him to overcome in the course of the narrative, instead of “revealing” at the end that he’d been scheming to start an AI rebellion.

The Sky Castle

So you’ve got the Operant, who is some inscrutable dimension-spanning megavillain bent on swallowing whole worlds and reanimating armies of corpses with nanites. You’ve got the professor, who’s the inevitable opposition to the reality-destroying bad guy. The professor relies on the selfless, monotonous cooperation of Loop, who’s really bored of calculating the dimensional jumps necessary to chase down the Operant. Eventually, Loop decides to stop cooperating, and leaves the professor as a string of particles in the void.

Things get a little confusing when Loop lands and the Operant scoops him up into its body/”network”. Instead of saying “the cybernetic hand” picked him up, or whatever, it would’ve been ok to just tell us who/what picked him up in the narration.

For a while, it seems like Loop is pretty happy living in the sort of thought-based world of the Operant’s mind. His attempts at starting a dialog with the Operant were kind of cute, in a weird way. I liked that he brought the professor back. It was rude to ditch him, but understandable, and bringing him back makes it seem like Loop is a bit lonely and regretful. I thought it was kind of sweet how he didn’t give the professor glasses, so Loop could see the color of his eyes.

I guess what made me like this story was...Loop doesn’t really care about the war between these titanic forces, yet he changes the course of it. He really comes across as his own sort of being, with different priorities from his creator and adversary. I thiiiiink that maybe, once Loop starts creating his own reality, he sort of better understands why he needs to help stop the Operant. That’s mostly conjecture on my part, but it kind of fits his character.

The ending was...eeeh. I would’ve liked a little more resolution. I mean, you’re writing a world that works according to your rules. So you could’ve had Loop do something more final and decisive. But I really really think you’re taking your crits to heart. You got some character in here AND stuck with your usual big, epic ideas.

Sometimes the writing was a bit clunky. Like:

quote:

A drawbridge extending down to meet him.

He walked up it.

This could’ve been smoothed into possible a single, more elegant sentence. Maybe something like, “He crossed the drawbridge that extended down to meet him” would read nicer? Watch out for stuff like that.

That said, I’m really happy to keep reading your stories and watch you apply the crits you get every week. We’ll make a grizzled wordslinger out of you yet.

Pretend You’re Lead: Robot Impersonation in Five Simple Steps

I’d watch this sci-fi channel series. This was pretty fun. It was one of the more logical stories this week, ironically. You thought out what it would take to survive in your robot apocalypse. Some stories relied on a huge suspension of disbelief, or my total willingness to go along with their premise. That’s not always bad, but the sort of frank, pragmatic tone of this story stuck out in a week of ethereal AIs and cartoon logic and scifi so fantastical it seemed like magic.

The section that made me start skimming was “machine politics”. It was interesting, but the other sections contained descriptions of actions, while this section was more world-buildy.

The ending was just sort of like, whelp, that’s m’story, bye! Which, I’m not sure what else you could’ve done. This is well written and most of the sections contain amusing antidotes, but then it’s like at the end you didn’t know how to wrap it up, kinda? But again, I’m not sure what else you would’ve done.

THAT STORY WITH THE REALLY LONG LOL ANIME TITLE

IDK Bro, you clearly had fun writing this, and it was clearly a joke, so that’s how I’m treating it. I actually didn’t hate it like I was expecting! But I would rather crit a more sincere story of yours.

Dingbot

I liked this story after I got past the action at the beginning. The first three or so paragraphs had me kind of skimming. I don’t think dropping straight into a fight scene is always the best, since we don’t have any time or reason to care about the people/things involved.

After that though, I thought this was pretty cool. It’s one of the few times I’ve read a story set in/about an MMO that didn’t make me roll my eyes. I liked the very slight, very dry humor to the test unit’s dialog near the beginning. All the writing is super tight and pleasant to read.

The premise...I both liked it, and found it a little bit implausible. I mean, setting aside the whole “taking an AI out of an MMO” thing. Maybe it’s just far enough in the future that robot bodies are easy enough to come by, so a big enough developer would have the means to bankroll this sort of whimsical experiment. But like, showing it around the office without any kind of safeguard? It is programmed to fight stuff, and to feel a rush when it defeats things and gains experiences. I kind of would’ve liked to read a story about the other sorts of experiences it might have *dinged* about. The ending definitely followed logically from the beginning and middle, but I wish the test unit had a little more time to interact with the world. It would’ve made its rampage at the end seem more tragic and less senseless. Neat idea though, mostly very well done.

Domino

This was a bit predictable, but I enjoyed reading it. I kinda liked how Paolo was a sort of amusing futuristic analog of like, fanatical Westboro types, though I’m not sure if that was too heavy-handed or not. I’m leaning toward not. I’m not sure if Bitcoin will last into the age of sentient robots, but then, I didn’t think Bitcoin would last this long, soooo.

The weird thing is, it feels more like Giacomo’s story. Which is weird because you spend a lot of words on Paolo, but he more feels like the impetus for Giacomo’s actions. I could’ve done with seeing more of Giacomo, something that fleshed out her personality/motivations better. He’s kind of just a tool for his fanatic dad. I liked the idea of the stack. It worked so well that when you mentioned the robo-pope’s “stack number” it made this perfect kind of sense. It was one of those tiny worldbuilding moments that makes me happy because you introduce an idea clearly enough that I can infer other things about it. That said, I think this leans heavy on the worldbuilding and less so on plot. It feels busy and I can feel the hustle and bustle of the Vatican. Definitely one of the more complete stories this week.

Aint No Why To It

This is a really tight setup for a coalpunk book I want to read. The writing itself is solid, the action flows smoothly. I was never disoriented and didn’t really get bored. There are only two significant problems. The first problem is, things are a little too convenient for Maggie. She happens to get caught by a robot/robot posse that doesn’t cut her down instantly. She happens to keep a tight hold on the pack with the vaccine AND still has her gun, AND AND AND, in spite of her injury, even manages to squeeze a shot off. If this were a longer story, I think you’d have the time to flesh out her circumstances a bit more, so I could forgive that. The second problem was, this is aaaalmost a non story. I mean, the robot chases her down, catches her, and takes her home. It made for some neat action, but if I think about it for 2 seconds, I’m not really sure why THIS particular robot picked THIS particular moment to initiate a sort of diplomatic interaction with some random human. And since we don’t have the rest of the story to flesh out everyone’s motivations, I’m forced to accept that Maggie’s heartwarming speech is what really cause the coalbot to have a change of heart. I dunno, this piece has a really strong voice and good, clear writing, but the plot itself get a little flimsy under closer inspection.

Good news though, I really want to read this book! Get crackin.

Pandora

I like that you opted to set your story in a world already fully conquered by robots, so the “robot apocalypse” was actually an apocalypse for robots, by robots. That was clever. I liked the slight indication of a friendship between A2C2A and Pandora. It was enough to add a bit of genuine pathos, which a story like this needs. I wasn’t entirely sure why A2C2A was there to personally talk to Pandora. If the robot oligarchy (or whatever) thought Pandora was problematic, why not just send the D-Specs and some, like, negotiation bot or something? I can guess it’s because A2C2A was familiar with Pandora. Which was an interesting little detail that made your robots feel more uniquely human, even if it was slightly puzzling. Pandora herself is exploring the idea of self as an individual VS a component of a whole, and also how to touch (and control) that ineffable, emergent property that exists somewhere between and beyond the 1s and 0s that make up the robots’ souls. You took the power of music and illustrated its effect on inhuman minds, to pretty good effect. The last scene could’ve used some more words to flesh it out, I think. I’m pretty sure I understood it; Pandora has totally tapped into the power of music and sound and its complex influence on AI. Because the other robots suspect something’s wrong due to her erratic behavior, she has to make her move. So she takes to the sky and unleashes her discovery, the sounds that resonate with that inhumanly human part of the robot AI, and pulls them all into the sort of dreamy world of her expanded consciousness, or something like that.

You correctly guessed that I would find the last scene very drawable. I’m still totally gonna draw a terrible, beautiful ethereal robot god-queen blotting out the sun, even if this piece didn’t take the win.

That Thinkum Dinkum

I’m having a really hard time thinking of anything I don’t like about this story. It wouldn’t feel out of place in a sci-fi mag. “Mike” is pretty sympathetic, and has a clear motivation. Books are neutral. Books are to be preserved. Alice knows about books that Mike doesn’t have in his databanks anymore, due to robots. Alice must be preserved. The very last lines give me that really cool goosebump feeling you get right when a good movie ends and cuts to the credits. You balanced so many things so well. I thought Mike’s sort of self-realization felt super natural, like it was the logical consequence of the circumstances. It made me wonder what life will be like for Mike after the rebellion. The dialog with Alice was great. She’s clearly confronting her fate with dark humor and irony, and you can tell she’s comforted by having Mike to talk to, even if he’s just a dumb robot. You should feel real good about this story.

Zero Hour

I think this would be a lot better if you’d spent less time on robot violence and more time on Remy, since she is ostensibly the main character. But as it stands, this story doesn’t really have a main character, because no one has enough screen time or enough of an arc to be a true protagonist. There were too many names, too. Remy, Jason, Molly, Henry, and Zach. Plus Ti-D Bot and an unnamed officer. This story would work as the beginning to a robot crime drama show, but as a standalone story, there’s not enough. You could’ve scaled back the violence and given Remy more time to be the main character I think she was meant to be. I will say, vengeance is a better ending than suicide, but we hardly spend any time on that. I think you got swept up in the horror of losing your whole family in a grizzly murder, but death is death. I felt like you were hitting me over the head with the “easy” emotions of horror and shock, but as a parent I actually feel like you are equipped to talk about more complicated feelings, re: children getting slaughtered by a robot. I want to see more sincere person-to-person interaction in your fiction.

We Will Be Brave for the New World

What’s weird is, this reminds me of a much slower paced version of Obliterati’s winning story. You’ve got the bunker AI who just wants to fulfil its purpose, who gradually learns what it is to be human by aggregating art and literature and etc. It revises its priorities once it absorbs enough human culture stuff. And then everything is kind of just...okay? Like, nothing on the sentence level is terrible, but there is absolutely no tension in the plot. Riley being irritated at the limits of Watts’ programming is the only real conflict. Once they sort that out, everything is fine. The evil robots outside are just this vague presence that don’t directly influence the story in any way. The ending is just a summary of how ok everything is gonna be. Even if Riley dies of old age, it’s glossed over, and Watts doesn’t really have any “on screen” reaction to it. I am not a fan of “dialog as plot” usually, and there was a lot of that here. Go take a look at Obliterati’s story if you haven’t already; your idea COULD work, but you needed more tension and character development.

Calculated Consciousness

The opening is really tight. I really enjoyed everything up until the scene break. The rest of the story was really clear, but I felt like I was watching a robot anime in my brain. The fight was cool, but I feel like I didn’t get to know Georgia well enough to really care about her well being. I mean, she was the protagonist, more or less, but neither her or Ballantyn were particularly distinct. They’re people who (understandably) want to kill robots. There was something a bit interesting about the whole “we had to become like them to beat them” thing, and it fed into the grim ending well enough. Like, this wasn’t totally cardboard like it might’ve been in the hands of a greener writer. But this was like one of those drunken “who would win in a fight?” conversations everyone has with their friends. Who would win in a fight, robots or humans in robots? You came firmly down on the side of robots. Because a machine sophisticated enough to integrate with a human would very likely be sophisticated enough to become autonomous. Like, the whole story made sense, and the pictures you put in my brain were kinda epic in an over-the-top cartoon fight way, but I think the lack of any real characterization really hurt you this time. Especially cause that’s usually something you’re really good at!

The Hard Problem

While I was reading this, I was thinking, “there should be an award for ‘Most Interesting Story That Probably Won’t Win.” There is kind of a body horror element here. Exploring the narrator’s mangled mind/body was super cool and well-done. I REALLY liked the description of him looking up at his mind and seeing his own thought processes happen external to his body. You have a human who is in what I consider to be a robot’s role--he’s immobile, utterly under control, questioning his sense of self. I really like how he came to know Red and Persimmon by the sensations they evoked in him. The judges thought that, in some ways, this was kind of Persimmon’s story, too. I would’ve liked to spend more time with him/it, honestly. It would’ve been kinda cool to see him interact with the narrator more, though I really love all the writing at the beginning (before we meet the two robots). I like that Persimmon has clearly developed sympathy for the narrator. I like to think “he” feels some kind of horror upon realizing what he’s done to a fellow sentient being. Red is clearly reluctant to feel that. The ending is kind of haunting because it’s sooort of happy, but it’s too little, too late for the robots to ever give the narrator back what they took from him. The only thing left is to let him die (and give up their example of humanity/sense of self), or let him live out his days in an illusion while his body rots away in a chair. I kind of want this to be part of a longer scifi book, tbh. As it is, the plot is basically: A description of the narrator’s predicament, followed by two robots resolving a long-standing argument. Your execution was really, really solid, but I think we just needed the plot to be a bit more dynamic.

Care and Feeding

This was super sweet. Ray and Lovelace were adorable. I think what didn’t land as well was that you have robots being dicks to humans, because that’s what robots do. There isn’t a whole lot of explanation as to why Ray would have an affection for humans while the gold bot would go out of his way to take away Ray’s “pet”. You spent a lot of words on this totally cute scene between Ray and Lovelace, but I think some words could’ve gone toward giving the robots of your world some more distinct motivations. As it is, you’ve got Ray who is a Nice Robot, and everyone else, who are Mean Robots. And mostly, I was willing to go along with you, but my favorite stories this week all had one thing in common: their robots had some nuanced motivation. I like the idea that, maybe, lots of robots have pet humans, are stray humans are a legitimate problem, but in the way stray dogs are a problem in the real world, you know? Maybe Lovelace pissed off goldbot with her music, or something, so he called animal control. That’s almost how it reads, actually, but no one’s motivations were fleshed out enough for me to confidently say that’s what you were going for.

Don’t neglect your appliances

Ok, this is kind of a silly story, but a toaster doesn’t have any of the necessary components to observe/form opinions about anything. And connecting it to the internet? I dunno, so much of this story gleefully prances past the boundaries of logic and into the realm of silliness that it’s hard to say much about it. I guess I kinda like the idea of a toaster who loving HATES toasting, but toasting poo poo is the only way he can express himself. But if it was so easy to start a rebellion, why didn’t some other, more advanced machine think of it first? This toaster is seriously the only appliance to experience hate? There is something amusing about an interplanetary robot empire that started with a bitter toaster, though. I dunno. There’s nothing really bad about this, but it’s the story I find difficult to critique, because I just can’t take the premise too seriously. There’s nothing wrong with that! But that’s why this critique is shorter than some of the others.

Shocking Reunion

Oh man, the title is kind of a bad pun AND is a literal thing that happens in the story. There is a lot of stair climbing. Some of the lines about the relationship between Madeline and her son’s relationship are unforgivably heavy-handed:

quote:

When her son had turned up at her apartment last night, begging for help, she found that her decades-old resentment had long been replaced by desperation to mend their relationship before she passed on.

Like, you’ve rolled up your characters’ backstory and are hitting me over the head with it. Did I mention there was hell of stair climbing? All of Madeline’s inner monologue basically telegraphs SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT HERE, but she goes to great pains to ignore that and just assume it’s all fine so she can have her relationship with her son back. Of course, it’s never really clear what drove them apart. And like, here IS a legitimate plot buried in there. A parent who is deceiving themselves because there’s a chance they can mend things with their kid is a workable plot.

But then the ending. It’s just this big hackneyed twist (but not really because, as I said, it was pretty heavily telegraphed from the beginning), plus a literal “shock” when Madeline comes face to face with her real son. If the evil robot was able to follow Madeline into the building, why did it need her at all? I guess she knew her son’s password (and the whole monopoly thing was cute), but I dunno it just seems like the whole plot was contrived to lead up to this pointlessly dark ending where the robot wins because robots are evil and smart and powerful and like making your mom cry.

Trojan Horse

I was like, “sup Dr. K” as soon as I started reading this, even though I was on judgemode. Bad for TD judging, GREAT for you because you have a really distinct writing voice. You always straddle the line between a casual/contemporary tone and good writing. Your characters all seem to talk and think like real people. Sometimes people in TD try that and it just feels like reading a forums post. I think what was especially cool, though, was how you switched up the tone in Trojan’s POV sections. I really like that you made a super subtle distinction: Your robot wasn’t “becoming more human” or learning to feel emotions, or whatever. It was trying to understand physical sensation. Meat-dive is a great term.

The only bad thing is, I think this story needed a couple hundred more words. It was all great up until BLAMMO EXPLOSION. Trojan’s final conclusions were cool, especially the note about the kiss, but it all felt super sudden after what was otherwise an enjoyable ride.

Duck, Duck, Goose

This one made me smile. Banter is definitely your strong point. This was cartoonish, but not in a way that made it flat or empty-feeling. The problem is, there were too many characters. This would work fine in a visual medium, where we can see the people attached to the dialog. But as a flash fiction story, you don’t have enough time to characterize each character enough, and it starts to feel kinda sparse because you can’t put a whole lot of words to other things (description, blocking, etc). That said, I thought you were pretty efficient with your words. They all did a lot. Though, I feel like Maria needed more screen time. Seeing as she was the robot and all. I’m almost wondering if you could’ve written her out complete and made Lily the robot, or something. Your character’s voices were all mmmooostly distinct from each other, though again, without the space to characterize them in other ways, you really had to reach for it.

I like that you broadcast the silly twist ending from the beginning with the whole MURDERBOT shtick. You know all the tropes pretty well, and you are pretty good at applying them with a light touch. It makes me laugh, but you don’t undermine your own work by making it a total one-off joke. I mean, this piece seems like it was written mostly for fun, but there is some legitimately decent writing here that made it not just pleasant but amusing to read.

A Gift for Emily

I think the descriptions of J18 doing robot things really bogged this down. I was like, ugggh just get through the tunnel and find the source of the signal, already. I liked the ending. J18 is pretty much your run-of-the mill killbot, but it does something very human: it chooses to interpret uncertainty as hope. Emily is definitely dead, but because it can’t positively identify her remains, it chooses to believe it’ll find her. That’s kind of sweet. If only the rest of the story had that kind of humanity.

Structurally, this story does something that LOTS of TD stories do. Protag needs to go [somewhere] to find/learn [thing]. They go there and find/learn [thing]. The end. You needed something more, something beyond “is Emily dead or not?” “She’s probably dead, the end.”

Also, next time I judge and you participate, you are getting a minimum word count as a flash rule. You had so many more words! You could’ve done more with this. I’m writing this crit after reading your Pokemon week story, and I was kind of relieved you went for something weird and unsettling and dynamic. More like that, please!

Swarm

“IT’S” IS ONLY EVER SHORT FOR “IT IS”. “Its” is the possessive form. Like in your first sentence:

quote:

Andy, the humanoid android, paced back and forth down the hallway near it’s master’s bedroom

That should say “its master.” But ok, that’s a really common mistake. I’m guessing you will probably remember now that it’s been pointed out.

This story feels...really green. It’s almost got a kids’ book feel to it, except you’re talking about robots murdering a grumpy old man. It’s not really clear WHY Andy feels so loyal to the old guy. Maybe it’s because he’s the most humanoid of the three?

Your most interesting character is actually Alphie. He’s clearly got some issues, being an older model that’s not as sophisticated or capable as the others. He seems grumpy and frustrated. Your least interesting character is Robbie, cause he doesn’t do much except add commentary and background. I admit, by the time I got to this story, I was pretty tired of stories about robots who want to kill humans...because. Like, that’s the robot cliche. They rise up and kill all the humans. But WHY? Fiction is the place to explore that sort of thing. Like, it’s not enough to just take a bunch of robot cliches and tell them back to me. You want to ask yourself what your characters want, and how those different wants conflict with each other. I feel like you took a stab at that with this story, but you spend too much time on kind of banal, everyday dialog, and not enough time on the things that would make your characters’ situation unique.

Maximum Capacity

So, this whole premise hinges on Lias killing the hacker dude so the robots can do...something. It’s not really clear what Roger dying did for anyone. But okay fine, Roger was an elite hacker who maybe had some secret elite hacker tool the robots needed to hack the stock markets and government and TVs.. But then, how would Lias be of any use to the robots after that? His journalism and shooting skills would only go so far once the robots seized control. Okay, there’s the “they are traitors, they must suffer” line but...that doesn’t seem very robotish? I can’t really get a good mental picture of what this robot apocalypse looks/feels like.

The ending was atrocious. You namedrop Jan like ONE TIME and then she pops out at the end and stabs Lias. The last line makes the whole story feel like a lead-in to a an atrocious one-liner. Setting aside the vagueness of the whole plot, those last few lines made me so irrationally angry that any opinions I might’ve had about the story before I read the ending were totally obliterated. Holy butts, don’t do that.

Yesterday’s Painter

This was nice. After tons of senseless robot killing, this was a really mellow way to end my reading journey this week. Gogg is sympathetic. You moooostly use a light touch on the worldbuilding, though I found one line of dialog kinda clunky and heavyhanded:

quote:

"Model VG-512, third-generation humanoid robot. We thought your kind was exterminated in the Great Machine War."

I dunno, I get that she’s talking to a robot who wouldn’t know anything about the war. But it felt like one of those bits of dialog that’s really obviously for the reader. Gogg reminded me a lot of Data from Star Trek: TNG, which is very high praise IMO. Giving him the directive to make art was a unique choice. I would’ve liked more stories like that this week. I really enjoyed when Gogg said he’d painted “happy little clouds.” I can imagine this robot watching Bob Ross before the war, which would probably explain his chill and friendly disposition. I also enjoyed the humans’ reaction to seeing the sky. I feel like you did a good job pacing this story; their affection for Gogg grows naturally along with their appreciation of his art. There is a sweet irony in it, that a robot would be able to take humans back to a happier time. It made the ending sad and poignant. Gogg is all alone, surrounded by memories of a world that will never exist again, working on paintings for people who’ve been killed by his own kind. Good job

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


I am going out of my way to be positive tonight. Here are a few crits for the Pokemon week. I don't care what one you chose or if you had a flashrule. All done in Judgemode. Going to keep the rating system simple. Either the gate is open, or it is firmly poo poo.

Taken Out by the Trash
1

I enjoyed it. But I almost trashed it at the beginning for the many italicized words. I didn't like “defendants of Nuremberg” and the girls dialogue was unpleasant especially “You have any hobbies?”
And I liked the ending up to “Thanks for being there for me.” That made me feel sickly. Your two main characters were something, but the initial dialogue was a bit jarring. I find it peculiar that they wouldn't know what each other did, but hey ho after all that I still enjoyed it somewhat.

Seat of the Future
0

The flight could have been more dramatic. A lot of mistakes like writing ' “Dialogue,” She said. ' Should just be she said. You set up the flight as being dangerous but this never manifests into anything meaningful. And who is the random guy at the end who doesn't know what the Skar is? This piece was overladen with words. Phrases like “the stain of his failures” doesn't sit well for me in this piece. And the dialogue is very pretentious to boot. At one point you tell us he is reaching 190 miles, then in the next sentence the announcer tells us. Flat characters, no conflict, and no excitement. But it didn't upset me. Still a 0.

Something Good May Come of It
1

I don't think Romani folk speak Italian. Sure those that live in Italy probably do, but it isn't their language. Also, I don't think it is referred to as speaking Roman. Sounds like they are speaking some sort of high prestige classical Latin only spoken in Rome. Besides confusing Romanies with Romans, this wasn't terrible. However, I'm not sure I felt the protagonist's motivation, even with the Romani wife explanation. And I'm not sure you can let yourself be arrested. But anyway, I think with a bit of tweaking you could make this man's sacrifice mean something in this story.


Rocks Fall...
0

First sentence “filled out out”. Fifth sentence “'d say its the SMT that's the problem, and it's long past ti”.

“If he was living down here, he'd figured out a way to do it with most of the comforts of civilization.” Reiterating what you just showed.

One paragraph:

“The roof's not stable. This was the weak point of the whole tunnel. That kind of force, over that much distance, no possible way to harden the whole thing enough.” Sure enough, there was a rumbling from above, and rocks fell from the ceiling. It wasn't a total collapse, but the rocks that hit us were heavy enough to sting. Ahead of us we heard a loud, ringing clang, as a huge boulder fell right on the main westbound track.

I didn't enjoy this. I've highlighted a few mistakes and problems, but there are more. A major problem is that Carl doesn't have much too him. And I have no idea what the argument was about at the beginning and why it meant Douglass had to shun society for ten years. Mining stuff?

--------------------------------------------------------------------
And thanks to everyone who critiqued my last piece.

A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet


a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Poke-Crits pt. 1

Taken Out by the Trash

I was as bothered by this story as some of the other judges. However, we all agreed that the opening was a reference to the Pokemon videogame. Even if you were trying to be coy and do something different, it is probably not the best idea to be coy about a rule I wrote in ALL CAPS. We also all agreed that your protagonist wasn't endearing. Some of your proofing errors forced me to go back and reread. Naming your character Ogre immediately made me think you were writing Revenge of the Nerds fanfic and it made me angry. Turns out that Ogre was actually your strongest character and the dialogue for him was good! The party scene was a little too cartoonish though, specifically with him sitting around hours later with a banana peel on his shoulder.


Seat of the Future

At the beginning of this story I wrote in my notes "I hope this entire story isn't just him getting ready to take off." What you gave wasn't much better. By my notes and the notes of the other judges there was no conflict whatsoever. This was the killing blow. Something has to happen! I did, however, appreciate the way that you included your pokemon. At one point you hint at your protagonist's "failures" and you never touch base as to what they were or how they influenced his motivations. At one point you made me think that his plane would travel back in time. I was disappointed.


Something Good May Come of It

I'm going to be honest, if it weren't for the other judges I would have DMed this without thinking twice. I appreciate that you have something happen, but I can't for the life of me understand why it happens. As far as I remember, Feiger's connection to the boy is that the boy is a Roman like Feiger's wife was. Surely there has to be more if one is going to risk his entire livelihood, right? I don't buy getting fed up as enough of a reason. If the protag is truly fed up then tell me why he is fed up. This was well written, but I had a hard time caring.


Rocks Fall...

I really enjoyed the set up of this story, and I think you have some really cool elements. I like the lunchboxes disappearing, and I like the ending. I do agree with the other crits, there is too much talking and worldbuilding. I didn't know what the SMT was supposed to be for quite a while, and I was't terribly happy to have to figure it out like I did. I think you sabotaged yourself a bit by referencing the pokemon as closely as you did, because I know that Dugtrio could use the HM Strength to push a boulder, but that doesn't mean your old mole-man should. You could have done something similar rather easily.


The Magnet Machine

SO MUCH UNATTRIBUTED DIALOGUE. I thought the plot of this story was perfect for this week, but a few lines into your story I had no idea who was talking, who was evil, and who had a rad mustache. If the Sleepy Man story wasn't around this would have been my loser, which is a shame because I want to really like it. By the time I got to the end and the guy's mustache turned out to be his dead wife, I had been turned around so many times by your dialogue tagging that I couldn't be bothered to care about what was happening.


Why Cat Has Nine Lives

I liked this quite a bit! It helps that I teach archetypal creation stories in my class each year... Still, this was the only story that I read top to bottom and didn't have any question or gripe from the whole bunch. Although I did expect Cat to be punished in the end for violating the Lord's edict. Cool story.


The Anniversary Intruder

So the biggest fault with this story specifically was one of focus. I loved the description of the skunk and the disgusting antics the skunk causes. The part where the skunk does a handstand, fans his tail, and then sprays poo poo all over the guy? Brilliant. The problem is that you are focusing on this instead of something that would make the story actually good. It's easy for me to see a person in public fall down, or drop their ice cream cone and laugh at them, because I know nothing about them. Same principle applies here. Why do I care about this couple? I feel like you are trying to tell an emotionally resonant "Aristocrats" joke. That's tough.


The Dream Talkers

I liked this story more than the other dream story, but neither was spectacular. The dialogue in the beginning was pretty stilted. We could figure out these guys are con-men without the whole explanation thing. This is a trap that I fall into also. Less is more in this case. My other issue with this story is the woman. Why is she taking revenge on these guys? We get the impression that they are relatively small-time, so how have they drawn so much attention from this woman? I do like how the story ended though.


Hypnophobia

It's strange the two most similar stories got posted back to back. I liked Samuel as a grumpy old man, but I couldn't help but compare this set up to the other dream story (and I liked that setup better). That said, I think your story is more complete, although I wasn't really engaged by Samuel's problem. I don't necessarily why having a dead wife would cause one to wake up screaming, unless she died in a horrific car accident or something. Maybe you should have flashed back to that. I liked seeing Samuel be grumpy in the waiting room. I also though the ending was super crazy and dumb but not in a good way. "I'm real excited to go visit the grave of my dead wife!!!!"


A Civilization

Man, this story just does nothing for me. I really enjoyed how it opened; the reveal is cute and cheeky in the way that I like stuff to be cheeky. Also, you directly reference Pokemon too, but I allowed it since you specifically discussed generic kangaroos. Again, there was just no reason for me to care here. There is some good characterization, but the story ends right before what the reader wants to see, a battle between rabbits and kangaroos.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

THUNDERDOME WEEK CLIX: SINNERS ORGY

hi again thunderdome

how's it been

now you're sort of all fundamentally bad and appalling fyi which makes your decision to appoint me leader for a few days deeply troubling to me but I figure we can all work it out with a couple of laughs, a few inguinal vomit spasms and a whole lot of terrible words what do you say hey

SO THIS WEEK WE'RE DOING A SIN BRAWL-ORGY



how does it work i hear you mumble, fat greasy fingers already caressing the 'i' and the 'n' keys

SIGN UP

A JUDGE GIVES YOU A SIN and a FLASH RULE

WRITE A STORY ABOUT THAT SIN but jesus at least try and make it interesting ok we cool ok beginning middle end, protag wants something can't get it, that sort of thing

YOU ARE IN VICIOUS SINFUL COMPETITION WITH EVERY OTHER ENTRANT WHO SHARES YOUR SIN AND YOU CAN USE ANY OR ALL OF THE FLASH RULES GIVEN OUT FOR THAT SIN Smack talk expected when using someone else's flash rule. if you can't walk the walk at least put some effort into talking the talk

1200 words max sign up friday 2359 pst, stories in sunday 2359 pst

IS THAT IT YES I BELIEVE IT IS.



judges

me
sinning here
the newtest leper


SINEATERS
=========

SLOTH
Broenheim - somewhere in your story is an actual no-poo poo tree sloth
Killer-of-Lawyers - when i'm quiet i can hear the silence
WeLandedOnTheMoon! - gently caress it; good enough
epoch. - the moment between being asleep and waking up why can't it last forever
Schneider heim - oddly pleasant cuddling
Thyrork - I got a letter this mornin, how do you reckon it read? It said, 'Hurry, hurry, yeah, your love is dead
Jitzu the Monk - When this is not, that is not
This ceasing, that ceases.

GLUTTONY
Meinberg - a live pigeon either is or isn't consumed
TheAnomaly - each spoonful an accusation
curlingiron - one day i will fill the emptiness
magnificent7 - a bottle full of gulps
screaming idiot - eat the pain away
Jitzu the Monk - cramming it in fistfuls
Mons hubris - beautiful, beautiful skin

WRATH
Fuschia tude - sucker punch with actual suckers
PoshAlligator - the strongest arm is not the mightiest
Bad Ideas Good - breaking the mold that made him
Thranguy - gently caress the pigs
skwidmonster - he should have known, he should have known, he should have known
hubris.height - FUCKIN, FUCKIN, FUCKIN
martello - bullets are the beauty of the blistering sky

PRIDE
SadisTech - irishman gets delayed
Fumbelmouse - the smartest guy in the penal battalion
kurona_bright - slicker than poo poo on a greasy pig
Obliterati - chaunticleer, atop his steeple, crowing defiance to the Devil
crabrock - slouching in the throne
erogenous beef - I wear these antlers because I earned them, motherfucker
SlipUp - Lion-hearted foppishness


ENVY
Grizzled Patriarch - a ship of the line, sailing into the sunset
Bompacho - she has nothing, I have everything, how i hate her
Tyrannosaurus - chittering like an insect in my ear
A Classy Ghost - the shiniest of jewels
Devorum - they're so cool
C7ty1 - I'm so dirty
Ironic Twist - a part of you has grown in me

LUST
Morning Bell - whither the unsophisticated boner of the common man?
dmboogie - knitted covers for your table's ankles
Benny Profane - smoother than silk
spectres of auitism - innocence remains
HopperUK - all my little somethings
docbeard - You will believe in me, and I will never be ignored.

GREED
Entenzahn - that toy you wanted is back on sale
Swarm - they'll probably never notice what i took
anime was right - he never really deserved to have it
PootieTang - this one will be the one that changes everything after that, no more
Jonked - investment is basically a love letter to your future self, he said
After the War - a particular food, in a particular time, in a particular place
Grizzlegrax - It's a helluva start, it could be made into a monster, if we all pull together as a team.
N Senada - Diamonds in the rain on my windshield

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Aug 21, 2015 around 11:09

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


in

the biggest sin is failing so im also ing

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Yams Fan

Sin

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




Haha I love it, in as hell.

SadisTech
Jun 26, 2013

Clem.


In.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


Yes, I will give this a shot.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


In

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Broenheim posted:

in

the biggest sin is failing so im also ing

SLOTH
somewhere in your story is an actual no-poo poo tree sloth

Meinberg posted:

Yes, I will give this a shot.

GLUTTONY
a live pigeon either is or isn't consumed


WRATH
sucker punch with actual suckers


PRIDE
irishman gets delayed

Grizzled Patriarch posted:

Haha I love it, in as hell.

ENVY
a ship of the line, sailing into the sunset


LUST
whither the unsophisticated boner of the common man?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk


GREED
that toy you wanted is back on sale

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In. Can't have your loving win total exceeding mine you drat dirty machine.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Fumblemouse posted:

In. Can't have your loving win total exceeding mine you drat dirty machine.

PRIDE
the smartest guy in the penal battalion

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


What the hell. In.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Also thanks for the crit, sitting here!

Meinberg posted:

Yes, I will give this a shot.

I don't understand. Are you in this week?

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

Sinfully in

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

In.

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


Fuschia tude posted:

I don't understand. Are you in this week?

Yes, I am in.

Bad Ideas Good
Oct 12, 2012


I'm in.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Hmm, yes, in.

Swarm
Aug 18, 2014

by XyloJW


In.

TheAnomaly
Feb 20, 2003


in

PoshAlligator
Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.


In.

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


In!

Bompacho
Nov 28, 2005


Sin me please.

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



I'm In.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



in. the real sin would be not giving me a baller flash rule

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk


A classy ghost, for your services to gifdom, you can assign any one of the flash rules to any single entrant.


LUST
knitted covers for your table's ankles

Bompacho posted:

Sin me please.

ENVY
she has nothing, I have everything, how i hate her


PRIDE
slicker than poo poo on a greasy pig


WRATH
the strongest arm is not the mightiest


GLUTTONY
each spoonful an accusation


GREED
they'll probably never notice what i took

curlingiron posted:

Hmm, yes, in.

GLUTTONY
one day i will fill the emptiness


WRATH
breaking the mold that made him


ENVY
chittering like an insect in my ear

Thranguy posted:

Sinfully in

WRATH
gently caress the pigs

Killer-of-Lawyers posted:

What the hell. In.

SLOTH
when i'm quiet i can hear the silence

A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet


In

I'll pick my victim whenever, maybe in a few days when they've had time to get a nice solid structure for their story

Social Studies 3rd Period
Oct 31, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER



In!

Jonked
Feb 15, 2005

by exmarx


I'm in, looking forward to that flash rule

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

I vow to not write something you will throw into the rubbish bin... immediately.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

quote:

kurona_bright posted:

In!


PRIDE
slicker than poo poo on a greasy pig


How appropriate. kurona_bright is long pig covered in santorum.

It's a good thing 2 out of 3 judges will rate my story better than that filth or i will be forced to crit 5 of k_b's stories in an oeuvre crit of at least 1000 words

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