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Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


In.

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Quopro is judging with a losertar, poo poo be unseemly. Someone scroll him up if you think him worthy.

I'll judge.

Bacon Terrorist
May 7, 2010

THUNDERDOME LOSER

6th Anniversary Edition


In. Do I have to ask fo a flash rule immediately or can I ask for one if I’m struggling in a day or two?

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Bacon Terrorist posted:

In. Do I have to ask fo a flash rule immediately or can I ask for one if I’m struggling in a day or two?

I'm not a judge this week, but asking for a flash rule later is generally acceptable, unless one of the actual judges isn't into that. Do whatcha feel.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


in flash

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



tyvm for the crit Uranium

also in

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

flerp posted:

in flash

Your story must be set in an urban environment.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


In.

Flash me for my sins.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Bad Seafood posted:

In.

Flash me for my sins.

One of your characters is not who they claim to be.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009

I am a real boy.


I'll take a flash too actually

spectres of autism
Feb 12, 2011

~it's like people say we're all gonna die
but me it's different i'm not trying to be alive~




in, flash

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

apophenium posted:

I'll take a flash too actually

Cold noodles must be a part of your story.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer


At least one of your characters must be a performer of some kind.

Lead out in cuffs
Sep 18, 2012

Look at my horse; my horse is amazing.

In.

Invisible Clergy
Sep 25, 2015

"Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces"

Malachi 2:3


In. Flash rule for me as well, please.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Invisible Clergy posted:

In. Flash rule for me as well, please.

Your story must feature baked goods.

Ashwat
Nov 11, 2004

Behold the cuteness.

I have been following the fiction writing thread and this one for a few years but have been too scared to give this a try, but I think now is the time. So I'm in.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Yoruichi my brand new nemesis I'm desirous of some extra minutes for our brawl, let's say 300 of them.

Name ur price, if you are minded to demand one

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

FFS Sebmojo you have known about this brawl for TWO WEEKS. Your opportunities for starting on time have been legion. But yet, here we are.

I will support your request for 5 additional hours (assuming our most excellent judge agrees), mostly because it would be embarrassing to be beaten with something you poo poo out in half an hour.

BUT, your tardiness is not without cost. In exchange for moving the deadline, my demands are twofold:

First, your story better be bloody good. Don’t gently caress around for the next 7 hours.

Second, I require a dramatic reading of my finest work: That Time You Went on a Cat Search and Stole a Helicopter. With music and poo poo.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Yoruichi vs. Sebmojo completely pointless brawl entry

Small Pleasures
1180 words


Sophie was first to arrive that morning. The office was lit only by the green glow of the emergency exit signs. The couch was right there as she got out of the lift. A stupid place for it, she thought, as she thought every day. No one uses it there. Seized by a sudden impulse in the pre-workday darkness, Sophie hefted one end of the couch. It was surprisingly light. She gave it an experimental tug; its coasters slid easily across the carpet tiles. Handbag bumping against her hip Sophie dragged it into the space between her and Paula’s desks. It fit perfectly. Sophie sighed with deep satisfaction, something she’d long ago given up hope of experiencing inside this temple to corporate conformity.

There was no view from the office, just the back of another monolithic high-rise. But, at a little after midday, the sun slanted between the buildings and fell between Sophie and Paula’s desks in a little pool of warmth and light. With a glance left, then right, Sophie slipped off her shoes, and with two short steps sunk onto the couch. She tucked one foot under her thigh and rested her sheaf of reports on her stomach. A shiver of rebellious pleasure ran up her spine. The sun was so warm. Paula’s acrylic nails made a staccato tap tap tap of disapproval on her keyboard. But, for once, Sophie didn’t care.

***

The next day, the couch was back in its pointless location by the lifts. Sophie stared at the empty space next to her standard-issue ergonomically-correct workstation and felt tears prick behind her eyes. She hated the office, the muted colours and constant background hum, the freezing air conditioning and endless ranks of identical desks. Like animals in cages all their needs were provided for but one: control. Even the most basic of choices about their surroundings were denied them.

Paula’s faux-friendly good morning startled her, and Sophie stumbled over her usual reply.

“Something wrong?” said Paula, suddenly interested, like a shark catching the distant scent of blood.

Sophie shook her head and slid into her chair, her back to Paula. She positioned her feet together on her footrest and arranged her limbs at as-per-policy 90 degree angles. She smiled at the man - what was his name? - on the other side of the partition, moving the muscles in her face just right. Sophie was good at smiling; just the right amount so people wouldn’t talk to her. The thing she’d never figured out was how to put her face back. She turned to her computer screen, lips still curved and slightly parted. Is he still looking at me? she wondered. One by one she let the muscles relax, first one side, then the other. Sophie rubbed her left eye where a tiny muscle was twitching like a bird beating its wings against glass.

***

Dawn was just creeping across the sky and the office was dark. There was the couch, her couch, back by the lifts. As she dragged it across the office she wondered who moved it back each night. Probably the facilities team. They could go gently caress themselves. This fight, Sophie was going to win. When the sun squeezed its way between the buildings and slunk, briefly, onto their floor, Sophie was going to sit in it, in comfort, and enjoy it.

***

“Sophie!” Paula hissed, jabbing Sophie’s shoulder with a long fingernail. Sophie sat up and felt wet drool on her cheek. Her face reddened at the sight of a damp patch on the couch’s cushions. She rubbed at it with the cuff of her shirt.

“What has gotten into you recently?” Paula said.

Sophie opened her mouth, then shut it again. She didn’t know how to explain to Paula that she’d been getting up early every morning to move the couch before anyone else arrived. It would sound ridiculous, to go to such lengths for the small pleasure of sitting in the sun for a few minutes a day. But to Sophie it was so much more than that. It was control, the exercise of her free will. Sophie didn’t just want to sit in the sun, she needed to. She needed to move the couch, it was an essential assertion of her existence as an rational adult. The couch was her lifeline.

***

Sophie walked around and around the floor. The automatic lights hummed to life one by one, marking her progress. Her fists clenched and unclenched around the straps of her handbag. Where is it? she thought. The couch wasn’t by the lifts, and it wasn’t by her desk. It wasn’t anywhere. Au contraire, you can go gently caress yourself, Sophie imagined the facilities team saying. Bastards. Tears pricked behind her eyes.

Sophie sat quietly at her desk as the rest of the drones arrived. She performed her pointless tasks. She wrote, and dutifully filed, pointless documents. She said pointless words to please people who looked at her like she was a mirror, interested only in reflections of themselves. She arranged her face to convey an appropriate level of pleasure that she was able to please them. She made her body into the straight lines and right angles required to sit correctly at her workstation and folded up her mind so it would fit inside a little box.

***

The basement lights snapped on when Sophie stepped out of the lift, momentarily blinding her. The harsh fluorescent bars cast dark shadows amongst the stacks of boxes, one-armed computer chairs and ancient monitors. She stumbled forward, the click of her sensible shoes echoing on the concrete, casting around for the spare cables that she’d been sent down here to find.

Suddenly she stopped. A single sob escaped her throat. Shoving aside a stack of broken keyboards she threw herself onto the cheap upholstery. She couldn’t believe facilities had just dumped the couch in the basement. Had they done it simply to spite her? She didn’t understand; no one used it by the lifts! Her tears made a damp patch on the cushion.

The basement was like a graveyard for broken and abandoned office detritus. Sophie brushed the dust off the couch’s back-rest with the sleeves of her suit. Her left eye twitched, the tiny muscles beating their wings against their restraints. You don’t belong here, she thought.

Sophie hefted one end of the couch. On the far side of the basement the exit sign glowed like a green beacon. Beyond its heavy door leaf-strewn stairs led up into bright sunlight. The couch’s coasters clacked on the concrete. I won’t - clack - let them - clack - win! she thought, teeth gritted as she heaved the coach up the stairs.

The sun fell in a little pool of warmth and light on the tarmac of the car park. Sophie kicked off her shoes, tucked one foot under her thigh, and sank onto the couch. The sun was so warm, and she sighed with deep satisfaction.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013


SCREAMING YES
MOTHERFUCKER
I AM GUILTY, I AM DEATH


Yoruichi posted:

I will support your request for 5 additional hours (assuming our most excellent judge agrees)

I'll allow it but I expect to see two weeks and five hours of pure quality in this story.

AstuteCat
May 4, 2007



Long time lurker, first-time taking the plunge and going for it. in

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Frog jumps
1200 words

“The world record for skimming stones is held by Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner. 88 skips. Second place holder, with 65, is Max Steiner,” said Meryl.

The sun glinted on her beautiful green eyes and I gulped, seized by an almost overpowering urge to kiss her. She looked at me with a solemn expression and smiled, like she could read my mind and it pleased her.

“Are they...” I said.

“They are not related. ‘Stein’ means stone, though. It’s all connected.” Meryl tossed over a stone. “Be impressive.”

The stone was a soft rose colour with a white quartz line through the middle. I imagined it being born in the grinding heat of the mantle, felt the millions of years of its history leading to this moment. At the perfect angle of twenty degrees there is no reason a well shaped stone can’t keep skipping forever. I saw it bouncing, all the way, beating the Mountain Man. My inner energy was like a petrol fire. I took two steps to the edge of the river and flicked my wrist, sent the stone spinning, catching the warm spring breeze, bouncing off the interface between water and air.

It hit the water, skipped seven times, and sank to the bottom of the river. I didn’t look at Meryl, but I could hear her frown.

“That wasn’t impressive,” she said and flicked a stone into a perfect low arc that caught the water and bounced gaily across the smooth water, almost making it to the other side of the river. Twenty two hops.

I heard her breathe, even and free, and then her feet on the smooth river side stones as she walked away. I called after her, desperate, “Next Saturday?” She raised a hand in response, but didn’t look back.

I couldn’t concentrate at work all next week, which is dangerous when you’re on the line. Jake the overseer could tell, and put me on the turning machine. Simple work, without too much downside if I lost my place. Jake was a good bloke.

At smoko on Friday he bummed a cig and asked how I was feeling.

I considered. “Fairly shithouse mate,” I said at last, and took a draw, puffed it out. “You ever skimmed a stone on the water?”

Jake put the unlit smoke behind his ear to help him think. “My kids like doing it. There’s some good stones down the Puru stream waterhole, by that big willow. They fight over getting the best one.”

I opened my mouth to thank him but my mind was full of Meryl’s face, and her lips, and her eyes. I saw myself bouncing off her, again and again, at a perfect twenty degrees. “Hrm,” I said.

After work I parked on the narrow shoulder of the Puru stream road, eased out of the car and crouched down. The stones were scattered, some pushed deep into the mud. I shoved my hands deep in the squishy mud, pulling them out in handfuls.

“You again,” said Meryl. She was sitting in the crook of the willow, half obscured by the branches, bare feet waving in the warm breeze.

My hands were full of mud and stones. I placed them carefully in a pile. You are my victory, I told them. Then I clambered up beside her. “What do you do?” I asked.

“Accountant,” she said. “I like making the numbers dance. Are you going to skim those?” The sun was getting low over the hills, and the light coming through the willow leaves cast a dappled leopard skin pattern over her face.

“I need to wash them first,” I said. She shrugged, and I slid back to the ground, grabbed my victory pile and dumped it into the water with a sploosh. The mud came off in brown clouds as I sorted through them, arrayed them from best to worst. I ran my fingers over them gently, feeling their history. Which of you wants to fly, I asked them.

I thought I heard a laugh and glanced back at Meryl, but she was straightfaced. I picked up a pigeon grey stone with white speckles, wet from the stream. I looked inside myself for the perfect moment I knew was there; when I found it I drew my arm back and flicked.

Nine hops, this time, which was fine if not impressive, but there was something that hadn’t been there down by the river on the weekend: an eagerness, like the stone was bounding, reaching. I picked up another stone, flicked it. Ten this time. Another. Eleven. Ten, then thirteen.

Blood was pounding in my ears as I picked up two, one in each hand. The last of the afternoon sun was searing off the dark brown water of the swimming hole, a sword of light pointing towards me. The next stone went low, slapping the water like an All Black coming off the field, hand held high to catch the outstretched palms of the fans. Fifteen hops.

“You could feel it, couldn’t you?” She was standing next to me, breathing slow like the tide. “Give me that,” she said.

I handed her the stone in my left hand. She held it up in the fading sunlight. “This is a good one.” Her hand flicked forward and the stone rippled across the water, seventeen. “I want to, with you,” she said. “But I don’t think I can.”

I picked up two stones, handed her one, flicked mine across the deep brown pond. Sixteen. The sun had gone behind the hills and the shadows were lengthening. “Is that what the Mountain Man would have said?”

She tossed her stone in the air, caught it. “He would have known what to do. No-one can skim that far and not understand everything.” She flicked. Twenty one.

I looked down, in the gathering gloom. There were two stones left, one white, one black. I picked them up, clacked them together in my palm. “It’s all connected.” I opened up my palm. “Choose.”

She put out her palm, fingers spread wide, and brushed them across my wrist. It sent a shock down to my belly and I shuddered. She laughed. “Black.”

She spread her feet wider, for better grip on the slippery mud, and for the first time I thought I saw uncertainty in her eyes. Then it was gone and her arm went back, and forward, and the stone tiptoe-ran across the water. Twenty three. She let out a breath, and smiled a complicated smile. “So.”

I smiled back at her, and pushed my feet into the mud, felt the earth old and silent beneath me. Mountains don’t ask questions, I thought. “So.”

I flicked the white stone in my hand at the water. It hopped twenty four times, hit a willow root on the other side of the pond and bounced on to the bank.

We watched it, in the twilight, and breathed together.

Her hand touched my neck, tapping slowly, running feather-light along the interface between me and everything that was not me.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013


SCREAMING YES
MOTHERFUCKER
I AM GUILTY, I AM DEATH


Sebmojo wins

Yoruichi. I appreciated the small details here, building up a sense of stifling coziness, but tears pricked behind my eyes when I realized the plot was going to be solid and predictable throughout. There just wasn't enough ambition here, and 'humdrum officeworker feels stifled by their job' isn't only a fairly well-worn road, its one I'd argue carries some pretty harsh inherent flaws, papered over only by the rush people get from seeing their own lives reflected. If someone is so strangled by their work that they have, in the entirety of the story, only one real act of self-expression, then they're hardly even a real character.

Seb. I like how by the end, your protagonist has been completely drawn into the strange mannerisms of this girl. How the protagonist himself is offbeat in a much more hapless way. I like how, again, you focus in on small details, but use them to kind of frame the girl and also to feed into how much this moment matters to him. This story really drew me in and immersed me in a pleasant summertime vibe. Still, you were five hours late, so severe frowning from the judge's podium for that.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Bingo Week Bonus Crits #314: Pi Sure Wish More People Hadn’t Failed

There were only 2 judges this week so im doing crits here they are


Crits (Here They Are)

Poison and Honey
Notes: That passive voice infesting your intro may not be the best way to start a story! “Cascade of sparks was sent flying” “Now they were about to be brought down…” “had dropped” “had startled” “walls were paved”—I would do a rewrite restructuring your sentences without changing the content. I normally don’t notice passive voice, but it’s so prevalent here it distracts. Anyways, this is a story about how mankind destroys and depletes nature with industry and the greed inherent to this extractive practice leads to bad things. This is obvious because the story beats the reader over this head with this idea in very lengthy exposition. The story also contradicts itself with the nature of the gods, who both revel in man’s greed and seek vengeance for overextending into nature. I think what we need here is specific named gods that are in a proxy war. Aim for the specific in your story, not the abstract. I don’t really like the focus of the story on a single character (who said “I told you so!”) and no contradictory view offered, even though you have the opportunity by just having the high-born mom not dead. This would give us dialogue instead of this entirely expository wall. That would make the internal conflict in Moira more powerful, and give her an arc. As it is, she currently lacks depth and sympathy. I also want a clearer ending; I think Moira sacrifices herself, but I don’t actually know what happens. The baby becomes a hawk, maybe?
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No, except to see if ‘no dialogue’ or ‘passive voice only’ were squares, and they weren’t.
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: An ant that got lost and has a crumb in its jaws but keeps zooming around back and forth because it doesn’t know where to go


Hei Aha
Notes: This is a story about dealing with mistakes. The environment reflects aspects of Mac’s emotional state: wild grays in the sky and sea for contemplation, lost at sea because he feels like he (and the whole organization) failed (this is good btw). The conclusion is disparate with the rest of the story. It explains to the reader that Mac is cool and good, but this doesn’t resolve the conflict because the conflict is within Mac and how he feels about himself and the organization he heads. Another thing I think the story needs is to help the reader understand some of the other perspectives in the club; Archie and Willis, for example. By the end of the story, we understand they care about Mac, but can’t reach him. Earlier in the story, Mac feels attacked by them for his failure and perceived lack of respect. It feels like we need more dialogue to play up the difference between what Mac interprets people as doing and what they’re actually doing so the ending is better foreshadowed. Overall, though, there’s a strong character arc here, and strengthening the ending will make it feel a lot more complete.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: An old elephant mourning young bones


Like Oil and Water
Notes: I wonder where this trope of magic and specific technology being opposed came from—perhaps a reaction to new communication and recording methods taking a bit of wonder out of the world? It’s always only tech associated with electricity though. This story is about the struggle of maintaining community and ideology. The message seems to be that by seceding from the rest of the world, you can gain another outlook on the world, but isolated and small, a community is more vulnerable to social strife. The protagonists decide the madness of small community and domination of the increasingly volatile leaders is too much and escape. Or maybe I’m looking at the story too symbolically, and it was really more about a couple trying to do what’s right for their kid in this specifically built world. There’s a lot of story dedicated to dialogue that sets up the world, which leaves the story clearly set but perhaps gives us less time to explore things that might strengthen the characters, like why they wanted to escape the tech world in the first place. However, the story has good structures in place, such as the tiny fires being set by the baby coming into play at the end as well. I don’t know that the conclusion needed to be as ambiguous as it was. Is there a reason we shouldn’t know if the couple escaped or not?
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: An squid squirting ink at it GTFOs


John Doe
Notes: This is a story about dealing with grief and fear. It has magical realism qualities, where the weather represents the emotions of the characters. It seems the narrator is having trouble bonding with his dad after the death of the mom, in expression (the first parts he’s giving blank expressions, even though he’s clearly not emotionless) and repulsed by his father (who is drinking alcohol and stinky). The John Doe that killed the narrator’s mother manifests as his fear over losing his father too, and reveals what seems like a suicidal impulse in the narrator. By breaking out of his shell and expressing his emotions clearly, the protagonist summons his dad (who clearly shows his love) and reconciles with the distance between them; the grief is not fully dealt with (how could it be?), but the conflict is emotionally resolved. Because of the magical realism aspects, it’s hard to translate this story into a clear reality and so in places the story might be confusing. However, it succeeds in delivering emotional truths, and the prose and dialogue flow well, assist in building real-feeling characters, and keeping the reader engaged.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: Actually yeah
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: A chipmunk hiding in an underground burrow


The Wren and the Small Gilded Fly
Notes: I think this needed a proofing pass to shape up the sentences and punctuation. The dystopia has a focus, though, and we get our conflict there. Initially I thought it was resisting a no-sex law, but after the story payment the story feels more about breaking out of the rules of a culture that has narrowed possibility and prescribed such a limited way of life. That seems to cover love, sex, and stories. The story has its three sections, and they are connected, but those connections feel tenuous. The story needs more work on establishing the setting, giving me an idea of what specifically is happening, where the characters are going, and who is in each scene. That, plus stronger transitions, and perhaps Azif introduced earlier, all would strengthen the clarity of the story. The conclusion is a victory in this dystopia that addresses the conflict and reconciles the two sections above, so that does work.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: A crow instructing other crows how to use stop lights and traffic to crack nuts


Stop Worrying
Notes: This is a story about worrying about the future (clearly) and coping with the unexpected. It reminds me of your other story where the guy’s wife turned into a tree. The core of the story depends on the characters, since this isn’t really about any event; the mother could have died of old age and the story would essentially be the same. I buy both the protag and mom as people. It seems to me the question is whether or not the protagonist keeps on going through life without stressing after experiencing their own sudden event like the mom did, or changes to start worrying again. I think the story tries to convey that the protagonist mostly doesn’t worry, except a little bit, which seems okay. I’m not entirely sure, though, because we do get a lot of wondering from the narrator, and perhaps the implication is that the worry will grow.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: A dog that lives with a cat


Last Paradise
Notes: I see we’ve got ourselves climate change apocalypse with a side of earthquakes. Poor Juan de Fuca fault never does get much attention. We do need key details, like that Mary has a tablet she’s watching TV on, so work on establishing the scene. I don’t buy heat waves at the same time as blizzards in the US though; climate change doesn’t remove seasons. You’ve also injected too much disaster-porn into the story, listing off destroyed places and landmarks like a Hollywood movie rather than focusing in on the people affected by it (the real way to build sympathy). Your story is about people using entertainment to escape problems, but it does so in a hamfisted way where the reader feels beat over the head by the theme. The apathic, non-emotions of the characters feels intentional, but the problem with successfully doing that it’s hard to care about the story with no characters to attach to. The conflict is Mary is bored with disasters/reality and wants to escape them (she states this outright), which is becoming impossible. This conflict is resolved by her going to the pool. Again, I see your intention, but it’s incredibly boring. I also don’t feel like you’ve accurately conveyed climate change or sold me on the realness of this future. I’m sympathetic to the message and theme you’re trying to convey, but the story itself suffers in too many ways for it to succeed. Interestingly, “Poison and Honey” from this week attempts something similar, and while it suffers from its own problems, it still deals with the sins of humanity in a better way and may be worth reading as a comparison.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: A lizard lying on a rock in the sun for, like, hours, not moving at all


Every Childhood Home Is A Time Machine (But Some More Literally Than Others)
Notes: This story is about being tormented by critical past events brought on by the traumas of childhood (poverty, divorce, molestation in this story), and about dissolved friendships. It seems strange that the narrator, who didn’t remember her friend, suddenly finds her so important as she explores her past. Maybe we need more about what in the present has her yearning to fix regrets of the past? In the end, the narrator is able to fulfil a wish many people have about the past: to be able to change critical things, such as maintaining a friendship they valued, see a friend through hard times, and craft a bond that lasts a lifetime. This wish-fulfilment has a satisfying ending because the narrator is able to save Samantha and help her through her traumas. However, it also lacks a challenge or any repercussions. Everything goes very smoothly, perhaps to a fault. The setting also can’t be probed to deeply, or one has to start asking grander questions about the possibilities of the time travel. Overall, though, this is an enjoyable story that deals with the ever-nefarious plot device of ‘time travel’ fairly well.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: An old, content cat, purring in your lap as you pet it


The Law of Leaving
Notes: Like the protagonist, I don’t know where the cat came from, but I think we need a hint. I also feel like maybe the protagonist should have gone after the cat earlier in a unproductive struggle. This story is about seeking challenge in life and the bonds of family. The protagonist feels trapped by the bonds of family, while the sister yearns for those bonds. This theme feels very intentional. In saving her own sister, the protagonist gives up her own hope of freedom. The story thus ends as a tragedy for the protagonist, and an unsatisfying conclusion—though that feels intentional. I wonder if the protagonist and sister need to talk about their different ideas of life earlier in the story. Perhaps we need more on why the protag yearns for freedom, or why the sister either cannot or will not let her sibling go. Perhaps we need an expansion that shows more events between them. Perhaps we need even more symbolism, or those symbols need to feel more powerful—say, a repetition of the bracelet as a shackle. I think this story does what I feel you intended to do, and just needs refinement to break through.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: A caged falcon, unable to spread its wings


Heir
Notes: Confusing start. “I remind myself as I…”—bad sentence. You have too much worldbuilding (and crazy names, and characters, and sesquipedalian words) crammed into your start before I even know what the story is about. I also suspect [DEROGATORY WORD FOR NORMAL HUMANS] is a proofing error; reading this out loud might also help you notice a lot of awkward sentences and other errors. Impressively, despite three mentions of “syncretize the multiverses,” the apparent core conflict of the story, the reader is given no hint as to what this means or how it might be accomplished, and as the story progresses everything is so unclear that I cannot be bothered to care or understand what is supposed to be going on. The characters have no depth. The setting is unclear. Like last week, I get the sense that you’ve attempted a story of incredibly complexity without the room to pull off anything you wanted to do. This week, you’ve done the exact same thing. My advice is to try a simple story with two characters where there’s a clear conflict and the story is resolved by the protagonist changing and acting. This is an impenetrable word salad.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: Yes, and doing two rows was a mistake. Many of the things you think you put in your story are not there, and the story would have benefited from not having so much crap crammed into it.
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: The mysterious Ulk’ehaohija. You’ve never heard of it because it’s unfathomable.


Family Recipe
Notes: In terms of prose, some vague things need cleaning up: “The increasingly distant relatives…” “A cousin or uncle handed me a book…”—I think just a single example of a relative visiting would do the job here, but as it is you imply there might be other visitors present in the deathbed scene. The drama of the scene also feels weak because there’s a lot of exposition for a dying woman with cancer, explaining things that weren’t introduced to begin with so they’re not mysteries that need to be solved. I feel like the conflict of the story is if using the seeds is ethical, and whether or not the narrator uses them is important. Initially, I thought it might be how a granddaughter deals with the death of her grandmother who takes care of her, or how she introduces her identity to a possibly hostile family, but the latter doesn’t show up and the former is weakened by the fact that the narrator doesn’t even shed a tear. As it is, this story doesn’t feel resolved emotionally (especially with the text at the end—there’s no impact from the death of a loved one at all!) or conceptually (since the choice she makes and the result and character moment never occurs). It also needs to develop the relation between the grandmother and narrator more fully.
Did I Read Your Bingo Card: No
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: One of those goldfish you get for kids that don’t know how to take care of goldfish so it dies way sooner than it should
Should You Try Submitting Your Story On Time: Yes


Trex
Notes: you should have 3 judges so people get more crits
Was Your Prompt Cool And Good: yeah
If Your Week Was An Animal It Would Be: man I just cannot think of anything that fits


All The People Who Failed
Notes: you should fail less
Did You Miss Out On A Cool Prompt And Good Crits: big time
If Your Story Was An Animal It Would Be: the rarely seen fartpigeon, a pigeon made entirely of wafting farts. the farts smell like shame.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Thanks for the crits, UP.

On an unrelated note, sign-up deadline for this week ends in about 12 hours.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


QuoProQuid posted:

Thanks for the crits, UP.

No problem!

As a reminder to all, crits are the lifeblood of TD. They're a great way to improve your own writing, and it's always great to get multiple lines of feedback on a story so you can get a broad perspective on its reception, problems, and strengths.

Also, if you were a judge in weeks past, you can check what crits you have missing here by clicking on your name and looking for weeks with missing crits. If you want to practice critiques, you can look at crits by week and see which recent weeks are missing a lot of crits. Some weeks still have only gotten crits from a single judge!

Remember that the more in-depth a crit, the more you learn from analyzing the story and the more the author can grow from the feedback you offer.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Thanks for the crit, UP!

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

Okay, put me in.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

ThirdEmperor posted:

Sebmojo wins

Thank you judge, congratulations Sebmojo. I look forward to my dramatic reading consolation prize

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

If only, THUNDERDOME


In, flash, I'm not gonna toxx but I am gonna write on nted.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Flesnolk posted:

In, flash, I'm not gonna toxx but I am gonna write on nted.

One of your characters is guilty of something terrible.


(Also thanks to whoever got me this avatar. I love it.)

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



sebmojo posted:

that's the spirit.

djeser toxx up, and you can both give me 1000 words, with a prompt of spirits, of the booze kind - alcoholism can't be a plot point. 17 August 2359 PST.

kia kaha.
Last Call
558 words

Nothing quite as tense as when Death walks into the saloon. Ornery bastards, they're looking for someone done them wrong; drunken bastards, they'll fight a chair if it looks at them funny. Death, you know he's coming for someone, and you've got to start hoping it's not you.

It's not, this time. It's Jack. Death sits down next to him, throws his arm around him, and says real soft he ought to know what's what. Isn't gonna make a scene. Was waiting for him to finish that glass before he came in. Time to go. Can't say you're that surprised to see it's him, since he was getting on. He's a good man, even if he's never been all that Good. Jack nods and shrugs his shoulders, but says he's never gone nowhere with no one he hasn't drunk with yet. Death's got to drink first, one to one with him. Death seems agreeable.

He winks at you and tells you to put it on his tab. Not sure how much you like that joke. You fill them both up, mention to Jack real gentle that it'd be a fair time to pay his tab. It's gone quiet now, so it's not hard to hear Jack talking, telling Death all the fun he's had. Don't know how much of that he ought to be telling at the end, especially the part about the chickens in the whorehouse, but Death doesn't seem to mind awful much.

They both go in for a second glass. Now it's Death telling Jack things he forgot, about shooting a squirrel clean off his roof and onto his sister's head when he was ten, about getting a girl up in the belltower on Sunday when he was seventeen. Jack laughs along and he looks younger than he's been in years, sitting up straight, twinkling his eyes like that. You pour out a third glass for both of them.

Death hollers over at the piano man to start up a song. Figure he'd go in for O Death or something somber like Wind and Rain, but no, he wants She's Been After Man Ever Since. Him and Jack take turns asking for songs now--Yellow Rose of Texas, New York Girls, and on and on they go. Jack sings along in his own ragged voice, while Death has a soft tenor that settles everyone's spirits. When they slap the table, you keep the booze flowing, till they're seven drinks in and neither of them can quite guess how a stool works any more.

Seeing Death sway and slur makes you grin along, even if you know there's one way this can end. Here it comes. Death puts his hand on Jack's shoulder and tells him it's time to pack it up. Jack nods and giggles and finishes off the last of his drink. Death asks if Jack thought he'd drink him right off his feet. Jack smiles and says naw, he just had to make sure Death knew how to have a lick of fun.

The two of them stumble out of your saloon together, leaning on one another and snickering. That's the last you see of Jack, though you heard folk found him just outside of town, lying on the ground facing East, eyes shut and smiling like he was only having a fine dream.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Yoruichi posted:

Thank you judge, congratulations Sebmojo. I look forward to my dramatic reading consolation prize

Here you go!

Invisible Clergy
Sep 25, 2015

"Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces"

Malachi 2:3


BRAWL ENTRY:

Devil's Share: 981 words


Roland nursed a poor man’s latte. The white guy approaching the cafe in a conspicuously nondescript suit was clearly his contact. Some guys just broadcast “fed.”

“Mr. Thibodeaux, I presume.”

Roland, unsure of whether he should sit or stand, waved him to join.

“You’re early,” Roland said. He’d been earlier. Made a good impression and forestalled comments about CPT.

“Not my first time in New Orleans,” he said, tourist-like. “But it’s yours. How’re you finding the place, so far?”

“Bit of a jaunt, but hey, you said you were paying. Might as well have this thing of mine make me some money. Randi foundation already told me to pound sand.” Roland sipped his coffee and studied the man’s face. Figures they’d done a background check.

“Much like that organization, we’re less interested in your alleged ability and more in the implications of its existence.” He reached into his jacket. Roland tensed. Tape recorder.

“I’ll record our conversation for posterity,” he said.

“State your name for the record. I know the drill.”

He blinked and showed the first sign of emotion: annoyance. “No names.” The recorder’s light blinked. “Tell me how you came to learn about this ability of yours.”

“Don’t know I’d call it that. Never thought about it too much growing up. My mama never let me drink none, but that’s what mamas’re supposed to do. Never really got in with that crowd neither.”

“More academic than partygoer?” he asked.

“Not so much. Just mostly kept myself to myself, even before I knew. So my 21st comes, I pick a place in the neighborhood, give my ID to the bouncer. He waves me in. I go to grab a drink. Before I can get it, I feel some cop’s knee in my back. Now, I’m not surprised, exactly, but I’m shocked, y’know. Not the first time, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to get used to.”

“I can imagine,” said the man Roland knew never got pulled over.

“They take me in, tell me I’m wanted for murder next parish over. I’m trying to tell them I was at home that night, but they’re not hearing it. Turns out someone with my name was the guy, and you know we all look alike to cops.”

“Mm.” No disagreement, no judgement. Barely an acknowledgement.

“They let me out, but we were pretty shook. Even though the cops said everything was cleared up, I steered clear of bars for a while. Made me nervous.

Few years later, a girl I was seeing invited me to a house party. Kinda a bad area, but we figured less odds of getting the cops called. We’re there and dancing and poo poo and she’s got a Zima. You remember that?”

“Dimly,” he said.

“Party’s been going on a while, so we’re out on the yard. She takes one, hands me one. I haven’t told her about my 21st. It’s not a good story, and I don’t want to kill the mood, so I figure I’ll just drink one and try to chill.”

“But?” he asked.

“Before I can take the cap off, the bottle shatters in my hand. It’s loud as all get out, and people start running. Turns out two guys nearby’d started some poo poo and one of them popped off a round. Just fronting, but I got outta there before the cops came.”

“When was the next time you tried drinking?” he asked.

“I dunno, exactly. I wouldn’t try to do it myself anymore. I was worried about what’d happen. I’d be at a party or something, someone’d try to get me to try something and then drop the glass or get a phone call, but sometimes we’d all come down with food poisoning before they could open the wine. I didn’t talk about it. People kept wanting to see if it was real, and bad poo poo’d happen.”

“What do you think is doing this?” he asked.

“Well, I didn’t tell mama about the party, but after she saw a couple of these things happen, she took me aside and said she’d been keeping something from me.

When she’d been younger, before she had me, she and her friends got themselves drunk and stole one of those houseboats. They took it for a ride, but they didn’t know what was what, crashed it and sunk it. They didn’t get hurt too bad, but when they climbed out onto the bank, an old swamp woman saw them there. She’d seen mama driving it and laughing and mama said she’d never seen anything like the hate in her eye. The other one was just a big scar without any patch or anything. She yelled some words and said ‘never again will your blood be tainted by spirits’ and chased them all out.”

“Did your mother experience similar effects?” he asked.

“I don’t know. After that, she said she was scared straight, and she got pregnant with me right after. When she’d been off the stuff the better part of the year, she said she’d lost her taste for it. She’s with Jesus now, but best as we could figure, since I’ve got her blood in my veins, it’ll get me too.”

“I imagine you wanted to divest yourself of this voodoo curse,” he said.

“Well, sure. We looked for that old woman, but we didn’t know her name. While later, we saw her in the obits. She was more than a hundred. Figure asking her to lift it now won’t do too much good.”

“Mm.” Nothing further.

“So, am I in? Is it cash or check or what?” Roland asked. Hoped it was more than Randi’s million.

“If what you’re saying is true, it’d be hard to test in any way that couldn’t ascribed to coincidence, but I’m sure they’ll think of something.”

“That a yes?” Roland asked.

“We’ll be in touch.”

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Yoruichi posted:

Yoruichi vs. Sebmojo completely pointless brawl entry

Small Pleasures

Anyone want a crit of something in exchange for a crit of this story?

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Like a ship in the night, the deadline for sign-ups has passed

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012


Unlockable Ben

Bingo Week 314 Judgecrits

General thoughts: This wasn't a terrible week, as evidenced by the lack of DMs, but neither do I think it was a standout week. My usual MO is to write crits before looking at your prompt, because I don't really feel like "but the prompt said *faaaarrrrrt*" is ever an excuse for a clunky story. So if I bitch about something that was in your prompt, the best I can tell you is, find a different way to work in the prompt that doesn't draw attention to itself. The biggest culprit of that this week was probably "unexplained jargon", dear god, you do not need to hinge the entire conceit of your story on words that you never explain to me.

On to the crits!


Poison and Honey

Overall, this was a fairly solid entry. I thought the quality of writing was good, and the setting and plot was pretty clear and vivid throughout. The biggest shortcoming, for me, was that I felt like I was waiting a long while for the specific conflict of this story to kick in. So much time was spent to establish the world and prior events that it felt like the question of what Moira would do with the baby’s soul (which was the central point of interest, for me) came too far in the back half of the story to really make me invested. I would have liked that conflict to come much earlier, as most of what came before felt like exposition, and even though it was interesting exposition, it didn’t really drive the story forward for me.


Hei Aha

I appreciated the focus on an entirely emotional conflict in this story, it’s not something I’ve seen done often in TD. I felt like I had a good sense of what was at stake for Mac, and what he was struggling with. I would have liked to get a better sense of the other characters present in the story, as is they felt a little one-dimensional, and a little more interaction between them, and a sense of how they might view Luke’s death differently, could have given us more insight to Mac’s struggle with the past. The ending felt a little pat and prescriptive to me, like you (the author) are telling us how we should feel about Mac, rather than guiding us to that conclusion through the events of the story. Still, this was pretty well written and had some excellent moments.


Like Oil and Water

I enjoyed the conflict in this one, and thought you brought the world forward in a way that gave me a good sense of the setting without going deep into expository language, which was a shortcoming for a few other stories this week. The characters are pretty well developed through the dialogue, and I had a very clear sense of what was at stake. The only thing that didn’t really work for me is that the ending felt a little abrupt. I liked the idea of the ending, but I think I would have appreciated something even slightly less open-ended. I definitely don’t mind an ambiguous ending, especially in flash fiction, but this story felt a bit like it just… stopped. Hardly the greatest of crimes, given the rest of the story was solid, it just stood out to me.


John Doe

This story genuinely caught me by surprise, and that’s not something that happens often in TD, so bravo for that. Very clever use of the prompt, and I felt like there were no stray elements that didn’t contribute directly to what you were trying to do with this story. Maybe I’m dumb and missed something obvious, but if I read it right, there’s nothing that strictly tips your hand one way or the other on whether the deer was real or just something Rick imagined in a moment of depression, which I really appreciate. Great dialogue, good descriptive language, and I was engaged throughout.


The Wren and the Small Gilded Fly

I had some difficulty following this one at moments. Ultimately I understood what was going on, and had a decent enough sense of the dystopia and what was at stake, what the characters were running from and what they were seeking. But I think the prose was a bit unpolished and unclear for me at various moments. I sort of get the connection between the dystopian world the characters escape from and the storytelling, but I would have liked to gotten more sense of that importance throughout, it felt a little bit like the storytelling was thought of later in the story but not tied back into the beginning section. Overall I was interested enough in what was going on here but I’m not sure I walk away with a very clear picture of the world or the characters.


Stop Worrying

This had great characterization, I felt like I had a good sense of who these people were from very early on in the story, so well done there, that seems to be a struggle for a lot of TD stories. I also appreciate that you tell us what the twist will be right at the top of the story so it feels less like it comes out of left field and more like it’s an inevitable result of everything that comes before. I do wonder sometimes, with stories like these that are ultimately realistic but with one magical element, whether there’s a story in there if you take the magical element away. I’m not sure of the answer here, because a lot of the story’s impact seems hinged on the abruptness of the woman turning into a fish, but there is a small part of me that wishes there was more of a conflict between the mother and child, a little more push-and-pull beyond just trying to get mom to stop worrying. Ultimately though I thought the story is very effective as-is, it was just a thought that occured to me after she turned into the fish.


Last Paradise

This story suffered from an issue that a couple others had this week: it’s mostly setting. I appreciated the clarity with which you set out what the world had turned into, but I kind of feel like you didn’t do a whole lot with the setting once it was established. I didn’t really feel like I knew (or cared) who these characters were, why they got to Last Paradise, what they gained or lost, etc. Ultimately it’s sort of the story of boring people being boring, and while I can draw my own conclusions about that (humanity has become desensitized to natural disasters and climate change, etc) I don’t feel that you guided me to any particular empathic response to the events, and didn’t really give me any human element to draw me in and get me invested in the problems you presented here. There was a decent amount of discussion on which story should be loser this week, and yours got the dishonor mostly because while there were rougher stories in terms of actual quality of writing and prose, this one had so much less actually happening than the others in the running.


Every Childhood Home Is A Time Machine (But Some More Literally Than Others)

I was intrigued by this story in part because it’s so rare to see a time travel story that doesn’t end in some monkey’s paw-esque “be careful what you wish for” clusterfuck. I appreciate that you took a different tack and actually explored the possibility of someone messing around with time and having it… mostly work out for them. I do think it raises the question of if this technology exists and is freely available, why is nobody watching for people changing a timeline, or if it’s even possible if they could detect that, but I accept that may be outside the scope of this story. I do think the whole story is a bit too pat, like it all works out a little better than I expected. I have trouble buying that there’s no repercussions beyond things being different than the protag remembers. I think there’s some ground to explore regarding reality not lining up with her memories, or the possibility of things working out but not in a way she expected (and thus having to adjust to the consequences of her own actions in a different way than monkey paw madness). Overall this was a very well written story, and I rated it pretty highly in the pack. Oh, this is really minor as TD complaints go but I kind of hated the title.


Law of leaving

Generally speaking, this was a pretty solid entry. I feel like it didn’t quite distinguish itself for me, in part because I feel like you could replace “Atlantis” with any other fantasy place-name and not a whole lot would be lost, so I would have liked a little more information about the world and what specifically the MC wants to escape, besides just a general sense of ennui and banality. I like the conceit of having to leave with nothing in order to actually escape, and there at least I buy into this being a more traditional version of Atlantis. The prose was pretty solid throughout, and I liked the slightly heightened (at least compared to the rest of this week) language, as it contributed a sort of mythic feel to the story. I will say I was a bit confused where the cat came from right when it showed up, but you address it pretty quickly afterwards. Also I would have liked a little more interaction between the siblings, as is the reveal comes pretty late in the story. More interaction also might have addressed my issue with not quite understanding what was at stake for the MC and why they wanted to leave, by giving me a clearer picture of what made the sister want them to stay.


Heir

This one was very rough for me. I had a difficult time following what was happening for the course of the story. It was also kind of hard, at times, to tell whether something was a proofreading mistake or an intention obfuscation of what was going on. It was pretty obvious early on that one of your bingo squares was the “unexplained jargon” one, and I appreciate that you didn’t shy away from that part of the prompt, but I also feel you leaned too hard into it and the story suffered for it almost the entire time. At minimum, I needed a better sense of what the heck “syncretizing the multiverse” was. Even if I didn’t get any specifics about the event itself, I needed a much, much better sense of the context and importance surrounding it. I also feel like the story could have had one fewer character in the mix and still accomplished roughly the same thematic goal, but probably with a much tighter execution. I wasn’t really invested in this one, didn’t really understand the conflict at play here, had no idea what the stakes were for any of the characters. This was a loser candidate for me, but ultimately I took you off the chopping block because even though I didn’t enjoy the story, I appreciate that you tried something ambitious.


Family Recipe

I thought this was pretty well written throughout. I struggled a little to connect to the characters, as until fairly late in the story the MC was a bit of a cipher. Even in the last third I had a tough time getting invested in the MC, in part because I struggled to identify what the real conflict here was. I couldn’t really grasp what her relationship was with her abuela-- you gave me a lot of backstory on their interactions but it was a little unclear how she felt for her abuela at this deathbed confession, and as a result I wasn’t certain what to make of the pouch or how the MC felt about it. The whole ending section felt a little cerebral and bloodless, like the MC was more concerned with the ethical problem of what’s effectively a love potion rather than the fact that her grandmother just died. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but if that’s what you were going for I think some acknowledgement that the MC was troubled (or not troubled, as the case may be) about the revelation or her abuela’s death would have gone a long way to helping me make sense of the resolution here. The very end was also just a little ho-hum, I didn’t feel like I had any sense of what was going to come next in this character’s life or how the events she’d just experienced would affect her life and her relationship with Janine, beyond a vague implication that maybe she’d put the spores in dinner that night, but even then I don’t really know if that’s the possibility you want me to ponder. I know I kind of picked this one apart but I actually did like it, I just kind of lost the thread near the end and wanted a little more emotional depth, otherwise it was pretty solid.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Hey people who wanna record a thing for Jay Friks' memorial page!

A lot of you are like me and haven't done this yet! We're trying to aggregate as many recordings as possible by the 20th, give or take. Some editing/cleanup may be available; if you have questions, seek out Kaishai or myself.

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Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Memorial Interprompt

Your Carbon
315 words

I hate your mausoleum, but it wasn't my choice to make. From the moment we first stepped inside, you loved the place, touching the smooth marble walls and brass plaques as if you needed proof it was real. When we were young and death was a joke, you always told me to just throw your body into the lake, but in your last days, you decided your remains should be protected and enshrined. I don't blame you. How could I?

These days, though, I wish more of you were in adrift the world and not behind that plaque. Every time I clean, I find some dusty corner and remove another trace of you; soon the only part of you left in this house will be the box on the top shelf of the closet, holding the things I couldn't bear to give away. For the first few weeks, the lingering traces of you were agonizing, but now I can't bear their absence.

Most of you is locked away in your drawer, but I cling to the thought of what isn't. I think of your clothes and books in thrift-store circulation; I imagine your lifetime's worth of dead cells being broken down and reduced to their essence. I dream of the hospital incinerator that sent everything they cut out of you into the atmosphere. None of those molecules will remember you, but at least they touched you for a while, and at least they'll carry on. People are exhaling your last breath. Plants forge your carbon into themselves. You left so little behind, but none of it will be wasted.

You always gardened without gloves. I remember you pruning the rosebushes, yelping when a thorn caught your fingers but always carrying on just the same. When spring comes, I'll be out there bare-handed to carry on, hoping my blood finds yours somewhere deep in the earth.

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