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Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


In with "Nevermind"

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Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


flerp posted:

crits for uranium phoenix, big scary monsters, aesclepia, beefsupreme, jay w friks, yoruichi

Extremely good crits, ty

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Thranguy posted:

A bit more than 25 hours left to get in this week. Plenty of good songs left; The Future is almost untouched for instance.

Also, that's the deadline for word bounty crits too. Remember, it's always better to have extra words and not need them than the other way 'round.

Week 268 Bonus Crits Bounty – NEEERDS more like WEEERDS also the judges who are missing their crits are lazy poopheads
===================================================

Taciturn Tactician – Beetleback Alley
The Mana: Okay you’re summoning, uh, an exposition (I think those use blue mana). I’m thinking probably cut or condense a large section of your intro. So there’s a magic alley that exists in many places at once and you buy special things there like poison and hitdudes and icecream. Halfway through the story, still not sure what it’s about. Ah. It’s a story about a guy who buys a thing.
The Magic: “Magic alley where you can buy anything” has been done before, a lot. I like the idea that it simultaneously exists in cities all over the world, but you don’t really do anything with that.
Why Your Card Went to the Graveyard: Your story rambles on with no direction for a long time. It goes on even longer before I know what the story is about or the conflict. The core of your story is about a guy willing to pay any price to basically get vengeance for the bad people in charge of ??? (your setting is too vague to give me any idea of where this is taking place). You do this through the setting of this magical alley, but the alley doesn’t feel magical, which indicates a flaw in your use of language. The critical problem of your story is it meanders. It needs a reordering, and it also needs to give us some reason to care about the characters. The setting of the story and the life the main character has led need to feel concrete. He’s had these experiences and crafted these plans, but the reader is never let in on any of that.


***
Captain_Indigo – Augury
The Mana: Hm, taking the picture quite literally. Okay, problem established, gotta give the witch stuff. I feel like “law-man” could use a name. Oh, it’s actually about if the guy is the main character in Shawshank Redemption. I also don’t like how he describes it, the line “they even found an axe by my bed” doesn’t sound like how I imagine the accused would phrase it. “Other birds”—weak description. There’s a lot of people talking at each other about the past. Well, didn’t see the twist coming, but I also don’t really buy it. Guess he’s not Shawshank Redemption guy though.
The Magic: Her auguries suck if she missed the dude killing her. The core of your story, ‘the truth doesn’t matter, what people think matters,’ has potential.
Why Your Card Went to the Graveyard: There’s a lot of exposition. I also don’t buy the characters. Specifically, I don’t buy that this innocent man murders an innocent woman “to be a hero.” To some degree, that’s because it’s still not clear what kind of person this guy is by that point in the story. I also don’t understand why this lady is sticking around if she hates the place.


***
Thranguy – What News of Trilanthol
The Mana: Two paragraphs of world building. They’re on a journey. More world building. Still missing the purpose of the journey. Their kingdom fell, but what’s at throne? The vole section of the fight scene is weak. Something something Trilinthol, gonna have to look that up.
The Magic: So I guess people gave voice and intelligence to animals and they hosed it up just like us. That’s an okay ending.
Why Your Card Went to the Graveyard: It’s a very slow start with a lot of worldbuilding before we’re really sure what’s going on, and I still feel a bit lost at the end. It makes more sense on the reread, but I missed key details in the beginning because I wasn’t sure what was important in the story until the end. Things like Chessa and Saj being trackers ended up not mattering, and only one part of Zackray’s lore. I think Trilinthol needs to be more clearly built up, perhaps through another story or having the secret history deliberately not told earlier. The world is also probably too complex for the story length; too much is wasted on establishing the different sides and world.


***
Kaiju15 – Bearer of the Heavens
The Mana: Well they sure hosed up that installation.
The Magic: This fulfils the prompt metaphorically.
Why Your Card Went to the Graveyard: This is the Hollywood version of The Government, which annoys me because it has basically nothing to do with reality. The entire thing is constructed as an excuse to put the guy in the lovely scenario of “you gotta put your finger on this button or bad thing” but then the choice of the protagonist to even remove his finger is removed several seconds after the inciting incident. So, there’s no tension or real conflict, because there’s no choice. It’s just “haha wouldn’t this suck if all these extremely specific things happened?” And it does. Also the character is extremely one dimensional, and unconnected to anyone so even the possibility of having this event strain a relationship is immediately wiped out. Basically, you’ve made sure nothing interesting can happen. At least it was a fast read.


***
CantDecideOnAName – One Last Job
The Mana: Oh good another story with The Government, which as we know is a monolithic entity composed of generic humanoids, but not people with nuance. Is he a suicide bomber? Too much elaborate gimmick stuff so that it can fulfil the prompt card. Why is The Government playing god with memories, anyways? Control? Who’s Elliot? Guess we'll never know.
The Magic: This is basically Memento, but more conspiratorial since it can be applied to society instead of just one dude’s hosed up character.
Why Your Card Went to the Graveyard: It’s a decent Sisyphean tale. It’s just a bit shallow, and because of the whole memory thing we don’t really have any idea what this dystopia/setting is like. I’m trying to figure it out if this is tech or magic being used, what with vine-rods and implausible electric gauntlet things. As best I can tell, the government is using a dude they keep memory erasing to kill people, but they erase the memories of the people who know the people who get killed so… what? I think the premise has potential. Too much is focused on the job/attack that doesn’t actually end up mattering all that much, and is overly elaborate purely to fulfil the prompt picture.

-------------------
Well, anyways, those were my crits. I hope we all learned a valuable lesson about something. Other people should do more crits too. Like the other judges from that week, imo.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Prompt: Nevermind

The Hated Enemy
1692 words

Field Group Q got a lead on the fugitive, but kept it quiet. Mostly, we wanted to make sure it didn’t turn out like the time when eight teams of power armored troops ended up arresting a senile grandmother and her three cats. My theory was Munkhtsetseg had died some time since she’d gone into hiding forty years ago and been swept up by a street cleaner, along with the vagabonds and other dregs. But the New Union Party, full of silver hair as it was, told us to find her, so we followed orders.

My partner, Jerson, had his guess. “She probably had facial work done, some black market surgery. Otherwise, cam-drones would have picked her up years ago.”

We were strolling toward the apartment block in our power suits, checking the alleys as we went. The target building was just another concrete tower. Bland enough to be perfect, I supposed. “Or she’s been living off the grid.” I wasn’t married to any of the theories we tossed around.

“No. She’s behind the attacks. No one else has the strategic aptitude to make it all appear so random. So she has to be in one of the cities, coordinating it.”

I couldn’t argue with that. Everyone knew from history that if you sent an army at Munkhstetseg’s army, your army disappeared. She’d won a lot of battles back when the war was on. That was the other reason the New Union wanted her gone. We’d never been able to trace any of the terror attacks to her, though. She was that good.

Our earpieces buzzed. “Jerson? Malic?”

“In position, commander,” I replied.

“Good, Group Q is ready. Ah, the cat’s out of the bag on the operation. Whether or not the tip is the real thing, ah, Department Leader Verat is taking command of this operation.”

I looked at Jerson. He shrugged.

“This is Leader Verat,” came a scraggly, stern voice. “Proceed with the plan. Our support craft are on their way.” That was an understatement. I could already hear propellers chopping up the air in the distance.

“Beginning our sweep now,” came someone over the radio. Inside the apartments, soldier teams were checking rooms. Sweeps were routine enough that the residents wouldn’t suspect anything unusual. On my view screen, I watched as little dots representing the teams swarmed about.

“First floor clear.”

“Movement—East face—ah, poo poo. Sorry, just a crow. East face clear.”

I chuckled, but kept a closer eye on our side of the building.

“Second floor clear.”

“Roof exits secure.”

The crack of helicopter blades came louder. “This is air unit delta, now in pos—”

The radio cut out, and my screen started blinking red. “Does anyone copy?” I asked. No response. “Jerson. Jerson!” He couldn’t hear me through the suit’s helmet. I hand signed that the radio was dead. He signed back that his was too.

That’s when I saw her. A seventh floor window opened, and she used a jetpack to drift down to the adjacent building. Target! I signaled. The choppers’ calamitous blades drowned out everything. No one was looking. I started off after her, digging my suit’s metal fingers into the building side, clawing off chunks of concrete. I caught sight of her as I hauled myself onto the roof. She was heading towards downtown. A lot of cover from the sunshelters and the towers. The helicopters would be useless. I sprinted after her. Mechanical legs pumping, I leapt from roof to roof, watching her silhouette flicker like a ghost in the night.

I started thinking of the lessons I’d learned in school. She’d pioneered electronic warfare, blacking out entire cities, commandeering mechanical armies, all while managing to keep her forces so insubstantial that there was never a solid target to strike. My palms felt sweaty.

A rush of wind and clamor buffeted me, and one of the choppers landed in front of me. drat! They’d blocked my sight of her.

A man stepped out, wearing white and blue armor, the emblem of the party shining bright from LEDs on his arm.

In pursuit of target, I signaled.

No response.

Target escaping, I signaled.

He took off his helmet. It was Leader Verat.

I took off my own helmet. “Sir, I caught sight of a woman, probably our target. She’s—”

“You did?” He looked surprised. He turned to the chopper pilot. “Round up a team, and as soon as communications are back, tell them to get as many drones in the sky as they can. I’ll pursue the target myself.”

“Last saw her moving that way, Sir.”

We sprinted off. With our power suits, and her jetpack’s limited fuel, we were sure to catch her soon.

As we entered the outskirts of downtown, we passed under our first sunshelter. I heard the crackle of an arc-gun charging.

I dove for cover. Too late. Lightning blazed out from the shadows. I felt my suit freeze up and smelled ozone.

The woman emerged from behind a pillar, letting the arc-gun drop back down on its sling. She had cropped gray hair and the eyes of a predator. She cocked her head to the side, examining us. I saw the amaranth flower tattooed on her neck. Munkhtsetseg.

“Eli,” she said. “Little Eli. I imagine they still don’t consider you one of them, even though you sold your soul.”

“You whore,” Leader Verat spat. “We’ll find your army. They’ll die. You’ll lose.”

She chuckled. “New Union owns the world, but you still live in constant fear. You always did need an enemy to hate. You’ll need one when I’m dead, too.”

I stared. One of the leaders knew Munkhtsetseg? I fumbled for the emergency release on my armor. I thought that if I strained, I could just barely reach it.

“gently caress you!” Verat screamed. “You and all the Kommuriun!”

“I never hated you,” Munkhtsetseg said. “Even after you betrayed us. I did hope you’d find peace. But enough talk.” She pulled a pistol from her belt and shot him twice in the face.

“poo poo,” I breathed. Her eyes were on me now.

“I should probably kill you too,” she sighed. She raised the gun.

I need to play for time. I could feel my fingers closing in on the release, but the drat gears were stuck. “Wait—what are the Kom-mur-iun?” The word tasted unfamiliar.

“That was the name we gave ourselves. The ideology that opposed New Union and—ah, nevermind. That truth will die with me.” She could see the look of confusion on my face. “They’ve packed your head with so many lies, I couldn’t begin to unravel them.” Munkhtsetseg put her pistol away, then drew out a knife. “I’ll give you three gifts. The first is your life. The second, I’ll tell you where my army and family are—hiding, in a secret complex beneath the Tangshan greenhouses. The third gift is this.” She put her hand up on the metal pillar, then brought the knife down hard on the first joint of her pinky. The finger dropped to the ground. She picked it up and tossed it at me. “An act of kindness--for you, at least. Unforgeable proof that the New Union’s enemy lives. Feel free to lie about how you got it. They never liked the truth anyways.”

Then she turned and faded back into the shadows.

***

Her pinky finger lay on the table in front of General Smith. “I was able to get the jump on her when I released my power armor, sir,” I told him. “But she escaped using her jetpack, and I couldn’t pursue. I attempted to save Leader Verat, but was unsuccessful.”

“You did well,” General Smith said, though he was busy looking at that severed flesh like it was a viper.

“She, ah, let slip, something about her army being hidden near the Tangshan greenhouses. I don’t know if—”

General Smith turned white. A med drone had to come and inject him with something before his color returned.

“She was lying about that,” he said. “I can assure you there’s nothing there. Best to drop it entirely.”

We resumed the search for Munkhtsetseg, but the teams couldn’t find any trace of her beyond a few drops of blood on the rooftop.

***

It took three years before I made it to the Tangshan greenhouses.

“Colonel Malic! An honor to meet you,” the manager of the greenhouses said when we met on a warm winter day.

“Retired,” I told him.

“The man who cut a monster,” he said. “I can’t believe you left after your heroics.”

“I like gardening,” I lied. I’d found lying came easy to me now, like breathing.

I transferred into soil management as soon as I could. I’d read the histories, but even the black market books didn’t mention Tangshan. As far as the histories were concerned, it had been a defensive war fought on the American continent, never on the Asian coast. But even though the party had cleaned their histories, they didn’t clean their records of deployments and logistics. Tens of thousands of men had been sent over.

I suspected General Smith had lost a battle in Tangshan. Still, I wondered why she’d specified the greenhouses.

I started digging in one of the houses, passing it off as a soil study. It took six feet of digging before I discovered it.

Dusty bones and leathery flesh. Skulls riddled with bullet holes. Scraps of Kommuriun uniforms. Munkhtsetseg hadn’t lied after all. I covered the bones back up, then checked under the other greenhouses. More bones. Mass graves, the size of which I couldn’t fathom. It wasn’t just her army. Her family was there, too, as she’d said. All the children’s skeletons and civilian clothes made that clear.

I thought of her eyes again, how calm they’d looked. I wondered how she had it in her not to hate people who’d done… this. I wondered what other truths were buried.

There was no army. No resistance. But she was right. The New Union would need an enemy to face when Munkhtsetseg was dead. And I knew who it would be.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Sitting Here posted:

interprompt:



Reasons Why Your Local Crow Might Be Feeling Existential Dread
  • Your crow has been finding lots of food that nourishes him, but is that living? There's so many garbage cans and fast food restaurant parking lots he hasn't checked. What if the meals he hasn't found are better?
  • Your crow has seen his reflection in a mirror or window. Jesus, is that what he looks like? It looks like he doesn't preen. Does he really bob his head like that when he walks? Christ, no one told him.
  • Your crow is alone. I mean, there's other crows cawing, of course, but when your crow caws, do the others really listen? Does anyone know or care about him? All the other crows pair off, but yours sits on the wire, wondering why he can't seem to fit in.
  • Your crow saw another crow get hit by a car. poo poo, she was just eating road kill, and one error... gone. Your crow wonders if it could happen to him.
  • Your crow has been wasting his life.
  • Your crow caws again. It echoes in the winter evening. There's no response. He fears he will die alone.
If your local crow stares listlessly off into the distance, any of these reasons may be affecting him. There's not really anything you can do. Perhaps you could climb up a tree, and caw at him.

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Jan 16, 2018 around 03:10

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Cool prompt. In.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Zorp! Removed

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 16:08

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


They're going to have to call it Not-well-ington when the Seattlites have finished demolishing your hobbit holes and giving swirlies to your kakapos.

In for Seattle and

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


I guess I'll go with the Manananggal??

Interesting fact, Manananggal in reverse is Laggnananam.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Seattle vs Wellington Brawl
Manananggal

Bzoink! Removed

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 16:09

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


rear end frog posted:

"you loving rear end in a top hat," said the woman. "you loving rear end in a top hat. you making GBS threads, farting rear end in a top hat." she pulled off her shoes. "you

?

Signups are closed, though. Try entering next week??

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


gently caress it, in and flash rule

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Removed

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Apr 29, 2018 around 13:48

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


alright in and flash me

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Badoop! Removed

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 16:11

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Jon Joe posted:

The other two judges state they will be expanding their crits in their own posts. However I am lazy and instead I am offering detailed crits to anyone who asks for one, that submitted this week. Just quote this post.

Yeah I'll take one of these

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


TD Week #297 Crits for Something Completely Different
I tried to read the stories anonymously, but the combination of people announcing when they were done in irc and style recognition made it so I knew who quite a few people were. My crits were done independently, so if I’m telling you something the other two judges told you, it’s probably worth considering. Per Deltasquid’s suggestion, I also used a 20 point rating system, broken into the categories of Voice, Story, Prose, and Whatever-I-Feel-Like (each category 0-5).
hear r ur crits

A night at the theater
Scores
Voice: 3 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 2 ; Whatever: 2
A lovely love triangle leads to at least two deaths. The problem is I don't buy the maintenance guy's character at all. I get that he’s socially awkward. However, one would assume maybe he would try ‘talk to Cherry’ prior to ‘murder competition.’ The plot is relatively predictable. There is a voice shift at least. However, there’s a big problem with the prose. Reread the first two paragraphs that have Sean’s voice. That poo poo is hard to parse. You also have a tense shift that isn’t necessary. Finally, the ending sort of made me think you were going for tragedy-comedy, but the comedy is sort of missing until this end scene. That, and we have no reason Lavender likes Sean. None. So I don’t buy her motivation either.


Her Bastard Children
Scores
Voice: 2 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2
This is some crazy demon poo poo. You have a nice hook but the first readthrough I was confused as heck. I thought maybe Owen was crazy and was making excuses for his domestic violence. Second readthrough, it's a bit 'clearer' that the two characters just get gibbed by demons and there's really nothing they can do about it. It’s okay horror, but one of the things that makes horror more effective imo is the journey from normalcy to terror and powerlessness, but the normalcy and power of the characters is never established. The characters are passive; they seemingly can’t take any sort of action, so the story just passes them by. I liked some of the surreal descriptions. Work on the arc of the story and clarity (part 2 was especially confusing). The voice shift is not great. There are several proofreading errors (“It’s stiletto…”), so get those too.


Diner Food
Scores
Voice: 2 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 1 ; Whatever: 1
This is a superficial look at the 'divide' between libs/con and city/country that is so stereotypical as to be offensive. It nearly reads as a screed in some places. It also read to me like someone writing what they think professors do/sound like who has never actually talked to a professor or heard academics talk at all and has no idea what they do. The characters are shallow. I don't buy them as people at all, because they’re so one dimensional. They are defined by their stereotype, and you’re practically smashing the reader in the face with how you want them to feel about each character (Klein smirks about literally everything so hate her; Shazier is down on her luck so feel sympathy; Burbank is hard working salt-of-the-earth with a soldier son, so feel sympathy).

It’s also not great as a story. The entire two intro paragraphs should be cut, as they add almost nothing to do the story and set it off to a boring start. Think about the arc/conflict of your story. First, it’s unclear what the conflict of the story is until the end. I thought it might be about reconciling differences between people with different backgrounds, but no, it’s not. It’s actually about a rude person getting comeuppance. That in mind, the rude person learns nothing, and is punished by an allergic reaction. The diner owner, having committed the crime of intentionally poisoning one of her clients (but is supposed to be sympathetic) still has her son either dying or being severely wounded and traumatized. Furthermore, the son’s problem is introduced into the story, then never resolved. That’s bad. The bigger problem is that you outright state “There was a reason the women had come here, and it wasn't the food. It was to touch, briefly, the lives of those who had experienced more than mere inconvenience.” But the story isn’t about that. That is never resolved, and no one makes any effort to ‘touch lives’ or learn about each other in any way shape or form. So your story isn’t really about that, and worse, it doesn’t seem to have anything interesting to say about it.

There’s other problems, but you should focus primarily on developing characters who feel like people, and figure out what your story is actually about before you just jam an ending on there.


Damo's very bad day
Scores
Voice: 5 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 4 ; Whatever: 3
The voice of this story is established well. This is the first voice flip I didn't immediately expect or see the connection to, so I appreciate that. I don't buy that the meteor has time to smell anything. There isn't much of a story here, but I don’t get the sense you were going for anything but a brief sketch of two lives. I dunno what to think of the living meteor except as a contrast to Damo. The only message I get is that everyone dies, whether drunk dudes or time-spanning consciousnesses.


A Baron's Son, A Hunter's Daughter
Scores
Voice: 1 ; Story: 3 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2.5
The voice feels similar here; You changed the pacing of the story, but pacing is not voice. It’s pretty obvious that the second portion would have the victim finding a double-secret thing, but the knife is a lame twist. I’d rather see some elaborate architecture trap, as the story set up. As it is, the story feels a bit Hollywood horror, how so many movies have the ‘monster’ slowly walking after a panicked victim. The story has a full finish, comeuppance, though it's heavily told not shown. Didn't care that much about the characters, or even dislike the king. I think we needed more connections to the characters; they’re introduced and dumped too fast, so the story lacks any emotional satisfaction from the ending.


#goodboy
Scores
Voice: 4 ; Story: 3 ; Prose: 4 ; Whatever: 3
This was an amusing story, finally with some characters I like. Vonta and David are a hilarious pair, and the absurdity of the piece sets a good tone that the story sticks too. I like the voice shift. I also like how there’s a parallel way the scenes are set up, each having a character being visited in their domains to discuss a problem. As a whole, it’s a funny story that wraps up nicely.


Bent Out of Shape
Scores
Voice: 3 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 2 ; Whatever: 2.5
*Another fairy story, apparently, though this one takes itself far more seriously. You have an okay hook, but then the story is super ponderous to read. I get this is part of your voice shift, but I nearly died reading the first section. It took at least 6 paragraphs before I could figure out what the story might be about, but then the first section of the story wraps itself up (too easily and too quickly) and the second half seems completely unrelated (the character is there, but the plot aspects are not reliant on each other). The second section is easier to read but also I dunno what it's about and I don't think the ending answers any of the story's questions. Overall the ponderous prose obfuscates the story in part one, then the rambling nature and lack of context for the conversation in part two makes that section a chore. I think the story is about a changeling outcast finding their place in the world, but what resolution is introduced in part 1 is reversed in part 2, then left dangling. I nearly recommended this for a DM.


Creatures of the Coin
Scores
Voice: 1 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 2 ; Whatever: 1
At the start, I can't tell if the secret illuminati agent is supposed to be the protagonist. The action is very poorly blocked; the intro is confusing, and at some point the plane takes off and I don't know when. I was lost as gently caress as to why the action was taking place, where it was taking place, and how to visualize each scene. You need to set up some sort of stakes, some sort of reason for the reader to care about the characters, and need to work a lot on how you deliver your action.

The second section is some dumb anime bullshit. The characters are annoying and huge chunks of this section (like the art scene and their conversation about exams) are pointless. Again, we need some reason to care about these people, and a seemingly pointless activity and conversation doesn’t do it. Honda is also bad name for a character, and it only makes me think of them as a car. Yes I know it's a real surname. Don’t use it.

Then, we get the fuselage crashing down and the action resumes, but again, I don’t know who I’m supposed to think is the good guy or bad guy, nor what’s at stake. Revise your prose, because lines like “It seemed to be part of an airplane's fuselage--a memory from one of her old picture books that showed how machines looked like from the inside” are bad because you don’t need to interrupt the action to describe why a protagonist knows what part of the airplane just mashed their crush. Also the fuselage is the main body of an aircraft so it’s not like some sort of obscure part.

Butler reveals himself to be a big jerk, so one presumes he’s a villain at this point. Then, the single action Keiko takes that progresses the story is picks up a coin and goes ‘whatever, man’ to it and then there’s a Pokémon battle as not-Blastoise and not-Moltres decide who’s going to be the very best, like no one ever was. However, all of this is utterly meaningless, as Butler wins the fight. So, uh, presumably, the villain of the story has won, and the ‘protagonist’ has taken one action the entire story. Then, at the loving end of the story you drop offhandedly that maybe Butler is this girl’s secret dad. Earlier, the story also offhandedly mentions Keiko has memories she’d rather not think about, which is yet another thing introduced with no purpose and never resolved. This is all part of an immense amount of garbage stuffed into this piece, which overwhelms the reader with stuff that doesn't serve the story or help us care about the characters at all. It makes it read like episode 5 of Generic lovely Anime, since there’s no real introduction or resolution to anything.

To recap, the story is confusing, has poorly blocked action, missed out on why I should care about any of it, has giant superfluous sections, reads like the middle of a series, has the protagonist do nothing and the villain win, and that, in sum, makes it bad. I hope that you read all the words I typed up and actually consider them, because I typed them up so you could learn from your mistakes and improve your writing.


Human Geometry
Scores
Voice: 1 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2.5
The story starts with a good character, suffering from insomnia, depression, and relationship troubles that I assume are the conflict of the story. After the strong start, there are problems. The shift here is not another POV, nor is it much of a voice change, so this actually fails the prompt entirely. You have their cliché meeting, but pointing out the cliché doesn’t change that it’s cliché. What hurts the most though is that the ending is almost certainly rushed, because it seems to resolve nothing. The story is about the problems in this couple’s relationship, but we don’t really have any indication that anything has changed to resolve the problems. Like, I get that he is physically present and her hand still fits, but that’s not enough.


Unscrambling an Egg
Scores
Voice: 3 ; Story: 3 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 3
The voice, noir wizard character, and setting are all established quickly, nice. There's a good sense of urgency to the story. The shift in voice is okay, bit predictable, but acceptable. The ending feels a bit incomplete. The protagonist of the 1st section fails, and is revealed to be a stooge but it's not a huge twist because he himself was calling the cops 'pigs' anyways. The second part of the story is a lot of telling (and feels weaker). The corruption problem is not really resolved, so the story feels incomplete.


Dinosaur Day
Scores
Voice: 3 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2.5
Well, it's a crazy Sebmojo story. There’s two seemingly separate stories connected, there's an okay voice shift, but the problem is neither story is really 'resolved' in any sense and I don't understand the purpose of any of the zany poo poo going on or what any of it means. Why are the hatelovers starting a dinosaur uprising? Meh. It was going for crazy fun, but everything just sort of rolled off me.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Week 287 Bad Romance BONUS CRITS Part 1 of 2
Two judges are missing crits from this week (shame, etc.) and having multiple perspectives on stories is helpful so I’m doin’ crits. I read like pretty much no romance at all, so my insight into your stories about romance is going to be “valuable.”

Realignment by Fuschia tude
There’s a lot of clichés piled on in the beginning, and the prose is choppy. The story jumps around a lot, far more than it needs, so the scenes we need to actually develop the characters so the reader can properly connect with them are too sparse to do the job. Darren is deeply unlikable, but we also get very little of Sam, and May feels like an empty character. The friendship—which was never really well developed to begin with—shatters, but nothing comes from that. The ending feels empty and bad. It’s also not—as the prompt demanded—interesting. It’s cliché high school poo poo, which is pretty much the opposite of interesting.


Reaching Out by apophenium
Good hook. I’m a little conflicted on the intro. On one hand, it gets at what we need to know to proceed in the story, but I think here showing rather than telling this child-ghost encounter would have been more powerful. The ‘retired __’ shtick is really overdone and hard to pull off well. I also feel like Vuo is too easily tricked—doesn’t ask at all why Jinbik thinks the ghost is his bro. The backstory is stretched out a bit with an unnecessary errand (tell that part and cut the second scene heavily imo; the religious position on ghosts and inquisition also serve no part in this story and should be cut). I also don’t understand why Jinbik deceives Vuo. He obliviously knows the ghost wasn’t Vuo’s brother, and through all the journey, I don’t see their relationship growing, so the end comes out of nowhere and I don’t buy it. This didn’t read like a romance at all, so the relationship beginning at the end of this isn’t a satisfying resolution. It also happens so rapidly that it just made me go ‘what.’ The things that are actually focused on throughout the story—the ghost, who it is, and Vuo’s grief over his brother—are not resolved at all. The identity of the ghost and why it’s able to relieve Jinbik’s stress is just breezed by. This mismatch of core and end makes the story read like it isn’t sure what it is yet.


Survived by Thranguy
Interesting noir/urban fantasy setting. Doesn’t feel like much of a romance; there’s a tiny bit of the relation tacked on to the action and big stakes stuff, but overwhelmingly this is a story about Samantha participating in one of the battles in a war of humanity vs. hell. There’s almost nothing about Sam and Michael’s relationship. Normally, I don’t really mind excessive expository dumps about how the setting, magic, etc. work, but here I thought it was a bit excessive, and a lot of the setting (like the apostolic succession or the new guns vs. old guns ) just isn’t necessary here, and doesn’t much affect the actual story. The ending is a bit rushed too, and if Legion is going to be the antagonist here, we need more about it’s nature and some interaction with it in a more direct sense. I also don’t ever feel the main character is in danger, so there’s a lack of tension. But most importantly, the goal this week was to set out a romance, and that’s just missing completely.


Spirit of Place by Kaishai
Well, this is extremely solid. Your symbolism, figurative language, and plot all tie into place; Isaiah can’t leave, Annie can’t say, so the resolution that they must go separate ways is a foregone conclusion. Annie just has to come to terms with it. The climactic event, the pursuing rapist, feels a bit out of nowhere. It’s a good high tension event, but it feels like the start of that scene needs some more room to breathe and develop (though here it’s obviously constrained by the word limit). There’s a good strength in the small details of the piece, making it easy to visualize and feel, and the characters feel like they have depth. Not much else to say; nice work.


Castles in the clouds by Sebmojo
Oh yeah I read this one too. I seem to recall an IRC discussion on whether or not the vandal-artist’s moves were endearing. It’s a neat way for two people to meet each other non-traditionally, through bonding over a mutual interest and understanding of that interest. I also liked the description of her frowns; while ‘stern librarian’ is pretty cliché, I felt like that wasn’t a problem here. There’s an implication that the librarian has been totally oblivious to what we can assume is a long obsession Daniel had. “she turned back to the beginning and saw the connections she'd missed the first time” is a nice way to sum that theme up; it might be nice to have the librarian retrospectively remember more encounters with Daniel. Alternatively, you could explore the other theme—taking a chance—through another allusion and drawing.


Or Whatever The Opposite is of a Parent Trap by chairchucker
I remember reading this and thinking it was kinda cute. It flows quickly. As usual, your nonchalant voice is heavily embedded in the piece, which I think works for some of the characters, but can make everyone feel same-y so if you revisit this, keep that in mind. The story also hops around at a fast pace all over, and another thing that it might benefit is some scene-setting and time to breathe. In terms of shortening it so it avoided breaking the word count, I think you could have combined scenes. The first 3 scenes could be discussed in the phone call from scene 3, with the reverse-parent trap idea introduced (and what Matt did, and Suki’s reaction) all discovered through that conversation. Scene-combos like that would also reduce the frenetic energy of piece. Makes u think. Anyway, fun story.


Untitled / Better Late Than Never by Ninjalicious
This is, uh, well, you wrote it. Which, that’s true. You did write it. It got labeled ‘fanfic,’ which means you didn’t read the prompt very carefully. Surprisingly, even though you used the character names, I wouldn’t really call this ‘fanfic’ because it has basically nothing to do with American Gods and misses almost everything about Shadow as a character. Basically, a guy just mopes a bunch, which isn’t really a ‘story.’ There’s plenty for you to work on, but I don’t want to put more effort into critting a story than you did into writing it. If you’re genuinely confused as to why this low-effort obviously rushed post was bad, feel free to message me.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Week 287 Badder Romance BONUS CRITS Part 2 of 2
Two judges are *STILL* missing crits from this week (more shame, etc.) and having multiple perspectives on stories is helpful so I’m doin’ crits. I read like pretty much no romance at all, so my insight into your stories about romance is “valuable.”

Holloway Road by Yoruichi
Another nice setting, I get the idea of a town lush with bright growth around and through it. I guess the girl is a dryad/nature spirit thing of the area. It’s a story about a boy who is outcast and thrown away. The reasons for his exile are vague, other than allusions to small town problems of drugs, abuse. The boy is very symbolic, as is the way he is cut off. I certainly know the world does that to people, but as a reader I want to see more about the specifics of his life. It can still be through the eyes of the nature spirit, but too much is left unsaid about his circumstance and life, and also the pieces that would make him pop, like snippets from the stories he told the spirit. I don’t think it works for him to be as symbolic as the nature spirit. I do like her embrace at his end. Your descriptions are also on point throughout.


Little Gray Daisies by Jay W. Friks
Some good details here establish your setting (I picture it as cramped, stuffed, gross, but feeling empty) and a few nice details for your characters. The man has to detail with a sudden death, and isn’t doing very well. We get his history, but as I’ve said about a few other stories this week, I think a strong single scene does better than a recap that covers more time in establishing character. There’s a dangerous pitfall with a story like this, where it’s easy to get caught with the character so down they just don’t do anything, which has a sense of realism, but also takes away from the shape of the story. You walk a line here, having him do small things like drink a glass of water, so I think you get away with it. The first half of the story hobbles along. The second half of the story is much sharper. I like the surrealism of Olan visiting Lee in a sort of trance, accessed through her old things, in a sort of purgatory. I think this part of your story should be the whole thing, because it’s much more interesting. Does he visit again and keep her updated? Does the currency of old possessions stuffed with memories run out? As it is, it’s an okay resolution, her telling him to move on. But there’s a lack of agency for Lee; I feel like she needs to be her own person too, and maybe wants more than just for him to move on. You could also have Orlan explore the nature of afterlife, since that’s hinted at here. Either way, the surreal world in the second half of your story is a strong point that needs to be expanded, and the first half of your story contracted into only the part that’s strictly necessary (e.g. cut the person who chased her, move the memories of them meeting to the surreal world, cut to the minimum the depressed drinking etc.).


Warmth by Bad Seafood
I remember reading this one back during the week too. This delivers a forlorn mood, two people running from a world turned criminal. The relationship of the two characters (though its nature and history is never fully explored, only hinted at) is delivered through the escape. The escape itself is sparse, and again, a larger story is alluded to but not delved into. I think there’s room to explore the past a bit more and give some context to this escape, sacrifice, and their lives. I guess (after looking up “Dvoryane”) the woman is nobility, and this is after the Russian Revolution, but if that’s the context then you might make references to it a bit less obscure. Their tea ritual is a nice touch to deepen the characters, but I wanted a bit more so that the tragedy could really hit a final emotional note. A bit more of the world around them, too, either to emphasize or contrast their lives.


Across by Unfunny Poster
The story doesn’t quite pull off the archaic voice it’s shooting for; the ferryman’s dialogue, for example, feels stilted. The relationship of the couple also focuses strongly on physical appearance, which is superficial and doesn’t sell the characters. The gifts of flowers are better, but I’d like to see their first impressions and later sneaky game of leaving tokens expanded in full scenes, not breezed over in retrospect of an in medias res intro. The mythology incorporated here is pretty shallow. People can attempt to rescue souls from Hades. That would be a much more interesting journey, rather than just having her join in through suicide. The afterlife in Greek myths is an awful place for pretty much everyone, which makes the ending unsatisfying. Next, the story needs a unified voice: is it goes for a more modern tone, or is it trying to replicate a more ancient style? It seems to bounce back and forth. Finally, most importantly, you need to make the relationship between the two characters much stronger; as it is, I’ve got no emotional buy-in to them, so the beats the story attempts just don’t work. Mostly, everything is too vague. What do the two sell? What do they talk about? Why do they love each other so much? Too much is missing, so the characters don’t feel like people, and they need to for any of this to work.


Second Chances (To Make First Impressions) by Nethilia
The first two scenes get at how a single incident can stick with a person, helping define them. It also makes clear the relative socio-economic positions and social status of the characters. The richer students, even the kind ones, either forget their privilege or lord it over (Jessica is nicely despicable). I think you did well in picking scenes to focus on; even though years are passing, it doesn’t feel rushed (one exception is I think a few other key details or interests they discuss at the café would help deepen their characters and growing relationship). The narrative arcs nicely and the story feels complete. I also like how Mary-Jo keeps shoes as part of her identity, but shifts them from an embarrassment to a pride. This story also did well with the flash rule, translating aspects of Pride and Prejudice to a modern setting. Solid story; I think the only reason it didn’t HM is the relative strength of the stories it went up against this week.


Faith by Tyrannosaurus
I really liked this story. There’s little details that make the characters feel solid, both of their perspectives make sense, and their differences make for a conflict where the reader feels nervous for them. The narrative arc is clear and tight. The fantastical premise also feels analogous to the ins and outs of real relationships, and it made me think about the importance of communication and accepting people’s own identities (not the ones imposed on them). The descriptions are also solid, and I get a good sense of the place, a house that is full but feels empty. This was probably my favorite story this week; sadly, I don’t have much to suggest in ways of improvements.


Magpies in the Black by Antivehicular
The conflict is clearly established to be Fengxia and Tsung-Dao’s relationship. The prose is fairly dense, and the circumstances of the couple’s initial meeting and which planets exactly they’re on are not clear. I thought Fengxia was on Epsilon, and just has so many memories of Tsung-Dao that he almost has a presence by her as she works, but then thought it was the wife on Midpoint and husband on Epsilon, which the wife used to work on? It’s hard to tell if Midpoint is a planet, orbital, or a place on a planet for awhile; the characters locations in the present and past, I think, need some clarification because it distracted me from an otherwise well-flowing story, and the nature of this gulf is of some symbolic and literal importance. I get a sense of a setting where futuristic tech is blended with older, traditional styles, but I think the exact aesthetics of the design could use a few specific details to bring the setting more to life, and that would also help clarify the setting. I also wanted to know why they couldn’t just work on the same planet/station. Since this is shooting for realistic sci-fi, I understand the station vs planet gravity well problem makes travel energy intensive, but what has prevented them from seeing each other for seven years? I think the word count forced the story to be overly narrow in focus, but if you revise it I’d give it a bit more breathing room and elaborate on the setting and circumstances around the gulf separating them.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Yeah in, door 2, voidmart product, the works

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Aqua Teen Thunder Force: Week #299 CRITS!
The stories this week were mostly between servicable and medicore. There was nothing particularly offensive or stellar. A big common flaws stood out, though. Many stories lacked a clear focus. They didn't seem to really reveal the conflict at their core until the end (and even then it was often unclear), which led to the rest of the story feeling aimless. Certainly, it made the endings unsatisfying. Does the protagonist learn something? Change? Is the story about a relationship growing, or one breaking and being restored? I think if stories had paused to answer those questions, they would have gained a lot. Or maybe, like so many teens, your story was just misunderstood.
Alright, enough preaching. CRITS!!


Apparitional Experience
Good hook with sparse but charcterizing details. Does banal teen stuff, which is, uh, a lot of this week. It's got okay tension, foreshadowing, but all seems a bit convienient and I dunno if the ending feels all that satisfying since, like, what has Gemma learned or accomplished? Gotten peer respect, I guess, a bit. The prose is good, it has a story shape, but is overall just servicable.
Rating: 5.5


Pupa Rise
We have an alternate universe where people are bugs, or maybe kids are people but adults are bugs? Well, that or they're food. So, it's about adults being literally different than teens, but it's not quite clear what the true nature of this society is. I like Emmet deciding to be with family at the end. It was an interesting premise, and was a lot more ambitious than some of the stories this week. It suffers from a few typos and what felt like a lack of focus. Is it a horror story? A dystopia, where the act of resistance is important? A relationship story? Accepting death or change? There's themes to choose from, but it didn't feel like the story narrowed in on one. Ultimately, the characters don't do much, which leaves the story feeling lethargic.
Rating: 5.0


Currents
There's some nice descriptions that give me a visual. The hook sort of threw me, and it took a bit before I actually understood the setting. You go for a rather serious take on Merpires, which, uh, is going to be a bit challenging. Also I think I would have been even more confused if I hadn't been in irc when they were brought up. It seems trope-y to have the vampire who doesn't want to vamp. The resolution feels weak. If merpires can just easily eat seaweed, why not? There's no struggle with an inherent nature. He just ditches his friends and does his own thing, but, like, that's all of it. It feels like he hasn't changed, since his character starts as a rebel and ends that way. The story seemed like it would be about his relationship with his friends, but it isn't. It's not about the new relationship, because he's just going to swim off afterward. So the conclusion is very empty feeling.
Rating: 4.5


The Tale of Howe three Youthes have greatly mysordered Theymself in Gloucester (1317)
The anachronism after the "olde tyme" title bothers me. Gives it a voice that seems out of place. There's a huge amount of time setting up the prank, but it plays a relatively minor role: giving comeuppance or something to the baron's daughter for... no reason? Again we have a story I couldn't tell the focus of. Is it about their relation as friends? Dating? The baron's daughter ends up taking a hit, but why? She's not set up as an antagonist. It seems like the relation between John and Geoferry/Alice breaks--near the end!--and is repaired, but then what's the point of the intro? I also don't buy that the retainers would make the daughter take the hit rather than gently caress up some peasants--not that the story attempts historical accuracy at all. The characters are okay, but the story doesn't do much with them, and feels too modern with a setting that doesn't make much sense.
Rating: 4


Special Features
My first thoughts, on reading this, were "Oh good, a bunch of untagged dialogue." This ended up being emblematic of a major problem with the story: Technical problems make it hard to figure out what's going on, who's talking, and that's a huge detractor from the clarity of the story and characterization of the characters. In the end, I'm still not sure what the relationship between the various characters is. Is Charlotte Shaun's sister? I thought she was a love interest until the last section. Is Shaun gay? His reaction to a presumably a close friend being romantically interested in him leads to almost no reaction. The conclusion is about Shaun and Luke's relationship, but the introduction makes it seem like the story is about this movie they're shooting, or maybe not. The story jumps around from scene to scene like crazy and I don't know what purpose most serve. The events seem meaningless, and the story rambles aimlessly. My first two readthroughs, I completely missed some of the redeeming voice and themes the other judges pointed out because I was distracted by the apparent rambling aimlessness of the story and technical flaws.
Rating: 3.5


The Most Magical Night Of Your Life
Good opening line and some nice humor. Weird punctuation of time. This one might have gone too heavy on the exposition. I'm thinking a specific investigation plus conversation among friends would be stronger than more non-described examples. Some weak prose here and there. Her perseverance and nonchalant voice in doing absolutely wierd poo poo is great, it makes her feel like a real character caught up in her own mind. The resolution is okay, a bit of self-sacrifice, though not much. I wish there'd been some resolution of the actual investigation and paranormal. It needs some work on the core scenes, maybe more scenes to contrast her with other people, like why they dismiss her and she's so convinced about ghosts. Either way, it's quite amusing and feels like a light but complete story.
Rating: 6.0


Corporeality
This has a solid start; this is a story about a relationship and it sets up possible antagonists. There's a clarity here of the conflict that most stories this week lacked. Starts high, protag brought low. Brutal, nasty, but effective scenes. There's an interesting contrast between public and private personas, caring about peers. I like the scenes chosen, each one serves a purpose. The extended metaphor is only in twice, I guess we see Gary change from hidden to out, and it's about his personal accomplishment as the relationship dissolves. Doesn't feel like a full ending. I feel like Danny needed to change, not just Gary; oh well, it's focused story and has stuff to say and has characters and solid scenes and that's nice.
Rating: 6.5


Not Enough Voices
Nice opener! Like, solid open, great premise, I was really looking for more. Then, the story gets weaker. "I could have sword I told him..." "His Mom had..." damnit, typos! But more importantly, your intro paragraphs are not doing the same amount of work as your opener! There's too much exposition. Is all the backstory you put in important? I don't think so. Your premise is good, but the story seems unfocused. What's up with Bill? Why is he isolated/sad? The story, presumably, once I got to the end, was about Bill's relationship with himself. But why is he suicidal? What happened with his friends? The relationship with the dad is never at risk, so there's no stakes there, no tension there. Mark is chill and cool but why did Bill give him his dad's number, what does that do? Again, you have a cool premise and possibilities, but this story has no idea what it wants to be and that is a big problem here! There's useless backstory, unfocused scenes, typos, and way too little about what the story is presumably about.
Rating: 4.5


The Things We Do For Hardware
This is a story about getting a crappy speech topic but then saying something good I guess. It's set up to be the protagonist learning something. I think there's something interesting to say about farts, because literally the first joke ever recorded is “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap” (Sumeria, ~1900 BCE). So, uh, this story hinges on the speech being funny or clever. But it's not funny or clever. She's an awful loving speaker dear god. If this is going to be a humor piece, it needs to land the jokes, but I don't buy the reactions at all from the judges or audience, because it's just not a good speech. Since the story completely hinges on the monologue and has no other story parts, that fatal flaw brings it real low. Does the protagonist learn anything? "She'd been in the finals, she'd delivered that belly flop of a speech, and she'd somehow gotten hardware for it." You sort of seem to know the speech was bad, but having the main character say it doesn't change it. It's not irredeemable, and it's not so horrible compared to the rest of the week, but it did pack too many flaws together to escape the fate of the loss.
Rating: 3.5


We all make mistakes
Didn't like the opener. Another character named Danny. Why. Alright, this story was overall pretty harmless, but pretty meh too. There's lines like "it's 2018 man" that doesn't sound like a thing an actual kid would say, but for the most part the prose and dialogue is servicable. The story is, "he cant make it. but he does! this solves all problems." It's a lighthearted teen story, it's straightforward and solves its main conflict, and it has a bit of tension with the jump, but it's not very ambitious or interesting.
Rating: 4.5


Stolen Hopes
Nice start, wow, characters that feel and I can get a sense of. These feel like people. The conflict is about the relationship, which starts as nonexistant, builds, and is undermined by the theft accusation and girlfriend reveal. There's high emotions, and the relationship is doomed to never be. It's another story with a fake-out, being about character growth rather than a connection, the character moment deals with the primary conflict. Good details throughout. Solid overall. The other judges pointed out it didn't seem to capture the spirit of the week, and the protagonists felt more mature than teen-like.
Rating: 6

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at May 1, 2018 around 13:37

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Door 2: <TDbot> Science has yet to bring forth a plausible explanation for it, but the popular theory stems from Japanese folklore, the *Tsukumogami*: once an object reaches its 100th birthday, it comes to life and gains a mind of its own. | The 51st President of the United States of America by A Classy Ghost - https://thunderdome.cc/?story=3432
Flash product: P.R.O.T.E.I.N.: A substance!


Living Paths
1200 words

David stood in aisle 1024 of Voidmart, between the section of diecast model retro consoles and the section of faux paintings of cottages in the wilderness during sunset. He stared at a bare shelf, compulsively picking at his nails, wondering if he’d missed something.

An employee, trim goatee and polished black shoes, approached. “Can I help you, sir?”

“Oh, uh, it’s fine. I was just looking for…” David chuckled nervously. “But I guess you’re out.”

“I’m afraid so. But we may have something else that would fulfil your need.”

“I doubt it.”

“Try us. Voidmart’s policy has been to stock every conceivable desire since its establishment in 1776.”

David hesitated. “Didn’t the plaque outside say, uh, the store started in 1917?”

The employee frowned. “Possibly. It changes from time to time. Ah, never mind. Are you sure I can’t help you with anything?”

David hadn’t talked honestly in a long time. No one had asked. “I’m looking for… I guess something that at least veils my melancholy. There’s so much going on in my life, in the world, and I feel powerless to change anything that matters. I seem to remember being happy, but I guess the nostalgia I was looking for…” He gestured at the empty shelf.

“Hm. So you’ve come looking for a product to resolve your feelings of alienation and existential despair?”

“Well, I mean, when you put it like that—”

The employee put his hand up. “We have just the thing. Follow me.”

They passed rows of dietary supplements, some of them squirming about in their packages, past a rainbow row of mascara and lipstick, past vanity mirrors and brand clothing until David’s legs ached. They arrived at an aisle of flamboyant boxes.

“Group identities,” the employee announced. “Once you feel a part of something bigger, your mood is sure to improve. We have consumerist identities, competitive games, religious identities, hobbies—ah, and this one, I can personally vouch for.” The man rested his hand on a box labeled “Corporate Loyalty.”

David glanced around. “Ah, I feel kinda bad being picky, but… do you have any, uh, more revolutionary identities? These all seem like part of the structures that restrain my autonomy.”

“Political identities? Good choice, sir, those are quite popular. Hmm. The ones you’re looking for might be out of stock. We could check the back.”

***

David hesitated at the door marked “Employees Only,” toes touching the red line on the floor.

“Come on. No telling if I’ll ever see you again if we separate now.”

He clenched his teeth, then took a step over the threshold. While the shelves on the main floor were high, the shelves in back stretched into the ceiling and vanished into a haze of shadows. David stopped. The employee continued on, fading into the dim fluorescent lighting. How could anyone find their way here? It seemed that in every direction were endless possibilities, each one potential life-altering. And there were hundreds of paths. Thousands. The longer he stared, the more it seemed like each aisle fractured almost imperceptibly into a branching tree of fractal destinations. Palms sweaty, David ran after the employee.

The floor shifted beneath his feet, and suddenly he was sprawled out on smooth concrete, body aching. Something moved to his left. A living tendril of muscle and ligament, stretching in its ceramic pot. Dozens of them, actually, swaying like the dead air here had a breeze.

Then, movement to his right. A woman, holding a gun.

“What are you doing back here?” she whispered, eyes gleaming.

“I—I was with an employee, looking, f-for something.”

“Another customer. Is spending money the only relief for your ennui?” She wasn’t wearing a uniform, he realized. Just tattered black, with a crimson bandages wrapped like tangles of yarn.

Another figure approached, rifle slung behind his back. “Leave him, Nikita. Our mission is more important.”

In the distance, David heard the echoing cracks of gunfire. “W-wait, what is going on here?”

Nikita laughed. “A war, of course. For the soul of Voidmart. Or did you think this place was always a store? Always a leech sucking at the juices of the world?”

The floor rumbled, and the air shivered. David watched as the potted muscles changed into vines streaked with blood, blossoms of blinking eyes sprouting from the ends. Tears dripped from them.

The man shuttered. “Voidmart’s history shifted again. Another change like that…”

Nikita raised her pistol at David. “It’s him. Him and all his kind, the people that watch and do nothing.”

“You can’t blame him. All his life, the world has been squeezing out his soul.”

The woman’s finger curled around the trigger. “He still has a choice. But what has he done? Nothing.” Her face was naked contempt.

David’s hands shook. She wasn’t being fair. She didn’t know him, didn’t see all his best intentions. “Too many choices,” he muttered, looking up at the boundless shelves. What if he chose wrong? There was too much to know. What were they even fighting for? What if he made a mistake? What if he screwed up someone else’s life? Like a butterfly, flapping its wings wrong on the other side of the world. What if—

The CRACK made his ears ring. The pain in his side sent him sprawling to the floor, teeth clenched in agony. I should’ve… I should’ve… he thought as the two rebels left. The eye-vines had stopped crying, and were staring at him. Was that pity? In the ceiling, he thought he saw stars. Except—no, there was an eye up there, too, massive, the dim light from below glimmering in it. Voidmart itself was watching.

Why watch me, David wondered. Unless…

Unless what I do now matters. Even now. I’ll never know enough, never stop doubting and regretting, but…

He stood, groaning, blood seeping, and grabbed a bandage off the shelf and wrapped it around his wound. Two aisles down, he found an old crowbar. Gripping it, he breathed, pain coming with every breath, but he felt like the store breathed with him. There was a battle for Voidmart’s soul, then? He had stood idle long enough.

***

David found small things he could do. He snuck cans into food drive bins. Found a printer making useless plastic trinkets and shut it down. Changed the shipping manifest of a crate of insulin so it went to a free clinic, thinking of his mother as he did. Sometimes, an employee would see him. One day, he found a food drive bin already full. A woman wearing a Voidmart apron caught his eye and nodded, then walked off.

He found himself in the walkways of the ceiling of Voidmart, and in a fit of inspiration, took his crowbar and pried open a hole in the ceiling. The sun was shrouded by a dirty haze, but its rays felt like bliss. David stuck his head out, gazing at the curved roof that touched the horizons. Voidmart was not a leech, but an ouroboros, wrapped around the world. The changes he made were paltry, but he knew that he had done something. Knew now that souls could be changed. Below, the shelves of Voidmart shimmered and shifted.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Sitting Here posted:

Voidcrits part 1/2

extremely nice crits ty!

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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Also also in.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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Glaplooink! Removed.

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 16:15

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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uhhh.... prompt???

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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In, flash

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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Vzorp! Removed

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 16:12

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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Jay W. Friks posted:

TD 302 Invisible Bartertowns Crits Part Uno

Got some crits for Surreptitiousmuffin's "What Ukto Saw", CantDecideOnAName's "Of Eluse, before the lightning", and Uranium Phoenix's "A Place With No Name"

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N9...iew?usp=sharing

Good crits, ty

Chili posted:

Just remembered that I never put out brawl crits for the kiwi-coffee thing. I know that was a bit ago so if anyone is still interested in crits, post for them. I'll provide in-depth crits upon request only.
I always want crits. Always.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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Deltasquid posted:

Thanks for the crits. Sorry for not ending the story with everyone barfing apple-bug.

Apology accepted.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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gettin in on this fantastic nerd poo poo

6, flashrule, aw yeah

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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*Series of small clicking noises*
Removed

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 16:18

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Full crit please, yeah.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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magnificent7 posted:

gently caress YES I MIDDLED THE poo poo OUT OF MY STORY.


Thanks for taking the time to read and reflect on my horribly hobbled story - taking 2500 words down to 1500 words sucks balls and at least this time it wasn't the worst of the worst.


That okay I'm cool.

In your haste to post passive aggressive and self-deprecating fart-words, you seem to have missed that Rhino was critting his week 309 stories and you wrote a story for week 310. Your inability to differentiate numbers is rivaled only by your self-pity. Either post better or fight me 1v1.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Is your life currently meaningless because there's no results or prompt? Well, obviously. But did you know you can subdue your constant feelings of existential dread? This is especially true if you are one of the past judges who, say, forgot to do something, the one thing that matters in this life besides making GBS threads out horrible internet stories.

A
B
C

Always
Be
Critting

Always be critting!

Weeks 304, 305, and 310 have about a 33% completion rate of crits. Plenty of other recent weeks are missing crits. If you're not one of those judges missing a crit, try doing bonus crits of a few stories to help out! Thunderdome is nothing without the varied, honest feedback that helps us improve, and critiquing stories helps improve your own craft as well.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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There's a severe deficit of idiot-baby entrants to ruin this week with their awful words so I guess I have to rectify that for you nerds. in.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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There better be at least a 100% submission rate this week, or else

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


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*clicking noise turns into grinding noise*
...
Removed

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 16:20

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Invisible Clergy posted:

... we've only got 7 and a half hours til the deadline and no submissions...

This is completely normal, by the way, with very few weeks as exceptions. TDers are as notorious for their last-minute submissions as they are for ruining everything.

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Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


ThirdEmperor posted:

Doing my crit for the sweet sweet extra words, first person to ask gets it.

I was going to let someone else nab this but the disgusting lack of opportunism has left me no other choice but to abscond with this crit offer.
here's my most recent story tia

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