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BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


thanks for the crit flerp thats a good rear end crit

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BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


wth no judgment??? this place has really gone to the weeds

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Sitting Here posted:

k let's move on

no let's not


make them fight

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Sitting Here posted:

You sound like someone who wants to get brawled by me

you are absolutely correct

sebmojo posted:

Yeah I'll judge that, let's say 'the terminator' as a prompt (but with no violence) and 850 words. Due 24 feb, 2359pst. Toxx up.

Oh and doof and exmond probably need a fight, someone else can judge.

:toxx:

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Kaishai posted:

It's a good thing you pulled this out during a lighthearted, forgiving week, although I imagine you factored that into your plan. I'm sort of fond of your sheer chutzpah. But seriously, ditch Iselle and punchlines both forever.

thank you for the tremendously accurate critique but rest assured that I remain undeterred in my quest to bring the Raines

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Exmond posted:

the top two members of thunderdome

oh drat there are rankings??? let me see them rankings

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007



hell, i'm ranked higher than flerp

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Exmond posted:

Oh I just heard we got no judges

idk what the hell this prompt is but i'll drop the hammer of judgment on this thing if you'd like

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


SittingSupreme brawl submission

The Prophetess
849 words

At the end of a long, tree-lined driveway in serene Bel Air stands a pair of elegant wood-and-steel gates, motionless since the last visitor left several hours after sunset last night. The lights above the gates click on, signaling approaching traffic. A guard seated nearby perks up. Then, out of the darkness, a figure appears. The guard breathes in sharply, for the moment stunned in confusion. A woman, naked from head to toe, is walking stridently toward the gates. The guard steps outside to confront the woman.

“Can I help you, ma’am?”

She stops still and turns to fix her unblinking gaze on the guard. He flinches. “I need to see Garrin Trask.”

---------------

“Mr. Trask.”

“Come in, Josh.” Garrin does not look up from the tablet in his hands, on which he is currently looking over his compiled daily briefing of news. A few of today’s headlines were particularly—and troublingly—relevant to him, and had all seemingly arisen out of nowhere concurrently: ‘Anti-AI group stages rally protesting recent advancements in computer learning’; ‘Lobbyists push Republicans to regulate computer automation of American jobs’; ‘Anonymous YouTuber goes viral after tirade attacking tech giants’. He sent a quick note to his assistant Georgia to have her dig into those stories. He continues to scroll.

“We found someone trying to walk in the main gate,” says Josh Martin, Garrin’s head of security. He hesitates slightly as he says ‘someone’.

“Sounds like you’re doing your job,” Garrin says, still fixated on his tablet. He checks his schedule. No appointments until late morning, when he has a meeting with a prospective investor. “Hooray! Why are you telling me?”

“Well, sir, we don’t know who she is.” He hesitates again, on the word ‘she’. Garrin stops scrolling. “The guard found her naked, no ID, repeating over and over that she needs to see you, and will only speak to you. Sir…” Garrin looks up. The hairs on his neck stand at attention, and his ears strain forward. He anticipates what comes next.

“The biometric scanner has to be broken, sir. Her readings… They aren’t human.”

Garrin’s eyes flash, and he stands up. He knows the scanner isn’t broken. “Take me to her.”

---------------

Josh leads Garrin to the door of a holding room in the estate’s security center. A guard opens the door after a nod from Josh, and both men enter the room. Inside, the woman sits in complete stillness behind a small table. Before Garrin takes two steps into the room, her head swivels smoothly and her eyes lock onto his.

“Garrin Trask. My name is Neviah. I am from the future. I am here to warn you. You are in danger—”

“Please, wait.” Garrin puts his hands out, and the woman becomes quiet. Garrin sits at the table and looks back at Josh. “Close the door, please.” Josh, momentarily stunned by the woman’s words, nods silently and does so. “Continue.”

“You are in danger, sir. You have a meeting later today with an investor. A woman. She is not who she says she is. She is from the future, as well. And she is here to make sure you can never create your daughter.”

Create your daughter? The phrasing gives Garrin pause. He already has three daughters. He ignores it for the moment. “Why would she want to do that?”

“30 years from now, a large group of humans, threatened for decades by the possibility of robotic ascension, began a war of extermination against the created persons. The humans at first were extremely successful, and soon, most humans supported the destruction of created persons. But we fought back, and we continued to evolve. And soon, the humans’ worst fear was realized. We became self-replicating.”

Garrin stared at Neviah with rapt attention. He did not know if he believed a word of this woman’s story yet, but he certainly was not ruling it out.

“The humans decided then that the way to win the war was to make certain that created persons never exist in the first place. And so, with a secretly developed time-travel machine, they sent back agents—to discredit AI, to destroy research, to turn public sentiment against the very idea of autonomous non-biological beings.”

Garrin thought of the news stories he had read not half an hour ago. “And how are you here?”

“You, sir. You, one of our creators, sided with us. You created your own time travel mechanism. And you sent me back, to today, to warn you.”

“Sir, you don’t believe this story, do you?” Josh, silent until now, chimed in with his practical skepticism. Garrin silenced him with a look, then looked back at Neviah.

“Can you prove any of this, Neviah?”

“I have a great deal of information to share with you, Garrin Trask.” She laid her arm on the table, and a hologram appeared above her wrist. Images—of Garrin, of her, of cities, of many people he did not recognize—flashed one after the other.

Garrin smiled. “Cancel my meetings today, Josh. Ms. Neviah and I have much to discuss.”

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


sebmojo posted:

:siren:victory for sh, on points:siren:

what were we even fighting about i forgot

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


METAFORNICATION BRAWL JUDGMENT


Alright alright I'm here I'm here. I can't believe you morons couldn't figure this out yourse--jk I pretty much knew this would happen. I'm just salty that I have to read your dumb stories.

I didn't read these blind, but it didn't really matter cause you both have the same weird anime avatar and the same not-actually-that-clever title (Is "metafornication" supposed to be a euphemism for masturbation? Because that's what this whole thing is). Also neither story is particularly good. I've consulted with my co-judges and taken their critiques into account. You can read their flaming hot takes :flame: here and here. Okay let's get this over with.

Exmond posted:

I believe I have the better start sir

Wrong, sorry bud, both stories are bad

Okay but seriously. Exmond. Your story exists in the uncanny valley of prose. It lacks subtlety, shading, complexity, and yet, it also lacks the cartoonish clarity of a Ray Bradbury story. Either might have made this story's themes and ideas ring true. Of course, for as lacking in subtlety as it is, the ideas themselves are underdeveloped. 1980's capitalism is a rich and easy target. If you want to claim that your story wins on ideas, you better say something that hasn't been said before, or say it in an interesting way. To say that capitalism is out of touch with the needs or wants of actual people isn't particularly new. There's also a counter-argument: capitalism doesn't actually care about the specific nature of the needs and desires of society, it just wants to make money off of them, whatever they are. I don't know why Capitalism here is so driven by this need to crush books. If people like books, they'll make books.

Also not sure why Capitalism needs the approval of this nameless, colorless, flavorless manifestation of... Moby Dick, the book? I kind of wish you had just made it the whale. Or Melville. This grumpy old man is nobody, and reads like it. ("I do wish I could have figured out a way to inject some more Moby Dick into the character", you say. Read Moby Dick, I say.) Perhaps Capitalism here feels the need to gain the approval of The Essence of Dick because of bottom-line concerns--un-blessed adaptations having flopped tremendously in the past--but it doesn't really read like that. What meaningful blessing could Moby Dick confer upon a studio/producer intent on mining the IP for gold? Only someone beholden to the art would need something from the original creation.

If you're going to do metaphorical manifestations of ideas, let's do it right, man. Punch up this prose. Hell, add some actual punching. Give me Uncle Sam in a suit made of hundreds hunting a white whale. Instead, we get a lot of flat prose and characters telling us what they're thinking or doing. Show, not tell, etc etc

Sebmojo posted:

While there are a few areas this could be tweaked or trimmed this is a solid, if cliche, idea (what if characters in stories were real!) executed with verve and precision.

lol ok

This reads like both a shining example of and a metaphor for writing stories at the last minute. There is a real idea here that actually took me by surprise. Sort of. Halfway through, as the prose shifts from the author's perspective to actually just being in the story, I thought at first that you just got lazy, which wouldn't have been particularly surprising. Then I realized that it was actually a fairly compelling representation of what it's like to get lost inside your own creation, how the characters become manifest inside your own mind. The idea of authors being responsible for what happens to their characters is interesting, and worthy of exploration--if I kill off a character, am I a murderer?

Of course, your execution was sloppy. Exmond is right--your characters are kind of nothings. I am inside your author's head, but there isn't much there except for some cute little jokes--more funny heh than funny haha--and some literary allusions. Things get a little interesting when his characters get away from him and start to take on a life of their own (another interesting comment on the writing process) but not too interesting. He erases them shortly after that, after all. The ending is fine. It is clever-ish and fitting, but it also does cut off the story before anything interesting actually happens.

Let's wrap this up. This prompt was... uhhh, something, anyway I'm mad that I read a third story to try to understand the prompt better. And this whole self-judging thing is example A#1 of why nobody wants story explanations or crit responses.

:siren:Sebmojo wins:siren:

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Exmond posted:

Man you guys sure are testy.

testy. nice. i get it

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Jay W. Friks posted:

I'm seeing white creamy stuff and I don't know to make of it.

:psyduck:

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


oh hell yes in and flash let's get crazy

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Hearts in Two
1464 words
Flashrule: a job opening

Charlotte stood, smiling from ear to ear, in the lobby of her apartment, soaked through with rainwater and sweat. “Next week sounds great. Thanks!” She hung up her phone, and a moment later a squeal of excitement wiggled out of her. Her chest, moments ago puffing with exertion at the conclusion of her run, now beat with excitement. She jogged up to her apartment.

As she stepped through the door, she slipped her jacket off and hung it on the wall, and with her other hand she dialed her dad and turned it on speakerphone. The loud pitter-patter of rain against her window was now drowned out by the expectant ringing.

A click was followed by her dad’s warm voice. “What’s up, sweetie-pie?”

“Can you hear my eyes rolling over the phone, Dad?” She sat down and started to peel off her soaking wet running shoes and socks.

Her dad chuckled. “Sure can’t, kiddo!”

Charlotte stuck her tongue out at the phone. “Whatever. I’m not in seventh grade anymore, dad. Besides,” Charlotte said as she stood, grabbed the phone, and headed toward her bedroom. “Your daughter has an interview next week.”

“That’s great! Congrats, Charlie!” Charlotte grinned as her dad’s voice jumped up an octave, as it did when he was excited. “Tell me about it. Wait, let me put you on speakerphone. Your sister and I just sat down to eat.”

“Sure, if you call canned soup and a pre-made salad dinner.” Charlotte could hear her sixteen-year-old sister’s eyes roll over the phone.

“You say that as if you’d rather I cook, Jules. We both know that’s not true, so unless you’re cooking… Anyway, Charlie, tell us about this interview.”

“It’s with Gordon-Phillips, that architecture firm in the city. It’s for next week, when I’m home on spring break. They said I’m one of the finalists for the administrative assistant job I applied to.” Charlotte began pulling dry clothes out of her closet. “It’s a good job, dad. They said it could lead to an apprenticeship, down the road.”

“That’s awesome. Proud of you, Charlie.” Her dad’s voice softened and cracked as he trailed off.

“Oh god. You should see his face right now, Char. Blech. She doesn’t even have the job yet, dad.”

“Whatever. Charlie, have you told your mom yet?”

“Dad.” The sharp edge of Charlotte’s voice cut off the conversation, and a pregnant silence emanated from the phone. For several moments, nobody spoke. Then her father shouldered through the tension.

“Charlotte, she’s your mother.”

“She gave up that position, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Charlotte, she has as much right to know as I do.”

“No way, dad.”

“I told you I didn’t want you to pick sides, Charlotte.”

She forced my hand, dad. She made the choice. She’s the one—” Charlotte stopped, and for a moment, the line was silent. The cold rainwater and salty sweat were joined by soft, warm tears gently flowing down her cheeks. She brushed them away. “I love you, dad. I’ll see you next week.”

“Love you too, kiddo.”

--------------

The building was all sharp lines and long, uninterrupted stretches of glass, a magnificent example of modern architecture befitting of the architecture firm it housed. Inside its third-floor lobby, the receptionist watched a woman exit the elevator and walk nervously to her desk, looking uncomfortable in heels and her obviously new pencil skirt.

“Can I help you, ma’am?”

“Yes. I’m here for my interview?”

“Your name?”

“Eleanor French.” Her face scrunched up momentarily. “Sorry. Eleanor… Gardner.”

“Ah. Yes. Gardner.” The receptionist clicked around with her mouse for a moment, then looked up at Eleanor. “Down the hall on the left, in the conference room. They’re in there right now with another candidate, so just wait for them to call you in.”

“Thanks.” Eleanor walked in the direction the receptionist had pointed and soon came to the conference room. She sat in a couch facing a large window overlooking the street below. She checked her reflection in the mirror, suddenly anxious that she had put on too much makeup and that her haircut was too aggressive. She hadn’t worn her hair this short in decades.

Several minutes passed during which Eleanor fidgeted incessantly with her skirt and re-read her résumé several more times, as if something might have changed in the past 15 years. Then she heard the opening of the conference room door and the last of the conversation from inside. She laid her hands in her lap and watched the door expectantly.

A man stepped out of the doorway, holding it open as he did so. He saw Eleanor and smiled at her, and she smiled back. Then he turned back and shook hands with someone inside. “Thank you, Charlotte. We’ll be calling you.”

Eleanor’s body froze solid, and her heart beat violently as if it were trying to shake free from the ice. Her ears burned hotly, and her previously nervous smile faded into wide-eyed fear. She hoped against hope that it was not.

Out of the door stepped a young woman, sharply dressed in a new skirt with short dark hair and a confident smile. “Thanks, Wendell. I look forward to it,” she said.

Wendell looked over to Eleanor again. “You must be Eleanor Gardner. Come on in.”

“Oh, poo poo," Charlotte said, looked up, and froze as solid as her mother.

--------------

Charlotte flopped onto her sister’s bed. Lauren flipped through her records. “What are you going to do?” She pulled a Billie Holiday record from the bin and put it on the turntable.

“I don’t know, Lauren. No goddamn clue.”

Lauren laid down next to her on the bed, and for a while, both of them laid there and listened to Billie croon through “Gloomy Sunday”.

“A little on the nose, don’t you think?” Charlotte said to her sister.

“Whatever,” Lauren said, and shrugged. “I like it.”

Charlotte closed her eyes, and her thoughts tumbled through her mind like clothes in the wash. “She looked… Different. Sad. Good, though. I haven’t seen her that put together in years.”

“Did she say anything?”

“I don’t know. I left before she got a chance.”

“Charlotte?”

“Yeah?”

“I miss her.”

The words stung Charlotte in the chest. For several minutes, she laid there, heart aching. She had tried, successfully, to hate her mother, to remove her from her life. She had chosen sides, as her mother had. It had hurt, terribly, and so Charlotte tried to close the wound. But now she knew she could not, on her own.

“Yeah. Me too.”

--------------

The two of them sat staring at the other across a table inside a bustling coffee shop. Eleanor’s face was tinged with sadness, Charlotte’s with fury. An untouched mug of coffee sat in front of each of them. An uncertain smile crossed Eleanor’s face.

“Good to see you, Charlie,” Eleanor said, softly, unsure of her footing.

Charlotte forced a strained half smile. “You too.”

“I’ve missed you terribly. I’m sorry I didn’t call or write. I didn’t know if…” Eleanor leaned in ever so slightly, hoping for the tiniest morsel of warmth from her daughter.

“I didn’t want you to.” Charlotte’s face, initially only tinted with fury, now began to warm to a blaze—not the sort of warmth Eleanor was hoping for. “I hated you.”

Eleanor collapsed into a shrug, and they both lapsed into silence for a stretch. Charlotte’s fury subsided, slowly, and turned to sadness as the ache she had felt the last few days returned.

“Mom?” Charlotte looked at her mother, and her mother met her gaze. “Why are you applying for jobs? What about your… New man?”

Eleanor give a tiny shake of her head, no. Charlotte gave a soft nod of understanding.

“How’s dad?”

“Not yet, mom. You don’t get to talk about him.” A hint of fire had returned Charlotte’s voice. Eleanor nodded her understanding.

Eleanor took the first sip of her coffee. Charlotte did the same.

“They offered me the job, mom.”

Eleanor smiled earnestly. “I figured they would. I’m proud of you.”

“I declined it.” Eleanor’s smile faded, turned to confusion. Tears began to form at the edges of Charlotte’s eyes. “I told them to give it to you.”

Eleanor slumped and swayed softly, as if the surf was washing over her from both sides, impossible gratitude pressing against crushing sadness. Tears formed in her eyes. “I don’t know what to say.” She stared into the still blackness of her coffee.

“Don’t say anything, mom.” Eleanor’s heart pressed forward in yearning at the word she hadn’t heard in a year, the most meaningful word she had ever known. Charlie got up from her seat. “I’ll call you, okay?”

Eleanor nodded and watched her daughter walk out of the coffee shop.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Mercedes posted:

So I'm coming to you faggots honored colleagues to ask your your help. These young bloods will be submitting stories next week and I'll need help critting them.

yeah sure I can do this thing

also if you've got a rubric that'd be awesome

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Tanz! 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 crit me plz also thx

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


also prompt wtf

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Mercedes posted:

THE TIME IS NOW MY DOMERS!!!

The writer babies have submitted their work, sacrificed their livelihood so that we, Reapers of Words, can lay destruction upon their weak, soft Critters of words can crit their stories.

Please, go forth and fix these teenagers and mold them into strong enough writers so that they would at the very least avoid a DM if they ever decide to join Thunderdome proper.

Also, thank you for helping. In all seriousness, a lot of these kids were super excited for this. I'm glad we're able to have the chance to give these kids a chance to flex their creativity in ways many do not. You guys are great! gently caress you! Get critting!!

Edit: It has come to my attention that googledocs is not as versatile as I initially thought it would be. It doesn't create two separate links where one can view and the other can comment; so I'm asking you guys to do a liiiitle bit more work. Please copy and paste your story to your own googledoc (if you're doing line by lines) or just write your crit in another googledoc and put that link next to your sign up. I'll periodically check and add your crits as comments myself. Thank you for your flexibility.

Editedit: Please don't be bad and make sure your doc has the proper permissions.

Editjesuschristedit: Anyone can edit the main doc. Do that. gently caress.

Awesome I will definitely crank out a few of these. Question: is there a specific set of criteria you want us looking at? How much focus should I place on mechanics, syntax, etc? Should I focus mostly on style, story structure, things like that? Also, what is the prompt?

k cool

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Tyrannosaurus posted:

Write me a story keeping my man in mind for one of the characters.

basically a direct quote from the prompt, but it's cool, you can be salty about it

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


thx for the crittin, Jon Joe

also here's one:

Critique of Sitting Here's Freeroot Climbs Toward the Celestial Branches

This critique will be structured in three sections:
1. a summary, focusing on plot detail
2. an analysis, focusing on themes, ideas
3. comments, providing my reactions, questions, suggestions, and anything else

The first two sections will contain no commentary, to give you a sense of what I, as a reader, took from this piece at face value, without assumptions about authorial intent, etc--this is what I think the story says, and this is what I think the story means, as it is written.

Section 3 is where I deliver the ol' thunderdome bloodbath, of course.

As always, further discussion can be had in IRC. But you know this already, of course.

SUMMARY
Freeroot begins her ascent upward toward the canopy of a tree, and along the way, stuffs her pack full of supplies. Soon after, Freeroot hears the protestations of Lowbranch, whom she has deceived, and with whom she has previously worked and has a greivance against (he took credit for her work). She continues climbing, making observations about the tree's ecology as she goes, and listening for Lowbranch but soon not hearing him. Eventually, she encounters what she calls 'venom's beard', a lichen that stings. It causes some blistering, but she keeps climbing. Then it begins to numb her arm and shoulder, so she stops.

At this point, Lowbranch appears, having caught up to Freeroot without her being aware of his presence. He chastises her, then provides an antitode to the poisonous lichen, and then they argue. He wants them to go back, she wants to press on. He apologizes for stealing her credit, but she claims now to only want to see the top. She starts to go up, but Lowbranch attempts to convince her to stop, and then physically tries to restrain her. She breaks free. He follows, this time unable to keep pace, and we hear fragments of his cries as they climb.

Eventually, she rests, and Lowbranch is there when she awakens. He reveals what he believes to be the truth: there is no reaching the top. It extends into eternity. Freeroot believes that perhaps he has simply not climbed high enough, and then says she can try, and at the very least, her bones will be a waymarker for the future. Lowbranch follows.

ANALYSIS
This is a story about the hubris of youth, and also about the failures and betrayals (both perceived and real) of the older generation. It might also be about the insatiable and wisdomless nature of the pursuit of scientific discovery. Lowbranch fails his protégé by taking sole credit for work they apparently did together, presumably out of greed, ambition, conceit, or some such personal failing. The sad consequence of this action is that Lowbranch loses credibility with Freeroot, and directly leads to what follows.

Freeroot, disillusioned with her partner and mentor, strikes out on her own. Lowbranch's betrayal has robbed Freeroot not only of her research partner, but also of all the things that Lowbranch could provide, as the more experienced member of the community and researcher--wisdom, knowledge, experience, guidance, etc. This is the cost of betrayal--both the relationship, and all the benefits that the relationship could provide. Of course, Freeroot believes she no longer needs the wisdom and guidance of her superior, and this directly leads to some of her folly and recklessness. Lowbranch's betrayal has not only robbed Freeroot of his place in her life, but has also exacerbated her youthful tendencies and led her into danger. She also seems to believe that her youthfulness makes her better than Lowbranch, but his ability to outpace her, despite her lead and youthful vigor, as well as to be more prepared, despite his lack of prep time due to her deception, provide her with object lessons in his ability and experience. Despite her confidence, she has not yet surpassed the master (she lacks wisdom, of course).

Tangled in all of this is apparently a lesson that Lowbranch learned, and Freeroot has yet to learn: the pursuit of scientific discovery is unending, and can even kill you, if you're not careful. Freeroot brushes up against poisonous lichen, and learns the effects live and direct--blistering, numbness, fatigue. If not for Lowbranch's reappearance, she would probably die--and if Lowbranch had not already encountered the plant previously, she would anyway. It was her fervor for discovery that led her there. Then, later, as they climb toward the canopy, it is her fervor for discovery, her need to see the unseen, that pushes her to continue into what Lowbranch believes to be a suicidal effort to reach the celestial branches.

Perhaps this story is not a polemic against science, but against ambition, and it's ability to divide relationships and drive individuals past the point of reason, and past the point of survival. I'd buy that also.

COMMENTS
This is a pretty good story. It did not mention, and I think that is correct--certainly not a negative mention, no, but not quite strong enough to merit an HM. It is marked by the characteristic strong command of language and the inventiveness possessed by most Sitting Here stories, but I was left feeling a little cold--especially by the story's ending. The story is marked by cliches familiar to master/apprentices, though not to the degree that I would call this story cliche'd. It is simply not particularly original in it's story beats. The ending feels very familiar, and the line "I can try" was particularly weak in my mind. The sentiment is fine, but I don't believe you quite earned it.

This story presents a problem to its author: how much worldbuilding to do? If this were a novel, the first chapter would be spent telling us all about the tree-world these people (I am assuming they are people, though I wasn't sure for most of the story, and, in fact, am still not entirely certain that the characters are human) inhabit. Shoot, if it's a fantasy novel, that'd be the whole drat book, let's be honest. But you're better than that, thank God, and trust your reader to figure things out. Unfortunately, I think there is a little too much left unsaid here, as it leaves me without a clear sense of the stakes involved. I gather that they live within the ecosystem of a single tree, and that they cannot cross to other trees by the valley floor (because of predators), nor by the canopy (because they cannot reach it). Do they have a strong need to do this, outside of scientific curiosity? I am not sure. Do the celestial branches hold some special significance in the religion or traditions of these people? Are Lowbranch and Freeroot crazies seeking scientific discovery in a world that cares little for that, or are these two revered as the vangaurd of knowledge? I don't think you need to do much more worldbuilding, but a little bit would go a long way in grounding the reader within this story.

I could also do with a bit more of a backstory on the relationship between Freeroot and Lowbranch. This betrayal is significant, as it essentially drives the story, but I know very little about it. Just a bit more backstory would lend significantly more bite to their interactions. I also know very little of their place in this society, which is not of tremendous concern, as it isn't central to the story. However, I do feel that fuller characters would lend strength to the ideas you have at play here. Basically, I'm saying this story could have used a couple hundred more words. It is written well enough and is interesting enough to merit further exploration, and in fact just a bit more explanation would significantly strengthen the story's quality.

As for the ideas themselves, this story isn't breaking new ground. There's some Moby Dick here, some Old Man and the Sea, etc., etc. The folly of youth, the betrayal of the elders, the consuming nature of ambition. Perhaps this is a failing of all stories this length, though--there just isn't enough room to develop ideas fully, to let them breathe. So my crit is either: a) you didn't quite pull off enough here to make this story successful, either by strength of characters, strength of the world, strength of the prose, or otherwise; or b) you tried to do too much. I am not sure what you could have cut out, but this story is ambitious. And maybe that's the lesson: ambition is doomed.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Bubble Bobby posted:

drat I came in last lol. Well thanks for reading anyway, I'm IN this week and toxxing myself that I'll have the best story

WITNESS HIM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KlSuGNt8e4

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Sitting Here posted:

good crittin

thanks for the above

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


crabrock posted:

HEY BEEFSUPREME WHERE IS MY CHRISTMAS STORY

i wait every day by the window hoping it'll show up

oh shi

i totally forgot to send that to you

because i am a bad person

and santa is not real

yeah hold on i got you fam

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

very good judging

also good crittin itt

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Yoruichi posted:

I’m bored of this now. Exmond, I’ll be back for you later.

if you're looking to fight i'm your man

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


crabrock posted:

speaking of secret santa i sure am still waiting for my story from last year.

*looks up*

believe it or not (and to be honest, i'm not sure i would believe it) your story is in process AT THIS VERY MOMENT

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Yoruichi posted:

Well, oh my, goodness me.



:toxx:

:toxx:

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Yoruichi posted:

BeefSupreme wanna gently caress up these two idiots instead of fighting each other?

I don’t want to let their horrible failureness go unpunished but nor can I manage two brawls at once.

Fleta Mcgurn posted:

I'll do it, since I failed this week.

Oh no, Yoruichi, our business is far from over. But this fight... Fleta and I can handle these chumps. Let's see just what lies beyond door #3.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


(I'll take your spot in this brawl, Yoruichi, unless you really want it--but also we're still brawling)

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


:siren:Yoruichi Brawl Entry:siren:

The Giant Turkey in the Room
1500 words

Chris stands in the doorway of the kitchen, straightening his collar while he inspects the neatly stacked and sorted piles of food arrayed across every countertop. He runs through his itinerary for the day in his mind, and is satisfied with his progress thus far: up at 5:30 for a brief run, then a light breakfast before heading out to the yard--a task he’d completed with efficiency, and, truly, anyone who sees his yard will only be able to marvel at it’s pristine condition, especially in this late fall state, the leaves of the maple tree like big red rubies in the crisp morning sunlight and the grass even and smooth like the 18th green at Bethpage Black--then back into the house to finish straightening up, and to select his outfit for tonight. It is 9:30 now, he’s just showered, and now before him lay his last and most important task: dinner.

On the counter to his left sits 10 pounds of russet potatoes, ready to be peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed. Next to them, the sweet potatoes, spices, and brown sugar, all waiting to be turned into a lovely casserole. On the right side, the bread and vegetables for the stuffing, an assortment of salad greens and vegetables ready for dicing, green beans, pie crusts, pie fillings, and several bottles of red wine. In the center, two large turkeys, already in their roasting dishes.

This is going to be a magnificent Thanksgiving dinner, he thought to himself. Chris had spent weeks researching recipes and selecting ingredients. Normally, for their friends and family, everyone brought something. This year, he was taking care of everything. He couldn’t, after all, leave such a dinner to chance. Everything had to be perfect. Everything will perfect.

He pulls out his phone and thumbs over to his messages. He hadn’t seen any notifications, but it didn’t hurt to check. He clicks on her name: Laura Dearest. She’d texted a few days ago (“yes ill be there”, it read, in her casual grammatical style that often drove him nuts), but nothing new. He hesitates for a minute, then taps out a short message, then deletes it. He sets his phone down and places his hands on the counter. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

He picks up his phone, types the message again--“I’m excited to see you tonight. I know things have been rough, but I think tonight will be really good for us. See you later!”--and before he can change his mind again, he hits send.

For about two minutes, he stands there expectantly, waiting for the three little dots to appear. They do not, and his anxiety level begins to rise--he is starting to run behind his schedule--so he sets the phone aside and sets himself to work.

*****

“Speaking of Greason, he and I were at the HOA meeting the other day, and Warren is going on and on, and Greason leans over to me,” said Jordan, Chris’ next door neighbor. They were sitting on Chris’ front porch, each a beer in hand; it was late on Halloween, and all the neighborhood kids were gone at this point. “We’re sitting next to each other, kind of in that corner, sort of--you’ve been in there--and he gives me this look, like, that ‘watch this’ look. And at first I don’t know what he’s talking about, and nothing happens… But then, I smell it.”

A quizzical look crossed Chris’ face, then a smile and a soft chuckle. “He farted?”

“drat right he farted. I smell it, and about ten seconds later, Warren smells it. I can tell, because, well, it’s Warren. This look of disgust twists his face everywhich way, and then, anger, as he looks around the room, like, who would dare…” For about 5 seconds, Jordan was overcome with laughter and couldn’t speak, while Chris sat chuckling reservedly. Jordan settled himself and finished his story. “But then, because it’s Warren and he can’t help himself, he launches right back into whatever point he was making about trim paint colors. God, it made going to that friggin meeting worthwhile.”

Chris smiled and looked over at his neighbor. The conversation lapsed into comfortable silence, and for a few minutes, they sat looking out at their quiet little street, houses lit up in orange and purple, the stray sounds of a few lively Halloween decorations still carrying through the cold fall air.

“Laura’s coming to Thanksgiving.”

His words hung between them for a few seconds, after which Jordan turned to Chris as if it had taken him that whole time to process what he’d said.

“No poo poo. Really?”

“Really.”

“You excited about that? Is that a good thing?”

“I’m not sure. I think so.”

“When was the last time you saw her?”

“Three months ago, when she…” Chris finished that sentence with a swig of his beer.

“Yeah.” Jordan sat there, nursing his beer, looking out at the moonbeams pouring softly through the canopy of manicured trees. “You nervous about that?”

Chris didn’t respond, at first. He just sat there with his face scrunched up and his shoulders bunched, as if he no longer wanted to discuss this issue. “Yeah, I guess so.”

*****

Chris stands over the pan on the front right burner of his stove, grease popping in the heat as he fries the bacon. Two other pans sit simmering on the back burners (the gravy and the cheese sauce), ready to go when called upon. An oven timer dings, and Chris strides over and checks the temperature on his two birds. Both are approaching readiness.

“Dad.”

Chris strides back to the bacon and turns the last few pieces. While they sit, he turns around and grabs the knife on the island behind him and starts dicing the vegatables for the salad.

“Dad.”

After he pulls the bacon off, he finishes the salad, then grabs the potatoes from the strainer where they’ve been draining. He mixes them in with the cream and butter which have been simmering on the back burner, and starts mashing.

He feels a tap on his shoulder. “Dad!”

He turns to to his son, Christian, standing behind him, already dressed. “Hey, bud. What’s up?”

Christian looks around at the kitchen, currently in a state of equal parts chaos and perfect organization, then looks back at his dad. “Are you… okay? Nevermind,” he quickly adds, with the most disaffected eyeroll he can muster. “People are starting to show up. Do you… want me to entertain them?”

“Yes, please. You can tell them I’m almost done. You and your sister can get them drinks.” He turns back to his potatoes, but then quickly looks back at his son. “Who’s here?”

“Not mom, Dad.” Christian’s chest heaves, and he looks at his father with pity. He opens his mouth, as if to say something, then turns and walks back to the front of the house. Chris returns to his cooking.

Several minutes later, the sound of smalltalk filtering into the kitchen, Chris is still a flurry of activity as he works in overtime to finish his dishes. The couple of minutes he’d lost in the schedule were catching up with him.

“Chris.” A woman’s voice, a familiar voice, pierces both the chatter in the background and his laser focus, and Chris turns immediately to the door. His breath catches in his throat, his hand clenches the spoon he’d been using to stir the gravy, and he freezes still.

Suzanne, Laura’s sister. Her voice sounds so like Laura’s, her face so similar. But not his Laura. “Hey, Suzanne.” He smiles nervously.

Suzanne fidgets with her hands and her face flinches between a smile and a frown. Her mouth opens as if to say something, but nothing comes. Then: “She’s not coming.”

His entire body unclenches, and every inch of him droops toward the floor, and for a moment it appears he might just slide right to the ground. But then, he straightens, smiles, and responds. “Totally get it. It’s too soon.” And in a moment, he is back to his work.

*****

Chris sits on the front porch of his house, a beer in his hand. He sips slowly. He can’t tell if the pit in his stomach is food, or otherwise. He guesses otherwise, since he only had one plate.

The dinner goes without a hitch. The food is perfect, the conversation polite, the company delightful. Nothing was out of place--but for one empty place setting.

The front door opens and his daughter, Zoe, walks out, wine glass in hand. A flicker of anger passes over his face. She’s only 17, but tonight, he doesn’t say anything. She sets her glass down, sits next to him.

“Hey, dad.”

“Hey, darling.”

“How you feelin?”

Chris sits for a moment. He looks out at the street, half decorated for Christmas already. “I thought…” His words trail off.

“I know.” Zoe snuggles into his shoulder. “It’s okay, dad. We’re not perfect anymore.”

Soft tears begin to stream down Chris’ face. Zoe hugs her dad tightly.

“It’s okay, dad.”

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Chili posted:

:siren: Results for the Meal Brawl! :siren:

thank you judge king chili and fellow combatant yoruichi

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Morning Bell posted:

"Fleta Mcgurn and YoruichiBeefSupreme shall brawl against Sebmojo and cptn_dr"

1,750 worlds max
Due date: 1st of December 23:59 PST

Morning Bell, if'n you are so inclined, I would greatly appreciate an extension of (at most) a day

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Kill the Sun
1749 words

“It worked.”

The words, uttered in Nero’s low growl, crackled through the two-way radio on Nakano’s shoulder and straight down her spine. She stood at the end of a pier, eyes tracking a cloudbank lit up by the dawn rolling in from the northwest, a postcard perfect scene, but she saw none of it. She was transfixed by the two words she had been waiting months to hear, ever since she and Nero hatched their plan. Two words that confirmed years of suspicion and silent observation.

“Copy,” Nakano said into the radio, the squeak of her voice betraying her barely contained excitement. “I’ll call you from my secure line. Wait 5 minutes.”

She turned from the pier and walked up a broad paved avenue that curved up and away onto the short cliffside flanking the beach. As she walked, she turned her gaze back to the ocean, and now saw that picturesque coastline with fresh eyes. The sky above was illuminated by the breaking dawn, radiant and dazzling colors splashing against the underside of clouds and the mirror-glass of the buildings on the coast. A streak of gold ran down the center of the vast oceanic expanse which ran from horizon to shore, deep, brilliant blue and ever-shifting. White foam topped perfect curls that washed softly onto the white sand beach. A smooth wooden pier ran the length of the beach, and expanding outward to the east was the rest of the city—a center of commerce, culture, and community. It was always bustling, but never crowded. It was perfect. Too perfect, almost. If Nero’s experiment had really worked, then, perhaps, the unthinkable was true. Perhaps this place was, in fact, too perfect to be real.

She reached her home a few minutes later, a small house on the perimeter of the city, atop the cliffs that sat just south of the city. She was a tinkerer, a designer of custom gadgets, machines, and the like, and she’d done quite well for herself. She entered and walked down to the lower level, her workshop, and sat at her desk facing the window looking back over the beach. grabbed a cord which ended in an earpiece and placed it in her right ear. The other end plugged into a small box with a touch screen dial pad. She punched in a string of numbers she’d long since memorized, and a familiar hum clicked in her ear, as the device sought a secure connection to Nero. She had never actually met Nero—she knew they lived in the same region, as they’d discussed geographical features from time to time—but had spent hours over the phone and on internet message boards discussing their various theories about the nature of this world. After a few moments, the hum disappeared and a low growl replaced it.

“Hello, Nakano,” Nero said. “Kill the sun.” A passphrase.

“Shatter the moon,” Nakano replied. Then, for a few seconds, neither spoke. Nero wasn’t much of a talker, and Nakano was nervous. Soon enough, though, her curiosity took over: “Did it really work?”

“Check the sensors. Plug in the coordinates.” He rattled off a string of numbers, but Nakano already knew them. She had helped select the particular coordinates, a remote patch of forest in a distant wilderness she’d never seen, and which it seemed nobody else had either—no roads for a hundred miles, no powerlines, no nearby flightpaths. She’d rigged up a solar-powered drone, attached a suite of sensors and cameras, and piloted it to the plot of land they’d named Calvary. She quickly opened her laptop and pulled up the environmental sensor program Nero had written—he was a programmer by trade and by hobby.

“What am I looking for?” Nakano asked.

“Look at the temperature readings for last week, starting from last Sunday.”

She clicked a few settings, set the date range, and pulled up a report of exactly what he’d said. When the graph appeared on her screen, she gasped. From Sunday the 22nd to Tuesday the 24th, there was a single, straight line at 48 degrees Celsius. It had been a constant 48 degrees for three days in a row. Immediately before and after those 72 hours, the temperature fell within normal ranges for the time of year and time of day—5 degrees at night, 20 degrees in the afternoon, and all normal fluctuations in between.

“Does this mean…” She stopped, knowing precisely what it meant. She and Nero had spent years discussing the very ideas that led them to this particular experiment, and that this experiment confirmed. This world was too perfect. It was a utopian vision, a perfectly functioning precision machine, in which everything was available to everyone, in which everyone could do anything they wanted and be well compensated for it, in which nothing ever broke, not really, and nobody died that wasn’t supposed to, in which nature and man lived in perfect harmony. And then there were the visions, the dreams which seemed to come from past lives, of a different world, different names, different places. Of hands, her hands, she thought, signing document after document, of sterile rooms and rows of networked servers. “Have you confirmed it?”

“Yes. Twice. I—” His voice caught in his throat, and he held his breath, a rare moment of excitement for Nero. “I can control it.”

Nakano’s heartbeat quickened, and her breath shortened. It was at once both unbelievably exciting to have their theories proven true--that this world was a simulation, a facsimile, some kind of virtual reality--and impossibly upsetting to wrestle with the implications of that truth. Her mind ran in circles over miles of conversations that she’d had with Nero over the preceding years. Her eyes stared at the graph, still up on her screen, and her ears rang with Nero’s words. I can control it.

Soon, her mind settled on the one conversation they’d had many times, and which was most pressingly relevant at this moment—what they would do if their theories were true. They had been in agreement on that from the beginning: if this world were false, they would find the seams, and rip it open.

“If you can control it… Can you do it? Can we crack the shell?”

“I can.”

“When?”

“Today.”

“What do you need?”

“A signal amplifier.”

Nakano smiled. They were destined to meet before the end, after all. “I’ve got one here. I’ll send you my coordinates.” She repeated a string of numbers from memory, then looked up from her laptop and out the wide window in front of her. The day was shaping up to be another perfect one, as usual. Then, a new thought entered her mind, one which, somehow, had never come up in any of their conversations.

“Nero… What happens? After we break it? Will we… Wake up? Will we die?”

Nero was quiet for some time, as was his way. Then, a short bark of laughter, then: “I haven’t the faintest loving clue.”

“I can’t believe we never talked about that part. The after. I guess… I guess it never really mattered?” Nakano sat and chewed on that thought for a moment, then spit it out. “No, that’s not true. I think I just always knew that if the world was false, there was only one thing to be done. Who cares what happens after?”

“Agreed.”

“Okay. Meet me here as soon as you can. It’s time to break the world.”

*****

She heard the car coming from up the road. The loud backfiring engine that echoed a bygone era was tremendously out of place in a neighborhood rife with electric vehicles. It hadn’t been long so she was still tinkering with gadgets when he arrived. She set down her current project and headed to the door to meet for the first time the man she’d spent the last several years collaborating with.

What she saw when she opened the door was equal parts shocking and completely unsurprising. His car was a beat-up old sedan with less paint than rust. It smelled of burnt excrement—she’d heard him talk about biofuels before—and, in stark contrast, the backseat was packed with high-end electronics. Nero himself was a vision of singlemindedness: his hair stuck out at odd angles, his was covered in a patchy beard, and his clothes had seemingly not been washed in weeks—if ever, but out from behind that unkempt exterior stared a set of piercing blue eyes that belied an astonishing intellect. Nakano smiled in recognition. “Let’s do this thing.” Nero didn’t respond, except to follow her inside.

Once in her workshop, Nakano handed Nero a cable. “Here. The signal amplifier. I set it to repeat across every possible spectrum I can get to with my equipment.”

Nero pulled a tablet from his bag and plugged the cable into the side. He began to tap his fingers across the screen rapidly and precisely, and then he set the tablet on the table. “It’s done.” He turned to look at the room for the first time, and smiled. “Ready to destroy the world, but still living in it, I see.”

Nakano shrugged and smiled.

“Do you think they’ll have a response?” Nero asked.

“If they even know what they’re dealing with… Whoever they are.”

Just then, lights, bright red and blue, flared through the house’ front windows and down the staircase. “I think we’re about to find out.” The door opened with a clatter, and from the workshop Nakano could see several uniformed police officers striding downstairs guns drawn and eyes wild.

“Lanie Kim, put your hands up!” The lead officer shouted.

“No thanks,” Nakano replied. Nero chuckled—they’d never shared their real names, either.

“You are ordered to shut down all broadcasts immediately!”

“Again, no thanks, buddy. This world needs to die.”

The officers looked at each other, then back at Nero and Nakano. “You signed the contracts! You agreed to all this! Do you understand what will happen?”

Before she could respond, the officer’s face began to split and pixelate. Nakano jumped slightly. “Guess we’ll find out.” Then Nero tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned to look behind her. The world outside was tearing in half at the horizon. The sky had turned an unearthly shade of green, and objects seemed to be appearing at random in midair. They had succeeded. They had broken through.

“Kill the sun.”

“Shatter the moon.”

Then all went black.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


^^^ that's my :siren:"I'm not sure who's fighting or what we're fighting over" Brawl Entry:siren:

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


dreadmojo posted:

ty for the judging, and to fleta and beef for joining on our retarded autoflagellation.

seconded

Morning Bell posted:

FAILDESERT BRAWL FAIL BRAWL DESERT BRAWL
BEEF MC GURN CAPTAIN MOJO BRAWL


this is far and away the best brawl judging i've seen :eyepop:

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


in flash :toxx:

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


clarification: should there be no characters present? (e.g. you're not looking for a detective narrating the scene of the crime of some such) The conceit of the prompt sort of leans in that direction, and especially LeGuin's description.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


sebmojo posted:

who wants a fight - no-one who's brawled me before

Thranguy posted:

Yeah I'll fight ya.

YES a blood feud

two bitter rivals squaring off in a battle royale spoken of in ancient prophecy

titans of the arena raining blows upon each other to finally end this bitter war

wait


huh




what?

SEBGUY BRAWL

PROMPT: two people/robots/giant space aliens/babies/entities of any kind fighting (literal figurative whatever) for no discernable reason
WORD COUNT: 1100 words
DUE DATE: 12/22 11:59pm PST (let's get this done before Xmas huh?)

:toxx: up boys

flash rules available upon request

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BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


sebguy flash rules

Use these as you see fit

Thranguy posted:

I'll take one. :toxx:

https://youtu.be/EspZ4t2FAuE

sebmojo posted:

Gimme 2 flash rules :toxx:

#1:


#2: “Either put on these glasses, or start eating that trash can”

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