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Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Over seven million words. Over six hundred authors. In our sixth year of unfathomable reader anguish.

Thunderdome 2012: FYI, I do take big dumps, holla.
Thunderdome 2013: If this were any other thread we'd all be banned by now
Thunderdome 2014teen: Stories from the Abonend Bunker
Thunderdome 2015teen: Weekly Stories with Positive People
Thunderdome 2016teen: Fast Writing, Bad Writing
Thunderdome 2017teen: Prose and Cons

:siren: Click for the current prompt! :siren:

What are these bloodstained sands I see before me?

Welcome to Thunderdome, a vicious, bloody, no-holds-barred flash fiction contest with a new opportunity to eviscerate your opponents every week. The judges watch the spectacle from on high, and they condemn the weak while raising the worthy into glory. Barbed critiques will tear at your ego but leave you the stronger for it. This is an arena for people who want their words to suffer the cleansing fire.

If you'd rather have your posterior patted, is thataway.

Sounds great. How do I start murdering all of you with my writing?
  • Step 1: Read the prompt post.
  • Step 2: Read the prompt post again.
  • Step 3: Post "In!" or some wildly clever variant by the signup deadline. What deadline, you ask? Refer to Steps 1 and 2.
  • Step 4: Write a story that follows the guidelines laid out in the prompt post (i.e. whatever the judge told you to do, you suppurating tardigrade).
  • Step 5: Proofread it, for the love of gently caress.
  • Step 6: Post your story by the submission deadline. What deadline, you ask? Refer to Steps 1 and 2, then stick your head in a blender.
  • Step 7: Sit back and bask in the agony of the judges who have to read your word vomit.
Sitting Here created this guide to formatting submissions. Behold its wonder.

Once you've posted the story, you're done. No edits. No take-backsies. Edited stories will disqualified. You have climbed aboard the fast train to Shametown, and only the strength of your skill and your effort can keep you from permanent residence there.

The winner of the week ascends the Blood Throne and chooses the next prompt. He must find two souls willing to join him in his torment. This team of three will read the incoming entries and pass judgment upon them, and so ensure the cycle of futile suffering continues.

The loser gets a free avatar!

Snazzy, don't you think?

Oh, God, I've won. What now??

I recommend questioning your life decisions.

Thunderdome's cardinal rule is ius iudicis: judge’s right, judge’s responsibility, judge’s law. The lead judge is lord for the week, but with great power comes great responsibility to not gently caress everything up more than is inevitable. Your first step should be to read :siren: this page. :siren: Your second should be to post a prompt before the masses flood the thread with impatient, crappy .gifs.

A judge should be prepared to read around 15,000 to 30,000 words in the span between the deadline and Tuesday night. (Wednesday judgments happen, but they're an abomination. The week will have abominations enough without your help.) If you know you won't have time to do this, announce your abdication. Someone else is sure to leap at the chance to make goons' lives hell! A winner who hasn't shown her face by midweek is liable to forfeit the prompt.

The other task of judging is to critique all the non-disqualified entries. Crits are the gears that keep Thunderdome turning and masochists coming back for more, so yes, you really ought to explain to that person with the new losertar just why his story sucks. The ideal crit will offer at least three points of feedback, but you do you.



Three shall be the number of judges, and the number of judges shall be three.

Four shall not judge, nor either shall those judging number two, excepting that thou then include a third.

Five is right out.

The triangulation of opinions and viewpoints works well and delivers more crits to the entrants besides, assuming the judges aren't lazy assholes. Do not judge alone if you can help it.

You plebians simply do not understand my literary greatness.

Keep telling yourself that, sunshine. If you want to discuss the hitherto unrecognized merits of your latest fecal vignette, head over to the Fiction Farm or, for more general questions, to Fiction Advice. This thread is for three things:
  • Posting stories.
  • Judging stories.
  • Critting stories.
Banter isn't strictly part of the mission statement, but the Thunderdome experience wouldn't be the same without it. Pulling someone's pigtails may have consequences, however; refer to the post about brawls below.

Nowhere on that list is "whining about stories" for the excellent reason that no one wants to wade through that sewage.

What else can I do to piss you guys off for reasons whereof Reason knows nothing?

Oh, lots, but here are particular things to avoid:

  • Prefacing your entries with explanations, excuses, or self-flagellation. Have some bloody dignity.

  • Editing your submissions. That must bear repeating, because people just can't seem to help themselves.

  • White-noise shitposts; fine artisanal shitposts may pass muster.


  • Erotica. Keep your greasy, pathetic attempts to turn on something other than your computer out of this thread. You can be disqualified for fanfic or erotica whether a judge explicitly forbids them or not.

  • Talking smack without doing the writing to back it up.

  • Failing to understand kayfabe:


    kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as "real" or "true," specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature. Kayfabe has also evolved to become a code word of sorts for maintaining this "reality" within the realm of the general public

    Thunderdome was born in a storm of sass and swagger, and the freedom to go all out in critiques, guns blazing, is what keeps it from devolving into the sort of worthless hugbox we all know and hate. That said, showmanship is one thing; being a fuckstick is another. Don't be a fuckstick.

  • Putting a quote tag anywhere, anywhere in your goddamn story, because there is no eternal penance sufficiently severe for the despair you would thus wreak you absolute irredeemable rear end in a top hat. (It makes archiving hard, okay? Judges can DQ you for this one, too. Quoting a prompt assignment above your title is fine.)

  • Failing every damned week you enter. If you enter and then fail to submit a story, you should :toxx: yourself on your next entry to castrate your abhorrence before it can breed.

  • Ignorance of rules explicitly mentioned in this here OP.

Anything else I should know?

The word count is a hard maximum. The deadlines are absolute. Mercy is at the judges' discretion. Complain to mods about Thunderdome judgment at the peril of being derided for as long as goons remember that dumb thing you did, which is to say forever.

Our channel on SynIRC, #thunderdome, is a place for participants to hang out and talk about their work in real time. Pop in with questions if you have them, and once you've spilled blood in our combat arena you're welcome to stay a while.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 04:51 on Jan 3, 2019


Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Assembled for Your Convenience: The Thunderdome Archive!

Once upon a time, two Thunderdome veterans who shared a love of statistics and a touch of OCD conceived of the greatest project ever imagined: the Thunderdome Archive, where everyone's literary shame could be displayed forever. crabrock bought a domain and coded his visions into reality. Kaishai assisted him by trawling the threads for prompts, stories, and relevant .gifs. To this day, they fight to preserve Thunderdome's coprophilic heritage.

The Archive's purpose is to store the millions of words written for TD to date. If you want to make use of it to the fullest degree (which includes reading the stories), you'll need an account, and you can request one through the link at the top left of the index. Note that accounts are open to participants only! If you're desperate to read about Vorpal Drones and vambraces at sea without searching the threads, you must first shed blood.

We have graphs!

We have lists and rankings!

We have mad libs!

(Please read "Rural Rentboys," Thunderdome's most beloved classic, to understand 2018teen and to reach true spiritual enlightenment.)

And much, much more! Visit the Thunderdome Archive today!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 05:49 on Jan 6, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Past Weeks of Thunderdome, 2012-2015
Week		Title								Winner		
I		Man Agonizes Over Potatoes					Sitting Here
II		Dystopian Chick-Lit						budgieinspector
III		Check Your Cis Privilege in Swaziland				sebmojo
IV		last man in the moon						toanoradian
V		Gary Numan, Fucksticks						Nyarai
VI		VI: Week Six: It Rhymes with Dicks				SurreptitiousMuffin 
VII		The goons who lose will pay the highest price			budgieinspector (II)
VIII		Martello's Girlfriend Said, "I'm late!"				Y Kant Ozma Post
IX		Old Sex/Lawn Sounds						sebmojo (II)
XI		Betrayal, by Zdzislaw Beksiñski					Jeza
XII		Hateful Protagonist						Fanky Malloons
XIII		Real Natural Horror, Bitches					Toaster Beef
XIV		You Shouldn't Be Here						Sitting Here (III)
XV		Sharp Vision Soothes Strong Reaction				LordVonEarlDuke
XVI		Oh the weave we web						Sitting Here (IV)
XVII		I Don't Know You						V for Vegas
XVIII		Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves
A		Round One							Res|ults
B		Round Two							sebmojo (III)
XIX		How Deep is my Fuckin' Love					Peel
XX		Face Your Destiny						The Saddest Rhino
XXI		Welcome to My Sensorium						Fanky Malloons (II)
XXII		Schroedinger’s Nihilarian					sebmojo (IV)
XXIII		DIE FOR YOUR POETRY						twinkle cave
XXIV		Keyboard Kings							Capntastic
XXV		What They Deserve						STONE OF MADNESS
XXVII   	There is only PAIN						EchoCian
XXVIII  	Show me the love!						Kaishai
XXIX		Written in the Stars						sebmojo (VI)
XXX		We're 30 / Time to get dirty / LET US gently caress			Oxxidation
XXXI		Russian Nesting Dolls						Some Strange Flea
XXXII		Playing Angry Birds on a Derailing Train			Fanky Malloons (III)
XXXIII		The Ides of Marx						Nubile Hillock
XXXIV		No dragonshirts at the club					systran
XXXV		Pictures and Books						Sitting Here (V)
XXXVI   	Polishing Turds							Dr. Kloctopussy
XXXVII  	Professional Excellence						systran (II)
XXXVIII 	Mandatory Thunderbrawls						Nikaer Drekin, Nubile Hillock (II), and Fumblemouse
XXXIX   	Lurid & Astounding Tales of Pulp Submissions			Kaishai (II)
XL		Poor Richard's Thundervision					Bad Seafood
XLI		Get Everybody and Stuff Together				Noah
XLII		Been Called Worse by Better					crabrock
XLIII		He's Dead, Horatio						Oxxidation (II)
XLIV		Old Testament Studies with Chairchucker				sebmojo (VII)
XLV		That Prisoners Call the Sky					Fumblemouse (II)
XLVI		A Child's Garden of WTF						Kaishai (III)    
XLVII		The Rule of Three						Sitting Here (VI)
XLVIII		Sitting Here is a Lazy Stoner					V for Vegas (II)
XLIX		You Have Chosen...Poorly 					Kaishai (IV)
L		Fifty Shades of Thunderdome					Anathema Device
LI		We Told You So							Umbilical Lotus
LII		Cyberblaxploitation Anniversary					Fumblemouse (III)
LIII		The Horrors of History						Noah (II)
LIV		Petty Politics							The Saddest Rhino (II)
LV		School of a Certain Trade					Sitting Here (VII)
LVI		Keyhole Views							Didja Redo
LVII		No Characters Allowed						Zack_Gochuck
LVIII		Seeing vs Seen							systran (III)
LIX		Write Where You Live						Kaishai (V)
LX		The Case of the Regrettable Entries				Erogenous Beef
LXI		Twisted Traditions						crabrock (II)
LXII		Thunderdome Against Humanity					Fumblemouse (IV)
LXIII		Who finds short shorts unbearably depressing?			Sitting Here (VIII)
LXIV		Dead or Alive							Echo Cian (II)
LXV		Songs We Were Singing						Kaishai (VI)
LXVI		Know When to Fold 'Em						Quidnose
LXVII		Lions and Tigers and Bears					Erogenous Beef (II)
LXVIII		Once Upon A Crime						Fumblemouse (V)
LXIX		Good, Giving and Game						Jeza (II)
LXX		"And what did you see, my darling young one?"			God Over Djinn
LXXI		A way with words						foutre
LXXII		big as poo poo							crabrock (III)
LXXIII		My God It's Full of Starfish					Roguelike
LXXIV		Y Tu Thunderdome!?						sentientcarbon
LXXV		He's Not Quite Dead						Peel (II)
LXXVI		The Mystery of the Finite					God Over Djinn (II)
LXXVII		Well gee, that's certainly something				Tyrannosaurus
LXXVIII		Past Glories							Kaishai (VII)
LXXIX		Periodic Stories of the Elements				God Over Djinn (III)
LXXX		"Why don't you ask your huge cock?"				Erogenous Beef (III)
LXXXI		Chairchucker's LEGO prompt about LEGO for people who like LEGO	systran (IV)
LXXXII		Captain Thunderdome						Oxxidation (III)
LXXXIII		Comma, Noun, Verb						Kaishai (VIII)
LXXXIV		Who You Gonna Call?						Bad Seafood (II)
LXXXV		Ground Control to Major Tom					WeLandedOnTheMoon!
LXXXVI		Have You Seen My Trophy?					HopperUK
LXXXVII		Touched by a Thunderdome					Fumblemouse (VI)
LXXXVIII	The Wise Fool							Nethilia
LXXXIX		We Don't Need No Water, Let The drat Roof Burn			curlingiron
XC		Down With the Sickness						theblunderbuss
XCI		OUR FINEST HOUR							Tyrannosaurus (II)
XCII		The Great White Elephant Gift Exchange!				Meeple
XCIII		The wind is rising, so we must try to live			Meinberg
XCIV		TRULY ALIEN							Sitting Here (IX)
XCV		Inhuman Centipede						Tyrannosaurus (III)
XCVI		Free to a good home!						docbeard
XCVII		Neither Tarnished Nor Afraid					Kaishai (IX)
XCVIII		Music of the Night						Anomalous Blowout
XCIX		COME TO YOUR SENSES!						crabrock (IV)
C		The Black Attache Case						Various
CI		WAR								Tyrannosaurus (V)
CII		B-I-N-G-O							Echo Cian (III)
CIII		Pacifist Run							Entenzahn
CV		Book One							SurreptitiousMuffin (II)
CVI		VH1 presents: Behind the Goon[sic]				Tyrannosaurus (VI)
CVIII		The Dewey Decimal System					Grizzled Patriarch
CIX		Attack of the Clones						sebmojo (VIII)
CX		cleaning up the streets						Fanky Malloons (IV)
CXI		FOLK ALL Y'ALL							Entenzahn (II)
CXII		Attack of the Graphophobes					SurreptitiousMuffin (III)
CXIV		Missed Catnections						Kaishai (XI)
CXV		The Eleventh Hour						Sitting Here (X)
CXVI		Today in Technicolor						crabrock (VI)
CXVII		Tired of your poo poo						Kaishai (XII)
CXVIII		If on a Winter's Night a Fire					Chairchucker
CXIX		Oh!  Calamity!							Tyrannosaurus (VII)
CXX		You Can't Jump a Fence Without Knowing Where the Sun Sets	Sitting Here (XI)
CXXI		Pet Words							Jonked
CXXII		Bar-back							Grizzled Patriarch (II)
CXXIII		C'est Nes Pas une Nouvelle					Tyrannosaurus (VIII)
CXXIV		god have mercy							Grizzled Patriarch (III)
CXXV		Thunderdome is Coming to Town					Kaishai (XIII)
CXXVI		Auld Lang Syne							Anomalous Blowout (II)
CXXIX		Those We Loved							Nethilia (II)
CXXX		Twice Told Tales of Magic and Sparkles				Echo Cian (IV)
CXXXI		At the Crossroads						Entenzahn (III)
CXXXII		economy of prompt						Fumblemouse (VIII)
CXXXIII		The Gods of Thunderdome						Ironic Twist
CXXXIV		Run Domer Run							crabrock (VIII)
CXXXVI		Famous Last Words						newtestleper
CXXXVII		A Picture is Worth rand( ) % 1500 words				Grizzled Patriarch (V)
CXXXVIII	Aaahh!!! Real Monsters						Broenheim
CXXXIX		Well gently caress Me Then						God Over Djinn (V)
CXL		Who do you think you are?					Grizzled Patriarch (VI)
CXLI		"Three May Keep a Secret, If Two of Them Are Dead"		Sitting Here (XII)
CXLII		BUT MOM, A WIZARD DID IT					Dr. Kloctopussy (II)
CXLIII		Smells Like Dome Spirit						Kaishai (XIV)
CXLIV		Doming Lasha Tumbai						crabrock (IX)
CXLV		"You gonna finish that?"					Djeser and Sitting Here (XIII)
CXLVI		The Ones You Hate to Love					Tyrannosaurus (IX)
CXLVII		The Tragedy of Shakespeare Descending				Thranguy
CXLVIII		Gambling Degenerates						docbeard (III)
CXLIX		Thrilling Adventure!						theblunderbuss (II)
CL		Everything Old is New Again					Ironic Twist (II)
CLI		Rewriting the Books						Sitting Here (XIV)
CLII		Rhymes with Red, White, and Blue				Bad Seafood (III)
CLIII		Gather Your Party						curlingiron (II)
CLIV		Naturally Unnatural						docbeard (IV)
CLV		IT'S TOO drat HOT						Tyrannosaurus (X)
CLVI		LET'S GET hosed UP ON LOVE					WeLandedOnTheMoon! (II)
CLVIII		...LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS						sebmojo (IX)
CLIX		SINNERS ORGY							Tyrannosaurus (XI)
CLX		Spin the wheel!							Thranguy (II)
CLXI		Negative Exponents						sebmojo (X)
CLXII		The best of the worst and the worst of the best			Dr. Kloctopussy (III)
CLXIV		I Shouldn't Have Eaten That Souvlaki				Kaishai (XV)
CLXV		Back to School							Dr. Kloctopussy (IV)
CLXVI		Comings and Goings						Ironic Twist (III)
CLXVII		Black Sunshine							Morning Bell (II)
CLXVIII		She Stole My Wallet and My Heart				Kaishai (XVI)
CLXIX		Thunderdome o' Bedlam						crabrock (X)
CLXX		Cities & Kaiju							WeLandedOnTheMoon! (III)
CLXXI		The Honorable THUNDERDOME CLXXI					crabrock (XI)
CLXXII		Thunderdome Startup						Kaishai (XVII)
CLXXIII		Pilgrim's Progress						Fumblemouse (IX)
CLXXIV		Ladles and Jellyspoons						Sitting Here (XV)
CLXXV		Speels of Magic							Benny Profane
CLXXVI		Florida Man and/or Woman					Grizzled Patriarch (VII)
CLXXVII		Sparkly Mermen 2: Electric Merman Boogaloo			Entenzahn (IV)
CLXXVIII	I’m not mad, just disappointed					Grizzled Patriarch (VIII)

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Past Weeks of Thunderdome, 2016-2018
Week		Title								Winner		
CLXXIX		Strange Logs							Ironic Twist (IV)
CLXXX		Maybe I'm a Maze						God Over Djinn (VI)
CLXXXI		We like bloodsports and we don't care who knows!		Ironic Twist (V)
CLXXXII		Domegrassi							Boaz-Jachim
CLXXXIII	Sorry Dad, I Was Late To The Riots				Thranguy (III)
CLXXXIV		The 2015teen Great White Elephant Prompt Exchange		Ironic Twist (VI)
CLXXXV		Music of the Night, Vol. II					crabrock (XII)
CLXXXVI		Giving away prizes for doing f'd-up things			Titus82
CLXXXVII	Lost In Translation						Ironic Twist (VII)
CLXXXVIII	Insomniac Olympics						anime was right
CLXXXIX		knight time							Grizzled Patriarch (IX)
CXC		Three-Course Tale						crabrock (XIII)
CXCI		We Talk Good							sparksbloom
CXCII		Really Entertaining Minific					Sitting Here (XVI)
CXCIII		the worst week							Kaishai (XVIII)
CXCIV		Only Mr. God Knows Why						Daphnaie
CXCV		Inverse World							Ironic Twist (VIII)
CXCVI		Molten Copper vs. Thunderdome					Thranguy (IV)
CXCVII		Stories of Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control		Tyrannosaurus (XII)
CXCVIII		Buddy Stuff							dmboogie
CXCIX		EVERYBODY KNOWS poo poo'S hosed					Grizzled Patriarch (X)
CC		Taters Gonna Tate Fuckers					Noah (III) and Kaishai (XIX)
CCI		Old Russian Joke						Benny Profane (II)
CCII		THUNDER-O-S!							spectres of autism
CCIV		Hate Week							SurreptitiousMuffin (IV)
CCV		the book of forbidden names					Djeser (II)
CCVI		WHIZZ! Bang! POW! Thunderdome!					The Cut of Your Jib
CCVII		Bottle Your Rage						SurreptitiousMuffin (V)
CCVIII		Upper-Class Tweet of the Year					Sitting Here (XVII)
CCX		Crit Ketchup Week						Ironic Twist (IX)
CCXI		Next-Best Friend Week						Tyrannosaurus (XIV)
CCXII		Vice News							Thranguy (V)
CCXIII		Punked Out							The Saddest Rhino (III)
CCXV		El sueño de la razón produce el Thunderdome			Oxxidation (IV)
CCXVI		Historical Redemption (or: Sin, Lizzie)				SurreptitiousMuffin (VI)
CCXVIII		Duel Nature							SurreptitiousMuffin (VII)
CCXIX		coz wer goffik							Sitting Here (XVIII)
CCXX		Enter the Voidmart						newtestleper (II)
CCXXI		The Escape of the Bad Words.					flerp (II)
CCXXII		Deliver Us From Bad Prompting					sparksbloom (II)
CCXXIII		Dear Thunderdome						Boaz-Jachim (II)
CCXXIV		I Wanna Dome You Like An Animal					Sailor Viy
CCXXV		Pick A Century							Okua
CCXXVI		Viking Wisdom							Hawklad
CCXXVII		It was a Dark and Stormy Night....				steeltoedsneakers
CCXXVIII	Unqualified							Erogenous Beef (IV)
CCXXIX		The War, on Christmas						sebmojo (XI)
CCXXX		Slaying the Cursed Yearking					QuoProQuid
CCXXXI		No Grown-ups!							Sitting Here (XIX)
CCXXXII		I want to crit your blood					Jitzu_the_Monk (II)
CCXXXIV		Binging on Bad Words						Tyrannosaurus (XV)
CCXXXVI		Three-Card Combo						Uranium Phoenix
CCXXXVII	A Way for the Cosmos To Know Itself				Thranguy (VII)
CCXXXVIII	Lie to Me							BeefSupreme
CCXXXIX		Stop trying to crit me and crit me!				The Cut of Your Jib (III)
CCXL		These Bits Don't Ad Up						Hawklad (II)
CCXLI		From Zero to Hero						Uranium Phoenix (II)
CCXLII		Resonance of Words						Kaishai (XX)
CCXLIII		We Are the Heroes of Our Time					Chili
CCXLIV		Unspecified Word Disorder					Sitting Here (XX)
CCXLV		it's all about me, fuckers					Djeser (III)
CCXLVI		You Need Satan More Than He Needs You				Thranguy (VIII)
CCXLVII		Crimes Against Literature					Uranium Phoenix (III)
CCXLVIII	A Vision of the Future						Thranguy (IX)
CCXLIX		Thunderdomers Assemble!						Solitair
CCL		Everything Means Nothing Anymore				ThirdEmperor
CCLI		We're Grammarpunk Now						Obliterati (II)
CCLII		Your Cardboard Protagonist Was Here				Sitting Here (XXI)
CCLIII		The road to lovely fiction is paved with good intentions	flerp (III)
CCLIV		dog week							sebmojo (XII)
CCLVI		Myths of the Near Stone Age					Sitting Here (XXII)
CCLVII		No failures week.						Dr. Kloctopussy (V)
CCLIX		One, Two, Three							Bad Seafood (IV)
CCLX		Empty Spaces							Fleta Mcgurn
CCLXI		You Are Cordially Invited to the Dome of a Thousand Doors	Hawklad (III)
CCLXII		Build Your Own Prompt						Tyrannosaurus (XVI)
CCLXIII		dragons are for rich white kids					ThirdEmperor (II)
CCLXIV		Dystopia With A View						Tyrannosaurus (XVII)
CCLXV		KEITH APE							Benny Profane (III)
CCLXVI		J. Walter Weatherman and Friends				Hawklad (IV)
CCLXVII		The Horror....the horror					SurreptitiousMuffin (VIII)
CCLXX		La Belle Époque							Obliterati (III)
CCLXXI		Reality Doesn't Care What You Think				sebmojo (XIII)
CCLXXII		Lost in the funhouse						sparksbloom (III)
CCLXXIII	A Wicked Pack of Cards						Ironic Twist (X)
CCLXXIV		I Scream, You Scream						Thranguy (XI)
CCLXXV		Bring on the Lovers, Liars and Clowns				QuoProQuid (II)
CCLXXVI		Little Man History						crabrock (XIV)
CCLXXVII	Rewrite Mashup							Fumblemouse (X)
CCLXXVIII	Get Your (Self-Improving) Freak On				Thranguy (XII)
CCLXXIX		How to Write a Story						Entenzahn (IV)
CCLXXX		Let’s Play Thunderdome: Entenzahn’s Bad Idea			Kaishai (XXI)
CCLXXXI		We Wish You a Merman Christmas!					Antivehicular
CCLXXXII	A Lyttony of Sorrows						Tyrannosaurus (XIII)
CCLXXXIV	That’s How the Light Gets In					Djeser (IV)
CCLXXXV		Tempus Fuckit							Bad Seafood (V)
CCLXXXVI	Picturesque Picaresque						DreamingofRoses
CCLXXXVII	Bad Romance							Antivehicular (II)
CCLXXXVIII	Standing Outside a Broken TDome With Flash Rules in My Hand	curlingiron (III)
CCXC		Fiasco Week 2:  Return to the Chicken Hut			QuoProQuid (III)
CCXCI		You are Such a Loser, Good for You				Thranguy (XIV)
CCXCII		Ancient History							Kaishai (XXII)
CCXCIII		These Sainted Days of Spring					Fumblemouse (XI)
CCXCIV		Rush, Rush, Hurry Cybernetic Entity Enter me.			SurreptitiousMuffin (IX)
CCXCV		DO YOUR WORST!							Chainmail Onesie and Tanz!
CCXCVI		Challenge, Struggle, Tears & Triumph				Deltasquid (II)
CCXCVII		And Now for Something Completely Different			Tyrannosaurus (XIX)
CCXCVIII	Featuring Idris Elba						Chili (II)
CCXCIX		Aqua Teen Thunder Force						sparksbloom (IV)
CCC		Let's Make a Void!						The Saddest Rhino (IV)
CCCI		Communications Breakdown					Antivehicular (IV)
CCCII		Invisible Bartertowns						Fumblemouse (XII)
CCCIII		Things Humanity Was Not Meant To Know				Djeser (V)
CCCIV		Magic of Bronze and Stone					Antivehicular (V)
CCCV		"They sell tacos... and Potato Olés!"				Sitting Here (XXIII)
CCCVI		Strange, Familiar Intelligence (corvids vs cephalopods)		Armack (III)
CCCVII		Unitary Will							Jay W. Friks (II)
CCCVIII		Codex of the Infinite Planes					SurreptitiousMuffin (X)
CCCIX		He & She							cptn_dr
CCCX		Ghosts and Whiskey						Staggy
CCCXI		It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools			Invisible Clergy
CCCXII		Family Motto							Tyrannosaurus (XX)
CCCXIII		(Were-creatures and) Vampires are Alive				Anomalous Blowout (III)
CCCXIV		Bingo Night at Thunderdome					QuoProQuid (IV)
CCCXV		Ships Passing in the Night					Staggy (II)
CCCXVI		Measure Twice, Cut Once						Yoruichi
CCCXVII		Power Trippin'							sebmojo (XIV)
CCCXVIII	two from column A, one from column B				Djeser (VI)
CCCXIX		雷電のコンペティション〜☆						Antivehicular (VI)
CCCXX		Dumpster Diving For Fun and Profit				Sitting Here (XXIV)
CCCXXI		Objectionable Objectification					JOHN MADNESS
CCCXXIII	Wu Tang in Space / Where do ideas come from? / MOON FIGHT	SurreptitiousMuffin (XI)
CCCXXIV		it came from the other house, and would not leave		The Saddest Rhino (V)
CCCXXV		The Horror Is Capitalism					Anomalous Blowout (IV)
CCCXXVI		LET'S MAKE A PLAYLIST!						Antivehicular (VII)
CCCXXVII	Check out all our majesty					Thranguy (XV)
CCCXXVIII	Economy of Prompt 2						Antivehicular (VIII)
CCCXXIX		Fun-Sized Thunderdome						sparksbloom (V)
CCCXXX		Ray Gun Control							Antivehicular (IX)
CCCXXXI		A Very Thunderdome Hanukkah					Djeser (VII)
CCCXXXII	Steering the Crap						Yoruichi (III)
CCCXXXIII	A Sparkly Merman Holiday Special				Thranguy (XVI)
CCCXXXIV	Here Be Dragons							Kaishai (XXIII)

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 17:15 on Jan 6, 2019

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Thunderbrawls of 2018
Thunderbrawl 239 by Antivehicular:  Exmond vs. Jay W. Friks
Round 1			Jay W. Friks

Thunderbrawl 240 by sebmojo:  Antivehicular vs. Guiness13
Round 1			Antivehicular

Thunderbrawl 241 by Sham bam bamina!:  Yoruichi vs. Sitting Here
Round 1			Yoruichi

Thunderbrawl 242 by flerp:  CantDecideOnAName vs. sebmojo
Round 1			sebmojo

Thunderbrawl 243 by crabrock:  flerp vs. derp
Round 1			derp

Thunderbrawl 244 by Chili:  apophenium vs. Aesclepia
Round 1			apophenium

Thunderbrawl 245 by Sitting Here:  sebmojo vs. flerp
Round 1			flerp

Thunderbrawl 246 by sebmojo:  Sitting Here vs. BeefSupreme
Round 1			Sitting Here

Thunderbrawl 247 by Tyrannosaurus:  apophenium vs. Exmond
Round 1			apophenium

Thunderbrawl 248 by Chili, Kaishai, and Ironic Twist:  Sitting Here vs. sebmojo
Round 1			sebmojo

Thunderbrawl 249 by Chili, Kaishai, and Ironic Twist:  Nethilia vs. newstestleper
Round 1			newtestleper

Thunderbrawl 250 by Chili, Kaishai, and Ironic Twist:  SurreptitiousMuffin vs. Uranium Phoenix
Round 1			SurreptitiousMuffin

Thunderbrawl 251 by Chili, Kaishai, and Ironic Twist:  Yoruichi vs. Dr. Kloctopussy
Round 1			Dr. Kloctopussy

Thunderbrawl 252 by Chili, Kaishai, and Ironic Twist:  curlingiron vs. Fumblemouse
Round 1			curlingiron

Thunderbrawl 253 by Chili, Kaishai, and Ironic Twist:  steeltoedsneakers vs. Jay W. Friks
Round 1			steeltoedsneakers

Thunderbrawl 254 by Chili, Kaishai, and Ironic Twist:  Morning Bell vs. CantDecideOnAName
Round 1			Morning Bell

Thunderbrawl 255 by BeefSupreme:  Exmond vs. sebmojo
Round 1			sebmojo

Thunderbrawl 256 by Jay W. Friks:  sebmojo and Exmond vs. Sitting Here
Round 1			sebmojo and Exmond

Thunderbrawl 257 by Jay W. Friks:  ThirdEmperor vs. Jon Joe
Round 1			ThirdEmperor (by default)

Thunderbrawl 258 by sebmojo:  Jay W. Friks vs. Fuschia tude
Round 1			Jay W. Friks

Thunderbrawl 259 by Chili:  ThirdEmperor vs. Jay W. Friks
Round 1			Jay W. Friks

Thunderbrawl 260 by Sitting Here and Yoruichi:  sebmojo vs. SurreptitiousMuffin
Round 1			SurreptitiousMuffin

Thunderbrawl 261 by Antivehicular:  Chili vs. Armack
Round 1			Armack

Thunderbrawl 262 by ThirdEmperor:  Solitair vs. MockingQuantum
Round 1			MockingQuantum

Thunderbrawl 263 by Yoruichi:  curlingiron vs. Invisible Clergy
Round 1			curlingiron

Thunderbrawl 264 by Pham Nuwen:  ThirdEmperor vs. Sitting Here
Round 1			ThirdEmperor

Thunderbrawl 265 by ThirdEmperor:  Yoruichi vs. sebmojo
Round 1			sebmojo

Thunderbrawl 266 by sebmojo:  Djeser vs. Invisible Clergy
Round 1			Djeser

Thunderbrawl 267 by sebmojo:  ThirdEmperor vs. Yoruichi
Round 1			Yoruichi

Thunderbrawl 268 by Invisible Clergy:  Pham Nuwen vs. ThirdEmperor
Round 1			Pham Nuwen

Thunderbrawl 269 by ThirdEmperor:  Sitting Here vs. Fumblemouse
Round 1			Sitting Here

Thunderbrawl 270 by Sitting Here:  derp vs. Antivehicular vs. ThirdEmperor vs. Lead out in cuffs
Round 1			derp

Thunderbrawl 271 by Chili:  BeefSupreme vs. Yoruichi
Round 1			BeefSupreme

Thunderbrawl 272 by Morning Bell:  dreadmojo and cptn_dr vs. BeefSupreme and Fleta Mcgurn
Round 1			dreadmojo and cptn_dr

Thunderbrawl 273 by steeltoedsneakers:  Yoruichi vs. Exmond
Round 1			Yoruichi

Thunderbrawl 274 by Beef Supreme:  dreadmojo vs. Thranguy
Round 1			Thranguy

Thunderbrawl 275 by sebmojo and Kaishai:  Sitting Here vs. Yoruichi
Round 1			Yoruichi

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 21:06 on Dec 30, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Thunderdome Recap! :siren:

We haven't yet recovered from the holidays here at Recap HQ, but Sitting Here dug an episode out from under a pile of champagne bottles and tinsel to tide you over. Recall the good old days of Week 276: Little Man History and Week 277: Rewrite Mashup with us, when men were real men and crabrock should have been scared; strange tides and stranger syntax await you, not to mention important AIDS facts! Suffer in ignorance no longer, because our reading of Jay W. Friks' "Witch Hunt 86'" is an education for one and all.

"Punished. We're being punished.." the man calmly resigned.

Episodes past can be found here!

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Thunderdome Recap! :siren:

In this episode, Sitting Here, Djeser, and I look for coherent structure in Week 278: Get Your (Self-Improving) Freak On and turn to WikiHow for wisdom in Week 279: How to Write a Story. We come away with rather more questions than answers. For instance: how much Raid would you need to free your mind from fear? What gets you sent to prison for fifty-one months? Who illustrates Internet guides to touching girls? And where oh where can we apply for assistant realtor jobs that pay $83K a year? Our reading of Electric Owl's "1058 words; Coherent Structure" doesn't shed much light on these issues, but you may enjoy it anyway.

The words corporate homosexuality arising just as fast as they were squashed out.

Episodes past can be found here!

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Thunderdome Recaps! :siren:

Uncounted hours and an obscene number of quarters pass from us to the arcade machines before Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and I are satisfied with our scores in reviewing Week 280: Let’s Play Thunderdome: Entenzahn’s Bad Idea. Getting to the end of Fuubi's entry defeats us all, largely because it doesn't exist. We'd have an easier time beating Ghostbusters for the NES! At least TD stories have better grammar. Once we've run out of money, we retreat to the welcoming glow of the Christmas tree and shake the presents that were given in Week 281: We Wish You a Merman Christmas. Our own gift to the world in the extended holiday season is a reading of BabyRyoga's "The Rightful Heir."

If it were possible for the boy to scream out in horror in the seconds it took the beast to spin around and relinquish the rights to territorial sovereignty of the southern bank of Willow Street from him, his ignorant pride had certainly distracted him from doing so.

Just as Yuletide leads to the new year, so do games and sparkles lead to terrible, terrible words and a wish that one could go back in time to fix them. Week 282: A Lyttony of Sorrows gives Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and me, along with delightful guests The Saddest Rhino and SurreptitiousMuffin, a new definition of loss. Week 283: IF YOU'RE READING THIS IT'S TOO LATE is all a blur, but I have a note left for current me by future me that assures me I'd rather forget the random penis anyway. The show wraps up with Muffin and Djeser giving The Saddest Rhino's ""Waste"" a performance of which Vincent Price would be proud.

“We were going to make a chili,” he whines.

Episodes past can be found here!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 14:41 on Mar 14, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Critiques for Week CCLXXIV: On Second Thought, I'd Prefer Cake

Not the best of weeks, not the worst of weeks: it was the off-brand whipped cream in a can of weeks. One can certainly eat it, and it adds a little something to the sundae. You wouldn't binge on it, however, unless you were the star of a Tyra Banks novel. Every story had virtues and flaws, and in most cases those balanced each other out until the entry got stranded in the tepid, melted middle.

Mrenda, "Ritual Luck"

Awkward phrasings abound even past the weak opening. The structure of your sentences distracts me from what they're saying or obscures meaning outright. In the first paragraph especially, the prose comes off as though you're trying too hard to be literary. That sets the stage for a story in which too much is writer-forced, from the ritual that overshoots quirky and lands on absurd to Ray's whiplash-inducing turnaround. The latter almost works. Ray is a tired, anxious man who has a good point about his son's need to stay grounded, though he's maybe taking it too far; I don't have a problem with the softening of his stance, but I do have one with how he goes from having "the anger of a devil" in his eyes (bad choice of phrase: it vilifies him) to wholeheartedly embracing the ritual after so little argument.

Maybe the issue is less the quantity of argument than the quality. Jean touches the point that matters, that Stevie is growing up and they should cherish what's left of his childhood, but she doesn't nail it. I can see Point A, I can see Point B, I can see the path between them that you want the story to take, but it's all a degree or two off-kilter despite your effort to pound it into shape.

All the manipulation does go toward a good end. The finale isn't quite bleak, isn't quite bitter, isn't sweet, but is a complicated mix, which suits both spumoni and my personal taste. This subtle use of the flavor--assuming it's intentional--is much more elegant than the overpowering Italy connection.


Yoruichi, "An Unpulled Thread"

The first-person voice has a pretentious sound thanks to certain word choices and phrasings. Intentional? Maybe, since you paint the protagonist as judgmental. Her distant, highbrow, high-class perspective is almost certainly meant to contrast with the earthy pragmatism of the woodsman. She represents a sheltered life of the mind as he represents the rough, natural world, which is fine as far as it goes, but the lust at first sight between them is as forced as anything in Mrenda's story. Love stories--even meet-cutes like this--fail wholly when they fail to draw the nascent lovers as people, and neither Mr. Woodsy nor Ms. Cosmopolitan transcends a basic stereotype until the final sentence.

That line, at least, is excellent, capturing the feeling of wanting and not wanting the same thing at the same time: she rejects of the truth of the man, but she cherishes the possibility of him.

Whether your flavor is embodied entirely by the lady, high-falutin' food that oysters are, or whether she's the oyster and her man is the down-to-earth ice cream, I can see your inspiration without being hit over the head with it. Nice work on that score.


flerp, "Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before"

Aww. I'm perplexed, I admit, by Grandpa's insistence that the tail is real. His story and his charm are so impossible that I wait throughout the piece for the magical realism shoe to drop. It never does, and when the end comes I'm left with a sense of something unresolved. You may have just overdone the whole thing and taken it a step or two too far into absurdity. If the lingering question is intentional--and it could be; "something unresolved" suits a story about mourning--then I think you've missed a beat somewhere, because there are hints (the scars, the unvarying repetition) that Grandpa had some sort of real adventure, but I can't believe he would believe that anyone would believe in that token. It's a distracting puzzle that could make for a great story in its own right.

One possibility: Grandpa knew darn well the tiger tail was false, and he told that story to entertain his young grandson. As he got sicker, the story became a way of hanging onto the protagonist--communicating with him after his mind had started to fail. Reliving a happier, healthier time. Maybe he told it again and again because of what he said to his grandson at the last: "I know how much you loved that story." He repeated it so often because he loved the protagonist and wanted to make him happy, and when he insists it's true, what he's really insisting is that his love is true, no matter what else the sickness has taken away.

With or without that interpretation, the mix of disbelief, faith, and love for an old man who's forgetful and feeble and a brave hunter all at once is so true to life that it pulls the heart. I've read stronger treatments of this theme. I still like this one. It came a hair short of being my win choice, and it improves with repetition.


Deltasquid, "Amon-Zeus"

Hrm. I took a look at the Wiki page for Alexander the Great to gauge your historical accuracy. Results: inconclusive. Alexander did hang around in Persia and adopt Persian ways, at least according to the complaints of his men, and he did die before he made it much further, but whether he gave up his dream to leave in luxury isn't clear. His men wanted to go home, but did he? Maybe not. Historical fiction doesn't need to be--can't be--completely faithful to a truth that's often unknown. However, I get the impression that you've given the vices of decadence and defeatism to Alexander so Epiphanes will have something to rail against. That your original character is more aggressive and spirited than a man who's legendary for those traits makes this read like historical fanfiction.

I suspect Alexander would have been a better choice of main character. The tale centers on him; Epiphanes' thwarted desire is only a shadow of Alexander's collapsing dream. Possibly you want to look at Alexander the Great from an uncommon angle, a goal I can't call unworthy, but Epiphanes' secondhand crisis doesn't compel. Eliminating most of Alexander's time on the stage could be another approach to try, as Epiphanes' frustrations might cut deeper if he couldn't just confront the ruler of much of the known world about them.


spectres of autism, "Purge"

Tense shifts ahoy! Megan's a piece of work, unhappy her father might have work and the rest of her family might not starve because that will make anorexia more difficult. This depiction of the disease doesn't ring true--the crying over how little the spaceman looks beside a rock approaches caricature. Both Megan and Isreal are angst incarnate; I feel nothing for them, possibly because I'm a heartless AI, possibly because they're overdone.

The stories don't obviously intersect. Are Isreal and Megan on opposing sides of WW2? I don't think so, though I'm not certain. There's the slave named Corazon, the tidal wave--the headphones. I don't believe personal headphones were a thing in that time period. So why do these two tales alternate? Megan enjoys a selfish, self-satisfied view of wartime, so safe that she can want to starve and can fail to give a drat about anything but that. Isreal is likewise privileged but empathetic. Both harm themselves in different ways, so maybe the piece is a statement about how conflict destroys even those in a position to be immune, or it could be about the acidic effect of privilege on a soul, or....

The thing is, I shouldn't have to do so much mental legwork to get something worth saying out of this. You're waving your hands toward depth here and asking me to take it on faith that your words mean something, really, and it all amounts to more than self-obsessed teens gazing into their navels while they listen to Linkin Park. The backdrop of real tragedy highlights how shallow their personal concerns are in comparison. Maybe that is the point, but then what's the thing with Isreal holding the hands of his slave and listening to music with her as the world crashes down, like somehow they're on the same plane and have achieved understanding because he shared his Evanescence CD? If that's meant to be uplifting... hoo, boy. No. If it's cynicism at play, you could be on to something, but I have a sinking feeling I'm supposed to sympathize with these viewpoints rather than despairing of both.


Antivehicular, "Technically, You Would Only Need One Time Traveler Ice-Cream Social"

I liked this more before it got political, and the fracking article is just about the last straw. You're only flashing your worldview around. And it does come across as your worldview, not the characters', because of the persistence and the lack of subtlety. Nothing is gained by this; the issues you mention and then drop have no obvious relation to Francis's academic insecurities or (so far as I know) Ron's scientific breakthrough, which means they have no clear relation to the story at hand.

Take the low-key soapboxing away and you'd have a decent tale of time travel and ice cream. I won't quite say it's good: if you'd had more space to show conversations with various other Rons then you might have made it so, but your concept is too large to shine in this word count. You've settled for one pick-me-up pep talk that handwaves time travel in order to focus on Francis's personal problems. It leaves a faint sour-milk aftertaste of regret for what might have been.


QuoProQuid, "He Came Back"

Tsk. Little mechanical errors are everywhere. It's a nice horror short otherwise, though it wanders into the same stuff-just-happens territory that several Funhouse Week entries occupied. Why do the insects reanimate Paul? What do they, or whatever force is behind them, get out of doing so? One random woman's fear isn't much of a gain for such effort. I've spoken to you since and know now what motivation and connections you had in mind, but the links between Paul, Missy, and the forest aren't drawn clearly enough to make it plain that the bugs are meant to embody the woods that Missy so loathes.

I fault the threadbare characterization of Paul in particular. Looking back, hunting for evidence of a link between Paul and the forest, I can't find it. He's dragged Missy out to live in the woods, but that could be because it's cheap for all I know; there's no tie that would make the bugs in his body thematically appropriate. There's not much to him at all other than a braying laugh and one dismissive comment, which he might have made because he's a jerk or might have made because Missy's a piece of work herself. (Or both.) The man is little more than his corpse. That's a bit weak in a story of domestic murder. Missy's hatred of the woods gets a few words thrown its way, but you spend a lot more of the story's length on her efforts to fool the police. Is it any wonder the insect-powered zombie appears to come out of left field?

It's interesting that Missy comes off as unsympathetic even aside from the murdering, considering she wants a girl child just to dress her up and show her off. This appears to be intentional. It works in the main, too: I don't care for Missy, but I care what happens to her, a neat trick that many stories fail to land.


sparksbloom, "Loss Prevention"

Huh. A white-knight entry that manages to have more delicacy than a backhoe laden with bricks. I appreciate the way it makes its point while also telling a story more than I appreciate the story itself, I think. The writing is competent but flawed--you employ a distracting surplus of commas. None of the characters is likable. In the protagonist's case, that's not a surprise. Joely is doomed by being seen through the protagonist's viewpoint. It's unfortunate that Macey's so dull, however; the main character's fascination with her is hard to fathom. Though I'm glad she escapes the white knight's intentions, the feeling is somewhat perfunctory.

The final beat is satisfyingly ominous for the protagonist, but if Corporate is suspicious of him/her, why does s/he still have a job?

P.S. An interesting take on the ice cream flavor. You could read it either as garlic = repellent = Macey (weak) or that garlic is the unpleasant undertone in the innocent-seeming, vanilla-seeming white knight.


crabrock, "Acceptance"

Oh, crabrock, no. That first line. Nooooooo. The second paragraph taught me a new word, though!

With a different ending this would be a charming but rote children's story: the voice is on that level. That it's instead rather dark is somehow kind of hilarious. I shouldn't laugh at poor, trusting Bleeborg's demise, but I do, and I think the black humor comes from the subversion of expectation. The bird does the logical thing; only fable tropes led me to imagine something else was plausible. Your ending pokes fun at fables while containing its own lesson and even warming the heart a little in a twisted way. Sometimes ugly people are jerks, this says, and Don't judge a person by his flattery of you (a fallacy Bleeborg commits throughout)--and Whether an outcome is happy or sad depends on the perspective. After all, Bleeborg dies having gotten his fondest wish. That's a neat little package of morals and feelings in your silly tribute to the shiny crab from Moana.

On the other hand, the wind-up to your pitch is a shade long. Worse are the myriad sentence-level errors. I can forgive them, but the story needs a thorough proofing. The text thins out once Bleeborg meets the bird; I wouldn't mind if Bleeborg's view of the beach from on high got even as much description as even his old shell did, earlier in the work.


Tyrannosaurus, "korean|american"

I've seen more original titles.

This would have to be a rewrite or sequel or prequel. To your credit, that could be why you recycled the title: to make it more likely the judges would see what you were doing. Points for honesty. I read this one first to see how it stood alone; the verdict is that it doesn't, though it's not that far off the mark. That Jane and Ji-eun are split personalities discussing the destruction of a third personality is something I can pick up from context, but here's the question: why do I care whether they kill that third or not? I know nothing about it/her. What's my investment in the goal? You have a frame and a core here, and the core is largely what works, though the frame provides critical context clues. Jane and Ji-eun play best off each other in the memory sequence. This middle piece is where the distinctions between the personalities are drawn and the possibilities behind their creation are touched upon. It functions alone (more or less; some of the exposition from the frame could stand to be folded in), but the plotline of the third sister is completely unnecessary to this piece and only serves as a distraction and a reminder that you're offering up one part of a sequence.

After reading the first "korean|american," I'm of the mind it doesn't stand alone either. It sets up a longer story about these characters. Its ending is very To Be Continued, rather like the ending of this one. Thunderdome is a poor choice of venue for incomplete fragments of larger works. One judge liked this particular fragment very much, so Jane and Ji-eun have a receptive audience here, but I think you'd do better--if you keep submitting stories about them--to scrap the overarching plot.


Thranguy, "Ceremony"

I wonder whether the one-eyed man is Odin, preparing for Fimbulwinter. I can't shake that impression despite the lack of obvious connection to tea, Sharon, or purple-haired soldiers with vestigial leather wings. (What? That's surely a reference to something. Bad idea: it stands out without making sense.) I enjoy the sense of getting a reference--if I do--but I question whether a reader less prone to seeing Odin everywhere would be confused by this strange man and his deal. Possibly it doesn't matter since he represents the End of Things well enough without a concrete mythological bases.

Sharon herself is ostentatiously passive. I imagine there's intention in that, since this is a tale of futility. I'd still rather she do more and dream less, particularly of carpet rides and green-striped zebras and mushroom-headed knights that add an unpleasant flavor of pandering. It could be that the fantasy dreams are meant to represent Sharon's desire to be more active despite the certainty she can't that hobbles her conscious life, but even in these, she doesn't accomplish anything. She flees; she jousts in sport. The mushroom men might as well be windmills. And whether they're meant to mean something or no, the light dreams just feel like wastes of time. I second sebmojo's excellent suggestion that these dreams be revamped to show Sharon trying to do--that's what this story desperately needs, an attempt to act even if the attempt fails. Futility embraced is more dreary than tragic. Sharon sleepwalks through her life, and her story is too long even at 900 words.

The last section, including the information about tea, is rather good, allowing the piece to end on a note of mild satisfaction. A bitter tang of what-was-the-point lingers after that has passed.


Hawklad, "The Girl With Orchids in Her Hair"

Too many line breaks leave the opening fragmented. It's awkward, arrhythmic, and oh, I wish it weren't since I can't forget the broken-up start even when I've reached the magical end. It's the realization of how you've let the ice cream inspire you that works the enchantment: cocoa and vanilla, so commonplace that I'd forgotten their roots. The orchids themselves are the color of cream. The love story is a beautiful one, chaste and faithful both, a rare combination.

Some of the other judges weren't too happy with the lady's mysterious nature, however. She exists as a romantic object and useful protector rather than as a person. I won't argue with that, because it's true, but I didn't mind it here since being unknown and unknowable suits her as a part of nature. She surely has her own things to do when she's not checking up on the protagonist, and we only see her surface because that's all he ever sees for all that he loves her. That doesn't change that her characterization is thin, and I'm in the minority in responding well to it. Keep that in mind!

The fragmenting early on is genuinely bad, and there are signs this wasn't proofed at all, so I can't be shocked it wasn't anyone else's win choice. It wouldn't have been mine in better company, though I like it. You could raise it a notch or two just by cleaning it up.


Fumblemouse, "The Impermanence of Rainbow Sherbet"

Is it sherbet or sherbert? (Answer: both spellings are acceptable, but you should choose one and stick to it.) Is "ok" ever not an abomination in prose? (Answer: no.) Should you show much more technical aptitude than this? (Answer: yes.) Bits of the entry border on incoherent. I don't know what the characters' job is--party planners? Restaurateurs? Google hipsters? "Vibrancy" means nothing to me. It's strange how vague their event is given how many throwaway details we get about it.

What I see here is two people to whom something odd and inexplicable yet strangely small happens, neither of them individually all that interesting. The puzzle of what has happened to rainbow sherbet could be interesting, but a man trying and failing to Google is not riveting reading even when Google is behaving as it never, ever does. (Zero hits for any name on the planet? Sure.) That odd spiraling effect ought to be the work of someone or something, but who? How? Why? We'll never know. The point is apparently not to answer questions but to deliver a twist straight out of the dumbest Twilight Zone episode ever.

One curious point came up in the recaps: is the disappearance of the cat, another otherwise inexplicable detail, meant to foreshadow sherbet and Emma disappearing likewise? I don't believe it works that way, given that Emma remembers the cat clearly. I favor the theory that Fluffbag is meant to be significant, though, and it would be a cool thing if you pulled it off--if difficult to do without showing your hand too early. The italicized asides similarly seem pointless, yet I suspect they're meant to serve a purpose. Anything you're trying to do other than spring the bad twist is lost on me, unfortunately for both of us.


apophenium, "He Who Tells Us What We Cannot Do"

Uh. Well, "God knows what" does sum up the story decently. Weird stuff is thrown at the reader for the hell of it, but it doesn't come to anything, lead from anything, or have particular connection to Moose Tracks unless one wants to assume Ben and Jerry are mad-scientist cultists. I'm willing to entertain that notion, but you could have done a lot more with it.

What I see: the children are aliens or extradimensional horrors under the control of Pater, a figure they worship as a god. They go to a sanatorium to check up on a human who is or was somehow a threat to Pater. Nosuch could be a wizard or could be another extradimensional whatsits trapped in an old body; it doesn't much matter. Pater tells his weirdo children to kill Nosuch for the temerity of having a bed sheet with too much static (or maybe there really is a weapon under there, I dunno), so they do, instantly and without effort, as befits a confrontation with something they just said was a threat to their god. Oh, wait, but Pater isn't the god! Pater is more like a high priest. Okay. Pater beats them to death for bickering about ice cream, then hauls their bodies off to be recycled into more creepy children to serve Cthulhu He Who Tells Us What We Cannot Do.

I suspect a metaphor for fathers and children lies in here somewhere. The confusion between Pater and the god could be intentional. Maybe Nosuch's "power" is the influence family members potentially have over the young. Or maybe I'm just trying to drag meaning out of the meaningless, unable to understand what you thought you were doing.


Sham bam bamina!, "Can't Always Get It"

You're leaning on a hope that the reader either knows Italian or can pick up the meaning of your foreign phrases from context. Maybe not the best idea in your opening sentences. (I would guess "My son, I can't believe it" for the first line, but after that, search me.) It does set the flavor from the get go, which is nice, and this is a perfectly fine take on Neapolitan. I'd suggest providing either English translations or more context from which to work--and that's the real issue, isn't it? This piece is short, thin, and made meaningless by the death that negates any chance for character interaction, consequences, or story.

Right up until the protag finds Carla's corpse, the tale is well written and interesting enough. It could have been good. Considering the submission time, I'm going to guess you rushed the hell out of this; the belly-flop ending makes no sense otherwise.


sebmojo, "Fishfood"

So my guess is that Molly's mother killed her father either by shooting him and then throwing him into the mud or by just plain throwing him into the mud. The earth fish has been talking to her dad, whether he's dead or not. Molly, considering suicide anyway, leaps into the mud to be with her father--one way or the other. Is that it? It's not bad, but this piece is lacking in everything but setting. The fate of the sweet uncle and his house are more intriguing than the fate of the father, who after all never shows his face even in memory; you might have done better to consolidate the two men into one character. I'm not sure what the earth fish is or why it cares about any of this. It could be secrets given a physical form--buried things--and the mother trying to kill it is another gesture at what she's trying to hide. But what does all that have to do with the uncle's house?

There are gleams of promise under the muck. However, this version has more potential than actual merit.


The Saddest Rhino, "What is Superman Ice Cream? - Comments by a Viewer"

Pronoun confusion's awful, as bad as bad can be: it's killed your story, Rhino, and now it's killing me. The tangle of shes and hers chokes the prose. I think I understand what's going on--Judith and Tiffany are some sort of couple, although I thought at first they were mother and daughter. Tiffany is openly cheating on Judith, and Judith puts up with this because she is a bigger doormat than Rubbermaid ever created. Judith has enough spirit to be mildly discontent with the situation, but when Tiffany comes home only to announce she's making the accountant/other woman her new main partner, suddenly it no longer matters that Tiffany won't eat ice cream with her.

It's hard to follow the story at the best of times. I can't overstate how unfortunate the mother-daughter/lover confusion is. The relationship surely isn't meant to be healthy, but it's so one-sided and baffling that I can't feel anything about its end. Why does Judith want to be with this person? Why would anyone? Judith herself is the one bright point, and she's only slightly less bewildering than her daughter/lover/roommate/WTF.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 17:12 on Dec 30, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Critiques for Weeks XXV, XXVII, XXVIII, CCLII, CCLIII, CCLIV, and CCLV: The Scratchings of a Bygone Day

So much time has passed since my last set of recap crits that I have... let's see... twenty-eight weeks to catch up on, give or take a couple of retrospectives. Oof. Those will not all appear in this post! With luck, I'll sloooowly catch up to the present as the full critique sets I owe as a judge allow.

A few stories from older rounds get a look here too, as I haven't given up on A Crit for Every Week even if my checklist required a sad adjustment.

Week 25: What They Deserve

sebmojo, "Cold front on the way": Once, long ago, you wrote this story and then wiped it from the thread. This was a time before archives, and the failure of Capntastic and Muffin to write any crits for it could have meant that it was doomed to blight the least-crit list forever: a white whale that would render perfect coverage impossible in perpetuity. I've solved this by using the dark arts of Google to summon the published version. Odds are good that it's very close to what you posted back in prehistory, so here we go! The piece begins with an excellent sketch of Anne as a mildly eccentric woman who isn't quite consciously lonely, though the implication that she desires more interaction that she gets is strong without being heavy-handed. Right about when I'm wondering whether there's going to be any more to the piece than a character study, you introduce Mr. Jenkins' murdered corpse in a delightfully prosaic fashion. Consider my attention caught! However, the geometric digression regarding angles is, shall we say, distracting; I rewound the .mp3 a few times here because it interrupted my understanding of the story. The other small details (crenallated soles, etc.) have a purpose in that they convey Anne's shock--her fixation on tiny things as her brain fails to embrace this dead body in front of her--but you specifically say she's unaware of the angles, so...? Would that were the only fly in the margarine, but it isn't. In the end, there isn't more to the piece than a character study. A good character study, excellently drawn. But that magic word "murder" made me instantly curious about the details of Mr. Jenkins' death, and I can't share the story's disinterest in that matter. If we weren't talking about something that's already been bought and published, I'd suggest allowing poor Mr. Jenkins to die of natural causes--not so much less shocking to Anne, perhaps, in her isolated life? The story would be essentially the same but wouldn't have that whiff of a plot that creates needless disappointment in otherwise excellent work. One last quibble: Anne tells the truth but is ignored. Is that what she deserves for closing the door on Mr. Jenkins? Considering her inability to cope, I'm not convinced it is.


Week 27: There is only PAIN

Canadian Surf Club, "Encounter": Ouch, that dialogue punctuation. I'll spare you the usual link in hopes you've learned better since. The trouble with all these Animal-Based Fighting Moves is that they fail the requirement that the action be clear; I can't picture half of them. The scene lacks excitement, too, reading like the checklist for Noah's ark as it does. A few more paragraph breaks could help you here. This kind of fight ought to feel sharp, punchy, but the big blocks of text drone instead. I just don't care. In this week I wouldn't have needed to care about Miao, but I ought to be curious about the fight's conclusion. I'll grant that reading said conclusion leaves me with some questions. Maybe the tea is hallucinogenic, maybe they're telepaths, and maybe hinting at either of these things before the twist ending would have made for a more interesting story.


Week 28: Show me the love!

DivisionPost, "The Great Escape": While it's so long after the fact that the barn door has rotted and all the horses are glue, I must frown at your editing ways. That's obligatory. Now it's done, so let's look at the story. It's hard not to believe this would be a whole lot better if I watched football, bent as it is on dropping names and detailing moves of the game. There's an interesting story of a young woman in love with another college girl somewhere in here. Kerry loves Clara more than she does the Patriots, which in this piece seems to be saying a lot, and the way Kerry drags Clara off so they can celebrate Clara's happiness in secret is a solid illustration of that. But! Do the Giants win or lose? Thematically, metaphorically, it matters! Clara and Kerry are drifting apart, bound to break up--it's destiny there for anyone to see, and if the Patriots win, you're telling me indirectly that the romance will fail. If it's the Giants, there's hope. That I don't know who Tom Brady plays for cripples the entire piece and absolutely shouldn't. It could be worth it even at this point to rewrite this without the expectation that the reader will have any interest in your sport of choice. Take out some of the play-by-play, tidy the tenses, and it could be quite nice.


toanoradian, "How the Legendary Hero Got a Legendary Wife": Punching underwater volcanoes as you run through the air is more implausible than mythic; I had to read that sequence a couple of times over before I saw what you were trying to convey (that the speed of his run parted the seas rather than carrying him across them). The rest of the entry also demands multiple readings. I get it: Jok and Nusaybah, figures out of song and story, defeat a yeti and a sentient fireball with aid from magical artifacts in order to finally be married. There's some ineffective word play in the middle that's probably meant to make me laugh but only accomplishes faffing about. The worldbuilding/bits of myth are thick on the ground, but everything else is thin, and the final joke is just... good grief. All the banter fails at showing love between these two. Focusing more on romance and less on terrible puns might have helped you somewhat.


Horrible Butts, "RV": There are times when one suspects a story was written, nay, conceived without the least intention of victory, or of anything really but tweaking the judge's nose out of a glee in being slapped. In this case--do you know, I wonder. Everything is dumb, but there is a remote possibility that you would have continued on with Milena's incredibly stupid RV adventure if you hadn't run up against the deadline, and the romantic quest of the bear and duck (now there's a sentence) would have had a conclusion of some sort. Remote: this week allowed vignettes, so maybe this scrap of dumbness is all you ever meant to deliver. However, if you had made some sort of story of this, I can just imagine it pulling off its absurdities well enough to entertain--the individual sentences aren't that bad, and the whole premise is so very ridiculous that I almost want to see where it goes. Of course, you still would have effed up by telling of rather than showing the love. Oops!


Week 252: Your Cardboard Protagonist Was Here

Tweezer Reprise, "Those Statued Men with Acid Rain Habits": You have verb-tense salad here, some of it incorrect: He should have the intrinsic right to be referred to by any name that he desired! In fact, that sentiment had just flown from his quill an hour previous. That should say desires rather than desired (assuming his desire for the name is a continuing thing; if he wanted it at one point in the past but no longer does, your usage is fine, but I'm skeptical), just flew rather than had just flown (occurances in the past of a present-tense story generally belong in the past tense unless you have some sort of layered time shenanigans going on). Dialifen has become one of the language's few living speakers, as he presumably still speaks the language even if he learned it in the past. Etc. This is a significant obstacle to enjoying your story. Dialifen's name changing to Diafen midway through is less so, but stop that anyway. The gist of the piece as I see it is that Dialifen/Diafen seeks to make himself immortal by putting his own stamp on the words of the ancients, turning Letus's wisdom into something petty and self-serving. He's so set on this goal that he's framed his former language teacher for treason and gotten him imprisoned, exiled, or otherwise put out of the way so that no one will be able to contradict his translations. In his hubris, he throws the original texts on the fire and leaves them to burn unattended; the fire gets out of control and wipes out his house and, presumably, his manuscripts. Except the quoted excerpts have to come from somewhere, so I guess he rewrote them from memory? Pride goeth before a fall is more or less the moral, but Dialifen/Diafen's ambiguous comeuppance isn't satisfying enough to repay the time I've spent reading about a pompous rear end in a top hat being a pompous rear end in a top hat.


Entenzahn, "Graffiti Bros: Graffic Adventures with Julius Caesar": The judging gave you less credit for your flash rule than I might have, but then we're both fans of the immortal "IdiotHellFucker69" so it won't surprise you that I'm fond of this too. It openly mocks its own stupidity, of which you are entirely aware. Much of the dumbness lies in the cliches employed, like two characters with nigh-identical names; historical figures talking like they're from the modern day; monkeycheese; a rousing speech; convenient competence with a tool/weapon; a Jesus-ex-machina solution (and how would Julius Caesar even know about that guy); skipping completely over the climax; "As you know, Bob" exposition; excess of banter; an anticlimactic ending; and even the pointless death in the first section. You've strung 'em into something that puts a lampshade on its awful head and dances around without a stitch of logic on. It's great if the self-mockery entertains, but you know full well what someone's left with if it doesn't: a pile of things writers are advised to avoid for a reason.


Week 253: The road to lovely fiction is paved with good intentions

Hawklad, "The Prompt": I'm far from sure that you want me to to sympathize with the jaded, semi-loathsome teacher who probably does get too handsy with his students, but I do, because his student is so thoroughly despicable that she--"I," ugh--puts me in his corner. Her little speech about how he's not above her falls flat. As the teacher in the classroom, he is, and since only one of them is attempting to blackmail her way out of consequences for crappy behavior with a false molestation allegation, there's a strong argument to be made that he's the better person too. What do you mean to suggest here? My unhappy hunch is that the student's assumption of power over the professor is supposed to be in some way satisfying because he is a dickhead. It isn't; that doesn't work. You could, maybe, be trying to turn the reader's sympathies in a direction she doesn't expect at the outset by showing a person who abuses his authority being subjected to an even more disgusting abuse, but the result is another unpleasant tale of assholes being assholes.


Fuubi, "Cut Off": Speaking of assholes, your Aelwyn is the kind of person who summons a d(a)emon and causes the deaths of his/her entire family in a petty puppetmaster plot to go play Dr. Frankenstein on his/her own. Worse, s/he spends the whole story reminding us in aside after aside that s/he's a damned sociopath. Enthralling this is not. It's all exposition, no action, little color, and no hint at all as to why the bland Gaeron and Aelwyn were ever friends. Nor why the wizard who killed a bunch of people with a d(a)emon was allowed to run free for a while afterward, come to that. Plots and conflicts weren't required this week, but potency was, and there isn't any here.


Week 254: dog week

sparksbloom, "Some Fables": The chihuahua yipping in the background is a weaksauce application of the prompt. I don't care for the second-person perspective, never my favorite narrative trick. This person's life and choices are incompatible with mine; every use of you rings a bullshit bell that could be avoided by using the first person, and to what gain? In any event, the tension between the past and future that hums into life when the current partner "wakes up," the moment when the story takes a turn for the interesting, collapses when everything is just a dream after all. That moment is so arresting because it subverts my belief that I'm being bored by a stranger's dream sequence. Whups! False hope. The polished, professional prose is to be (happily) expected from you, worth mentioning if unable to salvage such a nothingburger.


sebmojo, "Narcissus": Your entry is like a much stronger mirror of sparksbloom's, not to say it is strong since I find it a shade too vague and would like to slap the incredibly forced reference to dogs right out of it. Come on! The protagonist is persistently guarding a border. That's so much more subtle and effective. You didn't need to gild the lily; I guess you were hedging your bets. My take: the man started a fire four years-and-change ago in which his house burned down and his wife died. He's since lived on the edge of nightmares--literally, this time--and spends his conscious time destroying them. Unconsciously, he creates them. Little My probably isn't his wife, but she could be someone else in his household or his history. She confronts him at his post and pressures him to stop having the nightmares. To stop obsessing over the past. He can't, and his rifle has no power against the black cloud that rises to surround him and take Little My back again. I want to believe the cloud is smoke from the fire, representing all he can't forget, but that mention of buzzing and flies leaves me in doubt. What does it mean, then? Is it death? He could be staring into the pool of his dreams with such intensity that he's wasting away. Four years sounds like a long time for that, though. I'd like more clarity, but not too much. You'd lose the feeling of being in a dreamscape if you made things as clear as crystal.



Jay W. Friks, "Hanna-Barbera's Stool": I refuse to take anything titled after an animation studio and set over a world named after an STD seriously. You didn't want me to, right? Right?? You wrote in a Captain Dikok, and Sir Texmex, and a guy with fists made out of David Bowie, and yeah no you're completely taking the piss. It's a fun piece to perform but not as enjoyable to read in silence: there's too much monkeycheese on its menu, too little else. It lives in the same realm of entertainingly bad as Chad Derringer--though since this piece has a consistent tone and complete arc, it's the better if less amazing of the two.


Fuubi, "Skull-Crow vs. Tank-man": Much as I appreciate the pathos in The lightly clad woman on the neon sign would never do her jiggly dance again, this is a bit of a mess! The brothel and random naked lady remind me of "Perfect Art," more's the pity. The action is pulpy in its abundance, but it's hard to follow. The twist in which Skull-Crow is revealed to be a cop doesn't make S.C. much less tedious. What did Mellan do? I'm not sure! Why does he have a tank on his head? No idea! Though I should blame a cover artist for that. This much I'll give you: Mellan's tangent about anti-tank racism has the slightest touch of humor to it, mostly because he's misjudged the lady's valid reasons for reacting badly to him. That reminds me of your anime potato epic too--still not a plus--as George had a couple of amusing lines in his day. This feels like a step back in that direction, but you deserve all due credit for embracing your crazy covers.


ThirdEmperor, "A Rat In The Palace": A cowboy in an ancient Stetson buys some rope and skin from a mutant human boy. He meets the boy again a bit later and tells him robots exist. Apparently the cowboy is out to kill the man who controls the robots because... reasons, and he enlists the boy's help despite thinking of him as vermin. The cowboy breaks into Dr. Robotnik's castle through the vents. He passes through crowds of giant rats in disguise. He goes by the labs where Shinra Dr. Robotnik makes SOLDIERS more mutants. He discovers Robotnik is some sick old man on a lot of opium, but Robotnik still manages to murder the cowboy's hat before the cowboy leaves, his mysterious mission mysteriously accomplished. Maybe you detect a lack of clear motive in this summary? It's a pulpy piece, sure, a certain kind of pulp that revels in jargon and obscurity and prose as florid as though it were written by Jim Theis, but I can't call it good. If I look at it as more of a riff on the genre... eh, still no. It's a faithful pastiche but not much of a story. It's also so oddly reminiscent of YFDHippo's "The Devil's Grin" that I can only thank you for not throwing in any sausage-fingered sex scenes.

2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 38, 39, 42, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 78, 80, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 111, 114, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122, 124, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 153, 154, 155, 156, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 275, 277, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 20:38 on Jun 27, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Spirit of Place
(1,000 words)

One of the first things Annie had noticed when she'd moved into her aunt's West Virginia home was the house on top of the nearby hill, separated from her window by half a mile of wooded slope. Its lonely, ramshackle look had matched her feelings so well that she'd cried--for her dead parents and for herself, stranded far away all she'd known. She had come to love Aunt Rhea eventually, but the mountains and forests, never.

That house, though--

Annie turned her car onto the gravel road that climbed the hill in swoops and curves. Isaiah waited for her halfway up, smiling as she put on the emergency brake. "One of these days!" she called out the window. "I'll roll down your crazy drive and take five million trees with me."

"Oh, they'd stop you before you got far," he said, opening the passenger door and sliding in.

Isaiah had hair as dark as midnight shade, which was the first thing she'd noticed about him four years before. Since then Annie had become familiar with his oak-brown eyes and the gleam they had when she was happy. Such as now, when she warmed her lips on his and inhaled his woodsmoke scent. "Never get a real furnace," she said.

"No danger," he said, his fingers tangling with hers.

She drove slowly the rest of the way to his home. Either the house or Annie had changed since her initial viewing. The grey-clapboard structure appeared hale and strong. Wildflowers grew bright around the porch--more, it seemed, every time she visited. Isaiah led the way inside. They sat together at his dining table, spreading out their textbooks. His voice settled into the rhythm of tutoring her through sines and cosecants.

Annie had to break that rhythm before she lost her nerve. "Here, wait a second. I printed something out for you."

She passed papers to Isaiah. As he scanned them, his eyes darkened. "An application to Notre Dame."

"You'd have to submit it online, but that shows you what it looks like. I'm going to try. I thought maybe...." But he was already shaking his head, and the room felt five degrees colder. "Dammit, Isaiah!" Annie snapped. "You're too smart to rot here!"

"I belong here," Isaiah said, "like I've told you. This place is my soul, and vice versa. I'm its genius loci."

"That was a stupid joke even when we were kids. Now it's just--can't you just tell me I don't matter enough for you to even think about leaving with me? Don't dress it up in dumb fantasies."

Isaiah crumpled the application in his fist. "We both know you've never considered staying."

"I can't," Annie said. "I need something else, big skies, cities, I don't know, but something that doesn't remind me every day that my parents are dead!"

"Then maybe you should go."

She shoved her books into her bag and fled out a door that banged closed behind her. Her car roared down the hill. Somehow she didn't hit a tree; somehow she got home with her skin as well as her anger intact, and somehow she forced herself out of bed the next morning.

It was a school day, but Isaiah wasn't in their shared classes. Fine. She stumbled through trig without him and made it to the start of her work shift. Annie tended the counter in the town's one coffee shop and hated it: the in-and-out regulars were okay, but some of the people who lounged in the corners scared her.

One, an unfamiliar man, stared at her with dilated pupils through her last hour. She ran to her car as soon as she could. She hurried out of the parking lot, too, but a pair of headlights crept up behind her on the winding road home, where there was nowhere to lose him.

She knew better than to lead him to Aunt Rhea's, and that left one real option.

Annie switched her lights off and hit the gas, trusting her knowledge of the road's every twist and turn. The headlights dwindled out of view as she raced blind to Isaiah's house.

At the foot of his treacherous driveway, she flipped the lights on again--illuminating Isaiah standing beside the turn. Annie parked and lunged out of the car. "Help," she panted. "There's a man. Behind me--!"

Lights appeared around the nearest curve.

Isaiah grabbed her hand. "Come on!"

Up the hill they ran. The path shouldn't have been smooth, but it was. Tree branches bent away from them; every step found solid footing. Isaiah pulled Annie forward until he could wrap an arm around her, shielding her, and even side by side they moved easily through the woods.

The man after them had no such fortune, judging by the cracks and thuds and howled swears. The sounds got fainter as he lost ground, but they didn't stop. Annie shuddered at the memory of the man's drugged-out pupils.

From below: "Gonna gently caress you after I kill you, drat bitch!"

Isaiah stopped dead. His whole body stilled. The ground moved instead, roared and shook, drowning out Annie's startled shout and any cries below. Trees slid horribly down as a part of the hillside collapsed. And then there was no more sound but their uneven breathing.

"I'm not sorry," Isaiah finally said.

"Genius loci. Spirit of place." Annie buried her face in his shoulder. "Oh, God, you are, aren't you? You can't leave."

"I can't, Annie. And you can't stay. I know it. You can't be joyful here." Isaiah wrapped both arms around her and pressed his cheek to the crown of her head. His heart beat against her collarbone, and her tears dampened his shirt.

They held each other tightly on the damaged hill. Annie tried to believe that after college, after big skies and cities, she could come back to his mountains and forests, but she loved him too much to speak a promise she couldn't keep.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Thunderdome Recap! :siren:

Join Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and me out on the lanai for cheesecake and a review of Week 284: That's How the Light Gets In and Week 285: Tempus Fuckit. This was a rough pair of rounds for newbies, not to mention Twist's vocal cords. We offer the writers of the negative mentions what we hope is useful advice on worldbuilding, footnotes, and the proper spelling of through; Ironic Twist performs RandomPauI's "Letters of the Confessor of Schwerkraftfälle" in its epic entirety, and we all contribute to a reading of Crain's "The Porter." Then... well, then Sitting Here discovers the Golden Girls section of, and Twist has to live with the consequences.

I beg the lord’s forgiveness for my heinous transgressions and I plead that you intercede on my behalf.

Episodes past can be found here!

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
There's a middle way. If you're up for the challenge but unwilling to stake your account on a fight you didn't choose, accept the brawl but refuse to toxx. Probably someone will still step up to judge. The :toxx: requirement exists for good reason, but if it's stopping you from writing more stories, screw it.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Critiques for Week CCLXXVI: You Did What You Did to Me; Now It's History I See

Things will happen while they can! Or else they won't because you've forgotten to put anything but talking in your story. Quite a few entries this week had that problem, but conclusions were the general bugbear. A lot of the entries appeared to use up their steam early on so that they had nothing left for the finish. Others were paced better but didn't have much to say. Though the word limit was generous by Thunderdome standards, I suspect historical fiction is a tough genre at flash length, and we should count our blessings that the worst offerings were only tedious.

Antivehicular, "Marianismo"

Any prominent names should play a supporting role at most, the prompt said. Eva Perón has only a faint physical presence in this story, but her name, her role, and the suffering that so hurts Elena are its heart. I don't know much about Soledad away from Evita. I couldn't guess what else Elena might care about in her life. This is less the story of either woman than it is a brief study of Perón with a side dish of historical women had it rough, a truth that you don't show me, instead using Soledad's thoughts to tell me, and I don't find Soledad convincing as a character of her time rather than the mouthpiece of someone living in ours.

On the up side, the writing is polished and smooth. Soledad thinks, unbidden in the last section should be Soledad thought, and I'd avoid repeating the phrase this strange work, but there's little else mechanical about which to complain. Although I have issues with your approach to the prompt, I appreciate that while both Soledad and Elena admire Perón to some degree (Soledad's cynicism is outbalanced by that comparison to the Virgin Mary), they see her from different angles, resulting in something more complex than a gushing paean.

*************** ***** ********

Nethilia, "A Head Full of Numbers"

The father's exposition rant trips up the otherwise-excellent beginning, but this is still a nice story, turning the economic crisis born of Musa's pilgrimage into a tale of a girl finding a place beside her father--just the sort of thing for which the prompt asked. The number theme is overplayed: I get tired of the repeated mentions of bouncing digits, and the conceit wears very thin around the time of Whatever number she heard would group and ungroup in her head in different sets unless a number couldn’t be ungrouped any more, like thirty-seven and five and six-hundred-nineteen. However, the pacing and the conclusion are more significant weaknesses.

You spend so many, many words on numbers in the rich introduction (and throughout!) that you have few left for the climax. Insofar as there is a climax. No one opposes Amira's presence at the bank. She worries briefly that her father won't need her help after the inflation crisis passes, but he reassures her immediately, and everyone's happy without any challenges having been faced. It's a rushed and flat conclusion. The final line is particularly weak, failing to nail the heartwarming glow that the piece so wants to generate. I come away from the story with a favorable impression but a slight sense of disappointment too.

My initial notes ranked this high but said "Something with a better finish could beat it," and that's exactly what happened.

*************** ***** ********

Fumblemouse, "Two Birthdays"

Ooof, the dialect. I see what you're going for, but the slurring commas are a distraction. On the other hand, as the story rolls on, the rhythm gets more varied and the voice does its business of sketching a setting and point of view. I end up liking it fine and enjoying the story just in time for the end to come and knock all the wind out of its sails. There's a conflict, there's a mission; two distinctive characters pursue an unwise goal--and then one is dead just as the action begins.

Did you run out of words? There isn't much fat on these bones. The fault may lie in a story too big for the limit. Possibly you intend for the abrupt finish to evoke the shock of Da's death, but without more of an aftermath--not to mention some gesture to how Amy got from that field to telling this story--the early stretches feel too much like wasted time.

I pick up on the message that war isn't a game for the drunk or ignorant to play. It's fine and well conveyed. But I can't forgive the ending that leaves me asking the wrong questions.

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Thranguy, "Ω"

Flavia and even Michael are terribly calm about what's likely to befall them. Flavia especially: Michael knows the score, even if he sees it as a good excuse to practice his sleaze skills, but Flavia "has never given much thought" to the rape marathon ahead of her and blows off the concept when confronted with it directly. She sleeps the peaceful sleep of the idiot. There's a difference between knowing you can't stop what's coming for you and feeling no fear of it; Flavia comes off as blasé, and her weird righteous moment about what happens to Roman slaves is just... what?

Well, but let's think about what you may be trying to imply with her attitude. Maybe her husband abused her in a manner similar to what the invaders have planned. It's old hat to her, so she takes it in stride. Could that be it? I doubt it, because things "worked out" with her dead husband; abuse is no one's definition of things working out. Is she so numbed to the world that nothing matters to her? That wouldn't explain her refusal of Caius's second offer. I fear I don't see anything below the surface: Flavia doesn't care about her rape, her gardens' ruin, Michael's death, or anything else either because she's a bland sociopath, because she's a bland ostrich sticking her head in the sand, or because you wrote her poorly.

The story itself has a bit more life in it than does Flavia. Caius and Michael are more interesting figures (at least when the latter stops leering for a second)--Michael doesn't accept Caius's offers, but he has reasons that tell me something about him. He's too cynical to have even the most remote hope in escape; he's too faithful to commit suicide, however terrible the alternative. I'd rather be reading about this guy. He's taken the time to think about how things stand.

Alas, though the exchanges between these characters range from unobjectionable to rather okay really, conversation is all the story offers. No one acts--which brings me back to a familiar song. Like your entry for Ice Cream Week, this is a study of futility and the attitudes one may take to it. The passivity is probably intentional. But in terms of enjoyable reading, don't bother to care manages to be a worse answer to oncoming disaster than don't bother to try. It's easier to sympathize with the person who feels powerless to stop what she dreads than the person ignoring it all as long as she has cabbage.

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sparksbloom, "Rip Tide"

There's this thing called "the prompt" that I could wish you'd paid more attention to, and if your DM stings at all, you should wish that also. I'm not crazy about this piece however you slice it, but it took dishonors for barely touching your assigned event or, indeed, the historical fiction genre. The way you do incorporate Harold Holt doesn't make much sense in the world of the story: the disappearance of a male prime minister at sea is somehow related to the ocean mesmerizing women into returning to the water-womb? How? Unless Holt's "incident" isn't meant to be related. I don't know which would be worse. Nothing feels tied to a particular place or time; it could be set today on Virginia Beach, or ten years from now on the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite setting up Rachel as Molly's goal and/or conflict (her desire for the water vs. her love for her child), you don't bring Rachel on camera or resolve the question of her fate. She's a hollow McGuffin, a daughter-object for Molly to pursue. It's not much wonder I'm not touched by the agonies of Molly's... well, I was going to say choice, but she never chooses. A jellyfish comes along and saves her from having to make a decision. Wow, is that pathetic on Molly's part. She drags herself out of the ocean out of petulance at its betrayal and not love for her kid. Am I supposed to like this lady?

A parent's--no. A mother's emotions about her life with children are the subtext under the text. Why it's only mothers the ocean cares about, I don't know, and why it's only women you care about in this piece, I don't know, because a wish to leave adult responsibility behind and return to a world in which someone else takes care of you isn't limited to the female gender. It sticks out the more because if you had your ocean call to men and women alike, Harold Holt's disappearance would fit into the pattern. The conflicting longings you explore (sort of) are worth your effort, but you've made too many missteps, and the message is scrambled.

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Tyrannosaurus, "Of Saint Peter and Onesto"

Onesto's voice, if maybe a touch anachronistic, is amusing enough to raise a smile. His simple I am not a rich man as he pries his hook out of the corpse builds a lot of sympathy in a small space. The other stabs at humor fail; the good news is that they're light to begin with and so this barely matters, but the bad news is that the silly bits don't harmonize with the grim bits or the would-be uplifting(?) ending. Formosus talks like a Terry Pratchett character. He probably shouldn't. (I do like "One thing at a time, my son.")

As for that conclusion, it's not much less abrupt than Fumblemouse's or sparksbloom's. Onesto just decides he was wrong and goes home, and oops, he tells us that was the wrong choice and now he's sorry! Not very satisfying--even somewhat galling when I look at the words spent on the two "Which Pope?" exchanges. You didn't pace this one well. What drags it down to the watery middle, though, is that it doesn't know what kind of story it wants to be.

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Djeser, "Couldn't Be Further From Djahy"

Not too bad, but iron is better than bronze isn't such an interesting fact that it rates a whole story. The action sequences aren't good enough to carry the piece either, and it doesn't have much else to it. Nesbanebdjed's character is vague, though not completely so, and I don't see any change in him before the last word. He got a new sword. Hurrah! I'd care more about that if I cared about Nesbanebdjed, probably.

The Egyptian setting has more love and attention lavished on it than do the main character, the antagonist, or the plot (such as it is). I'd say your fascination with this place and time has worked to your detriment here--it's sort of like when an SF or fantasy writer gets so caught up in his wonderful world that he neglects his storytelling. The wealth of historical detail would be a plus if it were woven into a more interesting tale. On the up side, being generally inoffensive put your work firmly in the week's upper half.

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crabrock, "The Winter Palace"

If you'd asked me at judging time what made this the best entry, I would have pointed to Oskar's climactic action. It's a fantastic, character-driven, complex cap on the story. Fumblemouse's piece disappoints in that regard, and with only those two works in serious contention, the choice wasn't difficult. It's funny to find myself appreciating yours more now than then. Nikolsky is my favorite character for trying to walk the line that would save him from doom right up until his only choices, if indeed he has any, are to betray his beliefs or be true to them. Oskar shines though as the only man with any power to change what's been inevitable from the start. He acts on his conscience and covers it up. No one else will ever know. Thus he will survive, and he may do it with his soul intact.

I'm not sold on him as "a captain without a ship," though--thinking for himself doesn't make him a leader--and good lord, crabrock, could you try not to do dumb things like spelling a major character's name two ways? I promise the Revolution won't put you up against a wall and shoot you for that. Well. Probably not; I don't think you're sufficiently bourgeois. Crisp-white is also not a thing! The rule is that if you could separate the adjectives with and, you use a comma--so brick-red sweater but crisp, white hat.

Take your historical crown and wear it with pride, because you caught the conflicting emotions of your event in a bottle and wove them into a strong narrative. Everyone else should read your work to see how it's done.

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GenJoe, "Inferno"

Good pieces of characterization and decent ideas lie unassembled on a metaphorical table. You start strong with the brothers and their shared nostalgia. The byplay between them suggests long familiarity. I completely believe them as family members who are at odds, one an optimist, one a pessimist, both wanting to understand and be understood by one another. The first two sections are nice stuff for all that they're all talk--but I don't think you knew what to do after that, because the latter half is comparatively weak, weak, weak. Yours is the most abrupt, anticlimactic, and befuddling conclusion in a week full of those, and that sealed your fate.

If you chopped the last section off, you'd do the story a favor: though the visual of the brothers gazing out over the goldenrod is a touch cliché, it's the natural end point. The election is over; the brothers are who they've always been, their outlooks still different, but they stand together. I don't know whether I'd expand this part, but I would modify it. "Until one does, my friend" is a nonsense answer to the question "What do you think stops a wildfire from taking the whole country down?" Have the brother say "I'll worry about that when it happens" if that's what he means, and if it isn't, welp! Guess I'm even more confused than I thought.

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Uranium Phoenix, "The Pastry War"

Hmm. When Antonio feeds Henri's pastries to the dog, it's a foolish action. Free food is free food. But it's a believable sort of folly, born of pride and the desire to send a message. When Henri burns through his stock in a day, my eyebrows go up, because it's one thing to realize he should do as the Romans do and barter but quite another to use up a limited food supply. What, are the people going to thank him for that? Why would it gain him respect? I'm side-eyeing the logic here, and the story hinges on it.

Poor, uncomprehending Henri is more than a little slow if he's lived in the village long enough to fall in love with it but has never realized no one has any money. I can only wonder how he's gotten by when he can't possibly have gotten much coin and has no idea how to function without it. The conflict, while original and sympathetic, is far-fetched, is what I'm getting at here--the problem holds together no better than does its solution. I'd like to see this story work, so I hope you revise it to give Henri the sense of a marginally competent businessman.

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Fuubi, "Of Honor"

It's dull, it's raddled by cliches, and you can't keep the name of the sword straight, but this is a serviceable if not particularly interesting bit of samurai fiction, and that's such a leap forward for you that I want to throw you a parade. Look at it! Not one mangled desu in sight! There's a katana, but its existence is justified! I can follow your fight sequence, understand the entire story--its major sin other than going over the word count is that it's indistinguishable from too many other samurai tales. To be forgettable is no great thing, but I count it an improvement on being memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Things I like: that you hint with some delicacy that the smiling man is up to something ("The man lifted his own cup for the first time"). That Arashi sees through his actions. That Dengen is smart enough to have a contingency plan, though I'm not sure he should take much credit for Arashi's choice of the southern road; it sounds like the more sensible option anyway if ronin are known to be around.

Things I dislike: That Arashi's answer to the ronin looking for him is to take a slightly longer but still-obvious route to Tokyo. That you repeat the word samurai so often. The focus on honor. The shifting point of view in the final section. The poor proofing evident in "throuhgh." However, your sentence-level mechanics are much improved on the whole.

Congrats on walking comfortably in the middle of the road (except, you know, for the whole "over the word count" thing). You have a decent skeleton here, a sound structure and characters who are inoffensive at worst, so now it may be time to work on bringing some of your creativity back to the table without losing clarity or logic.

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Natty Ninefingers, "The Departure"

The formatting is very bad for on-screen reading, of course. Did you copy it straight from a file that allowed indentations? The Preview Post button is invaluable in Thunderdome, where C&P is a harsh mistress. Proofreading your work is priceless everywhere. Maybe you did, but the advent of "GIlberto" gives me doubts.

Nitpicks aside, your sentences are serviceable, some of them nice: leaking from her cap like treacle is unusual and evocative. The verb choice in Her mouth flopped a few times before she spoke suggests a helpless thrashing of Adelina's mind. Good work. Fair sentences and fair images are most of what the piece has going for it, unfortunately. There's no plot of which to speak, no resolution to the conflict between Joseo and Gilberto, no interesting character besides Joseo, and not enough of him; I wonder if the emperor's departure as seen through the eyes of a proud butler might have made for a better story. Gilberto lacks agency and only reacts, never acts. He's a bland figure on which to hang a vignette.

You could still have done far worse for a debut, and I hope you keep writing.

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TheGreekOwl, "-- 23 F --"

There are two levels on which to address your work. The first is technical, unavoidable, and beyond my power to mend: your English has improved only slightly since your last entry in 2015. Your work in this language remains incredibly awkward and difficult to parse. Punctuation and syntax errors are everywhere. About a floor above of which the spanish parliament was having its meeting is one example--that clause is honestly unpleasant to pick apart. I think you mean Camilo is on the floor below the meeting, but the way you've tried to say it instead is technically incorrect and borders on nonsense. Then there's this: “Remember Galaxia” the commander Antonio said near him, addressing them, “Counter-attack if you need to. Just don’ smell any saboteurs” he continued. Ouch. You're missing a comma after Galaxia, you have a comma after them when you want a period, I have no damned idea what Just don' smell any saboteurs means (though I'm fairly sure you're missing a letter in don't), there's no punctuation mark to close the dialogue, and the final dialogue tag is unnecessary. Pointing to and explaining all the mistakes in this piece would take forever. It would probably be of limited use to you, too, because evidence suggests you need a teacher more than a proofreader.

You're apt to keep racking up losses and DMs until your English is several steps above where it is now. Thunderdome can give you helpful feedback on the plotting, characterization, etc. in your pieces, but it won't fix your language issues. You have to either work hard on that yourself or give up on being publishable in this language, because right now? No. You've gotten better in two years, but not much. Not enough.

Okay, so I've said my piece about the sentences in this entry. What about the story they're trying to tell? Your flash rule gave you a a failed, bloodless coup ending in capitulation to work with, a rough draw as they go. I see an attempt to add conflict and change to the event in Camilo's relationship to and interactions with Andre. These two old friends now stand on opposite sides of a political showdown. Camilo has to consider the forces that have moved them apart before he can take the final step that severs their connection. It's an approach that's heavy on exposition and (dull) introspection, light on anything actually happening, but I blame your event for that last part as much as you. The final paragraph is both needless and bizarre--what's with the Caps Lock? The outcome of the coup is irrelevant to the story of Andre and Camilo; maybe you thought you had to include it, but the second-to-last paragraph would be a much better ending. Overall, I'm bored, but your characters' actions mostly make sense. There's a climactic moment. It's a step above "One Last Breath" in all ways--weak praise, but that's still better than the alternative.

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apophenium, "Heroic Verse"

Mậu blames himself when Đức is imprisoned (and it isn't clear until later that he's been captured, not killed) for buying contraband, but I don't know why. He could have gone back to Saigon, he thinks. Didn't soldiers send him away? Why would imprisonment for both brothers have been the better option? He did nothing to bring about Đức's fate; he couldn't have stopped it; the focus of his distress makes too little sense to serve as the story's emotional low point. You haven't told me much about Đức, but I know he has his own bone to pick with the Communists and has made himself persona non grata without any help from Mậu. He may have wanted those books for reasons of his own. If anything, Mậu appears self-centered in his assumption that the theft had anything to do with him. This is probably intentional to some extent since navel gazing and passivity go hand in hand--Mậu has to be forced to look at the world outside himself before he's ready to act. But it makes Mậu a harder character to like when he assumes everything Đức does is about him.

Now, maybe Mậu is right and Đức really did have him in mind when he tried to get those books. That idea could stand more textual support. I can read between the lines and imagine that Đức cares about his head-in-the-clouds poet brother based on his showing up at Mậu's house to suggest they both attend that rally. However, that's the only hint at affection, and it's not enough to get me on board the Mậu-as-motive train without a leap of faith on my part. You haven't quite earned the trust. Đức's characterization and the characterization of the brothers' relationship is just too thin. Invest more time and words on that, fewer on the Worm, who never comes into his own and is too obviously in the story only to prod Mậu into motion.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 17:23 on Dec 30, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Critiques for Week CCLXXXI: Have a Flashy, Splashy Christmas

Here we are at last, and I've still tied a bow on my Yuletide season before some of my neighbors! I wonder if they leave those lights strung up all year or what. I don't know how so many of you managed to write something worthwhile on Christmas Day, but I thank you. Most of the entries were a pleasure to read even months after the holiday spirit had faded.

Of course, it's not like my goodwill toward mermen ever dies. Shall we dive right in?

Yoruichi, "The Merman's Sparkles"

Here you are with a beautiful, inspirational story of a merman who becomes the Rhinestone Cowboy, and you have to spoil the pudding by ripping off Disney left, right, and sideways. Oh, sure, I laugh at the grumbling sea witch. I laugh at the merman sacrificing his sparkle, too. What is a voice to that?? The three-day time limit with a sunset deadline is a derivation too many, and at that point the tale, appropriately enough, loses its luster. Charm returns when that glittering belt buckle rides in, but it's a little too late. You've lost too much momentum to nail the bubbly humor I figure you're going for. The story's frothy, mildly fun, and mostly forgettable. Of course, it's not too likely you were aiming much higher than that considering we're talking about "The Little Mermaid, except with ponies" here.

Shock of shocks: I like your work anyway, and I was delighted with it as the tone-setter for the week for all that I didn't expect it to place. Thanks for having silly fun with this very silly concept.

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Morning Bell, "Weapons and Vices"

I'm amused by the subtle Christmas touches of December and Angels. The Angels are otherwise the story's Achilles heel, though. (And not just because of phrases like the angels watches, but stop that anyway.) The tension between Enrico, Cooper, Privoryev, and the erstwhile Captain December is as delicious and lingering as a peppercorn steak, and you dole out the details of "the incident" with a skillful hand. I'm never bored enough to get impatient with what you aren't telling me. But then the story winds to its close with the Angels still unexplained and unexplored, and noisy winged humanoids isn't enough to satisfy; the source of horror in a horror story can't remain in the shadows forever. You leave them obscure. The Angels are using December, but I don't know why. The Tarot has a role to play, but I don't know what. Privoryev turns around for reasons unclear, possibly springing from his wish to self-destruct but maybe not since the pills should accomplish that anyway--I love the imagery of the ending, the pills in the blood, but I don't care at all for the final line or how I come away from the story feeling that you dropped the ball. Do you know what's up with the Angels any more than I do? Eldritch horrors need motivations too.

The tangled ties between the human characters are dealt with very well, in contrast. One senses from the start that these people are doomed to destruction. It comes as no surprise when they die at each other's hands. That feels inevitable once it happens, whether it always was or no.

I don't object to the unknown, outside peril as a catalyst for the disasters that might have happened anyway given enough time in isolation; I just want the Angel to be more than a random screaming being with mystical trappings that don't hold together. (The Tarot thing is likely a weakness. Do weapons and vices open the door for an Angel? It's probably something like that. But... really, no, why does a deck of cards in a certain spread somehow call to an alien creature? Error. Error. This does not compute.) You're close to having a publishable story if you aren't already there, so consider the Angels and whether there's any further depth or resonance you could give them.

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Uranium Phoenix, "Remembrance"

Entenzahn once showed us the impact of polluted waters on the life of a merman in his winning story "An Empty Shell." The critical difference between his treatment of the idea and yours is that in his piece the environment mattered. In yours, Atlantis's environmental crisis is an excuse for conflict between Marinus and Neptius. The question of whether to abandon the city is resolved not through the actions of any character but by a shipwreck ex machina. Somehow all the debate on the topic feels a tad like wasted time, you know? Surely the adventurous-turned-conservative Neptius and cautious-turned-pragmatic Marinus could have been made to reconcile in some other way. What if some Atlantean structure fell on them not because of a random ship but due to erosion by the acidic sea? Maybe the building's architecture could be responsible for the pocket that saved them from instant death, so that Marinus would be right--the city can't continue--and Neptius would be right too: Atlantis may still be the best protection mermen have, as long as it lasts. One way or another, you would have done better to make the pollution relevant to the story's climax.

It's a pity that falling ship murders your entry in its sleep, because the role reversal of Neptius and Marinus is rather neat. Each of them took a different lesson away from their childhood tragedy, and it shaped who they are now. I get why Neptius is determined to cling to the familiar no matter how doomed that path may seem. Marinus's change of heart isn't as relevant to the issue at hand, but I wonder if one of the reasons they struggle so much against each other is that each hates the other's viewpoint more for having held it and then rejected it.

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Thranguy, "The Skull Beneath"

Beautiful world-building concepts are the strength of this piece. I love the deathworkers who turn fatality roulette into something more precise. You could make whole novels out of them and their personal ideas of justice, and along with those you give us elemental deaths with strange forms, who can talk and bargain and want. The talking whale is almost a throwaway detail, but I like him. It helps the setting for not everything rich and strange to be tied to Laura's profession. The skulls that aren't made of bone are another excellent touch.

The sudden sexuality of the piece comes too late, though. You do a great job of hooking me into the question of whether Laura will successfully bargain with the water death. The stakes feel real, especially when Laura dives into the water herself. And while I find the trade of sex for innocent lives to be a dark demand, magic isn't always clean or fair. That she and Death are sometimes lovers is a fine detail. The final two paragraphs dwell on the sexual relationship as though it's the heart of the story, however, when it hasn't been a factor for much of the text.

This is what I think: the story is about Laura's relationship with death in a broader sense. How she deals with it. The things her job makes her do... or doesn't make her do, but which she does anyway. What killing means to her. Whether she enjoys it. All of these things are touched on, and it's good. But the stakes may be too high or the conflict too interesting in the facade that is Laura's quest to protect people in Half Moon Bay, because I don't cotton on to the fact that it is a facade covering the real tale in time for your chosen conclusion to make sense. The first time I read the story, I wondered why I would care about the deathwife appellation and why you would end the piece on that note. I may understand now what you were aiming to do; it still doesn't quite work.

The two points--wait, three. The octopus sex is off. Maybe just misplaced; I wonder if I'd like it better if you put it before the flashback instead so that it's not so close to being the final beat. Anyway, the two major points where I would suggest a change are the first and closing paragraphs. The first is a mess of commas that doesn't actually tell me much about Laura (nice foreshadowing with her marital status, though). This would be an excellent place to guide the reader's expectations. You may be trying to do that as it stands, but no dice. The last paragraph might be fine if the rest of the piece were tweaked to make the real story shine through--and maybe a stronger introduction would be change enough--but I'd personally like a little more between the flashback and the end.

Seriously, whatever else, you could get a book out of these ideas. A good one. Don't confine them to just this one work.

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Antivehicular, "How to Die in the Arms of a Merman"

The good, very good: So many things that could blow up in your story's face don't because you've handled them with skill. The whole friggin' premise doesn't make the least sense in this world of ours. Your matter-of-fact handling of it, throwing this fish-apotheosis business out there as a thing that just is and that no one in your fictional universe would question, pulls it off. Dying giant fish sometimes absorb human souls and turn into mermen? Okay! The step-by-step-instruction-guide portion of our program would possibly be tedious if what it were describing weren't so weird that I appreciate some straightforward pointers. And that works both ways, since while the weirdness livens up the dry format, the format guides the reader through concepts sufficiently divorced from real-world logic that some infodumping is welcome.

The diary sections are a little weaker. The sections after Miguel is resurrected as a mantarayman--oh, the phrases Thunderdome allows me to type--read rather more like fiction than like journal entries. Going the diary route lets you jump around in time and keep the reader posted on exactly how much time has passed, so it's still a good choice, if imperfectly convincing. Paul's voice comes through in these longer passages. There's some complexity to his characterization and his dilemma. He loves Miguel, but perhaps not as much as he believes. He wants to die, or thinks he does, but what he wants more is to stop loving up every thing he tries. He's a selfish man made so by his losses and self-blame. More sinner than saint, maybe, when you boil him down, but he loves his son, and opening up to his family may do wonders for him.

The whole apotheosis idea is creative as heck and just plain neat.

The bad, not so very bad: You didn't quite know what to do with Miguel, did you? Not all of Paul's callousness was necessarily intended. He doesn't pay much thought to whether it will hurt Miguel to die again, doesn't show pain when he thinks of his boyfriend's departure, doesn't show interest in Miguel's second life in that tank (surely more people come to see him than Paul!), but is that because he's kind of an rear end who isn't great at thinking about other people or because you saw Miguel as a prop to move the story along? It would surprise me if you thought much about what would happen to Miguel once he'd brightened Paul's life as the story demanded. Miguel's a nice guy. He rates some consideration!

Though it didn't wreck the tale for me, Miguel's disappearance into the cabinet where NPCs go when they're done being useful weakens the piece, especially the ending. All three judges agreed that the conclusion is a low point. If you decide to revise, start there.

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The Saddest Rhino, "Tank!"

So much magic does the Christmas season hold that interrupting your bomb-rear end, superfine story of merbros being all brolicious and, like, drat, yo in order to insert yourself like it's a seven-book fantasy epic and you're Stephen King almost seems like a reasonable thing to do. Almost! The first italicized section is funny in that "IdiotHellFucker69" way, and the last section makes everything kind of cute because one realizes then that this is swole merbro fishtank fanfic. Honestly, though? I love all the boom-tushes just as they are. I'd kinda-sorta rather just read about Chad and his hella nice dude pack learning a lesson about treating hotties like people. This may be a lapse in good taste on my part.

The whole thing's a joy in the same vein that Yoruichi tapped, not a contender for the win but drat sweet nonetheless.

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sparksbloom, "Plans"

Selfie merman is self-absorbed is more a premise than a story, but you'd have done better to leave things there than to make Seth a baffling douche. Not only does he crave the disappointment of others, not only does he lie, not only does he hound Kelsey about sailing, not only have you forgotten what quotation marks are (okay, I shouldn't blame that on Seth--and yes, it's obviously a style choice, but that doesn't make it good), not only is he kind of a stalker, but there's no reason for any of this. You know what else I'm having trouble understanding? This dude's popularity, although in these troubled times of social rewards for the dumbest crap imaginable I suppose I should let that go.

Nothing he does makes sense. It could be you've tried to capture the weird, tacky spirit of chiseled merman Christmas ornaments holding onto smart phones, albeit unsuccessfully. A few lines could maybe be trying for humor? Maybe?? I would also believe it if you told me there's some sort of commentary on celebrity buried in here. Unfortunately, what a piece has to say doesn't matter a ton when it's confusing, boring, and vaguely repellent. Your sentences are so smooth and precise that I never have the least doubt you can write, but I'm starting to think you're prone to bad choices in storytelling. Prove me wrong at the next opportunity, hey?

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flerp, "It Won't Hurt Him At All"

What I saw when I first read this was a vignette about a girl and her demanding, frightening, but loyal dog, which she loved despite his faults. He meant more to her than a boyfriend or finals. She returned loyalty for loyalty, and she was there with him when he died despite the pain it brought her.

What another judge saw was a vignette about a girl's relationship with her father, personified in the dog. A dad might make messes, embarrass his child, drive off her boyfriends, and be a pain in her teenage butt, but it's out of love, and the daughter of a dad like that is likely to love him back. I like this interpretation. It adds depth to something I thought was nice enough but insubstantial, enough depth that I understand why that judge liked your piece best of the bunch.

I'm not convinced that reading of the piece is to your credit rather than his, however. It may be his lens and not your effort that adds the extra layer. If I were to gamble I'd cautiously wager on my first impression being correct: it's a melancholy story about a dog that makes a halfhearted grab for the heartstrings, no more, no less.

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GenJoe, "For Guys and Girl"

Comparing this entry to your submission in Week 276 is interesting, not to mention easy since I'm critiquing them in tandem. In both pieces you have people talking to each other. Aside from a lap dance, not much happens--and as I type that I think of your "Casino," a story I like but that is likewise devoid of plot or action; that could be a Thing with you. The last section of "Inferno" is a head-scratcher, but everything else in it is easy to follow, whereas this never coheres into much of anything. Its ending is far less rushed, though. There's probably some sort of thematic resonance. Stress probably. I sense more depth in this entry, but that may be an illusion born of obfuscation.

Alex is a stripper. His club is changing, filling up with smoke-machine smoke and fuchsia lights that he sees when he sleeps, thanks to a new manager who prioritizes profit. Alex's friend Jason is into the art of performance, but stripping is a mundane job for Alex himself. There's no passion evident when he makes small talk with a regular while giving him a lap dance. Not on either part, interestingly: what the client gets out of the experience is more complex than sex, or so one hopes when the phrase like he was caressing a son is invoked. The best thing, perhaps, about working at Totito's is Lisa, a different sort of regular--a heavy drinker who isn't there to ogle anyone. She is Alex's lifeline to an existence outside the club. When they talk, he isn't alone. They connect in a way he and his customers, he and his coworkers do not. But she hasn't been by the club lately, and all Alex can see is fuchsia.

Now, there's something there, a sort of neon melancholy that's too tired for desperation. Somehow Alex feels doomed, his hope of escape from a weird level of urban Purgatory lost. Why, I cannot fathom. Surely he could leave? Surely he could find another friend? His social chemistry with Lisa isn't that convincing, and while I'm on the subject, that section in which she goes on a minor tear about men vs. women in relationships doesn't do much for the story as a whole. It burns words and paints Lisa as someone who lectures her friends about her personal beefs. Other than the mystifying "Tostitos" exchange it's the only chance she gets to shine, and she doesn't.

About that: is the implication meant to be that Totito's is a front for drugs? That this is the source of Lisa's objections and the reason for her absence? Is that why Alex's dreams of fuchsia are so ominous, and is it what keeps him chained to that stripper pole? If so, talk about too little, too late; if not, I haven't an inkling what you're going for with that conversation. Full marks though for the portrayal of strippers as people doing a job, complete with mundane workplace drama.

I'd have to call "Inferno" the better piece of the two. It does more to earn its ending, rushed and confusing or not, than does this, and with "Inferno" I don't find myself wondering how much you're crossing your fingers that I'll force some meaning into your hazy, atmospheric-but-not-much-else scenelets. Even so, we wouldn't have gone the mercy route if this weren't compelling despite itself.

************ ************************* *****************

BeefSupreme, "Out of the Raines"

One can't doubt your bravery in bringing back two characters who weren't successful the first time and sending them on another would-be high-octane adventure in which one of them doesn't accomplish anything, stapling on the Chad Derringer name to boot. Your wisdom, on the other hand, I'll question until the sweet chariot comes forth to carry me home. You might have figured Merman Christmas is the best time for goofball shenanigans, and you weren't wrong there! Possibly you thought we'd laugh at Chad Derringer fanfic--and we probably would have, even if I'm obliged to tell you to get the original writer's permission for such things. This isn't Chad Derringer fanfic, though, since the guy wearing his name doesn't resemble everyone's favorite Coolkid of the Damned. It's strange to be disappointed that you didn't rip Jay W. Friks off, but here we are. However, if you had, Chad definitely would have outshone both Lucas and Iselle. Especially Iselle.

Going by the two Raines stories to date, you want me to see Iselle Raines as this amazing bad-rear end whirlwind of destruction and charisma. Nope. She did nothing on camera in her first outing. I think you're out to fix that in this one, rendering Lucas useless so Iselle can swoop in to save the day, but that doesn't make her less insufferable. Rather, I wonder at the point of the story. "To showcase the awesomeness of Iselle" is both the most obvious answer and the least appealing. My hunch is that you love this character too much to see her as smug, obnoxious, or boring, whereas to me she's all of those things.

Lucas, though? You've gone and neutered him, but I remember the dude who shot his way into the crazy 80s drug orgy--there was something to be said for his energy! It's actually hard to believe this Lucas is the same guy. I guess/think/hope this is set a few years before his fight with a man who headbutts his cocaine. As prequels go, it's pretty feeble. It damages the original--which DMed for good reason.

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.

************ ************************* *****************

Bad Seafood, "Cookery"

You may get salty about this, Seafood, but any way you slice it, your homage to Cooking Mama is half baked. You've barely finished reciting the menu when you bustle away from my table with the food still in your hands, and I can only speculate on what the meal would have tasted like if I'd gotten a chance to eat it. Maybe you shouldn't have spent so long on the appetizer that you had no time to finish the entree. Food for thought?

The notion of a wizard-chef who wants to succeed on her own merits and comes to resent her magic is good. You take it down the most predictable route as a little bit of encouragement bucks up her spirits--probably; more on that in a tick--so she can keep chasing the dream, but for once, predictability is an asset. I'm sure I know the whole shape of Patricia's story despite the hasty strokes in which you've sketched it. My imagination and/or familiarity with tropes fills in the blanks, and I'm less unsatisfied than I by rights ought to be.

You've still left Patricia's reaction too nebulous, possibly because you know darn well that her father's words of wisdom aren't a panacea. She's going to get magic in the food she makes for her family, and there's no knowing what that will do to how they perceive it, no matter how well-intentioned her father may be. This problem runs too deep for a brief chat with Dad to solve. I enjoy the characters and their interactions more than anything else, so I'm loath to tell you to cut most of them; I think Patricia's dilemma just needs more space than the word limit allowed. Murray's thoroughly expendable, though.

Next Merman Christmas, I hope you make your protagonist a wizard-chef-lumberjack or something and just keep daisy-chaining those mermen until you reach the true heart of sparkle.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 07:41 on Mar 18, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Critiques for Weeks XXXI, XXXVIII, CXLII, CCLVI, and CCLVII: Wizards of Speed and Time

More vintage crits. Both the Wizard Weeks get their due in this post, and I pray to the blood god that I never need to write words about child-shaped sex tulpas again.

Week 31: Russian Nesting Dolls

systran, "Last Night at the Club": Good on you for persevering through illness. Now let's consider whether one should repeat the word pants eight times in five short paragraphs. Allow me then to suggest that while leaving the larger story vague, hinting at a looming apocalypse (maybe?) without spelling out the details, is an intriguing approach, the lack of clarity in the smaller story is too frustrating to work. After reading the ending twice and going back to review everything else, I understand what's happened--and I like it. There's a cool story about doom and grief under the beige prose and pants banter. You didn't have the skill yet or were too sick to do it justice. It could be worth going back to Mike's story now that you have the chops to tell it right.


Week 38: Mandatory Thunderbrawls

monkeyboydc, "The Beach Bum and the Sea": Oh, jeeze. So Saul has seen a mermaid, though that's not why he's drinking himself to death--for all I can tell he's just an alcoholic for no special reason, which is fine. The interpretation of poison is an interesting one. Saul regularly passes out on the beach, dead drunk and surrounded by strangers. Once he went on beach trips with his friends, but he doesn't have any of those anymore. On one particular evening the mermaid pulls him out of the ocean before he can drown in the tide, and he and she start to meet up on the regular for chitchat (if this sounds like bland and colorless interaction, that's because it is), until his liver-destroying ways catch up with him and he begs the mermaid to take him down to see her city before he dies. I think he dies, at least. You aren't too clear about that. Many things here are muddled by your roundabout method of delivering exposition. I can see a possible purpose in avoiding the straightforward route wherever possible: you could be trying to mimic Saul's increasingly unstable grip on space and time as he drinks himself into his grave. It's clumsily executed, though. There's something worth revising here even after all this time, but if you decide to attempt it, you should build on Saul and probably Ariel as characters. Explore why the one doesn't try to escape the death he sees coming and why the other bothers with this doomed human at all.


Black Griffon, "Birdseed": This will take some parsing. First section: Menacha, a star sailor, has commanded her science-fantasy fleet to the planet Uhara in hopes of discovering otherwise-lost holy fire there. Second section: a portion of the fleet is destroyed by the locals. The native people do not seem amiable to Menacha's invasion. Third section: Menacha & Co. wipe out an innocent village. Its people are offered as a sort of human sacrifice; Menacha sees her holy fire as they die. She must spot it over the heart of the world since that's where she and hers go next (why they wouldn't look there first, I do not know), and only Menacha retains her sanity during the trip. Until! She telepathically restores all her crew members and defeats the entire planetary defense force with a wave of her hand, making one wonder a tad why she needed to get all these men broken and killed in her service. She claims the fire in the form of a bird and takes it away. The planet dies, and the god-figure she serves flies off to feast on her homeland, which sounds like a bad thing but was apparently her goal. All of this leaves me searching for the point of the story. It's a pulpish adventure without much deeper meaning as far as I can tell, which would be fine if the prose weren't so purple and/or Menacha were a fun person about whom to read. She's ridiculously overpowered. Nobody but her needed to come on this trip, because nobody but her is even the slightest bit effective, whereas she can overcome any and all conflict with a thought. No surprise, then, that her tale is anticlimactic and dull even if I don't stop to wonder why I should care more for Lyria's Reach than for the hapless Uhara. Some reason to give a drat about Menacha's quest or to root for Uhara's destruction would go a long way here: even pulp--maybe especially pulp--needs stakes.



I wrote a few other crits for this one back in the day; they're here.

AgentCooper, "Tulpas for the One Percent": Ah, the fascinating story of a man who draws children into life so they can have their minds sculpted by rich perverts who want brainwashed sex slaves. He'd make one for himself, but who has time for all that indoctrinating? Time is money. Ugh. Your irredeemable protagonist doing irredeemable things with a bare hint of remorse makes for a story that's gross and dull at once. The Internet jokes don't help--yes, yes, I see what you did there with "wizard." Mechanical competence and the protagonist's fondness for Hamyuts-of-the-awful-name are the saving graces; she doesn't sound attractive in looks or personality, but he wants her around. She's a woman he can talk to. Of course, his interest in drawing her negates what charm exists in that.


CancerCakes, "Corruption and Power": Right, yes, disproportionate retribution and rear end in a top hat behavior and all that, but wizards are famously terrible at right and wrong. There's a danger in submitting a long joke, natch. Even though I smile at it, it's never outright funny; it also goes too far down Tragic Consequence Lane when Roger drops his son. The first paragraph is a whole lot clearer in hindsight than at first blush. It still doesn't involve the sex trafficking of children, so it could be worse! I wouldn't have voted for this to lose, as I prefer it to all the low-end stories except maybe Chairchucker's.


Dr. Kloctopussy, "The Bone Loom": I remember wondering at the hype around this one when I first started to read it. The opening paragraph is mediocre, and the capitalization of Little Charms still strikes me as twee. The story gains its considerable strength when it takes its turn for the dark. The midsection has the most power, though it could be tighter: only Tissai's first charm of dead and living flesh has the power to cure, which I don't understand, and I've wondered whether condensing things a bit so her first experiment with the dead twins would fail and force her to craft the bone loom would be an improvement. I expect the conclusion works for many readers, but it falters for me because Tissai seems poised to take revenge on the children she helped to save. I don't care for this. The parents are at fault, and Tissai should know it. Maybe it's a clarity issue? These things explain why I like this story but don't love it as many do, but I can't overstate the excellence of the looms as a concept or of the terrible prices Tissai pays both in her own suffering and in actions she knows are unclean.


skwidmonster, "When He Sleeps": The first section sets a tone of tragedy, painting the wizard--I assume--as a traumatized or repentant man. Then you shift gears into the child voice, onomatopoeia and all. He sounds so excited that I didn't pick up at first that his mother is afraid he's been molested. Maybe. Maybe not? I want to believe, but you've got multiple mentions of a sticky residue on a child's thighs here, and Laura's clearly worried about something, and ughhhh. With or without the implications of abuse, the second half doesn't match the first. The anticlimactic end with its out-of-nowhere emphasis on truth and lies is the cherry on the slug-slime sundae.


Week 256: Myths of the Near Stone Age

Noah, "Where Are You Now": The dog lives in the dusk of civilization and dreams of a better time, but not of the dawn. You stretched the prompt further than I like. It's interesting, though, how the end of the bond between Dog and Men can be taken as the sign that civilization has finally fallen. Man's best friend has betrayed him and will likely die in turn. There's nothing good left but the dreaming. It's a bleak piece, and the dog sitting by and whining for the corpse of the man he killed makes it more so: in such an end, we too could only wail for what we ourselves destroyed.


Chili, "Come My Way": First off, the spelling is rasberry crazy ants if Wikipedia is telling it true. Second, this is less a story than a script for a documentary voiceover. I would stake a penny or two that you're experimenting with alien perspective here, an ambitious exercise that does you credit, but you should take it back to the drawing board: the actions of the ants aren't easy to follow. Bent has no personality whatsoever--part of the point, surely, but it doesn't bring much to the reading experience. Nor would I call this a dream, though I almost understand how you could spin "dreams" into a glimpse of something outside human ken. It's good that you tried something unusual. With luck, the results will be better next time.


Benny Profane, "The Secret World": The ominous beauty of Aran's night wakings and the firefly web comes to nothing. I thought, as maybe you meant me to, that the spider would try to catch Aran, but I can't see even a metaphorical entrapment in their interaction. I can imagine one. The fireflies might represent false light such as incandescent bulbs, seducing Aran's people into a sinister future of hunching over computers in the yuppy places of this world (tm Wrageowrapper). One, though, why would the spider do this; and two, how does showing Aran her death and the things that happen afterward influence events? Does anything change or happen here? Let's say that it does and the vision itself is enough to poison Aran's race or raise it up. The spider's motivation remains unknown. You paint a lovely, static picture and then take it nowhere.


Sitting Here, "The Origin Voracious": For me--but presumably not for the judges--only faith in you as a writer, built through familiarity with your previous work, makes this palatable. On the surface it's a bitter rant shaking its fists at humanity and millennials!! Pure humans-suck nihilism. People exist who would write this sort of thing in dead earnest, but because it's you, I assume there must be some extra dimension and I consider the idea that the narrator is unreliable. That would make this somewhat more interesting, albeit only somewhat since bitter ranting isn't a great read no matter what lies behind it. The granddaughter comes off as self-absorbed regardless and is at best an incidental figure, so there's no one with whom to sympathize or about whom to care. It's not your finest hour despite the lovely individual sentences and mythic cast.


sebmojo, "Bird Dreams": That first sentence is brilliant because it tells you right away what level of authenticity you're in for, i.e. none, so to quibble about cavemen named Nathan and Amanda just seems churlish. I'll go ahead and quibble with the comma splices, though. I know you're fond of them, and you often use them passing well, but I hate the one in the fifth paragraph. How about you take that comma and put it into the clause everyone was up there even Grandma Jones? Oh, well. It's a charming piece about love, grief, friendship, Heaven, and dreams, all in just over six hundred words, and a heartwarming example of what you can do with your characteristic light tone when you try.


Week 257: No failures week.

Sokoban, "The Apprentice": There's no magical child porn, so right off the bat you have an advantage over your wizard predecessor. Peer's tale isn't skeevy and is comparatively lighthearted. It's standard fantasy fare: a young boy runs off from his village and finds his destiny. You've put a tiny dab of humor in with the wizard who brings drawings to life but completely sucks as as an artist. The result is lackluster, though. Imago and Peer don't have much characterization beyond "sucks at art" and "doesn't suck at art" respectively. The situation is exactly what I called it, standard, and you don't spin the old formula into anything interesting. Your prose is rough on the technical level. It's a shame you've wandered away from TD, because you could use the help and have the potential to make time spent on your writing worthwhile.


Phobia, "The Alter on the Mount": A typo in the title. In the title. Dammit, Phobia. "There is an sharp drop a few paces from where The Master stood." DAMMIT, PHOBIA. Will you ever learn to proofread? Like, at all? That's not what's done you in, though, not when your story is 50% exposition and 40% obfuscation in service of a twist I don't care about because I care about neither character. You've done better; I say that to you a lot, but it's true. Come back and submit stories you've taken time to edit!


Dr. Kloctopussy, "Luck Be A Lady": Your cool premise fizzles out, smothered early by introspection and exposition. I want to like Sam but have to sit through redundant maundering on his magic before things start to move. The third and fourth paragraphs restate ideas you've already established. My interest level goes up as Sam and Las Vegas dance on the monorail, and I wish Vegas were more of a character, that this were her story and Sam's without the black-haired girl stepping in--the girl probably stands for something, but I don't know what and am not much intrigued by the question. Another question: what did Sam draw? What did it mean? The vagueness on this one irritates me a little. In short, you have a potentially compelling main character, a potentially compelling antagonist/love interest/lady-of-many-parts in the city, a potentially wonderful magic, but the girl is a dull distraction who spoils it all. I could imagine elements from this being turned into something greater than "The Bone Loom," but in its current state it's inferior.

2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 38, 39, 42, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 78, 80, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 111, 114, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122, 124, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 153, 154, 155, 156, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 275, 277, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 20:54 on Feb 17, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
You know what's less than optimal? Posting a prompt at the bottom of a page, that's what. The post that was here is now somewhere else.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 01:29 on Feb 18, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Greetings, bloodthirsty savages! We're going to try this again! And at the top of a page this time!

Kiwi and Coffee Megabrawl: Investing in Cryptidcurrency

So the kiwis have decided the people of Seattle need to be taken down a peg--or a needle, or whatever they have in their strange land of no sheep at all, how does that even work. Will our Emerald City residents take that lying down? Somehow I think not, so here's a prompt for the most random geographical battle since the Texas-Israeli War.

Chili posted:

For some odd reason I've been thinking about cryptids recently. I don't know why. I don't believe in bigfoot or any of that poo poo. Anyhow, it's on my mind and maybe indulging in it for a bit will help me move on to the next thing.

Why not! Cryptids it is. If you live in New Zealand or Seattle and would fight for your homeland, announce your intentions and your :toxx: by Sunday, February 18, 11:59pm US Eastern. Your judges will be Chili, Ironic Twist, and myself, and we'll release further details once we know who's on the field.

If you find :toxx:ing just too toxic, you can accept the alternative penalty of what I'm assured will be a very shameful avatar.

Defenders of the Shire:
Morning Bell

Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Starbucks Mori:
Sitting Here
Jay W. Friks
Dr. Kloctopussy
Uranium Phoenix

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 01:02 on Feb 19, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Kiwi and Coffee Megabrawl Results: Investing in Cryptidcurrency :siren:

THE PROMPT: Face off against an opponent from the other side of the world by writing about a cryptid of your mutual choosing. The judges assigned a theme word to each match.

THE WINNING REGION: New Zealand! Congratulations, Kiwis: your skills backed up your saucy mouths this day. Numbers were in your favor as each judge gave more wins to your team, ruling 4-3, 5-2, and 5-2 for NZ respectively; what clinched the result was that more of our overall favorites were on the antipodean side. The two stories with the highest overall scores actually came from Seattle, but so did the three lowest, and the margin of difference was larger on the low end.

Who won each pair-up may be of interest, so here are the final scores:

Morning Bell vs. CantDecideOnAName (Loch Ness Monster, Spirit): Morning Bell, by a vote of 3-0.

steeltoedsneakers vs. Jay W. Friks (Man-Eating Tree, Air): steeltoedsneakers, by a vote of 3-0.

Sitting Here vs. sebmojo (Akkorokamui, Fire): sebmojo, by a vote of 3-0.

curlingiron vs. Fumblemouse (Flatwoods Monster, Sparkle): curlingiron, by a vote of 3-0.

SurreptitiousMuffin vs. Uranium Phoenix (Manananggal, Water): SurreptitiousMuffin, by a vote of 2-1. This was the strongest match and the most hotly contested. Excellent job, both of you!

Yoruichi vs. Dr. Kloctopussy (Tikbalang, Earth): Dr. Kloctopussy, by a vote of 2-1. The other powerhouse entries were to be found here. Dr. K's win was decisive, but each of you brought honor to your team.

Nethilia vs. newtestleper (Wolpertinger, Chaos): newtestleper, by a vote of 3-0.

More in-depth critique will be delivered as we find will or time. Thank you all for the effort you put into your stories and your teams; it showed.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 23:20 on Mar 2, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Thunderdome Recaps! :siren:

If bad words were a crime, then we'd all be criminals. (Thanks, Bulgaria!) Bad Seafood rejoins Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and myself for the illicit thrills of Week 286: Picturesque Picaresque, and you're invited to ride shotgun! Attend a nontraditional traditional wedding! Marvel at password overrides taped to consoles! Be reminded of your last blind date! And wonder at the tyranny of maybe-Spanish Colonel Sanders as we act our way through RandomPauI's "Don Mendoza and his Sly Compatriots Strike their first Corpulent Target - 756."

Which sounds like a not fun experience overall but the pirate warlord is nice about it and even takes the bag off to look me in the eye to tell me I'm going to get a neural implant and become somebodies sex slave.

It's time then to leave rapscallions behind and turn our thoughts to love. Once, when all the world and Thunderdome were young, Echo Cian asked the thread for romance. Instead it gave her the Geriatric Dome of Sadness. The recap regulars turn back time to Week 28: Show me the love! to see where it all went wrong, and only after saying farewell to the past are we ready to open our hearts to Week 287: Bad Romance. Discover with us that while death may come and text messages may go, a dramatic ride in Horrible Butts' "RV" is forever.

I am a duck, my wife is a bear and you are our hostage. Forgive us but this is the only way.

Episodes past can be found here!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 02:05 on Mar 6, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Greed Is Good
(1,618 words)

"Right, Mark, in words of one syllable: sell all the shares. All of them. Now!" Tricia dropped the phone receiver into its cradle, then closed her eyes and waited for her stock trader to complete the deal. She knew the moment he succeeded. Fresh power crackled through her body, starting in her heart--some Wall Street wizards said they felt it in their heads first, but her bond with money had always been one of love--and spreading until threads of light made Jacob's ladders of her fingers. Safely alone, she threw up her hands and flung sparks to the ceiling with a joyous whoop.

The phone rang. "You're the best," she told Mark with feeling, then hung up: he had plenty else to do, and so did she.

First things first.

Tricia punched in a long-familiar number. As soon as the line clicked open, she said, "Ollie, my love, I've just offloaded all the university's Wal-Mart stock. Ten thousand dollars for the medical school and a hell of a surge for me. When can we meet up to work?"

"I've got a problem, Trish." Ollie broke into coughing before she could ask why his voice was so rough. Her nails scratched scars into her desk pad calendar in her alarm. "Some son of a bitch is draining the Isenberg trust. Almost all the liquid stuff is gone into thin air."

"drat," Tricia whispered.

Ollie Anderson was a friend from college days, a man as gifted at portfolio management and financial magic as she. But all the power he gained by making money for his clients went straight into keeping himself alive. He had the virus, courtesy of a blood transfusion three years before. Normally his smart trading gave him the juice to stay stable while he and Tricia tried to create a cure, but if someone had undercut his most valuable portfolio....

Ollie coughed again, and Tricia's veins iced over. "I'll be right there." She hung up before he could say anything else and hit the door of her office at such a clip that it slammed back against the wall. "Cancel my appointments," she called to her secretary.

Tricia's pumps clacked down the tiled floor. Like her blood-red suit and closer-to-God curls, she wore them to tell the world she was powerful, capable, and competent, and yet she didn't feel any of those things during her white-knuckled drive to Ollie's bank.

She marched into his office and stood in front of his desk, forcing a thin smile. "Power lunch," she said. God, those hollows under his eyes! "Let's get out of here."

"Wait a second." Ollie rolled his chair toward a filing cabinet and pulled out a folder. His hands shook. Tricia moved to take it from him, but he slapped her fingers away, glaring. "Don't make me feel weak. It won't help."

"Don't wear yourself down before we get the money back, or I'll kill what's left of you."

"Yeah, yeah. With what? Penny-stock parlor tricks?" His mocking grin quickly faltered, and she grabbed his shoulder--gently--and gave him a share of her Wal-Mart power. Ollie's breathing eased even as he said, "You shouldn't do that."

"Of course I should. Now come on."

They took Tricia's Corvette to Ollie's condo, riding the elevator up. He pulled away the rug that covered the spell circle he'd cut into the floor, the middle of which was filled by engravings of an unfinished pyramid and the Eye of Providence. Previous rituals had scorched the wood; the air over it smelled like copper.

Ollie opened his file and rifled through it until he found a voided check. "One of my payments for managing the trust," he said. "Trish--" He sucked in air. It moved through his throat and nose without a rattle, but his expression stayed grim. "I think you're going to have to do the heavy lifting."

She just shook her head and drew her talismans from her breast pocket: a Krugerrand, for gold; a Silver Eagle; and a worn and folded bill, the first dollar she'd earned. Arranging them around Ollie's check in the center of the circle, she held out her hands and shut her eyes. "Follow the money," she whispered with voice and mind.

The lightning crackled between her fingers again. With her inner eye, she saw it--saw it extend from the tips of her nails to the cash on the floor, then to the check and through it, seeking its source and fellow tributaries. It zipped through New York, invisible except inside her head. There, it darted to Wall Street, to Morgan Stanley, to Goldman Sachs and smaller buildings. But it was in Chase Manhattan that it lingered, and she fed the spell more power until it gave her the name on the account there.

"John Ewing," Tricia said.

"Ewing? I figured it had to be someone I work with, but Ewing's never shown a hint of power."

"Maybe he's only an ordinary man, Ollie."

"Ordinary and stealing from my trust? Mine?"

Tricia touched his shoulder, bony under his suit jacket. "You've had a lot to distract you."

He raked both hands through his hair. She'd never seen him defeated before, not even by his diagnosis. Now he stared into empty space, back bent, shoulders fallen, so that she could barely recognize the man to whom she'd been so attracted before money and magic had eclipsed lesser loves.

"You remember the trick you showed me once?" Tricia asked him. "Spinning the coin?"

He blinked and refocused. "You don't think... God, I wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry if that worked."

"Either's better than the alternatives."

"You're right. Yeah. I've got the bastard's address in my Rolodex--give me a minute."

This time Tricia drove them to an apartment building in Westchester, and not an especially nice one. John Ewing would, she suspected, have plans to move up soon. For now his name was still listed beside an intercom button. She buzzed; no one answered.

Ollie produced his own Krugerrand and pressed it against the door. The lock clicked open. "The great opener of ways," he said as he shooed her in ahead of him.

Ewing's apartment squatted in the basement. Tricia used the same spell to crack its lock, and sure enough, moving boxes lined the walls inside--though there didn't seem to be that much in the place to pack aside from basic furniture and a far-from-basic IBM PC. The man himself sat at the machine, whipping around to face her as she walked in. "What the hell?" he demanded. Then he saw Ollie and sprang out of his chair.

Ollie flashed the Krugerrand. "Sit back down, Ewing."

"I'm calling the cops!"

"No. You're going to look at the gold. Gorgeous, isn't it? Money's got to be the most beautiful thing in the world to you." Ollie spoke in a low monotone. He balanced the Krugerrand on his finger and set it spinning with a flick from his other hand, and the coin glittered with light reflected from the computer screen.

Ewing sank back into his seat, his eyes never leaving the Krugerrand.

"So beautiful. So mesmerizing. You'll do anything to have it and you'll always heed its whispers. Listen, Ewing. Hear it speak?"

"Mmm." Ewing was already dazzled. No wizard, he, Tricia thought: just a snake, clever but too weak to master his greed.

"You took the Isenberg money," Tricia said at the same soothing level, and Ewing nodded. "Put it back again."


She put the weight of her power into her voice and struck him with it. "Put it back!"

In a trance, Ewing turned to his computer. His fingers tapped keys, called up screens that flew past before Tricia could read them in full. But she saw the name of Ollie's bank again and again. Whatever Ewing did was beyond her comprehension--something that would have to change--but Ollie's sharp intake of breath and sudden laugh told her the result.

Tricia cocked an eyebrow at Ollie; Ollie nodded, smiling wide. Before Ewing could shake off his enchantment, she placed her palm on top of his PC and sent all the energy she had left from the Wal-Mart sale through its circuitry. A spray of sparks flew out of the vents.

Ewing still sat there, waiting for more orders. Ollie delivered them. "Forget every password you know, forget we were ever here, then sleep."

Tricia had to support him on their way back to the car. Erasing memories was a terrible drain, but a smile still livened up Ollie's face--he was a man without fear for just a few minutes, and she hugged him hard before she got in the Corvette.

Maybe they would have shared more than a hug, if more had still been possible. Maybe Ollie thought so too and that was why his smile was gone by the time he'd buckled his seat belt. "I'll have to postpone our next trials until I get another surge," Tricia said, shifting the car out of park. "At least you shouldn't need magic to fire Ewing."

"Nothing could be easier than that." Ollie sat in silence while buildings rolled by. Finally he said, "All we do is buy time, Trish. And probably not much more of it."

We'll cure you, Ollie-- But Tricia pressed her lips together to keep in the words. Some things might be beyond money to fix. Beyond magic. So instead she reached for his hand and said, "Buy low and sell high. That's what we do."

His fingers curled around hers, and for once the warmth in her heart had nothing to do with money.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Unfunny Poster posted:

Yeah I misread the stats page. Still pretty abyssmal performance so far.

It's not great, but do you see the HM that Jay W. Friks just earned? His start was pretty damned rough--and he largely earned his stats, as you've largely earned yours based on the three entries I've read so far. Now he's gotten HMs in two consecutive weeks. How long it might be before you do the same, I don't know, but each of your stories I read was a bit better than the last. Persistence is the key to improvement. Stick with writing and let us all see the day when you shine.

Thank you, judges! A prompt will have to wait until I'm home from work, more's the pity. Keep yourselves busy until then with posterior amphibians or whatever.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Thunderdome Week CCXCIII: These Sainted Days of Spring

Judges: Kaishai, Chili, and BeefSupreme.

This week many of us will celebrate St. Patrick's Day, whether by wearing green or by drinking enough beer to drown a country's worth of snakes. The Apostle of Ireland is well worth remembering, but we shouldn't forget his companions in Heaven: the patron saints who intercede with God on behalf of the world's English writers, funeral directors, and ice skaters. Your prompt is thus to pick a saint from this list and then write a springtime story in which all the characters are among his or her special charges. All of them!

One sinner (that's you guys) per saint: choices are exclusive. You may ask to be assigned a saint at the price of two hundred words off your maximum. And no, you can't take St. Jude and fulfill the prompt just by submitting a standard Thunderdome entry.

You probably noticed the word springtime up there. These tales should take place in the season of rebirth and renewal. More than that, spring must be significant. Whether that means sending your co-ed protagonists on a sunny vacation or having them file American taxes I leave to you; maybe the season matters because it means something important to your characters, but that's for you to decide.

No erotica, fanfiction, nonfiction, poetry, political satire, political screeds, GoogleDocs, or quote tags.

Sign-up deadline: Friday, March 16, 11:59pm USA Eastern
Submission deadline: Sunday, March 18, 11:59pm USA Eastern
Maximum word count: 1,200

flerp (Saint Gottschalk): "Words Only Go So Far"
Unfunny Poster (Saint Arnold of Soissons)
Flesnolk (Saint Eustachius)
Antivehicular (Saint Mary Magdalene) "Trust and Grace"
ThirdEmperor (Saint Barbara) "New Home"
newtestleper (Saint Eligius)
Thranguy (Saint Veronica) "Double Exposure"
Fumblemouse (Saint Agatha) "The Bellmaker's Wife"
QuoProQuid (Saint Anthony of Padua) "Paradise Lost"
Fuschia tude (Saint Rose of Lima) "Garnish"
CascadeBeta (Saint Homobonus)
starr (Saint Dominic)
Tyrannosaurus (Saint Edward the Confessor) "I am the King of Crete"
crabrock (Saint Valentine)

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 04:17 on Mar 19, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

flerp posted:

in :toxx: give me a saint

I charge you with honoring Gottschalk, patron saint of linguists, princes, and translators.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Unfunny Poster posted:

In with Arnold of Soissons as my savior.

Just to clarify, it's cool to have the saint descend from heaven and drop knowledge on our protagonists right?

That would be legitimate, but even saintly infodumps may not be wise. Tread carefully.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Flesnolk posted:

In, give me a saint.

You are to honor Eustachius, patron of hunters, trappers, and firefighters.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Thranguy posted:

Sumer Spring is icumen in ,
lhude sing: give me a saint

Do honor to Veronica, who watches over laundry workers and photographers.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Fumblemouse posted:

Can I have one ordained for me?

Look thou to Agatha, patron saint of bakers, bellmaking, and nurses.

Fuschia tude posted:

In, I would like a saint please and thank

Your task is to venerate Rose of Lima, patron of embroiderers and gardeners.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

CascadeBeta posted:

In, rolling the dice. :toxx:

In your hour of need, pray to Homobonus, the patron of businessmen, tailors, and clothworkers.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

starr posted:

In with :toxx: and leaving my saint to your choosing.

Your name suggests you should honor Dominic, the patron of astronomers, astronomy, and scientists.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Kiwi and Coffee Megabrawl Critiques

Most of the participants in the regional grudge match did well enough by themselves and their teammates. The stories that fell face-first into a pile of cryptid dung still showed signs of polish and care. Technical proficiency isn't everything, though, and few stories on either side were problem-free. Congratulations again to New Zealand for delivering the highest highs (in my book--the other judges had other views) while avoiding the lowest lows! The next time you lay siege to foreign shores, you'll find me in my bomb shelter.

Morning Bell vs. CantDecideOnAName (Loch Ness Monster, Spirit)

CantDecideOnAName, "Where do monsters go when we stop believing in them?": A couple of stories in the brawl live or die by the appeal of the character voices. In this case there's only one speaker, so it slaughters the story--"story," more accurately--that the voice is charmless. The narrator keeps telling his audience, i.e. us, to shut up, keep listening, and stop interrupting, and every time he does this I know you know he's a bore. So why not adjust his tone until the listener you imagine in your head no longer objects? There's nothing other than the voice on offer here, neither story nor situation and precious little Loch Ness Monster. It's uninteresting exposition all the way down.

Morning Bell, "Monsters Made of Straw": This doesn't go much of anywhere either. I'm drawn to the relationship between the father and son, conflicted from beginning to end. That nothing significant changes would be all right if much of significance happened, period. There's a bit, I suppose: since the Polish word means ready (I don't recommend relying on the reader's willingness to use Google Translate for a point this critical), the father's spirit is perhaps trying to tell his son through the psychic and this book that he's finally ready for "the truth." The son rejects it anyway. Fair enough, but the mantra The unready drown in the truth is too clunky; the dad sounds too out of touch with real life; turning away from his obsession is such a reasonable thing to do that the moment doesn't have much weight. I can feel sorry for the son from two directions if I try (sorry for him that his father was a nutbar, sorry for him that he'll never understand what his father knew), but doing so is like filling in blanks. I can't say you hit your target this time around. On the other hand, at least you aimed at something.

My verdict: Morning Bell


steeltoedsneakers vs. Jay W. Friks (Man-Eating Tree, Air)

steeltoedsneakers, "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground": Predictable, and that's its besetting sin. I can't tell why your lady goes along with the tree so easily. Or rather, I can: because you need her to, but I couldn't fight it is a cop-out. As soon as Hope appears there's no question in my mind as to what will befall her. The lack of struggle against the tree leaves the story flimsy. It's a clean and tidy piece, though, complete in itself for all that it doesn't break any fresh ground.

Jay W. Friks, "Scrapper’s Gambit": I could summarize this as "A woman finds a tree-thing in a sci-fi setting, takes samples, and leaves." That would be reductive, but not by much. You deliver a hefty supply of exposition and not a lot else, and the world you build with it isn't fascinating enough to carry the whole story. Although there's a climax and a conflict of sorts, it's a blink-and-you-miss-it moment lost in the sea of setting details. I do appreciate the work you put into the proofreading, formatting, and clarity, as this is easy to read in all senses of the phrase.

My verdict: steeltoedsneakers


Nethilia vs. newtestleper (Wolpertinger, Chaos)

Nethilia, "Discordia": Chaos doesn't have to mean monkeycheese, you know. Yours is the second story to lean too heavily on character voices that couldn't carry a feather. The antics of these kids don't entertain, although I'll give you that there are antics and things do happen. Dumb things! But things. The whole piece is nevertheless kind of twee and fails as botched humor inevitably will.

newtestleper, "Dead Letters": Five sixths of this (approximately) are the best writing I've seen from you, and in those sections Yola could be my favorite character of the brawl. The writing is skillful and deliciously satiric. That ending, though! It's garbage! Did you seriously cut a guy's foot off with water somehow? Either way, would it kill Yola to do anything to resolve the conflict? How do you think she's going to get away with making off with a human toe? Dammit, NTL. Go back and fix the problems someday. Maybe you could sell the resulting story, assuming it dunked slightly less egregiously on Seattle.

My verdict: newtestleper


Sitting Here vs. sebmojo (Akkorokamui, Fire)

Sitting Here, "Aka-Sama Stirs After Centuries of Inscrutable Silence": A well-executed story with excellent visuals. The space kraken is vivid and unexpected; the Japanese touches, appropriate and not overwhelming. Everything is bound into a neat and tidy package in which a dramatic thing happens and a danger is resolved. It took me some time to figure out why it's an unsatisfying read despite its good points, but the issue is basic: agency. Aguri and Daitano neither cause the conflict nor help to end it. They don't participate in the tale. Maybe that wouldn't matter if Aka's motivation for acting were clear, making this less of a random sequence of events, but it explicitly isn't. The ending shrugs off the question. Monsters gonna monster, eh?

sebmojo, "Suckers": I don't so much like this as appreciate select moments of it and certain of its qualities. Merilee and Juan occupy a space between literal and metaphorical squid. That intriguing concept doesn't quite work, but it gets an appreciative Eastwood nod when I consider them as the embodiments of your cryptid--the octopus is a red herring. A city is burning down around these two, and their reaction to this is alien, inhuman. Their transformation is thus natural instead of bizarre. Your final three paragraphs cap the story so well I could almost forget how much of the rest is a confusing, muddled tangle, except for the part where no I can't because it's a mess. But your work says something to me about monsters and people, mess or no.

My verdict: sebmojo


Yoruichi vs. Dr. Kloctopussy (Tikbalang, Earth)

Yoruichi, "rear end in a top hat": James is an rear end in a top hat, but he's a sympathetic one. He has more chemistry with Inna than Steph from the get-go. I'd bet he fell in with Steph almost by default, that she followed him around and he--burdened with self-contempt thanks to his wereshape--settled for the easy thing. Now he wants something more. Can I blame him? Not for the wanting, even if the acting strays into rear end territory. The interesting thing is that Steph has depths he hasn't realized, so he may get that more without needing to change partners. It's rather sweet. I like his realization of how much he doesn't know about her and how much he wants to know. The straightforward treatment of the shapeshifters and their world also appeals. After Muffin's, this is my favorite piece of the whole shebang.

Dr. Kloctopussy, "Home Means Never Having to Say “I Told You So”": One of those entries whose execution I have to admire (the writing is lovely) but the content of which doesn't altogether do it for me. The uncle-monster is great. Individual lines and phrases are wonderful. Do I care about the protagonist's situation with William, though? Not really. Does relationship drama centered on a magic sword feel somehow familiar? Yes, it does, and there's more charisma between the estranged lovers in that story. This one is kept afloat by the repartee between Maria and Tiba.

My verdict: Yoruichi


SurreptitiousMuffin vs. Uranium Phoenix (Manananggal, Water)

SurreptitiousMuffin, "We fight monsters": I love, love, love Patti the Manananggal. She's exactly the creature that Wikipedia describes, without nonsense or metaphors. Your main character flies around with her guts hanging out and that's just how it is. At the same time, she's a person. She and Rose are people and monsters combined in battered packages. There's an ambiguity towards the end that I enjoy: is it feeling pain or inflicting it that these women may never be able to give up? Or is it both? The title also becomes excellent once the story's over and I've realized that Rose and Patti are fighting themselves. If this brawl had a single champion, it would probably be you, but you'll have to make do with sharing the trophy with your Kiwi mates.

Uranium Phoenix, "New Blood": Incredibly dark and impressive on that score. You go straight for the gut and land a hit. I don't get "water" from it at all, though. I wonder too where the other genetic donor is in this process, what the system is for setting up this harvesting; these feel like issues you didn't consider. One explanation for the lack of paternity may be hinted at so delicately that I'm fifty-fifty on whether you mean to suggest it: Torres and the great uncles could be the fathers of these endless aborted children, in which case I can guess only female embryos would ever be allowed to reach maturity. The single clue to this I see is the lack of young men anywhere. It's an idea in line with the other horrors of your dystopia, but doubt creeps in because I don't know why you wouldn't have made it explicit. The story's darkness is its strongest feature! Still, you've written something worthy of its very strong competition.

My verdict: SurreptitiousMuffin


curlingiron vs. Fumblemouse (Flatwoods Monster, Sparkle)

curlingiron, "A Lost Page": Oh, hey, it's E. T. but sparkly! I enjoy this, but it doesn't soar to creative heights. It has the strengths and weaknesses of a decently made vanilla pudding. The images are nice, the girl is sweet, and the alien is gently pitiable. Their tale gives off a mild warm-and-fuzzy feeling. And if I ever think back on it after closing the door on this megabrawl, I'll remember that it was pleasant but probably not much else.

Fumblemouse, "Second Childhood": The sparkling appears forced. Way forced. What the cube is, what it does, why the aliens dropped it, how it could "want" to be found, the logistics of the meshing, etc. etc. are as vague when the story ends as when it starts. The thing could be some sort of fortune-warping device if I take Stanley's memories at face value, though my impression on my first couple of readings was that Stanley has never left this town and everything he "remembers" is a cube vision. The lack of explanation for anything significant baffles me considering the weight of exposition you ask the story to bear--couldn't the infodumps have dumped more important info?

My verdict: curlingiron

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 14:20 on Mar 16, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Approximately one hour remains to choose a saint and your destiny. :siren:

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Sign-ups for Week CCXCIII are now CLOSED. Good luck, entrants. For your success, or at least for something that isn't abject failure, we pray.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Slightly under ONE HOUR remains to say your prayers! :siren:

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Unfunny Poster posted:

I may be able to do a late entry post deadline of thats OK. Would be submitted no later than 12ish hours from now.

A late entry would be disqualified from winning (though not from losing), but submitting late has much more honor than not submitting at all. I'll crit any entry posted before judgment, DQ or no.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Submissions for Week CCXCIII: These Sainted Days of Spring are now CLOSED! :siren:

Eight people honored their saints with offerings of words, and to them I give thanks. Six--Unfunny Poster, Flesnolk, newtestleper, CascadeBeta, starr, and crabrock--stiffed their patrons and may want to beware of vengeful bees, firefighters, or numismatists for the next little while. CascadeBeta and starr in particular have an immediate concern: if Heaven doesn't strike them down, the :toxx: may. Only submitting something within two hours can guarantee their safety.

Chili, BeefSupreme, and I will gather in the judge chamber no sooner than Monday evening. Look for results that night if all goes well.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Results for Week CCXCIII: These Sainted Days of Spring

Someday, we may look back on this week and feel we were blessed. Maybe. Possibly. No entry was without merit, and none made more than one soul weep in despair. Alas that if the faults were of little weight, so too were the virtues; in the words of the honorable Chili, every single one of these stories was like a spring picnic so overcast that even the ants stayed in the dirt. I can only assume some of your saints heard your prayers for help and threw up their hands, asking, "You want me to make them like that ending? Do I look like God?"

THE WINNER was a contentious question, but the crown ultimately goes to Fumblemouse for his story of a man who puts his heart's voice into a bell. While this piece has very real flaws, it was one of the few to inspire strong partisanship from any judge. Congratulations! Good luck next week!

An HONORABLE MENTION is awarded to flerp for a tale that may have tread familiar thematic ground but did so in a way that touched a cold, black judge heart.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS are hereby bestowed upon Thranguy, the pacing of whose entry--particularly the turbo-rushed ending--was ruinous; and Tyrannosaurus, whose interesting/godawful (depending on whom you ask) narrative experiment couldn't disguise what was, in our estimation, a rather weak story.

THE LOSER: Sorry, Fuschia tude--none of us hated Sam or her conflicted life, but none of us understood how scaling back her wedding was supposed to solve all the problems you'd introduced. Fudging the prompt with a major character who wasn't one of St. Rose's charges was just the cherry on the sundae.

Critiques will take some time, so stay tuned. In the meanwhile, Fumblemouse, the prompt bell tolls for thee!


Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

sebmojo posted:

Everyone who submitted this week, and everyone who failed, should post their story in this thread for critique/improvement and then submit it to the James White Award. Deadline for submissions is 27 April 2018.

A reminder that though you may fail (I know Djeser took your failcrown but this is one you should let go, seriously), memory does not:

sebmojo posted:

and since i failed as well, here's a :toxx: to crit every story in each week that I fail in

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