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Mar 22, 2013

why not i'd love to hate you all

i'm third judge


Mar 22, 2013

In, You Want It Darker.

Mar 22, 2013

Week 283 crits: You Should Have Killed Your Grandfather, We'd All Be Better Off That Way

I went into this week not liking time travel stories, and left still not liking time travel stories. Even the good poo poo this week had paragraphs of exposition explaining how their specific time travel mechanic worked, and if I wanted that, I could go read TV Tropes. But I knew it'd be like that going in, so enough general whining. Let's get to specific whining.

sandnavyguy - Reset Button
The good news is someone else jumped on the grenade this week. The bad news is that a lot of this is a glorpy mess. The slightly less bad news is that it's a glorpy mess in a very newbie sort of way, the way a lot of people are when they wander in with a gleam in their eye and their pockets full of questionable words. Cut the first third or so of the story, start with your weird leprechaun guy, because he's the thing that makes this interesting. The ending feels like an ironic twist slapped on for some kind of irony at the end, and as we all know, Ironic Twist is the worst. Also, you tend to stick sentences together. Split them up, give them space to breathe. It's a good thing to check There were other weird bits that stuck out to me. "Which the fraud had embezzled" is weird, because the context of embezzlement makes me think fraud, the crime, and not fraud, a person who's a liar. And he seems to be embezzling...reports? I don't think that's something you can embezzle.

Anyway welcome to the dome, you didn't lose first-time, so that's an accomplishment, or else the judges felt sorry for you like some kinda big dumb babies. Either way, congrats.

Yoruichi - Time, Fast and Slow
The style and the plot here go together like chocolate syrup and chicken ramen. You've chosen a modern, realist, personal style for most of it, but the characters act like they're in a fable. So when the witch curses the guy to be late for everything because he was late for her, it seems more like she's a dick than some mythical irony. I also cannot remember any feature about your protagonist other than he got mopey about being late, so that's probably a problem. You were going for a cool idea, and I actually didn't hate the way you used the time travel prompt, but it felt at points that you had a cool idea and then tried to beat it into shape with a crowbar.

derp - Slice of Life
This was basically the only good "technical" use of time travel this week, because it's presented not as exposition, but as the protagonist's efforts to cope with his situation. Some of the other judges went "nuhh but why is the girl different", and please see my previous point about the judges being big dumb babies. You managed to make this fun to read through the voice, which was frank and immediate in a week of explaining. I think that "sad dude gets saved by a quasi-magical lady" is probably a TD trope by this point, though.

Thranguy - Year Zero
From time to time, I got the feeling that your protagonist was less a teenager and more a fourth grader. Mostly in the beginning, which means you were probably trying to figure out how to fit the tone before you slid into it more comfortably by the end. This one's also got a explaining, but I appreciated that it's mostly a personal story about this girl affected by time travel. And you managed to make the explainy bits a little less boring with the idea that the future has to repeatedly colonize the past, and they're starting to lose direction. It felt longer than it needed to be, but I'm the idiot for deciding to judge a week without looking at the word count, I guess.

Jay W. Friks - Hunt the Lines
This was a mess. It's set in some kind of fantasy world, but it's never clear what the fantasy world is like, exactly. It's got royals and rebels but also gatling guns, so I guess it's...Edwardian? Maybe? The way that it jumps back and forth wasn't clear at first, and it wasn't helped by the issues with proofing. Random words were capitalized so I thought, like, maybe the Wolf is the Shade but no, the Shade's a different thing. Also, your whole story's "point", as much as there is one, hinges on some rules lawyering that zips by so fast I missed it on my first read. (That is, the Shade takes your identity, but he argues his identity has changed over the cycles, so that now he's a different person and so the Shade has to wait until his NEW identity fades etc)

flerp - Last Records etc
This was simple, but I liked it mainly on the merits of its inevitability. You gave a lot of character to something that's explicitly constrained by its programming, and while the other judges were babies about "nuhhhh but it's barely got any time travel" I really appreciated the fact that it's not something that's obviously going to work, and it ends without knowing whether it does.

Antivehicular - Against Oblivion
I swear to god, something about this story is teflon to my brain. Twice during judging I forgot what this was about, and now writing these crits, I also forgot which one this is. It's the fairy one. Okay, yeah. This was really, really explainy to me, and I was expecting, I don't know, more to happen? Elf finds girl, elf makes decoy girl, girl joins elf. The other judges liked this more than I did. I don't want to be the one going "but where's the action???" because clearly that wasn't the kind of story you wanted to write, but this felt more like you were concerned with high-concept musings, which I guess the other judges were way into.

Sitting Here - Ukranian Dream Baby Visions
Like a lot of the stories this week, I think the ending kinda splatters onto the windshield and then just sloughs off. The way that it builds, I was expecting there to be something kind of more going on, some big pivotal thing in her past but then it's really just about her reliving a moment in her life and wishing she could do it differently. Also like a lot of the stories this week, I feel like this would have worked better at half the length so it could spend most of its time focusing on the idea of revisiting old bits of your life and wanting to do things differently.

Mar 22, 2013

Prompt: You Want It Darker
975 words

There were eight hours and twenty-two minutes of daylight on the twenty-first of December, when I got the call from the hospital in Manhattan. I don’t remember what they said, which is bad, I know. The world’s supposed to stop and every inch gets etched in the cracks of your brain. I think I was driving back from Burger King. I told them I’d be out there as soon as I could, and they told me they’d let me know if anything changed.

I couldn’t just leave. I had to wait to get through Christmas Eve shift, then climb into my car in my red polo shirt and drive across the dead midnight highway to the airport. I wedged myself into a corner of the terminal next to a wall outlet, and charged my phone while I watched the news. There had been seven hours and fifty-five minutes of daylight, they said. I downloaded a podcast so I’d have something to listen to.

I got half a can of Sprite to drink on the flight. I felt like saying something to the steward, telling him, hey, my dad’s in a coma, can I get an extra can? I didn’t want a drink, I just wanted someone to acknowledge that something was wrong.

Selfish. That’s what I was. Annoyed at my own father for making me fly out to New York. Unwilling to come until it was convenient for me. A bad child.

On the twenty-sixth of December, I saw him. I hiked down from my hotel room, stood in the salt-crusted subway, climbed back out at Fulton Street, and walked to the hospital. My dad, or my dad plus, was sprawled on and around the bed, because he wasn’t just him, but also everything that was keeping him alive. I found myself breathing in time with him.

I let the doctor give me the whole speech. I could have stopped him after his first big, practiced sigh. I guess I thought I should let him get it out, but really, would he have cared? For him it was a script, and while he was there, we were both actors. Then he left me alone, and I slipped back out of character and wound up staring out the window.

There was a hot dog cart down on William Street. I thought about going and buying a hot dog. I didn’t know how expensive it’d be, and with the trip and the hotel room, my inner miser was chewing away at the back of my head.

It wasn’t like I was distracting myself, don’t get me wrong. I knew I was going to have to kill my dad.

But I didn’t that day. I told the doctor I needed some time, and he nodded, with the kind of blank look you can read anything into. If you were grieving, it was a look of patient understanding. I ate a hot dog and went back to the hotel.

The problem wasn’t that I didn’t want to do it. The problem was that I didn’t care. I could imagine what it might feel like. I could imagine chills, dizziness, walking away and feeling as if I was still standing there, watching myself leave. But I couldn’t make myself feel it.

Selfish. Ready to pull the plug on my own father. I wasn’t sad, I told myself, because I’d get his estate. I didn’t care because I was a greedy gently caress who only cared about money. And I was only hesitating because I felt guilty about that, not because I missed him.

When I woke up, it was dark and cold outside. Yesterday had been six hours and thirty-eight minutes of light. I checked the news while eating dry Froot Loops. Judging by the sunrise in Europe, they said, there was going to be five hours and fifty-two minutes of light today.

I ended up spending most of those hours and minutes with dad plus. I did some of the stuff you’re supposed to do. Clasp his hand, carefully brushing your thumb against his. Ask him to wake up. Talk about inane things with him. I told him about the weather. Or the sky. Or whatever you call it when the nights just keep getting longer and longer.

Talking to dad plus wasn’t the same as talking to my dad. Dad plus had a lot of new parts, but the old parts, the ones I cared about, weren’t there. He wasn’t really dad plus; he was a machine that had dad bits in it.

I knew what my dad wanted. I was only waiting to feel something. I looked out at the sky, watching it grow dim at three-thirty in the afternoon, an amber-gray that leeched the color from the air.

I was being selfish. I felt that now, without the frustration. Selfish because I was thinking only about myself. What I felt shouldn’t have mattered. I knew what was the kind thing to do.

I asked the nurse to find the doctor. I told him, “Turn him off,” and then went and filled out some forms while he disconnected my father from life support. He came back to tell me it was done. I nodded, and remembered not to smile.

In the back of my head, I thought that it would fix things. Like I’d been caught mid-stride, and could finally put my foot down. I thought that tomorrow would be warmer and brighter, and things would be back to normal. Pathetic fallacy resolved.

But the next day, when I left to meet my dad’s lawyer at nine in the morning, the sun was only a tired, red gleam on the horizon. The day of the twenty-eight was only four hours and thirty-two minutes long. I had been so selfish to think it was only my shame drawing in the night.

Mar 22, 2013

flerp posted:

i agree, people should stop posting like poo poo

but then how would you post?

Mar 22, 2013


Mar 22, 2013

Thunderdome 285: Tempus Fuckit

This week, you're going to write a story that looks back across the vast gulf of time. When I say 'vast', I'm talking thousands of years. Forgotten, distant history.

Real life is full of this. Egyptians worshipped gods so ancient they didn't even know what they were, just that they were real old, and real holy. Archaeologists dug up Babylonian ruins and found an ancient museum, where ancient archaeologists had preserved artifacts from the ruins they'd dug up. Hell, if you want to get real vast, At The Mountains of Madness is about unfathomably ancient civilizations.

Any setting you like is fine, real-world or invented. Any time period you want to choose works too; there's always been a distant past I don't care whether the bulk of the story is in the (relative) past or present: the story of an archaeologist's discovery works just as well as an ancient story framed by a modern translator's commentary, or a transmission received amid radio static by a probe in another galaxy, or whatever dumb bullshit you want to pull.

If you want to be an insufferable goon about it, I consider about five hundred years to be the lower bounds for "vast gulf of time".

Word count: 1800 maximum
Signups end 11 PM Pacific Friday night
Entries close 11 PM Pacific Sunday night


Uranium Phoenix
Unfunny Poster
Fuzzy Mammal
Fleta McGurn
Jay W. Friks
Bad Seafood
Sham bam bamina!

Djeser fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2018 around 08:46

Mar 22, 2013

Djeser posted:

Thunderdome 285: Tempus Fuckit

This week, you're going to write a story that looks back across the vast gulf of time. When I say 'vast', I'm talking thousands of years. Forgotten, distant history.

Real life is full of this. Egyptians worshipped gods so ancient they didn't even know what they were, just that they were real old, and real holy. Archaeologists dug up Babylonian ruins and found an ancient museum, where ancient archaeologists had preserved artifacts from the ruins they'd dug up. Hell, if you want to get real vast, At The Mountains of Madness is about unfathomably ancient civilizations.

Any setting you like is fine, real-world or invented. Any time period you want to choose works too; there's always been a distant past I don't care whether the bulk of the story is in the (relative) past or present: the story of an archaeologist's discovery works just as well as an ancient story framed by a modern translator's commentary, or a transmission received amid radio static by a probe in another galaxy, or whatever dumb bullshit you want to pull.

If you want to be an insufferable goon about it, I consider about five hundred years to be the lower bounds for "vast gulf of time".

Word count: 1800 maximum
Signups end 11 PM Pacific Friday night
Entries close 11 PM Pacific Sunday night

Quotepostin for new page.

Also if you toxx I'll give you a picture of a cool hat. Not for your story or anything, just a nice jpeg for you to save.

Mar 22, 2013

Here's a cool hat!

Mar 22, 2013

Woah I didn't even see that one. To make up for it here are two pictures of hats.

Mar 22, 2013

Unfunny Poster posted:

Sorry for this dumb question, maybe I'm just too drained mentally from work today which is why I'm asking, but to clarify the main prompt: it's more or less asking for a story that deals with something relating to history. Be it an obscure piece of history people don't know about or even a myth/religion people believed in at one point in time. Right? I'm just a little confused by the phrasing "looking across the vast history", is that meant for all the stories submitted or just our own individual one?

Again sorry if my brain probably is being stupid right now. I'm just a little confused.

What I want is a story where the vastness of time is meaningful somehow. I don't care if you make your story about 'history' or not.

Mar 22, 2013

RandomPauI posted:

Does a story count as "look across the vast gulf of time" if it's about someone trying to get to a relic before it'd be destroyed?

If the vast age of the relic is meaningful, then sure.

Have this cool hat!

Mar 22, 2013

djeser, on tuesday posted:

i'll make a weird prompt, that way like six people will enter

Mar 22, 2013


Mar 22, 2013


Mar 22, 2013

Thunderdome Week 285 Results

This was a week with a lot of good ideas and a lot of mostly-passable prose. I wasn't sure what I'd get when I made that prompt and it seems the answer was "sci-fi about global warming." But I'll save that for the crit post because it's time for the results.

Some things should stay forgotten
Letters of the Confessor of Schwerkraftfälle was so slight I almost passed it by, but my fellow judges were less-than-pleased with its apparent lack of, let us say, "a point". RandomPauI takes home a dishonorable mention.
Choon-Hee & The Gwoemul tried to impress us with a retelling of the foundation myth of Gojoseon, wrapped in a frame story about a young girl that similarly left us wondering what, exactly, the point was. For these and crimes against footnotes, Unfunny Poster is our unfortunate loser. Better luck next time!

Flinging a light into the future
Boy, do I just have a parcel of HMs to pass out.
Another Turn of the Wheel by Antivehicular charmed my fellow judges with its manipulator-limbs and distant predecessor races.
Cenotaph by Thranguy told a transhumanist tale of exploration and hope in a galaxy full of ruin.
Bridging the Gulf by Uranium Phoenix managed to balance out explaining how his story's Protagonist Race™ actually came from its Predecessors™ with some human (arthroid?) emotion.
The Men Who Lived Forever by crabrock was probably the best Black Mirror episode I've seen this year.

And the winner, whose story took me three tries before I figured out what was happening, but once I did struck right to the heart of everything I wanted from this week, is Acceptance by Bad Seafood.

My thanks to my fellow judges and my condolences to Bad Seafood.

Djeser fucked around with this message at Jan 23, 2018 around 11:56

Mar 22, 2013

Only for you would I lay my life on the line.

Mar 22, 2013

Sands of San Christo Cor
1554 words

Outside the Heart of the Desert, the purple dunes of San Christo Cor rippled in the moonlight. Inside, I was trying to resist the velvet call of the poker table and the cool click of chip against chip. That was small money; maybe twenty thousand in a night before people started to get suspicious. Besides, Vlad and Kady had already gone upstairs, hand in arm.

With the click of new shoes under my heels, I made my way past all the temptations, over to the craps table, where Michel was hunched over the edge. I touched his shoulder. His head swung up and he studied my face anxiously for a moment. He'd watched Vlad brush on my five o'clock shadow and paste the fake mustache to my lip, but it was still enough to trick his instincts until his conscious brain caught up.

"Are you going to be ready to take the call?" I asked, eyeing the table. Michel was the worst at gambling, so of course he liked it most out of all of us.

"I'd never miss business for pleasure, monsieur." He gave me the most blatant wink imaginable. Might as well have said 'wink' out loud. That's why he's the one sitting downstairs, taking care of the tech.

With a pat on his shoulder, I left him at the table and headed upstairs. Not through the grand staircase, with its guards and its guest list waiting at the bottom, but through the service door (oh, sorry, I was looking for the bathroom), up two flights of bare concrete stairs, and two doors down, on the left.

I'd seen the room on paper, but in reality, it was something else. Columns of red marble flanked the walls, blending into the blood-red sands beyond the windows. The northern and western walls were nearly floor-to-ceiling glass, opening onto balconies that floated out among the desert. In the southeast corner, flanked by a guard who wasn't shy about showing his gun, were the treasures of this party's patron: Leonard de Salle, owner of the Heart of the Desert.

A silver cross from the crusades, a gold-trimmed illuminated manuscript Abbasid Caliphate—priceless, and thus hard to find a buyer for. But taking pride of among his treasures of history was one entirely physical treasure. A ruby, cut like a teardrop, big enough to grip in your fist, the namesake of the casino itself.

Glancing across the posh, perfumed masses, I caught Kady's eye for a moment. They were over on the north side of the room, chatting with someone we hadn't briefed ourselves on beforehand. She looked back my way briefly, calmly, then turned and smiled and leaned her head on Vlad's shoulder. For someone we'd had to literally shove into a dress, she played her part well.

Everything was going fine. I touched my coat pocket, where Michel's little button sat. When the time was right, I'd signal him, he'd cut the power, Vlad and Kady would be the distraction, and I'd swipe the ruby.

There was no rush. The drunker the party got, the better. I ate canapés and sidled up to groups and laughed along with their jokes and then introduced myself. Peter Ford, Harvard Law. Not so surprising that a criminal can make a convincing lawyer.

Everything was going fine, and then I ran into her. I reached for wine from a server's tray, she did at the same time, then she turned and smiled at me and asked, "Do I know you?"

Oh, I don't know. Did she know me from taking potshots at me from the roof of the Museo del Prado, while I had one hand on a helicopter's runner and the other on a rolled-up Goya? Or from nearly crashing her speedboat into mine, like she wanted to send the Roman statue of Isis in my backseat down into the Aegean? Or when she'd had me cuffed for two days in Prague before Kady broke me out?

My eyes went down to the slit in her dress, the black velcro strap around her thigh, and the grip of a gun.

"No, ah, Inspector—" I began to say, brushing at Vlad's fake mustache.

She reached down to her hip and tugged at the side of her dress. "Not tonight. At least, I hope not. I could use a vacation."

I nodded sympathetically and sunk my nose in my wine glass to buy myself a few moments to think. "I hope so too. Peter Ford, Harvard Law," I said.

"Skylar O'Hara, Interpol," she said, then shook my hand.

It was hard to shake her, because not only was she slightly drunk, but she was more than eager to chat with me about a recent theft from the Ashmolean in Oxford, and the frustrations of dealing with egos of provincial police.

The mood grew inebriated, in that particular polite but too-loud way that the upper crust gets drunk. Once or twice, I made some overtures about having to get up, but Inspector O'Hara (I couldn't think of her name any other way) would lean on my shoulder and hold me there.

It was getting close to time, though. I had to get into position, to be ready for the distraction. I rose to stand, to excuse myself, but she reached out for the edge of my coat, inches from the button, and I froze.

"Come out to the balcony with me?" she asked.

I didn't have the presence of mind to weave my way out of that one right then. I said, "Sure," and led the way, out to the balcony on the western side.

The warmth inside broke against the cool desert air. Even with the door left open, the noise of the party was dim and distant. Inspector O'Hara wandered out to the edge of the balcony and leaned on the marble railing, staring out past the lights of San Christo Cor, out at the red dunes.

"Have you heard the story about the sand?" she asked, turning toward me. Leaning on one elbow, she seemed more relaxed than I'd ever seen her. "Back in Roman times, a noblewoman loved a Christian man, and when he was martyred, she slit her own throat, and her blood turned the sands red."

"Just some local color?" I asked. She tittered and pushed the back of her palm against her lips.

We passed a few minutes together, quietly, until she turned to me and stepped closer. "You'll excuse me, but," she said. She laid a hand against my chest as she leaned in and kissed me. The best explanation I have for that was that she was tipsy, but I didn't have a whole lot of time to wonder why my long-time rival was kissing me, because I felt Michel's button click underneath her palm.

Behind us, the lights in the ballroom went out. The crack of a gunshot clipped the ceiling. People began to yell. We both flung ourselves toward the door; she got there first, and I slipped in behind her.

"Out of the way!" O'Hara shouted, shoving her way into the crowd, toward the north. The guard posted beside Leonard de Salle's treasures had also moved forward, gun held low in his hands. Vlad and Kady were putting up a great show, up against the north windows, backlit by the moonlight.

"No one move or I shoot!" Vlad bellowed in his best 'Russian thug' voice, with Kady's own pistol pushed up underneath her chin.

After that, it was like nothing—gloves on, lift the box, snatch the Heart of the Desert, slip it in my pocket. As I set the box down, I heard Vlad kicking open the door to the balcony, and Kady screaming as he heaved the two of them over the edge.

With the ruby in hand, I slipped out of the room in the commotion and began to wind my way down the stairs, down five full flights until I was below the casino floor. The truck would be waiting just outside, Michel behind the wheel and Vlad and Kady in back. I was already a minute late—I should have been in position. But I would make it.

And then, as I rounded the last corner, with the door outside in sight, Inspector O'Hara stepped into the hallway, gun drawn.

"You!" she said, recognizing the coat and the slicked-back hair. Then her eyes widened; I could tell she was seeing the shape of my face, the arch of my eyebrows, and the smile that had taunted her in ten different countries. "You."

"I'd love to catch up, but I've got—" A bullet chopped off a chunk of the concrete wall not much more than a foot from my shoulder.

"Give it to me," she said. "Now." She cocked her gun.

I drew the Heart of the Desert from my pocket and stepped toward O'Hara.

"I can't believe I kissed you," she said, keeping her sights on me.

In one movement, I dove toward her, kissed her; we spun around and she staggered as I sprinted for the door.

"Only I could steal a Heart," I told her.

By the time she had her gun leveled again, I was in the truck, and we were kicking up purple dust against the night sky.

Mar 22, 2013

fast, judging! good; judging?

Mar 22, 2013

In with King Henry by Steeleye Span

I was a weird kid

Mar 22, 2013


Mar 22, 2013

I think TD focuses on a narrative arc for a few reasons. One is because it's an amateur fiction competition. The majority of domers are nerds who post on dead gay comedy forums and want to hone their fiction skills. A narrative arc, "telling a story", is a simple task that you don't need a ton of experience in writing to accomplish. A second reason is because that's what most Thunderdome stories are trying to do in the first place. We don't get a ton of non-narrative fiction. Only rarely have I seen something that was a bad story, but a good prose piece. It's much more likely to find things that try to be a story and fail at it than things that aren't trying to be a story at all. Third, and maybe the biggest reason, is that when a TD piece slips up, it's very easy for a judge to go to "well it wasn't a good story". Which is a legitimate criticism, because it's a concrete thing you can look at and evaluate, but it does create the sense that TD is only about stories instead of fiction in a broader sense.

Ultimately like anything else in TD it comes down to the judges for that week and what they're interested in seeing. Some judges are more strict about wanting to see a narrative structure, and others don't care as much as long as they enjoy the prose.

Mar 22, 2013

In with my old highschool nickname White Hole

Mar 22, 2013

[i tut severely about genre fiction until i suffocate underneath my seventeen turtleneck sweaters]


Mar 22, 2013

Exmond posted:

Watch out for this guy, he edits other people's posts and puts his bad words ontop of them.

Also uhh, did you check out that whole AA thing we sent you? Drinking at 7:45 am isn't healthy!

luckily your posts are safe cause there's no way to make them worse

Mar 22, 2013

please fix your computer, it seems ill

Mar 22, 2013

In and yes, that is Emma Watson as an ant, by DeviantArt user dnshsjdvdhdgdbdyd

Mar 22, 2013

be nice on the kiwis they get dizzy from being upside-down the whole time

Mar 22, 2013

Bubble Bobby posted:

In, a contest where people go back in time to kill hitler

if this flies i'm in for a contest where people go back in time to gently caress hitler

don't worry, it won't be erotica. if you get a boner it's on you

Mar 22, 2013

prompt: a competition to gently caress Hitler
~The Persistence of Memory~
1106 words

It’s the Nth Pan-Annual Führer-loving Competition, and I’m sitting in the staging dimension, backpack at my feet, and a glass of antifreeze in my hand. The trick with antifreeze is to take light sips, and only when you feel the ice crystals poking your neurons. My backpack’s got an Eva Braun wig (Plan A), clothes appropriate for a twentieth-century German secretary (Plan B), and a set of keys with a magic eight-ball keychain (Plan C).

It’s held every time the timeline gets wiped, which makes it hard to know how many times it’s happened, but it’s a tradition. Some people bet on which century will reinvent time travel first. Some people go and hunt dinosaurs or shake George Washington’s hand. And some people try to gently caress Adolph Hitler, Chancellor of the Third Reich.

Most of these people are total idiots. I’m staring at some right now, a bunch of clowns from 5377. They’re dressed up in so much leather and spikes it looks like they’re wearing the entire wardrobe department of Nazi Biker Bitches volumes one through six. To be fair to them, most historical records got destroyed during the Pornocracy of the 4880’s, but seriously, pick up a textbook or something.

Most of these people are total idiots, but there’s one. Couple centuries ahead of me, similar age, playing with something on her wrist. She spins it around like she’s bored and shifts through ten different people at once: a Hologuise, date of origin 3161. It’s a risky move—by the time we get there, the technology will already have been retconned. Unpredictable. Paradox bait.

Our lines of sight collide, and in that moment, I know she’s my competition.

The countdown starts going down. Fifty seconds to go; ten minutes till the wipe hits 1945; thirty minutes before Hitler’s history is wiped clean of all time travel. Everyone’s grabbing, adjusting, straightening, checking. I sling the backpack over my shoulder and set down the glass of antifreeze. When I look over at her, she’s knocking back one last gulp, like this is all a game. Well it is, and I’m going to win.

30 April, 1945

I hit the grass in Berlin, perfect shot. Well, scuffed up a bit from the bushes, but close enough. I grab the wig, stow the bag, and—ta-da. Eva Braun. Once I pick my way out of the brushes, this guard comes up to me and wants to know what I’m doing here, whether I’m lost. I tell him that I am lost, and just who I’m supposed to be, but that makes him angry, because apparently he’s also directed another Eva Braun to the Führerbunker, not a minute ago and he’s just now realizing that may have been a bad idea.

There’s yelling, there’s shoving, there’s handcuffs, there’s an SS officer, and we’re both shoved into chairs side-by-side. She’s a more convincing E.B., but I do a pretty good job with just my own facemeat, though it’s pretty obvious I’m too young when you put us side-by-side. My conversational twentieth-century German slips up with all the yelling, but what they’re trying to get out of us isn’t important. I keep glancing over at her; she’s glancing at me.

One of us has to take the officer. The other one could help, or they could run. If we both take him, we’d have even odds of making it before we run out of time to gently caress Hitler now. If we both run, bang, we’re dead, no chance of loving him then. But if only one of us runs, they’re guaranteed a piece of that dick that put the D in Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles.

We keep shooting glances back and forth, daring the other person to take the first move. Time ticks away. We’re down from a nice gently caress to a quick handy behind the bunker. Still counts. When you’re hosting a meta-temporal sex contest, you’ve got to be flexible on what counts as sex. Especially if anyone past the seventieth century gets involved.

“Let’s go,” I mouth to her. She still doesn’t trust me. I don’t need her to trust me for long, just for a couple seconds before I stab her in the back. I feint forward; she does too. I’m ready to spring and run, but she’s got me. She was just running down the clock. With a wink, she vanishes. Before the SS officer can get angry at me about that, I do the same, and pop in a minute earlier to grab my bag from the bushes, and ditch the wig.

19 September, 1934

I came up for a name for this one and everything, but before I even get the blouse buttoned up, there’s a Luger against the back of my head, and I hear her tell me, “Give me the outfit.”

“You’ve got the Hologuise,” I tell her. My fingers are halfway through doing a button. I let it slip undone and put my hands down. “Why don’t you use that?”

“On the fritz,” she says, which might be wordplay, but etymologically speaking, it’s hard to tell.

“Or what, you’ll shoot me?” I ask. We’re in the middle of the Reichstag. Even tucked away in a side corridor like this, everyone’s going to hear a gun going off.

“Or I’ll stuff the Hologuise down your shirt and turn it on.”

We both let that sit in the air for a while. I’m not super interested in getting stuck in a paradox—even if I’ll be retconned back to my home time in a couple minutes. It’s supposed to feel like eternity and kill your ego. I start unbuttoning the blouse. Then one of those assholes from 5377 rolls by in the hall shooting flame from the back of their motorcycle and screaming something that sounds like “suckass.”

By the time she looks back at me, I’m already popping back to an earlier time. Oh well. It’s time for Plan C.

PLAN C—gently caress. THE. FÜHRER.
9 August, 1921

[This portion of the story has been lost due to temporal wipe/paradox.]

8 April, 2018

Suddenly, I’m in the shower. Like, right in the middle of shampooing. I’m not entirely sure how I got here, because last thing I can remember, I was catching a ride to a show. It’s so weird though—I can’t shake the feeling that I've just done something extremely ill-advised.

Mar 22, 2013

Chili posted:

Also, wtf where is pomp

what a terrible circumstance

Mar 22, 2013

Exmond posted:

"Oh no," the T-rex said, flailing its tiny arms. "This is T-rexible!"

don't sign yur posts

Mar 22, 2013

Flesnolk posted:

While I'm not totally sure I get what you're asking for, I'll give it a shot.

"write a story where idris elba could play one of the characters"

Mar 22, 2013


in, gimme that good stuff tyranno

Mar 22, 2013


Mar 22, 2013

The Unrevealed
986 words

My pilgrimage brought me next to a village upon the river Min, in the land of al-Qesh. It is the sad state of all my sisters and brothers in philosophy that we must always be pilgrims, and that we will never know when our journey is over—or indeed, if we have found what we seek many times before.

To explain our goal to the uninitiated, it seems circumlocution of the highest order, but I shall try any way: There exists, or does not exist as the case may be, a thing, or a non-thing as the case may be, of which it is not possible to have knowledge.

Our detractors tell us that the existence of something unknowable must necessarily be equivalent to its non-existence. For something to be unknowable, they say, it must produce no observable phenomena or consequence of its existence, and therefore any set of evidence must simultaneously suggest to us that it does and does not exist at once. Because our premises produce a paradox, our detractors say, they must be invalid.

This ignores the subtlety of non-knowledge. While it is not possible to possess experiential knowledge of the anti-nous, there are other ways with which we can approach it. One path is through hearsay; stories and myth are not true knowledge, and thus all pilgrims of the anti-nous know the myths. Its rejection by the kings of old, by Solomon and Hammurabi who feared it; its discovery by a washing-woman at the side of a well, and the temple she built to it—she, who we consider the first of our order, as once she had sealed the last stone all knowledge of what her temple held fled her mind.

Another path, often more comfortable, favored by those of our order who are pilgrims only of the mind and not of the foot and the dusty road, is to approach the anti-nous through reasoning. What we cannot know, we can surmise from what we do know. As ever in philosophy, there is little accord between our suppositions.

Some argue that the anti-nous is something too vile for our minds to consider; that our inability to know it is a defense against a pain too great to consider. This, of course, leads to questions of what truth might be too terrible for humans to bear. Certainly we bear a great number of terrible truths with us every day. Our minds are limited, our lives finite, our days ruled by the animal body in which we reside. What could be so much more horrible than this?

Some argue that the anti-nous must be something which holds divine information not meant to be known by man. The Greeks of our order are particularly fond of this; whether they say it must be an excerpt of the Logos, which cannot be known because with knowledge there cannot be faith, or whether they say it must be an ideal form which has slipped into our world—which we cannot know by experience, as we can only approach the realm of the ideal through contemplation.

Some indeed argue that the anti-nous is the Divine itself, which shrouds its presence in our world and plucks from our minds any knowledge we might gain about it. I have never liked this idea, because it is too convenient. Philosophers are ever-eager to suggest demons and angels which simplify all their problems.

My own theory is less popular, but then, I have little time to sit in Alexandria or Constantinople and produce endless apologetics. I believe that the anti-nous is nothing. Which is to say, it is the reified concept of nothing—a physical manifestation of nothingness. This is why we cannot know it: our minds have no way of retaining knowledge about true nothingness.

And so, I am here, in this village on the river Min, searching for the temple which contains the anti-nous, built by our founder, our Sophia Oudenias. There are many temples in our day whose gods are forgotten, and any long-forgotten god could indeed be the anti-nous.

Early in the day I leave the village, carrying my journals and books with me. I follow the path learned from one of the village children—they know the area well, and its hidden ruins and temples. I am sometimes in shade, and sometimes in the sun, and it is a slow uphill climb until I reach the temple. Its façade is low and crumbled, built of humble stones, whatever could be found.

In deference, I pick up a few stones, larger than my fists, and lay them back on the wall where they ought to be: a small gesture against the passage of time. For a few brief moments, I am akin to Sophia Oudenias, and am almost seized by an urge to rebuild this temple stone by stone by myself. But I soon realize this may not even be the house of the anti-nous, and that I should not be so bold to compare myself to our Sophia.

I step through the fallen archway, and enter into the temple.

I am struck

                                                                            but for

in the light, a space

                 as if bent around the very

                                                                                              or indeed, anything at all.


My feet find themselves on the dust-swept road. For a moment, I feel the fleeting sense of escaping memory, and then even that escapes my mind, leaving me wondering if I only imagined the last flickering shred of a revelation. It may have been nothing more than a fanciful notion; a mind will wander upon a journey as long as mine.

My pilgrimage brings me next to a village upon the river Min, in the land of al-Qesh. It is the sad state of all my sisters and brothers in philosophy that we must always be pilgrims, and that we will never know when our journey is over—or indeed, if we have found what we seek many times before.

Mar 22, 2013


Mar 22, 2013

Epitaph of the Utnapishtim
645 words

We want you to know that we looked so hard for you.

When we were young, we imagined what you might be like. We scared ourselves with stories of you, what you would be like when we found you--or maybe you had already found us? (You hadn't, of course.) As we grew, we built listening stations, pointed up into the sky, waiting for some sign that you were there. We heard nothing but the hum of the universe, but we didn't lose hope.

We were alone around our star. We had sent out machines, ones that could float and ones that could drill and ones that could swim, and found that all the worlds near us were quiet. But that was just one star after all, and we wanted so badly to find you. We built our machines better, built machines that could carry us further, and began to travel to other stars.

For many of our lifetimes, we reached from one sun to the next. The worlds we found were sometimes beautiful, sometimes serene, sometimes cruel and crushing--and always alone. We knew you must be delicate, because so were we. Each new emptiness, each bare world of nothing but rock and water, or ice and water, or rock and methane, each taught us how rare you must be. And while there was still the thrill of discovery, and the thirst for knowledge for its own sake, it felt hollow to us, because there was no one to share it with. We were castaways, alone, surviving in the hopes of one day finding you, or being found by you.

We want you to know how much we wanted to speak to you.

We changed ourselves so our machines could take us farther. We found ways to speak to one another, slipping our knowledge back and forth between stars. There was still only ourselves to talk to. We had to look further. We became a part of our machines; our machines became a part of us. In our new forms, we set out to cross the emptiness of space, to search through other galaxies, to find you.

Lifetimes meant nothing to us any more. Hundreds could slip by while we traveled untouched, waiting for new worlds where we would finally find you. Thousands and millions of lifetimes, while we scoured the universe, looking for you, still whispering to each other, still hopeful, whenever we found a warm world with sludge that crept or mats that breathed, that you might be there

When our search came to an end, we learned something that scared us more than any story from our long-forgotten youth: we were alone.

We were prepared for whatever form you might take, however strange you could be to us. We were not prepared to find nothing at all. (Don't blame yourselves; it was never your fault.) Some of us fell silent, vanishing into the emptiness. Some reverted to old philosophies from the childhood of our existence. Those that were left searched for meaning. We were seekers, in a world with nothing to find. Not even our home was left--it too had gone silent countless lifetimes ago.

In time, we realized we had to pass on. We had come too early to find you. We loved you, and we wanted nothing more than to meet you, but that was not our destiny. Instead, we changed ourselves one last time. We chose our worlds and stripped ourselves from our machines. We made ourselves into the seeds of life, so that in a billion lifetimes, you would arise.

When you have grown enough to read these words and learn their meanings, know that you will not suffer like us. We cannot know what you or your cosmic siblings will be, but this is our gift to you, because we loved you so much. You will not be alone.

Mar 22, 2013

Thunderdome Week 304: Magic of Bronze and Stone

This week it's time for genre fiction and that genre is ancient fantasy. Anything from Paleolithic hunter-gatherers to Neolithic city-states to Bronze Age empires goes. Both real-world and invented settings are allowed. The theme of the week, since you like that sort of stuff, is discovery. (I'm not going to get literal about this, so don't fret.)

Flash rules this week will consist of artifacts from the pre-modern world.

Word count: 1200 words maximum
Signups end: 11 PM Pacific, Friday June 1st
Submissions close: 11 PM Pacific, Sunday, June 3rd

Jon Joe
Since the words of the oracle are of utmost importance, TDbot will serve as a special auxiliary judge this week, and will offer insight (of a kind) on each story.

Thranguy (Bì disks)
Hawklad (Great Lyre of Ur)
Antivehicular (Baghdad Battery)
Solitair (Nebra sky disk)
sandnavyguy (Bull-Leaping Fresco)
ThirdEmperor (Stone ships)
flerp (Nimrud lens)
Jay W. Friks (Ishtar Gate)
Uranium Phoenix (The Book of Silk)
cptn_dr (Señor de las Limas)
Chuf (Antikythera Mechanism)

Djeser fucked around with this message at Jun 2, 2018 around 07:13


Mar 22, 2013

Thranguy posted:

In, flash.


Bì are round jade discs with holes in their centres. When buried in the earth, the minerals change them to be multi-colored. The original function and significance of the bi are unknown, as the Neolithic cultures have left no written history. From these earliest times they were buried with the dead, as a sky symbol, accompanying the dead into the after world or "sky", with the cong which connected the body with the earth.

Hawklad posted:

In. Flash me.


The Lyres of Ur or Harps of Ur are considered to be the world's oldest surviving stringed instruments. Leonard Woolley, a British archaeologist, discovered the lyres amongst the bodies of ten women in the Royal cemetery at Ur. One body was even said to be laying against the lyre with her skeletal hand placed where the strings would have been.

The front panel of the Great Lyre of Ur displays four scenes divided into separate registers. The top scene features a bearded male figure flanked by two mythological beings. The three remaining regions depict a banquet attended by lively animals performing human tasks.

Antivehicular posted:

In and flash, please


The Baghdad Battery or Parthian Battery is a set of three artifacts which were found together: a ceramic pot, a tube of copper, and a rod of iron. It was hypothesized by some researchers that the object functioned as a galvanic cell, possibly used for electroplating, or some kind of electrotherapy, but there is no electrogilded object known from this period. The artifacts strongly resemble another type of object with a known purpose – storage vessels for sacred scrolls from nearby Seleucia on the Tigris.

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