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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





This was my flash rule, along with unusual interfaces:

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Social Climbers (1198 words)

The Sink was a mile wide and twenty deep, digging deeper. Those who could afford to lived close to the bottom, where the earth was still warm. Sofia lived near the rim. A ring of factories formed the perimeter. An umbrella was required. A gas mask was a luxury.

Sofia boarded the tube and brushed the ashen residue from her hair and shoulders. She wore a high-collar jacket and a blue snakeskin scarf. Her eyes suggested a routine lack of sleep.

She reached into her pocket and produced her phone, a government-issued obsidian rectangle. She tapped the screen. A chip in her inner ear picked up the signal.

“Good morning Officer,” her phone announced with a sing-song cadence. Its voice was soft and sweet and sincere. “I hope you’re ready to seize the day!”

“Mute surround,” she said, “Invite only.”

“Yes ma’am!” A chime, then the world fell silent.

The tube filled up with gas and bodies. Her compartment was sealed and shot into the depths. The world beyond was electric fusion. The Sink constricted, changing shape. Rows upon rows of sterile apartments pressed together, splitting open; an intestinal network of restaurants and shops, a jury-rigged labyrinth of commerce and light. Here was the Drain, the great melting pot. The rich climbed up while the poor slid down.

Seven minutes. Eight. The doors shuddered open. Sofia stepped out into the bazaar. The air was thick with incense and color, but her inner ear preserved the sound of silence.

The old man’s stall was three blocks down. The old man himself somber, Korean. A tattoo on his wrist told the tale of crimes past. His store sold cigarettes, fire arms, and gum.

“Red Leaves,” Sofia said, holding up her phone for identification. “Two packs.”

The old man nodded, tossed them to the counter. Sofia transferred payment. Her phone chirped to life.

“Patronizing local business! Five-day combo! Level up,” then “Self-destructive consumer habits! Five-day combo! Level dooooooown.”

Sofia scooped up the cigarettes. She offered a practiced, two-finger salute. The old man smiled and waved her off. She marched on down, her face impassive, her mood betrayed by a spring in her step.

The closest chute was out of order. She found another. She tossed the packs in.

“Proper public disposal procedure. Five-day combo! Level up. Squandering resources, excess waste. Five-day combo! Level dooooooown.”

“What was that about?”

Sofia flinched and spun round, wide-eyed, arms extended, ready for combat. Eddie stood some ten feet behind, hands in his pockets, sullen and skeptical. Sofia recognized him and let out a sigh. She shot him a furrowed look.

Eddie was her current partner. She couldn’t mute him. It wasn’t allowed.

Eddie crossed the street on long, spider-like legs. He wore a leather jacket that buttoned down the side, a rusted red with a skull on the back. “You just throw them away?”

“I don’t smoke.”

“But you buy them?”

“You stalk girls?”

Please,” Eddie threw his hands up, his expression weary, a perpetual squint. “I saw you from the tube. Figured we were headin’ down the same channel.”

Sofia shut her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose with her fingers. “Very well then,” she said. “Let’s go.”

“Seems like a waste is all,” said Eddie. “Don’t even service your social credit.”

“He’s an old friend.”

“The old guy?”

“I like throwing business his way.”

“You know he’s got gum.”

“I don’t chew gum.”

The two circled the Drain until they reached the Dead Center. That gaping urban maw, and below: a glass dome. Beneath it the wealthy lived lives of idle pleasure, supported by synthetic sunlight and air. The dome of course had been rendered opaque. The old sky was visible from the other side.

The opening itself was host to string of restaurants, bars, and curiosity shops. Sofia often came down here for work.

“Diagnostics,” she said, barely above a whisper.

“Aye aye ma’am!” Her phone complied.

In an instant her eyes were awash in information. She blinked several times to tweak her resolution. The Dead Center was flush with inglorious people, their data, their statistics all present to see. Sofia merely had to focus her attentions on someone to learn everything worth knowing about them. Their business, their habits, all catalogued activity.

She narrowed in on two men on the far side. They were holding a spirited conversation over coffee and scrambled eggs. One wore a black suit. The other wore white. White was the target. Ser Silas Mu.

“Forty-two, single, clears his search history.” The list went on. Sofia clicked her tongue. “Eddie, would you please?”

“I gotcha girl, I gotcha, I gotcha.”

Eddie went about locating a proper vantage point. An emergency ladder, just barely accessible. His fingers brushed it, eased it down. He did so with care so as not to make a sound. Not that it mattered. No one listened to anything that didn’t concern them.

Eddie patted Sofia on the shoulder, and the two ascended the ladder to the third floor walkway. The residence of someone who lived above the store.

“Unmute,” said Sofia.

“Right away ma’am!” A tick, like a cricket, and the noise came flooding back.

There was a sound of running water, a radio, a singer. Someone it seemed was starting their day. Sofia peered through the window. The apartment was a mess. Clothes and paperbacks, boxes upon boxes. The door to the bathroom stood slightly ajar, a cloud of steam pouring forth.

Sofia strained her ears to make out the song. Bohemian Rhapsody. It wasn’t the radio.

Just killed a man,” she muttered. “Eddie, you’ve got five.”

“Five whole minutes?”

“Minus seven seconds. Think you hit it from here?”

Eddie reached up and scratched his chin, then proceeded to pop open his jacket. Piece by piece, he produced a number of odds and ends, clicking them together with casual precision.

“Four minutes,” Sofia reminded him. She reigned in her focus on Ser Silas Mu. His social credit was considerable. A real go-getter. In the Sink mere money only got you so far. You had to play ball if you wanted it all. He wasn’t clean, of course. Nobody was. But men like Silas knew how to navigate the system. His crimes weren’t crimes. They were flexible ethics.

“Three minutes.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Eddie held the rifle in his hands. A data-nagant. It fried from a distance. Crouching down low, he lined up the shot.

Mu pulled out his phone to check something. Eddie pulled the trigger. The phone screen lit up, and died. Sofia’s data updated immediately. Silas’ credit score was dropping like a comet.

“Hacking private property! Three-day combo! Level dooooooown. Incoming credit! Five hundred-day combo! Level up! Level up! Level up!”

“What the-””

Sofia and Eddie both turned to see the bathroom door swinging wide. The singer had called off his performance early.

“Who are you! What is this!?”

Sofia and Eddie sped down the staircase. Eddie leapt down and helped Sofia after. The two spilled out into the flow of foot traffic. Sofia’s phone chimed in her hand.

“Nonconscious voyeurism. First offense! Level dooooooown. Disrupting the flow of traffic! Two-day combo! Level dooooooown.”

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Prompt: Human popsicle

Wake Up
1080 words


Casey’s eyes flew open as a tremor rocked the building. She was plugged into Captain Bruce Beauford’s cryotank, sharing his dreams. Her knock-off jack, implanted in one of the city’s countless unlicensed clinics, fritzed under the multiple sensory overlays. Red emergency lights pulsed in the azure sky. The shadows of the other cryotanks superimposed themselves over the white walls of Bruce’s summer house in Monterey.

“Casey?” Obediently she closed her eyes and blocked out the troubling reality. She could never ignore the Captain’s voice.

The Monterey house was where it had all started, where the Captain and his associates had conceived their plan to out-live the coming environmental disaster. The house had long ago been sold; Bruce had liquidated all his assets to found Cryo-Life and secure his future. All this he’d told Casey in the quiet hours she stole with him during her night-shifts. She loved it when he dreamed for her of the world before the Great Collapse. She'd drink it all in and awake thirsty, aching.

The Captain’s brow was furrowed beneath his thick, grey hair. Casey did a twirl in her yellow cotton dress, arms held out, and forced herself to laugh.

“You are deteriorating,” Bruce said. Casey stopped twirling.

He took her chin between his thumb and forefinger. She trembled as he turned her face left, then right. “You should have joined us last year, when your body was still perfect.”

Join him. Just dream with him in the house in Monterey until the world was healed. Then all this - the dust-storms and the snaking lines of refugees, the food shortages and dying of loneliness in her one-room apartment - would go away, like a bad dream.

A violent tremor rocked the ground and Casey fell to her hands and knees on the soft grass. Then a wall of ice smacked into the back of her skull and her consciousness thudded back into the unlit cryotank room. She yanked the chord out of the back of her neck and pressed her fingers into the itching, painful skin around her jack.

The lights were dead and the back-up generators hadn’t kicked in. The tanks could only go about half an hour without power before the core temperature would start to rise. Outside another explosion boomed and Casey heard booted footsteps entering the facility. She crept to the mesh-reinforced window and peered out. Plumes of smoke rose amongst the dust-covered low-rises and the sky glowed dirty orange.

Heart pounding, Casey groped her way to the generator room. The door was open and two head-torch beams cast leaping shadows. A man and a woman were working the bolts that fastened the generator to the floor. They were both wearing stolen military fatigues. The heavy fabric hung loose on their thin frames and their faces were black shadows under their headlamps.

“poo poo!” said the woman, as her spanner slipped loose and she cracked her elbow into the generator’s metal side.

The man reached out to help her but she batted his hand away. “I’m ok,” she said. “Let’s just get this and get out of here.”

Casey stood frozen in the darkness. She wanted to run. She wanted to throw up. Her fingers crept to the thigh pocket of her Cryo-Life uniform and wrapped around her taser. She hadn’t touched the thing since training, years ago.

“Stop it!” she said. She stepped into the doorway, taser brandished two-handed like a sword.

The two people sprang to their feet and Casey was momentarily blinded by their headlamps. Holding one hand up to shield her eyes she pointed the taser and fired. She felt the vibration of the weapon firing and then the woman slumped to the floor.

“What the gently caress did you do that for?” shouted the man. He pulled the sharp prongs out of the arm of his unconscious companion. They recoiled automatically into the weapon and Casey flinched and dropped it. The woman was much older than she’d expected. Her gaunt face was deeply lined and her grey hair was wet with sweat.

“You can’t take the generator!” Casey said, her voice high-pitched with fear. “The Captain needs it!”

The man sneered at her. “The Captain? You mean popsicle-guy? Our need is greater than some frozen rich prick,” he said. He heaved the generator onto a makeshift metal trolley, then carefully laid the woman on top of it. She groaned but didn’t wake.

“But, he’ll die!” she wailed.

“He’s already dead.” The man heaved the trolley straight at Casey, bashing her in the shins. “He lived his life and then when things were looking bad he gave up.” Casey tried to brace herself on the doorframe but he hit her with the trolley again. “Do you have any idea what a facility like this costs? What it takes to keep him dreaming while the rest of us starve? He could have stayed and helped but instead he ran away!” The man’s voice had risen to and angry shout and he pulled the trolley back ready to ram Casey with it again.

Casey felt like the white Monterey house was burning before her eyes. She saw dust filling the beautiful pool and lines of ragged people marching up the perfect lawn. Their hands were outstretched, desperate. She snatched the taser off the floor.

“Stop it!” she screamed, and fired again. The prongs caught the man in the shoulder and he collapsed.

It took what felt like forever to reconnect the damaged generator. Outside sirens wailed as the city’s police responded to the riots. The cryotank was approaching room temperature. The liquid had turned cloudy, so Casey couldn’t see the Captain’s face. Her hands shook as she plugged herself in.

He was sitting in his white linen suit gazing out over the Pacific. She could see the knobs of his spine through the light jacket, bent like an old man.

She walked up the lawn towards him in her yellow cotton dress. Her feet left polished concrete footsteps in the soft turf.

“Why did you leave?” she said. “Before the Collapse. Why didn’t you stay, and help?”

“Oh grow up, Casey,” he said. “The Collapse was inevitable, unstoppable. I did the only sensible thing there was to do.”

Red light pulsed in the azure sky. The shadows of the other cryotanks rose from the perfect horizon.

“Casey, what’s happening?” Bruce said.

“It’s time to wake up, Captain,” she said, and smiled at him one last time.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning




ok i forgot to say that my trope was Uplifted Animal

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Entries are closed

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





:siren: interpormpt: :siren: spooky vacuum cleaners 300 words

anatomi
Jan 31, 2015


Can I post excerpts from my Luigi's Mansion erotica?

anatomi fucked around with this message at 13:15 on Feb 18, 2019

Applewhite
Aug 16, 2014

IN THE GRIM BARKNESS
OF THE FUTURE
THERE ARE ONLY DOGS



Nap Ghost

Creeper Alternative
299 words

Mavis Peachingham was a dishwasher living in the sleepy little town of Berring, Maine. He was a good boy. High school graduate, but never really smart enough for college. He didn’t make a living working as a dishwasher, but he stayed in his parents’ basement rent-free, so he had a modest amount of pocket money. Enough to spend on his girl Sarah now and again, maybe buy a videogame once a month (twice a month if his mom slipped him a few bucks).

Now, as I said, Mavis was a good boy; even if he didn’t have the initiative to land a better paying job or go to college, he still wanted to pull his weight in the household. When the old family vacuum cleaner unexpectedly bit the dust, he saw his opportunity to make a contribution.

“What’s the best vvacuum you’ve got?” Mavis asked Ron Smiley, the sales rep at Berring Appliance and Car Wash.

“Well that would be the Dyson Airblaster 650X,” replied Ron, slipping smoothly into upsell mode. He led the bewildered Mavis across the showroom to where they kept the Dyson display.

“Eight hundred dollars?” Mavis exclaimed. That was more than a whole month’s wages! And he’d already spent a good bit at the malt shop with Sally, and a good bit more on the latest Call of Duty videogame.

Mavis held up the jar of loose change and wadded bills he’d brought with him. “What can I get for ninety eight dollars?” he asked.

Ron’s grin faltered. “Well, I’m afraid the selection in your price range is pretty limited…”

He led Mavis to a dusty back room where they kept The Kirby.

The bag of the ancient, heavy vacuum seemed to stir, almost as if it were drawing breath. It looked brooding… and hungry.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Faulty Wiring
193 Words

I knew something was wrong when the Christmas tree spontaneously combusted as we put the star on it. The fire department blamed faulty wiring.

On a hunch, I called a priest. He answered, and burst into flame. The fire department blamed faulty wiring.

One night, while watching TV, between the screams of the damned and torrents of blood that interfered with The Late Show, there was an infomercial for the new Ghost Buster 3000. Not only could it bust ghosts, but was great for corners and stairs.

"Hot diggity," I said, as I placed an order.

When it arrived I immediately took it to the fuse box.

"Come out foul demon!" I cried.

"Your mother tucks socks, in a well!" The fuse box cried back.

I turned on the vacuum and manically sucked the demon out of the fuse box.

"You like that? Huh?" I said. There was no response. I got him. I looked down the vacuum to be sure.

My soul was sucked from my body into its chamber to reside with the demon of the fuse box in an eternity of fire and saucy remarks.

The fire department blamed faulty wiring.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.


Hello, nerds, it's livecrit time.

Exmond
May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

sebmojo posted:

Yes i will extremely judge that. On the fair assumption that exmod accepts, your prompt is an anime tragedy in three acts, with no obviously japanese words or tropes. 1500 words max, 18 feb 2359 pst. Toxx up. And congrats.

Seed Migration
1,488 words


Act 1: Potting the soil

Did you know that a single strand of DNA can hold 215 petabytes of data? All it takes is a few extra strands of DNA, and you have a child that can store the entirety of humanities knowledge, and with enough spare space to upload a few billion Youtube videos.

Survival isn’t guaranteed of course but the government, or what was left of it, rationalized it to my family. So I grew up with the weight of humanity’s hope and dreams on my shoulders along with a head the size of a basketball and a few extra webbed toes. My mother’s nursery rhymes always made me giggle - This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy held the entire history of the world.

Out of the hundreds of children selected for DNA informational imprinting only eight of us survived to reach our teenage years. Some died due to genetic complications, but most of them died due to famine.

I felt guilty, and so did Melissa, another one of the “seedling libraries” the government called us. I think it was our shared guilt, our need for redemption, that drew us together. I met her almost by accident, I was at the incubator, splitting the nucleus in my blood sample to extract the works of Vonnegut when I tripped. I was horrified and watched my sample fly in the air and spill all over Melissa’s lab coat. The whole classroom fell silent, and I wanted to disappear.

Then Melissa started to laugh. It was a melodic laugh that danced like the music in Concerto G Major and soothed like Freie Fantasie. After she had cleaned up, I asked her if she liked Carl Bach and she just smiled. Later she played the flute as I accompanied her on the piano, both of us trying to imitate the masters. She always looked up at me, and instead of seeing a mutant freak, she saw the best of humanity: Someone trying, tripping and falling in love.


Act 2: Ballistic Dispersal

Melissa and I were in orbit when the earth died. Our bodies could handle the stress of re-orbit and we were learning hte operational procedures of the long-distance probe. Each probe could only fit two people and even then you had to lie side by side staring up at the controls. Several dozen tubes were inserted into you, providing nutrients and oxygen to ensure that humanities knowledge would persevere. When it came to survival, comfort came last.

Classes still took place, and the weight of humanity’s hopes still pressed on our shoulders. Zero-G did little to lessen the load. Memories of my family had been overwritten with complex math theorems alongside thirty different ways to explain the teachings of Fibonacci. We would recite chemistry equations, describe the social pressure of religion to each other and when the moon blocked out communication to earth and we had a few minutes of privacy, we explored other, more human delights. It was after one of our aptly named “Adam and Eve” sessions, when I was telling Melissa I was so happy I fell for her, that the earth died.

It wasn’t a world war nor was it climate change that ended the world. We were coasting in orbit, cresting earth’s horizon, when we saw the sun’s last dying gasps. A final wave of flames lit up space, and then its molten core died. Somewhere in the back of my mind I acknowledged the fact that 1.5 million people were going to die.

Melissa radioed our instructors as I planned our route. Our motions were practiced and robotic. Our mission had begun: Preserve humanity’s knowledge, fly to other worlds and sprout your of knowledge. I look over to Melissa, and reach for her hand. She grabs mine, squeezes it and looks at me. She’s ready. We have been training for this moment all our lives, but nobody told me it would be so scary.

“Let’s go,” she says.

With a press of a button the probe’s engines roar to life and we propel ourselves away from a dying planet. Right now my family would be going into a submarine, to dive deep into the ocean to try and survive. Encoded in our very essence is humanity’s knowledge, hopes and dreams. As I lie down into the pod, my body feeling heavy as my metabolism slows down, I say one last goodbye to the earth.


Act 3: Sprouting Seedlings

We were floating at the tail edge of the milky way, just another piece of metal drifting among the asteroids of Scutum-Centaurus, when we were woken up from our deep sleep. Melissa groggily addressed the alarms on her readout and motioned for me to slow the probe down. My heart sped up, and not due to the adrenaline pumping into it. My display read one object outside, directly in front of us, moving under its own propulsion - an alien ship. I turned on the cameras. It was made out of glass shards that dwarfed our small probe, and it deliberately smashed into asteroids, and sucked up the debris inside itself.

Our training kicked in. Melissa sent bursts of radio traffic as I flicked the probe’s lights on and off. We were in tandem: one, three, five. Please, notice us. We put our trust in Fibonacci that whomever was out there would differentiate us from the unintelligent rocks.

The glass ship shuddered and turned, letting us pass and then following our trajectory. It picked up speed, getting closer, and I saw the center of the ship split open. The giant maw of the ship enclosed around us, and we saw the interior of the ship was made out of mountainous biomes, somehow staying anchored to the ship.

Gravity took hold of the probe and I activated the landing system. We skidded to a halt on rocky ground and immediately we started scanning the outside: oxygen, a little more acidic than normal, inadvisable to stay here long-term, but short-term survival was not life-threatening. Melissa squeezed my hand, and I squeezed back. We opened the pod, the first humans to meet extraterrestrial life.

It was hard not to laugh and yes I know in my mutated state I am being hypocritical. The aliens towered above us, their small heads rolling on tall, serpentine-like necks. Their necks had several holes in them and they would close and puff out musical notes as they excitedly chatted to each other. Their neck ended on a small body, not unlike a corgi, but where there would be fur there was rough patches of jagged glass, similar to the exterior of the ship. They were like a giraffe mixed with an adorable rock-corgi and I giggled. Melissa shoved my in the ribs as they pulled out a device and scanned us.

A few awkward attempts at communication later and the four of them turned away from us, pipping and whistling. They reached a decision and led us over a rocky outcropping to a large cave, where there was a basket. They sat down and pulled an odd looking pellet from it and nibbled at it, before rolling it over to us and offering it.

Melissa and I were too busy excitedly discussing what we would show them next, to notice them leaving. To notice that the cave had no exit, that it had small observational cameras attached at each corner. We did notice the bars slamming down at the entrance. I rushed forward, grabbed one of the bars and yelped back in pain as it cut me.

The aliens understood us; we knew that much. We pleaded for them to let us out, and they just nodded. We listed off prime numbers in Spanish and they managed to communicate 1171 before us. They even interrupted our calculus class with matrices. On some fundamental level we were communicating, they just weren’t impressed. Every time we tried to show what humanity had to offer, every time we asked for mercy, they would throw us more of their food pellets and raise their heads up and down, as if clapping in appreciation. But they still would not let us out.

I knew deep down that we would stay here forever. My family, freezing in the earth’s cooling ocean, would stay there until they died. Caged on a dying planet, or caged on an alien ship, humanities destiny was to be trapped forever.

Melissa lied down beside me, the improvised flute lying beside her, her rendition of Bach done. For her efforts we got more food pellets thrown at us, they bounced on my massive head. She lied beside me and cried and there wasn’t anything I could do to help. A realization hit me.

We were the best humanity had to offer. The smartest, the most knowledgeable and the universe simply did not care.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Obliterati posted:

Hello, nerds, it's livecrit time.

Thanks Obli!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





Exmond posted:

Seed Migration


I'mma allow a certain amount of time before i ban your rear end, thirdemperor, and that amount of time is in my head just fyi

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

anatomi posted:

Cryptomnesia - ~1,300 words

I felt a bit cheeky, so I wrote an interactive story.

https://anatomi.itch.io/cryptomnesia

You need to put your entry into the thread as words, anatomi. I've contacted you about this; it's been over twenty-four hours. Please post a script.

:siren: :siren: For everyone's future reference! :siren: :siren: The OP has been updated to include a requirement we somehow didn't realize was necessary until now! Thou shalt put words in the thread. If you must post an image because your formatting won't allow a text post, that's one thing, but anybody who looks in the thread must be able to see your words in it. So mote it be. (Strange exceptions like CYOA Week may occur at judges' discretion, but even then, the words were in the forums somewhere.)

This requirement applies to the current week insofar as the judges wish.

anatomi
Jan 31, 2015


Kaishai posted:

You need to put your entry into the thread as words, anatomi. I've contacted you about this; it's been over twenty-four hours. Please post a script.
Ah, sorry 'bout that, Kaishai! Slipped my mind. I've edited the post now.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Cyberjudgment 2019

This was a good, if divisive, week. Many of the stories unmentioned below found at least one receptive judge/audience.

But some did not.

Dishonorable Mentions go to selephiel's The Man From Martian Road and iTrust's True Futures, and the loss goes to Saucy Rodent for The God Code (A Sermon), each in no small part due to being some combination of barely cyberpunk, poorly proofed, and/or barely a story.

But there was more that was good: Honorable Mentions for Uranium Phoenix's The Anarchist and the Associate, crimea's Rosa & Tom, and anatomi's Cryptomnesia.

And the winner goes to what is legit one of my favorite stories in all my time in the dome, The Saddest Rhino's The Devil Lives in Razak Towers.

Welcome back to the blood throne!

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


https://i.imgur.com/brgpjTJ.gifv

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.


Thranguy posted:

Cyberjudgment 2019

This was a good, if divisive, week. Many of the stories unmentioned below found at least one receptive judge/audience.

But some did not.

Dishonorable Mentions go to selephiel's The Man From Martian Road and iTrust's True Futures, and the loss goes to Saucy Rodent for The God Code (A Sermon), each in no small part due to being some combination of barely cyberpunk, poorly proofed, and/or barely a story.

But there was more that was good: Honorable Mentions for Uranium Phoenix's The Anarchist and the Associate, crimea's Rosa & Tom, and anatomi's Cryptomnesia.

And the winner goes to what is legit one of my favorite stories in all my time in the dome, The Saddest Rhino's The Devil Lives in Razak Towers.

Welcome back to the blood throne!

In case you missed it, everyone's crits are here.

Also PMROPT

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Week 341: AD 2019 NEO THUNDERDOME BONUS CRITS

Here are brief crits on your stories. Consider, as you read them, that I am infallible and I do not transcribe opinions, only truths. These are not mere words about your words, but an unbreakable blade pointed at your very soul.

The Man From Martian Road by selaphiel
Meteoroids don’t travel at lightspeed. Not even close. Also, it’s not a meteorite until it’s done falling and on Earth. Two basic, blatant errors (that you had days to catch in editing) throw me out of the story and destroy the trust I have in this story. Your alien-in-a-meteoroid-egg is also decidedly not cyberpunk; this is very much sci-fi. It takes you until the second section to establish your character has a Secret Mission(tm). Area 51 and Las Vegas are in NEVADA not NEBRASKA holy poo poo. Okay then lightball decides to possess a random dude being beat up because ethics. Feels like a lot of clichés in here. The secret mission—what I thought was your conflict—is just “become a power source”? The story actually resolves with this one act of alien kindness, but that conflict was only established late in the story. Therefore, your story is confused and doesn’t know what it wants to be. Aside from editing so you don’t make extremely basic errors, figure out what your conflict is and make the story about that. There’s a huge amount of fluff (such as the entire first section) that doesn’t add anything to the story. Plus, you just add things like ‘conspiracies are real and they make the White House money’ and ‘giant war forced NASA to stop contact with Martians’ that just leave the reader baffled, since the story never explains itself.


Second Opinion by Easy Diff
Good that we get to the conflict (medical problem) quickly. You’re trying to build sympathy, but I feel like I need context for who this character is and why specifically this is so devastating in their life. Who are they connected to? What will they miss? It’s too generic; I know nothing about this character, so I don’t care about them. The resolution is that he lives at a resort until death, because silly finance laws. This is weak because the company essentially does the work for him. Henry is a very passive character. I think you have two paths here: Either this story is about the absurdity of insurance, finance, and debt in our world, which I think could lead to some good black comedy, or it’s about this one character confronting mortality, in which case you need to make the reader feel for them.


The Game of Life by Simply Simon
Stories about video games are tough, because it’s hard to make the reader care. The story centers around the bond of two gamers and the concept of escapism. Problematically, I don’t buy the relationship because the characters feel underdeveloped. The post-scarcity world, abandoned, is a bit interesting. The revelation only leaves the reader with a larger question that is not resolved; ultimately, that leaves the story feeling incomplete. Finally, I think there’s potential in a character using the virtual to help navigate gender dysphoria (briefly implied by Hannah’s parents calling her ‘Otto’), but that’s not this story yet.


Latency by Applewhite
I like your introduction. It acknowledges the clichés of the genre while still conveying both the setting and tone with some fun descriptions. After that, we run into problems. If you’re going to call attention to clichés, you have to do more than just have them. This could be forgiven if you had a fresh take, an intriguing plot, or solid characters, but you don’t. Why is the rider going into the city? Why do we care? What is accomplished?


True Futures by iTrust
The obituary line is bad, but you do have a quick plot hook. The dialogue needs work. Some is off, some is olde tyme, some feels like filler rather than to advance the plot or develop the characters. Proofread, because you have italics starting mid-word in one spot. The ending of the story is basically revealed by the victim’s colleague, so the ending you have is flat. What would be more interesting is who/what is behind the horoscopes (machines are programmed by people).


Planned Obsolescence by Sitting Here
Hmm. Very slice-of-life here. Marron and Wintermoot seem quite human, and there’s a minor tension inherent in the fact that the seem happier together online than with their families. It’s not really resolved (I like her resolution paired with the previous resolution that didn’t happen), but it doesn’t feel like it needs it. Marron is still figuring out what she needs, what she wants, and it’s going to take time. So yeah, you succeeded at that slice-of-life thing.


Hot Pursuit by Staggy
Man, this mallcop has more passion for stopping petty theft than I’ve had passion for anything in my life. And then he just lets them go, because the person said the magic word? And we don’t get their rationale, or really understand the circumstances that lead them to this action. Too much of this story is dedicated to the chase, rather than the decision the protagonist makes.


Yeah, I’m just gonna post it. The God Code (a Sermon) by Saucy_Rodent
Right, so you already know this has nothing to do with cyberpunk. And it does feel like I’m being preached to, since the purpose of the story is tackling the “if god good, why evil?” You can probably significantly condense the sentiment you’re trying to convey; I figured out where the sermon was going long before it actually got there. Also, I don’t know who the target audience is, because I also don’t know who it’s going to convince of anything. I can’t critique this as a story, because it’s not one. I think my biggest advice is, you had still had time to write a story, and could have done that.


Rosa & Tom by crimea
Basically, 95% of your story is setting up the premise, the world, and the ‘helmets’ consciousness preservation/transfer concept. It’s a fun concept, and there’s lots to explore there. However, the end of your story is where it should actually begin. Benji is faced with an interesting phenomena, an ethical conundrum, and gains the possibility of being able to communicate with another character--but doesn’t even engage. All the setup leads to… nothing. Also Benji feels underdeveloped. Also I don’t get the title.


Aspire by cptn_dr
I like that we move quickly from Persephone’s poo poo hell-life to a high tension phone call. It quickly entraps our protagonist in a nice over-her-head classic cyberpunk conflict. An aside, given the examples of our current hellworld, I don’t think just revealing corporate malpractice would be enough to bring one down, but, eh. The story doesn’t tell us what happens next, but I’m okay with it because our protagonist made her character-defining decision, and she at least has hope it might get her out. Solid.

Cryptomnesia by anatomi
Well, this is a fun look into a different mind. You have an established voice, which the technobabble assists. The biggest problem with a story where the premise is a sapient entity is drifting, purposeless, is that stories have trouble staying engaging without purpose/plot. Despite a lack of characters and apparent plot, the medium assists in helping move the reader through the story. Since there are different endings (two, it seems; fixer kills you vs. reincorporation), it does require a certain amount of engagement and analysis by the reader, but the world is very vague and I’m not entirely sure what happens when the entity, having understood itself, goes through the pinhole. Abstraction is important here, but I think we need more concrete things to hold onto so the reader isn’t lost.


Pieces and Parts CYBERpunk week by Lippincott
Ugh, did this guy get his kidney taken and wake up in an ice bath? *Sigh* Basically. At least we get the conflict quickly. I’d cut down on the conversation with the agent; you might be able to start with the protagonist seeing their organ for sale, which would give you more room for how they react to the conflict. I do like the tension prior to the operation, but what real leverage does the protagonist actually have? There’s an interesting theme of body dysphoria here, and I’d like more time on that. I feel like you just need to use the word ‘penis’ though. You could also go deeper into the implied conspiracy. Or, as the ending makes it a sort of body horror piece, you could focus on that aspect.


Cheating on the Turing Test by QM Haversham
Bladerunner 2049 vibes from hologirlfriend. Except this protagonist has a totally different reaction; they’ve clearly enjoyed their companionship, but they’re overwhelmed by shame that anyone might know and don’t even hesitate to order their existence wiped. Roland spends no time considering the sentience of his program, but Nari’s like “I’ve only done what you’ve asked,” (and the title) implies it might be there. It’s a solid snippet, but what I really want to see is what happens afterward. Does Roland have regrets? Does he lose Rachel and reboot Nari? I feel like what happens after has the most potential to create a powerful inner conflict.


The Walls of London by Viscardus
Eddie takes a new job. How does he handle it? The story moves slowly, with a lot of focus on the windows and concern with the real/fake, but there’s a lot of exposition about this flood. Then more description. Problematically, Eddie makes one real choice in the whole story: Threaten a guy to repair a thing. Which is done easily. Yay, this probably saves people. But there’s no tension in the choice, and the conflict is over too quickly. Too much of the story is description, exposition. I feel like you enjoy your setting, but we need more story inside it.


Into the Night by Baneling Butts
Your first paragraph is too explain-y and the transition is painful (Mbali reflected on these facts… eyugh). I think you could incorporate the key information into the story, especially given the four expository paragraphs you have describing her job, the trees, and life. Then, the conflict (murder?) has basically nothing to do with your setting. Your character feels okay about it pretty much immediately after confessing, dismissing the possibility of dealing with her internal conflict, and she runs off. The fact that she is free doesn’t make the reader feel better because it doesn’t properly resolve her inability to fit in, which is what I thought this story would be about until almost the end of the story when the murder is introduced.


Off Sight by M. Propagandalf
Oh god is this a pun on seeing, or a spelling error. Well, you’ve got a mystery that matters to the character quickly established, and contrasted it with a dystopia of constant ads, even in dreams, apparently. Oh man I love the word oneirocian. I also like how lack of consumerism is considered a medical problem. While the start and middle seem fine, I’m not as big a fan of the ending. It doesn’t feel like the conflict is resolved, nor does it feel like he’s properly joined the punk part of this cyberpunk.


Never Stops by kurona_bright
Well this is certainly a dystopia because such a massive amount of people have Lyft/Uber accounts (I know they’re not called that in the story) and all use them. Is it your intention to have the driver so dehumanized they don’t have a description or pronoun? I’ve got to say, this delivery of corporate warfare bores the hell out of me. It feels like you’ve introduced a bunch of jargon, but it doesn’t feel like it actually furthers the story. It’s like busywork that keeps the story rolling long enough. Rowan’s act obviously has devastating consequences for workers, but the story ends before he has to deal with them. I think that conflict is more interesting than the “sabotage a corp” conflict that was both vague and trivially done, and your story had plenty of room to explore it.


Flying High by Fuschia tude
Well, straight into the action of hacking a corp, but why? The ‘why’ is important. If you’re going to murder the security guy that gruesomely, I think we’re entitled to a better description of what happens when half a torso explodes. Anyways, are they just robbing random places? Then Pon fights a cyborg miniboss, but why? Where did they come from? I had a hard time following the story. What are they stealing? Why? Who’s the evil cyborg? Where’d they come from? Why does Pon blame her gloves for—well, you get the point.


To see a sparrow fall by sebmojo
drat that is some hardcore technobabble right off. So this a story about two struggling people getting by in the no good cyberworld. They both help each other, but as the ending implies, still aren’t really connected. But maybe they will be? I dunno. I’m also super unclear about what was going on in the first scene.


The Devil Lives in Razak Towers by The Saddest Rhino
This is funny, and incredibly dense with its setting, which is also a fun world. My only possible complaint is the density can make it hard to follow in spots, especially quick jumps between history and the present—I had to reread some parts. However, you’ve got great voice, and the story lines up each bit of carefully introduced setting, snippet, and seeming aside, and uses them all to come to a satisfying conclusion. Really, I can’t say anything else besides ‘great work.’ As soon as I read this, I pretty much knew it was going to win.


Social Climbers by Bad Seafood
Sofia seems like an interesting character, since she seems to want to stay at her level (which is probably rare in a social leveling system). Maybe? The level/up down system is neat in that it gives us information about a character’s daily habits even only showing one day (like “Disrupting the flow of traffic! Two-day combo!” is fun), and clearly that system is tied to the tiered social system of the pit-city. However, I’m not entirely clear on what Sofia’s role is. A government agent that kills people’s social score? Is what she’s doing part of her job, or is she a rogue-cop type? I feel like I need a more defined motivation and character from her, which Eddie can bring out more. The conflict (taking down shady high scores) is also not foreshadowed.


Wake Up by Yoruichi
The core conflict of this story is Casey’s decision to either save the oligarch she’s with or let his generator be stripped to help others. Initially, she chooses to save him. The key moment that appears to change her mind is Bruce’s flippant response. I feel like that happens too fast, and the conclusion is too quick to cut the story off. I also sort of wonder why the house is in an urban center, rather than a hidden bunker somewhere. But yeah, I think I need more of Casey’s internal thoughts and experiences, and give the conclusion more time to breathe, through either an exchange or perhaps the results of Casey’s decision.

Exmond
May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

sebmojo posted:

I'mma allow a certain amount of time before i ban your rear end, thirdemperor, and that amount of time is in my head just fyi

Regardless of the outcome, give him the ultimate shame: An Umaru Avatar.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




Exmond posted:

Regardless of the outcome, give him the ultimate shame: An Umaru Avatar.

Stop trying to make Umaru happen.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Thranguy posted:

Cyberjudgment 2019
Dishonorable Mentions go to selephiel's The Man From Martian Road and iTrust's True Futures, and the loss goes to Saucy Rodent for The God Code (A Sermon), each in no small part due to being some combination of barely cyberpunk, poorly proofed, and/or barely a story.

Now, now, sir. I will accept "not cyberpunk" and "not a story" and "obviously just your homework." But poorly proofed?

I'll proof-read your rear end as I'm kicking it in a BRAWL

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!


Pham Nuwen posted:

Stop trying to make Umaru happen.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Pham Nuwen posted:

Stop trying to make Umaru happen.

anatomi
Jan 31, 2015


Kikunae Ikeda posted:

Watch me make umami happen.

anatomi fucked around with this message at 19:13 on Feb 19, 2019

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Pham Nuwen posted:

Stop trying to make Umaru happen.

Exmond
May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

Interprompt: 250 words. Umaru happens, the world suffers.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Oh hey, apropos of nothing, now that I'm out of shutdown hell, I can offer my TD Avatar Good Words Bounty:

If you have a TD shametar (the losertar, or something more specialized, either way) and win a brawl or get a positive mention in a main week, I will buy you an avatar cert to use as you see fit, with two stipulations:

1) All brawl wins must demonstrate effort. You can win by default but you have to have tried.
2) Non-TD shametars are not eligible. If you get weird redtext in D&D or something, that's on you.

Go forth and write good words to take my money.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Dear The Saddest Rhino

PROMPT

Please save us from Umaru and poo poo posting.

Kind regards
The Thunderdome

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME




Antivehicular posted:

Oh hey, apropos of nothing, now that I'm out of shutdown hell, I can offer my TD Avatar Good Words Bounty:

If you have a TD shametar (the losertar, or something more specialized, either way) and win a brawl or get a positive mention in a main week, I will buy you an avatar cert to use as you see fit, with two stipulations:

1) All brawl wins must demonstrate effort. You can win by default but you have to have tried.
2) Non-TD shametars are not eligible. If you get weird redtext in D&D or something, that's on you.

Go forth and write good words to take my money.

This is a good post! Much better than piling on with empty quotes, in a writing thread, where you are supposed to use your own original words to express your ideas.

smdh, rhino save us from this madness

...e;fb

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




Sitting Here posted:

This is a good post! Much better than piling on with empty quotes, in a writing thread, where you are supposed to use your own original words to express your ideas.

smdh, rhino save us from this madness

...e;fb

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.



prompt imo

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Cybercrits 2019

Let's talk about bad cyberpunk a little here. Let's talk about Ready Player One.

One of the many annoying things in that book happens near the middle, where we learn that EvilCorp has set up a system of debt peonage to fill its call centers. They spend vast quantites of money on extra security to maintain it, housing, specialized media. Far more than it would cost them to just hire people looking for work-this is a world with massive unemployment-but they're spending money, forgoing profit just to be a touch more evil. So please, make your corporate villains indifferent to suffering in the course of profiteering, but don't do that. Even the classic mustache-twirlers were all about getting that rent money.

Onward to the stories.

The Man from Martian Road

Not a great start. A lot of proofing issues: incomplete sentences, breath for breathe. And too much time spent before introducing a character, much less a conflict.

Don't see the flash, story is only just vaguely in the genre. Low.

Second Opinion

The opening section is okay. A bit wordier and dry than the subject matter would seem to call for, and a bit too predictable as well.

The second half is at least unexpected. Possibly because the idea is a little daft; which you lampshade a bit. But the end descends into talking heads and the very end falls a little bit flat: it's just a bit too easy for this guy to 'win’ here. Middleish?

The Game of Life

Milton-Bradley or the cellular automata?

Okay, this is very well done. For a story whose bulk is two or three conversations between two people, it avoids letting any be just a pair of talking heads.

It's interesting that several stories have taken tropes that are usually dystopian and went with a maybe this isn't so bad a thing approach.

Good, high group.

Latency

It's/Its error early, for shame. Decent version of a string of cliches though. And an okay action set piece, a bit devoid of character, skipping over the most interesting bit, but with an interesting and well-executed ending. Middle?

The Anarchist and the Associate

Nice, strong opening, a little awkward at the very end. My eyes are rolling at the buzzword bingo line, and not in a good way.

Are you taking minutes at a criminal conspiracy? I don't buy the ending, really. I mean, if this is possible, the next Corp in line will recreate it in a few months. Releasing it into the wild, giving everyone the tools to make perfect frames and thus destroying confidence in the system seems the more Anarchist approach here. And it's only a little bit accellerationist, as soon as two factions will this tech go to war that's going to happen anyhow. High,though.

True Futures

A lot of repetition in the opening paragraph. The body, again and again. Okay noir opener though.

Occurs. Somewhat off word choice.

Very bad dialog. Not how humans talk. Odd formatting. And no ending. I mean, it just cuts off, not even a chapter break works. Maybe a commercial break. Lowish.

Planned Obsolescence

Interesting use of brands here, but slow start otherwise. And it's a sort of slow, low-stakes story in general. Nicely written, but not much there there. I think the explicit calling out of the brands bit hurts. Are there near future sci fi games with healer roles? Middle.

Hot Pursuit

Second sentence is probably too long, should be broken up. Good start, though. 'infrared’ twice in a row is awkward, I'd rewrite or use IR or heat lamp for the second.

This is a reasonably well-written scene, but the ending is completely unearned. The narrator's decision here comes out of nowhere and seems at odds with, well, being the kind of person who could be even survivable good at that job. Also, putting security on commission is such a bad idea that the corps would have to be committed to evil over profit to try it... (You want the security to deter shoplifters, let them know they're being watched. Commissioning them means they're incentivized to hide and ambush instead.)

Middle, maybe middle-high.

The God Code(a Sermon)

Wasps are hateable, but I hope there's a story here. Oh. There isn't. Not sure where the flash fits either.

I mean, this might make an okay high school essay, and there might be a story involving a church whose reaction to the problem of evil is <shrug emoji>, but it falls far short of what we want here. Low, possible loss candidate.

Rosa & Tom

'great scores’, not making sense from word two. These aren't musical compositions, every score is the same 20 items, none can be greater than another.

Okay, this one sets up some interesting ideas, does some nice, subtle world building, but doesn't do enough with it. We get the setup for multiple mysteries, but no resolution, down to the title itself, and to the narrator doesn't have enough internal life going on to get us past that, doesn't experience enough conflict or exercise enough agency to make for a story.

Middle, maybe low-middle.

Aspire

Okay opening. Full name sentence openers three times in a row probably a bad choice.

This one is just basic, I think. Nothing exciting or new, just standard corporate dystopia and a garden path to successful revolt for the protagonist. And I have to wonder why the goons were too lazy to do an even slightly thorough search of their victim's apartment.

Middle.

Cryptomnesia

Is this worth the gimmick? There's only one real branch to the story. The call-and-response aspect,the forced participation to break up and drive the story is does something, I suppose.

The words are good, and the narratives interesting. I may take another look in script form, to more critically examine the prose. High.

Pieces and Parts

A tense shift in the first two sentences, not a good sign. It may even be technically correct here, but it's still more confusing than it has to be. Use a direct quote instead.

So, does a tired urban legend get any more interesting when you search and replace 'penis’ for 'kidney’? Possibly, but I think to make it work you'd need to not dance around the subject. The way you went I was sort of hoping you'd end up with it being something else, somehow. Middle, maybe low middle.

Cheating on the Turing Test

Semicolon should be a comma. The second part isn't a complete sentence. Missing word 'after’ in sentence two. 'to teased’.

Proofing issues aside, this is an okayish scene that does some interesting things. I'm not 100% sure it's intentional, but there's an interesting tension between two interpretations here, whether he's making a healthy decision or being cruel, whether the ai is sentient enough to be a victim of society or just, well, a masturbation aid. The title makes me lean toward intentional here. High.

The Walls of London

Opening is a bit slow. A lot of infodumping before we get to the fireworks factory. And we don't even get that. Hell,we don't even get any physical description of the nearly failing wall section.

Also more corporate stupidity here. Taking possession before due diligence is just daft.

Middle.

Into the Night

Another opening infodump. Everyone, establish some character and conflict first, then fill in the background when you need to break up the pace. Get the story started.

And this one doesn't really know where the story is. There's interesting parts before it starts. There is something very interesting after it ends. But what we get,apart from utopian woolgathering, is a short conversation the point of which is that nothing is going to happen soon. Middle.

Off Sight

This one is good, but unsatisfying. Incomplete. It doesn't help that the last section is a long talking heads conversation with a bland new character, or that the protagonist doesn't have much going on himself other than being the guy something strange is happening to. Middle-high.

Never Stops

Wait, wasn't it Mariposa that hacked packer?

This is a functional story here. A bit lacking in character development, but it has a working plot that reaches a solid ending, which is an accomplishment this week. Middle-high.

Flying High

Producing should be produced or the stop before should be a comma.

I really liked this one, another win candidate for me. I was a bit confused by what happened with the guard, though. Were they human, and killed by torso removal, or something else? Why is an apparently lethal weapon called a stunner?

To see a sparrow fall

Title capitalization rules, please.

This is a nice and harmless little character piece. The most interesting bit is the two characters, their work relationship intruding on their off-time/other job interactions. The detailed tech nonsense is amusing but probably a bit too long. The outside misery is better-drawn. Middle.

The Devil Lives in Razak Towers

Second person. Cool. This is a very strong opening, too. Cheating the hell out of the word count with all those neologism compounds. I approve.

Near certain win, far above the previous candidates.

Social Climbers

Interesting voice here. Short sentences. Hemingway as cyberpunk. But only for the first few paragraphs, then a more normal style. The rich/poor vertical segregation seems inconsistent, reversing itself.

Amusing, with fairly well fleshed out characters, but not enough going on to compete this week.

Wake up

This story feels, well, rushed. The speech in the middle is heavy-handed, the central relationship could use a bit more screen time, and I sort of think what happens next is more interesting than what happens in the story.

Middle.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Exmond posted:

Interprompt: 250 words. Umaru happens, the world suffers.
https://i.imgur.com/QPsDDcv.gifv

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014

This statement is a lie!


JUDGE CRITS WEEK 341
“The Man from Martian Road” by selaphiel
Is this cyberpunk? It feels like a normal science fiction story to me. I suppose the inclusion of a bionic eye means it technically counts, but there’s not that much engagement with the usual themes and conflicts the genre’s known for, probably because of the extraterrestrial perspective. That could be an interesting wrinkle to cyber-punk, but you spent all your time on setting up that premise and left none to take it in an interesting direction. Aside from that, this story’s pretty middling for me. It doesn’t seem broken at all, just not that engaging.

“Second Opinion” by Easy Diff
This also has the feeling that it’s ending just as you’ve given me a hook to get invested in the story, and in your case you could written more words than what you’ve got. Is there a catch to this whole debt exchange plan that would make Henry regret signing up for it? He’s already dying, so you’d have to get creative about it, but it seems doable. Regardless, there are a few glimmers of detail here and there that make me want to go easy on you, but I doubt this story will do that well in comparison to most others.

“The Game of Life” by Simply Simon
Now this one has some potential. It gets its point across quickly and in the right places, plus it does well at making me feel for its characters. The high points come when Hannah’s alone in the real world, dealing with the effects of being stuck in a body that falls so short of her expectations and what she wants from it. My only quibble comes with the worldbuilding; I’m not clear on how exactly putting most of humanity in VR would be a huge net gain for the environment, considering how much energy I imagine those chairs consume. That’s pretty optimistic considering the prompt, isn’t it? Not to mention the nature of the game itself; I don’t know if I buy so many people getting into that one fantasy milieu and an endless grind, even with full sensory input. I still like this story, though.

“Latency” by Applewhite
A hefty slice of thick, cheesy pulp, though there’s not a whole lot to the application of the flash rule beyond one detail about how much waste heat an A.I. singularity would generate. It would be an interesting way to work global warming into the prompt, but once katana boy enters the tunnel and the Griefers start to fight him, this detail stops mattering to the story. As far as I can tell, you write action well, but I don’t know anybody involved in the scene so I can only appreciate your writing on a technical and prose level. Nor do I really get how the ending is supposed to be ironic, so your bookends are neat in theory, but not execution. I do think this is worth salvaging and reworking, but in this context the mild thrill of reading vanishes once I’m done with it.

“The Anarchist and the Associate” by Uranium Phoenix
Oh god the corporate douche stank on this one, I love it. This ended up being a strong contender that not only fits the prompt well, but updates it for modern sensibilities and feels topical without being forced and heavy-handed. I’m jealous that I didn’t come up with it, honestly. I like the interplay between the main character and her daughter, the mention of real-world anarchism, and how the two of them are willing to get even with that slimy co-worker. No complaints here. HM candidate.

“True Futures” by iTrust
You need to put a comma between “suicide” and “detective.” The way the woman with spectacles talks rings false; the word choice in a couple of places makes her feel unreal, even for the haughty personality you’ve given her. You also messed up the italics in the paragraph where you talk about Jupiter. Overall, I don’t know what you’re getting at with this story. It really seems like Trent didn’t learn anything about these horoscopes that couldn’t have been surmised with the assumptions about what horoscopes are normally like. How does the horoscope make people kill themselves? Is the ending meant to imply that Trent is also going to kill herself? If not, why not? She’s looking at hers, isn’t she? If so, why doesn’t she appear to feel anything about this turn of events? The whole story is wooden nonsense. DM/Loss candidate.

“Planned Obsolescence” by Sitting Here
This is an astonishing amount of product placement for a flash fic. Alright, so what you’re going for is an understated, unflattering look at where our generation might be in a few decades. Watching this from the outside makes me embarrassed to be as online and tech-dependent as I am, especially since I remember City of Heroes. I wasn’t really invested in this game-playing wine mom character from the start of the story, which might have affected my decision not to buy into her change of heart at the end. She’s into this chintzy game for most of the story, and then at the end she chastises herself because… midlife crisis? She was cheating on her husband with Wintermoot? This is just not working for me, and it’s a shame because I normally like your work a lot. DM candidate.

“Hot Pursuit” by Staggy
This is alright. It’s another action beat, but with clear stakes that I can understand. The cop protagonist is trying to catch a thief as part of their job, and because their partner is angry and thirsting for status in making a collar, but has a twinge of guilt and decides to let the kid go at the end. It’s fine, though it doesn’t have much in the way of attitude or flavor.

“The God Code (a Sermon)” by Saucy_Rodent
Are you the person in the thread who said their story got away from them so much it no longer fits the prompt? Because boy, it feels like you are. Not only is this not really a cyberpunk story, I hesitate to call it a story at all. It’s a sermon justifying the existence of evil in programming terms, which isn’t that novel and doesn’t leave me feeling much sympathy for God. The wasp thing feels tacked on, too, like you felt the need to give your anonymous preacher a personal touch that doesn’t quite make them feel like an actual character. All in all, kind of annoying. DM candidate.

“Rosa & Tom” by crimea
The story starts out pretty well and stays that way throughout most of its wordcount. You describe things in a way that makes me interested in what’ll get revealed next, dripfeeding details at just the right pace, but the payoff is one of those “Huh, how about that” things that I’m not sure about. It’s somewhat sad that this dead person’s consciousness got lost and dissolved in the nearby machinery after a last-ditch attempt for him to save his own mind from death, but it doesn’t affect much of anything. This is the story of another guy coming across the aftermath of somebody else’s story, as if the ship he’s on is the Obra Dinn. Maaaybe HM?

“Aspire” by cptn_dr
My only real complaint is that I found the repetition of Persephone’s full name in the first paragraph annoying. I get what you’re going for in doing so; you want to reinforce her identity as a corporate drone before kicking off the plot and revealing her hope and motivation. I’d still rather it not be there, though I’m not sure how else to convey that information economically. Otherwise, you did about as well at introducing stakes in this story as can be expected of flash fiction. I especially liked the corpse part and her playing along with the initial call. HM candidate.

“Cryptomnesia” by anatomi
“You haphazard to ping the fixer”? Is this a real sentence fragment I’m reading? There’s definitely at least one typo in the story besides this. It’s a shame this piece needs a bit of polish, because I like the novelty of submitting a text game for TD, and the actual story is unsettling and alien, as befits the viewpoint of a spacebound AI, and I appreciated the twists at one of the ends. HM candidate.

“Pieces and Parts” by Lippincott
drat this is nice. I love how nerve-wracking it is, conveying the helplessness and outrage of someone who’s being hosed over by a system that doesn’t care about him at all. You give just the right amount of hope and then take it away. Perfect. I’d do that finger-kiss thing if I didn’t find it insufferable. Win candidate.

“Cheating on the Turing Test” by QM Haversham
This is another good one that nails what makes the prompt special right in the head. It starts out being sad and embarrassing and ends up being just sad and a bit infuriating. Instead of a huge, faceless system using people and tossing them away because it’s convenient, it’s just this guy, who isn’t even secure enough in his convictions to just wipe Nari without having a frank conversation with her, the point of which lies solely in assuaging his own consciousness since she won’t remember any of it. Not a bad portrait of dehumanization, even if I like Lippincott’s a little better. HM candidate.

“The Walls of London” by Viscardus
Easily the best of the three first-time entries this week. Like “Hot Pursuit,” it takes the form of a story about a low-level enforcer of the status quo breaking protocol to do the right thing, but I like this one much better. The story takes time to give Eddie a personal reason why he’d want to do that, plus it works in some commentary about how corporations put people at risk to pursue profit, and the whole story gives me a pretty strong sense of place. I think you’ll do well here. HM candidate.

“Into the Night” by Baneling Butts
What mostly holds this back is the clunky manner in which you deliver exposition, especially at the start. It doesn’t give the rest of the piece much room to breath, so the conflict introduced and resolved has to be super simple. Mbali reveals that she’s killed her boyfriend, and confides in someone that she’s exiling herself from the city, and that’s it. I’d say that your setting had potential, but I’m not sure what other conflicts could emerge from this particular city. They seem to be doing much better than anyone else this week.

“Off Sight” by M. Propagandalf
You didn’t seem to take advantage of the NGO Superpower flash rule, thought to be fair this is the one flash rule that I’d be more surprised if it doesn’t come up in a cyberpunk story. More importantly, this story doesn’t resonate with me because you don’t present a particularly uncomfortable or brutal vision of the future. Sure, it’s mildly creepy that people have advertisements in their dreams, but Futurama made a joke about that and this story doesn’t present it as anything other than a tolerable annoyance. I’m not even sure what Jesse’s risking by following the dream and disobeying his… oneirocian. What an ungainly word.

“Never Stops (1195 words)” by kurona_bright
This finds another angle on how corporations people over, specifically their workers, that nothing else has gotten to yet. The problem is that the reader is distanced from being put in thumbscrews by the story putting them not in the shoes of the driver from the beginning and end, but by Rowan, who is doing some sort of espionage for… it’s never really clear who, actually. He works for Mr. Beros, but then it’s implied that his actions are what kills Mr. Beros’s taxi company, and then he finds out that his actions did result in improved conditions for cabbies and feels mildly uncomfortable about it. So what.

“Flying High” by Fuschia tude
Easily the most anime of all the entries this week. I still don’t have a whole lot of reason to root for or against Pon and Jasy, and I have no idea where that freaky guy with all the metal legs came from or how he relates to their caper, but the fight at the end was neat. The rest of it I could just take or leave.

“To see a sparrow fall” by sebmojo
Is this a big joke that I don’t get? None of the details in this story connect; it feels like a bunch of things happened without cause and effect. The aesthetic of Havelock and Elena having dangerous bullshit instead of hands is kind of funny, but I don’t get why they’re so chipper about everything in the beginning and end of the story. I guess I understand why Havelock is bummed about accidentally mutilating a dead bird, but nothing ever comes of it. The attack on the car by some gang comes across like something you just threw in because it’s a thing that can happen in cyberpunk stories. Overall it feels like you’re trying to waste the reader’s time on purpose, which is not a good look. DM/Loss candidate.

“The Devil Lives in Razak Towers” by The Saddest Rhino
A novel, intriguing story that feels, more like any of the past stories this week, like I’m visiting a whole new world. Part of that is because you steeped this story in Malaysian culture, which I know little about, and you’ve given it a lot of future flair that makes me curious about what else is happening in that region in the 22nd century. The focus of the main plot, as well as all of the technical jargon, feels like a more sophisticated form of joke, just ludicrous enough to tickle the funny bone but still within the realm that someone could take it seriously, too. I know I’ve heard of some out-there stories of musicians trying unconventional approaches to get new sounds in the past, and in a hosed-up cyberpunk future this seems like a logical extension. My personal favorite this week in terms of concept and flavor. HM candidate.

“Social Climbers” by Bad Seafood
The leveling up and down bit actually made me laugh, and it kept going when it became apparent just how much behavior the phone took into account in forming a social credit score. I don’t know if this system is more or less hosed up than the idea where people give other people scores that affect their lives, but the conceit works pretty well for this story, even though I’m unclear as to how it relates to the sharp architectural divides in the city.

“Wake Up” by Yoruichi
Dunno how to feel about this one. It mostly depends on the sense I get for Casey’s character. What I’m guessing is that she’s enamored with the Captain, who’s of a higher social station, and was content to spend her life in a cryodream with him while the world burned until she got woken up by radicals. Even though she fights them and maybe kills one of them, I suppose seeing other people’s suffering up close leaves her unable to play along with the Captain’s selfish fantasy anymore. I’m fully on board with the message, but I felt disconnected from Casey most of the way through and my assessment of her arc was kind of an educated guess.

Shrecknet
Jan 2, 2005

Nosferatu Enthusiast
@shrecknet



I thought there was a hard cap of 1000 words, in my head it turns out he isn't dying but the debt reverts when the loophole is closed, leading to a Running Man situation. Good to know for future domes

anatomi
Jan 31, 2015


Easy Diff posted:

I thought there was a hard cap of 1000 words, in my head it turns out he isn't dying but the debt reverts when the loophole is closed, leading to a Running Man situation. Good to know for future domes
The prompt allowed for up to 2,019 words. :thunk:

anatomi fucked around with this message at 23:55 on Feb 19, 2019

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Please don't discuss crits in this thread.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Hey guys! I feel like now is a good time for a refresher on posting in Thunderdome.

Here are good posts you can make in Thunderdome:

quote:

I'm in.

quote:

Title of my story
wordcount

My terrible, terrible words

quote:

Here is a crit of a story.

quote:

Thank you for the crit.

Here are bad posts you can make in Thunderdome:

quote:

Let me explain my story to you before I post it. Gosh I hope it's okay. I've done something quite sneaky. But are you prepared for it? I don't know, ho ho ho~.

quote:

edited by idiothellfucker69 at 12:05 AM

quote:

Thank you for the crit. Let me respond to it by explaining what was happening in my head, which I think is more important than what I wrote in my story. You see, I have brain worms, and thus,

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Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


none of this would have happened if rhino would have just posted the prompt

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