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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Yoruichi posted:

Go on then gimme a hell rule too :toxx:

:siren: Your story takes place during a nuclear war. No-one may die. :siren:

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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Hellrule me. Right in the face.

:toxx:

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







:siren: your characters all finish each others' sentences :siren:

Vinestalk
Jul 2, 2011



In

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


steeltoedsneakers posted:

Hellrule me. Right in the face.

:toxx:

Enneagram 1


Libra Sun Virgo Moon

sparksbloom fucked around with this message at 22:37 on Jul 31, 2019

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


um hey so if its chill id like a chance at a brawl with someone. td outcast SoA btw

Siddhartha Glutamate
Oct 3, 2005


sebmojo posted:

Im judge this I have strong views on dialogue hell rules on request w/toxx

Oh look the kiwi thinks he's tough. Does Mr. Mod wants to play? What ya gonna do, tell me to write dialog without using any nouns? Bitch, please, I don't even know what nouns are.

:toxx: in.

Come at me bro.

Come at me.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Siddhartha Glutamate posted:

Oh look the kiwi thinks he's tough. Does Mr. Mod wants to play? What ya gonna do, tell me to write dialog without using any nouns? Bitch, please, I don't even know what nouns are.

:toxx: in.

Come at me bro.

Come at me.

:siren: your protagonist is a literal elephant :siren:

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


take the moon posted:

um hey so if its chill id like a chance at a brawl with someone. td outcast SoA btw

K

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




I judge this. Prompt incoming once I not on phone

Take The Anomalous Moon Blowout Brawl

Your prompt is:

A person standing in the sun, smiling.

2,000 words

Due by midnight on Thursday 15 August, NZ time.

Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 01:13 on Aug 1, 2019

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Siddhartha Glutamate posted:

Oh look the kiwi thinks he's tough. Does Mr. Mod wants to play? What ya gonna do, tell me to write dialog without using any nouns? Bitch, please, I don't even know what nouns are.

:toxx: in.

Come at me bro.

Come at me.

ESFP

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


In

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


Yoruichi posted:

I judge this. Prompt incoming once I not on phone

Take The Anomalous Moon Blowout Brawl

Your prompt is:

A person standing in the sun, smiling.

2,000 words

Due by midnight on Thursday 15 August, NZ time.

Accepted. :toxx:

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME









Hello gacha players! Your microtransactions have been processed. The wheel has spun. Your results are being unboxed.

Some notes about this week: poor editing landed some of you in the red, and a few of you were closer to a negative mention than you'd care to know. We're talking nonsensical punctuation. We're talking tense shifts. We're talking badly attributed dialog. We're talking missing words and garden path sentences. Good god, you monsters.

That said, I don't think this week was lacking in ambition and imagination. While your stories were all threaded together by the theme of luck, I can't identify any common tropes or pitfalls. Everyone leaned the hell in to the insanity of their prompts, which made for a pretty novel judging experience. Even those of you who sucked did so interestingly!

Let's start with the bad news first. In games of chance, you're always gonna get the occasional dud.

Exmond. Buddy. This story can't make up its mind as to whether it's in past or present tense. I could forgive one or two typos, but there are a bunch, and you posted this days early. Believe me, I wanted to love your benevolently genocidal tree lady, and I am all here for sentient colony ships. You were playing my tune. But I feel like I got the first draft version of this story in a week where we were already frustrated with proofing and editing, which is why the loser of the week is The Ship's Name Was Purgatory, in spite of its rad title.

Apophenium, your lovecraftian horror POV was also extremely my poo poo, but in the end it felt like you used vagueness to cover up...I don't know. Rushed execution? The judges had to do a lot of headcanon to make sense of your piece, and while some of the possible interpretations were intriguing, none of us felt like we had a firm enough grounding in the story to say conclusively that we understood what happened. Ambiguity isn't a bad thing! But there needs to be a payoff. It's fine to leave your readers with questions, but those questions shouldn't be "wait so what happened???"

Fuschia tude, you wrote an anti-story. This is the Sometimes Fires Go Out of indemnity solicitation vignettes. It's not enough to introduce a Snidely Whiplash and then kill him off!

But of course not all games of chance end in tears; a few of you hit the narrative jackpot. Your honorable mentions are:

Sparksbloom for some really nice low key worldbuilding and a sensitive handling of a sensitive topic.

Antivehicular for subtle worldbuilding, a believable writing voice, and a strong dose of character catharsis.

Anomalous Blowout for an achingly honest portrait of emotional realism with a touch of surrealism.

Tyrannosaurus for a premise that is as amazing as it is what the hell?

And finally, the capsule of ultimate victory!

The winning story took all the judges by surprise—literally, we didn't see the twist at the end of your story coming. Each of us started reading expecting to dislike your piece, but were won over by your protagonist and the easy deftness with which you execute your scifi twist. Pepe Silvia Brown, YOU are the winner of GACHADOME! What does that mean? Well, not only are you entitled to bragging rights—our very own Curlingiron has offered a made-to-order hand-drawn av of your choice; contact her via the Discord, or post in the thread the best way to contact you if you'd like to redeem your prize!

Thank you everyone who participated.

:siren: ZINE STUFF :siren:

We are slowly accumulating decent handful of submissions for the Thunderdome.NZ flash fiction zine, but we are looking for more! If you want a low-effort way to get your stories on a platform fit to share with friends and family, we have got an opportunity for you! If you would like your story from this week tidied up and contributed to the pilot issue of our community zine, please post in this thread saying something along the lines of include my story in the zine. If you do so, I will add your entry for week 364 to the roster. You are, of course, welcome to choose a story from a different week (or maybe something you wrote outside of Thunderdome)—just post or PM me an archive or google docs link!

Housekeeping:

If you are a diamond capsule winner and you haven't yet told us how to deliver you your haiku, crit, or charitable donation, please do so! And those of you with story title privileges, feel free to give us the titles to our next stories. Here is the post detailing the diamond capsule winners:

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 11:28 on Aug 2, 2019

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


Middle of the field is good enough, so I feel no shame to say include my story in the zine!

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.



Contribute any of my stories ever to any 'Zine should you so choose. Except for the one I deleted from this thread, probs.

Pepe Silvia Browne
Jan 1, 2007

I won GACHADOME and all I got was this... uh, thing..?


Winner of Gachadome? Moi?? And on only my third submission ever???

I'm honored. And I'd be even more honored if my story was included in the zine. And obviously, you'd be honored to include it as well.

I'll hop on the discord some time today to claim my prize. Thanks, Judges!

Edit: Actually, could someone PM me or post an invite link to the Discord? I can't find one in this thread that isn't expired.

Pepe Silvia Browne fucked around with this message at 16:00 on Aug 2, 2019

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Here be crits:

I did these crits as I read. You may note that, for some stories, I just kinda stop doing that, and react at the end. That’s either really good, or really bad. Or, maybe it means nothing.

As always, I much prefer actually talking about stories than critting them. So if you want me to expand on anything, or just chew the fat in general, find me in irc/discord.

Also, some prizes have already been claimed, we'll be rolling out the rest throughout the week and onwards.




Exmond’s The Ship’s Name Was Purgatory

Global warming as an inciting incident is getting a little tired at this point.

Your opening lines have proofing errors and lack a general sense of polish. I don’t get the impression that this was edited/read out loud.

And yeah, typos into the next section, in just the first sentence. It comes across as apathetic or rushed which doesn’t inspire me to read this favorably.

Accordingly, I’m not gonna bother doing much more critting on the fly, I’ll read the rest now and give you my overall impression:


Alright, we got a lot of technical bad things to talk about. There are tense shifts all over the place, lack of general proofing and polish, this really needed several passes. As for the story, eh, there are so many sentences that are demanding to be read “As humanity’s most important sentence.” It’s disruptive from a flow standpoint and gives the whole piece a sort of self-righteous tone.

Low



Vinestalk’s Breaking the law of averages

First off, welcome! I haven’t read anything of yours yet. Quick thing, consider properly capitalizing your title unless you chose to do it differently for a stylistic purpose. You can use this until you get the swing of things: https://capitalizemytitle.com/

Several hundred words in and I’m seeing a whole lot of pontificating and not much in the way of a narrative. I’m also flummuxed by the choice to intercut your prose with, what I’m guessing are, song lyrics. I’m not gonna go and listen to the song you flashed yourself. I shouldn’t have to. It’s your story and it should be its own thing.

When we finally get to some storyish bits, we’re suddenly in 2nd person. Ballsy. I respect the choice.

Sentences like this “There’s something about that humidity.” are a gigantic waste of time in a flash-length piece. If there’s something about it, just show us what it is and don’t waste words on cliches.

POV shift is jarring and I’m not sure what the point of that is, or even what you’re going for anymore.

Low-Mid



Ironic Twist’s The Dinner Party with the Wealthy and Eccentric Host

Missing a “ there in that opener.

Cool, cooking with gas right from the jump. I’m glad you took that approach with the flash. Got a ticking clock going and everything. I don’t have the care about these characters yet to feel engaged.

I finished it quickly.

So you pretty much know what you did here and I think it works for the most part. A bunch of people nobody could possible care about means that the situation has to itself be entertaining and for the most part, it is. It is funny at its best but consistently ridiculous throughout. And, you definitely channeled the chaotic nature of the song so kudos to that.

Mid



Yoruichi’s The Rust Queen

I dig this opener. Tons of information about the characters, the world, and the stakes in a teeny-tiny little package. Well done.

What I’m not liking are these scene breaks. I don’t know why they need to be punctuated. I’m finding the compelling story to lack cohesion and interest every time I have to stop and read a new start of a thing.

OK, I see what you’re doing. Trying to provide glimpses and vignettes. I guess it just isn’t what I personally want here, but that may just come to preference. But consider this a chili-notice I’d rather just see you tell this story.

I finished this quickly.

Your characters are well realized and well handled. Again, my biggest quibble is on the structure of this piece alone. I’m not huge on you flashing back a whole bunch to make your point. I’d rather see more about their relationship than incidents in the past where the queen just kinda let things slide. Otherwise, this is a pretty piece and very readable. I liked it.

Mid-High



Chairchucker’s Fun Tawny Frogmouth Trivia: They Rule

You’ve got some tone problems. I know you can do goofy well, and that’s certainly how things kick off with your title. But you start off with such a solemn and important tone and then it kinda drops, kinda comes back, eh. Early on, this is lacking direction.

Uh, OK. Yeah so you definitely landed on goofy.

Which is fine, for the most part. This is lacking any good laughs, which is usually not your issue. But, here, I’m not seeing much to redeem this piece.

Low-Mid



Uranium Phoenix’s Once Burned

The over-the-top-bravado works, but it’s not surprising. I definitely see your protag pretty clearly.

I kinda want a better sense of what this dude’s mission actually is by the end of the opener.

Uh wait, these two know each other and like had a thing? Why?

OK, so this is like a revenge thing and we kinda want to see that happen cos you went out of your way to set up your protag as inherently unlikable.

This feels too easy and also doesn’t have much tooth to it.

Low-Mid



Fleat McGurn’s Use a Rubber

I’ll be doing the dramatic video reading of this, so thank you. The telling of the story within the story probably is the best feature of this. You have good command of the voice and it kinda plays well in my head. As for the story itself? Meh. It kinda lingers in weird places and it all builds up to this odd as hell crescendo. Comedy is hard to pull off, I definitely get that. But, you went for it and I appreciated the effort. Did it work or make me laugh? Can’t say much to the latter, but the story itself made sense and I followed you just fine.


Mid



Staggy’s Lucky Tides

I’m torn on this from the jump. On the one hand, I like the tone and you’re doing the fable thing right. On the other, passive language is dis-engaging.

Brevity did you a ton of favors here. This was a short, sweet little punch of a story that had the standard kinda trial stuff you see in a fable and, though not really linked by much apart from opportunities to expose the brother’s various strengths and weaknesses, it all made sense and worked on the theme. Nothing that I’ll likely hold onto or remember for long, but it didn’t fail.

Mid



Simply Simon’s Wheel of Fate

The color shifting from flowery language to straight prose isn’t great.

So there’s some gambling, chastising, then someone gets killed and Harold is somehow the most likely suspect.

Your prose is lacking a sense of urgency considering the events of the story.

I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea what happened in like… the last last 2/3rds of this? I’m super confused by the action and the motivation and the ending made me go ‘huh?’ but not in the way you want.


Low



Pham Nuwen’s In the Zone

The treatment of luck almost as its own character is odd, and is veering somewhat into magical realism. It’s not a bad choice, but I’m not sure what to make of it.

I can’t really tell much about these brothers and their relationship. You’re certainly setting up Luke to Han Solo into the duel and save the day but I’m not sure if I’m even rooting for that. Will seems like a meh kinda person at best.

Uh, so wait how does it end? I think it’s clear to you but it certainly isn’t to me. Is he cursing him to lose or something? He wasn’t sure what to do, and he doesn’t seem to arrive at any sort of solid conclusions so I really can’t tell what he did and why he did it.

Otherwise, it’s simple and relatively straightforward, no real complaints apart from the ending.

Mid, with a teensy bit of low




Black Griffon’s The tale told in the turtlebird's shell

The somewhat disjointed musing in the beginning is written well enough that I don’t mind it, but I’m not sure how much it helps you.

Your protag is talking around the action a lot. Lots of pontificating and sweeping ideas but I’m not seeing a whole of progression beyond the expository backstory.

I appreciate that you went for the telling of the story in the story. I assume you went that way cos folklore. It’s not bad, but it’s also not great. I think if you want me to believe I’m right there with you I need more than simply “it’s safe in here”. What’s it actually like in the place where the story is told? I recognize that painting that picture in the narrative voice you chose is a difficult ask, but that also points to perhaps the flaw in picking that direction.

I kinda like how it ends. But also, we don’t really know if this is just another hider. Feel like there were a bunch of endings and that’s just one possible suggestion. Maybe the likely one though.

Regardless, this may not be my favorite of the week, but it had moxie.

Mid-High



Thranguy’s Bacon and Ice Cream Is a Legit Combo


I was really curious how you were going to handle 5 minutes in a void. I’m glad you went for it head on and your take works for me.

The big paragraph here, the one where the dude makes everything. That was pretty cool.

Read this quickly. It’s trippy as hell but them’s the flashes you drew. You handled this well and for all of the insanity it’s strikingly clear and easy to follow.

High



sparksbloom’s The Top of the Hill

The premise/opener of this has me more hooked than anything I’ve read thus far. Deliver please!

Sorry, just finished the story, don’t have much to say apart from well loving done.

There’s a ton of cool poo poo in here, and interesting characters and motivation. The prose is spare and that helps keep everything fresh and allows the content of the story to shine.

Great.

High



Nikaer Drekin

Halfway in and the big issue is, I don’t know why this person is doing this horrible horrible thing. Like yeah, you get to some exposition about divorce and bad things in her life but that doesn’t quite push a person to explosive murder-suicide.]

This like manages to be a shaggy dog story kinda? I’m really unclear as to what Katerina is all about and while the conceit of being frozen in time forever having to contemplate a horrible deed while in pain is some decent existential horror fodder, I have to agree with the protag’s own assertion about the pointlessness of their actions. Why did this happen?


Mid-Low



Pepe Silvia Browne’s Just 'Cause It's Shiny, Don't Mean That It's Clean

You got a lot of stuff happening in the opener and it gets kinda baggy. This vague reference to Karen being gone isn’t helping. We don’t know how or why she’s gone and even with that lack of information, it comes across as cliche. (Yeah, I know your flash was ‘widowed’ but don’t let my knowledge of your flash help you, It’s gotta happen in the story.)

The cutting back and forth from chat logs to the detective’s logs works well enough. Huh and Markus dying was an interesting turn, let’s see where this goes.

“ 'Cept we're not thriving” probably wouldn’t be written in a log.

Hey. You got me. I actually didn’t see that ending coming.

OK, this was pretty good! The alternating logs served you well and kept this a brisque read. No prose or pacing problems either. Well done!


High



Megazver’s Janus’ Blessing


Your opener is totally out of control. A sentence that long and suddenly, I’m not caring about anything only 20 words into your story. It doesn’t help that only a cursory glance downwards shows me I’m in for a long as hell paragraph that I’m guessing also has a bunch of long sentences.

Just pointing out to consider how that kind of stuff gets into the mind of a reader.

Yeah, and on and on we go with these baggy-as-hell sentences.

It feels… intentional, but given as your lead character is an aucitoneer, I’d call that a not-so-great choice? OK, this is cumbersome and tought to read so I’m just gonna focus and tell how you I feel when I get to the end.

I can barely parse much of what happened as mostly all of this ended up bleeding together. I hope the other judges have something more valuable to offer you here, but this was a slog for me.


Low



Liquid Communism’s Last Call

Halfway through and I’m seeing a lot of musing and reflecting on the past and kinda talking around in circles but I’m not seeing much of a story.

OK, so they resurrected Pete. Right? That seems to be pretty much the only thing that happens in the story and I really didn’t care very much about it. You spend a lot of time doing very little and the story never gets going until, really, when Ally starts up with the magic. Why not start the story there? We can learn more about Pete and whatever the hell kind of journey he just was on and we can also learn about his backstory and all with him actually being a part of the telling.

Otherwise, this was fine. No technical errors or anything, just mostly forgettable.

Mid



QuoProQuid’s Beauty at Low Temperatures

Dude, give me a robot over some annoying grad students any day of the week.


It’s hard to tell how much of the judgement directed at Marcus is coming from Marcus himself or you.

Did you just sneak in a ‘ripping and tearing’ joke?

Oh man, the schmaltz on that ending is off the charts painful.

So yeah, easy enough to read, didn’t feel much need to stop and comment but oh boy, I don’t need to be told how much your protag grew a heart in the end. Went from Mid to Low-Mid with that ending.


Low-Mid



Siddhartha Glutamate’s Even the Darkness Has Its Light


Your prose is letting you down in your opener things like “but just then”, “and so there came a day” kind of disrupt the sense of this being a story told from any point of view to a story being told from your point of view.

Otherwise, I am super into a lead character being a wave. That’s some cool poo poo right there. Also, it seems like you used the song to inspire that choice and that’s doubly cool.

My big gripe so far is the voice. You continue to sort of inject a blase, knowing tone into things and I’d rather this feel a bit more ethereal. About halfway through now and everything is still making sense and working pretty well though.

Aw, OK, that’s kinda cute.

Well, I don’t presume that anyone here knows my business, but I’m a shrink so this story kinda works nicely for me. So this really only works as a fairy tale and especially one to be read to a young reader. A quibble is that it’s certainly not so easy to learn how to engage with yourself but this is a fairy tale and it’s good modeling.

So, while I may have had some issues with the voice and the handling of the subject matter is a bit reductive, I like most of what you did here and you integrated all of your flashes very well.

High



Hawklad’s Mendocino


The tense shifts early on don’t feel like a mistake, but even if they are a choice, they aren’t working for me.

A ukulele is not a small guitar :rant:

OK, so I see what you did here, and it kinda works, but not really.

The telling and structure of this is muddied and doesn’t serve you well. It’s hard to tell when the story is being told to the bartender and when you’re just telling the story. If you want to hit us with that twist at the end, we have to meet the bartender earlier, otherwise the pay-off is a bet wet fartish.

The story is fine otherwise, nothing mind blowing.


Mid



Tyrannosaurus’s Space is full of ghosts and there is no god


Well this is batshit alright, but it’s pretty readable up through the first few hundred words, let’s see how it goes from here.

Alrighty, the only way this works is if you’re good enough to pull it off and you pretty much are. The premise is upheld by the prose but is the premise good? I don’t know, maybe? I might not be the best audience for the piece as I’m not much for Kubrick and that may be the issue. I’m not sure how much prior knowledge is necessary to truly enjoy a piece that should, in theory, stand on its own.
Mid



Antivehicular’s A Letter, Never Opened


Strong opening. I’m definitely curious.

A couple of paragraphs in and I want you to get on with it. I read this as Xavier and I’m like, OK, I’m freaking out after the first paragraph, now what? And then you keep on intimidating without saying what’s going to happen next.

I get that the genre you rolled is Mystery, but since you start with your conclusion it kinda makes much of the rest of this feel unnecessary. Instead of caring about the why’s and how’s you’ve got me more interested in the comeuppance.

To your credit, I did get a little chill at the end. I like the ominous sort of conclusion the girl reaches. But, I didn’t care about reading much more of this. And I don’t think Xavier does either. He reads the beginning, knows he’s hosed, then reads the end.

But yeah, never opened, so it's like not for him and more an expression from your protag. Decently creative, just lacking in narrative thrust to my taste.

Mid



apophenium’s Untitled

If you want to swing this heavy with IMPORTANCE then you best do some proofing “Each new you glances at us” saps every bit of gravitas you had going for you.

OK, so between there not being a title, this only being 400 words or so, and proofing errors galore, this feels like an immensely rushed piece that was largely written as stream-of-conscious. That can often be a good way to start, but then, you know, you kinda have to clean things up so it’s readable, makes sense, and doesn’t appear to disrespect the audience.

Low



BabyRyoga’s Incremental Progress


It’s the sun. Sun is a good word and your character calling it a big ball doesn’t do anything for you.

Couple hundred into this and it’s just a farmer farming. Get to it, yo.

Ok, halfway in after this Octomadmagon thing, what the hell is happening? You’ve totally lost me.

Ohm take it off. Take it all off.

Yeah, what even is this?

Low



Anomalous Blowout’s The Devil’s Trill


I love that first sentence. And I’m going on to enjoy the opening paragraph. Strongest opening of the week so far.

Where in the world can this story go once she learns it’s bingo day? I’m hopeful cos you’re crushing it so far, but I can’t even imagine. Like, your not gonna have her go play bingo or something are you?

Oh holy poo poo, you are going to. If you manage to make this compelling…

Man, the repetitive stupid loving girl hurts every time I read it. You did a good job of characterizing the mother early to make it sting as a throughline.

Read the rest quickly. I loved reading this. Content-wise, my only quibble is the ending. It feels a touch cheap and out-of-nowhere. I would’ve appreciated some more teasing of the possessed nature of the violin. As it happens, I didn’t feel like there was even a chance anyone could have seen that coming, and that’s a slight problem. Like, it’s best if it’s a surprise but it needs to be a guessable surprise, dig? But yeah, gently caress that and who cares, this was a blast and a half to read.

Oh, and cool title and cooler song that I’ve now listened to and fully enjoyed thanks to you.

High



Solitair’s When Thomas Met Thomas

A lot of verbal jousting up at the top, and not much to get me to care.

The dialogue, although pompous and blow-hard, feels natural and that’s helping you a lot here. Otherwise, I’d be frustrated to pieces that nothing much is happening.

Halfway through this, though, and you’ve lost a lot of good will. I really can’t be arsed to care about these people.

So I don’t really know what the subject matter is because chili dumb. Perhaps if I did have a sense as to what you were writing about, I’d care more about these people and what’s going on. As it is, this doesn’t stand well on its own.

Mid-Low



sebmojo’s A circle has no end

I haven’t been paying too much attention to the flashrules, but I did glance at what you got before reading this and ho’ boy this seems like one of your hellrules. I’m excited to see how you handle this.

I don’t know why “That didn’t hurt” is so funny, but it’s the first thing that got an audible laugh out of me this week. Lol, also you loving knocked out 4 out of the 5 flashrules within the first 100 words. :tipshat:

The content of this story is so mundane to begin with and yet the pacing is breakneck and exciting. I’m digging on this.

And I’m still laughing when Paul talks.

Huh, not sure about that ending?

Well, this was lot of fun to read but was it much of a story? I didn’t find myself caring all that much about Marianne and her return and it didn’t help that I’m not entirely sure what happened in the story when she does come back. Is she mad at him or something? I didn’t get the sense that he did much wrong.

Meh, I don’t know, I still liked this but it’s not a knockout.

Mid-High



Fuschia tude’s Honey and Vinegar


You’re spending an awful lot of time at the top of your story dealing with a conflict that is both annoying and has unidentified stakes.

So 3 quarters of your story is a dispute between a dude and a receptionist? Come on.

Oh, and the next beat is an extension of this conflict, but through a bland leagal mailer? Come ooooooon.

And the ending is somewhat predictable and of little consequence.

This needed a lot of work to make it compelling. You took some pretty intense flash rules and made them pretty dull. Which is a fine choice if you do something interesting with it, but the majority of your story lacks intrigue and suffers from poor pacing.


Low

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

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


Prmopt

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Thanks for the crits and the cool rear end concept and everything!

Exmond
May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

Thank you for the crits. Only had a day to write that. Sorry for the tense issues.

Exmond's Haiku Request!

I have produced terrible stories that I'm not proud of, gotten into arguments over writing, had people wish they could rocket me to the moon because of my writing and had my writing count compared to Alt-Right Nazism because that's..a thing?

Through it all, I have kept writing, though if you asked me I couldn't tell you why. Maybe something about enjoying the art of writing and being too stubborn to quit.


Give me a Haiku about how why you don't stop writing.

Exmond fucked around with this message at 15:21 on Aug 2, 2019

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Exmond posted:

Thank you for the crits. Only had a day to write that. Sorry for the tense issues.

Exmond's Haiku Request!

I have produced terrible stories that I'm not proud of, gotten into arguments over writing, had people wish they could rocket me to the moon because of my writing and had my writing count compared to Alt-Right Nazism because that's..a thing?

Through it all, I have kept writing, though if you asked me I couldn't tell you why. Maybe something about enjoying the art of writing and being too stubborn to quit.


Give me a Haiku about how why you don't stop writing.

Why would I stop now?
I’ve gotten a lot better.
Wait, gently caress, have I though?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Exmond posted:

Thank you for the crits. Only had a day to write that. Sorry for the tense issues.

Exmond's Haiku Request!

I have produced terrible stories that I'm not proud of, gotten into arguments over writing, had people wish they could rocket me to the moon because of my writing and had my writing count compared to Alt-Right Nazism because that's..a thing?

Through it all, I have kept writing, though if you asked me I couldn't tell you why. Maybe something about enjoying the art of writing and being too stubborn to quit.


Give me a Haiku about how why you don't stop writing.

If I stop writing
I'll have to teach school again
And gently caress that shmata

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Also, the thing is
Who loving cares if you're good?
Never stopped Dan Brown

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


I guess I'm saying
Write because you enjoy it
Taste is subjective

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







I'm going to release my crits in a steady trickle so this is part 1/??

The Ship’s Name Was Purgatory - Exmond

Title: Pretty cool. Meaningfully underscores the story.

First line: How can it be ‘typical’ for humanity to do anything in its death throes? To be typical, something has to occur more than once, but death throes are by definition a once-in-a-lifetime thing! It’s a strong idea to start with, but imprecisely phrased.

Characters: S’rrantha and Raphel are more or less our POV characters, though the story is a fairly omniscient third person POV throughout. S’rrantha is incredibly alien in both her mannerisms and her goals, but I think she basically wants to go to sleep (hibernate); Raphel is a tough and cool teen with a knack for guessing cards? He’s more of a stand-in for the resilient human spirit than a fully developed character unto himself.

Plot:b Humanity is rescued from the brink of annihilation by a ‘wanderer-ship’: a massive sentient vessel capable of housing millions of members various alien species. S’rrantha, a matriarch of the tree-like Kroxens, is tasked with informing the various other species of their impending doom; as it happens, the Kroxens (being tree people) supply all the oxygen for the other species. They need to hibernate, which means death by suffocation for everyone else aboard the ship. S’rrantha communicates these facts to the millions of life forms on the ship with benevolence and compassion, committing to memory the faces of the soon-to-be-dead.

The humans, full of can-do attitude, stage a mutiny, preventing the reactor from shutting down, wreaking a great deal of havoc in the process. Nearly all two million of them die in the act of rebellion, but among the survivors is Raphel, a teenage boy who’s good at guessing when the president of Earth is holding an Ace of Spades. As Raphel and S’rrantha gaze at the death and destruction, Raphel asks her to teach him the skill of memorizing millions of faces, presumably so he can memorize the names of all the fallen humans. He also asks to be called Ace, and flicks a playing card into the reactor.

Comments: Tense switches! You go back and forth between past and present tense many times throughout the piece. There are also a few typos here and there.

S’rrantha is the most interesting and well-drawn part of this story. Raphel kind of takes away from her story because his motivations are very typical of a human facing an existential threat. S’rrantha ends the story feeling cowed and shamed, apparently humbled by human tenacity, which completely undermines all the cool, alien things about her. She responds to the humans’ mutiny the way a human would, not in the inscrutable manner of an interstellar tree lady.

I didn’t fully understand the scene with the last president of Earth. What was the point of the card-guessing bit (other than PLAYING CARDS FLASH RULE HELLO)? Was it the equivalent of drawing straws to see who survives, or are we meant to infer that there’s something special about Raphel in particular? The scene feels like it’s meant to set something up, but I can’t quite put together what.

The human habitat is described initially as a “barren empty shell of metal”, but then a few paragraphs later we see a house. I guess it’s hard to imagine what this setting looks like when it’s destroyed because we never saw it when it was whole.

I’m still not entirely sure what humans did; whatever it was reduced two million people to 52 (PLAYING CARDS FLASH RULE HELLO AGAIN), so I guess maybe they all sacrificed themselves to stoke the reactor? Going back to my previous comment about the card-guessing scene, I’m still not sure how this was supposed to work. I assume there’s significance to Raphel guessing the Ace of Spades and surviving, and I assume there’s significance to there being 52 survivors, but for the life of me I can’t sort out what I’m meant to extrapolate from those things.

You went a little crazy with the mycobiology words. Spore isn’t a catch-all for plant and fungal emissions! A spore is a unit of reproduction! Biology is full of really cool terms, so make sure you’re taking advantage of how incredibly specific it’s possible to be with scientific lingo. You might even learn stuff in the process.

Favorite line:

quote:

The stalks that run along her buds are a[sic] full tensile strength, emitting the tone of understanding. Language is not a barrier for her. When she rustles everyone understands.

Least favorite line:

quote:

S’rrantha paused, and let her joy-spores emit their full pheromonal strength.
:bahgawd:

Diamond capsule prize haiku:
The creative urge
An undamable river
Words are meant to flow



Breaking the law of averages - Vinestalk

Title: Quibbles with your capitalization aside...the title clearly relates to the subject matter, though not in a way that evinces a new or deeper understanding of the story. I also disagree that your protagonist is ‘breaking’ the law of averages; at best, they are sort of pissing in their own pool to show the other swimmers how terrible we are.

First line: The technical first line appears to be a lyric, which certainly prepares us for a story about, among other things, time. The first few lines of actual prose are a staccato burst of statements describing the development of tools across prehistory and history, followed by some rhetorical questions re: the likelihood of these developments. By the end of the first paragraph, I’m not sure whether I’m in for a story or a “makes u think”-style ramble.

Characters: We don’t learn a whole lot about our narrator outside of what’s apparent from their point of view on human technological advancement (it bad). They seem to feel strongly that by quantifying aspects of the universe we reduce them to meaninglessness. They are willing to take radical action in accordance with these views. Additionally, they have a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature in harmony with itself, and believe that human technological advancement represents a divergence from that harmony.

Plot: At first, I didn’t think this story wasn’t going to have a plot because it’s so talky and introspective. But it does have a wee story arc: the protagonist, fed up with the consequences of human advancement, decides to blow up or burn down some sort of manufacturing and/or refinement facility out in a swamp. Before they do this, they think a lot about how an increasingly materialistic worldview is bad for both humans and the world, and have some ~beautiful moments~ taking in the swamp ambience.

Comments: Full disclosure, I think that human beings are idiot joke monkeys who should go back to the trees and pass the time picking lice off each other. Even so, I still had some major issues with this piece.

I really dislike when a piece of prose that purports to be a story opens up with a bunch of rhetorical questions without so much as an establishing shot of the setting. I don’t know anything about the person, place, or situation, but you’re expecting me to stay on the hook for the narrator’s deep thinks about the nature of stuff and life and such. It would’ve been way better to start the story with the lovely swamp ambience you describe later—give us something grounding and visual so it doesn’t feel like your reader is trapped in a one-sided conversation.

I don’t think the in-line song lyrics serve you well. They are certainly fitting of the narrator’s thesis, but they’re very on-the-nose. There is a ham-fisted parity between the mood of the piece and the mood of the song, which makes the lyrics feel a little redundant.

I’m not sure what the narrator thinks they’re accomplishing by burning down this nondescript facility; we don’t know enough about them, their ambitions, or their resources to ascertain whether they have a hope for success in their crusade, so far all I know, this is an isolated act of arson that will result in more pollutants entering the nearby swamp.

This is a completely personal crit, but I hate the idea that we “reduce” nature to numbers and percentages when we measure it. For as profound and majestic and synchronistic and unlikely and magical as nature is, it also happens to be a thing we can measure and quantify, and whose variables we can sometimes predict. I don’t think describing things in numbers reduce their intrinsic meaning anymore than describing them in words does. Sure, we can use numbers to optimize our exploitation of the environment, but that’s a slightly different issue…

Favorite line:

quote:

Even during the night, with just a full moon staring wide-eyed above, the humidity out here sticks to you. There’s something about that humidity. It makes the smells cling to your nose. Making you breath in that earthy, pungent smell with every rise of your lungs. It reminds me that I’m protecting something else.

Least favorite line:

quote:

[insert every rhetorical question here]



The Dinner Party with the Wealthy and Eccentric Host - Ironic Twist

Title: Does what it says on the box. Titles like this, I think, are more about their whimsical cadence than anything else.

First line: The first line in and of itself isn’t anything special, but it’s part of the setup to a pretty successful bit of comedy (“Fiddlesticks—I POISONED YOU ALL”) so I enjoy it.

Characters: Oh lord, this story makes me regret including this category of commentary. There are functionally two characters here: 1) Oswald and 2) his not-entirely-honorable posse of old friends. The friends, on a whole, are kind of one collective snarky, laid-back millennial rear end in a top hat. I understand why there needed to be five of them; this is essentially sketch comedy, and you couldn’t effectively do the bit with only 2 or 3 people since you need a good handful of deaths to drive home how comically over-prepared Oswald was. Still, sketch comedy is better served by the screen—as it is right now, none of your characters are distinct in my mind (with the exception of poor ruthless Oswald, who is basically the hapless comedy straight man in this piece).

Plot:Oswald is holding a dinner party for his five old friends, each of whom is guilty of some sort of immoral behavior. He’s recently come into a massive inheritance, and, in cliche billionaire fashion, has decided to play god with the lives of his friends, because...uh...uuh...well anyway, he’s poisoned the food, drinks, one(1) foyer mint, and even the walls, and intends to force his “friends” to compete for the antidote. Instead, they turn the tables on Oswald, poisoning him with his own chicken cordon bleu. The rest of the story kills off the remaining guests one by one, revealing at the end that at least one of their number, Jandrel, had his own poisonous designs for the evening. Unfortunately, his hubris gets the best of him when, on his way out, he eats the one (1) poisoned dinner mint in the bunch in an act of hubris, and dies.

Comments:

My summary might be a little off-base because I’m not 100% sure Oswald did in fact poison the chicken. The reason I’m questioning this is that the narrative says he goes pale when the guests discover the “five mounds of chicken” under the table. The writing makes him seem as surprised as his guests, which gave me pause. I started to wonder if Oswald poisoned everything BUT the chicken (like, maybe his plan was to tell everyone they were poisoned without actually poisoning them, except in the event they murdered him), and whether the chicken was poisoned by Jandrel as a sort of false flag operation to kick off the rest of the deaths, ie he knew about Oswald’s plan and decided to turn the tables. Am I overthinking this? Absolutely, but the longer I look at the story, the less certain I am about my understanding.

I don’t really like how you handled the passage of time when they all go for the (alleged) antidote bottle. They all look at the bottle and then there is “the opposite of silence”. Then we cut to Fallyn sitting on the floor, bruised, having just fought for the antidote and won. It’s a weird, cartoonish cut-away that, again, would work a lot better in a visual medium like sketch comedy. Have you considered writing comedy sketches? You seem to enjoy ensemble casts who communicate in snarky dialog!

Speaking of dialog—there’s not really enough room here to give characters distinct mannerisms, so they all read as pretty samey. None of them really act on alleged vices, although I think this story is lampooning S7ven-style sin-based sadism more than it’s trying to portray it. Still, for five people who are supposedly sinful enough to justify murder, they all read as fairly chill and normal. Honestly, any one of them could have been the last man standing and it wouldn’t have really made a difference.

Overall, I understand why you made just about every choice in this piece, but I’m still not sold on it as a premise that’s good for flash fiction.

Favorite line:

quote:

“Come on,” said Cayden. “You get invited to a dinner party to see your friend that you haven’t seen in ten years, who’s now a billionaire from inheriting his dad’s fortune, sitting in his mansion estate, welcoming all his other friends who he hasn’t seen in ten years--and you think you’re not gonna get poisoned?”

Least favorite line:

quote:

For the next two minutes, there was the opposite of silence.

Diamond capsule haiku
gimme a pormpt, bithc

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 23:00 on Aug 2, 2019

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Pepe Silvia Browne posted:

Winner of Gachadome? Moi?? And on only my third submission ever???

I'm honored. And I'd be even more honored if my story was included in the zine. And obviously, you'd be honored to include it as well.

I'll hop on the discord some time today to claim my prize. Thanks, Judges!

Edit: Actually, could someone PM me or post an invite link to the Discord? I can't find one in this thread that isn't expired.

https://discord.gg/6nAHN5

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




I'll take my crit for Ghosts and Monsters, from Rosa Flores week. And a haiku on the subject of deep time.

And sure, put my anniversary week story in the 'zine.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo



forgot i had to do this :toxx: also

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


I offered in-depth crits to a couple folks for GACHA WEEK so here are those crits because the thread is where the crits go.

Once Burned by UraniumPhoenix

I adjust my suit and check the red glowforms on it as I step out of the shuttle and on to Venus’s Skystation 14. Of course I look good. Black and red have always been my colors.

That first sentence is a bit of a mouthful. It’s chock full of details and doesn’t flow nearly as well as the rest of the paragraph. I’d break it up into two sentences or find a way to rephrase it because otherwise you’re slapping readers in the face with the INFO STICK a little too enthusiastically for a Sentence 1.

“I’ve been sent to investigate a potential terrorist attack against this station,” I tell the receptionist. “I need your full cooperation.”

His eyes go wide at that, but if his face goes pale, I can’t tell. He’s one of those mutant Venusians, who’s had genetic engineering done to better fit into the habitat of Venus’s upper atmosphere. Translucent pupils, compound ears, and glassy-white skin. It’s unnatural. I don’t care for it.

Niiice. That bit of infodumping is done with way more skill–it’s told through the lens of the protag’s opinions and prejudices. It feels much more natural than your first sentence.

“I n-need to see your credentials,” he says.

I pull up my sleeve and show him my wrist computer, and note the fear in his voice. That’s fine. Fear works in my favor. “Tell me where Naya Thorn is,” I tell him.

This is a nitpick but the repetition of “tell” jumps out.

“No one on the station with that name,” he says.

Right. The name change. “Try Olivia Jones.”

“Is she…?” A terrorist he wants to ask. I can see the surprise, the skepticism. He knows her, then.

“No, but she does have critical information.”

He hands me her room number. I stride through the silver and white halls. So close now.

Whoa. I didn’t actually realise we were in a hotel. I thought this receptionist was the receptionist for the whole station. I imagine this was probably a wordcount thing, but that might have done with a bit more establishing. Or if the whole station itself is one big hotel, ditto.

***

Technology can see everywhere now. It only took one lucky break, and all the precautions she’d taken were for nothing. A hacked scrub-drone took a picture of a face, and a compromised server sent it through two shell corporations and into a database, where facial-recognition software pinged her. I saw her the day after she stepped on this station. Fifty million miles wasn’t far enough for her to run.

The language in this paragraph feels pretty weak compared to your strong word choice earlier. “it only took” “precautions she’d taken” “took a picture” “sent the picture” - you’re describing cyberpunk information smuggling with such boring verbs! “pinged” is better and the last line improves.

I open her door, and Naya’s face fills with horror. She starts trembling, starts tensing to run.

“I open her door” isn’t super clear and it feels important. Did our protag acquire a key? Does he have access? Did he knock? The reason why this stuff matters is because this is thus far the most pivotal moment in the story.

“Wait!” I tell her. “There’s a lot of people’s lives at stake. And you can save them, if you cooperate with me.”

That freezes her up. Her eyes stay wide, but she’s not moving.

She cares about others. That’s her weakness. “There’s a suspected arsonist planning to attack this station. They’ve set incendiary charges. The security algorithm has determined your subconscious might know where those charges are, but we need to get off-station first.”

I see her facial muscles twitching. She knows that’s horseshit, I think. Her eyes glance at the screens in the room. But she also knows we’re being recorded.

No need for the ‘but.’ Good tension here.

She lets me take her arm, and I half-walk half-pull her toward my shuttle. “How long until the bombs go off?” she whispers.

“I can’t say for sure.”

At this point it might serve you well to reveal a little bit about what your protag knows. I feel like you’re keeping readers in the dark for suspense’s sake but that’s a gamble and be aware it doesn’t always pay off if you conceal the very things that make your story interesting.

We’re nearly to the shuttle when she stops, yanking back on her arm when I pull her. “Cameras are off here,” she says. “No more lies. Where did you plant the charges?”

I check my wrist-computer. She’s right. No signal, no recording devices detected. “Everywhere,” I tell her.

“Good,” she says. “Because I just sent your shuttle on autopilot to circle the station. I’ll recall it only if you disarm every bomb.”

I turn, fury in my face. “I can’t believe you’ve joined these people, these mutants! I loved you, like no one else. I treated you like a queen.” I pause, and run a finger through her hair. “I can’t believe you dyed it pink, of all colors. Your natural hair color was so much more beautiful.”

Man I am just not feeling the intended emotions here at all. In order for this moment to pay off, you need to build up to it. We need to know there was history between these characters for this moment to matter.

“You really did all of this, came all this way just for me?”

She doesn’t understand. Can’t understand. No one rejects me. Rejects me. I have billions of dollars, stocks in every major company, my own personal space cruiser, and politicians and judges across three planets on my payroll. Forging the credentials of a government agent was child’s play. I am an alpha, and an alpha cannot abide dissent. “Yes,” is all I say.

THIS is much more intriguing. We finally get a glimpse into who your protag really is, and it’s a lot more interesting than the mysterious bits.

Naya takes a deep breath. “I’ll go with you, then, if you spare this station.”

I smile. “Deal.”

We move to the dock doors, and Naya checks my computer as I check hers to make sure we’re both abiding by the agreement. I grin again. She’s still so trusting. That innocence is part of why I adore her.

The bay door opens.

I feel a sharp pain, like my nerves are on fire, then I’m stumbling forward. I look back, in time to see a smiling Naya and her stun-gun before the airlock slams shut. I look around, but this isn’t my shuttle. It’s one of the escape pods. Somehow, she swapped them remotely. My face goes pale.

A lot of these sentences are very “a thing happens.” You seem to be trying to imbue your protag with a bit of a robotic, analytical personality but it makes for very repetitive sentence structure. “The bay door opens. I feel a sharp pain. I look back. I look around. It’s one of the escape pods. My face goes pale.” Your sentence openers frequently follow this 1-2-3-4 beat. Variation in rhythm helps hold a reader’s interest and makes your prose really sparkle.

She opens a comm channel. “You never did bother to understand me, but I do understand you. The oppressed must learn the mind of the oppressor to survive. You think I didn’t know you’d come for me?”

NICE line.

“Wait,” I tell her, panic rising in my voice. “You’ll need these escape pods. I didn’t disarm the incendiaries, and--”

“I know you didn’t. But I also know where your contractors placed them. You revel in fear, like watching people hope just before you extinguish it. It’s just like the apartments of those unionists you firebombed back on Earth. You put all the bombs in the emergency stairwells, then triggered the fire alarm. Not that all the judges you bought off or the juries you rigged would ever convict you or the men who did your dirty-work.”

This dialogue is a little on the nose but in a flash piece that’s more acceptable–you’re pressed for time and space.

The evacuation alarms in Skystation 14 start blaring, but Naya slams a button and the escape pod launches. So do all the others, long before anyone can get on them. The wings deploy, and the pods start drifting lazily through the clouds of Venus. I lurch over to a computer, but all the controls are disabled.

“I really did love the person you pretended to be, all those years we were together. But I only have contempt for the monster that you are.”

The pods are all empty, except for mine. I have time to curse her, and then fire blooms around me, and the pods are fireworks splashing the rich Venusian clouds with red light, and I plunge to the molten planet below, burning.

That’s a nice image to end on. You tighten things up by the end.

Overall, this story suffers from a bit of an identity crisis–I got the impression at a couple places that you weren’t sure how much you wanted to reveal to the reader, or maybe you changed your mind about the twists being twists. It’s a tough call to make, especially when you’re going for a thriller/noir-style narration.

Nothing about this was particularly bad, but formulaic prose and the decision to conceal the most intriguing bits of the story until the end are what prevent it from being particularly good.

There were good bits, though: both characters have complete arcs, there’s a couple satisfying turns of tables, and the sci-fi noir feel works well.



The Rust Queen by Yoruichi

Micaela - my favourite, and worth every dollar I paid for her - has presented me with a fake. I have killed girls for less, and she knows it. This one is good; a replica 1873 Winchester, artfully aged to be passed off as an original. Micaela has worked hard, I’ll give her that. I would have been satisfied with the rifle as it was - even as a replica, it still dates from before the Calamity, and thus would fetch a pretty price with off-world collectors, nostalgic for relics from the old Earth. But, Micaela knows exactly how much she owes the Rust Queen. An antique this rare - if it were genuine - would be enough to buy her freedom.

WOW WHAT A HOOK I AM ULTRA ON BOARD. This has me from the first line. You establish stakes, setting, characters, all from the get-go. Eager to see where this goes.

***

I found Micaela chained in a line of men, digging through the mud in an old canal outside the city. A fat slaver with missing teeth held up the object I’d come to see. A 1950s Beretta, badly rusted. Could clean up nice, but it would never fire again.

I’m immediately unsure whether this takes place before or after your opening paragraph. Needs to be more firmly established.

“Who found it?” I asked him.

He nodded at a mud-encrusted waif. She was stick-thin, her dark hair matted and filthy. The slaver’s eyes lingered on her, and I shuddered. I knew that look too well.

“I’ll take this,” I said, hefting the pistol. “And her.”

He hesitated. “She’s not for sale.”

I sighed. Some men will only listen to the violence of other men. With a delicate flick of my wrist I signalled my personal guards to approach.

“Everything is for sale,” I told him. “Now, shall we start again?”

Ah, okay, so it was before. I’d slip that in somewhere. Otherwise, no complaints. Lookin good so far! You’re painting a nice picture with few words. I am intrigued about the Cataclysm.

***

“How’d you find it?” I asked her later, as I combed the knots out of her freshly-washed hair. The steam from my bath coiled around us.

“I just got lucky, I guess.”

“A woman has to make her own luck,” I told her.

Bit cliche but okay. This is flash fiction. We’ve gotta work with the wordcounts we have. Sometimes archetypes are the order of the day.

***

The first artifact that Micaela brought me was a pocket watch, early 1900s, its delicate mechanism frozen with rust.

“How’d you find it?” I asked her. My brand, a florid RQ, was still red-raw on her arm, overlapping with that of her previous owner.

“I just got lucky,” she said. Then, she asked, “how much is left?”

Most slaves, if they don’t get killed trying to run first, can buy their freedom in 10 or so years. Micaela knew what she owed me, down to the last cent.

I like how you’re establishing the relationship between these two in a series of vignettes. It’s effective. I am getting eager to get back to the present though.

***

“How much is left?” Micaela asked, as I examined the exquisite pair of art deco earings she had brought me.

“Oh, you will be with me for many years to come, my lovely,” I said, preoccupied with the earings.

Micaela frowned. “You’ve been giving me bad leads on purpose, haven’t you?”

I looked up, surprised at this rare act of defiance. “Your bond-debt was dropping too fast,” I snapped, then immediately regretted this show of weakness. I cursed my foolishness for thinking she wouldn’t notice.

Ooh, intriguing.

***

Micaela was late returning from a job. I gave her a day’s grace - the most I could afford before my generosity raised eyebrows - then sent enforcers after her. They found her with a boy, in an apartment in the market district.

“You are late,” I said, my voice echoing around the dusty warehouse.

She shrugged, not meeting my eyes. “I just haven’t gotten lucky recently.”

I stood up, strode across the room. I raised my hand, but couldn’t bring myself to slap her. “Women make their own luck!” I spat at her. I was shaking, furious that she might have found happiness without me. “I saved you from that disgusting man and you just go and give yourself to some boy?” My face was close to hers, my voice a harsh whisper. “I own you,” I said. “Don’t you forget that.”

“How could I?” said Micaela, pushing me away with her branded forearm.

This is the first scene that falls flat for me. I was surprised by the Rust Queen’s mercy here. It felt a little out of character for how you’d established her. I’m not liking the refrain of “women make their own luck” when we don’t know much about their digging/artifacting process. It leaves me unsure whether the Rust Queen is expecting Micaela to literally make her own luck as in come up with some newfangled method of finding stuff or what. Is Micaela keeping up with the others? How do the others find things? Are they also letting the Rust Queen down?

By inviting the “making your own luck” talk you’re leading me down the path of wondering how exactly Micaela would make her own luck and why she actually hasn’t found anything. Not knowing much about the above questions draws me out of the story a bit.


***

And now, she has presented me with a fake. “Come, Micaela, I have something to show you,” I said.

I led her through the warren of my warehouses and into the crumbling highrise that I claimed as my home. The elevator still worked, barely, and we rode it up to the penthouse floor. I walked slowly through the apartment, letting her drink in my lavish furnishings, the racks of exquisite off-world wine, the rare fruits stacked on my table.

Great scene-setting here.

On the balcony I swept my arm towards the luminous web that hung in the sky above the dust-brown city.

“Soon I will have enough money to leave this planet,” I told her. “You could come with me.”

The sleeve of my silk gown slipped back, revealing a large patch of shiny scar tissue, where, years ago, I cut out my own brand with a kitchen knife. I quickly shrugged it back into place, but Micaela wasn’t looking. She stared not at the distant lights of the off-world habitats but down at the sprawling city, its dark expanse punctuated by the glow of cooking fires. The distant thud of music floated up from the dusty streets.

I can picture this in my head. Your prose is vivid, sparse, gorgeous.

“This is my home,” she whispered. She was still holding the fake Winchester, and thrust it towards me. “Take it,” she said. She stared straight at me, though her arm was shaking.

“Guess you found that just by getting lucky, did you?” I said.

“A woman makes her own luck.”

Saw this coming from a mile away.

I smiled at that. I had taught her something, at least. I took the forgery from her, felt its weight, and that of Micaela’s life, pressing too heavy on my hand.

“Your debt is cleared,” I said. Then, “what will you do now?”

But Micaela was already striding away from me. The elevator doors clanged shut behind her. I stayed on the balcony a long time, staring down at the city from my rusted tower.

I am really not sure how I feel about this. I love the vignettes, I love the sense of time passing, and I ESPECIALLY love the way you’ve set up the characters, but there wasn’t ever any real dread or anticipation on my end that the Rust Queen might harm Micaela. You show her as being privately merciful to Micaela and she doesn’t build up her need for retribution in her head. They have a calm confrontation instead of a dramatic one.

Nothing about this is bad, it’s just very un-tense and the climax is very anticlimactic. That isn’t necessarily bad in a story–sometimes stories can just be and not everything needs to end in fires and explosions–but in this particular story it felt like you were trying to build toward at least some amount of dread or fear for Micaela’s safety, otherwise why not have the Rust Queen regret her past mercy?

Basically the characters’ relationship doesn’t actually evolve all that much despite all this passage of time. Micaela starts out rebellious and stays that way. The Rust Queen starts out imperious but forgiving and stays that way. I think one of the characters would have to change a little or the structure of the piece would have to be bent a little for this ending to feel complete, because otherwise it’s just sort of… well, ok, there she goes.

Still, the prose in this was gorgeous and you built up a lovely world with very few words. I’m more impressed with it than not.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Thank you for the crits Chili and Anomalous Blowout!

Chili posted:

Yoruichi:

You open your diamond capsule and find inside…

A deep crit of your entry! Pick an entry of yours, it can be this one or any other, and one of the judges will go to town on it!

For this can I please request a crit of Human Geometry, from week 297.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006



Enneagram 7

Entries are closed! Write your things.

Also, sure, please put my story from luck week in the zine.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I won a crit from the gachadome but am ceding it to someone, should someone else desire. I appreciate all the work that went into the prompt and all! Thanks judges and I hope someone gets a good crit for their poo poo

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




Sitting Here posted:

Housekeeping:

If you are a diamond capsule winner and you haven't yet told us how to deliver you your haiku, crit, or charitable donation, please do so! And those of you with story title privileges, feel free to give us the titles to our next stories. Here is the post detailing the diamond capsule winners:

I'd like my donation to go to Albuquerque Heading Home: https://headinghome.org/contribute/#give

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Week 358: Victoriana Crits

MUFFIN


That’s a corker opening, from the first sentence to the first para. Second para and I’m frowning a little at the dialecty ‘t’wards’ - you do this a couple of times and it doesn’t work at all, because you are doing your viewpoint through what and how you describe, adding in little bits of old timey speak just stands out in a bad way.

That’s p much the only bad thing i have to say about this, though, because it’s a very strong piece. It’s one of the ones where nothing happens as such, or rather the story is told in flashback without much in the way of people actually interacting with each other, and i don’t think it quiiiiite joins the threads of its component parts - gold, land, invaders - but it comes so close and the singing is such a good strong image. Surprised this didn’t even get an HM, on my first read i’d jot down hm/w in scribbly pencil but WE SHALL SEE

SAUCY RODENT


This obviously needs to walk a fine line but you know what, it actually does it. The premise is broad satire, with an appropriately jagged edge, and while it labours the point fairly hard to make sure nobody thinks the author has bad thoughts, I think it comes in just this side of annoyingly obvious because the idea is actually quite strong and funny. I like the language, which aims for Twain on a moderate to middling day and basically gets there. I’m surprised this got a DM, I don’t see any obvious reason why it should have and I’d have estimated it as high middle, but I’ll revisit at the end.

WHOOPIE CAT

Oh christ this is annoying. It’s instructive to compare with Rodent’s in terms of how it takes the disjunct between modern and old timey, this is poorly, lightly imagined - there’s a laughably thin ‘SO THIS ONE TIME I STARTED TIME TRAVELING LOL’ frame, but in treating people from the 1800s like cave people it’s, not offensive because I don’t particularly care, but uninteresting. There’s a few dull cliches sprinkled around, the main character is awful, the puns are worse, the best thing about it is how you get bored of writing it and decide to stop. Though to be rigorously fair, I did sort of like the last line, though why on earth anyone would want to join the inane waste of space that is the protagonist is beyond me, maybe they just did things differently back then. Deserved loss, so far anyway.

BIG FLUFFY DOG

This is a cleverish idea, I guess, but by leaving the reveal for the end it makes the story itself fairly dull as we’re not seeing any of the effort put into solving the mystery. There’s a whiff of entertaining social comedy and some ok lines, but they’re obscured by the obligatory sherlock holmesing which isn’t interesting in itself since it’s all fake. Middle/low.

SIMPLY SIMON

This has what I guess you’d call a good heart though the language is clumsy and it’s extremely on the nose, it’s the sort of story where people explain how they feel in very direct ways poss with tears welling in the corners of they eyes, and here’s the thing - you often have a more interesting story where people don’t say what they mean, where they talk around it, where they say one thing and do another. Much as you’d like them to when a character says please see my point of view the reader is not all :ohdear: will they won’t they, it’s more well obviously he will because clearly it’s That Kind of Story. This doesn’t mean be obscure, because I know that’s something you’ve struggled with, but it does mean write something like this then think on ways you can make it more interesting by complicating and obscuring it. It’s not aactually bad, just a reminder that there are only two things you can do in writing, give people what they do expect or what they don’t. Choose carefully. Middle/low

THRANGUY

Ahaha, the ‘found manuscript’ authenticity framing narrative that’s so extremely C19th it’s great - Moorcock does it with his Bastable novels to the extent that there’s a whole chapter of explanation why the tall tales of the book are actually COMPLETELY TRUE/FACTUAL. The adventure story proper is just the sort of two fisted yarn I can reasonable expect to be reading inside such a framing, and I admire the cleverness of using destroyed pages as a montage - we get to see a much bigger implied story than the word count would allow (though to be fair that’s because it’s all so insanely cliched so it’s easy to fill in the gaps). Overall this is fine, it’s a yarn with good detail and some decent structural cleverness. mid/high not sure I’d extend to an HM but i may have read more of these than the judges

STAGGY

This prefatory statement is very well pitched, though that inevitably means it’s wordier and duller than we reallly like our openers to be around here. E.g., the first three paras are piffle, for all they’re well written and entirely in genre. I enjoy it more when it starts rhapsodising about he simple honest joys of backbreaking labour, which is also v in genre. There’s some cleverness in how it preps us for a horrific or even cthulhoid revelation, then gives us a sad man in a bed, and I think it works. Most importantly the moral dilemma at the heart of it is potent and fits well with a deathbed confession; particularly as it isn’t resolved, just left hanging for the next generation. I could probably do with a line or two about how a statue turned into familial wealth, it’s not completely obligatory but that is what the narrator said he’d reveal and he doesn’t, really. Ok with this as the winner, since this has a curl in it that muffin’s doesn’t have.


SHOTARO

Lots of nice sense impressions, solidly tight prose and good nauticaling in this one. Then HO-DE-WHOOP a hard left turn into freaksville, noting in passing the historical bible/opium nexus. Yeah this is excellent, and i think the choice to not mention any details about the ambiguously magical trans person is absolutely the right one, particularly in that it leads to the agonised pregnant suspension of the last line. I think I’d have given this an HM.

DERP

Dang that’s a nice opener, flash powder constantly in the moment of burning is both vivid and feels very up-to-the-minute as a C19th simile. I also really like the controlled brutality of the second para, where the horse is a metonym for beauty lost - you channel it through the driver so you don’t need to have the photographer emote. The way you use an accurate historical to provide both a strangeness and a familiarity - what’s weird about wanting a record of the dead beloved? - is really well done, and the restrained horror of the eventual corpse photo is very effective. Bangin’ piece, contender for win imo

ANOMALOUS AMALGAM

Tolerable vampire origin story, though that also means it’s a little drab. There are some unnecessary infelicities in there too, a tankard is not a goblet for e.g. and sentences like “I drank in deeply savoring the taste of the blood, relishing in its warmth as it coated my throat, painting the corridors of my ashen mouth ruby red.” i mean gosshhhh that’s some purple/crimson prose you’re rocking there do you have a license for that scenery u just chewed. There is a decent flavour and grit to the melodrama, so i don’t 100% hate it but it’s still ploddy since we know basically where we’re going so it’s neither surprising nor particularly interesting when we get there. Low, prob not dm tho (still worse than rodent’s)

FLETA MCGURN

Hamadryad made me chuckle, it hits that precocious young victorian lady tone v precisely. Oh no mr lupo i hopehopeHOPE he is not a werewolf! what th- a werewolf?! (Teehee at poosplosion) MR LUPO?!?!?! A weeeeeeRRRREEWOOOOLLLLFFFFFFFFFF????!! And, thence, to bed. Funny, well-pitched, fluffy nonsense. High/mid.

IRONIC TWIST

This is a dark cold spiral down and it’s obviously well done because you’re good at this but the absence of the other character as a meaningful presence (he's just a well the protag is yelling into really) makes it less effective as a story. Mid.

SOLITAIR

Not a good first para. 'In the black heart of london' is painfully purple, still it's a penny dreadful so i'll allow it. However that just means you need to keep your prose propulsive and your thrills thrilling, and the mysterious noise that might be something but then isn't is NOT THAT.repeating 'freezing' then 'he froze' is also a really bad and sloppy look in your opening para. Then your second para, amazingly, is worse - clotted nested subclauses where we learn more than we want to know about the potential business value of the nathaniel brownstone whalestoe textile concYAWN. Then you don't even bother writing the third para - "so when thomas on the edge of the factory roof" SO WHEN HE WHAT, SOLITAIR. This is just endlessly cackhanded and is a solid candidate for loser so far, let's see if it improves.... hmmm, well it doesn't get worse, I suppose. dm/l

VISCARDUS


I confess I was starting to tire of the leisurely, if period-accurate, introduction to this one but then it took a nice, gently bendy turn and I think on balance this works rather well, a simple but relatively tasty idea delivered with restrained competence. I don't think I concur with the HM on account of the lack of human interest though; I'd have this as high mid.

ANTIVEHICULAR

This is another robustly competent yarn that is lacking any real consequence or conflict - a problem arises and it's solved with no particular mess or fuss, then the story ends. high mid.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 09:25 on Aug 4, 2019

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

E: archived in Thunderdome archives

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:25 on Jan 1, 2020

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


The Inn by the Dark Lord's Castle
793 words

The innkeeper was staring at his gkass, trying to summon enough courage to drink its contents, when someone banged on the door.

"Anyone in?" a woman's voice called out.

"We're open!" he said, dashing to the front door.

"That's surprising, I didn't expect someone would answer. Could I rent a room for the night?"

"That'll be a hundred galm."

The woman sighed. "It's either here or the woods. Fine. Let me take care of my horses first."

---

He prepared the room, the drink never far from his mind. When he went down, the adventurer was waiting in the common room, gazing at the shield on the wall, its crest scratched out.

"Traveling alone?"

"Yes!" the woman said. There was a gleam in her eyes that somehow managed to piss him off. "I'm Grenda, and I'm here to defeat the Dark Lord Maliform. I was told there was an inn right by his castle, but I didn't really believe it."

The innkeeper frowned. "You want to defeat Maliform? Why?"

"Why? He's a Dark Lord! He's done wicked things!"

"Like what?"

"I don't know, raided a village? Sacrificed children?"

"I'm sure you've passed a village before going inside this forest. Did it look like it was ravaged by the minions of darkness? Were there no children?"

"No, and no. Someone even sold me a map of the forest."

"How much?"

"Two hundred galm."

The innkeeper sighed. "I knew I should've raised the rate." He took a deep breath. "Listen. Maliform has been dead for years. Some hero got to him. Took his head right off his shoulders. Gods! There's an Adventurer's Code, for crying out loud."

"What code?"

"What, don't you have an adventurer's guild where you came from?"

"We don't have a guild from where I came from. I'm self-employed," Grenda said.

"The Code states that Dark Lords should only be banished or defeated, never killed! It's basic supply and demand. What kind of world would it be if all adventurers ran around without Dark Lords to fight? Could you imagine the chaos? And think about all the people who blame everything on Dark Lords instead of taking responsibility for their actions. A king who couldn't protect his vassals from raiders would rather pin the blame on someone minding their own bloody business than admit that his security policies were lacking. They are the real plague upon the land. Maliform never hurt a flea! He even sent me a cake the day I opened the inn! And now I'm all alone."

"I'm very sorry. I didn't know Dark Lords could make for good neighbors. Is that why you've been eyeing that poison the whole time? Are you planning to kill yourself?"

The innkeeper sighed. No use pretending anymore. "I would've succeeded if not for some overly-inquisitive guest."

"Don't do it!"

"I've said my piece. I'm an old man. No one will mourn me."

"But you don't even have a single white hair. There's so much to live for! I know, you should join me. There's no shortage of people to help in the world."

"Helping a person or two is pointless, can't you see? It's the entire system that's to blame, and unless you topple that people will still suffer anyway."

Grenda was silent. I've won, the innkeeper thought. Now she just had to leave so he could die in peace.

"You have a point. And we'll get there, but you have to be alive to see it! Please consider my offer! I need someone to keep me grounded, to tell me that I've got my head in the clouds. And I'm pretty strong, so you don't have to worry about safety."

"Then you've got your head in the clouds. There's nothing you could possibly say to make me change my mind."

Grenda shook her head. Still that infuriating, guileless smile. "I don't believe that you want to die. You could've chosen not to answer the door, but you did. There must be some part of you that wants to keep on going, and I want to believe in that person. See you in the morning."

After she had left, the innkeeper stared at his glass. He got up, opened the window, and gazed at the castle a stone's throw away. He remembered the cake as if it had been yesterday.

Under the moonlight he wept.

---

The innkeeper didn't pack a lot. He barred the door quickly, lest he change his mind.

"Said your goodbyes?"

He nodded.

Grenda handed him the reins. "Good. Let's ride east."

As they went on the beaten path, a raven flew alongside them. As they passed the castle, it circled back, heading towards the highest spire.

The echo of his departed friend whispered to his heart a single word: Farewell.

derp
Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again



Lipstick Apathy

sparksbloom posted:

Your character is an Enneagram 8!

The Solution
800 w ords



“And that, ladies and gentlemen,” said Rick to the one lady and two gentlemen staring boredly from his living room couch, “is how I first used my Jujitsu black-belt in the real world.” He tilted his glass, grinned slyly, and took a sip.

The trio shifted their feet and tried not to look at their phones.

“That’s really great, Rick,” said Janine, tugging unconsciously at the hem of her Little Black Dress, which she’d put on for what she thought was a party. “You mentioned a trip? You’re going somewhere?”

“Oh yes, your trip!”

“I love travel! Tell us!”

The two gentlemen, Boris and Quinn, gushed at the chance to fill the absolute silence imposed by Rick’s strict ‘no music’ rules.

“Yes, of course,” said Rick. “I’m leaving, very soon. I wanted to say goodbye.”

Boris stood up, unbearably excited: “Where?” he shouted.

“First, I will tell you why.” Rick waited a calculated few seconds. Boris sat down. Rick continued. “As I’m sure you know I prefer to control my own life, my own existence, in every possible way. Once, I couldn’t afford the king crab at the casino on seafood night, so I started my own bookbinding company and made six million dollars. When I was declined a second date by the most beautiful woman in the city, I became a sixth degree master of tantric celibacy. And when I was assaulted by an extremely rude cashier in the garden section of Home Depot, I buckled down and became a black-belt in jujitsu. All that is to say: when something impedes my life, ladies and gentlemen, I unimpede it!”

Rick waited until someone (Janine) was about to speak, then continued. “In the past few years I’ve been reading about cell division, free radicals, and the prevalence of car accidents. You see, despite my vigorous health and hardened physique, I have no control over my body. My DNA is being destroyed as we speak.”

The three exchanged glances. Quinn said: “Rick, are you... have you been diagnosed with something?”

“Yes, my friends, I am dying, of age. And there is no cure, and I have no way of knowing when my time will be up.”

Sighs and groans resounded.

“And not only that!” continued Rick. “Accidents kill people every day. My house may explode. I may be shot, in any part of my body--most of which lead to death. And what is the solution, you ask?” After some silence: “You want to know the solution, yes?”

“Yes, what is the solution Rick,” Boris intoned.

“After years of research and conversations with experts across the globe, I found the solution. After six months of hard work collecting custom-made parts from sixteen countries, and many further months of practice and study, I assembled a device--by my own hand, of course, to certify absolute perfection. My project is now complete. The Solution, as of course I have named the device, is upstairs in my attic as we speak!”

Stunned glances were exchanged. “Well what the hell is it?” sputtered Janine. “What have you got up there?”

Rick swirled his champagne too fast and a bit splashed over the side. He chose not to notice. “You might call it... a door. Or you might call it a cure. A change... a transformation! It is certainly a solution, and I will never be the same again. I invite you to join me in the attic, and witness as I complete (or begin?) my journey. Come!”

The four climbed a winding staircase into a brightly lit attic with bare walls. Centered beneath a skylight was a wooden and steel contraption. The three guests could not immediately parse what they saw.

“Is it... is that...it?” Janine squinted.

“Your solution?” Quinn said slowly.

“Yes. Indeed it is.” Rick caressed a shining lever near the bottom of the device. “This machine lets me know the exact moment of my own death. It puts an end to mankind's eternal question of ‘how and when will I die?’ No more will such distractions impede life’s progress! No more fear! No more anxiety!”

“Impossible!”

“How does it work?”

“Well, when will you die then?”

Rick grinned as the questions washed over him. Then: “It is not impossible, and I will show you how it works.” He knelt down and laid on a bench-like extension, then put his head through a gap directly beneath the tallest part of the machine. He grabbed the lever, which was precisely placed to be easily reached by someone in his position.

“I know exactly when I will die!” Rick exclaimed. “I control it!” He pulled the lever.

Schick! Thunk! Janine screamed and leaped back, then shouted in disgust. Her Little Black Dress was ruined.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Hi all please include your prompt at the top of your post to save the archivists some work! (If you've already posted please don't edit your post tho.)

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Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

My bad.

Mine for “Out of this World” was: Your character is an Enneagram 3!

Sorry, archivist!

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