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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Presenting, for your dubious listening pleasure, Thunderdome Recaps!

The worst thing about authors is that they don’t do enough navel gazing. To that end, a group of courageous and perhaps slightly masochistic TDers pooled their gumption and embarked on a venture to enumerate in audio format the plentiful sins of the dome. Please enjoy 100+ episodes of laughing, groaning, and occasionally useful critique of Thunderdome stories!

:siren:Recaps are currently on hiatus,:siren: however you can always listen to them on the archive. The archive lets you sort through episodes by weeks covered, and it includes timestamps so you can skip directly to the exact moment in which you are namedropped, you vain little bugger.

When we do release new episodes, they will be posted here.

Your recappers are:

Sitting Here: The idiot they convinced to run this goofball brigade.
Kaishai: The reason that anyone finds these episodes informative.
Ironic Twist: *Audible groan*

Also featuring:
Djeser: Guy who knows a lot of names for penises
Bad Seafood: Sometimes he brings a Ukulele!
Sebmojo: The suave-voiced sheriff himself
...And many more of your favorite domers!

Massive extra thank you to Kaishai for her continuing hard work on making the archive an amazing and comprehensive tool.

Credit to Sebmojo for the theme music.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Okay, here is my actual signup post, complete with a photo!


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

ThirdEmperor posted:

Oh, that reminds me.

SittingHere thou Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, pig of Armenia, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, you stole my joke.

Like a combatant oswalt I will meet you on the killing floor. :toxx:

I remain a statant oswalt in the face of your challenge.

:toxx: someone judge this

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

The Turns of Edward Smith
1000 words

For sour old Edward Smith, the carousel never stopped turning.

One imbecilic ride on the whimsical contraption was a small concession; the giddy smile on his granddaughter’s face had, at the time, seemed a worthwhile thing. They went round and around, side by side astride their fanciful horses, her giggling at his reluctant smile. His last thought, before the aneurysm saw him slumped lifelessly against a wooden mane, was that perhaps this was, in spite of his refined sensibilities, rather fun.

When next he opened his eyes, he was alone on the rough metal floor of the carousel. He had only the wooden horses and the soft mutterings machinery for company; though the carousel still spun, the park was otherwise dark and empty.

Huffing and puffing at the indignity of this, Edward tottered over to the edge and prepared to hop off the slow-moving platform. He jumped—

—and found himself stumbling toward the center of the carousel, now on the side opposite where he’d attempted to exit. Several more attempts all produced the same result. Edward Smith was trapped.

Edward was not a man given to unruly passions, but the despair handily subdued him. He sat, his back to the center pole, and wept into his knees as if he were a four year old child who’d just received his first belting. His granddaughter would forget the brief giggles and his secret smile; her memory of that day would be polluted by the vision of her grandfather, dead and grey, bobbing up and down on the back of an unlikely equine.

Edward’s post-life aboard the carousel went on like this: Each day, the park would fill with ghostly apparitions like figures seen through frosted glass. It was only when riders boarded the carousel that he could see the living clearly, as though the presence of passengers created a link from the living world to his strange limbo. Edward stopped trying to speak with them after a handful of attempts; he was a rational man, and sorted out in short order that the rules of the carousel were such that he was well and truly alone.

He was methodical in his attempts to escape. The carousel could not be disassembled in any way, nor did it matter when or how he tried to jump off. Through all of this the horses leered at him, their colorful muzzles twisted by crazed smiles.

Edward came to treasure those times when the carousel was in use; he could track the seasons, the progression of fashion—the deepening plunge of ladies’ necklines troubled him—and the tides of war. He came to love the park as a prisoner might love the square of blue sky seen through the window of their cell.

Then, without warning, he blinked, and the park was gone. Now he was at the end of a pier, surrounded by colorful game booths, garish hot dog carts, and an altogether more raucous crowd than they who had patronized the park.

He kicked a blue horse with a fishtail and bellowed, “I was content, drat you! I’d made my peace!” Which wasn’t altogether true, but now that the park was gone, Edward felt a profound loss.

A great storm slammed into the pier, and Edward discovered in himself a deranged hope that the whole pier should collapse and send him into the bay. It did not.

Edward next found himself in a confounding place; beyond his carousel was a sea of sofas, chairs, and other accouterments. He deduced in short order that this was a furniture store, and a fine one at that.

There was a velvet rope and a polite sign discouraging customers from touching the carousel. Amidst the furniture were other curiosities: an archway that looked as though it had once belonged to a castle; a display of classical paintings Edward guessed to be originals; a small propeller plane, situated several feet from the carousel.

Edward was a man of society and knew displays of opulence when he saw them. He might’ve patronized such a place in life. And indeed, the blurry figures beyond limbo moved with poise, drifting from ottoman to fainting sofa like elegant, moneyed specters.

Once, and only once, did a rider join him on the carousel. It was the night janitor, an ex-carnie with a habit of singing old war songs to himself. He started up the ride with practiced familiarity, then sat aside the blue, fishtailed horse, singing, “Off we go, into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sun!”

Edward smiled and sang along with the next lines: “Here they come, zooming to meet our thunder; at ‘em boys, give ‘er the gun!”

The carousel’s slow spin brought him around to face the small propeller plane. A mad thought seized him. He tried in every rational way to escape, but from the beginning his situation had ever been irrational.

“Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer gave us wings ever to soar,” the janitor sang in his tuneless rasp.

The wing of the propeller plane was tantalizingly close. Edward found his footing, waited for the rotation to carry him as close as he could get. He bent his knees. He jumped—

—and landed, belly-first, with an oof on the wing of the airplane. He crawled into the cockpit, whooping and hollering like a schoolboy. The furniture store dissolved as if washed away by rain, giving way to an endless blue sky full of gentle, puffy clouds.

Edward found that his hands knew exactly how to operate the controls, how to make the plane dip and dance in the infinite sky. He knew exactly where to go and how to get there, and that everyone he loved would be waiting for him.

Knowing all of this, and knowing there was no hurry, Edward decided to stay in the sky a little longer, looping and diving among the clouds, laughing as he’d never laughed in life.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
This deluge of crits is good and gorgeous and dare i say pretty cool

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

You can only use . for punctuation, and your story is a comedy.

brutal :eyepop:

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Brawl me, twerp.

Simply Simon posted:

Sure, let's loving do it!

:siren: Simply Shambam brawl :siren:

Your prompt is this quote:


What am I? What has my will done to make me that I am? Nothing. I have been floated into this thought, this hour, this connection of events, by secret currents of might and mind, and my ingenuity and willfulness have not thwarted, have not aided to an appreciable degree.

You can each, additionally, optionally, request a dumb flashrule from me. But only a dumb one.

Update: Simon gets the flashrule "hipster elves" and sham gets the flashrule "normcore dragons"

Word count maximum: 1200 words
Deadline: Wednesday, January 30th, by 11:59:59PM Pacific Standard Time

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 00:01 on Jan 17, 2019

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Sham bam bamina! posted:


I'll have a dumb rule.

normcore dragons

Simply Simon posted:

I don't know if it's a handicap or a helpful extra prompt for any of us, but I'll take a dumb rule as well to even the playing field!

hipster elves

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

steeltoedsneakers posted:


Someone fight me. I dares ya.

and then let's not have any new brawl challenges until the actual signups for this week pick up a bit more.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

flerp posted:

hello this week's prompt sucks ill fight u :toxx:

steeltoedsneakers posted:

Yeah (I mean, it doesn't, I just didn't want to do it)! :toxx:

:siren: Flerptoedsneakers Brawl! :siren:

I really want this to be a weekly prompt sometime so your prompts come from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows! I want you to explore, demonstrate, refute, wallow in, or otherwise engage with your assigned sorrow.

Flerp's prompt:



n. the moment a conversation becomes real and alive, which occurs when a spark of trust shorts out the delicate circuits you keep insulated under layers of irony, momentarily grounding the static emotional charge you’ve built up through decades of friction with the world.

Sneakers' prompt:


hanker sore

adj. finding a person so attractive it actually kinda pisses you off.

You can each, additionally, optionally, request a prohibitive flashrule from me. But only a prohibitive one.

Words: Up to 1200 words of ineffable sorrow
Deadline: Wednesday, January 30th, by 11:59:59 PST

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
I will judge this week, then. If our glorious bossjudge will have me.

e: because I don't care about an archaic old rule created by the old testament thundergod

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
You people don't deserve j, much less fjgj

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
huh, 11:59 PM on the 25th of january came early this year! :v:

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 17:33 on Jan 25, 2019

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

prompt: compost

2000 words

If you could step outside of time, you would see that it’s a rotating helix. Each rotation adds filament-thin layers, building up themes, rhymes, leitmotifs, and running gags over the epochs and eons. If you could view the time-helix from above, it would look like a circle constantly reinventing itself, with existing layers acting as the thematic soil from which new layers spring.

But you can’t step outside of time. As far as you’re concerned, you are a fixed point around which the world moves in a cruel, confusing blur.

In one layer of the helix, you are a child. Your friend, Chance, is about to get the whuppin’ of a lifetime from his daddy.

Chance’s dad thinks Chance stole Oxycontin from the gun safe in the garage. Chance’s face is bright red, scrunched up so tight it reminds you of how uncooked ground beef looks before your mom takes it out of the package. His eyes and nose are in the process of disgorging all the snot and tears his little body can muster. And they may as well, because pretty soon Chance will decide he’s too tough to cry, and that’ll be that.

You know drat well where the Oxycontin went.

Earlier, you found Chance’s dad’s girlfriend, Star, nodding off right there in the garage, next to the open gun safe. At the time, you weren’t at all concerned with the oxy pills, but you were deeply concerned with the single flapjack titty hanging out of Star’s tank top. It was your first time staring down an honest-to-god naked boob, and even though it was laced with silver stretch marks, it took your breath away.

Now Chance is about to take a beating he doesn’t deserve and his dad is practically screaming in tongues and you’re cowering in the corner thinking about that single naked boob and all the implications therein.

Your feet carry you across the room and deposit you in front of Chance’s dad.

You say, “Star did it.”

Chance’s dad says, “If you’re in on this too, then I’m gonna whup you then send you back to your shitstain of a father to whup you again.”

You say, “I went out to get a popsicle from the freezer and Star was there with some pill bottles falling asleep and I could see her boob. It has like, lines all over it.” It seems important to add the bit about the stretch marks. For credibility.

Chance’s dad gathers himself up like a rearing bear and then brings one mighty paw down across your face, knocking you onto your rear end.

He looks like he wants to whale on you again and again, but he catches himself mid-swing. A slow, mean smile spreads across his face. In subsequent helix layers, you absolutely loathe the various Grinch movies, though you’ll never consider why.

You and Chance spend the night in the backyard, bruised and made to strip down to nothing but your underwear. The long, unkempt grass hides broken glass, needles, and bits of junk, so you and Chance sit pressed up against the side of the house, soaking up what heat you can through your bare backs.

“I would be dead meat if you weren’t here,” Chance says.

It’s the most terrifying thing anyone has ever said to you.


Further up the helix, you’re seventeen years old, rising out of the bitter mulch of your childhood to stand, gangly and awkward, above your peers. You’ve made it through the worst parts of your youth, but the damage was done; life has taught you to never disregard the animal inside your fellow humans. Anyone, at any moment, can be seized by their darkest urges and most fervent impulses. So the things that hurt you, that worry you, get tamped down, pressed into a dense loam out of which you continue to grow like a spindly tree.

There’s a girl named Alyhks who goes to your school. She wears her name like a scarlet letter, proof that she is inherently worthless and so worthy of the torment of her peers.

You think Alyhks is pretty, in a girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks sort of way. You like the stilted, thoughtful poetry she reads aloud for your english class. Like everything else, you crush these feelings down until they liquefy into something you can use in your own secret poetry.

You’re on your way back to class after another fruitless meeting with the school counselor. As you pass the restrooms, you hear shrill noises coming from the girl’s bathroom—nothing out of the ordinary there.

Then you hear Alyhks’s voice, pleading.

“Give them back! Please!

“Do these even stay in your pussy? Isn’t it all stretched out?”

“Dude, look at her, she’s a total lesbo. No way dick has gone anywhere near that pussy.”

“Let’s give her the tampons back if she lets us read that notebook she’s always writing in.”

You are frozen outside the bathroom. All the things inside you that’ve been tamped down for so long begin to seethe beneath the soil of your mind, stirring, reaching like seedlings seeking sunlight.

“It’s just homework,” Alyhks is saying. “I never did anything to you. Why are you doing this?”

“Let us see the notebook or I’ll dump your huge-rear end tampons in the toilet.”

You hear the sound of a backpack unzipping, papers rustling.

“Fine. Here,” Alyhks says, her voice small and defeated.

The other girls begin to read aloud from Alyhks’s notebook, laughing at everything regardless of whether it’s funny. Your fists wad up into bony knots.

Then they start reading a poem about a tall, gangly young man with big ears and a big heart, who speaks little but says so much with his resplendent brown eyes. Your own name is suddenly part of the hateful milieu in the girls’ restroom.

And like that, the things beneath the soil recoil back down into comfortable, compact darkness. You walk to class as fast as you can—you’re late anyway, and that will have its own uncomfortable consequences.

Resplendent. She thinks your eyes are resplendent. But all you can feel is that inward flinch, the anticipation of the bear paw coming down on your face. This girl now represents a vulnerability, a way for others to hurt you, and this is not allowed.

Last you hear of Alyhks, she’s been transferred to an alternative high school, the sort of place the district sends the violent and the pregnant and the chronically-expelled.


The time-helix spirals ever upward, nurturing the future with all that has come before.

You are the manager of a chain clothing retailer. It’s a position you worked hard for; you clawed your way up from sales associate to supervisor to shift manager to The Boss. Along the way you made hard decisions: hiring, firing, and cutting full time employees down to part time, stripping them of their medical benefits.

You don’t feel good about these decisions, but you don’t feel bad about them, either. You’re just a human animal, participating in the exchange of resources between other human animals. You don’t write poetry anymore, so the feelings you tamp down liquefy into rot, then fester.

You make a point of wearing a suit jacket to work every day, which your superiors love. Your staff thinks it’s some combination of dorky, endearing, and intimidating. The jacket hangs loose on your tall, lean body and conceals the gun you have in a holster at the small of your back. You don’t really know why you got your concealed carry permit; part of you dreads ever having to fire the gun, while another part of you wants to exact your revenge on every human animal within your line of sight.

It’s Black Friday. Customers have been treating your staff like poo poo all day. You’re out on the floor helping Carrissa refold the huge pile of shirts someone wantonly shoved onto the ground. You can tell she’s pissed as hell, just barely biting back the vitriol she wants to spew at every customer who passes within two feet of her. The store smells like too much perfume, unwashed rear end, and fast food—the olfactory signature of the human animal.

You’re not thinking about your gun. This is your sixth Black Friday as store manager and there is something almost comforting in the predictable repugnance of it.

You’re about to send Carissa on long lunch—you’re proud of how well she’s kept her own inner animal leashed—when a ripple of wrongness changes the timbre of the crowded store.

There’s not a commotion, per se, but there is a stillness, a shifting of the collective attention to one particular point near the front of the store. The hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

You know this moment. This is the uncomprehending interval before the bear’s claws come down and knock you on your rear end.

Now people are running toward the back of the store, or ducking underneath display tables, anything to shield themselves from what’s happening up by the cash registers.

You shove your way upstream, against the crowd. Panicked bodies give way to an open space, occupied by a man with an assault rifle. His thin, sweaty face is red like uncooked ground beef.

He raises his weapon and rat-tat-tat-tat-tats off a few rounds.

An overhead light bursts and rains sparks down on the people below, and you can see the gunman purposefully aimed high. In his wild eyes there is a kind of confusion—he walked into this store as an adult human animal, ready to make others pay for crimes real or imagined. Now he stands before you, a bewildered child, having been floated up to this moment on the thermal of the time-helix.

You see within him the same bitter soil that feeds your own roots.

He’s not looking at you. You could turn, run for the exit you know is in the back of the store, through the doors that read Employees Only. If someone’s going to die, there’s no reason it should be you. You didn’t spend a lifetime compressing your bullshit into mulch just to die like one of these stinking, cow-eyed shoppers.

You could reach for that gun holstered at the small of your back—give in to the animal that has been howling inside of you all these years, finally punish someone worthy of punishment. Yours would be a righteous expression of anger. A heroic anger. The only thing that can stop a bad animal with a gun is a good animal with a gun, but that’s all you’d be—just another animal acting out of self preservation, as animals do.


Another aimless spray of bullets. More lights go out, spilling their fluorescent innards onto the floor.

Your feet carry you, with gathering speed, toward the gunman. Tears are streaming freely from your eyes, though you won’t notice this for several minutes.

The helix spins, layers building on infinite layers. The past nourishes the future.

You collide with the gunman, tackle him to the ground in a bear hug. The gun flies out of his hand, goes skittering across the floor.

“It’s okay,” you say into his ear. “It’s okay. It’s okay.” He convulses against you, a frightened animal. And now you’re sobbing, stroking his sweat-soaked hair, comforting the animal inside of yourself as much as calming this would-be killer.

It takes two SWAT team guys to pull you off the gunman, who’s by now gone totally catatonic. They’re surprised and relieved to find you armed, but with your weapon still holstered.

“If you’d drawn your weapon, we could’ve had a blood bath on our hands,” a police officer tells you later, as you sit in the back of an ambulance giving your account of the day’s events. “Lotta those folks in there would’ve been dead fuckin’ meat.”

It’s the most gratifying thing anyone has ever said to you.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

your story can't take place on earth

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

Inter prompt: "there's only shroom for one of us in this town" 350 words

Braden and Zach looked despondently at the sandwich bag sitting on the table between them. Inside was a single mushroom cap, hardly enough to send a pair of strapping young men through the doors of perception.

"Dude," said Zach indignantly.

"Dude," Braden said dismissively.

"You said there was enough for both of us to have a trip of the balls variety," Zach said.

Braden tapped a finger to his temple and gave Zach a knowing smile. "Watch and learn bro watch and learn."

To Zach's horror, Braden withdrew the cap from the bag and popped it in his mouth before Zach could object. Moments later the top of Braden's head exploded open and out of it grew a giant mushroom stalk and cap, which immediately let loose a semenous burst of spore that not only inoculated Zach, but Zach's neighbors, town, and, eventually, the entire world.

And lo, the whole world did trip balls, and Braden saw that it was good.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 23:30 on Jan 28, 2019

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

SlipUp posted:

E: tell your masters coming to thunderdome and asking only for champions of yore is folly. there is only the living.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Simply Shambam brawl :siren:

Your prompt is this quote:

You can each, additionally, optionally, request a dumb flashrule from me. But only a dumb one.

Update: Simon gets the flashrule "hipster elves" and sham gets the flashrule "normcore dragons"

Word count maximum: 1200 words
Deadline: Wednesday, January 30th, by 11:59:59PM Pacific Standard Time

simon, your words have been received and your deed recorded in the book of blood.

Shambam, you have just under 6 hours to spill your ink onto these hallowed sands

Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Flerptoedsneakers Brawl! :siren:

I really want this to be a weekly prompt sometime so your prompts come from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows! I want you to explore, demonstrate, refute, wallow in, or otherwise engage with your assigned sorrow.

Flerp's prompt:

Sneakers' prompt:

You can each, additionally, optionally, request a prohibitive flashrule from me. But only a prohibitive one.

Words: Up to 1200 words of ineffable sorrow
Deadline: Wednesday, January 30th, by 11:59:59 PST

This brawl was extended by one day. Cya tomorrow, gents!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
two brawls one post

Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Simply Shambam brawl :siren:


There are some clarity issues in this piece. Most of it is due to phrasing, though, which is good news—it's a lot easier to edit for awkward sentences than it is a fatally flawed premise. Here are a couple examples:


I didn’t care, they kept paying me well for the privilege of laughing at a Dwarf woman with a choice of employment as esoteric as they come.

As written, it sounds like Raitha is the one laughing at a dwarf woman. It took me a couple reads to realize you meant the elves are paying for the privilege to laugh at Raitha when they buy her products.


It was not, however, and neither were being a dishwasher, a barmaid, a horse (not pony!) trainer, a juggler, and so on.

The parenthetical breaks up the phrase "horse trainer" in such a way that at a glance it seems that Raitha herself was employed as a horse!

But okay, let's talk about the story itself. Raitha is a decently likeable character. She has an outer persona and a distinctly different inner monologue. I enjoyed how you integrated the quote from the prompt; I personally can identify with Raitha's "go with the flow" approach to life. The overall situation is pretty silly, which isn't a problem in and of itself, but it does make Raitha's various magma-related metaphors seem a little bit melodramatic.

This story could've used a bit more setting and description. It would've been nice to place your characters in each scene a little more firmly; this story is told almost entirely through Raitha's inner monologue and dialog with the elves. I wanted to see/smell/taste/touch the world around Raitha a little bit more. I'm not saying I need a bunch of worldbuilding, but right now my mental image of this setting is pretty much a blank white space with some bearded elves in it.

So really, whether or not I enjoy this piece comes down to Raitha, and whether or not she undergoes a satisfying change by the end of the story. I'm going to say that yes, her character arc is basically satisfying. Her go-with-the-flow approach to life makes a lot of sense because it makes her happy! On the other hand, trying to hold on to that mentality is ultimately what forces to take a more active role in her own life. She reminds me a little bit of Quark from Deep Space 9, although if you don't care about Star Trek that will mean nothing so ignore me.


Writers writing about writing is a risky business. That said, I hate proscriptive crits where the only feedback is NO YOU'RE NOT SPOSED TO WRITE ABOUT THAT so I will ignore the reflexive curling of my lips into a sneer and focus instead on the individual merits (or lack thereof) of this piece.

So this piece has three components: The writer (and by extension, Evan), DràchiaVràchia's thoughts, and Vràchia as she is portrayed in the writer's prose.

First, the writer's bits. We've all met this person, so I'll give you kudos for an accurate depiction of 75% of all aspiring fantasy authors. Unfortunately, this presents a couple of problems. The first problem is simply that this character's struggles are very familiar to writers, but might not be terribly familiar to normies. So you've got a character that is really hard for most people to identify with. The second problem is that, even for a writer, this person isn't terribly fun to read about; it's a similar to when people try to write about nerdy gamer goons. Nothing about this writer is especially compelling, just excruciatingly familiar. There's a slight bit of intrigue in the form of the freaky cheese dream, but I'm not actually sure how it relates to the rest of the story or why, in particular, it seems to be correlated with the writer's revelation that their story is boring as poo poo.

Next, Vràchia's prose bits (the stuff the writer actually wrote). This is flowery, archaic-sounding fantasy generica. Anyone who's read and critiqued a bunch of amateur fantasy has seen this a thousand times, so again, you nail the realism, but at the price of effectively writing boring fantasy. Luckily, there isn't a whole lot of this so it wasn't super grating or anything.

Finally, Vràchia's actual bits. These are the most interesting, though it's not a terribly high bar to clear. She's a victim of the writer, which makes her sympathetic to me because I, too, feel like the victim of a writer :v: She's basically trapped in the opening of a lovely WiP and can't exert any agency not granted to her by the writer. Which makes me wonder how she can even think or make some of the small decisions she appears to make when the writer isn't actively working on the doc. The rule of her (lack of) agency are not super clear to me.

I didn't like the ending. I think leaving it at "writer gets cheese shits, deletes lovely novel" was a misstep. It's fine to have that as part of the story, but it would be cool if we got to see Vràchia find some measure of freedom; since she can seemingly think and feel when the writer isn't actively writing her, it might've been nice if the deletion had freed her and allowed her to explore things beyond this milquetoast writer's imagination.

The bottom line:

Neither of these stories hit it out of the park, but I didn't hate them, either. Shambam wrote much cleaner prose, but there was little in the way of emotional resonance. Simon, you need to continue to refine your prose, but your story wore its heart on its sleeve in a way I found endearing. I've been going back and forth on these results all afternoon.

In the end, I have to go with the story I find most endearing. To that end, Simply Simon wins this brawl by the skin of his teeth.

Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Flerptoedsneakers Brawl! :siren:

Okay so full disclosure, I like both of these stories a fair bit, and as of this moment, I don't actually know who wins. So I'm going to sort of talk it out with myself okay here we go.


This is as warm and good-humored as flerp's story is honest and moving. Your opening sentence is extremely fun, but the scifi cheekiness gives way to some real feelings and frustrations. I'm reminded a little bit of The Orville—not that this feels derivative in any way, for all I know you've never seen the show—insofar as they do some really fun things with scifi absurdism + character realism. The descriptive language really pops, too, which is another thing that makes this story really fuckin' different from flerp's (his story is very descriptive, but not of a setting, per se). By the end of the story I was disappointed I didn't get to see some super soldier-on-chitinous alien lovin, and boy oh boy I can't believe I'm saying that. Also, this is a really clever take on your prompt; I was not expecting this angle whatsoever.


So, if sneakers wrote the equivalent of a nice burbly hot tub, this is a belly flop into a frigid pool. Ooof dude oof. Whereas Sneakers' story explored its prompt through a situation, I think your story expresses your assigned sorrow through its cadence, through the texture and flow of the words. It reads like a dam breaking between two people in a way that liberates them from the usual constraining structures of conversation. There's been some recent discussion about how to incorporate the online aspects of our lives into fiction; I thought you did so pretty well here. I loved the detail about the three little dots bobbing; it was very real and true.

The bottom line:


gently caress.

gently caress.



Okay I have to choose one of you and please understand this is very hard for me, so like, really, it's you guys who should feel bad, not me. I'm fairly certain if I try to proclaim a tie the cabal will send their fixers to disappear me so that's out.

...right, my lawyer has advised me to choose based on prompt adherence and then get banned. I'm not sure why I need to get banned but this is what my attorney advises me to do.

In that light, this brawl goes to steeltoedsneakers because falling for your mortal alien enemy is probably the most balls-to-the-wall approach one could've taken for that particular prompt.

Flerp pls don't feel bad though I legit loved your piece too oh god aaaah

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

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.

Exmond posted:

This is DONE!

BadKayfabeTranslation: Thank you thunderdome, I got published and it wouldn't have been possible without you.

hell yeah :black101:

proud of you buddy

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
gently caress. poo poo. piss. cloud-spurting robodicks. I don't have the time or energy for this but i am in

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Can i get a flash rule when one of our extremely cyber judges has a cyberminute

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

I accept this, in addition to my actual flashrule from an actual judge, on the condition that you also use this image

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
official prompt: Voice With An Internet Connection
unofficial prompt:

Planned Obsolescence
2000 words

Marron coaxed the kids into bed, then went to the bathroom to wash the day off her face. She made a wry expression at herself in the mirror; her bits were still where they’d always been, but her features had thickened and softened in seven years of motherhood. Her real face—the face of her twenties and early thirties—peered out at her from behind a lattice of fine lines and prominent pores.

The built-in display in the upper right corner of the mirror alerted her to a missed Skype call, and her heart jumped into her throat. She swiped away the notification and opened the settings menu, intending to unpair Skype from the mirror once and for all. Her finger hovered over the relevant option, then withdrew.

After tying her hair up in a lazy bun, she padded downstairs to her office, pausing to deposit a kiss on her husband’s forehead. He'd done his share of child-management earlier in the evening, and was dozing on the sofa in the living room, Oculus Go headset resting loosely over his eyes.

Marron’s office was a fastidious space occupied by a desk and a bookshelf that spanned the entirety of one wall. Each of the bookshelf’s square compartments contained a single object, two at most: an iPad and a Kindle, sitting companionably on their matching stands; a Nikon camera with accompanying lens attachment; a chromebook flipped open to display its dull black screen; an Amazon Echo that Marron had never used and never planned on using; and on, and on. On the desk sat a modestly capable gaming laptop, a headset with attached microphone, and an ergonomic mouse.

There was nothing personal about the space, which was how Marron preferred it. She could bring anyone into this room and rest easy knowing they would glean absolutely nothing about her from its contents. She closed the door behind her, turning the handle as she did to avoid the noisy ker-chick of the latch, then sat down at her desk.

A pack of dogs ran wild through her chest, dragging her heart along with them, transforming her pulse into a leashless, syncopated thing.

Wintermoot was waiting for her on Skype when her computer booted up.

Hey you, he sent over text chat. Were the kiddos staging another bedtime coup?

Their demands never change, Marron replied, smiling as she typed. Truly, history is like an endless waltz.

*nods sagely* Ah, yes, Gundam Wing reference, Wintermoot sent.

IDK what you’re talking about, I’ve never even heard of anime, what’s a gundam wing??

I think it’s a cartoon that old farts like us like to watch sometimes. Or so I’ve been told.

There was a lull in the conversation, during which Marron loaded up Heroes of Chaos City. She sighed when her avatar appeared on screen; Avalynn Jade was sinewy and statuesque, clad in a black leather catsuit that offered a generous eyeful of side-boob. Her right arm tapered into a ruthless blade and her left hand rested haughtily on her hip.

Sorry about that, Wintermoot sent. Had to go present a united front with the wife re: bedtime. The rule in our household is that anyone who isn’t old enough to have gone to a Linkin Park concert goes to bed at 8:30.

Uh, I'll refrain from questioning your tastes, Marron sent. Should we hop onto voice chat??

I thought you’d never ask…

Marron donned her headset and waited for the call to connect.

And then Wintermoot’s voice was in her ear, soft and easygoing. “So what’re we feeling tonight? Co-op or versus?”

There was a touch of Texan drawl in that voice, though Marron had deduced over the years that Wintermoot resided somewhere on the east coast. Sharing both a time zone and their respective parental obligations was why they’d started playing together regularly to begin with, after all.

“Co-op,” Marron said. In truth, she preferred versus, but playing cooperatively offered more opportunities for conversation.

“M-m-m, good. That’s what I was thinking too.”

After a few moments of game configuration, Avalynn and Wintermoot spawned in Chaos City. Wintermoot’s avatar was all brawn, a veiny amassment of muscles bound tightly in spandex. In place of his fingers were ten impractical, cruel-looking claws.

Marron switched the in-game camera to a third person perspective, rotated it so Avalynn and Wintermoot were framed in the center of her screen, and took a screenshot. They made a striking pair, she’d always thought; her avatar was as sleek and sensual as his was chiseled and powerful.

Presently, they stood at the center of a ruined plaza in the heart of Chaos City. A nearby hovercar smoldered in an impact crater as though cast down onto the plaza by an angry god. The decorative palm trees burned ceaselessly and the flagstones were Pollocked with blood spray. Beyond the plaza, pillars of smoke rose from glistening megatowers.

“First checkpoint is two hundred meters to the northwest,” Wintermoot said. “You ready?”

“Hell yeah.”

The Agents of Order descended on them as soon as they emerged into the maze of city streets. Avalynn lunged ahead, dispatching the faceless, black-uniformed wave of hostiles with a few swipes of her arm-blade. Wintermoot lumbered after, his footsteps audible even from a distance.

“drat girl,” he said. “I know they’re the Bad Guys and all but—give ‘em a chance, will ya? At least save some for me?”

“Not my fault you never invest any points in speed,” Marron said, grinning madly at her screen.

In this way they worked their way across the city; Avalynn was the vanguard, a spear hurled into the heart of chaos. She cut down the crowds of low-defense Agents, leaving the sturdier, more stubborn NPCs in her wake for Wintermoot to dispatch.

“Gawd, today was a real shitshow,” Wintermoot said over the sounds of combat. “The boss rode my rear end all the way from nine to five.”

“The guy who always smells like deli meat?” Avalynn leapt up the nearest wall to avoid a volley of gunfire, then launched herself over the heads of the shooters. She landed behind them, gutting the NPCs before they had a chance to bring their weapons to bear on her again.

Wintermoot laughed. “Yeah. Today it was ham—no, Spam. Something canned and processed.”

“What was he hounding you about this time?”

“Oh, it’d be dumb to explain. Then I get home and there’s the mortgage to talk about, a broken burner on the know how it goes.”

“We should become real-life superheroes,” Marron said. “The constant life-or-death struggle sounds like a nice change of pace.”

“I have noticed a dearth of doughy office guy characters in this game,” Wintermoot said. “You might be on to something.”

“That’d just be your mild-mannered alter ego.”

“Ah, so by night I transform into a turgid tower of manhood. Checks out.”

“Oh my god, I don’t even know what to say to that,” Marron said, laughing. Her cheeks burned red.

Wintermoot cleared his throat. “Anyway. How ‘bout you? I’m sure you had your own trials and tribulations to navigate today.”

A knock came at the office door. Marron swore under her breath, muted the headset, and positioned Avalynn behind the cover of an overturned hovercar.

Her husband let himself in, blinking the sleep out of his eyes. His face bore a diving mask imprint where the Oculus headset had rested.

“Thought I’d come say goodnight, and bring you a nightcap,” he said, holding up a glass of red wine.

Marron bit back annoyance, forced a grateful smile. “I don’t deserve you,” she said, accepting the glass and a peck on the lips.

“Yes you do. I’m your karma, for all the terrible things you did in your last life,” her husband said.

She kissed him again, this time with more sincerity. “Then I’d do it all over again.”

Once he was gone, Marron went back to the game. Avalynn was still crouched behind the hovercar, but now Wintermoot was at her side, doing a sequence of in-game character emotes at her.

She unmuted her microphone and said, “Sorry. Real life, and all that.”

“I figured,” Wintermoot said. “Wanna move on?”

They hacked and slashed their way deeper into enemy territory. In between waves of enemies, Marron drank her wine, and was disappointed to realize she’d drained the glass. After several minutes of intense combat wherein neither of them spoke much at all, they reached the heavily-barricaded police station that served as the base of operations for the final boss.

They cased the joint from behind a ruined tank.

“Going back to earlier—I really do think it’s important to have things that balance out the bullshit day-to-day stuff,” Marron said. The wine had instilled her with an introspective sort of ease. “Like, look at us. We’re just these voices floating around in the cybertubes. It’s simple. Uncomplicated.”

“Simple and uncomplicated,” Wintermoot said. “Sign me up.”

They breached the police station. The Agents inside were heavily armored and Avalynn was forced to fall back behind Wintermoot; they would be relying on his superior defense stats the rest of the way.

After a few more minutes of mutual silence and cacophonous combat, they reached central ops, where General Grip was waiting for them in villainous, black-caped regalia. Central ops was an open, circular chamber filled with assorted high-techery; panels of computers blinked in shifting constellations of piercing sci-fi brilliance, and mechanical arms of dubious function jutted down from the ceiling.

They waited out General Grip’s poorly-voiced monologue, and then the fight began.

“Why do these futuristic settings never really look like the future?” Marron asked as she jumped, dodged, and slashed. “It’s like, bad cosplay of a really impractical version of the future.”

“I mean, this is a bargain bin game from 2020. Plus, the real future is plastered with brand names. A game that was true to life would be boring, and expensive, from a licensing standpoint.”

With a powerful double swipe of his claws, Wintermoot reduced General Grip’s hit points to less than ten percent, triggering the final phase of the battle. Wave upon wave of Agents swarmed into the room, forcing both players back to crowd control mode. Avalynn fell into the practiced rhythm of mass carnage.

Things went well for a few moments, but the onslaught of enemies was ceaseless, and her medkits were running low. The wine made Marron’s thoughts and reflexes fuzzy; Avalynn took one critical hit, then another, and fell, immobile to the ground.

“Need a heal,” she told Wintermoot.

“On it,” he said.

“Sean, will you please come tell Mandi to go back to bed?” a distant voice called from somewhere in the backdrop of Wintermoot’s real life.

Wintermoot sighed and muted his microphone. His avatar went still at the center of the ops chamber. Avalynn watched, helpless, as the Agents of Order tore into him with electrified swords and laser projectiles, as her own hit points were reduced to zero. General Grip laughed the same soundbite laugh, over and over and over again.

The screen faded to black.

Marron stared at her reflection in the darkness of the Game Over screen, waiting. She checked the Skype call, saw it was still connected, and waited some more. The dogs in her chest were back, bounding back and forth at an arrhythmic pace.

She was angry. Not at the game, not at Wintermoot, but at herself. What the hell are you doing, woman? What exactly did you think was going to happen here?

Before she could think too hard about it, she disconnected from the call, shut down the computer, and padded back upstairs to the bedroom. There was one benefit to these simple, uncomplicated, disembodied friendships: they could be put away when needed, even discarded, if it came to that.

Marron yawned, stretched, and curled up next to her husband under the blankets. She would deactivate her accounts in the morning. Wintermoot would understand.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

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


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
we are both going to regret this but I am IN, flash me

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
flash: Your authoritarian lives an ascetic life and judges those who seek material pleasure rather harshly.

Bardo 59°
1350 words

Terri ascended the long path to the fire lookout tower, followed by a herd of stranded yogis. The matronly steel structure sat atop a forested ridge just outside of Halibut Cove; from there, Terri could track the progress of the black smear on the eastern horizon as it dragged its deleterious belly over the remnants of civilization. The end of the world approached at the speed of a growing fingernail, squeezing the last humans westward like so much toothpaste onto the bristles of the Pacific Ocean.

Mason was the only yogi to follow Terri up ladder to the top of the fire lookout. The others waited reverently below, sitting vajrasana among the skinny pine trees.


Before news of the apocalypse reached Halibut Cove, Terri had been a wellness instructor at Stillwater Lodge. The herd of yogis were the latest in a never-ending stream of upper-middle class malcontents searching for enlightenment in the Alaskan wilderness.

Terri had a way with nine-to-five folks; they all lived like listless dragons, tethered to their hoards by mortgages and children and debt and unhappy marriages. Her soft voice and beatific disposition temporarily trivialized all that, as did the natural majesty surrounding the Cove.

After news of the apocalypse reached the Cove, Terri had found within herself a new sense of purpose. The all-destroying thing on the horizon was fitting punctuation to capitalism’s rambling, overwrought diatribe. Only those with worldly attachments had anything to lose; the key to surviving oblivion was to have nothing, to be nothing. To achieve true detachment.

Mason, meanwhile, had styled himself as Terri’s high priest, her confidant; this was convenient for him because he was brazenly attracted to Terri. He’d been angling hard for some sort of faux-pagan fertility cult thing, as though Terri was going to start force-marrying people to each other and presiding over orgies.

The yogis were receptive to Terri’s outlook—had latched onto it like a ring buoy—but Mason was an obstacle, a Mephistopheles of nihilistic sex and futile hedonism.


“I think you’re ready,” Terri said as she and Mason surveyed the approaching stain in the sky.

Mason’s breath quickened. “For what?”

“Go east, touch the end of the world, then come back. Don’t take anything with you, not even your thoughts.”

“You’re talking in koans again,” Mason said, cuffing Terri lightly on the shoulder. His heat was a cloying disruption of the crisp Alaskan air.

“It’s a sincere suggestion,” Terri said.

“Why? Why would I do that? The end is going to get here eventually. I’m content with that. I’ve found detachment.

Terri affected her most beatific smile. “Sometimes people need to see that a thing can be done. The others don’t think it’s possible to achieve true detachment before the end gets here. They think they’re going to die, which means they’ll die. The only way to unburden them of their need for proof is to provide them with proof.”

Mason chewed on that for a few moments. Terri knew he couldn’t ignore the implication that she thought he had achieved true detachment, and in doing, set himself up to play the heroic Bodhisattva.

Finally, he said, “I’ll go. Either I’ll come back or I won’t, but like, it’s all fine either way, right?” He looked at Terri hopefully, as though he expected her to say he’d passed some sort of test and didn’t have to go to the end of the world after all.

“Thank you,” she said, and bowed deeply.

Mason’s crestfallen look was quickly replaced by grim stoicism. Terri felt a momentary pang of guilt, but it was just another thing to observe and release; the feeling passed, dissipated like mist in the afternoon sun. Compassion isn’t always kindness, she reminded herself.


Mason set out eastward early the next morning, stark naked in spite of the sharp autumn air. His glutes were grey and goosepimpled from the cold; he’d followed Terri’s instructions to ‘take nothing’ with him to the fullest, most pedantic degree.

Terri and the other yogis watched as he waddled stiffly away, then disappeared up the earthen path that would take him into the eastern wilderness.

A woman named Bonnie huddled next to Terri, wrapped in a heavy Navajo-print blanket. “Is he trying to martyr himself? Does he think he’s impressing us?”

“No,” Terri said softly, compassionately. “He’s going to liberate us from our doubt.”


Mason, as it turned out, had functioned as a containment node for the anxious, fatalistic hedonism among the yogis. When he was present, he’d given the others someone to judge, someone to differentiate themselves from. Now, it was as though he’d left the worst parts of his nature behind to inhabit the remaining yogis.

In the week following his departure, Terri found Bonnie in bed with Todd and Heather. She discovered Bill drunkenly playing an erotic visual novel on a laptop he’d borrowed from one of the locals. Ron, a limber septuagenarian, seemed content to aimlessly jerk off until the end of the world.

Terri took a long walk around the Cove, pondering how her yogis, her sangha, might be saved from their worst impulses. Cold, violent solutions hung low in her mind like stubborn rain clouds.

The small bay was busy with playful otters, who swam and twirled and devoured shellfish with oblivious innocence. An eagle circled lazily on a meager autumn thermal, eyeing the water for careless fish. Life in the Cove, it seemed, went on without attachment to any sort of future.

And, with the abruptness of a teacup shattering, Terri understood.


After some convincing, Terri led her sangha into the wilderness.

They had to forsake their humanity to preserve human kind. When the apocalypse made its inexorable approach on Halibut Cove, it would find only innocent animals, and pass over them.

They hiked twelve serpentine miles into raw wilderness, bedding down beneath a copse of pine trees when the light went low. The night was cold and bloated with hunger, and there was talk of going back to the Cove.

“You can’t go back because don’t know where you are,” Terri said, her soft voice stabbing like a shiv into the mutinous rumbling of the sangha. “The veils of illusion have been pulled aside. Your only comfort now is in the relinquishment of attachment. This is your final dharma.” Her soft voice swelled to a commanding thunder that echoed in the darkness beneath the trees.

Reverent silence greeted this proclamation. Terri felt a swell of pride, embraced it, then released it like a flock of doves.


She awoke at dawn, raised her head from the makeshift pillow of pine needles, and found herself alone in the forest. The cold had clenched her body into a tight fist; the tendons in her arms and legs felt like they’d shortened by several inches overnight. She couldn’t sit up, could barely move.

Terri laughed, a sonorous noise that ricocheted off the forest floor, bounced off the trees, filled the morning with its mirth. There was nothing left. She was free, liberated from her concern for the salvation of others.

The pale Alaskan sun warmed her some, and by midday, she was able to resume her eastward journey. Her mind was a limpid space, like the gaps between trees; there was no need to fear the apocalypse, because for Terri, the apocalypse had already come to pass, leaving nothing but serenity in its wake.

For a while, Terri walked. Then there was only walking, detached from any particular identity. After a handful of sunrises, the walking ceased, and there was nothing but awareness, the persistent serenity of total detachment.


Many months later, the end of the world plodded over a nondescript patch of Alaskan wilderness, testing the air for flawed lifeforms with tendrils of bright-darkness. It paused on its errand, having tasted a curious anomaly among the trees.

A figure sat in full-lotus position at the base of a towering pine, exuding only the faintest emanations of life. The end of the world prodded the figure with its bright-dark tendrils, found it unstained by the maladaptive skein of sapience, and moved on with a cyclopean shrug.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

hello thunderdome,

this place has created around seven and a half million terrible goonwords. but lowtax is dissolving, and without him it will create no more. go here and give the useless borderline invertebrate bastard some cash if you would be so kind and have the wherewithal.

Buying TD ads and TD-related avatars are also good ;)

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Saucy_Rodent posted:

Ya might wanna Google that one, son. BRAWL

Simply Simon posted:

I guess I learned something today, but you'll learn something too, because I'll loving school you. Let's throw down.


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.

Right so what we're gonna have here is a brawl, and what the prize is gonna be is a new av for the winner.

Your prompt is Two characters enter. One character leaves. Neither character may die.

Word count: 1200
Deadline: 11:59:59 PM PST on March 27th

toxxes pls

I'm aware that Simon doesn't have a losertar yet because gently caress THE MODS

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
MuffOut brawl crits

I enjoyed reading both of these, full stop. aaaaaaah I kept getting interrupted while trying to get my thoughts together, so have some lists of disjointed critique.



  • You deliver your setting in a very quick, hands-on way. The rules are established early on: fungal forest = weird (to the reader) but safe; open wasteland = sun = death. The towers are introduced near the beginning as a tantalizing mystery, but you don't rub it in the reader's face. It's a natural part of Isken's observation of her surroundings.
  • Isken chews the gently caress out of that scenery. If people aren't talking, she is interacting with her environment.
  • Isken has an immediate, distinct, endearing motivation: care for the weird orphan. There's almost a built-in "save the cat" beat there; this isn't her biological child, Henni is an outcast. So the fact that Isken cares about Henni makes me care about Isken.
  • Jak is pretty likable once we figure out his deal, even if his backstory is a little bit muddled by the rushed feeling of the ending. I was left wishing Isken had spent more time with him, built up more rapport.
  • There are these tiny, mild little bits of humor that i really enjoy. Like when Isken sees the elevator for the first time and is like "rooms that go up? lol wait til they figure out stairs."
  • Pretty language, of course.
  • I have crits about the ending, but since this is the positive section I'll say: There is a clear throughline from the beginning of the story to the end. As soon as we see those towers, i know they're going to be involved in the endgame.
  • You continue to be a steady hand with fungal worlds, ancient tech, and found family. Humans aren't smarter than nature. We're not smarter than evolution. That which can't bend breaks in the ugliest way.


  • I'll start with the big one: The ending. It's technically a satisfying series of events (Isken learns the truth of her world, reclaims the land for the mushroom kingdom, gains a buddy along the way), but compared to the parched, sprawling feel of the rest of the story, it feels very truncated and expository. I think part of the problem is that Isken is able to infer way too much about the nature of the towers and Jak. Don't get me wrong; she's smart, and I like a smart protagonist. But, for example, Isken makes a pretty huge jump when she deduces that Jak was transformed into a hunt-any by the science-magic of the tower. It would have made more sense to put that revelation in the slightly later scene where they encounter human-Jak's voice.
  • You drop a very subtle hint early on that the hunt-any might not be as monstrous as they seem; Isken notes that they tend to run from groups of hunters, taking only the sick and weak. By the end of the story, I chose to infer this meant that they were rescuing people, the same way Jak rescued Henni. If that's the case, might've been cool to see some other healed people hanging around at some point.
  • When Isken realizes that Henni is being treated for sun-sickness, she has a forehead-slapping moment where she's like "how did I not see it??" and goes on to describe how Henni had been subtly exhibiting the symptoms of the sickness the whole time. I went back to the beginning and didn't see much indication of that, though there was ample opportunity.
  • I was kind of expecting Henni to, I don't know, have more to her? Not to say she's badly written, it's just that she's described as very otherly in a way that suggested there might be some revelation about her later on.
  • Basically, i wanted more words of this. Under the circumstances, I'm pleased with what I got, but a selfish part of me is like "you could have fleshed this out more."



  • Your ending is as leisurely as Muffin's is snappy, which has its own sort of appeal. By the end of the elevator sequence, I'm sold. I don't wanna read about this place, I want to visit it! I am angry I'll never go to the mushrooms planet.
  • The Eye is a uniquely low-key, high-stakes setting. Just a place you can kick back with some brewskies and take in the lush vibrant mortal peril outside.
  • The phrase 'safety dads' cracks me up
  • Even though we don't get into the primary conflict right away, I had a pretty decent idea of what general sort it might be, thanks to the safety briefing in the beginning. You don't mention that there's never been a breach unless you are going to breach the gently caress out of your space dome.
  • I love characters, especially in spec fic, who experience a sense of wonder at their surroundings, which your protag seems to have.
  • The actual premise of the story is wildly ambitious in scope and I loving love the concept of a fungal security network built on a cosmic scale.
  • The description of the setting is good, but where the piece shines for me is in the description of the fungal hivemind once Lu joins it. It "feels" right, like how I'd want a proper fungal hivemind to be.


  • I agree with Sebmojo; I want to see hivemind-Lu and skullfriends try to convince the uninitiated Eye-dwellers that, uuuuh, actually being part of a fungal network is cool and good. But you'd need some massive restructuring to fit that in at this word count, so I can see why you ended it where you did; that said, it's hard for me to make a projection as to what might happen after the final period in this peace. Even if the people who live in the Eye were chill being being initiated into the mycosecurity system, you still got a ton of terrified tourists who probably want to, you know, go home. Showing us that confrontation would've likely changed the mood of the story to something a lot darker, so again, I can see why you didn't go there.
  • I love the lively sense of 'place' you establish within the Eye, though I wish there'd been a couple fewer characters. Tighten it up to Lu and Juno, and maybe Kimball since his daughter is the one who breaches the dome. Lem and PJ don't do much except engage in a little revealing banter about the 'power rangers.' Which brings me to...
  • I was expecting there to be more of a whole DEAL with Juno and her robosuit buddies! The other characters do all this grim speculation as to how human the power rangers are, and the answer is...yep, pretty human, just with some scars. You hint at what I want to see: once Lu is connected to Juno through the hivemind, she is able to see into Juno's past where she suffered from lung problems and had to be cut up and stuffed in a suit to walk. I think what i was looking for was a more explicit juxtaposition of the symbiosis of person/suit and the symbiosis of person/fungus.
  • I'm not totally convinced by the explanation that the Eye is "ready" to join Team Spacefungus; sure they all know CPR and are a self sufficient little bubble of cooperation, but it's a tourist destination, and, as everyone knows, tourists are the worst. Lu's narration in the beginning of the story makes the Eye feel like a perilous resort, not a bastion of cooperation and community. I wanted there to be something more explicit about the Eye, something that would credibly grab the attention of the Kahu.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Nikaer Drekin posted:

Well, it's been about three and a half years since my last rumble in the Thunderdome, but I'd say it's about time to get, as the kids say, "back on my bullshit." Let's see if you folks have gotten any better.



Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
it's been a while, here are some crits for week 346


Superficially, I like this piece. The narrator has an ideal amount of swagger, and I really enjoyed the revelation early-ish on that she was a great-grandmother.

I get less enthusiastic the more I think about the actual story, though. The kid shows up at someone else's behest and gets his rear end summarily beat. This piece would've been strengthened if the kid has his own motivation, a more personal stake in whether great-grandma comes home or not. Right now he's a dweeby prop, an excuse for the narrator to show us how badass and IDGAF she is. The thing is, from the outset I know grandma is gonna kick rear end and own bones because her self-confidence speaks for itself. What I want, in light of that, is something that challenges the protagonist's assumptions about themselves, their world, or their great-grandson.

I hate to come down on action sequences on TD because tons of people love reading/writing them, and this is good action. My problem is that it's action leading up to the revelation that badass grandma is badass. The sand thing is cool, I'll give you that, and it was a neat juxtaposition between setting (the riverboat) and character (a sandwitch :v:). I just kept waiting for a change in the dynamic.

Basically, my initial read was pleasant, but the more I ponder, the more it starts to feel like one note being played at a steadily increasing volume.


Holy gently caress I love this story. It would've been my win pick for entirely biased and personal reasons.

The star of this story is of course the worldbuilding. I think Djeser's crit covered that, and he basically said what I was thinking the first time I read this. The co-star of this story is the quiet characterization of the protagonist(s); they/she is sympathic even though she comes across as understandably sinister to the other characters. We don't see a lot of the world of this story—just bits and pieces, really, the barest sketch—but this is a subterranean world where "airstones" are a thing, so I imagine there are significant environmental factors like extreme scarcity and lack of oxygen. In light of that, bonding with some sort of wormy hivemind doesn't seem half-bad; the descriptions of riding inside the worm, gross as that sounds, are soothing and comfortable. Meanwhile, a familiar setting like a bar (complete with surly sheriff) feels hostile and threatening.

Finally, I get the sense that the protagonist could spread the "love" with violence, should she so choose. She handily outmaneuvers the sheriff in their weird biopunk shoot-out and she seems to be able to regenerate; that she chooses to throw the dart into the Sheriff's star and bid her a nice day is telling. Okay, so leaving behind a shipment of mushrooms evidently loaded with eggs to be disseminated among the unwitting populace is a liiiiittle sketch, but...the hive mind is nice! It seems to value its hosts, which is another thing I like about this story.

Overall, good world, good characters, very light touch. Good stuff.


What stood out to me as soon as my eyes started moving across the page is how much you're struggling with the voice. It's alllmost there—I read it with the cadence of a gentleman of especially southern eloquence telling a tale with his thumbs hooked in his suspenders—but suffers from wordiness and awkward phrasing. It's evident in the very first sentence:


Now I don’t find a need to relay to you the entire biography of our hero to the minute detail.

Why not something like I see no need to recount every last detail of our hero's biography or something? This is a mouthful to start with. But before I get too deep in criticizing the voice, I want to point out that the framing device is pretty weak and unnecessary. I guess the end of the story suggests that the Fool is about to roll up on the narrator (that's how i interpreted the sandstorm at the end, anyway) and their audience, but since I don't know who they are, I don't have any particular feelings about the Fool showing up. Point is, this story would've been better had you told the events straight, rather than frame it to a narrator orating to an audience.

I do like how you chose to represent the Fool's Journey, with the Fool violently working his way through the major arcana. I don't think I've seen tarot themes used quite like that before. That said, if you know absolutely nothing about the tarot, the Fool, the Tower, the Lovers, and etc would be utterly meaningless. I know a fair bit about the symbolism, but I'm not entirely sure what was going on with the Fool leaving his teeth-children in the Tower's mouth. It was weird and cool, but I didn't understand the significance. Also, while I can connect your Fool with the archetypal Fool of the tarot, the Tower was disappointingly generic. Like, if you're going to go with tarot symbolism, you're gonna need to emphasize the characteristics of the card to which you're referring; otherwise it's just empty symbolism.

Finally, as pleased as I am to see an alternate take on the Fool's Journey, the Fool doesn't have any clear personal motivations. He's moving through the major arcana because that's what the fool does, and he's having a shootout with the Tower because this is a western-themed week. Nothing in this story feels like it's happening for its own reasons; it's all forced for the sake of the plot, which is very thin indeed.


*sighs in a put-upon fashion*

Nah actually this was pretty decent. It was a hair predictable—rear end in a top hat commander disrespects local spirit, invokes misfortune and death—but I don't get the sense that you were trying to avoid predictable? In this case, it was a trope executed well. Part of that was the dose of regional/cultural conflict you give us; these aren't just random explorers, they're Japanese soldiers killing Chinese civilians. The other thing that made it work for me was the personality of Sakamoto, which is pretty generic for the first part of the story, then grew on me near the end. The most salient, human moment in the story is when he "selfishly" wishes Konishi had not abandoned him by committing seppuku.

I also enjoy the ambiguity of the ending. I'm not totally sold on either outcome; Sakamoto could be dead, or he could be running with the fox babe. I think his death would be the more disappointing ending, but on the other hand, I sort of agree with his confusion near the end—why would the fox spirit and her bandits spare and recruit him? Most of Sakamoto's non-dickishness happens secretly up in his head, since he's afraid to be insubordinate right up until the moment he shoots Okada. It's not like he's doing a Princess Mononoke on anyone. On the other hand, fox spirits are magical beings so I guess it's possible he gets taken on board with raider crew because she detects goodness (or at least, appropriately terrified reverence) in him. But now I'm headcanoning, which isn't really a crit.

Anyway, this is a solid piece that owns its tropes and does some decent character stuff with incredibly faint strokes.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 02:05 on Mar 28, 2019

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Saucy Simon Brawl results


While this is the more emotionally resonant of the two pieces, I find the central allegory...odd. I think it's because of the way Charlie goes back and forth between being himself and "the princess". Now, this is 2019, dudes can imagine their best buds as princesses all they want. HOWEVER, I don't know that the fight for the princess's freedom (and presumably her hand in marriage, if we take the metaphor to its fullest extent?) is a good metaphor for what's happening in the real world. Two people dueling over a princess is very different than a soldier grappling with the order to kill his best friend.

That said, I see what you did here and I think it's a neat approach to the prompt, even if there isn't total parity between the real world and the allegory. I am pretty on board with this character's struggle between his deeply moral side and his amorally pragmatic side, and when he shoots the sergeant at the end, I'm sold that doing so was the only way to resolve the conflict between the two aspects of the narrator.

One major downside is that, for as important as Charlie is (he's the crux of the plot), he's basically a non-entity throughout the story. He has no commentary, no agency, as either himself or the princess. I could've used a little bit more texture in his character, since I'm supposed to be empathizing with the narrator, who cares about Charlie a lot.

Side note, I would scale back your exclamation point usage to like, one or two instances per story, if that.


Simon's story wore its heart on its sleeve. This one is more aloof, but feels like it's making a more intentional point, something the price of having personal agency is the risk that sometimes you feel bad, and maybe even want to die. And a society who chooses to try and eliminate depression from its participants is a society that chooses to eliminate free will. I'm basically on board with that.

I'm not sure about the execution. I guess the "two people" who enter are Judy and Judy's brain chip? And the one person who leaves is the "fixed" Judy who can't think or feel anything but happiness. I guess I like that. I don't hate it.

There's a low-key dystopian vibe to this story that works, but not in an especially unique or interesting way. In the grim near-future our bad thoughts will go straight to google, ooooo 2real4me. The ending is basically a variation on "He loved Big Brother". As someone who's read a decent amount of sci-fi, I'm not content with a story that tells me about how Bad Future is Bad. It's not enough to show a character being subjected to the misguided use of technology, the end.

The tension in this story, such as it is, is derived from the fact that Judy doesn't actually need this intervention, because she wasn't really suicidal, but is being subjected to it anyway. I'm willing to go along with that to some extent, but without a larger payoff to reward my suspension of disbelief, I'm left feeling superficially annoyed at these hypothetical psyche professionals who refuse to listen to a lucid, rational patient. At no point does the story pull back and give me a broader view of the world in which Judy lives, so there is no broader context for her suffering (or lack thereof, by the end).

The bottom line

Neither of these were perfect. I would say they're equally flawed, just in different ways. Unfortunately for Saucy_Rodent, I need a little bit more of a finely-honed point on my sci-fi, so Simon wins this brawl by a hair, for writing the more emotionally resonant story.

Well fought, both of you!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Thirdmojo brawl

Your story's setting must exude a strong sense of place.

By the end of your story, your character must have made life significantly worse for themselves, but they feel great about it OR they must have made life significantly better for themselves, but feel awful about it.

No death.

1500 words
Due no later than Saturday, April 13Saturday, April 20 by 11:59:59PM PST

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 11:11 on Apr 19, 2019

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
oh heck, in

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

The Big Yearning
1000 words

Boris’s yard smells of wounded grass, weed killer, and the sweaty tang of bare human feet. Sometimes the afternoon breeze slithers over the fence, ruffling the cut grass and Boris’s voluminous white fur, teasing Boris’s nose with rumors of a distant place—a place populated by strange animals, tall trees, uncut greenery. A forest.

The scent is faint, nearly lost under the gravy of fast food and automobiles, but when Boris smells it, he smells it. Gets an itch in his gums and a thrum in his four stout legs that sends him leaping and twirling around the yard, a futile bid to exorcise the big green yearning from his doggy soul.

Invariably, his adoptive mother spots him doing this and rushes outside, smartphone in hand, and records Boris’s exorcism while chanting, “Dance, Boris! Do your dance, baby! Dance Boris!”

It’s the worst in the summer; the breeze gets all hot and sticky, then rolls around in the forest, coating itself in the wild language of pine and sparrow and loam and deer. On those days, when the scent of freedom completely overpowers the grease-and-asphalt slurry of humanity, Boris’s dance isn’t enough to exorcise the big green yearning. The itch in his gums demands Boris bite and gnaw and tear loose with all the little-used strength in his jaws.

He rips out chunks of manicured grass with his teeth, tossing them up in the air as he dances his exorcism. When this happens, his adoptive mother bursts through the back door, shouting another of her many chants: “No, no, no, no, no! Bad Boris! Grass is no!”

Boris’s world is made of No. The fence surrounding his yard is No. The leash around his neck when his mother takes him for walks is No. The cleaning agents humans use to wash away especially loquacious scents is No. The whole city is a big No, a living structure designed to keep Boris in and the forest out.


Boris trots around the perimeter of his yard, snout wedged in the space where the fence meets the grass, vacuuming up familiar smells with his blunt, bear-like nose. The breeze is mercifully laconic today, and Boris’s pacing is more a walking meditation than an act of restlessness.

On what is perhaps his fiftieth or hundredth circumnavigation of the yard, Boris stops, inhales deeply, and exhales a perplexed chuf. A cold, concise scent emanates from the gaps between fence boards, a scent unlike anything the breeze has ever carried into his yard. The alien scent is accompanied by familiar sounds, however: panting, shuffling, canine grumbles.

Boris presses his nose against a knothole in the fence and takes another deep, inquisitive sniff—


Running straight down the throat of the wind, paws crashing through a crust of snow.

Every direction is YES: YES the trackless snowfields, YES the temples of sleepy pine trees under their snowy steeples, YES the joyful baying of Boris and his pack.

YES to the itch in Boris’s gums, the thrum in his legs; these goads have a purpose out here, on the forever-run.



Boris backs away from the knothole, tossing his fluffy head from side to side. The dogs beyond the fence whine plaintively. An errant gust of subarctic wind whistles between the pickets, clean and cool, momentarily thinning the soup of human smells. Boris knows, in a doggy sort of way, that he could step onto that wind, run the length of it, and find himself in that trackless land of YES.

YES? The dogs ask in the language of scent.

Boris tucks his tail and whimpers. No.

It’s always No. If Boris tries to contradict No, he finds more No. Worse No. He can’t run the wind anymore than he can freely run the length of his street because No has boundless resources. No embedded the microchip in his skin. No employs people with trucks and cages to go out and catch dogs with too much YES in their souls.

His adoptive mother emerges from the house, pauses just outside the door when she sees Boris’s submissive posture.

“Waddya doin’, bud?” Another one of her favorite chants. Boris's leash dangles from her right hand, a coil of No that swings back and forth when she moves.

Boris yawns a frustrated aroo that elongates into a whine. The dogs beyond the fence respond in kind, a chorus of frantic noises accompanied by the sound of paws scratching on wood.

His mother casts an annoyed look at the fence, then claps her hands twice. “Hey Boris! Wanna go for a walk?”

No. Boris wants to go for a run, a forever-run punctuated only by brief commas when he and his pack bed down in a warm, furry heap. He wants clean, frigid air and the gentle weight of snowfall on his fur.

No! he barks at his adoptive mother. It’s not an angry bark, just authoritative, but she takes a step back, instantly filling the air with noisome fear.

The big green yearning in his soul has crystalized into something cold and white and undeniable, and the way to the wind is open. The cold gusts come harder and more insistent, slipping beneath Boris’s paws, lifting him up off the manicured grass.



And the choice is made.

Boris rises along with his pack, ascending into the air above the sprawling grid of No. He looks down at his adoptive mother, once, sees her looking up at him, mouth gaping is if in a silent howl.

The dogs are buoyed higher and higher by the wind. They join the ranks of fluffy white clouds, high enough up that their fur is soon coated in a scintillating layer of frost. Boris and his pack find their footing in the sky, and begin to run.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
in, give me someone powerful

:toxx: because the failure is strong in me rn

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Prompt: Grizzled Patriarch; chosen story

900 words

Signe was sprawled out on the shaggy brown rug, cheek resting on her arithmetic textbook. It was too hot for math; the figures and formulas seemed to melt before her eyes, turning watery and imprecise.

From the kitchen came the clamor of supper being made, of half-remembered songs sung in her mother’s smokey alto. Signe swam in and out of consciousness, lulled by the heat and familiar, domestic sounds.

Sudden silence roused her from half-sleep.

Signe got quietly to her feet, padded into the kitchen, feeling like an intruder in her own home. Her mother stood at the screen door, looking out at the dismal alleyway beyond, motionless except for the faint fluttering of her gingham skirt. Signe crept up to peek over her mother’s shoulder, but recoiled as soon as she saw the thing standing just outside the screen door.

It was naked. The feathers were a dull, dirty grey, and hung from the creature’s body in greasy-looking clumps. Its torso was that of a man, but in place of arms were ratty wings, presently hanging limp at the creature’s sides. It stood on saurian talons, its scaly legs articulated in the manner of birds. Its face—

No. Signe wouldn’t look at its face. Better to inspect the wretched droop of its feathers, the awkward set of a human torso atop avian legs. At least she did not see in these things the green of her own eyes, the round button of her own nose. Better to let the thing outside be a monster, and nothing more.

Her mother said, “You remember your daddy, don’t you Signe?”


While her mother chatted shyly with the thing in the kitchen, Signe inspected herself in the bathroom mirror, from the top of her head down to her toes. She was, as far as she could tell, completely featherless—but then, the thing had been featherless when he left them. Her skin itched as, in her imagination, feathers sprouted from her arms and back, oily and dull, just like her father’s.

She would pluck herself raw before becoming like him.

The heat and the presence of the creature made the kitchen too oppressive. Signe returned to the living room and pretended to study figures in her textbook while eavesdropping on the conversation, which was mostly an interrogation:

“You look thin. You been eating enough?”

“Is the girl working yet?”

“Was there anyone else while I was gone?”

Her mother’s answers came as a series of small, quiet syllables:




There was a rustling like feathers against fabric, the wet sound of lips touching. Signe slammed her textbook closed, and the loud thwap put an end to the noises in the kitchen.


Signe tried. Her mother wanted so badly to feel like their family was whole again, and so Signe fitted herself into the role of the ideal child: seen but not heard, and obedient.

Mother and daughter had always shared the twin bed in the bedroom; now Signe slept on the sofa, covering her ears against the sounds of strange rutting on the other side of the wall. She practiced her arithmetic out back, in the sweltering alley, so as to not ‘disturb’ the thing when he was listening to his radio programs.

One early morning, well before sunrise, the thing roused her from the sofa with the prodding of one of his talons.

“Up, girl. ‘Bout time you made yourself useful.”


The thing did not lead her to the factory or the fields; instead, he led her to the freight yards, where trains were loaded up with produce and sent north.

“Now you’re gonna hop one of these trains. Girl like you‘ll do fine in Denver or Frisco,” the thing said. He licked his lips. “Your mother deserves to make up for time lost rearing you.”

Signe looked up into the thing’s face—a face so much like her own—and growled, “You. Left. Her.” Her skin itched, a prickling lattice that ran down her arms and back, all the way to her toes.

“Men got no use for a woman with a squalling baby on her tit,” the thing said. “Remember that, wherever you end up.”

Glossy black feathers exploded from Signe’s arms and back, glinted iridescent under the late moonlight. Talons tore through the canvas tops of her shoes and she felt a new power in her feet, a lethality she’d never known before; she could gut the pathetic creature in front of her, and he knew it too. He lowered his gaze in animal submission and took a few steps back, putting space between himself and Signe.

Oh, she wanted to end him. But in doing, she would break her mother’s heart; that was the job of the father, not the daughter.

Unlike her father, Signe still had her hands. She reached for a particularly large feather on her left shoulder, tore it out, and let it fall, leaf-like, to the ground.

“I’m gonna pluck myself clean,” she said, tearing out another black feather. “You best be gone by the time I’m done.”

The thing turned and ran, his oily grey feathers fading into the early morning murk. Signe grimaced and ripped out a fistful of feathers, then another, feeling her father grow more distant with every patch of skin she made raw.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
preemptively: everyone shut the hell up and either sign up, post a story, or crit

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