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Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



In.

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Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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





Swimming and Sinking
967 words

Two days after the reservoir flooded, the birds were swimming in it, and Andi figured it was probably safe. The liquid in the reservoir didn't look promising -- a dull purplish-grey, still fizzing with faint carbonation, like the worst store-brand soda -- but they hadn't had anything that close to water in the reservoir all summer. School was starting soon, and autumn nights were too cold anyway; if they were going swimming before spring, it had to be tonight.

Andi watched the reservoir birds out her window until dark, then shot off a text to Kayla. Once she got a reply ("ok" -- and that was Kayla for you, always distracted), she changed clothes and laid down with a book to wait out the night. Her parents' bedtime ritual was always the same, and Andi could time it down to the minute: a whistling teakettle, the first half-hour of the late show, then lights shutting off and "goodnight, honey!" yelled down the hall. After five minutes of darkness, Andi threw her jacket and swim shoes on and headed out the door.

Before she could start the familiar walk to Kayla's house, Andi saw her friend's silhouette leaning against the reservoir fence. It was strange to see Kayla take initiative, but it was kind of nice. God knows she didn't get out enough, between the games and the chat rooms and even a couple of old-fashioned pen pals; it seemed like Andi always had to drag her out of the house, often enough that she almost felt guilty. Only the reservoir ever held Kayla's interest, and maybe, Andi realized, that was why she was considering going swimming in purple-grey carbonated muck. "Hey, Kayla," she said as she joined her by the fence. "What's up? You psyched?"

It took Kayla a moment to look up. "Oh, hey. Yeah, I guess so?" Maybe it was the darkness, but something in her face looked more tired than usual: cheeks loose and pudgy, hair in a messy ponytail. Geez, how long had it been since Andi'd seen her in person? A week or two? Summers always got busy, but she should have made time. She'd have to make up for it these last two weeks. "Wonder what that stuff even is," said Kayla, and cracked a very slight smile.

"Yeah, it's wild," Andi replied, trying to chase her thoughts away. "C'mon, let's get in before the Neighborhood Watch ladies see us." She climbed onto the bottom rail of the fence and hoisted herself over, then offered Kayla a hand to do the same. The two of them put on goggles and nose plugs, but when Andi stripped down to her swimsuit, Kayla didn't move. "Wait, are you going in in your clothes? I bet this stuff is gonna stain."

"Easier this way," said Kayla, and before Andi could ask why, she waded in to the ankles, the mud of the reservoir shoreline squishing nastily underfoot. Andi hastened to catch up; the clinging mud seeped into her swim shoes, and the liquid was sticky, cool but not cold. Kayla was up to her knees already, and Andi stayed right behind her. The liquid fizzed and popped around her as it reached her waist, then her shoulders. Andi took one last deep breath and submerged.

She could see through the murk, just barely, and mostly the glowing light from the reservoir's deepest point: the portal, the one that filled the reservoir from God knows where, with God knows what. She'd swum the reservoir before, but she'd never seen the portal active. Was this thing still filling up? Maybe that was why the liquid around her seemed fresher, fizzier, than the stuff at the top: heavy but buoyant, easy to swim in but hard to sink into. Andi kicked frantically to try and dive deeper. Progress was slow, but soon the bottom of the ravine came into view, littered with the decayed shapes of old reservoir-filler. Something in Andi wanted to go deeper, but the fluid was getting fizzier, bubbles forcing their way past her nose plugs, and her lungs were starting to burn. Time to surface and maybe call it a night. But where was Kayla?

Kayla was deeper. Andi could see her now, propelling herself down through the shadowy grey with power and ease; Kayla'd always been the better swimmer. She was headed towards the portal, Andi realized, and forced herself to dive deeper to meet her. Andi made a few frantic gestures, to warn her away, that it was time to stop.

Kayla locked eyes with her, shook her head, and dove into the light.

Andi froze. The bubbles carried her to the surface.

***

There were fewer questions than she'd expected. "These things happen sometimes," the detective told her, "when kids get portal-mad. It's not your fault." Kayla's parents didn't blame her, or even talk to her. There was no funeral. Kayla was just gone, a sudden hole in her life, and slowly the hole filled in. Her parents called it "healing." It felt worse than the pain.

After the soda-stuff drained out, the reservoir was dry for months. It started filling again in midwinter: first with strawberries, a feast for the birds, and then with colorful plastic toys that the neighborhood kids grabbed to scatter all over. Andi stayed away, kept her head down, and focused on school. Kayla had wanted her to take senior year seriously.

In mid-March, two days before spring, the reservoir filled with letters. Andi saw it as she was walking home from school: the whole ravine filled with a sea of envelopes, at which a few grackles were disappointedly picking. Every envelope was powder blue, Kayla's favorite color, and sealed with a daisy sticker like her pen-pal letters.

Andi dropped her book bag, hopped the fence, and dove in.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



In, with an exciting bonus fact

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Thanks for the crits, crit folks! I appreciate your thoughts.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Solitair posted:

“The Trap Card” by Ironic Twist
I legitimately have no idea what triggers the transition between the main character getting an opportunity to reliving all of his dying days. Was he hit by Gold Experience Requiem when he wasn’t looking?

Did you just make a Jojo's reference while blasting Twist for writing nerdy? Seriously?

Brawl me, you doofus

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Anomalous Blowout posted:



Don't make me turn this car around, kids.

Write me 1200 words about a nerd on a family vacation who doesn't want to be there.

Any genre, any destination, any kind of nerd. But I want to feel your feeble, impotent geekrage.

Deadline is one week from the timestamp on this post.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Hungry Birds in Dying Forests
964 words
Prompt: the Hercinia
A meal of cloves may tempt a hercinia to lead men to hidden glory.

In the archives

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 12:44 on Dec 29, 2019

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



sebmojo posted:

judgment will occur.

Inter prompt: what the hell just walked in the door (350 words)

Saturday Night, the Cincinnati City Center Sheraton, Fifth Floor
318 words

"Dude!" yells Malachi Bloodsong, springing to his feet and pulling on his fursuit head. "This is a private room party."

The guy who's just staggered through the door is wearing the jankiest fursuit Mal's ever seen -- some kind of husky or something? Why are they all loving huskies? Over it is a pair of ragged jeans and a torn labcoat. loving fursuit cosplay. The guy's got a sixer of Mike's in one hand, like that should get him in the door. loving newbie. loving idiot. Behind Mal, he can hear the others freaking out and pulling clothes on. There's a thud of a bottle being dropped, then a yell: "CHRIST ON A BIKE, MY SUIT --"

Mal pushes the interloper out bodily, making little shoo shoo shoo noises. Mr. lovely Cosplayer stumbles, obviously already half-drunk, but he obliges, and once he's through the door Mal slams it and throws the chain lock. When he turns around, all of his best friends are hiding under the covers of the hotel bed save for Jazz Jaguar, who's disconsolately rubbing seltzer water on pink-and-purple fake fur.

MurrCon is ruined.

***

As the door slams behind her, Subject N-0058 paws disconsolately at her con badge. Friends, the lab tech had said when she'd sprung her from the cage. She was supposed to find friends here, people who would understand. The bottles she carried were supposed to buy their protection. Why did she fail? Her legs ache. Her eyes water. Freedom is terrible.

The hallway is long, N-0058 tells herself. There are many cages here. Many have signs -- signs that mean there might be friends. The first failed, but she has to keep trying.

N-0058 wobbles down the hall. This time, she knocks. The door opens -- a subject, with long ears and white fur. "Heyyyyy," it says. "Hey, are those Mike's? Nice."

Subject N-0058 steps inside. This time, nobody screams.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Okay, so, first things first: to complete all my outstanding judge crits before submission deadline for week 337.

Furthermore, I'll do crits for Week 336 stories for anyone who requests one. These may be later than the deadline above, because I have like 40 crits to write, holy hell, but I'll do my best to be timely.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



THUNDERDOME WEEK CCCXXXVII: A Dark and Stormy 2019



It's January again, so I want to revisit a prompt from last January that I had a ton of fun with: Lyttle Lytton Week! Let's see what you guys can come up with using really bad first sentences.

If you're not familiar with it, the Lyttle Lytton is an annual contest to compose terrible opening sentences for imaginary novels. Your challenge this week is to use one of these sentences, verbatim, as the first sentence of your story, then write a good story with it.

To break it down into bullet points:

1. When you sign up, choose a Lyttle Lytton sentence from the archive link above, or ask me to choose one for you. The only restriction I'm going to put on this is please don't choose one based on topical politics, because I don't want to read what comes from that. (Erotic or fanfictional choices are also bad, but I'll let you brave those if you want.)

2. Your sentence should be used, verbatim, as the first sentence of your story. This should be the real first sentence; don't get cute with it by having it be from a bad novel being written by your protagonist, or something. Own it.

3. You don't have to exactly copy the style or content of your sentence, because that would probably lead to a bad story, and I want you to write well.

No erotica, fanfic, topical political satire/screeds, archive-breaking formatting, or dick pics. Other standard TD rules apply.

Word Limit: 1000 (1250 if you toxx)
Signup Deadline: 11:59 PM Pacific, January 18th, 2019
Submission Deadline: 11:59 PM Pacific, January 20th, 2019

Judges:
Antivehicular
Flesnolk
Sitting Here

Entrants
1. Pham Nuwen
2. crabrock
3. apophenium
4. anatomi
5. Thranguy
6. Lippincott
7. SlipUp
8. Bolt Crank
9. QM Haversham
10. Bad Seafood
11. onsetOutsider
12. Sham bam bamina!
13. Dolash
14. Devorum
15. Chairchucker
16. Staggy
17. a computing pun
18. theblunderbuss
19. Yoruichi
20. Djeser
21. Entenzahn
22. Simply Simon
23. Rad-daddio

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 05:51 on Jan 20, 2019

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Pham Nuwen posted:

In, and gimme a sentence please

"Her wit was sharp like a lawnmower blade—​it could cut you down to size (which she could adjust, like a lawnmower)."

apophenium posted:

Also in for Lytton redux. Give me a good bad sentence, AV!

"'It looks like this continent is out of water,' I said in Antarctica, as a rookery of penguins waddled thirstily by."

Thranguy posted:

in, I'll take a sentence.

"'Murder is the most terrible crime of them all,' the police commissioner thought to himself as he loitered purposefully near the deli counter."

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 22:41 on Jan 15, 2019

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Lippincott posted:

In. Hit me with a sentence - they're all so wonderful I can't choose.

"'Crime,' declared the police captain, 'is everywhere, crime, crime!'"

SlipUp posted:

in



Hit me with one I can't decide.

"Before I got hit by that ole bus, I never used to think much, but now I think PLENTY."

Bolt Crank posted:

In and would like a sentence!

"His dark heart pulsated with raw evil, as he pumped it, furiously."

QM Haversham posted:

I'm In. Pick a sentence for me, please.

"For centuries, man had watched the clouds; now, they were watching him."

Bad Seafood posted:

In.

Do your worst.

"The cosmonauts were transfixed with wonderment as the sun set — over the Earth — there lucklessly, untethered Comrade Todd on fire."

onsetOutsider posted:

I'll have what he's having.

"Anthony’s eyes bulged as we all watched, with languid, infinite slowness, his skull float across the cockpit."

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Gimme a stinker.

"Leon fell out of the goat."

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Devorum posted:

In. Give me a sentence because I'm an indecisive rear end in a top hat.

"Braille haiku on the gravestone served to excite some while sighted visitors needed only touch the smoothly polished shapes."

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Chairchucker posted:

Gimme a sentence so I can make it into a story please.

"Get ready to take a virtual tour of sydney australia through the backyards of a kangaroo who will punch you in the head fifty times!"

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



a computing pun posted:

Screw it. It's been almost two months since November, I should be over having failed at a long-story contest already. Maybe failing at a short-story contest is just what I need to get past it.

In, and I'd like a sentence assigned please.

"Cowboy Bret said to Dave (another cowboy), 'Now let’s rustle up these cattles.'"

Yoruichi posted:

Yes MUM

In and gimme a ridiculous opener

"Tagg could scarce believe his young eyes as they met the feast laid out richly before him: all manner of mealbreads, ripest canteloons, and—​by the Star!—​an entire bandersnort, carved and dripping."

Staggy posted:

In, I'll take an opener please.

"It was a time of darkness in the land of Gath-ka’noug. But then, out of the darkness, there shone a brilliant light. And the name of that light was: Horick the Elf."

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Entenzahn posted:

I'm in, give me a sentence

"Agent Jeffrey’s trained eyes rolled carefully around the room, taking in the sights and sounds."

Rad-daddio posted:

I'm IN for the weekly challenge.

Please give me a sentence, if it's not too much trouble.

"All humans work at The Factory, which is run by robots and it makes more robots."

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Crits for Week 329, Fun-Sized Thunderdome, Part 1

Overall thoughts on the week: pretty good! There are a lot of stories I enjoyed this week, and overall I'd say it went well. Not sure I have a ton of deep thoughts about this one.

Djeser, "gently caress Space. Just gently caress It."

There's not a ton to this other than the character voice and space loving, and that's fine. I think it's a successful enough piece for what it is; I'm particularly fond of the phrase "she-bull soybeef." It's kind of shallow and jokey, which I think is why it didn't mention (guess who didn't actually keep judging notes for this week? GOOD WORK SELF), but I liked it fine.

Erainor, "The Red Tide"

This one reminds me of a saying from the Turkey City Lexicon: "I've suffered for my art, and now it's your turn," where an author does a ton of research for their work and then dumps it all on the page in lieu of a story. I feel like this was researched, and I commend that, but the actual story is pretty much all exposition, with essentially no character work or other sorts of depth. There's gestures at the personal consequences of the events, but it's not followed up on, when it really should have been. You tried, and I appreciate that you tried, but it's important to take your preparatory research and work it into a narrative instead of just dumping it on the page straight.

Thranguy, "Summerlands"

This is a decent enough piece, but I'm kind of wondering if this length wasn't the right one for it. It's got a nice breezy fable tone, but the main character is a cipher, which I feel like undercuts a lot of it, especially the ending. Here's this guy with a nigh-infinite capacity for sorrow, an interesting allusion to "failed chemical balms," and fae-level business acumen, and we never learn a single thing about him beyond these basic characteristics that drive the plot. The result feels kind of hollow.

(An aside, although it's not hugely relevant to this story: I am kind of sick of reading domestic violence/abuse stories in Thunderdome, to the point that I've considered putting it in my rules posts. This case isn't too egregious, but boy, am I tired of it. Use this judge trivia as you will.)

derp, "Eat"

This first story in the Derp Trilogy is probably the best of the three, just because it's at least making an attempt at having a setting and plot. I'm not sure it makes a ton of sense -- making the meat-machine-things act like stereotypical capitalists seems a little on the nose, and it's hard for me to buy that the narrator is the first guy who just thought of eating the loving things before now -- and the prose ends up, ironically, kind of flavorless, but whatever, it's an SF allegory, it's fine. Not amazing, but a decent enough effort.

derp, "The Rich"

This is basically a political cartoon in story form, and not a particularly good one. It's unsubtle and pretty trite, and it's hard to see any attempt here to elevate these characters beyond drawings labeled THE WORKING POOR and MONEY-GRUBBING BANKSTERS. The scenario isn't terrible at being political satire -- it's on the nose, but amusingly absurd -- but this just can't get around having a pretty shallow message and not trying to do anything besides convey that message.

derp, "For Thanksgiving"

See all the stuff I wrote above about "The Rich" being unsubtle, shallow, and trite? Intensify that, remove references to the scenario being non-terrible, and add scatological revulsion, and you have my reaction to "For Thanksgiving." I don't mind stories being unpleasant to read, but if you want to go to the well of being actively unpleasant and/or using bodily substance stuff, you have to write something that's worth it. This is manifestly not worth it. The characters and scenario are even flatter than "The Rich," and I don't even feel like you were working to write decent prose here. I agree with your political points, but I feel insulted you felt like you had to make them with this thing.

Saucy_Rodent, "Kimberly"

I know you were concerned about the initial paragraph here, but I think it works well. It's a bit rudimentary, but it gets the idea of Kimberly as repetitive-rhythmic thought in the narrator's head across. I think it's well-balanced by the rest of the piece being relatively prosaic, too; experimentation is often stronger in small doses. Overall, I think this is decent stuff -- a nice idea, mostly explained but sometimes getting to sing -- and I'd like to see you try more writing in this sort of sentimental vein.

autism ZX spectrum, "Detour"

This is not what I expected to get from this lyric, but in retrospect, that's on me. I mentally sorted it into the same pile as Djeser's: "this is a little wacky and thin, but it's perfectly fine for what it is." The character work is a touch better -- I appreciate Jdog420's ingenuity in the face of his extremely stupid life -- but it's still just a dumb little SF piece, and that's fine. It hits its mark reasonably well.

Yoruichi, "My Ex-racehorse"

As a vignette mostly about experience and sensation, I think this works well, but I would have liked to see more personality from the horse, given that the whole thesis of the story revolves around "do horses enjoy being ridden?" We get some of this, at the end and in the part about an invitation, but it's not as complete as I'd like; the phrasing about gears and levitation evoke mechanical imagery, which doesn't fit with the central idea of the horse as a partner and intelligence of its own. Still, the sensory language here is quite striking, and I think the piece works well on that level.

Saucy_Rodent, "Pink Glow"

This story has an interesting initial conceit but sort of winds down as it goes, ending with one of the most troublesome cliches of TD writing: "someone dies/murders someone else at the end for no good reason." I wonder if this story would also be better at a longer length, so you could really dig into the central conceit and give the protagonist a more plausible escalation from "recovering via hallucination-detection implant -> implant goes wonky, condition deteriorates -> murder?" This needed more of an arc and more of a chance for the characters to breathe.

Sitting Here, "Strange Silk"

I really liked this one. There's a nice interplay here between the silkworm narrator, the spider other-self who lends the narrator emotions it might not otherwise perceive, and the terrible, omniscient human "you." For creatures that aren't really anthropomorphicized beyond broad sapience, there's still some depth of character here, and I really enjoyed it. I don't have a ton of criticism for this one; it's well-executed and a good read.

Yoruichi, "I Have No Need of God"

I think this is the strongest of your pieces this week. The supernatural encounter idea here nicely done, and the inversion of the standard fear-and-trembling narrative is refreshing. This is an excellent character portrait, despite relatively sparse detail, of someone whose sins (drawn just enough to let us know they're real and serious) are identity and lifeline. The ending is also solid. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn't take judge notes for this week, but this was near the top of the no-mentions and may have HMed on another day.

BabyRyoga, "Inspiration"

This is kind of entertaining, but I'm really not sure what's going on here. The impression I get is that the two speakers are involved in some kind of tall-tale-telling improv exercise or competition? I feel like there's definitely some structure going on here, but I can't quite place it, and in practice it's... well, kind of an old guy telling me a shaggy-dog story. A shaggy-wolf story?

Yoruichi, "Everything is Going to be Okay"

This is another one that I think may have needed some more words to really turn into something. As it stands, it's pretty thin: an extremely archetypal argument, characters who aren't developed beyond their sides in the argument, and an ending I'm not sure quite reaches feel-good status given that there still seem to be a lot of problems at play. (Mary is reassured, but can James actually work less, or are they going to be in the same place a month for now? Are they completely hosed if James gets fired for this stunt?) A big moment of emotional catharsis is all well and good, but in this case it doesn't feel earned.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Signups are closed. If you signed up and I missed you in the chaos of the thread, let me know.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Crits for Week 329, Fun-Sized Thunderdome, Part 2

Thranguy, "The Deck Behind the Old House"

This is a nice, understated piece that meets its goals well as a character piece. What strikes me about this one is a good balance between big earthshaking events and little things, which creates a realistic depth to the characters. I don't have a ton of crit for this, either; I think it knows what it's doing and delivers.

M. Propagandalf, "Half Samaritan"

There are a handful of stories this week that needed more words, but this is one of the few that I feel like really wastes its words. More than anything, it's meandering, which is deadly at <500 words. The two halves of the story don't fit together, which makes the first chunk seem like a waste; if it's just supposed to be an excuse for Peter to be at a late-night bus stop, it's way too much for what could be handled in a few sentences, and if it's supposed to justify Peter's disgust, it doesn't work. I can kind of see how you had an idea there, but I'm not sure you managed to connect the dots about why Peter ultimately feels disgust (his problems feel trivial next to the homeless man's? he wasn't able to offer the man anything? he was too judgmental? his life situation is just hosed?), and without that it's sort of a "things just happen to a guy, no moral" story.

Thranguy, "Snowman"

Just a brief little broadly-sci-fi-ish doodad. It's nice enough, but it doesn't stay around long enough to make much of an impression. This could probably be fleshed out into something more substantial -- there's a neat base idea here -- but I kind of assume it was written as a little doodad and maybe not meant to be more.

Entenzahn, "Let Go" ("Sun rays like signal noise...")

This is a pleasant jaunt through the memory-wipe-romance trope, with a side of general memory uncertainty, but it's more of a sketch than anything else. I think this kind of story may just need more words to work, and we also need a clearer portrait of the partners involved. There's a suggestion here that the woman knows or remembers more of what's going on, and that the narrator may have a deeper and more troubling relationship with alcohol and memory than we're letting on... it's evocative, sure, but the story doesn't quite get there beyond what it evokes. Not bad, but needs some meat, and as such maybe wasn't the best choice for the week.

Entenzahn, "Let Go" ("Every night he falls...")

I like this one, on the whole, although there's kind of a weird male-gazey aftertaste going on with its view of its female characters. Having the dream-burden-woman be beautiful is fine, but ending with the guy becoming attracted to his coworker is a slightly distasteful way to suggest he's recovering his ability to appreciate the world around him. I wish you'd picked a different detail to highlight that, or maybe done something with a changing dream landscape or something? I dunno, this feels nitpicky, but I really dislike "now he's released his burden-woman and can get a real woman!" as an ending to what is otherwise a nice piece.

Entenzahn, "Let Go" ("Oh my God, it's everywhere")

This one is fine but doesn't really create strong feelings in me. It's a reasonable version of the "physicalization of metaphor/emotion" idea, but I don't feel like it really does much with it; like the first "Let Go," it's kind of more placing an idea out there and sketching it. I realize this week didn't lend itself to a ton of development, but I'm just not sure this goes much of anywhere. Maybe a better implied relationship between the sort of nebulous narrator and the emotion-spewer might have helped? I feel like this is looking for a concrete angle to be interesting, instead of just sort of gesturing at its ideas.

sparksbloom, "A Trophy"

What gave this piece the win was the absolutely striking central image. I have a certain enjoyment for the grotesque, and the trapped whale here is really powerful, intensified by the contrast with the mundane (a Tinder date gone okay-ish) and the slightly unnerving (a Tinder date whose bedroom is a single bare bed). There's not much plot here, but the whole story is such an unnerving, dreamlike vignette that it really works.

Djeser, "The City of Glass"

This reminds me of Muffin's entry in Invisible Bartertowns, right down to the singing glass and long sweep of time -- and, well, I guess I'm easy when it comes to descriptions of glass cities, because I HMed this and I HMed that. I particularly like the full-circle beginning/ending with the new emphasis that it takes on: that the city was made to last and, ultimately, unlasted its makers. Just really nice.

apophenium, "ACIES"

An interesting idea marred by a severe lack of closure. I kind of wonder if this is a "ran out of words" story, given how much the last paragraph feels like a summary and how it resolves nothing about the core conflict of this story -- how does our narrator get out? I like the idea of a lost explorer finding a statue and using it to reflect on their own problems, but the abruptness really hurts it.

apophenium, "I Am Still There"

We have a lot of stories in TD about nebulous mental problems, but this one stuck with me longer than most of them. It's a little too slight for the positive mention pile, but there's a kind of sweet, poetic gentleness about rephrasing and escaping trauma. This is sketched in very broad strokes, with simple diction, but I like it for what it is.

Kaishai, "Grey Hunt"

If I'd chosen the winner based on actually telling a full story in the word count, instead of my focus on visuals, this would have won, and it's still easily my runner-up for the week. As I said, this is a full story in 400 words, which is nice in and of itself; that it's a good story, with some emotional heft and nice visuals, is a bonus. I think you should be proud of this one, even if it narrowly missed the win.

Chairchucker, "Digging Holes Is Really Hard, Okay?"

All I can think about with this one is someone's (seb's?) comments about assessing your stories on their Chairchucker-ness above all else, and yeah, this is fairly Chairchucker: lots of breezy wackiness, covering for darker stuff. This one is a bit meta in that regard, because both the narrator and the author are being breezy and wacky to cover for the darkness, and that's kind of interesting! Otherwise... I dunno. I think there may just be a fundamental disagreement in the way you handle darker themes vs. the way I prefer darker themes to be handled that leaves me dissatisfied. On the Chairchucker scale, though, this is solid.

steeltoedsneakers, "Myoclonic"

This one ended up pretty unclear, I think. I can basically follow what's going on -- a woman with cyberware has a seizure, which combines badly with the cyberware to fatal results, and tries to escape -- but the nuances of the action get lost, and the ending is really confusing to me. Is she running to the transformer to try and shock herself functional, or just to commit suicide, or is she just blindly fleeing? I'm okay with the worldbuilding bits here, but this really needed to be edited to make the action and ending clearer, and maybe those words should have gone to that.

sebmojo, "Antediluvian"

Brisk, fun, folktale-ish. The ending feels a touch rushed in its actual execution, although the idea is sound; otherwise, this is pretty enjoyable. It's light and a little insubstantial, but I feel like any more time would probably overburden it, so it's best as it is.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Crits for Week 331, A Very Thunderdome Hanukkah

Djeser, "Millenium Star"

This prompt lent itself to this sort of species-rise-and-fall scale SF, but I feel like this one was the best-executed of the lot, which is the big reason that it won the week. There's obviously a lot of exposition at play, but it never feels overburdened with it, and we get a feel for the main character and her desires even despite her pointed refutation of most of her past and individuality. The mood is this interesting mix of resignation and the desire to matter, not simply to continue to exist, that means our protagonist feels very archetypally human -- appropriate, really, for the last human alive, and why their ability to do something without disrupting the miracle of Earth's rebirth ends up being satisfying. Just a really nice piece on the core traits of the prompt.

Sitting Here, "But then, the Orchid"

The prose style of this one was an interesting risk, but I think it paid off. It creates a sense that the story is being narrated and reasoned out as it goes -- maybe to a skeptical audience, maybe to the reservations of the storyteller themselves -- which lends a sort of fable-like quality, far better than more realistic prose would be for the dreamlike events of this one. I kind of read it as a parable about survival in times and circumstances that seem impossible, when everything good in the world feels fragile, and I really appreciate that.

Tyrannosaurus, "Brush Fire"

This piece was enjoyable while it lasted, but the consensus of the judges is that it didn't feel finished -- that it read more like the first scene of a longer work than a complete story in and of itself. We've got some nice character work and dynamics, an interesting and challenging situation for the character at play, even a reasonably pithy final line... but it feels like things end without resolution. I suppose that might be part of the point -- that the protagonists are in absurd, uncharted waters, and how do you even deal with an eleven-year-old and his hellhound? -- but it was a bit of a disappointment nonetheless.

Solitair, "Dirt"

There's a lot of potential here, and it took a lot of struggle and discussion to give this story the loss, but I think it does have some pretty serious problems. The pacing is a problem; starting and ending the story with big exposition clumps feels unnatural, and it gives the impression that the story you wanted to tell didn't really fit within your word count. The section with the priest is better, although he never quite has a personality. I think it'd be a stronger piece if you'd focused it entirely on his experiences, integrating more natural exposition into his experiences with the cave-people (who are legitimately weird and interesting), and letting us actually see his decisions and final actions instead of letting the last exposition clump imply that he sacrificed himself to get the cave-people a miracle. That said, the cave-person society is pretty neat, and if you wanted to expand this into something that had room to breathe and have natural pacing, I'd be interested to read it.

Bad Seafood, "The Invisible World"

This reads like it was written a bit quickly, but I feel like the style choices you make her manage to carry that sparse feeling well, at least for most of the story. The problem is the ending, where the detachment that made sense for the murders becomes a little more frustrating to the reader in figuring out what precisely happened, beyond the protagonist getting a taste of their own medicine. I'm guessing ghosts, but it'd be nice to actually get some taste of the invisible world and whatever torment is going on here, even if it's just infinite isolation. The relative effectiveness of the prose for the content saved this from the loss, but it still needs more development to reach full potential.

Kaishai, "On Atwerith"

It took me a read or two to get precisely what was going on with the setting, but once it settled in, I think there's some good stuff going on here: a good mixture of desert-island feral society and anguished immortals, all in the least promising landscape possible. The main issue the story has is in the characterization. Graham is a reasonable enough narrator, but it feels like we only really get a view of Vesper through things he says about her, not through her own actions; she doesn't get to do much but react to Graham, and she doesn't feel like a realized character, which makes her relationship with Graham and his devotion to her ring a little hollow. I feel for the sad desperation/resignation that Graham ends the piece with, though.

Thranguy, "The Long Walk"

More broad-scale SF, but this one felt a little exposit-y to me. It feels like the heart of the story is the Voice telling the characters about the nature of the setting, and while there are a few interesting worldbuilding touches here, the scenario feels pretty familiar and the post-civilization society not particularly interesting. I feel like this is competently written but just didn't get a lot of response out of me; as I recall, the other judges liked it better, and that's fair enough. The execution is certainly competent. I just wish there was more flavor.

dreadsebmojo, "UXB"

I enjoyed the setup and flavor of this story, so much so that it kind of passed me over at first that so much of the plot is a generic meet-cute, with a your standard dude-stuck-in-a-rut and adventurous-exotic-lady sort of characters. On one hand, it's a bit tiring to see these stock people and their somewhat uncomfortable stock situation again. On the other, I recognize that the story revolves around the concept of these near-strangers knowing very little about each other before things get literally explosive, and in that regard this story has a good feeling of being thrilling, illogical, and more than a little miraculous. This works for me, on the balance, more than it doesn't; this is a hard thing to pull off, but I think this squeaks into being a good usage of the tropes.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Crits for Week 332, Steering the Crap

Overall thoughts: a pretty good week overall, hence no loser, and I felt like most people were getting into the spirit of this writing-exercise prompt. My big recurring problem in judging was the temptation to treat stories as puzzle boxes -- "okay, what happened here?" -- which was easier at some times than others. This may just be me, though.

LITERALLY A BIRD, "Future/Past"

For a second Thunderdome entry, I think this is a nicely polished and generally well-done piece. My major concern about it is that it feels like every sentence is trying to be beautiful and poetic, which creates a sort of overwrought feeling; most of the images and phrases are good in a vacuum, but excessive use of elaborate metaphorical prose can dull the overall effect. I think this would have been a better piece with a bit more moderation, using more mundane imagery to let the important images shine. Still, it's a solid piece and I hope to see you write more for the Dome.

Yoruichi, "The Teetering City"

This prompt was largely about tone, and I think this story really nails it. There are a lot of well-chosen details here to build the sense of inevitable disaster on the way and to emphasize how unprepared the city and the characters we see are for it -- the rat-compromised emergency food (which can't be prepared without a gas cooker anyway), the questionable engineering, and the blithe certainty in routine all paint a picture of people who are about to be ruined, sooner rather than later. This really was the standout of the week.

Staggy, "Garage"

Yoru's was a standout, but this story really wasn't far behind. It also does an excellent job on tone and using specific details to good effect, this time evoking the comforts of home and familiarity. This sort of thing can get maudlin in a hurry, but there's a good balance of tone here, with things like the recumbent bike and filming scene suggesting the bittersweet edge of growing up and understanding your parents' frailties. I think my one issue here is that the proofreading slips a bit; there's at least one "it's/its" error, so make sure to be careful with that.

Yoruichi, "The Alchemist"

Another workshop story! This one is also good, but I think it pales against Staggy's a bit because we don't have quite as much successful evocation of character. The bit with the armchair and the Internet browser are good in that regard, but a lot of the other details here aren't quite specific enough to give a full idea of who the user of this workshop is. I think more distinct projects, maybe with one as a centerpiece might have helped? This isn't bad, though, and I think it's still a pretty nice answer to the prompt.

Sitting Here, "In Lieu Of (Again)"

I enjoyed this one, but I feel like it was ultimately a little sketchy about the event at play. I can surmise that this is the aftermath of a boys' sleepover, but at first, my assumption was that something had gone wrong/the sleepover guests had wandered off, but now I'm wondering if this is just a sleepover running long as a procrastination technique. This feels like it needs just a little more to really come into focus, although I love the phrasing: "the absence of tire sounds. The persistence of Mario sounds" is a particular favorite.

Solitair, "The Headmaster's Office"

This one left me a little cold. I feel like it's kind of too busy; while, obviously, this week focused a lot on details, and I can see you're trying to evoke a busy and powerful person with a lot of angles, there's just an inundation of "here are his notes on X, and here are his notes on Y, and here's his dossier on Z" that feels cluttered, like you're trying to hard to exposition about how the Headmaster (I assume) is a Powerful Man With Irons In The Fire. This could use some judicious editing to cut down to, maybe, a single theme or takeaway, and only the details that really fit that, instead of trying to work all the facets of a complicated person into one passage.

Chili, "Gambit"

This is kind of cute and kind of confusing. It strays a bit from the prompt, although I assume the intent is to show off Gambit's escape as the central off-camera event, but I feel like it does a better job evoking Gambit than her eventual escape. Not gonna lie: I am straight-up not sure what she did, and I'm not sure if the story would reveal it to me. Maybe I just don't know much about parrots? This just feels a bit like a puzzle box where I'm not sure there's a solution.

apophenium, "One Entrance, One Exit"

I low-key liked this one. It has kind of an interactive-fiction/adventure-game feeling to me, with a thoroughly dismantled claustrophobia-inducing space (I like the stomach-ache simile in particular) being thoroughly explored. The ending is a bit of a letdown, though; I think the idea is that it's supposed to make us question whether this room is a literal or just a psychological prison, but I'm not sure it quite lands? This is another one that's kind of puzzle-box-y for me, but I still enjoyed it reasonably well.

Thranguy, "The View from Hades"

This is almost certainly more a matter of my taste than the story's quality, but this one really didn't click with me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for more of this sort of thing after Week 331, but I think this sort of cosmic-scale destruction SF is just hard for me to focus on without some kind of anchoring human element, and this all feels very dry and unpleasantly nihilistic. I don't quite know whether I don't get it or I just didn't like it.

Chairchucker, "In Absentia - In Morte"

This got DQed for not understanding the prompt, but I can see what you were doing here: trying to describe a character, as the title says, in absentia. The bigger problem with this piece is that it doesn't really add up to much besides a rather broad swashbuckling pastiche with bawdy jokes. It's well enough done for that -- probably a nice solid 0.9 Chairchuckers, very Chairchuckery -- but if you're going to do a story where people just tell us about a character, the character they're describing needs to be interesting, and this guy isn't.

Kaishai, "Aftermath"

Short, succinct, and sweet. I think this may have been a little too short to get much reaction during the judging period, but rereading it now, I like it, and I think the ending is good: contrasting the clean, inhuman conditions of artificial reproduction with human needs coming back to the fore once the child is born. This might be a little slight, but I enjoyed it.

ThirdEmperor, "Picture, If You Will"

"Picture a city a few minutes after storm" -- oof, proofreading problem in the first clause, not a great start. This gets better as it goes, though, although I'd offer the same caution I gave to LITERALLY A BIRD above: heavy ornamented language can get a little wearisome when it's not broken up by simpler stuff on occasion. Still, I think this works well at setting a sort of grim Victorian mood and establishing the event and its aftermath in an interesting way.

BeefSupreme, "Archival"

Another piece on a Dadspace, and this one is pretty solid too. I think I agree with Kaishai's crit that the narrator is doing more work here than the spaces described, so it's sort of an uneasy fit for the prompt, although I like the voice okay and its notes of exasperation. I realize the point of the story is the inability to totally understand your parents as people and the difficulty in sorting out what they leave behind, but even so, I still think the dad is a little too vague in focus for this week.

M. Propagandalf, "Becoming"

This one is skirting around the prompt a little, since we've basically got a narrative with its event cut out. I like the metaphor of the marred statue, unable to heal as long as whatever's going on here is going on, but it's still not entirely sure what actually is happening. I guess the idea is that Trayjav is offering ritual sacrifice to some monster, so the statue represents its refusal to fight back? But then we have a bit about "immortal, but a hero no longer," implying the sacrifice is to the corrupted hero, and this all starts to feel like it isn't quite gluing together. Maybe there are chunks of a story here, but I don't feel like this execution suits them well, and probably this prompt isn't the best fit for them.

sebmojo, "23"

The last of the stories for this week is, perhaps fittingly, the last of the puzzle-box stories, where I felt like I was spending more time figuring out what happened here than absorbing the atmosphere. Not to echo Kaishai again, but there's a little too much going on and it ends up slightly confusing. The descriptions of the spaces are good, but... okay, so we've got a car crash, probably some LSD, an interrupted tea session, but what does this add up to? I'm also not sure the precise descriptions of "a fifteen degree angle" and the like help; they certainly create more of the puzzle-boxy feeling, at least for me. Interesting, good sensory details, but slightly frustrating.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Crits for Week 333, A Sparkly Merman Holiday Special

Overall thoughts: do you ever just have a TD week where everything is... fine? That was this week for me. Everything ranged from "a little worse than okay" to "pretty decent," but not much really evoked strong feelings from me. I apologize in advance if these crits are a little anemic. (Also, I wrote literally 51 crits before this over the weekend, and I feel like I'm just writing the same drat thing over and over, so... apologies in advance.)

autism ZX spectrum, "Flare Up"

This is a fairly fun merman goof, although I get the feeling it was mostly just a goof. The prose has an unpolished feeling to it, mostly through a lot of comma splices. That said, the magnesium idea is clever, and I think as a light merman-y holiday fable, this is perfectly decent stuff.

Sitting Here, "Sun Below"

This one was my personal favorite of the week. A lot of merman-week entries end up being either goofy or not really about mermen, so I respect the fact that this is serious mer-wizard fantasy. The prose is lovely, as always, and I think this story really conveys the magnitude of the Sun's journey and what even the smallest romantic gesture towards his lover requires of him. It's weird to say this about a story about oceanic horrors, but this is authentically pretty touching.

Killer-of-Lawyers, "You and I"

This piece is kind of... half-formed, I feel like? We've got a generic sort of breakup story (although the first paragraph was making me assume it was going to be a dead-partner story, honestly) tacked to some transhuman/futuristic themes, but I'm not sure it adds up to much. The concept of the narrator being so distraught over the breakup that he goes transhuman to escape it, then finds some satisfaction in that form, is interesting, but I'm not sure it's really being told here, or that that angle adds anything to what would otherwise be "brokenhearted narrator talks to stranger at a bar." The prose being workmanlike also adds to the feeling that this is a sketch that could have been something more, but didn't get there. It's not terrible, but in an otherwise solid week it was kind of a natural loss pick.

cptn_dr, "Maui the Amazing Merman"

Christmas at the circus! This is a cute vignette and a pretty good use of your flash rule, but there's not a ton of plot here. I'm charmed by your cast, but I think their not really having much to do was what gave this story issues. My assumption was that the lack of plot was deliberate -- that these characters live lives where not much is happening, but they're still glad for what they have -- but I think some kind of twist or chain of events would have livened it up.

Kaishai, "Merry and Bright"

This is another fun, goofy merman romp (kind of a meta-merman story, even), but this one feels more polished and complete than the other entries that went the traditional mer-silliness route this time around. I really appreciate the detail that goes into the tacky undersea decorating theme and generally muscle-based merman society (nacre unguent!), and overall it just made me smile. I personally would have HMed this, I think -- I preferred SH's for the win, but this is really good fun.

Thranguy, "Five Christmases"

This one wasn't one of my personal favorites of the week, but it's pretty solid. My major issue is that I think I would have liked to see one extended scene, where the characters would get to interact and get fleshed out some, rather than the quicker collage of young-superhero problems we get, where the romance feels more like something we're being told than something we really experience as readers. That said, what we get is pretty nicely done and wraps up in a pretty satisfying way.

Flesnolk, "Uto"

This is restricted on the archive and, I believe, edited out of the thread, so I'll just have to crit based on my memories. (Seriously, man, stop doing this. I know it can be frustrating when a story doesn't get a positive mention, but throwing your work down the memory hole means you'll get less and worse crit.) The impression I got about this one was that there was a lot of ambition and insufficient time/words to deliver that ambitious story with polish. The themes were fine -- very Greek-tragedy, but people keep retelling the Greek tragedies for a reason -- but this desperately needed a scope-narrowing to readily fit within the production limitations of TD. Ambition is great, but knowing what you have the time and words for and focusing on executing that is an important part of writing.

Chairchucker, "Dazzling Dan"

My co-judges liked this one, but I confess, I was kind of eh on it. I think there's more substance and story here than you often deliver, without any attempt to cop out of what your story's about, and I appreciate that a lot; I guess I just still didn't think the execution was that strong, and it still feels just a little bit too twee for me. The villain's car obsession was funny, at least? I dunno. I think this is better than most of your stuff, but I still want to see you try for something more serious and sincere-feeling.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Submissions are closed.

Per judge discussion on IRC: crabrock, we're extending toxx clemency until judging. Post before then if you value your .

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



WEEK 337: THE RESULTS

True to the name of the week, this one ended up a little stormy. The judges sensed that a lot of you were struggling to put stories together with your prompts, which is fair enough given the givens, but the stories we got were a pretty mixed bag.

Let's start with the positive side of the results. Djeser's tale of the Anagramancer prompted much debate about what constitutes a Thunderdome story, but ultimately we concluded that he's no BEAN HOTLINE MORON and deserves an HONORABLE MENTION. The other HMs of the week go to Simply Simon, with a creative and engaging tale, and Pham Nuwen, for a story that made my little suburban heart feel sad about grass.

Your winner this week is a story that took a different direction and tone from most of the week, tackling challenging (and frequently misused) subject matter in a serious and thoughtful way: Lippincott's "Checkers." Victory is everywhere, victory, victory!

On to the negative side! Several stories were shaky this week, but two of the pack stood out. Your loss this week is Rad-Daddio's "Bot Builder", an earnest first effort with a lot of plot and structure problems. Rough start, but we hope to see you again, R-D. The runner-up in problems, and thus your DM for the week, is QM Haversham's "A Picnic with Daedalus," which was more structurally sound but was a limp setup to a limper punchline.

All right, that's it for me. Y'all stop slapfighting and witness Lippincott ascend the throne!

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 02:32 on Jan 23, 2019

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



In.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Antisolitary Nerd Vacation Brawl, go!

An Elegy for Rhyannon
1190 words

Somewhere in the multiverse, Rhyannon Starcrown is dead. Her soul hangs in the balance between rebirth and oblivion, while her friends (a charitable term, one she'd only say through gritted teeth) fight against Chronon, Lord of Eternity, to turn back time and remake their ruined world. They do not fight for her. They never have.

Rhyannon Starcrown is dead, so she cannot know this -- but across the worlds, in consensus reality, Nathan Horacek can. He trudges his way down the halls of a Super 8 Motel somewhere in Missouri, a roll of quarters in his pocket and darkness in his heart. It's Saturday night. Back at home, it's game night, the last night of the campaign. And he's somewhere in Missouri, at a Super 8, staring down the barrel of another day in the car and then a week at Grandma Pahlke's. Of course, if he were at home, he probably wouldn't be invited to the game anyway, he thinks --

(Rhyannon is dead, and after she died --)

But he makes himself stop thinking about it. He's found the motel's arcade: a dingy room with a soda machine, three arcade cabinets, and a pinball machine with the unlikely name "Dr. Dude and His Excellent Ray." The room is empty save for a scrawny kid at the pinball machine, attention focused on the scratched score display. Nathan steps by him, slumping down on a bench near the soda machine and opening his backpack. He doesn't feel like video games, and his father bribing him to "go have some fun" can't change that. Instead, he pulls out his copy of the Avishala Adventurer's Guide, with Rhyannon's tattered character sheet sticking out like a bookmark. For ten happy minutes, he reads comfortable old passages about the elves of Flamewood, until he's suddenly aware that the clanging of the pinball machine has stopped, and the scrawny kid is looming over him.

"Hey! Whatcha reading?"

"Um," says Nathan as he slams the book shut. "I don't wanna talk about it."

The kid, undeterred, plops down on the bench next to him. "Why not? Hey, that's Avishala, right? That's cool. My friends only ever want to play in Shadowholm. Do you like it?"

Nathan feels the familiar, sinking feeling that comes with knowing he has to talk, but next to it is a strange lightness. There's nobody else he can tell about what happened to Rhyannon, and he'll never see this kid again. Why not tell him, if he wants to know? "I did," Nathan says, one finger idly flicking the protruding edge of the character sheet. "Or I thought I would? But after I made my character, all my friends got really weird about it, just 'cause she was a girl."

"Why'd you play a girl, though?"

"I had to. I wanted to play a ranger from Flamewood, but all the guy elves in Flamewood are wizards, so I had to make a girl ranger, right? It's in the book."

The kid furrowed his brow, but slowly he nodded. "Oh. Okay."

"But... it got weird. My friend Pete kept asking me how big her tits were, and whenever we were in a tavern or anything, he kept having his guy buy her drinks and touch her hair and stuff, and Jake had his paladin be like 'you guys are really cute' like I should have had them hook up? I got sick of it and just said she didn't like guys, and Pete stopped talking to me, even at school? And our Dungeon Master, Connor, just got mean. Every time I tried to make a skill check, he was like 'you can't do that, girls in Flamewood don't go to school,' which isn't even true, but he said it was in his world and stop arguing. I just sat around while Pete's wizard solved all the puzzles."

"That's kinda dumb. Did you have a book or something? I always stack dice when it's not my turn."

"And then last week, we had this big fight against harpies, and Connor just had them swarming Rhyannon, and he said they were too close for longbow attacks? But all my melee rolls were crappy, and she got killed by stupid harpies, and everyone was all 'we have to go, the world is ending,' and, I mean, okay, it was, but they could have taken her to a temple or something and they just left her! Connor said I could make a new guy if I wanted, and then Pete was all 'just don't make another dumb dyke,' and..." Nathan swallows; his mouth is painfully dry. He stands up, unrolls quarters from his pocket for a Coke from the machine, and kills it in two long gulps. He looks up to find the kid on the bench still staring at him.

"And then what?"

Nathan's gone this far. He has to say it. "I hit him. He fell, but he grabbed me, and the table fell over, and... Pete's mom says I can't come back there. Mom said we should take a trip to go see Grandma, to help me get my head right before school starts, but Grandma's house sucks, and my sister gets carsick so we have to stop like every hour, and now they're finishing up the campaign and it took two years and I'm not there. And Rhyannon's dead and all I can think about is how she never got to do anything cool and then she died."

Nathan's lying to the kid and to himself; there are other things he thinks about, like the magnet school he's going to in the fall, where he knows nobody. Like all the friends he doesn't have, now that Pete and Jake and Connor are out of his life for good. Like how much he wants to reach between the multiverses and grab Chronon, Lord of Eternity, and make him turn back time to sixth grade, to the sleepovers in Jake's basement with Catan and Happy Gilmore. To before the fault lines started to show.

The kid's silent for a minute or two, hanging his head in thought, and then he looks up again. "Your friends are loving assholes," he says, in a voice like he's sentencing them to death. "You should find some other guys to play with. Get a new game, and play your girl again if you want. It's just a game. You can always try again."

He's right, Nathan realizes, for the first time. Somewhere out there, Rhyannon is dead -- but there are other worlds, other groups, where nobody says "dyke" and the dungeons aren't full of wizard puzzles. Rhyannon isn't really dead. Rhyannon is free.

And so is he.

"I have a message board game," says the kid. "You can play if you want; we need a cleric. Let me write down the address. Oh, right -- my name's Brody. What's yours?"

"Nathan," he says. He takes the sticky note Brody offers. Grandma Pahlke's house has crappy Internet, but he brought all his books. A week should be time enough to make a cleric, to dream his way to a new world.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Nothing of Them Will Fade
1466 words
Genre: Nostalgic Deep Sea Feel-Good Slasher

Archived

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 22:21 on Jan 1, 2020

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



THUNDERDOME CCCXL: Beyond the Murder of the Dolls



Lately I've been doing some reading about a woman named Frances Glessner Lee. Born a rich heiress, she spent the second half of her life making great innovations in criminology, earning her the nickname "The Mother of Forensic Science." Her greatest legacy is a project called the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of intricately-crafted doll dioramas that modeled miniature death scenes in accurate forensic detail, to be used as a training tool for detectives analyzing crime-scene evidence. The Nutshell Studies are still in use today. They're amazing works of art, fascinating works of criminal forensics, and weird and creepy as all poo poo.

I want you to write stories about them.

When you sign up, I'll assign you a picture of a detail from one of the Nutshell Studies. This picture is your prompt. You are free to interpret it loosely -- the scene in the picture doesn't have to literally show up, as long as I can see how you got from your picture to your story, and you don't have to write a murder mystery or even include death at all. (Murder mysteries are fine, of course, but they're not required.) My only content rule for this week is this: do not write a story where someone goes about their day and then dies/is murdered/commits murder, and that's it. I will DQ-DM for this. "Not much happens and then someone dies" is boring. If you're going to use death, make it matter.

Standard TD rules apply: no fanfic, erotica, poetry, political screeds/topical political satire, Google Docs, archive-breaking formatting, dick pics, etc.

Word Count: 1200
Signups End: 11:59 PM Pacific, Friday, February 8th
Submissions End: 11:59 PM Pacific, Sunday, February 10th

Judges
Antivehicular
Pham Nuwen
sebmojo

Entrants
1. QuoProQuid
2. apophenium
3. onsetOutsider
4. Thranguy
5. Sham bam bamina!
6. Hawklad
7. flerp
8. SlipUp
9. cptn_dr
10. Bad Seafood
11. Baneling Butts
12. selaphiel
13. Chili
14. Simply Simon
15. Applewhite
16. Obliterati
17. Staggy
18. Entenzahn
19. Bolt Lux
20. QM Haversham
21. Salgal80
22. The Saddest Rhino
23. crimea
24. Captain_Person
25. crabrock

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 21:47 on Feb 10, 2019

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



QuoProQuid posted:

sure. im in.






onsetOutsider posted:

in and i failed my last 2 entries so





Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 02:19 on Feb 5, 2019

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Prompts will be coming as quickly as I can get the images together. Which may be slowly. Sorry.

Also, some of you will get get details from the same scene, because there are only 18 Nutshells and fewer of them have readily-available Internet photography. If this bothers you, just think of it as an extremely tiny brawl, and write that way. If I accidentally give you the exact same image as someone else, though, feel free to let me know and I'll replace it.

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Kickass prompt. In.












cptn_dr posted:

Also, In for the week.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Bad Seafood posted:

In.

Hit me, dollface.



Baneling Butts posted:

A new challenger appears!

I'm in.



selaphiel posted:

In for the next promt.



Chili posted:

Very cool prompt. In.



Simply Simon posted:

I'm in for this week. Give me a nice picture to mull about on a plane ride!



Applewhite posted:

I'm in. No dead children pls.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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












Bolt Lux posted:

In for this fun prompt.



QM Haversham posted:

I'm in. And since I didn't even finish a story to submit last week, I'm toxxing myself.



Salgal80 posted:

In for the first time! Bring it.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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






crimea posted:

In. Obliterati said I should try this out.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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




Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



crabrock posted:

In give me a nut

As the final signup, you get the image I somehow didn't give out before now:



Also, signups are now closed. Go forth, do the thing, &c.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Submissions are closed. Rituals of judging will begin tonight.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



TD 340: THE RESULTS



Seriously, guys, this was a rough one to judge. Some of you had interesting ideas and rough execution. Some of you had decent execution and not much in the way of ideas. Unlike the two asphyxiation deaths in the Nutshells, everything felt a little half-baked.

There were highlights, though! This week, your winner is Thranguy's "Coal," which succeeded the best at combining concept and execution of any of this week. Your HMs are flerp's highly-polished "A Rifle Isn't A Maybe Kind of Thing Though" and two less polished but dreamy and imaginative pieces, Bolt Lux's "A Hole to Hide" and crimea's "House-Sitting," which gets bonus congratulations as a newbie effort.

The low end of this week was... low, largely smug and ill-conceived. Your DMs are Applewhite's "From a Clear Blue Sky," whose relatively skilled prose was dragged down by limp satire and a lack of a plot, and onsetOutsider's "Lunch," which was dragged down by being interprompt length (and I'm not talking about you insane people who just wrote thousands of interprompt words about duck farts). This week's loss goes to QM Haversham's "He's No Reid Fleming," which combined smugness, pretty bad concept, tense errors, and a twee pseudo-fanfic ending.

Take it away, Thranguy.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



selaphiel posted:

How does one who is interested go about joining the Thunderdome discord?

https://discord.gg/cKeBE8

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



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

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

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

Go forth and write good words to take my money.

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Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



In.

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