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Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

In, with flash, please.


Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Rain Can't Make You Sick
882 words

It has rained here for a year.

It started in summer, and everyone liked it: warm rain on the skin, the sound on the window, the smell of wet dirt. The children ran around and played in the rain every day, and the parents were happy. They came to my store and said it was good, that the kids spent too much time in their computer worlds these days. They bought sticks and balls for their children to play with. I made lots of money, and I was happy. I bought a dog, and I called him Max.

Then the river broke its banks. The children laughed in the wet streets, building boats. The parents did not like the rain anymore. They worried, and came to my store. The bags of sand sold out. I took Max on lots of walks that summer, and he enjoyed the water like any good dog. We were safe and dry at the top of the hill, and we were happy.

Fall came and the town worried more. It got colder and the children did not enjoy the rain anymore. They went to school wet, they ate their lunches wet, they walked home wet. It never ended, and it wasnít fun anymore. The parents came to my store and said it was bad, that they worried the rain would make the kids sick. They bought lots of things: plastic coats for the children, and plastic hats. I knew they were wrong: rain canít make you sick, children get sick because they arenít strong. I didnít tell them, though. The plastic clothes sold out. I kept some back and cut them up, and made Max and me plastic coats, because he needed to walk. He looked good in his. We were happy.

The winter came and the men on the TV said we should leave. They said the rain was all over the north of the country, and spreading fast. They said the rain made people stupid because there were bad things in the clouds. People tried to leave, but it was too late. It was cold, and all the rain became ice. You couldnít drive on the roads. Some tried, and they broke their cars, and they broke themselves. That made lots of noise and fire, which scared Max. That made me mad at the people. Rain canít make you sick, and it canít make you stupid. All we had to do was wait.

The parents came to my store, and I told them that. They ignored me and said they were going to take the children and leave the town, walk south. They told me to come with them, and asked for warm coverings, wood, lighters, and those little plastic houses. I wasnít going anywhere, and said they would have to pay. That made the parents angry, but they gave me the money when Max shouted dog noises at them. He was a good boy. I saved some of the warm coverings and made him foot wraps, and a warm coat. We went on slow, careful walks in our plastic coats, because he needed to walk. We got wet, and we got cold, but it was nice to walk around the town with no one there. When we got home after a walk, I would dry Max off and build a fire, then wrap him in the warm clothes I made. We were happy.

Spring came. I was surprised, because the people did not come back. Max and I ran out of food in the store, and we had to go into their houses. I was worried because I knew that stealing was bad, but I did it for my dog. I was not worried anymore when I found that many of the parents had left the old people of the town behind. They had left their own parents behind, and the old people had died in their beds. All they had to do was stay in the town, and stay warm, and dry, and build fires. Max and I had made it through the winter like that, and these people had run away from their homes into the forests. They did not know how to live outside, and I knew they and the children would all be dead too. I was very angry with them, and I did not feel bad about stealing their food, so that is what we did.

I walked with Max every day, and we made our way through every house. He helped me make holes, and I put the old people in the ground. We took the food from the houses. We went home, and got dry, and ate our food. I read him stories by the fire.

Now it is summer again. The rain has not stopped, and I donít think it will. It doesnít need to. We need food, but Max helps me look. We are wet, but I help him get dry. We share what we find, and we catch animals. I cut down trees and we sit by the fire. Sometimes he doesnít remember his name anymore, and sometimes he looks confused. Sometimes I feel confused, but it is ok. This is our town now, and we take care of each other. We are happy.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

I'm in.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

996 words


ďHow many pests you get this morning?Ē

Roryís words shake me from my reverie and, daydream over, I refocus on the screen. My drone is hovering aimlessly in front of the corn. The analytics in the upper corner are complaining about Unproductive Inactivity. I groan; my next pay packet will be docked. I donít want to tell Naomi and the kids that our vacation will have to be replanned.

ďYou okay, buddy? I was asking how your Scoreís been today,Ē Rory says.

ďNot bad. Got plenty of rootworm and some corn borers. Iím at...eighty-six points,Ē I say, checking my second monitor. ďYou?Ē I ask.

ďFive hundred and four already,Ē he says, flashing a poo poo-eating grin. ďBagged a raccoon. Looks like Iím getting the bonus this month, pal.Ē

ďIf your luck keeps up!Ē I say, attempting good-natured ribbing and landing squarely on a tone of obvious, weak envy. He winks at me and returns to the controls. I hate him for his dumb luck. I could have rescued our trip to the Houston Canals if I had won the bonus, but Rory pulling ahead like that on the last day of the month ruins any chance of that. Naomi and the little ones will have to be content with the San Andreas Canyon.

Itís not over yet, I decide, desperate. I fly my drone in wide circles, scanning through the field with the IR lens, then sweep through the ears of corn and activate the pheromonic sensors. I pick up tracers of corn borer attractant and fly to the source. A group of fat, spotted larvae are glistening in the sunlight, chewing on corn. I shudder. Being up this close in the microscopic drone, insects always look repulsive to me, like slimy Paleozoic giants. I switch to lasers and zap them clean off the corn, wishing again that I was on wildflower duty.


I take my seat in the canteen and eat. I barely pay attention to lunch anymore. The first few weeks, everyone complains about the food: unidentifiable vegetables, unappetizing textures, and the unchanging, universal taste of every meal. Of course they complain. Theyíre exuberant, having finally landed a job with Ag, the department everyone wants to work for. After a while, the routine sets in, and the complaints stop. They go quiet. Weíre all just grateful for the regular protein and generous portions.

Rory sits across from me, ignoring my attempts to look past him.

ďSo, given up on the bonus yet?Ē he asks, chewing noisily, shoving mouthful after mouthful of mealworm jerky into his mouth. I donít eat the protein on Insect Wednesdays. I know we should be glad that our quarry gets recycled into lunch, and that we are eating the fruits of our labours. I know that, but it doesnít help. I can never get the image of slimy grubs out of my head, no matter what form they process it into. I look at his self-satisfaction and try to stay calm.

ďNo. You got lucky with the raccoon, but I picked off plenty of small fry afterwards. Thereís still all to play for this afternoon.Ē

ďDonít be so sure, buddy,Ē he smirks. ďI got a rat just before lunch. Thatís two hundred points right there. Quality, not quantity.Ē

My heart sinks. No chance now. Heís got it sewn up.

ďGood...good for you. Guess youíre buying the rounds,Ē I say, aiming for cheerful bonhomie again.

ďMaybe,Ē he says, grabbing for my insect brick, ďMaybe you need to eat properly. This still gross you out?Ē

He loads it into his gaping maw, chewing with his mouth open. The fucker. I go for the nuclear option.

ďgently caress you. Try not to get too trigger happy and zap any bees, rear end in a top hat.Ē

He turns ashen, and stops chewing. Everyone around us goes quiet. It was a low blow, and I knew it. No-one likes to talk about Norman. We donít know what happened to him after he killed that bee, but no-oneís seen him or his family since. The only sign from management is an increase in memos citing the importance of pollinators, and an uptick in the words grave consequences in those emails.

We eat in silence.


The afternoon doesnít get any better after that. Rory refuses to speak to me, even after I apologise, and I canít concentrate. I miss easy shots and an auto-generated email circulates the department, admonishing me for wasting power; Rory snorts. He continues to rack up his Score. I spend hours in a dark, depressed funk, flying without purpose.

As itís getting dark, it happens. Iím patrolling the southeast corner and see a large shape rustling in the undergrowth. At first Iím excited. Rodent, raccoon, or rabbit? Plenty of points either way. As I hurry towards it, I realise the shape is too large. My confusion crystallizes into understanding as she turns, hearing the buzz of my drone. Itís a young woman. Emaciated, dirty, gathering corn. I have no clue how she circumvented the electric fences and infrared sensors, but they always find a way. This land used to be theirs, usually, until that magic word. Expropriation. She hasnít started running, so she must have mistaken the sound of my drone for a yellowjacket.

I hover, quiet, and think. I donít have to do it. My feed is being recorded, of course, but I have the right to leave her alone. Iíll be reassigned to desk duty for a few months, with no chance to earn the bonus, but I donít have to do it. However, her face is in the system now: I can grant mercy, but Ag will pursue her either way.


Also, anyone who neutralizes a thief gets a bonus that month. No questions asked.

I wait. I think of Rory. I think of Naomi, and the kids. I think of the Houston Canals. I think of fat, white, glistening larvae.

I switch to the tetrodotoxin darts. Close my eyes.

Click the mouse.

Adam Vegas fucked around with this message at 16:30 on Jun 2, 2019

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Could I get an invite link to the Thunderdome Discord?

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013


Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

1487 words

A Forest

Early afternoon in a clearing in the Caledonian Forest, covered in leaf litter and with various plants and flowers growing in the glade. On the right of the stage is a large Scots pine with a deer blind halfway up it. Two figures sit in it: a tall red-haired woman, ISLA, and a prepubescent boy, DOUGLAS. They are peering off stage left.

ISLA: Do you see him?

ISLA speaks confidently, with the soft brogue of a Highland Scots accent. She stands, and we see she is holding a hunting rifle.

DOUGLAS: No. Do you?

DOUGLAS, in comparison, sounds nervous and reedy, with the received pronunciation of a posh English boy.

ISLA: (sitting back down) No.

They sit quiet for a moment, DOUGLAS fidgeting with his hands.

DOUGLAS: Do you have to kill him?

ISLA: Yes, pet. I do.

DOUGLAS: But I donít want to. I havenít seen one before.

ISLA: I thought thatís why you wanted to come with me?

DOUGLAS stands and looks over the edge of the hunting platform.

DOUGLAS: Yeah...but I just thought we could look at him. I donít want to see you shoot him.

ISLA: You donít have to watch me do it.

DOUGLAS: Thatís not what I mean.

Silence for a while.

ISLA: I know.

DOUGLAS sits back down and pulls his smartphone out. He pokes at it aimlessly.

DOUGLAS: I read earlier that people up here think deer are a pest.

ISLA: Yeah. You remember Mr McGuigan, who we met the other day?


ISLA: Heís paying me good money to kill this stag. Itís the top dog round here, so to speak. Breeds with every doe in a ten-mile radius, creates lots of little baby deer. And theyíre all eating his barley.

DOUGLAS: He gave me a fiver and told me to keep it to myself.

ISLA (laughing): Of course he did. But I bet heíll take that off what he promised to pay me. That McGuiganís a tight bastard.

DOUGLAS looks shocked.

DOUGLAS: Dad says I shouldnít say that.

ISLA: Your dad would, aye. Sorry. Donít tell him, eh? And donít worry about the money.

DOUGLAS: So theyíre a pest because they eat our crops.

A rustling noise from offstage. ISLA rises to attention and sights the rifle against the edge of the platform.


ISLA shushes him with a raised finger.

DOUGLAS: (shouting) But thatís not fair! We eat THEM and no-one goes round shooting us for it!

The sound of something scurrying away, kicking up leaves. ISLA groans and lowers the rifle.

ISLA: You scared him off!

DOUGLAS: (still shouting) Good! He doesnít deserve to die!

ISLA: Of course he doesnít deserve to die!

DOUGLAS: Then why are you killing him?

ISLA: Because I need the loving money!

Silence. She sits down, head in hands. DOUGLAS sits for a moment, then scoots over to her and hugs her.

DOUGLAS: Iím sorry, Mum.

ISLA: I know. Iím sorry for swearing.

DOUGLAS: Itís ok. I wonít tell Dad. Anyway, he tells me not to, but you should hear him in the car. Itís way worse than you.

ISLA: Really? The wee bastard.

They smile at each other. ISLA stands up and beckons her son towards the ladder.

ISLA: Come on. The stag wonít be back for a while. Letís have our lunch.

They climb down to the forest floor, and ISLA retrieves sandwiches and Thermos flasks from her backpack.

ISLA: Right, whatíve we got here...ploughmanís for me, and peanut butter and honey for you.

DOUGLAS grins and grabs the sandwich.

DOUGLAS: My favourite! You remembered!

ISLA: Aye. I thought it sounded pretty weird, but I tried a bit myself and thatís a solid combination. Sorry for doubting you, laddie.

They sit and eat their sandwiches, content. Once theyíre done, ISLA crosses the stage and examines the plants.

ISLA: Come over here, son. Got something to show you.

DOUGLAS joins her.

ISLA: See this? This is Fat Hen.

DOUGLAS: That is a weird name for a plant.

ISLA: Youíre not wrong. But this stuff is why our stag friend is over here. Do you like spinach?

DOUGLAS: Not really. Itís okay.

ISLA: This is spinach before spinach, if you get me. Spinach doesnít come from round here; itís from Asia originally. But weíve always had Fat Hen. Itís full of tasty seeds, good for you, and itís everywhere. And I tell you what: red deer love it.

DOUGLAS picks some and tries it.

DOUGLAS: Itís not bad!

ISLA: Pick some more, weíll scatter it. Letís see if we canít create some bait for our friend.

DOUGLAS picks plenty and builds a pile in the middle of the stage. ISLA is looking at the foot of the pine they were in.

ISLA: Thereís wood sorrel here, too. I donít care for the taste, but the deer like that too. Itís technically poisonous, but youíd have to eat kilos of the stuff to get ill. Letís grab some of that too.

They continue foraging for plants and adding to the pile.

DOUGLAS: Why do you need money, Mum?

ISLA: (laughs) Well, we adults always need a bit of cash, no? Especially ice-cream funds for when wee lads like you come to stay.

DOUGLAS: But donít you have a job?

ISLA furrows her brow.

ISLA: Aye. But moving away from you was...expensive. Your dad wasnít very helpful. I had to borrow money from Aunt Aisling to get set up. She tells me not to worry about paying it back, but she and Kenneth are in a tough spot themselves at the moment.

DOUGLAS: What did Dad do?

ISLA: Donít worry, kid. What matters is that I pay my debts. Always.

They continue picking.

DOUGLAS: Iím sorry for earlier. I know you need know. With the deer. Just, I donít want to watch.

ISLA: You donít have to watch. Itís okay. But get a good look at him before, eh? No red deer down in Kent. Theyíre beautiful animals.


ISLA grabs some pine needles from the forest floor.

ISLA: Now, letís finish with these. Deer like a nice crunchy topping just as much as you and I.

DOUGLAS smiles and helps her top the pile. They climb the ladder again and settle into the blind, and sit for a while.

DOUGLAS: How do you know all that about plants?

ISLA: Ah, I had a life before you, you know? When I was wee, my dad and I used to come out into these forests every summer, like weíre doing now.

DOUGLAS: Did you hunt the deer?

ISLA: No. We just foraged. My dad taught me about the plants of Caledonia. Every shrub, flower, and mushroom.

DOUGLAS: I wish I could have met him.

ISLA: Aye, I miss him. I wish he could have come out and joined us on a trip like this. Still, the best thing I can do is to teach you; one day youíll have bairns of your own. Iíll come out and make sure you donít eat any funny mushrooms and make yourself look like a tit in front of your kids.

DOUGLAS: I donít want to go home tomorrow, Mum.

ISLA is quiet.


ISLA: I know. I donít want you to either, kiddo. But school starts soon. Youíll see me at Christmas. Anyway, your dad will be missing you.

DOUGLAS: Yeah. Heís a big jessie.

She grins.

ISLA: Big jessie, that he is. But youíre too English sounding to get away with saying that.

DOUGLAS: Aw. I liked the sound of it.

ISLA: Ah, you can say what you like around me. You know that already.

DOUGLAS suddenly spots something off stage left.

DOUGLAS: (whispering) Mum, itís the stag. I see him.

ISLA clambers to her feet quietly, and spots the deer.

DOUGLAS: Heís beautiful.

ISLA: They always are.

She raises the rifle and looks through the scope.

ISLA: (talking to herself) About a hundred metres. Easy shot.

She flicks the safety off.

ISLA: need to look the other way now.

DOUGLAS: I know. I just want to keep looking for a bit.

She takes her eye from the scope and looks down at her son, who is staring at the stag, transfixed.

ISLA: Ah, gently caress it.

She flicks the safety back on and sets her rifle down, then comes behind DOUGLAS and places her hands on his shoulders.

DOUGLAS: Arenít you going to shoot him?

ISLA: What, after the effort we went to to make him that meal? Nah.

DOUGLAS: What about the money? Mr McGuigan?

ISLA: Ah, thereís always something else. Donít worry, you can keep the fiver.

They stand there, happy.

ISLA: You see why they call the stag a monarch in that painting now?

DOUGLAS: Yeah. Heís king of the forest.

ISLA: Aye. And regicide isn't my bag.

DOUGLAS: Thanks, Mum.

She just holds him tighter, and they watch.


Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Thunderdome Week CCCLVIII: 19th Century Schizoid Man

The 19th century was a big deal. Empires rose and fell, industrialisation and globalisation began to take hold in a serious way, and most importantly, the term Ďdinosaurí was coined.

So letís go back and check it out, shall we? Youíre going to write a piece set strictly in the 19th century, between 1800-1899.

The rules other than that are pretty lax. You can write in any genre, any narrative you like. Set it anywhere you like! I will be particularly pleased by pieces set outside of the usual Old West or Victorian London, so feel free to hit me with your best depictions of Meiji Japan or pre-Scramble African nations.

There is one rule, however:

Donít get cute with the setting: I said any genre is possible, and thatís entirely true. But donít stretch that too far, eh? A sci-fi piece where the Great Exhibition is set upon by body snatchers or cowboys have laser guns is fine. An urban fantasy set among the penal colonies of Australia is great.
But donít come to me with a story thatís two alien spaceships dogfighting in Alpha Centauri, and then say íbut technically itís set in 1832 so itís fine!í I will roll my eyes, and you will DM.

Word limit is 1000 words.

Signup deadline is midnight Pacific Time, Friday. (thatís Saturday morning for me, so should give yíall a nice bit of extra time)

Entry deadline is midnight Pacific Time, Sunday.

:siren: FLASH RULE :siren:

Now hereís where it gets extra interesting. I am willing to give you an extra 750 words (thatís right) in return for taking a flash rule. The flash rule will consist of a popular contemporary genre from any part of the world in the 19th century that you must write your story in the style of. This could be a sensation novel, a detective story, a penny dreadful, gothic fiction, or any other I decide. When you take a flash rule, I will assign you one of these genres at random.

Thatís all. If you want to co-judge, hit me up on the Discord.

Adam Vegas
mr steak

sebmojo - FLASH: Naturalism/Verismo
Ironic Twist
Antivehicular - FLASH: Detective story
Thranguy - FLASH: The Lost World
Staggy - FLASH: Sensation fiction
Getsuya - FLASH: High adventure
Fleta Mcgurn - FLASH: Epistolary fiction
QuoProQuid - FLASH: Robisonade
apophenium - FLASH: Ghost story
Solitair - FLASH: Penny dreadful
Viscardus - FLASH: Scientific romance
Anomalous Amalgam - FLASH: Vampire fiction
Saucy_Rodent - FLASH: Social comedy
Simply Simon - FLASH: Transcendentalism
Shotaro - FLASH: Sea story

Adam Vegas fucked around with this message at 09:45 on Jun 14, 2019

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

sebmojo posted:

In flash

Naturalism/Verismo - A genre influenced by, and in some ways opposed to, the earlier Sturm und Drang artistic movement in Germany, naturalism was a social realist genre that seeks to portray life exactly how it is.

Embrace social commentary, subdued pace, and realistic human interactions. Avoid the supernatural and the absurd.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

A detective story - This doesn't need explaining.

Have a read of a Sherlock Holmes short story for the classic example, or The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins if you've got lots of time on your hands!

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Thranguy posted:

In, flash.

The Lost World - Contemporary characters discover a civilisation lost to human knowledge, vastly different to our own. This can involve fantastical creatures, but doesn't have to.

This genre either goes for Gulliver's Travels-esque social satire, or romanticised high adventure. Pick whichever of the two you like!

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Staggy posted:

In, flash.

The sensation novel - A mid-century genre which plays with gothic and romanticised elements while keeping a generally grounded and realistic tone. The general way to describe sensation fiction is that of novels with a secret at the centre; they have also been described as "suspect wills and forged documents, secret marriages, illegitimacy and opium".

Embrace dark houses and darker secrets, murder, insanity, and most importantly the struggle for the truth. Avoid explicit ghosts, ghouls, and spectres.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Getsuya posted:

In flash

High Adventure - Swashbuckling! Romantic! Dauntless! High adventure in the 19th century is known for daring escapades in exotic locales, dashing heroes & heroines with devil-may-care attitudes, and a ton of racist stereotypes. You're going to avoid the latter, though.

High adventure differentiates itself from the dime novels and pulp tradition in that it isn't afraid to explore complex plots and deeper characters, so you can play around with antiheroes, selfish motivations, and some moral greyscale rather than purely heroic protagonists. Think The Count of Monte Cristo.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Epistolary fiction - Epistolary novels have been common from the sixteenth century onwards, but I personally think it really hits its stride in the nineteenth century, with the (arguably) greatest piece of epistolary fiction ever written, Dracula, published in 1897.

You're going to write a piece that takes the form of letters, newspaper clippings, ship's logs, or any other form of document. The entire piece must be made up of these documents, rather than conventional narrative. It can be as many documents as you like, from as many authors as you like.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

QuoProQuid posted:

In. Gimme a flash.

Robisonade - This genre technically takes its name from Robinson Crusoe, an early eighteenth century novel. However, there were a vast amount of these written in the nineteenth century, including some of the best - The Island of Dr Moreau, The Swiss Family Robinson, and a ton of Jules Verne novels. This fiction sees a castaway or castaways stranded in an isolated location; they must learn to survive with the local flora and fauna, harness their understanding of construction and technology in order to thrive, and build a functioning way of life while they try to find their way home or seek rescue.

Encounters with native populations are common in these novels, but honestly I'd err on the side of caution and avoid that if I were you, unless you're confident you can make it work.

Embrace the mix of beauty and danger in nature, the spirit of teamwork, and the details of survival. Avoid mopey protagonists, meandering narrative, or unearned endings.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

apophenium posted:

In, flash me

Ghost story - Not much to say here. Make it spooky!

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Solitair posted:

In with a flash

Penny dreadful - The penny dreadful had its roots in the serial magazines of the mid-nineteenth century, and typically featured the exciting and scandalous adventures of detectives, highwaymen, vampires, and all manner of other things. What makes a penny dreadful tick is what makes modern thrillers tick - page-turning excitement.

For your assignment, you are going to write a penny dreadful with a criminal protagonist. Whether you make them a right bad bastard who ends up on the gallows or a dashing rogue who evades capture is up to you, but they have to be a criminal.

Embrace electrifying action, pacy narrative, and dramatic stakes. Avoid introspection, deep character development, and naturalism.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Viscardus posted:

In with a flash, please.

Scientific romance - Scientific romance is basically the archaic term for sci-fi. The only difference with scientific romance is that its protagonists are often unnamed, powerless individuals who falter in the face of forces too powerful to understand or control (see The Time Machine), and that the genre as a whole tends to present a sombre view of the wondrous technology and discoveries of sci-fi. I'm not necessarily looking for depressing dystopias, but avoid intrepid individualism.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Anomalous Amalgam posted:

gently caress it, I know I'm doing terrible, but I'm going to get the hang of it I swear it.

In with a flash please.

Vampire fiction - Again, this doesn't need too much explanation. You can go for Gothic horror, comic fantasy, or anything else you like! My only rule for this flash is that the protagonist is a vampire.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Social comedy - The social comedy includes more specific genres such as the comedy of manners, which Victorian authors used to make fun of the twisted morality and hypocrisy of their society, usually poking fun at the upper class. Read some Oscar Wilde to get a sense for that, if you like. You don't have to focus there, though - feel free to take the piss out of any social structure or institution that existed at the time, in any society or nation. Don't punch down, though. I thought your Batman entry was pretty funny, so don't let me down!

Embrace satirising the social structure, cultures, and moralities of nineteenth century societies. Avoid dick jokes, sex jokes, and toilet jokes. Unless they're really funny and well camouflaged.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Simply Simon posted:

Thanks for the judgecrits!

Also, in flash

Transcendentalism - A movement that started in the early nineteenth century among New England intellectuals, transcendentalist literature posits that humans are inherently good and pure, and that it is societal structures, technological advances, and cultural expectations that corrupt people and causes them to do evil. It is also very suspicious of organised religion.

Embrace the power of nature, the virtue of self-reliance, and the value of traditional community and family. Avoid glorifying institutions, money, or the allure of the big city.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Shotaro posted:

In. Flash me, please!

Sea story - Nautical fiction was at its most commonplace and its peak of popularity during the nineteenth century, with the first true sea novel (The Pilot) being written in 1824, and the later half of the century seeing works by Victor Hugo, Joseph Conrad, and of course Herman Melville. Melville wrote a ton of nautical novels beyond Moby Dick, but it is of course the white whale he is best remembered for. If you want to do some research, read Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series - they were written during the 20th century, but are set during the nineteenth and are staggeringly well-researched, so they make an excellent introduction into the world of nineteenth-century seafaring. Also, they're very good novels.

Your story must take place entirely on/in ships; apart from that the thrust of the narrative and style of writing is up to you.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Signup deadline is in 15 min!

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Signup deadline has now passed!

Write me some good stuff, now.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Submission deadline is in ONE HOUR.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Submissions are closed! Feel free to post afterwards; Iíll crit but you canít win/HM.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

Morning, ladies and gentlemen. That was an interesting week, wasnít it? Solid stories all round, mostly, but the common theme for a lot of you this this week seemed to be Ďfantastic concepts, mediocre execution.í

Failures to submit this week were sebmojo, Getsuya, QuoProQuid, apophenium, and kurona_bright. Iím very disappointed in you all.

So letís start with the loser: WhoopieCat. The judges unanimously agreed that a couple of funny lines in no way makes up for a pointless, meandering narrative, far too archaic dialogue, and an irritating protagonist. You can write better than that!

Only one DM this week, and it goes to Saucy_Rodent, more out of frustration at squandering a great idea than anything else. We wanted to love this story, but you interpreted your flash rule badly, writing an unfunny article from a cultural history journal rather than a witty social comedy. If youíre going to end your story with a false rape accusation and a lynching, you need to spend a larger proportion of the narrative on it, otherwise it feels throwaway and pointless.

HMs go to Viscardus, Antivehicular, Thranguy, and derp. Those of you with flash rules interpreted them really well, and all of you wrote gripping, thrilling narratives with some beautiful prose. You only just missed out on the win; it was very close.

And the winner this week isÖ


We all agreed that the tone of this piece was phenomenal (you might say sensational) and you capture the feeling of your flash rule better than anyone else. It apes the sensation novel style perfectly, with a slow build full of dread and mystery, creepy characters, and a nice unresolved secret. It was a very enjoyable read!

Full crits from me for everyone will come out later this week.

Ascend to the throne, Staggy.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013


Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

My apologies for how late this is, good writers.


Surreptitious Muffin - Milk and Honey

I like this; the writing is very solid and thereís some nice turns of phrase. ĎPain hollowed him out like rot in a toothí is great. I find the exposition a little confusing, perhaps because Iím not that au fait with NZ history - are the Prussians stealing corporate gold to fund the war effort, or is it just opportunistic robbery? But overall, itís well written, and I like the quiet pathos of it taking place in our protagonistís dying moments after the climactic explosion, rather than the detonation being the focus of the narrative. The language is spot on, too - a lot of people write nineteenth century dialogue/thoughts in far too archaic language, but this is good. This scores high.


Saucy_Rodent - The Southern Ladies Tea-Sipping Competition

This kind of satisfies the flash. I like the idea of satirising ex-slave owners who suddenly find they have no real skills during the Reconstruction, and the tea competition idea is good and could have been very in keeping with a social comedy, if it had been a narrative scene rather than presented as an article. However, the satire is too overt - you spell out and comment on how lovely they are, rather than letting the characters and their actions speak for themselves. On top of that, why is your story written as if itís an article in a cultural history journal? Thatís not necessarily a bad way of telling this story, but itís not a social comedy.

Itís...not great, overall. I really wanted to love this, but while the thrust of the narrative is good, the execution is clumsy. I think the ending especially falls down - itís completely believable as an outcome, but if youíre going to end with a false rape accusation and a lynching, you need to spend a higher proportion of your narrative on it, otherwise it feels throwaway. I also really dislike the last paragraph; itís pointless and contributes to the sense of the audience being told how to feel.


WhoopieCat - Budget Travel

This is very bad. The conceit is good; the idea of someone literally knocking your rear end into another century is funny and I can get behind it. I do also like some of the jokes - thereís some loving atrocious puns, but luckily for you I like atrocious puns. The joke about your narrator cluelessly asking for ice is also good.

However, thatís about all there is good to say about this. The language is appalling - all of your nineteenth century dialogue sounds like itís been taken from the 1611 King James Bible. People in the 19th century basically sounded like us, with some more formality and structure - they certainly didnít go around saying ĎI hath been bewitchedí, especially working-class farmhands like your supporting cast!

Also, while this is partly just a pet peeve of mine, I hate the use of ĎThen it all came back to meí - characters suddenly recalling everything that happened to them in order to exposit the backstory is lazy.
In general, the narrative doesnít go anywhere or leave us with much.


BIG FLUFFY DOG - The Rosebery Club Detective

So, Iím in two minds about this. Transplanting the idea of a fandom-obsessed nerd cosplaying as their favourite anime into an elderly, stuffy member of the House of Lords whoís become engrossed in Sherlock Holmes is funny, and historically appropriate - the Holmes stories were so wildly popular that Conan Doyle received a myriad of death threats after killing Holmes off in The Final Problem.

However, this just doesnít stick the landing. We meander off into nothing very much happening, and it ends up suffering from an attack of Ďwho caresí - why not have some real conflict to see how far Byck will go to inhabit his character, or (trite as it is) have him accidentally happen upon a real conspiracy? As it is, we just sort of chuckle at him and then wander off.
On a more positive note, the final line made me smile; that was wry and funny.


Simply Simon - Hearty Stew

Good focus on the flash; I especially like the way transcendentalism is presented as a choice to be taken, rather than the objectively correct cause. Story itself is fine, however the writing is clumsy and the dialogue is especially stilted. That lets the narrative down.


Thranguy - From the Notebooks of Barron Tuesday: Secrets of the Sunken City

Really goddamn good. Fits the genre perfectly; the choice to use fragments in order to illustrate a much longer narrative is a great idea. Enjoyable pulpy story, and nice details (like Attic Greek being a precursor language to the lost civ, etc.) I like this one a lot.


Staggy - The Ghost of Oakchurch Hall

This is also really, really good. It apes the sensation novel style perfectly, with a slow build full of dread and mystery, creepy characters, and a nice unresolved secret. The nuts and bolts of the writing in this are fabulous. My only note is that a lot of time (and words) is spent on the first few paragraphs, whereas I would have liked more of the narrative to be devoted to the big reveal and denouement. Still excellent, though.


Shotaro - The Survival of the Swaggart

I didnít like this as much as the other judges. I thought it was pretty good, and the dialogue is particularly well-written. However, thereís some really clumsy lines (Ďhis smile was full of hate, and his eyes were full of maliceí) and I couldnít find any connection with the narrator. I also think that the well-trodden ground of a creature that is too terrifying to describe is something that has to be invoked carefully to work, and here it just feels like a cop-out to me.


Derp - the 1800ís

Great title there. (Itís 1800s, no apostrophe, if anything.)

In all seriousness, this is a good one. Thereís a real poignancy to the parents and their dialogue, artfully combined with dark slapstick as everything surrounding the corpse photography goes wrong. This made me feel creeped out, sad, and laugh all at the same time. Good work!


Anomalous Amalgam - What the Life Tree Demands

Bleh. I feel bad, but this one was just kind of boring. Thereís some flashes of good description (in particular the description of the creature, and I like Ďgory permanenceí) but the narrative feels workmanlike and obvious, and the ending is rushed.


Fleta McGurn - A Strange Diary Found

This is pretty good. I like the voice of your narrator in particular - itís close to being twee, but it comes off as a good portrayal of a rebellious young woman. The voice does a lot of work, here, in fact, because I find the story itself to be silly - the monster isnít scary in the slightest, and the method used to kill it is funny but dumb. Language and voice are great, though, so it makes me want to read more of this young womanís adventures.


Ironic Twist - Circle

Yeah, I didnít like this at all. The other judges loved it, so it was spared a DM from me - but I found it to be a meandering, woe-is-me narrative of what seems like unrequited love. The setting and language are fine, and you turn a nice phrase, but I just really wanted to slap your characters!


Solitair - Paid in Blood

Hell yeah! This is exactly what a penny dreadful should be: thrilling, violent, and action-packed. You hit your brief perfectly and itís a fun heist story with good one-note characters. I like the choice of having your protagonist be the scared new blood rather than a hardened criminal, and I like the ending a lot. My issue that Cutterís whole deal comes out of nowhere, and feels kind of unearned.

(Also, to be really picky, ĎMain Streetí is a very North American street name. It is picky, and there are roads in Britain called that, but it does take you out of the feeling of Victorian London heavily.)


Viscardus - Upon Odinís Gallows

This is brilliant. You spent all that time in the Discord worried about what constituted a scientific romance, and if you were going to hit the beats, and then you went and did it perfectly. The language is great; captures the feel of a 19th century writer and provides good alien, hallucinatory description. It really has the feel of something Darwin might produce if given ayahuasca, and I like the communitarian one-ness of the Tree. The sad, quiet ending is the perfect way to wrap it up. We all really liked this one.


Antivehicular - Threads of Silk

A nineteenth-century midwife detective! Hell yeah. Go and make that into a novel, because that is a fantastic premise and you pull it off well. I like the setup, I like the way we follow Gretaís deductions, and Erik is a well-fleshed out and sad portrayal of a man, given the word limit.

The only problem with this is not really a fair thing to bring up - because youíre in a word limit, you donít have space to explore or do much detective work, so we skip straight to the climactic scene and happen upon the murder in mid-disposal of evidence. Eesh. But like I say, itís extremely difficult to write a satisfying detective story in a flash fiction word count, so I canít hold it against you too much.

Iím not even kidding about the novel thing. This would be so good if given space to breathe, and interspersed with actual midwifery. If you donít do it, I will, so get on it!


Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013



Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013

In with all of the 19s!

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