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And you—cruel, terrible, beautiful you—laughed.
The Next Generation
Original Short Story
#16739 · 2
· on The Fixer
I think we'll have to disagree. The focus is on the unicron and Marco Polo, and their interactions lead to Clem's Next Gen Crime Shenanibaloo. Marcus is part of the old generation and she Fixes, just as her talent for vanishing things is the next generation of problem solving. The old and new do interact, it's right there. AND, there's the layer of unicromom, and how she's the successful older generation that the new generation is struggling to live up to, prove itself against, and so on.

I don't think anyone would care about a macro-view of next generation crime. The author is constrained by the medium, and all the author has is a max of 12k words to make us care about their characters. I'm not going to give a damn about some dry encyclopedia entry about unicron majicks being used in crime as a next generation type deal. But I AM going to care about one unicorn's story within that framework.
#16676 · 1
Terribly, terribly nervous. I've never done this before.
#16690 · 1
· on Emancipation (Prologue) · >>Kai_Creech
David Anderson

I know Saren.

This one is a toughie. I've read a bunch about AI, from fanfictions (dammit GaPJaxie!) to philosophy papers to Soma to Asimov to Stephen Hawking's thoughts on the topic. And. God, I wish I had read this sooner, because you're walking unsuspecting against that wall of prior knowledge and that isn't your fault, dear writer. Had I found this early, I would have jumped on it, and not thought much more after.

But, we're here, and instead of seeing the beginning of a neat introduction to AI as people, I'm being reminded of all the great and thought-provoking words I've read before. And I know that isn't fair to you, especially given that this is a prologue, and there's SO MUCH that could come after this.

I wish I could read it all, right now.

Boring critical bits, the clothing descriptions felt a bit info-dump, the parents and children felt a little like cardboard for dialogue and emotional content, and the robot felt a bit clunky, for a thinking being. Be less like 70s robot and more like I, Robot? Pick one: Robotspeak or smooth. Both seems too difficult to juggle well at current. The instant the bot and the kid walked in, we knew the lawyer was going to take the case, no doubt. Some of these aren't fair, we just don't see enough to care enough. It's tough, being a prologue in a sea of finished works. You have hook, but it needs a bit more oomph.
#16698 · 1
· on Emancipation (Prologue)
Shhh, I can't list them all off at once, it'd take too long! And don't forget, this is just a prologue.

I do hope it gets finished, sometime.
#16709 · 1
· on Memories of Home
Chowzee makes me think chowder, or chow down. I bet she's a post-apocalyptic cockroach. Okay, so she's an ant. Still! District 9 vibes, with a dose of Ender's Game and the Formics. Not sure how to feel about that.

Neat little moment, between the two critters, but it was weird how the conversation was in English like that. Though, I suppose B-something ant was speaking for the benefit of whoever was on the other end of the line. There was plenty of telling, but it's a short story. Things felt a little too neatly wrapped up, this time.

I would have expected, with a messy and imminent end, that she'd be abandoning the eggs to whatever the future holds. Instead, we get some biological desu desu ex machina with passing on memories and things. And pretty sure the humans will keep looking for the eggos. No one likes loose ends; they lead to chestbursters and tears.

Still, neat to have a nonhuman perspective.

More to come, more thoughts to thunk.
#16742 · 1
Okay, site complaint, having to spam "Add another" to get all the candidates into the voting box is annoying.
#16947 · 1
· on Try-Again · >>GaPJaxie
First things first: Thank you all so much for commenting!

>>Baal Bunny
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I thought it would be a neat way to introduce a little extra continuity, and by all means feel free to borrow it. I expect someone else has done it before me, and I lay no claim to it.

In hindsight, I should have named this fic "Read Me Twice." Mind you, I don't mean to offend or poke fun; in fact, I agree with you. I've previously been told that I have the Bad Habit of holding my readers' hands, so I made this an exercise in subtlety. Even then, I felt that the four or five hints that I dropped were pretty blatant. :P

It would seem, however, that I needed to make things clearer. Thanks for the feedback! I'd encourage you to go back and read it again slowly, because there were a few hints dropped about the older brother. Alternatively, read Miller's comment.

Again, thank you so much for the response!

>>Miller Minus
I would be lying if I said that I felt it measured up to the competition; The Fixer had my jaw dropped, and I adored To Drive The Cold Night Away. There were so many strong entries, and I recognize this was a bit of an oddity among its peers.

Great catch on the first line hint! That was the one I expected everyone to miss, which is why I added the other... four? Five? I think there's 4.5 hints at the older brother before we hit the final day.

As I said to Baal, I had a particular goal in writing this fic: be subtle, and leave it up to the reader to catch the words scribbled in the margins. There were a few extra hints tossed in between beginning and end, but they were on the order of a word or two. Some you'd have to pause a moment and think about. Well, that was the goal, anyway.

The narrator sleeps in a bunkbed. The father took out an identical rifle to the one the narrator killed that chipmunk with. There were two knights in his castle of dust. The trigger-drift problem runs in the family, and the mother was hemming old clothes to fit the narrator. I'll admit a couple of those were pretty vague, but I was more paranoid about people picking up on it too easily.

As you say, subtlety is a dangerous game, and I erred too far on the side of caution. "I'm being too blatant! Quick, make it more vague!" I succeeded in some ways, failed spectacularly in others.

But given that you enjoyed it and found that beautiful, sweet, delicious A-HA! moment, I'd say it was worth it.

As for further submissions... well, if I get a couple of days to write, I will. But one day mini-fics are impossible for me to do, given the nature of my work. Thank you so very much for the encouragement, and even more-so for the feedback!

Thanks for the response! The narrator is a boy, but now that I go back and read through it, I didn't place much emphasis on that. It doesn't matter if the narrator is a boy or a girl, from my perspective. It might change how readers look at the relationship between father and child, but this could easily have been left gender neutral and I don't think it would have had too much impact on things.

You're right about this being more evocative than simply granting some lesson or moral. I was going for sadness, some grief, and that hole that opens up when you lose someone dearly loved and demand of yourself to fill in their shoes for others' sake. I'm not certain how well it worked, given I was mixing all that in with an unhealthy dose of subtlety.

That said, you hit most of the benchmarks! It's a combination of being unwilling to hunt, and being a daydreamer with their head off in the clouds. They're the scrawny young thing of Today, following in the footsteps of an older sibling who took more after their father's nature, of When Men Were Men.

I'm sorry to hear it didn't grab you, but I can't say I'm surprised to hear it. There was an incredible diversity and strength of character in the submissions in this contest; I found it rather humbling! The ending was meant to be abrupt, and to tie in the loose hints I'd dropped regarding the older brother throughout the narrative. I'll have to go back and think of ways to draw readers in deeper, I suppose.

Again, thank you for the review!

>>Cold in Gardez
*gasp* A Special Bonus Review?! For ME? :D Thank you!

I was aware that mucking around with the narration would be a risk, but it gave the prose the intimate, familiar tone I wanted. In comparison, the third-person version of this story just felt so... flat? I didn't like it at all, so you got to read this version instead.

Yeah... The ending fell flat for a couple of people, sounds like. >>Baal Bunny and >>Miller Minus (and now you!) really hit the nail on the head with the main problem I created for my readers in this story: Everyone Is Drowning In Subtlety. The shift to 'him' is in reference to the absent brother that's been hinted at throughout (As Miller noticed, from the very first line of dialogue!). The shift works only if you've cottoned on to there being a brother, which is definitely the main failing of this piece. I wasn't able to put forth his existence in a strong enough form to catch readers' attention. Granted, I was TRYING to be subtle, but it turned out to be the subtle where, at a wine tasting, someone comments on the gentle hints of vanilla flavor while I'm busy squinting my eyes and trying to figure out if this grape water is a red or a white.

Armistice is just an old dog who can't learn any new tricks. To be honest, I was never quite happy with how his symbolism turned out. He's meant to be a relic, proof of the Great Things the boy's father lived through, that the boy only knows secondhand in tales. Yet, that past is also something that keeps the boy and his father separate, and draws them together. The father's rough upbringing and his down-to-earth nature is at odds with the boy's head-in-the-clouds tendencies. Yet, it is through the boy's love of stories that the two bond over the father's tales of his time in Alaska. The same thing that splits them is what draws them together, and Armistice's passing was meant to symbolize that the past was no longer barring the two from a future. The shadow of the older brother no longer holds them back, kind of thing.

Like I said, I was never happy with how the Old Pooch's symbolism turned out. :P

The royalty in the sawdust was actually meant to be one of the hints at Tom's older brother. Armistice is a whole different level of symbolism, but I can understand where you're coming from, here. Like I said, one of the failings of this piece was that if you didn't catch on to what was going on early in the story, the ending and other hints would leave you lost. :P Anyways, I think I may have just gone overboard with the symbolism, subtlety, and shenanigans in this piece.

I'm sorry that it left you so frustrated, but I'm not sorry that you became invested enough in this story to BE frustrated by it. It's gratifying, in a way. Hopefully this sorted some things out, gave you a few answers. Thank you for taking to time to respond, really! I appreciate it. :)
#16968 · 1
· on Try-Again
Wait, I won a thing? .__.

OH, runners-up stuff! Sure thing. I'll poke you on the Fimfiction once I have a moment longer than this one!
#16685 ·
· on There Is No God · >>Miller Minus
AGroBiodiVersity. Yes, I cheated.

This one made me sad, and a lil happy, after. Reminded me of Kkat's short talk about sad and grimdark; I was worried, for a while, that you were jumping on Nietzsche's bandwagon. I'm a sucker for happy endings, sorry.

I'll try to think of more to say, but there's so many more to read and I don't want to simply blab without thinking too much. It's tidy, though. Neat, and wrapped up like a gift. Maybe that empty box your brother gave you, that was filled with newspaper and nothing else, until he told you to look closer and you found a heartfelt letter taped to the underside of the lid.

That said, little girls with voices scare me, and I'm not the greatest horror movie fan for this. Maybe that took a little bit away. Ugh. How do I critique things? Someone, please help.

Best kind of ending, maybe. I still have 18 more to read.
#16687 ·
· on Off the Cuff
I'm not one much for politics. But the author knows how to geezer, and as a semi-geezer I can respect that.

Somehow, despite all the tragedy, I managed to smile. I think that was the intention, anyway. So perhaps I'm smiling merely out of politeness? This is an awkward feeling; you're not supposed to smile at funerals.

I think a funeral for a generation or two counts doubly so; that's a lot of people.

More to come, maybe. Working my way down and through. Someone, please do better. Give it justice.