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The Last Word
#16318 · 4
·
Was looking forward to a quiet weekend to concentrate in, and received absolutely anything but, so nothing from me (as usual). Looking forward to reading everyone else's efforts. Good luck, folks!
#16809 · 4
· on The Fixer · >>Admiral_Biscuit
I enjoyed this! If it was weird as some others have said, then I suppose I connect with the weird ones, somehow, but I 'got' this story almost from the start. I was thrown off a bit at first with an "Oh no, a unicorn..." but you quickly turned this into something much more unique. This was by far the shortest long story I've read so far in this contest, meaning that I was engaged all the way through to the point where it flew by.

The sharp turn the story (and Clémence) took when Marcus showed up at 2am that first time threw me off, but eventually I realized that Clémence – at least in my interpretation – is a disaffected and ambivalent youth, and that informs everything that came before and after. Her mother is in the spotlight, becoming more and more successful, while Clémence remains in New York: bored, watching the rain fall, watching people sitting in restaurants, feeling empty especially at the end, and only really coming alive when she's doing something dangerous or rebellious. And for me, part of what played into that was the mythical dynamic hinted at many times between unicorns and humans. She showed affection to the men she was with when performing her magic trick for them, even the man she'd felt initially threatened by. Her psychology seemed to be shaped by that of the men she connected with.

Clémence could have been human in this story, but that would have made her magic 'special' and almost cliché. Instead, her being a unicorn gave her a talent that no one cared about except that it could be used as a tool for them.

In the end "she was hollow inside" is a good description of her condition. I could almost feel sorry for her if she had felt any measure of remorse at the end...

This was sad and maybe a little strange, but it works. Excellent story.

Edit: Can't help thinking that Clémence is a little white lie, meaning merciful. You might even stretch that to mean generous. Even if the name doesn't suit her actions. Just a thought.
#1316 · 3
· on The Name Upon His Forehead · >>horizon
The Name Upon His Forehead

Wow, this one had to be my first read. I hadn't even pulled a slate yet, and decided to read #1 since I'm at home sick and took the time to delve.

This is an excellent but complicated story, and I could spend all day analyzing it. It's beautifully written, and dense with meaning and symbolism (very much tied to the names invoked) in such a small space of ~2700 words. It took me some effort and a couple of reads to get the hang of.

I've added here what I think of the names applied in the story, which might save you trips to Google. If you haven't read the story yet, skip what comes after that as Spoilers - you'll only get my opinion on the story.

Names:
Adam: All humans, Son of Man, God's sapient creation
Inspector Hilla Loewe: In Hebrew: Halo / Lion

The rest are 'golems', physical creations, and the (physical and symbolic embodiment of their respective names). I get a very Blade Runner-ish Replicant feel from many of them and from the story in general:

Emmett: Truth (judgement: knower and seeker of truth, our investigator). Also referred to as Emet?
Yaron: Joy (religious evangelism)
Aaliyah: Elevation (transport)
Oz: Strength of God (hard laborer)
Nir: Farmer?
Ori: Light (illumination, or visible light, the Light of God)
Ophek: Scribe
Ahava: Love (in this case, a basic pleasure model)
Reut: Friendship (hard to tell, since it's mentioned only in passing)
Ariel: Strength of Jerusalem (Law enforcement?)

The only one I'm not sure of is the 'angel' (is it a new creation? A fallen angel / Arial / law enforcement?). Keeping in mind that we're getting Emmett's viewpoint, so he is the one calling this particular golem an angel.

Each 'golem' has a strict purpose to their existence, but Emmett and Yaron are having a hard time hanging on to that purpose in the face of doubt instilled by the physical appearance and Nameless nature of that angel. It isn't 'marked' with it's own identifying Purpose (no Name upon its forehead), and yet it isn't a Son of Man (human), so its existence is causing cognitive dissonance in those golems who meet it. Several Yaron are disabled and broken after speaking with the angel, and Emmett feels confusion, fear, and doubt upon meeting it.

The 'angel' seeks an answer from Emmett about its own nature, trusting in the Word of God's judgement to tell it what it is. But Emmett is infected with doubt, now, too. Any answer it could give would be a Lie, because there is no one apparent true answer.

This story isn't preaching any morals that I can see, though I find the conversation between Emmett and Inspector Loewe very telling: It's the kind of conversation you might have with someone who's world is defined by only One Truth or specific viewpoint, like they're seeing the world only through a telescope and are unable to capably process what they're told by others with a broader world view.

So, maybe my opinion is colored by my own beliefs, but in the end I see this as a story about the loss of faith - or at least the new realization of serious doubts. The angel - familiar in form, but with enough formlessness to still be shaped - wants to be told what it is, is afraid of having to decide for itself what the meaning of its own existence is.

And there it ends, allowing you to think about what comes after, which would make this a totally different story if it were to be explored by the author.

Keep in mind this is only my assessment. Others will likely shed some more Light on this - I hope so. This one was fun to explore, but I have no doubt that I missed a lot.
#1399 · 3
· on The Name Upon His Forehead
>>KwirkyJ I just wanted to note: There's likely a missing verb between the two 'I's. This might help understanding the omission.
Before I act, I must know whether


Also, I researched while reading this story, and then went through and read it again in whole and again in parts. I can't say that I caught everything going on, or even interpreted it correctly, but I got enough out of it to really enjoy it. Had I not been sick, I probably wouldn't have been able to spend the time on it that I did. And this is one of the downfalls of the story in a contest like this, but for me at least, it's forgivable.

Taking 'inscription' at face value

You don't really need to take it at face value, since it could be taken as metaphorical, but golems were said to be empowered and defined (or confined) by the Hebrew letters inscribed on their forehead. Either way, the point is that Emmett sees that the Angel is much more than a simple follower of a Word (Law) inscribed on and controlling it. It is "the Word from which all other words are formed", meaning that it's free to choose what it will be, and Emmett is very afraid that this is so. The Angel is a leader, designed to bring change to the world's order, and that's a pretty scary thing for someone who's world consisted of its comfort in unerring Truth just 5 minutes ago.

So yeah, just my take on it.
#1401 · 3
· on Just Do It · >>Bradel
Well... I honestly can't say that I enjoyed this story. I don't think it's a bad story at all: it's well-written in the sense that it's competent and was able to get its ideas across. However, the style of it was far too glib and often too melodramatic for me to be able to take it seriously. That, combined with the abrupt transition to a simple, fairytale ending closed the door on it for me.

If I were to offer any advice, it would be what others have already told you: flesh out the story more, give the reader something real to latch onto. As it is – and I'm being absolutely literal here, no offense intended at all – this story read to me like a normal bad day, followed by the realization that your dreams were immediately obtainable by walking through that door to another world you just found in your closet. I can't really feel any of the happiness for the characters that you were probably striving for because it felt unearned, so in the end they really didn't mean anything to me.
#1666 · 3
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No email for me. I only saw this today because I knew the schedule and looked to be sure.
#2805 · 3
· on A Thany-Mendored Spling · >>Trick_Question
Even though the chaos of this makes it a bit of a rough start, I enjoyed it. Also, I love the title!

Synopsis: Discord has a crush on Twilight, and is walking through the town on his way to her castle, to give her flowers and express his feelings. Along the way, his hopes and fears and generally chaotic, Discordian voices offer their thoughts, along with his own (italicized) observations.

So, my thoughts:

- I like that each voice had a personality of its own — Voice 1: Doubt and Pessimism, Voice 2: Hope and Optimism, Voice 3: Despair, Voice 4: Um... Gibbering Chaos? Anyway these are all a bit like angels and demons standing on your shoulder and offering their thoughts, except very much in Discord-style.

- I do feel it would be more effective to personify the voices (give them an appropriate elemental name), instead of giving them generic labels. I can see where you might want the reader to tease that out from the words the voices speak, but this being such a short, seemingly chaotic piece makes it more difficult to catch on and enjoy the reveal at the end. At least for me.

'oblong and obsequious.'

- Seems like you're going for alliteration here instead of meaning, which is fine, but it would be more effective if both words related better to the kind of things that Discord's negative side wants and misses, now that he's being forced to observe his nature and change for the benefit of everyone else.

- I'll observe a pet peeve of mine:
", ponies stopping and staring with jaws slack and eyes bulging."

This line is fine, of itself, but I see lot of authors tack "out of the blue" ideas like this on to other distinct ideas as a way to tie them together with a comma, and all it does for me is knock me out of immersion. I really think this idea – that ponies are shocked to see Discord walking down the street, holding flowers and talking to himself – would be much better suited as a short, standalone paragraph.

- I love the fact that even Hope (2nd voice) gives up and recommends that Discord run away. Poor Discord!

- Finally, now that I read back over it, I also get the feeling that the dialogue could go on for a few more lines as a better (and more humorous) build-up to the ending. It doesn't feel to me like there's enough tension built up to release by the end. But as it is, this story is short and sweet for the few words it has available.
#16861 · 3
·
Mistakes Were Made

It starts with Idle Chit-Chat At the Sign of the Prancing Pony, Just Like Old Times:
"The End of Snow—"
"Who's Coming to Dinner?"
"No Sleep ’Til—"
"Oh By The Way, Which One's Pink?"

But mine is A Reckless Love. "I Love You" is The Construct with Terms of Service invisible during the Rites of Spring.

And, well... Time Flies When You're on the Run; The Wrong Words are spoken, and There's No Turning Back. One Cannot Reconcile the Goat and the Cabbage, nor Beat Dead Horses at What They Have Done. (Something Terrible, perhaps.)

It's A Familiar Story, Twice As Bright at the start but With a Twist at the end like an ankle on a stairway.

Hers is No Eloquent Exasperation: She's Like a Perceptual Motion Machine

Bang bang, my baby shot me down.

I tell myself "Mind Over Matter" and "Windi-going, Windi-gone—", heh.

But I can see The Approaching Hollow.


And now can someone make one with a happier ending? :P
#1232 · 2
·
>>Trick_Question So is Joyce's Ulysses, but I don't think my 750 word minific crossover of it would go over well. ;)

Anyway, defining the boundary by Original is actually far less ambiguous than General, and even then, Roger is allowing readers to make the call with their votes.

That said, I wouldn't mind seeing a fic based on Alice in Wonderland, as long as it was accessible on a base enough level (at least in this writing competition format) that didn't force me to spend forever researching another story and its characters in order to 'get it'.

While I'm absolutely fine with otherwise doing that research to gain understanding, this format requires writers to read and vote on stories within a small timeframe, and realistically that's going to put a limit on what people are willing to accept when they have jobs, and families, and other interests that take up their precious time.
#1330 · 2
· on Landscape Photography · >>Bradel
Landscape Photography

Spoilers, of course - don't read this before reading the story. :P

For the most part I enjoyed this story; the writing is well-executed and fairly subtle, and the idea of shooting that final roll of (probably well-expired) film by traveling around the world of the distant future – and reserving those last 24 shots for human-made, desolate places – was interesting.

But honestly, for me it didn't really move much beyond that.

Despite what you may have heard, I'm not a misanthrope.

First, one real nitpick: this line doesn't make any sense in the long run, as we don't know 'you' and will never have 'heard of' you by the end of the story. It could characterize general feeling of people at the time of setting (which we never find out), but it only confuses the story since no one else knows 'you', either. It's a much stronger statement without anything before the comma.

I always knew my journey would end here.

Okay one more nitpick: Why? Why are you telling us this without telling us why this feeling is important, in some way?

Nikon

Okay, just one more! I'm a Nikon shooter, but you really should mention the brand just once and leave it to "camera" after that, otherwise every other brand mention begins to seem like an advertisement. (Okay, at least to me.)

As an amateur photographer very interested in low-light / moonlight photography, I've seen a lot of places and the works of others enough to know that you can find desolation and decrepit works of humans everywhere that are shown to be worthy of an artist's lens, so the first two sections left me feeling a little deflated since there was apparently not much except exposition (for me) without too much point to them as a whole.

Which leads to my overall feeling that this story would have been stronger with just a few small foreshadowed hints along the way that something was different that we should pay attention to. There was no lead-in to the twist you presented (the one which turns desolate landscape into human portrait photography): only a stark transition. The entirety of the first two sections could easily take place in the present — a random coastline, Kolmannskuppe. Providing that foreshadowing would aid the transition (which gains nothing from being abrupt with so much normal lead-in) and still allow for an interesting reveal of the future.

I really can't add more at the moment. Like I said, I enjoyed this, but I feel like it missed the mark a bit.