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The Devil's in the Details · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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The contents of this story are no longer available
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#1 · 1
This one's definitely one of the more ambitious stories this round, both in length and scope. Now, while history has shown that I'm probably not the best judge of sci-fi techno-talk (I tend to like it more than most, it seems), I do have to say I appreciate how the story comes across as having technical depth. It's not always the easiest to follow (especially in the beginning), but towards the middle and the end, I personally liked how you paid off on the investment of teaching the readers so much about the Dulcinea and the setting.

In terms of critique, I think I'll have to say that the story definitely feels more and more pressed for word count. While the first several scenes steadily build up tension at a pretty leisurely stroll, the last two scenes have to run or at least break into a jog to try to wrap things up. It's definitely not quite a satisfying as it could have been, IMO.

From a prose perspective, I think you could use a little cleaning up in the places where you switch between high-level and up-close narration. Not all of the transitions felt smooth to me, and as a result I had a little difficulty getting a sense of how much time was passing from scene to scene.

So overall, I think this story has a lot of neat ideas and plays with them in ways that are definitely fun. I think your limiting factors here are the pacing and flow. Once you have the room to expand the back end of this, I think it'll feel like a more balanced piece.

Thank you for writing this!
#2 · 2
· · >>Bachiavellian
Very cinematic:

I always enjoy stories that can trigger that "movie in my head" reflex, balancing detail and pacing by giving me just enough of the background so I can fill in the rest myself as the story goes along. The only thing I can think of that I would've liked here is more indication of whether the virus is sapient or not. We get a few suggestions when Barry talks about what it "wants," but a little more of that would've made me happier.

Still, quite nice.

#3 · 1
· · >>Bachiavellian
I really, really enjoyed this story. It slowly revealed the bits of worldbuilding in a very natural manner, and did a great job of grabbing my interest and keeping it throughout. I've always enjoyed sci-fi stories, and I think this one has all of the good elements there, as well as being a great horror work with the slow reveal of the nature of the mystery, and its ramifications. I do think that the ending shows signs of running up on the word count, but it still delivered, to me, a satisfying ending that is way more of a downer than I expected.
#4 · 1
· · >>Bachiavellian
Wow, so this was really good, and I think it's probably gonna win the event. Echoing what everyone else has said, pretty much. I am incredibly inexperienced in the ways of technobabble, so for a lot of the story I was just kind of "I'll assume this person is smarter than me and just trust what they're saying", which I guess has its goods and bads. Also thought this was rather cinematic. And finally enjoyed the worldbuilding and horror, probably the most so out of any story submitted.

And my own thoughts. I enjoyed the characters as well, and each one had a distinct voice and personality that I could easily pick out. I also enjoyed the text communications, which is rare for me, and they had great effect here. Before the horror kicked in, I was expecting something much different, and I enjoyed what little of the scifi I could grasp, for example references to the Voyager Golden Record.

Then the horror did kick in, and the ramp up and climax was wonderful, as was the final reveal.

If I had one thing to criticize, it would probably be the ending. And that only partly because I want more, more!

Really enjoyed this one, thanks anon for entering!
#5 · 2
Okay, so this was my first OF gold and my first SS Gold. Go, me, I guess!

Thanks to the tolks who liked it, and congrats to Baal and Andrew as well! (EDIT: NOBODY saw that. I make no mistakes.)

Retrospective: Phage

So I've always kind of been fascinated with the concept of viruses, transposons, prions, and the like. Too me, it's really cool how a little bit of protein and/or DNA can perfectly arranged in a precise way that it tricks living cells into making identically perfectly arranged copies of itself. It's like the biological version of a software exploit. And basically, I had this idea of a virus that works on the organism level instead of the cellular level.

For those of you who aren't biology majors, the word, "phage", is a common shortening of the term "bacteriophage" which are strains of viruses that attack bacterial cells.

So, as basically everyone could tell, I ran out of both time and word count hard on this one. I actually didn't think I was going to be able to submit until Sunday night, when I wrote up a sketchy outline, a cast of characters, and about a thousand words of the first scene. On Monday, I didn't have work, so I fucking powered through the rest of the story all day, with stops for food and an occasional break to watch old episodes of Critical Role. I started when I woke up at about 10, and I didn't finish until around 11 PM at night. It was fucking wild, folks.

[Removed some notes on universe and characters. 9-26-2019]

Okay, on wards to responses!

>>Baal Bunny
"Movie in my head" was exactly what I was going for, if the little casting call in the above didn't make it clear enough. Glad you liked it!

To be honest, basically everything that Barry spews out right before he dies, I was originally planning to gradually reveal to the reader. But like I mentioned, I ran out of word count so hard on this one, it wasn't even funny. When I got to the second to last scene, I looked at the word count and I actually said out loud to myself, "Well, it's ALL gonna have to go down, right now." So yeah, I originally didn't think of the virus as sapient at all, but I needed a easy way to get an explanation ASAP. The result is less than ideal, I know.

Thank you so much for leaving your thoughts!

Happy you liked it! Yeah, I wanted to really focus on pacing out the information in this one, and I was pretty happy with myself until the last two or three scenes. But I'm definitely glad that you still enjoyed it. Appreciate the review!

Technobabble is my weakness. I really do like it too much, and I can't help but to throw it in there. Just look at my other sci-fi OF entries. And really, it's mostly me just spouting out cool things I saw in other sci-fi things I've consumed.

I'm really glad that the characters felt good to you! I spent a stupid amount of time trying to decide how large my cast had to be and trying to give unique personalities to each crew member, so I'm glad that my brainstorming paid off!

And yes, the ending is definitely the weakest part of the story. It's been a long time since I desperately wanted another 2 or 3 thousand words on top of the SS word limit, and I think it really shows.

Thank you for leaving your thoughts!!

Okie dokie! I'll see ya'll in the FIM SS round, hopefully!
#6 · 2
Hey guys, so I've de-listed and redacted Phage, just in case I ever want to try to submit it to get legit published. I've also sanitized some of my more specific writing notes from my retro.

If anybody wants to see a copy of the original story that was submitted here, hit me up in Discord, and I'd be happy to shoot it your way.