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A Word of Warning · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Selections from Amaddisen’s Compendium of Cautions and Outcries
Selections from Amaddisen’s Compendium of Cautions and Outcries: Admonitions for the Advanced Wayfarer
by Alyssande Amaddisen

From the Foreword by Smarve Yekeith:

…if anything is certain in the varied life of an interstellar traveler, it is that unknown dangers lurk beyond virtually every step. How would the unsophisticated traveler ever know not to collect the single “butterfly” from a Dk’arve bush on Gyttav’s World, or to stamp down only the purple weeds in one’s path on Erebiste, or to hold one’s breath when a Gufguanr is eructating? In all these situations, the prompt utterance of a warning word can save one’s companions from embarrassment, a decade’s imprisonment, permanent loss of vision, or worse. This volume, drawn directly from the author’s own experiences, will amply arm the careful reader with the very aptest words that can be uttered in perilous situations, from surviving a Guu-Bucah attack to surmounting the legal and social liabilities resulting from a game of Lhamnuzt…

A-athuent-pka! (lit: “Hold [raise] that foot!”): On Procyon II, it is considered a gross solecism to employ a bipedal gait upon walkways seeded with Higagiu, the grass gathered from the dorsal crevices of one’s dormant semipaternal ancestor. This warning, accompanied by three rapid taps at the heel of the potential offender’s boot, directs the Terran visitor to show appropriate respect by either grasping a foot with a free hand and hopping with an anapestic rhythm, or by dropping to a tripedal gait, usually performed by crawling with one foot held straight back so as not to cause an unpleasing association with the symmetrical appendages of the Night-Piercer (qv).

Ftuanf!: Exclaimed on Drassiger’s Woe IV, with somatic component, when the Ueanvuleu [umbrella-trees] are in season. These trees throw all their limbs radially upward as one opens an umbrella, the force sending their disc-like, razor-edged seeds flying forth in all directions. The somatic component is a sharp blow to the abdomen, causing the stricken one to bend over and allow the seeds to pass overhead.

Lohgawthaighl: A codeword uttered when one’s associate is approaching the reactor controls, carrying a heavy wrench and cackling. Great tact is demanded in achieving a satisfactory resolution, lest the situation rapidly expand beyond containable limits.

Stchaguz: Your Lhamnuzt (qv) partner has placed a Guronze in an oblique configuration against a Folmbo placed by the opposing team. Further use of scawling brushes will reduce the value of your bagpieces by points equal to the number of Dalqamis left in play, minus all harasingian penalties. You utter Stchaguz, brandish your manipulation clips, and withdraw the Guronze to a point within the protection of any Wringlers that have not moved in the previous turn.

Urerei zahuxe!: This warning is best delivered by not uttering it. See Ivar Fueving, Towards a method of quantifying retrographic world line interference in space surrounding the Ganz system.

Weiiihguhuh! On Kitalpha I, it is unwise to place one’s hands upon the posterior of certain inhabitants and attempt to vault entirely over their bodies, particularly if one is behaving in jest. This exclamation has proven most effective in double-blind trials at inhibiting this undesirable behavior.

It is with great regret that the publishers note the death of Ms. Amaddisen on a holiday excursion to Tau Ceti 3F, when she attempted to locate the correct term to warn her factotum of a sunken segment of path caused by Ambush Quail and failed to notice a Kwufelwhobe over her head. The Spiral Hatted Explorer’s Society has announced that they are accepting donations to fund a memorial, to be constructed by setting off ten fusion devices upon Asteroid Meiens-Broob-XR478 and perturbing its orbit such that Tau Ceti 3F will acquire it as a tertiary moonlet, which will permit the construction of a tremendous sign upon it, warning inhabitants to watch overhead for Kwufelwhobes.
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#1 · 3
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I feel like you've passed up a wonderful chance for a feghoot here, author.

I mean, I dunno if I'd have liked this significantly more as a feghoot, but still. This doesn't really have much tying it together. I initially hoped that, since each entry is supposed to be researched and written by this explorer, that there would a story perceivable from reading through each of them.

If there is, I'm not seeing it. If someone else does, please let me know. Right now it reads like a series of ridiculous anecdotes. That's alright, but I wish there was a bit more to it.

On top of that, this story has a large dose of 'nonsense vocabulary'. This... kinda works, I think, for setting the tone/style. However, it also obscures meaning, leaving the reader with little to grasp on for picturing what's going on. That can be useful, sure, but in a contest that's as word-limited as this one, I can't help but think you're shooting yourself in the foot a little with the amount that you've used here.

Funny and light. A bit too light, I think.
#2 · 1
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
The best aspect of this piece was the creativity in the words and various situations the author creates. None of them felt repetitive, and there was a consistently goofy tone to all of them. It was kind of like if Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was somehow even more bonkers.

That being said, I really don’t feel like much of a story was told. We get a lot of creative situations, but not really any reason to be invested in them. After all, there’s no unifying situation or characters to any of these stories. The only character we can really get involved with (the author) is just telling us the story, and her death is just played for laughs. Encyclopedic style stories can work, but they have to do something a bit more to them than just imaginative locations and situations.

In the end, it’s certainly creative, but it’s not enough to make it worth the trip.
#3 · 1
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Yeah, it's brimming with nice ideas, but none of them seems to be worked out to its fullest. As such, it's basically a catalogue of asinine situations ponctuated by unspeakable grunts and improbable creatures. It's not bad per se, but it lacks depth.


You flick through a catalogue of cozy furniture. It's nice, you get an aspect of it, but it's not like actually plumping in an armchair.
#4 · 1
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I quite like this kind of stories, where it tries to describe a world, a feeling or a character through indirect morsels of information. It's fun to put together the original shape of which we are only seeing shadows.

While I appreciate the single entries that compose this piece, I can't help but feel that a stronger thematic thread would have improved it considerably. It could either let us know something more about the author of this entries by giving us glimpses of her opinions and her personality or try to paint a more cohesive world by letting us feel that there is some sort of connection or theme behind the situations described.

If your intention was instead to show us an absurd and chaotic universe then the word limits worked against you.

As it stands currently it feels a bit too disjointed. Still entertaining and well written in its components, but a bit lacking when confronted with the (admittedly quite solid and challenging) other entries.
#5 · 1
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
The Great

A very cute concept with a few legitimately funny moments sprinkled throughout.

The Rough

Puts me in mind of Pinkie's Wake from last round. Unfortunately, that's an unfavorable comparison as I don't think it executes nearly as well. While there are some funny moments, ultimately, the nonsense feels mostly like nonsense, and that just isn't overly compelling. It really needed to be more... clever, I guess? (Or less, I suppose, if I'm missing some tight wordplay in here).
#6 ·

My apologies for the very belated reply.

I was in a Vancian mood, and I had also in mind Joanna Russ’s SF story, Useful Phrases for the Tourist (such as “That is my companion. It is not intended as a tip.”) I tried to combine the two, but it seems that Vancian neologisms need firmer bedding than such a small chaotic work as mine can provide. If I continue with this piece, I shall work to enhance the story elements, or at least build interconnections between the entries so that the reader is not left entirely at sea.

Thank you all for your helpful comments!