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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » 13 line anonymous challenge: Entries

   
Author Topic: 13 line anonymous challenge: Entries
axeminister
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The results are in!

1st place: #7
2nd place: tie: #5 & #8
4th place: #14

Best title: The Tentacle Tree

Vote counts will be kept secret for now.

Look for part two of this multi-challenge starting Friday, June 20th!

Please divert discussions to: http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbwriters/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=000209;p=0&r=nfx

Axe

[ July 19, 2012, 03:17 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #1

THE TENTACLE TREE

Michelle watched her two hosts with apprehension. The Rota flashed brilliant patterns at each other via the membranes on their head-like lung-skulls. She’d not yet learned to decipher the expressions, and the configurations looked threatening in the dim light of the kitchen node. Two years of cultural immersion on the Rota’s native planet had unearthed more questions about their nature than it had buried. But she kept trying to pick up new cues, new information wherever she could.

She scrutinized their postures, their body language. Were these signs of anger, or sadness? Salmik rolled towards its mate, Jallil, propelled by organic, parallel wheels that gave the impression of bipedalism. Back on Earth, humans referred to the Rota as ‘bicycle people.’ An accurate a term as any, Michelle thought.

Say something, she willed.

*****

Definitely science fiction. Bicycle people were done by David Brin, so is not unique. But it is rare enough to be interesting. Michelle seems to be asking questions that belie 2 years of cultural immersion. But other than that, nicely done.

***

Wasn’t thrilled with telling of apprehension. Would rather be shown their apprehension. Overall it felt a little heavy on the alien element and less story.

***

This entry unearths more questions than I can handle in an opening. I had to read it several times to figure out what was going on—which is not much.

***

It's interesting enough that I'd read on, though it doesn't really reach out and grab me. That second sentence threw me a bit until I'd read a little further.

***

An interesting concept, trying to learn to communicate with an alien species. I have a hard time figuring out how the logistics of a live-in cultural immersion would be arranged if communication is impossible.

***

This required too much interpretive thought to get wound up. It is, essentially, all description about the bike people. I'm not invested with the character and if we are slowly picking up cultural clues, I'm slowly going to put the story down.

***

Introducing a new world is tricky. I thought you did this well with, “Two years of cultural immersion on the Rota’s native planet...” in the fourth sentence, but not as well with, “The Rota” and “the kitchen node” in earlier sentences. Without a firm grounding, they are nearly impossible to interpret.
I also wasn’t sure on the use of host. Because a parasite can use a host, or one can invite another to dinner and be a host, I was slightly lost. However, I did enjoy the writing.

***

Interesting. I like the details of the aliens, but I'm not exactly clear what they look like, or what their head-like lung-skulls look like, or are.
Clear Scifi, would keep reading.

***

Interesting premise. Could be more specific at 'looked threatening' – what was threatening about them? The 'buried' questions are awkwardly phrased. The last line is something I hope is explained in the next paragraph. Also, to think that after two years she doesn't have any sense of what the expressions mean seems a little far-fetched. I would keep reading however, but with some reservations.

***

For some reason the story reminded me of “The Dance of the Changer and the Three” by Terry Carr and the title reminded me of “The Integral Trees” by Larry Niven. Couldn’t get past that.

***

Emerging the reader into a contemplating of an alien psyche is a tough sell and not the way to hook a reader into such a tight contest. I suspect you started in the wrong spot. This may work much further into a story, but this challenge is to grab the reader’s attention right away. Not here for me.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #2

THE CRÈCHE-KEEPER'S DREAM

Feng Hui shoveled the last of his breakfast rice into his mouth, tossed the bowl into the sanitizer, straightened his tie, and strode into the living quarters of his high-rise apartment. Lao waited beside the transport pad, clutching Feng's retro-style briefcase. Lao's knuckles were pale, but he smiled as he handed the faux-leather case to Feng and pecked his cheek, careful not to muss Feng's meticulously pressed suit.

It was the same routine as every morning, when Feng left for his employment at the crèche, where he tended the egg-bank that assured the continued propagation of the human race. Today was different, though. Today, Feng would select the egg that would become their only child.

***

Not sure this is a hook as much as a blurb. Not sure I'd read on either.

***

Very nice. I definitely want to read more.

***

One mighty long first sentence. Other than that the writing seemed find. I just didn’t feel it. It felt contrived to me, pretending to be normal then coming out and saying it wasn’t. If it truly was such a big moment, I would expect to feel it up to that point.

***

Intriguing. Are we talking about an all-male world (which would be interesting due to some unique questions it poses) or simply a homosexual couple having a child (not as interesting because it is commonplace today)? That the human race relies on it makes this science fiction.

***

In the future, what is a retro-style? What happened to women? It took me a few passes to figure what was going on with the Chinese names. I should want to move on in only one pass.

***

Love this. The Chinese names combined with the French for Egg gives this a very futuristic feel. Definite Scifi without robots, or space ships or aliens. Expertly done. I'd read on with confidence that the author knew what they were doing.

***

Too much 'normal day' stuff. This could be a lot more charged. Immediately made me think of Ethan of Athos by Bujold. Would not read on.

***

First sentence isn’t killer, it’s a dude eating. Second sentence: he’s waiting. Soon, he’s doing the “same routine”. These psychological clues can be killer if something like this is submitted. I’d recommend starting the story with the last line and show the characters’ excitement. That last line is great.

***

Intrigued but not hooking me as much as I like for me. The problem is I don’t have enough info on your world, characters, or dilemma for me to completely care so far. Not very fair of me to pile on so much criteria in 13 lines, I know, but often this can make a difference, when let’s say, Dave Farland is the man you need to impress.

***

Not crazy about the image of “shoveled” his breakfast. Image of Fred Flintstone played by John Goodman eating breakfast came to mind.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #3

PROJECTION OF A MOST UNFORTUNATE KIND

Ostend, the maestro of King Parsnip's Intergalactic Players, retreated to the back of the theater to absorb the reactions of his patrons to the climax of his show. Music filled the air like sheets of silk, billowing in the wind as the orchestra’s volume rose into a crescendo. The audience’s eyes grew wide as huge balloons expanded from nothing on the stage. The audience, bedecked in the colorful regalia of Thibault VII, began to cheer the stunning performance. Ostend felt tendrils of alarm slithering up the side of his face because he knew the act didn’t feature balloons of any kind.

The bubbles burst and creatures, of unknown ilk, leapt onto the stage. Pink and black and green. Spotted, mottled and striped. Surrounding the costumed characters, they swallowed, gobbled and gulped.

***

Seemed a little thick at times – “Ostend, the maestro of King Parsnip's Intergalactic Players” – seemed rather long to introduce a character, and “The audience, bedecked in the colorful regalia of Thibault VII,” Both of these caused me to stumble and slowed the piece down.

***

I like this one too. Great imagery, although I’m not sure I love that you used description sets of three, three times. “Pink and black and green; Spotted, mottled and striped; swallowed gobbled and gulped.” A little tedious.

***

Ok, corny names aside, this seems to work. It's funny, though the POV character seems a bit too pompous to be likeable. I'd read on, but with the expectation that this is going along a Douglas Adams route.

***

Well-written. There's some very lyrical prose in the first paragraph. I got the feel for a bit of humor (primarily due to King Parsnip), but I found that the voice and somewhat humorous tone didn't quite mesh with the scene as I was seeing it.

***

Bizarre. Has that well-orchestrated space opera feel, kinda like part of the film “Fifth Element”. A bit shallow for my normal taste, but I enjoy a romp now and then. Strange fun promised.

***

Hard to follow, need more character or an exceptionally intriguing setting. Overall feels rushed. Would not read on.

***

With the title, and king parsnip, this feels like it should be humorous, but the one reads over wraught and serious but not far enough to be funny again. The POV is distant from the action and uninvolved, and I don't know enough to care. Feels more Fantasy than scifi.

***

Interesting this is entry # 3 as there’s a real cadence to the rhythm of three present. I felt it was a little tiresome by the end, despite the information being valid. (A little Dr. Seuss-like.) I’m also trying to figure out there this is going. Monsters are eating the people watching a musical. (I believe.) Our MC is the Maestro. Now what? Will he slay the animals? Cower in fear?
I suppose I would need to read on to find out, but I prefer to have an inkling of what’s coming before getting there. i.e. the motivation of the MC. (Other than not having his patrons eaten, of course.)

***

The prose was a setting of fairy tale fantasy. Not my type of science fiction or fantasy that I enjoy.

***

Hmmm, the sudden turn of events didn’t wow me. In fact, they disappointed an opening I thought had promise. Reminds me of the dastardly tricks the Joker would pull in the old 60’s Batman show.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:00 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #4

ALL TIME IN A DAY

It would be the last time he'd see her.

At least the setting was spectacular. He wheezed and adjusted the oxygen-nitrogen balance of his suit then checked his chronometer. His hand shook, whether from anticipation or from Parkinson's he wasn't sure. He felt a tug at his back. Sand rippled up the ruddy slope toward the peak of Aeolis to where ice crystals glittered against the copper sky. Mars! A washed out world for a washed up old man. His lips stretched into a grin, thin and sardonic.

*****

Really nice. I feel a lot of empathy already for the narrator, and he's in an intriguing location. I particularly liked the 'washed out world for a washed up old man.'

***

With no names in this one, I had a hard time connecting emotionally, and I’m not sure if the “her” is a woman or a celestial object.

***

Plenty of Sci-Fi, but no hook. A guy on mars. That's it.

***

He felt a tug at his back? But he never turned back to look? Or am I missing something. The last line took me out of his pov.

***

A couple of words were too complex, e.g. chronometer. Nice line about the washed out world… characterising self-criticism. But apart from that and the first line, I found insufficient story to really drag me in. Just one more sentence (at the end of the paragraph) that oriented the story would have helped.

***

This didn't give me enough to go on. I had to pause to reconcile a spectacular setting for a washed out world. Plus we really don't know what's going on except the old guy is in a space suit.

***

Seems too short. Definitely scifi, and well written. Middle of the pack for me.

***

“It would be the last time he'd see her.”
Suggest changing *it* to *this* then give us the time/location. Or put that in sentence two. I am very interested in WHY this is the last time. Also, what does she mean to him? Could be, this is the last time John would see his wife. Or something a little more clear -- early on. (I’m sure you’ll answer these later on, but a mystery this early only confuses me.)

***

Pretty nice, but am frustrated at not knowing who 'her' is. A planet, a ship, a woman? But I would read on to find out. Just don't take too long to get there.

***

I liked the opening and would read on. An old man coming to Mars telling the climax of his life. We will need to find out very soon if it’s about a love of his life that never came to fruition and the reason for their initial disconnect.

***

I like this one. Unforgettable setting and a sympathetic character. This is like a cancer victim choosing to climb Everest. Good entry,

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:01 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #5

WEAKNESS

Jarus watched the girl through a portal grimed with desert sand. She was a pretty thing, as humans went, draped in a long, leather coat and something about her tugged at Jarus's memories, dragging up an ancient image, long forgotten, of a young child playing in the sand. Only this girl wasn't playing, she was dying in the hot midday sun of the burning desert, and there was nothing Jarus could do for her. He put a finger to the tinted glass, the only thing standing between him and a burning death. She was huddled in the shade of a boulder half way down the slope. Not once had she looked at the blast doors. It was almost as though she didn't know they were there, or just didn't care.

*****

This is a good start, but I found myself wishing I were in her point of view, because she was in a more dangerous position. I would probably read on, though, to see what Jarus would end up doing.

***

This hints at a world that is may be quite unusual. Why is she in the desert? What is the portal? Why should she know about the portal? This really intrigues me.

***

2nd sentence was a bear. It rambled on. Nothing really drew me on. Probably just a personal opinion but it kind of turned me off, watching another die.

***

This feels a little to familiar to me. I read it and think, “I know where this is going.”

***

This gets me invested in the girl and in the MC so nicely that I could nearly forgive the repetition of sand in the first two sentences. I'd certainly read on.

***

A leather coat in the heat? Also, "hot midday sun of the burning desert" is extremely repetitive. But the intro does raise an intriguing situation/question, so I would read on.

***

Everything about this reads fantasy to me until the words "blast doors." I wish I knew what kind of a creature Jarus was, but the not knowing isn't a hook, it's just unappealing. Not bad though. I'd keep reading.

***

I liked this one. My nits would be over words instead of ideas/story. The first sentence is really good too. Says a lot quickly. I wouldn’t mind if you worked in what Jarus was early on so I could have a picture of him. *He put a finger to...* He put a (adjective/description) finger...

***

I am not sure where this is going except a story where an alien overcomes his weakness. Has Jarus been there the whole time since the girl was placed in the hot desert?

***

I couldn't figure out why she was wearing a long leather coat in a hot midday sun. But who could keep from feeling touched by a poor little girl dying helplessly? I guess blast doors means radiation? I would read on for a while just out of curiosity.

***

A good entry. Wishing I could read more, not necessarily because I was hooked but because of the holes in the opening that have yet to be filled. Intrigued but it better pay off soon if I were the slushreader you submitted this too.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #6

THE ABSOLUTE GAME

The shimmer of the temporal vortex flicked out as Marcus passed through it. He stood upright in solid darkness waiting for his eyes to adjust. A deep chill enveloped him as his ears popped from the change in air pressure.

His hands instinctively went to his pocket to take out his flashlight. It was not there. It took him a moment to realize he was not carrying it as it would be quite out of place in this time period. There was nothing but black blankness after about a minute and the chill started to make him shiver.

He slowly slid one foot forward feeling for an edge in case he was on stairs. It was a flat surface. He spread him arms out searching for a wall. There was none. He crouched down to touch the flooring. It was smooth and cold; he couldn’t tell if it was stone or metal. Definitely not wood.

*****

I think I’ve seen this before. I cannot recall who from but I think he will be attacked very soon. Although the opening is focussing on the senses, without very much orientation as to where he is, it is intriguing enough to read further. But I would want to know where the MC is and why quite soon, and some conflict. This is the “where am I” cliché start.

***

This all feels very stilted and the MC seems to take up so much time wondering where he is that I lost interest.

***

This entry did not interest me until I read the title (yes, I read the title last). If you could get some of the suspense from the title into the first 13, this would be great.

***

The first paragraph is strong, however in the second, I wondered why he was looking for something he knew he didn't bring, and the repetition of chill distracted me. I'm not sure I'm hooked enough to keep reading. It's very difficult to make a character in blindness compelling, and I'm not sure this had a strong enough voice to make up for the lack of visual input for this reader.

***

My only true nit was “His hands instinctively ..” it read for me that his hands did on their own accord which made him seem alien. Suggest, just Instinctively he reached ... .
Other than that, we have a man in the dark.

***

This seemed to be too much of a trope (where am I?), but I did like the flashlight info, however the nugget of info lost all meaning when Marcus had no idea where (or presumably when) he was. I'm unsure if I'd read on.

***

I believe the MC knows where he is, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t. This is an easy fix. X stepped through the vortex back to 1869 (or whatever.) Then I need to know WHY. Right now I have a 2-D character in a dark room. Needs more.

***

Good title. I don't remember this one from my first read through of the entries, but it reads well. Definitely Scifi.

***

So he's time traveled into a dark place and knew enough not to bring a flashlight, but not enough to bring an alternate form of illumination? I have no sense where this is going or why this is important. Nothing here intrigues me. I would not read on.

***

Suggestion: focusing on the ‘when’ of where the MC is instead of the ‘how’ he is feeling would have gone a long way in this hook challenge. There were three references to a chilliness but it could had been 120 outside. In short, you over empathized the mood of the opening.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:03 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #7

SITUATIONAL ETHICS

In retrospect, the fact that two races happened to select the same world for colonization at the same time should not astonish anyone. Less than 2% of the planets in our galaxy are Class M. Of that number, perhaps one-tenth ever develop life.

Alas, the humans aboard the sub-light colony ship Aurora were in no mood to consider such philosophical abstractions. When they awoke from hibernation and found the Thrisin already established on their target planet, survival was their only concern. Aurora was incapable of taking them any further. She had been designed to get them to their destination, the first life bearing world ever discovered by humanity, and then be torn down for material.

They had to plant a successful colony or die, and watch their children die with them.

*****

Nicely written. There’s a lot of info here, but a good voice that makes it interesting. I would read on, but only if some characters are introduced in the next paragraph or so.

***

Prefer a story to start with a scene versus an entire first 13 of telling. I would suggest finding a way to get the reader in the story quicker.

***

This sets up a strong conflict with high stakes. I would read on. I hope that I would encounter a character I could root for in the near future.

***

This, as with others, sounds less like a hook and more of a blurb. It gives a hint of what the story is about without actually drawing me in.

***

Clearly science fiction. Great sense of pending conflict, especially with the title. Where the POV will go, and how it will move into a closer POV when it does, will make or break this story, but by this point I definitely want to read on.

***

I want to read on, but I need this personalized. If an MC doesn't show up, the story will lose emotional impact. There are a lot of questions here. Are the Thrisin hostile? How much of the planet do they occupy? What is the state of mind of the Earthlings?

***

I was liking this until this point: "and then be torn down for material.
They had to plant a successful colony or die, and watch their children die with them." Then you completely lost me. The 'material' line didn't make sense, and the last line seemed like it was crammed in for the sake of the thirteen. I might read on hoping for the rest to match up better with the quality of the start.

***

No PoV. All Telling. Still works.

***

The title helps me digest what this story will be about more than the 13. I guess that’s good, but I understand some editors don’t read the title? Can’t see how they’d be able to avoid it being two words and in the center of the page.
I digress.
First paragraph felt like a character introducing the story, but the word Alas sounds like the author talking and pulled me out a bit. I believe Class M is Star Trek canon and probably can’t be used. Consider HZ (Habitable Zone) or Goldilocks zone. Why were the humans in no mood to contemplate? Survival refers to the Thrisin. From the word Aurora to Material you echo that the planet is for humans, (understood from the first paragraph) and that the ship can go no further/designed to get to destination.
Despite all my nits, this does sound interesting. There’s a lot of potential for conflict and character. Even, possibly, multiple viewpoints.

***

I like this one a lot. Potential for conflict, unique diplomacy, and a bunch of other stuff I’m not even considering. One math issue; .2% of the planets in the galaxy is a lot of planets. Solid entry.

***

Sounds more like an essay than a story start. It’s good background material, but would want to introduce the protagonist before delving into this background material.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:03 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #8

UNTIL THEY COME

“What do you think of this pose?” Kindra asked. Her arms were stretched out in front of her and her weight was back on her legs that were tucked in a ready-to-spring position, as if she would dive off the platform into the depths of space that extended lightyears away from them. If it weren't for her magnetic feet, Mack might have been worried she would actually drift off.

“You're really going to hold that for a thousand years?” he asked, though he knew she would. That had been her game for the last dozen millennia, to come up with a pose that would shock the humans when they returned.

“What's wrong with it?”

If she were actually human the pose might have been indelicate, reminiscent of waste excretion before indoor plumbing; but to a mechanical it was no different than any other posture.

*****

Nice clean prose and interesting imagery, but I don't really have a feel for what's going on here. I expect the humans will show up at some point, but a mechanical posing like it's using the loo isn't pulling me forward.

***

The intrigue with this one is the promised interplay between the characters. Kindra seems to be a cheeky machine, the perfect foil for the straight-as-a-die Mack. Strong opening and definitely science fiction.

***

Not really sure of this piece. It was humorous. And it also seemed like a complete piece in itself.

***

I started to get interested in this, but the last sentence turned me off. I think you could use that extra line for something about where the humans went, or why Kindra was left behind.

***

Ok, I'm seeing robots in space waiting for the return of humans. I think. There's not enough in there for me to be sure or read on really.

***

I am intrigued by this, but if there aren't any humans, what does Mack know about human excrement excretions and why does he even talk about magnetic feet? The lead up seems to be a bait and switch joke. I'm ambivalent about moving on.

***

Favorite Title. With the title and the thirteen there's a great ethos here. I do wish you dropped one word saying what kind of non-humans Mack and Kindra are. The withholding bugs me. But I'd keep reading, so you've hooked me.

***

I liked the first couple of paragraphs, although a little bit of trimming I think would make it more crisp. The ‘waste excrement’ sounds so out of place and vile. Ruined any hook you had going.

***

Nice opening with a mix of dialog and imagery. The interplay between Kindra and Mack is playful and I would read on.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #9

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

“I want a penis.”

It took effort to keep myself from spitting tea into my mother’s face. The once bubbly woman had become distant since my father’s passing. Our weekly visits were filled with mundane chatter, getting her to open up had become a chore. So just hearing her saying something that wasn’t a one word answer to a question should have been an encouraging sign. A declaration that she had a sudden hankering for manmeat was not the way I would have chosen for her to do it, but I prayed for this day to come and didn’t want her to return to her shell of solitude. So I swallowed my tea, refilled my cup, and chose my words carefully.

“You ready to start dating again, Mom?” I said, sipping my tea.

“You misunderstood hun. I don’t want a man. I want to become one

*****

First sentence had me rolling. Lose “myself” in the second sentence read off with it.
I liked the piece.

***

This isn’t my cup of tea, but it’s well written and an interesting beginning. I’m wondering what the sci-fi connection is though.

***

Crude but funny, though it doesn't hook me. It sounds more like a comedy sketch, short and with a dubious punchline.

***

This is really well written and intriguing to me as a reader, but I am not seeing sci-fi at this point. This is a conversation that could take place right now.

***

Opening declares its hand strongly, even shockingly. But this didn’t seem all that much science fiction – it’s a contemporary situation, one that has been faced before by some people, even at such a late age, and you would read about in the middle pages of a tabloid newspaper. I probably wouldn’t read on, because it isn’t what I read science fiction for.

***

I don't see the SF angle. I don't like where this is headed and it's too crude for my taste. I wouldn't read on.

***

If you shout out the word "penis" in a crowded mall, people will look over at you, but that doesn't mean they'd fall in love. The first sentence seems a bit like cheating, but the story after it, while well written, and sort of likeable, can't jump over the initial reaction of "ick." Not Scifi, at least not yet.

***

A speech tag for the first line would add clarity. Most of the rest feels over explained. And I think 'hun' should be hon'. The idea on this might be interesting, but the quality of the prose doesn't encourage me to continue on.

***

Not my cup of tea, pun intended. The opening sentence is meant to be shocking. But where does it go from there?

***

I loved this intro. It was beautiful. I chuckled for half an hour. Definitely would read this one.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #10

GRAND TSUNAMI

When I learned that the old folk came to the beach to die, it didn’t make it through my truth filter – not even half. We were out on the sand flats, pumping for nippers to use as bait, when we saw them. A procession of wheelchairs was pushed out to the foreshore, ready for the turn of the tide.

“True dinks, Twiggy,” said Henry. “It’s a palliative care beach. They pay lots of money to come here. It helps them die happy.”

Jacob snickered – he always thought Henry was joking with things like this. But Cane looked so serious, which made me wonder if it were true. But I wasn’t yet convinced.

“But the beach is free. Anyone can use it. Heck, we play here every day. We don’t have to pay.”

*****

This grabbed my attention. A bit of a shock, but done so matter-of-factly that it pulled me right in. I'd definately read on. Not sure if it comes across as Sci-Fi though.

***

An interesting concept. There's a strong voice here. My expectations are raised that there will be a tsunami and the old folks will die. Just typing that up, however, makes me wonder how that would be possible, since tsunamis are not predictable. Perhaps this is a case of the title confusing the story for this reader.

***

Interesting and not badly written. I don’t truly feel a need to read on though, nothing has fully hooked me.

***

The voice seems strained. I’m not sure what age these people are and there are so many characters introduced that I’m overwhelmed. I like your idea.

***

Since I don't know what 'true dinks' means, this didn't have enough for me to move on. Why would someone be surprised? Is this a euthanasia beach? I don't understand what's going on. Why are people paying a lot of money to go to a free beach? Too many questions to keep me going.

***

The pov character, unnamed and then five more characters? Yowza. And then a lot of other heavy information besides that. Too much too soon. I wouldn't read on.

***

The image of a procession of wheelchairs struck me as funny. Not sure in the context of the rest of the 13 if it was supposed to.
I few things hung me up. *Not even half* half-way through the truth filter, or half of the information? Oh, and truth filter? *We* doesn’t cut it this early. Because you have a bunch of names coming up, might go with, me and the guys or me and my fishing buddies, just to give me an idea of the party.
Lastly, we have *pushed out to the foreshore*. The word pushed really piques my interested. What the heck pushed them? (Not being sarcastic.)

***

Twiggy, Jacob, Henry, Cane, a group of old people about to die, truth filters, and the beach. Quite a lot to shove into the first thirteen. More than works for me. Simplify. Is Scifi enough.

***

Good idea. The opening sentence doesn’t read sound to me, for some reason. This would have made my top three if the first sentence was more crisp.

***

Too many characters in the opening and cannot tell them apart except by name. Wheelchairs on sand blew the imagery as unbelievable.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #11

THE END OF THE LAST OF ME

If you had to choose between saving your son and averting WWI, which would you pick? Yeah, me too, and he never let me forget it.

“How could you leave me?” he asked, and pulled the trigger.
“I’m your son!” he yelled, and thrust the knife.
“I will hunt each of you down until I kill the original, the one who let my mother die,” he said, as my life faded.

He’d chased me throughout time, and now, hearing his heavy footfalls on the stairs leading to my hidden bunker, I’d witness him kill my last remaining copy.

I’ve seen the future bereft of that terrible war. Ripple effects negated the birth of WW2’s catalyst. Humanity was at peace, truly.

But Eric had other plans. If he found me, the true me, everything I’d done would be erased.

*****

I like this, I can see it making a good novel and I would read on. I like this idea a lot. Though again, it feels more like a blurb than an opening.

***

Confusing. There are too many ideas pushed together: war, peace, copies, time travel, a dead mother, a mad son. Slow down.

***

Interesting concept, but I find myself confused as to how the son is hunting the multiple versions of the narrator down if he didn't save him.

***

How many times do time travel stories center around the world wars or killing Hitler. Yet some still make it through. Intrigued by the seeming reversal of this one. I would definitely keep reading.

***

Prefer stories to begin with a scene versus back story.

***

Very good opening. The character is introduced. The antagonist is introduced. The problem is introduced. I'd settle in for a long story, though. It leaves us with an unanswered question which is good.

***

Title sounds like a good song title. Good voice, although I don't care for being addressed in the first sentence. I'm confused. Too confused to care. Wouldn't read on.

***

Was it his life that faded, or one of his copies? The 'world at peace' model just doesn't ring true. The dialog at the beginning is stilted and confusing. I would not read on.

***

Is this a beginning of a story or a collection of sound bites? Is this about WWI or WW2 to overcome a time travel saving a person or saving the world paradox?

***

Love the premise but the story and companion dialog reads off. I am wavering on this one.

***

I like time travel paradoxes. I have a twisted mind. I especially like stories where simple human selfishness screws up grandiose word saving plans. I'm a cynic I guess.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:07 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #12

COLOR ME BAD

Will braced himself as the shuttle exited orbit. Through the window the jagged landscape of Taron 7 came into view.

“You scared?” the little girl next to him asked.

“No,” Will lied. “You?”

“Yeah.”

He turned her way, and laughed a little. She was a Chamesquid. “I can tell,” he said, indicating her face, “You’re turning a little green.

“That’s why I’m so scared.” She smiled, her flesh darkening to match her rising fear. “Kids can be brutal. Imagine having all your emotions on display.”

Will turned back to the window. “Imagine being human.”

*****

Cute. I’d keep reading. Cut out the “a little” after he laughed. Maybe chuckle or something would convey your point better.

***

A guy going on a trip. I like the squid thing but there's nothing here to lead me into a story.

***

Good dialogue. I'm intrigued to know why these two are going to Taron 7 and why they're scared. This reminds me of a story just in the news of a young man who killed himself due to a condition of excessive blushing.

***

There is a bit of hidden information that is a little annoying in this – namely what being Will is and what that means. Knowing this will help me understand the last line. But it is still intriguing enough to keep me reading.

***

A nice opening. Nearly too self-contained. I'd probably keep reading on to see if this is interesting or if it's going to be a soporific.

***

First line is confusing. They're leaving orbit, but the planet is entering their view? Or do you mean they're entering the atmosphere? Also, this whole hook hinges on the idea that there's something about being human that isn't a favorable thing here, but since I don't have a sense of what that is it's not having the desired effect. I might read on a bit, but with trepidation.

***

Awful title, IMHO. Cute story, complete in thirteen lines. Scifi enough.

***

I liked this, written well, but I didn’t really get it. Plus, I’d like to know why she’s scared. The kids can be brutal line seems disjointed. Do kids make fun of her? What does that have to do with her leaving the planet? And how does being human compare to having your emotions literally displayed as skin colors? That might be a record for ethnocentrism. [Smile]

***

Nice. Subtle. Charming. A good combo. This has the making of a good story but as a hook? Hmmm, tough for a challenge like this.

***

Nice opening with simple dialog at the character age level. I would have like a little more imagery to fill between the dialogs.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:08 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #13

AMETHYST IN THE MOON

The day started out as a forget-the-past-and-marvel-at-how-good-life-is sort of morning. Sunlight glistened off the pool like millions of stars twinkling across the water. Victoria ran her toe across the water and smile at her three-year-old daughter.
“I think it’s time for us to take a dip, Ames,” Victoria said. “What do you say?”
Amethyst giggled. “Dippy in the pool.”
“First we have to blow up your water wings,” Victoria said. “Let’s see. Where did I—”
A whoosh stopped Victoria mid-sentence. She froze, except for her eyes scanning the sky and the bushes around their house. Three years on the run and Victoria had spent every day afraid that she would hear that sound again. The hiss was unmistakable. They had found her.

*****

Nice writing, particularly in the first paragraph. I had a little bit of a disconnect as to why they would have a house if they are on the run.

***

A fast start, but a little clumsy on the prose. You've made the mistake of her eyes darting about too. It hooks but only as long as it improves as it goes. I'd give it the benefit of the doubt if the writing was tightened and edited.

***

Smiled versus smile. “A whoosh stopped Victoria mid-sentence” just didn’t read right to me. It was a quiet piece, relaxing the then bamn, seemed jarring. I get that it was supposed to be, but my point is it felt forced.

***

This was great up until the last line. It set up a mother and child relationship that gives that touch of normalcy. The last paragraph creates tension that draws in. But we know that Victoria knows who is chasing her, yet we are given the unidentifiable “they” at the end. This is hidden knowledge, and doesn’t give us any idea what the threat represents.

***

This has potential, but as written didn't seem right to me. I can't put my finger on it. The whoosh didn't seem to be sinister enough or something. I have the feeling this is going to be a chase story, but I can't see the SF element.

***

To nitpick, anytime you start a story, watch your use of the word *the* and make sure it has an adjective before the noun. (OK, not every time, but just be careful is all I’m sayin.) *the pool* tells me nothing. Especially in sci-fi. The pool could be anywhere. Even a little grounding would help. The pool at their beach house. In this case, since their hiding, you might say underground pool or canopy covered pool. Something to hint to the reader what’s up.
I like that the daughter is three, and the MC has been on the run for three years. That tells a lot without “telling”. I wouldn’t mind, in the same vein as above, if you say who “they” are. The intergalactic police? The mob?

***

Need to describe the whoosh and the hiss, and her reaction to them. Overall, this feels a bit rushed, though I know you're trying to get the hook in the first thirteen. I would probably read on, but it'd better be exceptional or better paced to draw me in.

***

I like that the title is IN the moon instead of ON. Feels too quick, like you cut away to get to the hook, but skipped over all of the dread.

***

Nice setup of a mother and daughter at the pool and then setup for an on the run story. I would expect background of Victoria and who she is hiding from in the next few paragraphs as she packs up quickly.

***

There was an echo in the first paragraph. Small, but enough for me to knock this out of the running. Liked the title.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:08 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #14

GIVING LIFE

My whole career, all seventy-two years, I've waited for a military project. The prestige of it. The money.

The child looked up at me. Golden curls brushed against a chubby cheek, round hands reached for mine. Mechanical eyes twinkled. “Turn him off,” I said to FIO. Her head cocked abruptly, and then she blinked. I adjusted my tie, and shook off my leather shoes as the child slumped, all life energy fading. “Good girl.”

I broke out my kit, and rolled my chair next to the child’s dock. I lifted my paintbrush. A few more freckles across his nose. Robots perform tasks that humans won’t. For centuries now, people have designed robots to repair cars, test acid levels, even love the unlovable. This wasn’t anything different, I told myself, swallowing back my guilt. The overhead light made his cheeks glow.

*****

Nice entry. Good details. Strong emotional resonance. I would read on.

***

The first paragraph felt wrong with the rest of the story as if you didn’t trust the story to stand on its own. And it does.

***

I had to read this a couple times to get all the characters straight. Maybe instead of “The child looked up . . .” You could indicate that he’s a little boy. Then the reader wouldn’t confuse FIO with the robot child.

***

I like this. Interesting premise and I'm bursting to know what the child robot is for. I definitely read on.

***

Why feel guilty about creating a robot to order? This is both a hook and a putoff. Not a real putoff, but since we are hit directly with guilt (i.e. being told about it), my expectations are raised about the reason for the guilt. Unless the reason meets these heightened expectations, I am preparing for disappointment. Interesting risk, but not necessarily a bad risk.

***

I thought this too confusing. Is the MC a robot? I don't understand the tie straightening and especially the kicking off of the shoes. Does he/it paint with his feet? I just didn't have a clue what was going on. What did the military project have to do about anything. As far as this goes, it seems to need a lot of work. I wouldn't read on.

***

The boy, and then FIO – her, and then back to the boy was confusing in such a small space. I'd simplify, it doesn't seem like you need FIO in this scene. And 'this wasn't anything different' is a bit of withholding. If you told me I'd be more intrigued. There's promise here though. But for a robot kid story, I really hope it does something significantly different than the dozens that have come before it. I'd read on.

***

I’d start the story with the second paragraph. I’d weave that information in later. The child is a robot story is interesting and would like to see where the author takes it.

***

I like this one. Good voice and strong emotions. You just made this tough for me.

###

[ July 19, 2012, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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genevive42
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My story, Until They Come, Entry #8, and in a tie for 2nd place in this challenge, has been accepted by AE: The Canadian SF Review. Official announcement is in the appropriate forum.
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axeminister
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Contest Mojo!
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telflonmail
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Congratulations Trina!

I guess I'll get my wish [Big Grin] since my comment on your story was:

quote:
Nice opening with a mix of dialog and imagery. The interplay between Kindra and Mack is playful and I would read on.

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genevive42
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Until They Come is now live:

http://aescifi.ca/index.php/fiction/35-short-stories/1358-until-they-come

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History
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Mazel tov!
Beautifully written and presented.
The artwork is a plus.
Well on your way now!

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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rcmann
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Nicely done. Well drawn and executed.
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genevive42
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Thanks Dr. Bob and rcmann. Glad you liked it.
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