*Magnify*
SPONSORED LINKS
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/blackadder256
Review Requests: ON
224 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
Previous ... -1- 2 3 4 ... Next
1
1
Review of The Last Emperor  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Arthur's wife Catherine is found dead after the shock of her life: her work on the experiment to contact a revered but long-dead Emperor reaches him: in Hell.

What I liked:
This story involves a complete plot around the revelation of a particular piece of unwanted information: despite the nostalgia surrounding the Empire, its figurehead is beyond redemption. And, while the existence of Heaven is left to speculation, Hell is proven to be a very real place.

What might be improved:
I have a few gripes: the first scene is mostly focused on Gordon, seeing 5 years referred to as "all those years before" is a bit painful for a middle-aged man, and Catherine's death seems roughly as implausible as Padme Amidala's. But mostly I think it's important that the audience be able to invest in the emotional hook. As a reader, it's difficult care much about the Emperor's situation, the Empire, or even Catherine's: the reader doesn't know enough about them to care much about them. The reader knows a bit more about Arthur and his attachment to Catherine, but that's not quite enough leverage to give the story an emotional impact. The reality of Hell might be shocking to a reader - but less so given how widely Hell is used as a metaphor and how speculative and varied descriptions of it are. The story as described is mostly centered around the emotional impact of the plot twist, so more is needed to hook the reader enough to make it pay off.


Thanks for bringing this story by the cantina! This is the strongest entry this month and so takes the prize!
2
2
Review of Once a NewsFinder  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
A NewsFinder who is totally not Gallanta Bavan (at least not today) solves a murder mystery while preparing for a heist.


Thanks for bringing your story to BlackAdder's Cantina!

What I liked:
You have the bones of a good plot here and the style you're reaching for is a good one with which to tell it. That is, you appear to try to use short, choppy sentences from a supremely confident narrator as a means of drawing the reader in, and I think this is a good choice.

What might be improved:
Unfortunately, the word choice, sentence structure, use of pronouns, a few grammatical errors, and the lack of description of the setting make this story difficult to read or visualize.

If could offer one piece of advice about the writing, it would be this: it is better to describe matters explicitly than implicitly through pronouns. For example:
"That isn’t what I’m doing there, though. I’m going there to see something that I would like to take if I can do it. I know that I can’t. but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take a look at it."

Could be:
"I'm not here to cover the Empire's latest conquests, though. No, there's a certain item that has caught my eye and is begging for a new owner: me. Taking it would be impossible, of course. Absolutely impossible. But nothing piques my curiosity like the impossible."

My advice is to take one of your stories and subject it to multiple edits, improving the description each time. You may find yourself amazed at what you can bring out of your writing if you focus on improving one thing at a time! This kind of effort is one of the things subjecting one of us lesser mortals from a Patrick Rothfuss (and, unfortunately, keeps him from finishing his books).


Thanks again for the entry, and good luck in your future writing!
3
3
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, thanks for considering me when asking for a review!

I enjoyed the tone of your writing, and it's always nice to read a piece that is grammatically clean. You also have some really nice descriptions in your writing. It's too soon to see how Kacey's character develops, but I see quite a bit of opportunity there - You tell us what she's done without long descriptions about who she is, but your language is colorful enough to give the reader a picture.

However, I have two suggestions:
1. Avoid Information dumps
This is one of the more common writing mistakes and one I frequently fall prey to. What separates an information dump from a good narrative description is a little hard to define, especially for storied written in the third person omniscient perspective. However, it is best to avoid explanations of what you describe, such as "Buttercup had what was called Tobiano markings, which meant a large spot of white covering her left shoulder and ended right above her stomach." Your reader may not know what Tabiano markings are - I didn't. Unfortunately, you're probably going to have either leave the reader to look it up, describe the markings without giving the term, or give Kacey someone to talk to besides a horse that also needs the explanation.
I've also heard long narratives about things that a character already knows referred to as information dumps: most modern writing focuses on only painting a brief description of a scene, dribbling it out slowly as characters interact with it.

2. You never get a second chance at a first impression
Several years back, I began writing my first book. With perseverance, I completed the 130K word fantasy novel and placed it online, on a site that allowed me to see how many people read each chapter. My first chapter was mostly similar in tone to yours and served to introduce one of the main characters before everything started to go wrong. Fewer than 1 in 100 readers who were not friends or family read past that first chapter - the ones who did mostly had good things to say about the overall story, but almost all of them complained about the slow start. Attention spans for reading are shorter than they have ever been: if you don't hook the reader with the first chapter, you won't get another chance. And what mostly hooks people is a sense of conflict. It is common advice to begin a story "In Media Res" (In the Middle of Things). You do not have to do this, but you will want to give a reader a sense of tension or progression. By the end of the chapter, the reader should be unsatisfied: there should be something they want to find out. This chapter is idyllic: it's a description of a stable owner in bliss, enjoying her horses. It's pleasant, but a reader can exit the story here without feeling they're missing anything. You can't let them off that easily!

That said, I know some equine lover is going to going to pick this up, wanting to hear more about the horses, and be devastated when the conflict strikes such sympathetic characters. Good look telling your story and reaching your audience!







*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
The narrator arranges to not just meet but join the crew of the famous Black Jack.

Thanks for your foray into BlackAdder's Cantina!

What I liked:
This is an original story with a creative plot, and you employ multiple devices (word choice, tone, pacing, attempts at using a pirate dialect) to build engagement with the audience and add energy to your storytelling.

What Might Be Improved:
1. This story doesn't quite follow the prompt: "Tell us about your encounters with the Law."
2. In the short span of 2000 words, you have Black Jack tell a shorter version of his story before launching into the longer one. This somewhat steals the thunder of the longer piece and gives up efficiency.
3. The frame story about staging a fight to meet the pirate is also a bit wordy. This story has a number of layers, each of them colorful but thin.
4. Black Jack's narrative about the mutiny of the ship is really the core of the story. Unfortunately, it's the part of story with the weakest pacing and dramatic buildup. It badly needs to progress towards a dramatic climax and resolve it, though that is difficult to do with a frame tale.
5. Overall, I think this is a great first draft, but my advice when planning and editing a story is to do fewer things more thoroughly

Thanks for your entry in the BlackAdder's Cantina! Hope to see you later for another round!


5
5
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Gallanta Bavan is a rogue and smuggler made good, now helping the Law.

Thanks for dropping by BlackAdder's Cantina!

What I liked:
You correctly followed the prompt and came up with a plausible and interesting story about the smuggler from Kallim.

What Might be Improved:
Your writing continues to improve, but there's still room to grow. I suggest focusing on the minute details of the writing craft: character description, scene description, word choice, story structure, and so on. Jumping around between the character's abilities as an expat from Kallim, his capture, and one of his new missions doesn't quite allow you to do any of them justice within the word limit.

Thanks for swinging by the Cantina and sharing your story!
6
6
Review of In the margins  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
The narrator and Caruba risk their lives to escape Harn and make new lives.

Thanks for your foray in the BlackAdder's Cantina!

What I liked:
You chose a first-person smuggling story, after the example given. This is a full story with few grammatical error, with a solid story structure and clear progression passing from beginning to end. It paints the story of a hardscrabble future where smuggling makes sense, and where the main character can take part in lawbreaking while remaining a sympathetic character. You involve 4 characters with their own roles, and their goals are important to the plot.

What Might Be Improved:
1. The prompt asked you to "Tell us about your encounters with the Law." As in the example story, the main character is a smuggler who breaks the law... but does not actually "encounter the Law."
2. Your story involves 4 characters and minimal dialogue or character interaction. Each character is one dimensional and only your main character is dynamic.
3. All of your paragraphs are short, with short sentences. A little more length and variation in length might make your paragraphs flow better: your writing here is a little choppy
4. I've have been accused of "white room syndrome," offering too little description. This seems to be acceptable in some published genre science fiction and is difficult to add in stories this short, but might help improve your writing.
5. You share two subplots: the narrator's escape and path to self-sufficiency as well as revenge for Caruba's fate. It's difficult to fit both cleanly in the length limit and also do justice to the necessary story-telling. I'm not certain you made the right choice between them.

Thanks for stopping by BlackAdder's Cantina: this round of drink's is yours!
7
7
Review of Cupid's Puzzle  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Well-written, with a satisfying progression!
8
8
Review of Cupid's Kiss  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Schmel's dastardly schemes deserve a good double-cross, and Jarf is willing to deliver - in the name of his own evil conquest.

What I liked:
This was clever, creative, and nasty - a guilty pleasure, so to speak. Written with a sensuous flourish.


What Might be Improved:
I think you hit what you aimed for, here. I'm not usually a big fan of rooting for the bad guys, and the revenge was quite straightforward. I suppose I was looking for something a little more cerebral for the contest win - but this story does well what it intends.
9
9
Review of Love Trips  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
Love Trips and Units!


What I liked:
You clearly have put some thought into the world and economy that makes Love Trips valuable.

What Might Be Improved:
I can't say I really connected with this story. I didn't quite get what was supposed to be the hook, so I was a bit lost here. That made this one a bit hard to rate.

Thanks again for Your Entry into the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!
10
10
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
A people from the planet Madion return to their home to find humans living on a devastated planet.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
This is a creative take on the contest prompt. Those returning to their planet have an opportunity to judge humans harshly for their invasion and for the fate of their planet, but instead discover the humans are innocent and find they can be good neighbors.

What Might Be Improved:
The writing in this piece is a bit awkward: the dialogue is a bit on the nose, and it's difficult to keep track of who the characters are and what is unique about them, and where the action is taking place. Also, while it's grammatically correct to write a story in the present tense, there's a reason it's seldom done: it tends not to read as well as a story written in the past tense. The difficulty I had in visualizing and placing the characters was compounded by the changes in perspective and timing. This is a good and creative concept, but the story-telling is a bit rocky. Telling stories is a very difficult art - one I have not come close to mastering. Keep up the good practice!


Thanks again for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!
11
11
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Enoch returns to Earth after thousands of years (fifty years in subjective time) to discover an Earth that had mostly recovered, though its people were diminished, after the Great Flood.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
The idea of people returning to Earth after a great disaster thousands of years ago is a good one, just the kind the Science Fiction Short Story Contest was fishing for! Attention was paid to resolve a young earth creationist narrative with a millennia-spanning science fiction story. Using dialogue between Enoch and his crew members to move the plot is a good device to create the illusion of progression in a vignette where no actions are taken: the implicit irony of juxtaposing the travelers' perspectives with those familiar to the audience (mostly earthlings) and reconciling it with a biblical narrative seems to provide the thrust of the piece.

What Might Be Improved:
This story is mostly an information dump about Earth's history as interpreted by people who left Earth thousands of years ago: it's difficult to make a truly poignant work of a backstory, however interesting its concept. Neither Enoch nor his shipmates are well-developed characters but simply narrators for history. The summaries they provided one another seemed a bit on the nose given the wonder of discovering long-lost brethren on one's ancestral planet. I found it strange that Enoch and his crew had the technology to travel between stars as well as possessing superior translation and computation capabilities, but did not plan for the time dilation effect associated with relativistic speeds.
As I am being reminded in reviews of my own work, good short stories are typically built out of the perspectives offered by well-developed characters and the conflicts they endure. The creative concepts you employ could be the backdrop for a compelling narrative Enoch experiences.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!
12
12
Review of Nothing But Ice  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Diance and Windim crash into the ice planet of SaTuon, and are left for dead with limited supplies. That's when the situation begins to worsen...


Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
The ice planet SaTuon is a worthy exploration of this month's prompt, Ice. The slow discovery of the depth of the expedition's troubles is a classic source of conflict for a science fiction story, and the twist at the end adds to it.


What Might Be Improved:
I won't repeat my stylistic critique from previous entries, but most of the concerns I raise in those are evident here. While the progression and stakes of the story is clear, the ending is not. The way this particular cliff-hanger is presented also undermines the central conflict somewhat: the reader's hopes for the sake of the ship are not raised very high - their situation seems like it might be a lost cause, but it's not entirely clear yet that no solution is possible, leaving the story feeling somewhat unfinished.


Thanks for your entry in this month's Science Fiction Short Story Contest, and congratulations on winning this month's prize!

13
13
Review of Future Robots  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Moore visits his Russian colleague to see how the country has so suddenly leapfrogged Canada's efforts, only to discover Russia's AIs aren't as artificial as they appear.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
This story posed a creative answer to the question of the future of AI: one in which human minds continue to eclipse their creations. It touches on the questions of what it means to be intelligent and what it means to be human, placing the unraveling of the question at the center of the story's conflict. While the worldbuilding is solid, the story is immersive: it tells in real-time how Moore discovers what he's competing with through wry narrative and sarcastic dialogue.

What Might Be Improved:
This is a story built on unraveling a mystery. The puzzle is resolved with a single twist, and then the story ends, mostly without consequence. A lack of stakes weakens the hook in an otherwise promising story.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest! And Congratulations on winning November's Contest!
14
14
Review of Fhalinit  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Malicant lays a trap for the Metal Individuals that seek to destroy the last free community on Hastan: his Fhalint.


Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
The plot here is simple, solid, and straightforward, with irony punctuating the conflict: Metal Individuals pretending to be Young Ones are lulled into believing they have penetrated the Fhalint, but Malicant is two steps ahead of them. The plot is a solid response to the contest prompt, providing a bittersweet element of hope in an otherwise dystopian future. The piece is grammatically solid and the pacing is appropriate for the length of the story.


What Might Be Improved
The dialogue here is on the nose, Capitalization is used in lieu of imaginative jargon or clever descriptions, and most of the characterization and conflict are provided by the worldbuilding: this story comes close to being an information dump. Work on those elements of effective writing and your stories will have some oomph behind them!

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest - looking forward to reading your next entry!
15
15
Review of Solomon's Country  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Solomon discovers that a secret class of human beings, not the Singularity, run the world - a false God that he comes to regret serving.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
The World-building in "Solomon's Country" is clever and detailed, placing a twist on the modern fear of and reverence for the Singularity. In the future world Solomon inhabits, the Singularity never arrives: AI continues to lack the flexibility, creativity, and adaptability of humans. This does not prevent an unscrupulous upper class from building a dystopia based on the fiction of AI overlords, leading to a eugenic society reminiscent of Aldous Huxley's fevered dreams. The dialogue and descriptions are clear and readable. This takes a serious crack at a challenging contest prompt.


What Might Be Improved:
The worldbuilding in this piece is taking on the role of setting, plot, character, and conflict: that is, the story is an information dump, Solomon's faith experience notwithstanding. The twist at the end is a little confusing too: Solomon's epiphany is left vague. If Solomon experiences a revelation of God, his actions make sense because the world has betrayed that God. However, in the absence of specifics, it very much sounds as if Solomon has imagined or invented a Higher Power rather than discovering one: belief in it comes across as rather less noble or even sane under those conditions. It's possible as an author to make a religious experience seem ambiguous and yet powerful, but only by describing it in far more concrete and immersive terms. There are some good elements here, but it seems the attempt at worldbuilding has eclipsed the story.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest! While this is not my favorite of your stories, you have some interesting work here and I'm looking forward to your next story!
16
16
Review of A Time Too Far  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Lash learns that multiple colonies have disappeared, and he is invited to join the investigation team.

What I liked:
The world-building is strong with this one, and missing colonies (separated by enough time lag that no information is possible for sending an expedition) is a great hook. Your writing is grammatically and stylistically clean, making this an easy read, and you've followed the prompt. Well done!

What might be improved:
The opening is a bit dry. While a longer story can sometimes get away with the kind of information dump about Lash's past, I have discovered that modern writers can seldom afford to assume the reader will buy the book (and therefore commit to it) before reading the first chapter or two. Without more reason to identify with Lash or his situation, the reader is likely to find the initial amount of information not specifically related to the moment off-putting. An introduction that dropped Lash's backstory and re-factored the rest around a second emotional hook (possibly something to do with Lash's relationship or similar experiences) would be briefer and more compelling, giving more chance to set up a mini-conflict that foreshadows the action to come. Whatever style a story opens with, that's what a reader will expect for the rest.

I've written expositions that look a lot like this, and like your content here I thought mine was interesting. Unfortunately, in my case, I wrote the whole book before discovering why readers were reluctant to read past the second chapter!

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest and I'm looking forward to reading your next story!
17
17
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
After a strange event in her youth, Shkiana lives her life in fear of storms. But after a crash strands her on Konnus, she discovers hints of a deeper mystery.

What I liked:
This is a well-developed story that properly executes the story's prompt, with its final sentences leaving me guessing as to the nature of the story to come. The grammar is good, the progression is good, and the protagonist is an interesting character. Well done!

What be improved:
It is a convention of English writing before the early 20th century or so to use capitalization as a way to emphasize words. This, however, is not done in modern English. The first word in a sentence is capitalized and proper nouns (the names of people, countries, cities, etc.) are capitalized. Words like researchers are not capitalized. You could argue that "The Gathering Storm" should be capitalized because it is a proper noun, the official name of a unique event. But generally, it is not correct to capitalize nouns for emphasis or to make them sound more official. You have submitted at least half a dozen stories where you do this. Please do not - this separates your stories from every other one that I have read that was written in the past century, and not in a positive way!

Additionally, it is good practice to vary your word choice, especially within dialog. Much of your writing can be described as "on the nose." Please consider reading up on how to avoid this error. Your stories are creative - if you can overcome this limitation, they will become several times more compelling. Consider investing in the skills described here:
https://screencraft.org/2018/12/30/how-to-avoid-wr...

With these caveats, your story best fit the criteria described by the prompt, introducing a problem and teasing the reader into wanting to know more. Congratulations, you are the Winer of the September SCience Fiction Short Story Contest!
18
18
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Teryl is split between the responsibilities of his new position as a station security chief and those as a husband. Trying vainly to fulfill both, he winds up fulfilling neither - and paying the price.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
This is is an original scenario carefully crafted for the contest prompt to fit within the length constraints. Teryl's laconic personality is depicted with sufficient clarity and plausibility to make for uncomfortable reading: fitting, as it constitutes the motivating tragic flaw. This story has a clear conflict, a sense of progression, and clear character roles. Within the constraints of space, this is a skillful execution of a powerful concept. Well done!

What might be improved:
The contest prompt included two elements. The first was "the gathering storm," where the storm could be either physical or metaphorical. The second element, following up on the concept of the metaphorical storm, was that the story pose a lead-in into something larger: "Fully developed plots are allowed, but this month the contest goes to the one who leaves me wanting to know more!"

This plot feels complete. While I could imagine this story being the first chapter in a larger book about the challenges faced by a colony on Tremulous 3, there is no foreshadowing of that kind of thing - this story does not, by itself, leave me wanting more. For that reason and that reason alone, I don't feel comfortable making this story the contest winner, though it is otherwise the best story.

That said, I will admit cringing a bit at Teryl and Jenneth's relationship. While I like this piece (and like it more after multiple readings), I don't always connect with a story where I'm tempted to dislike all the characters! This is perhaps better understood as a flaw in the reader and not the story, but I share the observation in the hope that you find it useful.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest and for a great story!
19
19
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Mack and Alice have the ability to steer all the world's weather at their fingertips. But what happens when the wheels come off?

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
I really like your primary concept of seemingly tamed weather being unleashed and the flavor of your word choices. While your characters might be more distinct in this story, they're painted in color. A reader is likely to enjoy seeing them and to be curious about what they're going to do and why.

What might be improved:
Unfortunately, reading this work left me confused. Some confusions were small, such as what this line meant:
"It took both operators matched numb fingered pattern playing over the control boards to kill the system and turn it on again."

Others were greater, such as how the title was intended to fit the story (it seems drawn from non sequitur near the end of the piece), what kind of building the main characters were located in, why a tech museum might have more control over the weather controllers than a single jammed button-based interface within a corporate setting, or why the latter interface made any sense at all given the complexity of closely maintaining weather patterns. Even more confusing was how quickly the weather patterns seemed to change - taking minutes rather than days or months to unwind. I had a bit of trouble figuring out what went wrong, exactly, and whether it was intentional on anyone's part: I think in this I was misled by the blurb: "It was boring controlling the weather. The authorities planned a little excitement."

In the end, I think I've pieced together most of what was intended here, but it feels a bit like having a joke explained. Some parts, like any interaction between the indoor air conditioning maintenance and the causes of the overall weather failure, still remain vague to me. These confusions, unfortunately, spoiled for me the lead-in into fears about the longer-term consequences of the event. I'd suggest that the moment when things go wrong ought to be clear and obvious, but when I read about protesters getting buried in the snow, I realized I'd missed the show. And I rather wish I hadn't missed the event!

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest! It's a pleasure to read your story, even if I seem to have a hard time reviewing anything lately!
20
20
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
When Anna is a personal witness to a natural disaster of epic proportions, she is forced to turn to an old flame - one who years ago turned his back on the environmental causes she had given her life to.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
You include a well-developed plot with characters that have distinct motivations and interact believably based on those motivations. With many stories of rekindled romance, either it's difficult to credit that the lovers had good reasons to break up or else that those reasons might be resolved - you successfully managed both aspects. You were able to incorporate the contest plot element, "The Gathering Storm" in a creative way. Additionally, you incorporated multiple scientific elements into your story in a way that resolved both the main plot and the character subplot with an ironic twist. Well done!

What Might Be Improved
While I've never heard of such a thing, the idea that underwater volcanoes could affect storm generation is plausible, even if the particulars seem exaggerated. It did more than strain my sense of credibility that the described event could cause winds reaching the speed of sound - an underwater supervolcano could cover much of the earth in ash, destroy sea life over vast swaths of the ocean, cool the earth, and unleash Tsunamis that could destroy cities and bury island nations. But probably not generate earth-killing storms. The idea that an underwater nuclear explosion would solve even the problem with the storm rather than worsen it is even harder to swallow. On the other hand, movies have been made of less-probable scenarios. I mostly prefer harder science fiction, ala The Expanse, but that is a matter of taste.

Another complaint relating to taste is in response to the following: "Anna flew into his arms suddenly feeling very feminine and vulnerable and grateful to see him take charge." This seems a cliche unlikely to land well outside of certain subgenres, and so I would advise to show and not tell Anna's internal motivations.

Finally, while I enjoyed the story, I had intended for the winning entry for this month's contest to be with the best lead-in into a larger story - this entry is properly self-contained. I had also intended the "Gathering Storm" to be more metaphorical than literal, but every contestant went with the latter interpretation, and in hindsight, I cannot blame any of them.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Contest and an enjoyable read!




21
21
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
The galaxy traveling sleepers awaken too soon and awaken alone.


Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked
This is a solid concept in line with the plot: travelers heading for a distant star are forced to cut their trip short and face at best an uncertain future - if they survive the violence that appears to be coming their way.


What Might Be Improved
Most of the weaknesses of this story are stylistic. From the on-the-nose naming of the "Frozen In Time Tube" and "SpaceRocks" to the somewhat wooden narrative and dialogue, there is an opportunity to improve the storytelling. You can vary the word choice a bit, use more complicated sentences, or have the characters talk past each other and show more emotional range. However, the basic concept, conflict, and progression of the story are solid and the grammar is good - making this a pretty decent read in most respects.


Thanks for your entry yin the Science Fiction Short Story Contest! I enjoyed the story and it's nice to see your writing improve over time!
22
22
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
In order to get a date with a girl, Jonas sneaks into a launch to the international space station - and happens to foil terrorists along the way.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
This story reads cleanly and is well-edited, making it an easy and pleasant read. A lot of good ideas are ruined by poor execution, but your execution is solid. This story has a simple hook and is well-structured, with a clear progression toward a climax, with a payoff at the end that is perfectly appropriate to the story. Well done!

What Might Be Improved:
Unfortunately, I get the sense that Izzie's problem with Jonas isn't a matter of high standards or social pressure not to date him: her embarrassment at the end seems to indicate that she really doesn't like Jonas. This is a point with some ambiguity, but I think it needs to be clarified. If Izzie kind of likes Jonas but wants him to prove he's committed enough to take a chance on, I can see Jonas taking steps to prove himself - a reader is tempted in that case to root for the potential couple to get over the circumstances keeping them apart. On the other hand, if Izzie's challenge is simply a passive-aggressive way to tell Jonas to drop dead, then Jonas's determination takes on a far more negative aspect, with domination and revenge being potential motivations. Partially depending on he and Izzie's intentions, Jonas's willingness to break the law and his father's support for the prospect can be either comical and over-the-top - or else creepy and not a little insane. If you are going for creepy, a more negative tone and some use of perspective will help make explicit the element of horror. If you're going for a love story, you'll probably want to give Jonas some more hints that Izzie's challenge is part of a larger picture involving more mixed signals, to get rid of the creepiness.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest, and for an interesting read.


23
23
Review of Being Human  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Beth joins a trip to space in order to be near the aptly named Chad, only to discover that the alien Neutorian offers far better company and makes a far better friend.

What I liked:
It's always pleasant to read a fresh story that both adheres to the contest prompt and offers a strong plot, theme, and characters. It's also nice to see a bit of romance and humor thrown in: adding a new dimension to a story is usually a good way to strengthen it. The story's tone, theme, and language are consistent and further the plot. Well done!

What Might Be Improved:
This is a difficult story to critique: it seems as if Beth's reaction to Chad is slightly over the top, while both the redirection of her attention to Neutorian and Cornelia's behavior initially seem cliche. However, the fact that Neutorian is not human does add a new dimension to the obvious questions: is he just a friend (as almost all the story suggests) or does the oddly sensual last line of the story imply a more physical interest? This brings up the question of how Beth knows exactly how her friend prefers his tentacles massaged. Leaving aside the complexities of certain questions regarding interspecies relationships, the existence of a more complex history makes it unclear whether Platonic friendship is being compared to relationships of lust or whether Beth's betrayal of her friend is deeper than it initially appears. For various reasons, I wasn't quite sure what to do with this one.

Thanks for your Entry In the Science Fiction Short Story Contest! This one was well-written and fascinating - thanks for bringing it to the Contest!

24
24
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Marvin reflects helplessly on the ongoing terrorist attack as he works to escape it: the triggering of the enormous but long-dormant Martian volcano, Mons Olympus.

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest!

What I liked:
You took on both the contest theme (explosions) and mimicked the theme of the story example without reusing it: while making use of the story prompt is unnecessary, it's nice to see. The story had a clear setup and progression, foreshadowing, and substantial stakes. Your technical world-building was strong in this entry: the reader can gain a clear sense of what's going on, how, why, and why catastrophic consequences are on the way. The story reads cleanly, and the reader has a reason to care.


What Might be Improved:
There are a few minor grammatical errors, such as a missed quotation mark and incorrect quotation of italicized text. However, the main weakness of the story is that it invests too much in technical setup and not enough in the protagonist's interaction with events. Worse, while the protagonist likely understands something of the "Martian Human Extinction Rebellion" and its motivations, the reader does not - it's unclear why the terrorists would do such a thing.


Summary:
Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest! The depth and complexity of the world-building and use of science give it the edge over this month's strong competition!
25
25
Review of Sky Explosions  
Review by BlackAdder
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Nonic and his people pretend to let their "Sky Explosions creation buildings" be lost to the humans, only to set a trap for the following "Attack Ships."

Thanks for your entry in the Science Fiction Short Story Contest:

What I liked:
This work sets up a powerful plot twist, reversing the sense of mystery built up throughout the story into just vengeance.

What Might Be Improved:
A little more variety in and complexity style would make this story stronger, especially regarding the use of simple capitalized words as technical terms. Additionally, while the plot twist is really good, a bit of a clue dropped earlier in the story would be even better: nothing is better in a mystery than discovering that you've missed a clue to a plot twist!

Thanks for you entryin the Science Ficiton Short Story Contest and welcome back!
91 Reviews · *Magnify*
Page of 4 · 25 per page   < >
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/blackadder256