|Hi rugal b.
I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest" . Thanks for entering!
Okay, so there’s a novel sitting behind this, right? If there’s not, there should be. You’ve got a whole world (two worlds, really) here that intrigue the heck out of me; there has got to be more to read!
I don’t read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy type stories so I never saw the ending coming, even though you hinted it right at the outset with Memories and Nostalgia in capitals. When I read it a second time I had a lot of questions – not the least being in how does Jen actually get to Winterbank? There seems to be various possible ways and means and it adds to the ‘what’s going on?’ and ‘am I sane?’ sort of feelings. Jen definitely feels something’s not right and I think you’ve done a great job of showing her as ‘I know what’s going on’ and then moments of pure ‘what the heck’s going on here?’ The Maxluxe case that she tries to remind Gig(i) about sounds incredibly interesting, and adds to the whole ‘playing with the brain’ theme.
When all is said and done, it really just could be some impressive drug taking. With Nostalgia capitalised and an explanation for Winterbank/Snowglobe forthcoming it’s definitely clear there are drugs/mind-control things taking place. Voluntarily too. Imagine if that was real-life? I’d think half the world would make that choice!
I mentioned above the wish for a novel or at least something longer. It’s not a crazy wish. The tiny glimpse of a backstory (the Maxluxe episode, Jen’s rough upbringing, Gig’s inadequacies) tell us there’s a whole world we want to explore. The same goes for the Snowglobe itself. An AI runs that, but who looks after the frozen people? How do they come out of this frozen state? Do they remember everything? There’s so much more for a reader to see, if you’d only let us. That, to me, is pretty good story-telling – making the reader want more has to be our goal.
It’s easy to see how the picture prompt of the white and quiet street inspired the story. Gave it a bit of a sinister feeling, actually, at the outset but eased into comfy feelings (even if those feelings weren’t quite real). The name of the town and the Snowglobe itself also speak of the picture prompt so I think you did a good job of making it a strong part of the story. (Though, honestly, if I was building a place to go when my brain couldn’t cope anywhere, there’d be no snow in sight .)
The final words of the story are, I think, the strongest. Of course, they make us think of the saying ‘home is where the heart is’ and that rings true too. Home could be crappy or cold or many things, but it’s still home. I think Gig might have some different feelings about that, but she’s got a very good friend and partner at her side to help her out. Home and friendship. Two very fine things to go to hell and back for.
Things to Work on
This is a fascinating story that deserves to be read, but readers just aren’t going to find it when you use Contest Entry and Other for your genres. Now, Contest Entry is, I think, a good one to use when you’re writing for a contest (especially if you don’t mention it specifically at the end of the story itself). It warns the reader that you had limitations – word count, prompt etc. (This makes it good for reviewers too.) Other makes it feel like you had no idea what you were writing or, worse, didn’t care. This is a great story!!! Help it out. Sci-fi, Supernatural, Dark, Crime, Friendship, Emotion….. any of these would be better than Other and all fit in some way with the story. Goodness, sorry, that was rather a rant.
I heard a voice. – Nothing actually wrong with this sentence in its own right, but it feels a bit superfluous. We know the character heard the voice because the speech is right there beforehand. I turned tells us the character heard the voice too so we don’t need that opening sentence, if that makes sense. A bit further down, we’ve got this again when her friend calls her name.
So what brings to Winterbank? – I think ‘you’ should be after ‘brings’?
Yeah, he Nostalgia was really hitting me. – ‘the’ not ‘he’. And at the end of the paragraph that includes this you’ve got as he grasped his proffered hand and shook. I’m presuming it should be ‘as I’?
…simple evening at home | A nice breakfast.. – I think Gigi is just mentioning two different types of nostalgic events but because they butt up against either other it reads as if she’s mixed herself up and that ‘breakfast’ should be ‘dinner’. If it’s the former, perhaps add in something like Or like a nice breakfast… to make things fully clear.
Needles to say… – I actually like ‘needles’ here but that’s obviously not what you were aiming for
…those who feel like the can’t take Neopolis… – ‘they’ not ‘the’
Is the narrator’s friend Gig or Gin?
Right, so, I think the proofreading was a trifle lax (see the red bits above) but the story hugely made up for that. I really enjoyed it and the ideas/worlds behind it. When I say I’d like to see more, I mean it. One part of that is seeing Jen and Gig’s lives before this – their childhoods, their education, their jobs etc; how they got to be where they were before Gig’s ‘breakdown’.
Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest" . If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.