Print Story spiked
By 2 plus 3 equals 5 (Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 06:14:32 AM EST) (all tags)
The winner post-mortems.

Most people commenting said the story either ended badly, or seemed part of something bigger. I agree with both. It's a short story about a minor character in a larger novel that's been brewing in the back of my head for a few months.  I won't bore you with the novel's premise, but it started with one line in my head from the character Robert Benjamin: "These are the wrong shoes to do magic."

toxicfur said: This one was a nice story -- a little too nice, I guess. It also felt like the beginning of a much larger fantasy work, rather than a 2500ish word short story.

Sherry is a nice guy, if painfully shy in a way that's covered up by his preppy upbringing. He knows how to fake it, but in 2500 words I didn't have time to set that up better.

ana said: Cool creation of a whole world, and an interesting character or two, in just a couple thousand words. The bit about wandering through different dimensions as you turn corners in a city crackles like lightning about to strike.

Thanks. It's hard to pull off. In the opening chapter of the novel, reality shifts around Sherry's boss three times, and Robert Benjamin changes from the wizard in this story to an IT guy with no magical ability.

Gevondur said: Good dialog and good characterization.  The flow of the story was easy, with the exception of the name Sherry and Sherwood.  I never got if the protagonist was a man or a woman.  Not that it matters to the outcome of the story, just a little weave to the outside.

The last sentence of the first paragraph refers to Sherry as "he." I didn't pick the name. He came into my head with it.

Gevondur also said: The story leads us on a small journey in a magical world where magicians, math, science and parallel universes are all dealt with.  It was a fascinating glimpse into a new world.  I have to say to the Author, that the world concept behind Spike has legs.  Flesh it out and run with it.

Thanks again. The novel is my next major project. I'm going to have to be careful not to over-Moorcock it, since his Jerry Cornelius books do a lot of parallel universe shifting, but it isn't always easy to follow or figure out why he bothered.  Then again, Moorcock may have been writing on amphetamines to fulfil a contract, and didn't care if it made sense.

Blue Oregon said: Dump the pop-culture references (see: Hogwarts). In any case, it's Harry Potter meets Jasper Fforde. Hyphens-as-m-dashes make me cry. "I should have been cheesy" should be "It should have been cheesy." Stories with spikes need vampires, and this one doesn't have them. At least it came in under the word count. Barely.

Yes, there's a typo, and yes, I chose to use hyphens-as-m-dashes to make sure there was inter-platform operability and none of the question marks you decry in other submissions. Vampires may be in one of the other parallels, but probably not because of the fiction exclusion rule, which is sort of like Plank's constant for this world. I have a hard time writing very short stories, and had to go back and trim to make the word count. I like the exercise of doing so. In fact, I find it fun.

Blue Oregon also said: The "conclusion" just seems like a way to wrap it up (close on the word count) with passing attention given to making it "meaningful." The spike works as a Magical Plot Device. It makes the main character feel confident or with purpose until Bob/Robert is found, and then it doesn't. So then it is contemplated, and then Bob pontificates about "finding your own." How therapeutic. Otherwise the math-plus-'magic'-plus-whatever epistemology and ontology shows promise. There is some playfulness in/to the system, but the ending ruins it for me.

Some truisms are true. No one can practice your scales for you if you actually want to learn to play the instrument. If this short intersection with the novel's world were a novel of its own, we'd get more of the system presented through the lens of Sherry learning it. Yes, I ended it because it was time to stop, like the natural break point of a chapter. I'm not so good at short fiction, Egg being an exception, and I enjoy the challenge of putting myself through the exercise of telling something with a beginning, middle and end, all within the word count. It's fun.

Kellnerin said: "Information architecture" is peripherally part of my job description, and man do I want to do that kind of info arch. If I had to quibble, I'd say the dialogue felt a little flat, exposition-y, but the description itself was excellent.

I want to do that kind of info-arch, too. Some of the dialog felt like writing for a Sci-Fi TV show, where they have a lot of exposition technobabble.  Glad you liked it, but I'm surprised you didn't guess me for it.

yicky-yacky said: Tantalising. Very tantalising. In some respects this was the best of the bunch, particularly the way that it handled its exposition. The start was superb, with elements, motivations and reasons flowing nicely into each other to develop a rolling sense of momentum. And where did that momentum drag us? Back down the 'Fantasy/Sci-Fi' aisle, unfortunately. Similar to 'Connecting Trains', it felt cropped rather than compressed. It had its moments, though; definitely.

It was cropped, all right. The challenge is to write things that aren't standard Fantasy/Sci-Fi, but aren't set in the here-and-now or historical context. In the longer shape of the novel's world, items like the spike become what they are through metamathematics. If I wrote the novel about Sherry, he'd learn that the spike itself never had "power," except that Benjamin had left it as a variable, and it had a concrete value after it was back in his hands. No magic wands, and no vampires. Sherry simply has the aptitude for the work, like some people do for programming.

druisan said: It sounds like this is probably a good story. I voted for it, but I don't think I'll read it. I don't want to disillusion myself.

I'm sure you would have liked one or two lines, but been unsatisfied.

scrymarch asked: What's the product of a meme and an anti-hero, integrated over the exchange of ideas in an internet chat room?

That line seemed to amuse people, although the actual quantifiable amount of ideas in a chat room aren't that high.

And it will be up to me to host WFC8, which I expect I will do after the NaNo crowd has recovered. It will be writing. It should be fun. I'll try to make it a challenge.

< Sicky | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
spiked | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Thanks by ana (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 06:22:24 AM EST
for participating, and for talking through the critters' remarks. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, so I'll probably write something for the next one. Post-November sounds like a good time frame.

Power up your flaming yo-yos already! --StackyMcRacky

Thanks for hosting by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 12:13:34 PM EST
And let's be honest: I'm one of the critters doing the remarking.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
Well all I can say by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 07:34:19 AM EST
Is well done and good job.  I enjoyed your story and look forward to reading your novel when it is finished.

"It is virtually impossible to effectively aim a jellyfish, a creature created by God almost solely for the purpose of not flying."- CRwM

thanks by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 12:12:40 PM EST
If I ever get published, I'm sure I'll crow about it here.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
Congrats and well deserved. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 02:10:11 PM EST

Thanks by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 11:30:23 AM EST
I know you caught some flack for the way CW spoke in the porn parlor, but I thought it was spot on for the character.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
I did? by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 11:32:32 AM EST
At some point, I think I stopped paying attention. There was just so much flack, you know?

Oh, and a super-sized congrats for being the first two-time winner!

[ Parent ]
well done by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 03:57:13 PM EST
I didn't actually come away from "Spike" with the feeling that it'd been cut out of something bigger. I did feel like there was a bigger world that it was set in than we got to see, but that's a good thing, not a strike against. I was perfectly happy with the slice of that world we got, but I'd also love to read your novel when you're ready to have people read it.

I suspected you for the author -- or rather, knowing you were in, it was the most likely candidate to be yours -- but felt that if it was you, you were off your game with regards to dialogue. I appreciate that you had the usual expositionary technobabble challenges, but I expect you to rise above it, and unlike a TV show, dialogue doesn't have to carry the whole weight of exposition. Maybe in more than 2500 words you could have carried it off.

I'm totally in for WFC8. After WFC4, I figured that between post-NaNo and pre-Solstice-holiday season, the next one ends up in early January. But whenever you open up the next round, I'm looking forward to it.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

More words by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 06:37:21 PM EST
Thanks. Yeah, maybe more words would have made the dialog less exposition. I can see one place right off where I should have done it the other way.

Give me a year on the novel. The last one took eight months, but it was set in the real world. This one requires more thought on the rules, although I have the general problem and plot in mind.

-- Do the math.

[ Parent ]
Congrats by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 09:34:34 AM EST

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

Belated thanks n.t. by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 07:14:04 AM EST

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
spiked | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback