Print Story WFC X - The Endgame
HuSi
By 256 (Wed Jun 16, 2010 at 03:09:35 PM EST) (all tags)
I'm going to give y'all until the end of this weekend to read the three excellent Danny Cobb stories to be found over here and register your vote.

My own thoughts are inside.



Dan Cobb and the Spines of Usury

This story is fantastic. I just ate up the opening with it's sly introduction to the fantastical. Mindworms, thaumaturgists, "The folks out east are serious Buddhists so their karmic buffers were usually strong."

And it just keeps getting better. The throwaway paragraph about the paladins and vampires and anticoagulants inflated and enhanced the story the way most writers only wish their superfluous asides could do.

Danny Cobb makes his entrance halfway through and has no problem stealing the show. If only the story had managed to end gracefully. It's such as shame too because the ending is right there, but it's got too many words piled around it.

"Dan must have thrown it somehow as she made her charge."

No. We don't need that sentence. How much better to go straight from "A pen had stuck deep into her left nostril, all the way into her brain" straight to "The pen was green"?

And then: "Dan Cobb never was much of one for following the rules."

Beautiful. End it there. Nothing that comes after tops this moment. Especially not the cutesy little tennis postscript.

The Two Danny Cobbs

I love this story so much, but I don't think I get it. It's masterfully written but I got to the end full of questions, and not the right questions.

What did Wesley's father do and for whom? And what did it have to do with the real Danny Cobb? Did Wesley's dad's boss set him up to impersonate the real Danny Cobb? Or was it just a coincidental namespace collision?

And what made Wesley special? His father wasn't the real Danny Cobb, so how did he get his powers?

I'm going to try reading the story again, because I suspect the answers are in there. But, if they are, I missed them the first time through.

I can forgive all that though, for a line like: "Joe?" You'd say, the old moniker suddenly dusty and stale in your mouth. "He doesn't look like a Joe."

What are you doing here, Danny Cobb?

I love the Jay and Ty Cobb bit, the way that it foreshadows Danny Cobb in a manner that wouldn't be possible if he weren't a predefined archetype.

Unfortunately, there doesn't really seem to be enough of a story. It's difficult to connect the characterization that comes before the bomb to what comes after. The crisis doesn't follow from what we had learned previous.

And Danny's intervention is robbed of it's potency. We don't really know that the protagonist's life is in danger until Danny has already saved her. And what IS he doing there? None of the characters know but, as a reader, I feel cheated if I still don't know at the end of the story.

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Despite being such a small field, I think this may be the strongest overall collection of stories we've seen in any WFC. My vote is going to Danny Cobb and the Spines of Usury, but all three stories are excellent.

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you know, I think by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Jun 16, 2010 at 10:08:41 PM EST
that I could not agree more with your assessment of the stories, and the WFC overall. It's almost eerie.

I think the awesome stemmed in large part from the theme. Despite the discussion in the voting story about whether the genre was the superhero or more generally the tall tale, the truth is that all three stories were exemplars of the invented genre of the Danny Cobb story, and I think that is the best way to view the entries, even though (or especially because) each one offers a slightly different vision of that genre. In that light:

I, too, could probably do without the coda at the end of "Spines of Usury," but what I like about it is that it presents the Danny Cobb story almost as currency. I imagine Dan Cobb tales of this sort being exchanged over a round of beers or five in something of a competitive spirit. Besides, ending it with "Dan Cobb never was much of one for following the rules." would have been a touch too abrupt for my taste. The couple lines after that are like the roller coaster gliding to a stop at the end of the ride, but how much of a gentle landing is desired and varies from reader to reader. It's a tightrope balancing act.

"The Two Danny Cobbs," I think, gets away with the second-person device by placing itself within an oral tradition of Danny Cobb stories. This one is more intimate than the first; more a bedtime story or fable than a war story that you share with the guys. Where "Spines of Usury" hints at the range of other Cobb stories at the end, this one acknowledges the others right from the beginning, and makes a promise that it's unlike any of the stories you've heard before.

And "What are you doing here?" though it doesn't directly reference any other stories, could only work given Danny Cobb as an established character as you noted. The ghost of unspoken stories about Uncle Dan makes him loom larger, makes his voice rumble deeper. I like what we see in this story, but it's too thin a slice to be entirely satisfying. And, although it's also in the first person and the tone is conversational, it somehow feels less like a conversation than the others. It's hard to put my finger on it, especially since the first two stories certainly have some pretty self-consciously constructed, writerly sentences, so they don't sound like a realistic conversation. But there's something in their structure and rhythm that makes it feel like you're being spoken to, in the presence of someone who's passing on their experience, that I don't get quite as strongly from this one.

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"Plans aren't check lists, they are loose frameworks for what's going to go wrong." -- technician

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