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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:10 am

Thank you! I'm glad I've kept the feeling of continuity with Arty's portrayal so far. :P

But I'll say it again, that kind of deviously placed mayhem only characterizes the Preservation's early work. Notice that so far in Proculvisus, even if you include "Blueshift", there are zero living people outside the Preservation who explicitly know that the Preservation exists. Morgan Dionen doesn't mention the Preservation in dialogue, Harvey Kecke has no dialogue, "Palacio dos Azulejos" doesn't contain any references to the Preservation, and of course we know about Atin Wells and Nyx Maderan.

The thing is, the early Preservation is a fragile thing, overshadowed by Vice Versa. (ViVe really needs more stories of its own, but then again we know it's the one that mostly dies out.) Until the events of "Walker" (coming later), the Preservation needs to play from behind the scenes, misleading people when necessary. I should've done a ViVe-centric story to make that clear first, but now you know. I'll try to show what I mean when I attempt a sequel to "Blueshift".

In reality, and fittingly, the Preservation evolves with time. You can see the connections between slick frontman Baza and the conniving of Wells and Kecke's era, but we'll explore what the Preservation really means behind the scenes, at least as we move along.


On "Blueshift" itself, thank you again. I tried to have Atin Wells open up in his final minutes, to show what he must have seemed like to Nyx and been like in life, and if it seemed real then I succeeded. I appreciate that you're commenting on the thing I worked the hardest on, and it's the best compliment I could think of getting for "Blueshift". :D



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:39 pm

That was absolutely gorgeous, Wally!
I'm glad that you're highlighting some of the more important figures as well as more Preservation operatives, but also filling in pieces of how Vice Versa and Preservation formed....

And visiting Hong Kong is also great! Yeah, this piece is pretty wonderful for not just Proculvisus, but your general submissions of writing.

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:55 pm

Now I have validation! MISSION ACCOMPLISHEDThank you so much. :D

Now I just have to keep it going...



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:02 pm

In your blog you apologized for your titles, but I actually like these much better than the vagueness of titles like "Torchbearer." My favorite title is still "Upon Newton's Ocean," but I like this etymological approach to titling a good deal. It helps to be a word geek like I am. :P

"Paleolazarus" is a great title and Chiromalkes is a great name. I have a terrible time trying to name dragons for D&D. For some reason I can't figure out (it's not Beowulf or Tolkein, so what is it?) D&D dragons tend to have elaborate three- or four-syllable names. I don't know if that was your intent, or if you and the D&D team are referencing the same, older source, but Chiromalkes, Maukhreig, and Uilhith are all on the mark, a pleasure even to type. Anyone who skips over those names, reading only the first letter or however one goes about shorthanding fantasy names, is missing out on a fine layer of craftsmanship. Chiromalkes sounds noble, spiny, sharp-scaled and sharp-witted. Maukhreig sounds earthy, ancient, strong and mighty. Uilhith I would guess is a female, and I was tempted to write "Uilhilith" while I copied these from my next tab over; she sounds either aquatic or subterranean, long and serpentine, deceitful and deadly. I could have told you that any of these were dragons before so much as a mention of wings. Perhaps your best-named characters yet, Wally. Spectral

The story itself is brief, more of a character study of the dragon than any substantive plot. Chiromalkes serves extremely well as a narrator, foreign and draconic, but also easy to comprehend and sympathize with. I've read and watched countless re-imaginings of dragons, but none have so well reconciled a noble, alien mind with the reclusive, prideful nature of Smaug or Beowulf's killer. Much of this hinges on Chiromalkes' confusion and frustration after realizing how long he's been asleep, which is a mark of your ingenuity and insight. There are many fine lines here, such as the boarder between intriguingly complex and pretentiously quirky, but Chiromalkes' voice slides on these lines with grace and majesty. He and Gutenburg are my favorite characters in this, the Tale, and any of your RPGs, and the Fragmentation is my favorite setting. I eagerly await part three.

I think that you meant to imply in your blog that I would hate "Mnemosynean Hikikomori," but I find it leagues more interesting and engaging than "Silver Bullet" or "The Sheriff and the Seraphim." I'm not sure exactly what to make of it. My first theory was that it's metafictional personification of the creative process, especially after statements like viewing Ex as a personal antagonist. My second, which I think fits more closely with the beginning but not very well with the middle and end, is that you started with the idea "Why aren't my characters writing themselves? Do they have amnesia, or do they just have writer's block like I do?" or something along those lines. But if that were the case, why make Jens a cash-in fantasy-world historian instead of the protagonist? And why does he need to know if he has any enemies if he's not the main character? Bonus points for, probably accidentally, naming Jens after my favorite Galidor character. Unlike many metafictional authors, he was charming because of his childlike disorientation, rather than unbearably arrogant.

Well, it's thought provoking, even if nothing happened. I don't know how much my input influences you, but I'd recommend a more action-oriented story next, rather than more navel-contemplating character-studies. It's been a while since I've seen you write anything like "Torchbearer," "Corrupture," "Quake Raven," or even "The Sheriff and the Seraphim," and for my entertainment as well as your own sake I think it's time to write with the plot in the driver's seat. Giving the characters some room to naturally reveal themselves is well and good, but if you put the petal to the metal and write with a plan, odds are you'll write more, faster, and that's it's own reward.

As an aside, I'm participating (and far behind, but oh, well) in NaNoWriMo this year. You've inspired me to start posting my chapters in their own thread, starting today, not so much because I'm seeking feedback on them, but because I want to demonstrate my support for your own writing endeavors. Whatever we do with our respective lives, writing is therapeutic, not obligatory. And Codrex Magna can serve and has in the past served as a small but helpful support group.

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:47 pm

I'm glad you like them at all, let alone this much. :P I wrote both of these stories on my phone while on an airplane and only returned to finish them (barely - I didn't change "Paleolazarus" at all) a few days ago. They were very spur-of-the-moment, driven by my sudden invention of their protagonists' names.

On the subject of names, I'm always amazed that you like the crazy names I put out. I don't draw from a source like wherever D&D might, and just free-form from a handful of aesthetic phonetic guidelines I've learned from myself. Now I regret deleting the names of two other dragons I'd originally planned on mentioning - you might've liked those too, but they're lost in memory now.

Even more amazing is the fact that you think Chiromalkes fits so well as a voice and protagonist. I'm more than flattered that you put him in your favorites among my characters. :P I've actually been working on a third installment in the Kingdom of the Stone Book for a while now, and I hope to have it out later today or tomorrow! It's not as exciting and we don't get to see Chiromalkes again yet, but if I finish it the way I want to, it will explain a lot about the kingdom's change of rulership that the Wild Dragon is so stunned by.

But of course the most amazing part is that you're fascinated by "Mnemosynean Hikikomori" (which, by the way, is the most descriptive story name I've ever put out). Jens lacks the arrogance of a lot of metafictionalists, not to mention the certainty, but I thought that would just make him irritating in the opposite way. If you liked him, though, then I guess the confusing aspects of his creative process are a good mystery instead of just further frustrating. Like I implied at the end of the story, we should be hearing from Jens Sède again, even if I don't have an idea of when - so maybe we'll get to know him even better next time.

If I go ahead with the 3rd installment from the world of "Backbone", tentatively titled "Precedence", then you'll have to wait for action until I take on the challenge of shaping one of the 5 other possibilities to follow that. I've just been on a kick of introspection, and despite my rant about lack of inspiration, I still try to wring some related story material out of whatever mood I'm in. Rest assured though, we're going to see some much weirder things and a little bit of action as I move along. I've never been able to write a plot worth anything, so it's still going to be VERY character-driven, but maybe it'll lead somewhere that's more to your satisfaction? :P

Note: when I try to prioritize a plot over characters, that's when you get a result like "The Sheriff and the Seraphim".

I'll try to read what you put up but especially if you're not specifically looking for reviews, then I probably won't have time to say anything about them at least until winter break - I always appreciate you putting up stuff but I feel the time crunch to finish my own work before reviewing yours. :P

EDIT: Oh, and could you spare something said about "Lingering Contusions"? It's not up to the others' standards by a long way, but it might be helpful if you had any thought about it.



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Thu Nov 13, 2014 1:45 am

I take back what I said about action-oriented stories; Precedence is one of your best stories yet! Its rushed ending shows, which I'll address in a minute, but that is overwhelmed by the detail, intrigue, and surrealism of the rest of the story.

There is something beautiful to the way that in stories like this, people are still people, more interested in the Stone King than the trial, behaving just as they do in reality, caring more about a president's chewing gum than his policies. Your New Weird magical-realism talent has been luscious to begin with and has only grown over time.

The passive-aggressive Stone King, the passively conforming Thorn in the jury, the probably properly paranoid Rachis, and the unnecessarily helpful reader are all compelling characters, and they're all playing off of one another delightfully. It's a pleasure to see this many characters, old and new, together, and I'm quickly growing fond of all of them. Rachis in particular used to annoy me, because I favored Gutenburg over her and thought she was pretentious and prideful. Even before the revelation of her history, however, I was growing sympathetic towards her and seeing her point of view, all without losing my fondness for Gutenburg. I see his flaws now, but I still love him, in concept and in execution.

That said, Rachis' little exposition at the end felt rushed, unnecessary, and out of your style. I highly recommend editing it out. I love learning about the World of the Stone Book, but I wish I could unlearn it; I almost feel like the ending has been spoiled for me. I would have preferred if you kept up your normal act of referencing everything magical and foreign matter-of-factly, because it is matter-of-fact to the characters, and leaving us to figure out the rest. In short, not enigmatic enough. :P

My other complaint were the names; Rachis and Gutenburg and even Chiromalkes are easy to remember. Heck, I'll take a stab at the other dragons, each only mentioned once; something like Maukhan and Uhlith, right? Point is, I'd know them if I saw them again. The Thorns? The Witnesses? Did the Judicia and the Reader even have names? They're gone.

Here's the back-and-forth I'd expect us to have, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong:

Spectral: These names are too long and unfamiliar for me to remember.
Wally: It's a trial in the highest court in the land. Of course they use the full, formal names.
Spectral: Alright, it's true that full formal American, or even English, names would be this confusing for someone outside of our culture. But not to us. Rachis and Gutenburg are names used in real life. Why make up names now?
Wally: You'll find that these names come from similar etymological roots as those we've already seen. It's just that you haven't heard their common nicknames yet. Once you do, you'll learn them.
Spectral: Alright, maybe so. But that doesn't change the fact that it would be easier to remember if they were introduced to me initially with those nicknames.
Wally: But that doesn't make sense in this scene, and realism trumps mere reader convenience.
Spectral: I think accessibility it more important than accuracy.
Wally: I disagree, because...

And it would probably go on like that.

Oh, on the subject of reviews, can I ask a favor? I know I just said I'm not desperate for writing reviews, but I plan on having a MOC up by Sunday or Monday, and I could really use your feedback on it as soon as possible. Could you plan on squeezing in a detailed MOC review sometime early next week? Thanks!

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:13 am

Rest assured I've left out huge amounts of detail still, but I've gotten to some editing - all of the stuff from the rushed ending is best relegated to another story. :P I have no complaints or excuses for its failure, I just wanted to post the post. I've now seriously truncated it and given it what I hope is a more decisive and in-character terminus. The ghosts of history will be left for another day.

The thing I'll address head-on is the completeness of the names. Well, first, the fact that you can't remember the Reader's (the Judicia was nameless) - would I have called him the Reader throughout if I expected you to remember his name? Everyone is as much a living, breathing person as Rachis or Gutenberg, participating in a real court, and their names have to crop up where you'd need them. I'm not asking you to remember them the way I do, Pserdo and Sobai and so on, but if I called them easy names I would be falsifying matters. All these years I've written low fantasy, with characters named Wally and Mo and Kaze and even Lorenzo; now the one time I write remotely stomachable high(ish) fantasy, do you expect me to call the courtiers Noah or Katie or Fluffles?

Again, I make the important names clear, because they're protagonists (Rachis, Gutenberg, Chiromalkes); I don't expect you to remember the names of people like the Reader, because I introduced him as the Reader, not Vector Sobai. The Court of the Stone Book is the hardest place to learn names, anyway; you might be able to figure out that in normal conversation, the surname is the second name given, but the Court requires the surname be given first. Here as with anywhere, I'm trying my best to pack a textbook's worth of information into a story that's still readable, but I understand if you don't pick up on each nuance - because textbooks are dense and dull if you get caught in every detail. Honestly, I should start making study guides and SparkNotes for my short stories...

Here I feel the need to point out that Gutenberg is an old name, and Rachis not the name of a person. You seem to think they're "real", which I guess is true, but aren't Vector and Innogen real names too, fluently rendered in English? That didn't make it easier for you to remember the names of the Reader and the Thorn, I'm guessing.

All that aside, I'm just pleased you like things from a style standpoint. I couldn't ask for higher praise from you as that's what I feel that I'm constantly striving for - a powerful voice in writing. Distinctive, yeah, I've had that even in my online "speech" forever. But if I can make it work well, I'm happy. Thank you again. :P

On your MOC, for whatever reason I find it vastly easier to review creations in plastic than written stories, so I'll do my best to get on that as soon as you post - shouldn't take more than a day or two for me to respond. I owe you that much anyway for 3 short story reviews this week. :P



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Fri Jan 16, 2015 5:28 am

I wanted to get these two out before the Glorious Day of the Number drew to a close, but I may well be editing them. Especially, I'd like to show how it was in the situation just prior to the intro of "Negligible Survivors". I hope any comments you have on them as-is you'll feel free to post, though, before I accidentally ruin them by editing further. :P



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:47 pm

So, now we know where Overlord came from! Funny that he would be a botanist, though I suppose, as one of your avatars, that's probably not a coincidence. I wouldn't have guessed that this was his origin story had it not been for the turban, but in retrospect I recognize Kjeld's name from Minifigure Madness. I wonder why he was in the bar at the same time Overlord was... I might be missing something.

SirenCon was entertaining, if a little sad and cynical, but then it has to be. Not as funny as the original Gentlemen's League, but just as profound.

Also, analog clocks are the best. Do you know how hard it was to find a watch with an analog face and all twelve digits? It was hard. Everyone's doing sleek numberless analogs or digital watches these days. Tsk tsk.

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:56 pm

If you consult Part the Twenty-Fourth of the Tale from about a year ago, Overlord notes his past as a botanist. :P Ironically, being from a world of death, Iyera and Kjeld are the only characters of mine from dead RPGs who get a new life. The latter's presence in the Roaring Log at the same time as Overlord was presumably a coincidence, since they didn't seem to see each other, but I suppose another question would be why Kjeld is there at all.

Glad you seemed to have enjoyed both stories, though. I suppose they're relatively self-explanatory for anything I've put out.

I actually own an analog pocketwatch in a brassy/bronzey outercase with a floral design. It doesn't work though - it's frozen on the time 1:15.



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:27 pm

...Man do I love the Stone Book.

First, some constructive criticism: This chapter seems intended to begin better integrating Stone Book into the 6F System, and while those are, in the words of a late Noughties cereal add, like "peanut butter, chocolate, great when separate / But when combined, they make morning time epic", I don't think you've struck the right balance of lore and story here. That's normally your strength, but while it was a pleasant surprise to have a flashback in what I had assumed to be an ongoing series, and I did not expect to ever see the Heretic and was impressed by the manifestation of Flight, it didn't feel integrated into the narrative. To use a Tolkien analog, there seems to be a little too much Silmarillion in your Lord of the Rings. The 6F System is awesome, and I love learning more about it, but when the characters here in Break start talking about Foundation and Flight it feels like an intrusion.

Then again, maybe this isn't LotR but the Silmarillion... I dunno. I guess wanting an explanation was better than having one has turned out to be. Reading "First Choice" answered more questions than it raised... and from you, that's a disappointment! Where's the incomprehensibility I can't find anywhere else? :P

I should also mention that your use of "they/them" as a gender-neutral pronoun is staring to stir up confusion, and indeed, the entire village-pillage and Heretic v. Stone King fight seemed rushed. Not only was it a conclusion that I didn't really need, but it was also a jarring one.

My major complaint, however, is the Heretic's "deal" with Magus. Firstly, the ominous foreshadowing of having even struck a deal culminates too quickly - mere paragraphs afterwards - which contributes to the sense of a rushed conclusion and misses a chance to build tension in an ongoing story. More importantly, the terms of the deal are and should be vague, but rather than build a sense of mystery, they make the Heretic come across as... well, he's probably supposed to be crazy. But what seems to me the better, more dramatic option is to have Magus, bewildered, accidentally say the right words, make a promise in language he doesn't understand, and solve the conflict almost by accident.

Sense of mystery has been on my mind a lot recently. BIONICLE 2001, especially the MNOLG, was drowning in it, but G2 seems to have missed that nuance. I feel like it's what you're going for with Stone Book, but I don't see it so much here.

But just because I have nitpicks doesn't mean that this was a blast to read, and I rejoice in having some new lore to mull over! Does Magus have some connection to the Old Magician, for example? In "Precedence", Sobai suggests that the Old Magician predates the Stone King and is mentioned in the beginning of the Stone Book, which would contradict their interactions here, but he also mentions that the Old Magician dealt with an uprising of Thorns. The existence of Thorns seems dependant on the presence of a Fragmentation to violate, but if Magus was the first to be Fragmented, then there seems to be some time travel involved. I must be missing something... I would assume that Fragmentation is not new to the kingdom as of "The First Choice", but it is new to Magus, or as a commoner he was heretofore unaccustomed to it. Gutenberg does imply that there are other royals, towards the end. But if that's the case, how can Rachis claim a direct line from the Old Magician in "Backbone"? Unless she is his descendant, while Magus isn't?

I don't need answers to all of these questions, but I think you should know what questions I have - I know you want to raise some of them, but others might have been unintentional! As for me, I'm happy to keep reading, and to figure it out as I go - or not! Spectral

Keep writing! I need to scrape together the time to do so as well. In fact, if I could produce something half as compelling as Stone Book I'd have impressed myself. Four chapters in, but it seems like the series I wish that I had written.

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:05 am

Color me grateful, Spectral - your reviews are always helpful. :P

Yes, this chapter probably answered more questions than you're accustomed to - but it was a forgone one, and I feel that raising too many issues would instead screw up timelines entirely. There's less nuance to be gotten in the past, as well. Where would the mystery come from in a land without a kingdom? The Day is within Magus Tyrans's living memory, and Gutenberg's metaphorical wings are barely feathered by this point, having not even seen him in his first sleep.

But I understand your complaint about how the deal is handled, though, and I had trouble writing it. In fact, I'll ask you this - do you want me to rewrite it, and add a little more in the section between it and the crowning of Magus? Or even to remove the battle scene? (I was, originally, planning to have the deal with the Heretic struck in the mountain clearing, without Gutenberg present - perhaps the interspersion is more obvious than I thought...) I could and will rewrite if you'd rather see that, but if leaving the story as-is would be better, then I can do that instead.

I don't want to spoil answers to all your questions, but there are a couple of things that can be read straight from "The First Choice"! Magus seems not to know what Fragmentation even is, despite Gutenberg seeming quite unconcerned about public knowledge of it, at least by the time of "Precedence" - why would he not know?

The one thing I'll specifically point out is the problem of the Line Tyrans. Magus notes early on that he does not have a family, and until he and his line are named anew by Gutenberg, he does not have a family name either. When Magus points out that he has no family line at that point, Gutenberg just orders him to make one.

As always, thanks for all your praise and critique. I never thought this series would be your favorite, but I'm glad it is, because I have a lot yet to write and imagine for the Stone Book. :P



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:42 pm

It's not only the pacing of the deal that concerns me, although I think that cutting out the entire section, from zigzag to zigzag, containing the battle scene makes for a better transition. You might also cut everything after the deal in the clearing, and then start a new chapter; or perhaps insert a few more chapters set in the present before coming back to Magus. At any rate, it's quite unclear how much time has past between the deal and the fight; I first thought that Magus had just descended the mountain.

But I also have trouble understanding why the Heretic latched on to Magus' talk of peace. It might have something to do with peace being related to Foundation, so perhaps the Heretic has some Foundation in him after all; presumably that's what the soil manipulation was all about. I don't know how it might be rephrased, but I think you're aiming for something mythical. Instead, the Heretic comes across as inane.

As for Magus' Fragmentation, I already presumed that Gutenburg gave it to him first, and then he passed it down to others. What I don't understand is how the Old Magician could have been fighting Thorns in the beginning of the Stone Book, since Fragmentation is new to Magus but the Stone Book has already been around for a some time. I guess not long; the Stone Book must be mostly empty during "First Choice" - that does explain what's so "first" about it - which implies that Magus will become to Old Magician, as his name suggests; it would also explain why Rachis refers to the Old Magician when defending her lineage, given that Magus is the founder of the Tyrans. Hm, answers.

But Gutenburg's contest with Lignar also suggests something even older. The 6F System and godhood are old enough to have a procedure, involving candidates who have come and gone long in the past. I guess all of that is out of the scope of the Stone Book, but even stories of the kingdom's beginnings can tap into that mystery.

I find myself wondering why you had Magus mention Lignar in his brief exposition, as to why he had volunteered to seek out the Heretic. That contextualizes how Lignar fits into this world's history, and into the 6Fs... why contextualize anything? :P

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Thu Nov 26, 2015 6:58 pm

Having had an insight into the futures of both Lignar and Magus, I'm rewriting the middle-to-end of the chapter to be more accurate. I think you'll like it better. :P I'm hoping to get it out tonight Just got it out - so happy Thanksgiving, haha.

I think you're beginning to see where I'm going, but I'm not sure what your objection is to context. Not everything can be a mystery, especially in a chapter in the past. :P But there are some things that rise from the story of Magus, Gutenberg, the Heretic, and the line of the Tyrans that you won't see coming - I guarantee it!



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:11 am

Considering that my trouble with writing hasn't been writer's block, but simply not liking my writing, I should just have posted something here in the last two years and been done with it. :P

I'm going to make up for that by posting a few things in the next while, even if they're not "complete" in the way that I normally think of. The first of two pieces I just posted is sort of an across-the-water-barrier reflection of "Under the Sun", which I also hated to begin with. The melodrama of that uncharacteristic story sets up the notion that maybe Leon Sparso isn't seeing things quite right - pastoral setting not aside! The second piece is self-explanatory - if you read its predecessor story in Break.

But of course also there's the matter of many, many other unpublished stories, and I want to end the (honest-to-6F) TWO-year drought in this topic with a solid set of material. Or at least a substantial set. "Solid" as a function of quality is up to readers' interpretation.



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:26 am

I don't know how often I tell you that your prose is beautiful. And your tone, though variable between stories, always has a touch of something delightfully wry. Spectral

I didn't particularly care for "Under the Sun" myself. I think the pastoral setting could have worked, but the structure (attempted juxtaposition?) of the story didn't support it. I had absolutely no idea until today that Sparso was an unreliable narrator, if that was the intention.

"Fireside Corollary" is remarkable in that:

a. it supports my original suspicion that Runa was infected with the Ohlt, a... something, but also that she was strong enough to keep it at bay and able to kill herself before it could take over;

b. it simultaneously raises far more questions than it answers. Who is Wrenwreck? A Treasurer? A (post-Sparso's-departure) teammate of Runa's? The traitor on that team?

(I'd rather you didn't answer. :P )

The new names, Wrenwreck and Gutterthrush (presumably either the name of the demon, an insult, or a rather pejorative-sounding codename) are some of your best. I didn't really like the names in "Under the Sun" as they didn't come together into a tonal whole for me, and MacGolem still feels out of place even here, but these new names suit the stories' world perfectly. Besides, I have a weakness for any name that resembles a compound, but is less literal and more impressionist (by extension?) euphonic. I didn't finish Gormenghast, but I loved the names!

As for "Splintering": first of all, the titles of characters, groups, and events in your stories are always incredible. I love the sound of the "Bringer of Heterodoxes," and it's exactly that kind of melancholically meta mythopoeia that delights me. That's in no small part why I love the Stone Book so much.

Another strength of the Stone Book is how surreal and yet complete it feels. Similarly, in Jens' world there seems no contradiction between the (despite possibly being on Earth) otherworldly exterior of the apartment, his whiteboard and (orange screened!) computer, and the presence of a gargoyle. Despite coming from different settings and styles, all fit the same tone of anxiety and, to a lesser extent, decay. This makes them feel "consistent and complete," to borrow a logicians' phrase.

Reading (or re-reading) "Mnemosynean Hikikomori" informs one so, so, so much better of Jens' character that it really is a prerequisite. Otherwise one has no way of knowing that Jens' anxiety is not always induced by a manhunt, and it makes it easier to recognize that sending the email is partly eccentricity on his part. In short, it makes him seem less competent, but makes him more sympathetic.

I don't know if you ever watched Netflix's Series of Unfortunate Events, or recall if you've read the books even. However, despite rereading "Mnemosynean Hikikomori" first, I imagined myself having failed to do so, and I would have compared Jens to the show's version of Lemony Snicket. In the context of the previous installment, he's much closer to the Snicket I always had in my head, and whom I much prefer.

I've missed reviewing for you! Always a pleasure. Spectral

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:05 am

As you know I think by now, your reviews are always great to read, and it's always wonderful in general to hear from you about writing.

I don't like "Under the Sun". It's right up there with "Upon Newton's Ocean", "Lingering Contusions", and (ironically) "Backbone" as some of my least favorites. But I don't like the latter three because they're cursory, incomplete, and difficult to relate to. "Under the Sun" is a straight-up bitter syrup, a melodrama that I can't even enjoy on most any level. It was written at a bad time and in a bad way. It doesn't fit the broader narrative of the two abandoned agents. I guess my struggle now is to try to show how and why it doesn't fit.

So, with that said, I'm glad "Firelight Corollary" gave you sustenance for thought. :P It falls right into that pattern of incomplete stories a la "Lingering Contusions", but I'd been sitting on it so long that I just had to call it done, and move on to what comes after it. It raises some questions, and that's what a good story should do - or at least I think you'd think so. We'll see R.M. "Gutterthrush" and Rangent Wrenwreck again, maybe even soon.

"Splintering of the Binding Network" was less a story I'd been sitting on and felt the need to get out, but rather quick and joyful to write, at least in its two distinct halves separated by a year or more of no editing and no adding to it (I hope it isn't obvious where that hinge fell). Jens is interesting. I like him. Is there any other hint of a story in Break that's situated on present-day Earth? And yet he hides in his room and doesn't see any of Earth at all. He's aware that Vaury doesn't belong on the planet, but the gargoyle sees more of the world than he does (cf. "Mnemosynean Hikikomori" again).

I like what you're saying, too, about "anxiety", "decay", "'consistent and complete'". The nature of the shut-in's story is about to change drastically, what with leaving his apartment at last, but there's a power to the imagery of his lonely room. He first appeared fully formed in the early afternoon, and now on the eve of his flight from home the light has faded to deep orange. Will he emerge into evening or sunrise?

Again, I don't know your cultural reference, this time due to not having Netflix. :P But I did read that series as a kid; it was too long ago to compare, but I appreciate how I have echoes of what you saw in stronger authors' work. Or maybe their work is an echo of mine. Who knows.



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:31 pm

As I mentioned via text, it's always a pleasure to brighten your day with my humble reviews. Spectral

As for the most recent update:

Was the brief shift into first-person perspective in "Quake Raven" intentional? I reread it in preparation for "Somatic Excommunication."

"Excommunication" is a fine story, but so short I really don't have much to say about it. The only detail that seems significant is the reference to the Panama hat, which presumably places this in the same universe "Fireside Corollary," although the connection seems... tenuous? Wrenwreck and Rus Allendi's contact don't share much else in common.

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:01 pm

I don't believe it was, but I'll look it over; it should have been all second-person.

I guess what I'd have to ask is, what's not in common between Wrenwreck and the contact?



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:35 am

Alright, apologies for a double-post, but I think it doesn't really matter on this site in its current state anyway.

Having posted an awful lot of weirdness, I'd like to share a master-post of all the stories in Break to-date, as well as the ways in which one story is explicitly connected to its logical others (that is - the prequels and sequels within worlds). It is a slight spoiler, so take it as you will, but it's useful if you want to be able to search for a title and hop around within the really long story thread, lol.

Spoiler:
 

What I find interesting is that most stories have a sequel of some kind, at this point. Only a couple have more than one sequel, though, including a certain Stone Book with a whopping seven eight!



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:55 am

As a part of my New Year's Resolution, here's a review of one of your stories. I want to do all of the Stone Book stories together, so I've skipped to "Sanitarium, Autophage."

First of all, your prose is stunning. I especially liked the phrases: "An accumulation of things. Instruments of self-portrayal. Editing tools for their self-perception, and their presentation in the world;" "To type words, to scrawl miseries, to scream on the page alone. Then, to kill the voice too, the instrument they hated;" and, most of all, "the apocalypse of the kaleidoscope." Striking and original images.

Secondly, very little time is spent describing the room, but the combination of the title and the narrator's references to decontamination and confinement create an unmistakable and rather uncomfortable atmosphere. That was a nice effect. Spectral

And finally, the subject/speaker was simultaneously alien and intimately familiar. They have very human anxieties, but the language used to express those anxieties is so intense that I am left uncertain whether I am reading metaphor, or the literal. This could be a transgender patient in a mental hospital for their anxiety disorder, yes. The evidence is there. But even if that were part of the truth, their dissociative identity is so intense at this point, who is to say that they aren't an alien or biomedical experiment, trying to understand the world through sterilized glass?

Or, to put it differently, your depiction of the subject's subjective, personal experience is so divorced from objective reality that it is difficult and, in my opinion, pointless to try and reverse engineer the "true" or "real" circumstances. This fits the theme of dissociation and isolation perfectly.

Overall, not your most enjoyable or pleasant work, but awesome. :P

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:07 am

A lovely review, as always! Mostly, I'm just replying to record my thanks for the ages. : )

"Sanitarium, Autophage" is probably as difficult and unrewarding a read as I've posted at this point. :P It's also unusually near and dear to my heart.

I don't know how much there really is to say about it in reply; you've recognized the claustrophobia and dense pricklings of discomfort that make the protagonist recoil from their transfigured world. The "apocalypse of the kaleidoscope" is their sincere experience, in all its agony.

I've never written something like this before, but I think I captured the feeling I wanted to capture. This wasn't really narrative story - just existential despair made textual.



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:22 am

I've read everything in your November 19 "Master-Post" except Stone Book! Spectral

I'd like to request an up-to-date list of all Stone Book stories, please. Then, I'll read everything else and get back to you on those.

My goal, by the end of this week-long spring break (no pun intended), is to read all existing Stone Book entries in the order they were posted. I don't know exactly what I'll do after that, but it will be something more than a mere review, I promise. Wink

First of all, "Suture Logos." Sweet troll jegus, is this a direct response to my panama hat observation? Were the two stories being "sutured" connected before my observation, or am I responsible for this? I feel entitled to know these things, if I'm involved. :P

Well, still love the names. Still love Wrenwreck, although he is that grumpy fingure of mystery archetype that you cling a little too close to. Wink

I picked up that Wrenwreck might be some kind of dimensional traveler a la Maestro from the Tale based on his knowledge of the chronon and his other "walk of life" comment. You planted the seeds early but the confirmation towards the end still felt like a revelation, so it's a good little mystery packed into a story on the shorter side.

I think this paragraph is brilliant and actually rather moving:

Quote :
But what he knew is that he lived for doing so. Always seeing places unseen, and knowing things others would never know. Being the small thread that sewed together worlds. A thread the agents wished to cut. He wanted to live on and keep alive the spirit of dissolving the dimensions into a whole. If he died, so too would an entire genre – a set of experiences never to be seen in memory ever again.

Yes, I like Wrenwreck. I kept waiting for Gutterthrush to come and kill him, though, and for whatever reason I'm rooting for her to do so. Granted, I'm pretty sure that would require a retcon at some point. Maybe the readers' sympathies aren't falling where you want, I dunno.

"Codagraph." You know, either you and Hussie are kindred souls, or Homestuck and all of its neologisms have left an impact on you. Wink

I had to read it twice, but I'm confident I get it, and I don't think my initial disorientation is a detriment to the story. It's short, anyway.

Have you perused the works of Jorges Louis Borges? I think you'd like him. What's interesting is that he occasionally draws on other works of literature or mythology (mind you, he's usually out-there original) in a manner similar to the way you draw on your own work.

"Demicardial Windward Entailment." Copy-pasted that title, not gonna retype it, no-thank-you. :P

Quote :
"you could be up there a couple of years. Or fucking forever... Don’t you remember the shit that’s gone down in the past?"

WHOA. Mature language. I'm not sure this qualifies as "mild language appropriate to off-topic writings." As moderator of this forum I have half a mind to edit and censor this story. Would be a waste of time, I 'spect, since you'd just change the rules immediately afterwards, but still. I just got done explaining to Teaser the language policy on our site. XD

Also the moment I read "blue hair" I started imagining everything as an anime. Not that that's good or bad.

In fact, the first section of this story seemed highly uncharacteristic of your style. "Not weird enough," to oversimplify to an insulting extent. The second was more in-keeping, yet fresh. I envy your introspection, your metaphors, the way you convey feelings. Particularly as-of-late, because I've been taking screenwriting and playwrighting classes, and the "write only what can be seen" mantra is affecting my abilities to write prose.

I think.

Maybe read the Errata and let me know? :P

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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:32 pm

I'll just reply to your kind review(s!) bit by bit, to make things a bit easier. :P

The Spectral Mask wrote:
I've read everything in your November 19 "Master-Post" except Stone Book! Spectral

I'd like to request an up-to-date list of all Stone Book stories, please. Then, I'll read everything else and get back to you on those.

My goal, by the end of this week-long spring break (no pun intended), is to read all existing Stone Book entries in the order they were posted. I don't know exactly what I'll do after that, but it will be something more than a mere review, I promise. Wink

Impressive(!), and thank you again for reading. Since I posted it, there have been three more stories not in the master-post: "Disrupted Alloy", "Sky of the Previous Life", and "Unearth".

As for Stone Book stories, though, they're the following, in order of posting (and no other timeline clues given other than what's in them...)

Backbone
Torchbearer
Paleolazarus
Precedence
The First Choice
Equilibrium that Consumes
Renouncer
Reclamations
Sky of the Previous Life

I'll let you know if I post another one before you're done. :P

The Spectral Mask wrote:
First of all, "Suture Logos." Sweet troll jegus, is this a direct response to my panama hat observation? Were the two stories being "sutured" connected before my observation, or am I responsible for this? I feel entitled to know these things, if I'm involved. :P

Well, still love the names. Still love Wrenwreck, although he is that grumpy fingure of mystery archetype that you cling a little too close to. Wink

I picked up that Wrenwreck might be some kind of dimensional traveler a la Maestro from the Tale based on his knowledge of the chronon and his other "walk of life" comment. You planted the seeds early but the confirmation towards the end still felt like a revelation, so it's a good little mystery packed into a story on the shorter side.

I think this paragraph is brilliant and actually rather moving:

Quote :
But what he knew is that he lived for doing so. Always seeing places unseen, and knowing things others would never know. Being the small thread that sewed together worlds. A thread the agents wished to cut. He wanted to live on and keep alive the spirit of dissolving the dimensions into a whole. If he died, so too would an entire genre – a set of experiences never to be seen in memory ever again.

Yes, I like Wrenwreck. I kept waiting for Gutterthrush to come and kill him, though, and for whatever reason I'm rooting for her to do so. Granted, I'm pretty sure that would require a retcon at some point. Maybe the readers' sympathies aren't falling where you want, I dunno.

The stories were already in the process of being sutured (I appreciate you adopting that word) while I wrote the last few, but you definitely pushed me to put it more strongly in context. :P (Ironically, given your love of the obscure in my works...)

I haven't written a gritty, irritable, shadowy figure in a while, though! In that, and in his interdimensional/trans-world travels, R. Wrenwreck goes way back to an earlier era of my writing. This is intentional in a lot of ways; as I dredge up Gutterthrush, Sparso (his other epithet left for later), and Dt. Calcarius from an otherwise vanished past, so too come the trappings of their institutions and terminologies. Wrenwreck serves not only to sew together the worlds and times that he experiences, but many of those that I've written, past and present (with a little bit of future).

Of course, I'm amused and intrigued that you're on the side of the Reach Agent here; in a way, it's not surprising, since Gutterthrush has a significant amount of power and history over a tenacious skulker like Wrenwreck. The weight of history is on her side too, but time will tell whether Wrenwreck manages to cling on. (Why do you say it would need a retcon, though? Seems to me that anything could go at this point.)

Anyway, if you're hungering for more of this (sans Wrenwreck), especially history you thought you'd never see again, I suggest you skip ahead to read "Unearth". :P

The Spectral Mask wrote:
"Codagraph." You know, either you and Hussie are kindred souls, or Homestuck and all of its neologisms have left an impact on you. Wink

I had to read it twice, but I'm confident I get it, and I don't think my initial disorientation is a detriment to the story. It's short, anyway.

Have you perused the works of Jorges Louis Borges? I think you'd like him. What's interesting is that he occasionally draws on other works of literature or mythology (mind you, he's usually out-there original) in a manner similar to the way you draw on your own work.

I'd like to think I understand and relate to Hussie better now than I ever did while enjoying Homestuck. Neologisms are something I love anyway, but that guy sure has enviably useful stylistic trappings.

"Codagraph" is short, and I'm not sure I actually enjoy it, per se. I do think it has some of the best-placed words I've used anywhere, though. If you go back to it at any point, compare the disorientation of the second line with the description of going to the ocean's edge.

I've heard of Borges, and might have to check his work out now that you mention him. Though I'm trying to focus on (outside of school readings) your writing of late! :P

The Spectral Mask wrote:
"Demicardial Windward Entailment." Copy-pasted that title, not gonna retype it, no-thank-you. :P

Quote :
"you could be up there a couple of years. Or fucking forever... Don’t you remember the shit that’s gone down in the past?"

WHOA. Mature language. I'm not sure this qualifies as "mild language appropriate to off-topic writings." As moderator of this forum I have half a mind to edit and censor this story. Would be a waste of time, I 'spect, since you'd just change the rules immediately afterwards, but still. I just got done explaining to Teaser the language policy on our site. XD

Also the moment I read "blue hair" I started imagining everything as an anime. Not that that's good or bad.

In fact, the first section of this story seemed highly uncharacteristic of your style. "Not weird enough," to oversimplify to an insulting extent. The second was more in-keeping, yet fresh. I envy your introspection, your metaphors, the way you convey feelings. Particularly as-of-late, because I've been taking screenwriting and playwrighting classes, and the "write only what can be seen" mantra is affecting my abilities to write prose.

I think.

Maybe read the Errata and let me know? :P

"D.W.E." is a very atypical story for me, and I'm not surprised to hear you of all people being wary of the language and the style in the first portion. :P Still: you have a point, both about the simplicity of it and the language. I did ask myself, was it appropriate, the way (and the words) that I wrote?

My conclusion was yes, in terms of the setup and the people involved. I know another point of wariness for you is in some of my character-characterizations (though you can be appreciative, and occasionally charmed by it :P), but in large part my stories grow out of the experiences of figures of extreme inner strength and complexity. This includes a lot of different kinds of subjectivities; burned-out astronaut stoicism (Nike), detached clarity and severity (Rus Allendi) confused all-powerful memory (the snapshots of Jens Sède), or ancient fury (Rachis Tyrans, Gutenberg, Chiromalkes...). There hasn't been a lot of room for the ordinary, though, and in order to capture smaller, real, grounded things, I felt I had to change how I portrayed and who I portrayed in a story like this one.

I know what you like about a lot of my writing is the weirdness, but when I don't pursue it, you can't expect it to still shine through. :P

As always, though, I'm encouraged (even flattered) by your admiration for my use of language to fill out emotion and sensation. You do have a certain tendency to write much more concretely than I do, and maybe less choppily (as I intersperse internal diatribes, self-asides, and the wonder of the subjective world of characters' minds). If you want to go after feelings to the point of distillation, as I feel is the crux of a lot of my work, then pursue them at all costs, including plot and motion, as you get to know how to use them (again?). Funny, maybe, that you (used to, at least) often remind me to use some more focus plot, and here I am reminding you to use more focus on feeling.

While I haven't gotten through Errata much way (I'll probably review for multiple posts at a time, so bear with me), I would say that if you feel too much like you're writing for the stage, then don't focus too much on writing what's happening, because often the interesting bits are what characters are experiencing while things are happening. Events take place slowly, out of order, and in no real direction in the way I post stories, mostly because I jump between emotions and sensations I find interesting. The jaggedness of "Quake Raven" or "The Sheriff and the Seraphim Pt. I" puts the power of a plot at odds with the confusion or resolve of a protagonist whose struggles are what I'm interested in, while the maelstroms of "Mnemosynean Hikikomori" or "Sanitarium, Autophage" jump solely into the task of bringing a person into focus (even if that's through the throes of kaleidoscopic self-rending).

Anyway, with all that said: here's something different! This is my update to the master-post, not that there's been a whole lot more to things of late. The only new addition other than the latest three stories is my tentative conception of how the stories came to divide into certain epochs of my writing. I'd be interested to know what you think of whether it's an accurate typology.

Spoiler:
 



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PostSubject: Re: Break: Review   Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:59 pm

Finally getting around to finishing the non-Stone-Book updates! Here are my thoughts on :

"Disrupted Alloy"

Quote :
Which Siren did this? It had to be one of the cruel ones.

The Sirens!? Are they related to the Royal Group for Gentlemen's Collaborative Media, last seen in "SirenCon"?

Spoilers for Break, if you aren't reading by the master-post:
 

Quote :
It was not unlikely its cosmic proportions would rend the planet into many shards. A beautiful picture, but one that would mean the end of… earthly life.

I found this line particularly chilling. It creates an alien, yet sufficiently sympathetic, portrait of Maiscafer's mind.

Quote :
Well, he didn’t want to say.... that had to be one of the odder ones, though. ...on the other hand... on some other plane of thinking. ...a mere character in a story. There was barely any headway to be made...

The language of this entire passage is full of doubt, contradiction, backpedaling, and minimization. Since these are techniques people use when trying to deceive you about something, I got distracted from my reading. I was all ready to call you out on a rhetorical fallacy. But I couldn't, since you hadn't committed one, and I instead realized this is a slight case of unreliable narrator, and actually suits the speaker well (alleged third-person-omniscient aside.) What I'm saying is, your subtlety made me look foolish. Shame on you. :P

Quote :
Nautilus Kaligrammus Vesper did not believe in miracles, and certainly not miracles of insight.

The missing initial is revealed! Very few writers make me smile at moments like this, the way you do. Tiny revelations, irrelevant, but tying up loose ends...

Quote :
The inquiring company wanted to order some pharmaceutical precursor chemicals. Fascinating.

... what?

Quote :
N.K. opened up one of the standard pricing spreadsheets, wondering what kind of company named itself Otherwise.

WHAT

Quote :
...a storm made metal. It was a vehicle of sleep, a dreamer’s transport. It had to be, to track Sirens, and still go unnoticed.

Ooh, very poetical descriptions.

Rats, I'm sore that it's over! I feel like I'm missing connections elsewhere in Break and, apparently, elsewhere in your corpus. Things like knowing whom Meteko is. I'm even ignorant enough that this story could be some kind of explicit sequel to something other than "Re Quest" and I missed it. Maybe something to do with Reach? I'm not sure.

More to come!

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