At the very least, folks, comment on why you liked the one you voted for.
- Explained: Weave a story about a Utopian (or Dystopian) future!
- The story is set in the past (Rome, Greece, Wild West etc)
- Your story focuses on the society itself, rather than the characters.
- The lead character is banished from Utopia.
- The Utopia is inaccessible, but exists and can be seen by the character(s) of the story.
- The story depicts the collapse of a utopian society.
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- Read ALL Entries.
- Vote on your favorite entry.
- Please post explaining your vote and why.
- Please provide helpful feedback on the entries.
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- Do NOT vote for your own entry.
- Do NOT tell others which entry is your own.
I’ve been forced to live my life in the shadow of a heaven now forgotten. I can still remember the day so clearly when I felt the heavy hands on my shoulders as I was forced backward out of my own home. The day had started off as any other as I walked along the markets and perused the many wares. I had chosen to buy my wife a gift that day, a silver necklace with a piece of unpolished diamond hanging from it. I knew the day would come where I would never see her again, I expected death, but I did not expect a lonely chapter of life. I made my way home that morning with a wide grin on my features, holding the newly purchased present in both of my hands. I understood the fragility of the stone, and knew she would be awake so that I could give it to her immediately. I reached my home and opened the door to see her standing in the kitchen to my left. She turned around and gave me a wide smile and I felt my heart warm as her eyes sparkled and her full red lips curled into that angel’s face that I could always imagine in my dreams.
“I’ve got a surprise,” I spoke, my voice just as clear as it ever was. I stepped forward and opened my hands, she dropped the dish she had been rinsing and a loud giggle escaped her as she ran toward me in bare feet and gently took the precious item from my palms. She held it up close to her eyes and examined it, not waiting another moment before those eyes fell on me.
“It’s beautiful! How could you afford this?” she asked in an excited pitch as she handed me the necklace again. I didn’t answer her as she instantly turned her small frame around and allowed me to drape the chain around her graceful neck. Her fingertips brushed along it gently as the cold metal met her collarbones. I clasped the chain together at the ends and let my hands go to her waist. I leaned in to kiss her shoulder just as I heard a loud bang at the door. I moved to turn around but I had no time before the door flew open and three pairs, no four pairs of hands grabbed my body and pulled me away.
“You are in direct violation of Code 7789” the police officer spoke in an eerily calculated voice, holding the piece of paper in his hands as he read off of it. I could barely understand the majority of what he was saying as I panicked and attempted to release my shoulders. He was reading me my rights, or at least that’s what I assumed.
“You’re wrong!” I heard my wife shout through her tears as they dragged me away. My eyes went black shortly thereafter. I later awoke with a darkness over my eyes, the cotton of the hood that covered my head was rubbing away at the skin of my forehead, leaving me with a headache and a burn. My mouth was numb from the ‘silence capsules’ I had been fed, and light came over me as my body was moved and the hood was removed. There I knelt in front of a judge, the original police officer, and an empty box where my wife should have been.
“How do you plead?” the judge spoke quickly, eager to get the trial done and closed. I knew nothing of my situation, I knew nothing of this ‘code 7789’ and I knew nothing of what I had done wrong.
“Not guilty, sir” my words were jumbled as I spoke, my tongue still slightly numb from the capsules. I was unaware of my crime but I was not unaware of the cruelty that befell those who did not show respect to the authority of this state.
“You plead not-guilty to the following crimes: embezzlement, infractions against the state and her well-being, unnecessary childbearing, and inability to produce documents of justification.” his words shocked me and I could find no room to reply before the police officer piped up.
“He is guilty! Failure to agree to your guilt is banishment.” his voice was also very stark, and almost chilling as it echoed through the large hall. I didn’t get my rebuttal in before the hood was returned to my head and I was once again greeted by silence and darkness.
It has been four years since that day, and I still remember it as if it has been re-occurring for a decade. Every detail, every scent, every word. It has all been engraved in the backs of my eyelids, so that I will never forget when I close my eyes. It took me a few hours after the trial to truly put my head around what they were saying, but it had all become relatively clear. My wife and I had been more than knowledgeable about the fact that no children were to be born unless documentation was given. We had been trying so desperately to get the permissions, but she could never pass the health tests. “Your heart is too weak, your lungs are too weak, your body is too weak” I hated the ways the doctor always told us what wasn’t good enough. She believed her body was strong enough, and I wanted to allow her to be the mother I knew she could be. My banishment had come not only as a tragedy, but a curse, since the trial was the first I had learned of my wife’s pregnancy. I had given her the necklace in order to comfort her woes about our inability to breed. Had she gone against the doctors word? These thoughts filled my mind with every waking minute as I stayed staring off at my past home in the distance.
What became of her? I could not shake the fears that filled my every ounce. Some part of me knew that she was dead, but part of me had hoped that she was alright and living happily with our son or daughter in her arms. It was this vision that lead me to madness. Was our daughter pretty? Or was our son handsome? Did he have my eyes? Did she have her legs? I begged to know, and I knew god wasn’t listening.
All of this lead to my day of reckoning, it all lead to this day of perdition. After many sleepless months I had come to the decision that no man woman or child deserved what my wife couldn't have. I think this now as I stand at the very walls of the Utopia I once called home. It was my perfect city in the sky. It was our perfect city in the sky and now it would be our perfect memory.
I readjusted my grasp on the large canister I had fashioned out of wood from fallen trees. My craftsmanship was terrible, and it gave off a stench that was indescribable. I had been spending my last couple of weeks in a mask, bombarding the passing vehicles with rock and stones. I had murdered and there was blood on my hands, but that blood was dedicated to the memory of my darling wife. I collected the precious fluids from those vehicles I brought to a stop, and I could see them dripping from the wooden canister that I was now pouring unto the far wall of my city. Our city.
It only took a few moments for the canister to empty as I flailed it around in random spots on the wall. My home was built of wood, concrete, and stone. Little did they realize that the wood was closer to the bottom. I pushed my final, savoured cigarette to my lips and lit the end using a lighter I had stolen from one of the crashed vehicles. I relished in the inhalation of smoke as I tossed the lighter to the fluid that had been splashed on the walls. A great light met me as I stepped back in fear. An explosion rang out and I could already hear commotion on the other side of the wall. I stayed so close to the blaze that I could feel the skin of my face soften.
Smoke billowed up into the clouds as a darkness overcame the surrounding area. Giant puffs of black plumed up and around each kiss of the growing flames. People screamed as they attempted to escape, but the walls of the city were crumbling before me. The walls of my past were crumbling, and the walls of justice were finally in my favour.
If my city, our city, could not harbour me, then It shall harbour no one.
For such a long time, for ages stretching across more centuries than he cared to count, this cruel fate had been inflicted upon him and his fellow rebels who would not simply blindly obey, but exercised that legendary 'free will' they had supposedly received upon coming into existence. For years beyond reckoning, he had been paying the price for his sin - whether that be considered his pride, or his defiance. Who was He to steal away freedom, anyway? If He wanted His subjects to be mindlessly subservient minions, would He not have created them thusly? This punishment was not 'good', not 'just' and most certainly not 'merciful', but rather something more sadistic than any of his compatriots, in their supposed wickedness, could have imagined.
Closing his eyes, the creature that had been given the name of Lucifer could escape the sight of his fate alone, but never could he slip away entirely. For eons, the eyes of him and his fellow fallen angels had been unseen, but all-seeing, in their incarceration upon Earth. Trapped, they had watched humanity - His chosen - rise and dominate the world that should have been theirs. The fallen angels had watched humans struggle to find their place in the world, had witnessed their crises and triumphs, times of peace and times of strife.
Truly, could one imagine any fate to be worse than this? That they, the angels, beings born from fire, were subjugated like this and forced to watch the humans, beings born of dirt, experience the life that should have been the angels'. For Lucifer, whose sin had been to refuse to bow to the humans and for which he had been cast out, there was no greater torment than to witness those he thought inferior to himself partake in the pleasures he wanted for himself. He had never hated humans, and had never wanted any evil upon them - but neither did he love them, consider them his brethren, his equals or his superiors. Not until after his fall. Having all freedom and joy stolen away from oneself whilst being bound to Earth and forced to behold others enjoy theirs inevitably had him harbor endless bitterness.
And now, this: an isolated island nation, greater than any other on Earth, the grandest achievement of humanity and a place of beauty to rival that of His realm. For many decades, Lucifer's eyes had been on this place, which bore the name of Atlantis. With architecture inspired by that of the Greek, with exquisite materials fetched from the ocean, this city-state was a sight to behold. Each structure erected there seemed more marvelous than the last, their boastful extravagance announcing a prosperity unmatched anywhere else. The streets were free of litter, swept clean of filth both inanimate and otherwise. There was no vagrancy and no poverty in Atlantis, nor was there any crime and no disease. And, most importantly, there were no outsiders allowed.
'Paradise', the humans who dwelt there called it, much to the chagrin of the fallen who had known His realm and understood the true meaning of the term. Everyone lived in luxury in Atlantis, apart from the rest of the world. The prime example of human ambition - a place without suffering.
But even so, the flame of loathing lit in the heart of he whose name meant Bearer of Light had made the angel's gaze linger, and he had seen why Atlantis was so. His disembodied spirit had examined all of the land, and had seen all. Everyone there was a productive and happy member of the community only because those not fitting in with this community was weeded out. Lucifer had chuckled with hateful glee as he had found an unfortunate human in the streets of Atlantis, a lone vagrant, only to witness this poor soul be subtly seized by humans with authority, be dealt with and be bestowed upon the sea for the measureless waters to wash away the undesirable. As he had kept watching, he had seen the same done with criminals ranging from petty thieves and swindlers to violent murderers. The disabled and dishonest, the unfortunate and the discontent - all had been expunged so that Atlantis might appear stainless. Knives in the dark and the untruths of rulers were what ensured the perfection.
And Lucifer, in his sullenness, found that Atlantis was much like His realm after all, as with each broken human form he saw dropped from the cliffs of the island into the cold waves, he was reminded of himself - cast out of his home to a terrible fate.
For a long time he had followed Atlantis, each year feeling his resentment intensify, each year seeing more of himself in the victims of this city and more of Him and His cruelty in the government that dispensed such erasure. Countless times Lucifer had seen the human capacity of good and evil alike, but it seemed that these concepts were alien to the Atlantians.
Lucifer decided to remind them what the words meant.
Though ethereal and incapable of interacting with Earth directly, Lucifer found that he could still speak to the souls of the humans, and though he could not compel them to do his bidding, he found that they were easily seduced if he spoke to their core desires. Recalling that his own sin had been that of pride, the fallen angel descended upon Atlantis and let his vengeful words seep into the consciousness of the citizens, awakening their own latent arrogance and ambition. He floated amongst them like a specter, unseen and unheard, as his presence drove the humans to commit the very sin he himself had once been sentenced for.
And he laughed as his efforts bore fruit, as fights, both verbal and physical, broke out amongst the citizens whenever someone felt that their pride had been wounded, and leaders of the people turned against each other in the relentless pursuit of portraying themselves as greater than their peers. Friendships crumbled before the slithering pride, families broke apart, and the crime-rate of Atlantis briefly spiked before the strict masters of the city disposed of those causing the disquiet and restoring peace - but even so, Lucifer noted with satisfaction how the government remained untouched, and secret strife continued to flourish there. Though still unmarred on the surface, the observer could see the currents of discontent beneath the mask of the city, and knew that this must be a step towards peeling off the illusion of flawlessness.
But sadly, the Bringer of Light also realized that his work would not be enough, that despite his efforts, Atlantis continued to thrive. However, as Lucifer continued his gloomy watch over those that were removed from Atlantis, a revelation came upon him, and instead of seeing just himself in each human fed to the waters, he began to also see the other fallen angels.
Leaving Atlantis for a time, Lucifer went in search of his brethren, and in the north, he found one of his cast out brethren, though perhaps not one with a sin and conscience as light as his own. This creature was one who bore the name Asmodeus. This other fallen angel did not share Lucifer's bitterness towards humanity and their creator, but had for a long time already entertained himself with exercising his influence upon the humans, manipulating them and moving them like pawns upon a chessboard. He found pleasure in doing so, and fed his own twisted urges by driving humans to do dark deeds to satiate their own desires.
When Lucifer told Asmodeus of Atlantis, he did not fill with hatred or anger, but rather excitement. Could he ever have asked for a more perfect playground for him to turn the humans upon one another? Would he ever find people that would be so satisfying to lure into the pitfalls of sin?
Like the shadow of a predator bird, Asmodeus swept across Atlantis, spreading his wicked will to all in his path, unleashing the pent up lust within them. Those days were horrid ones in the peaceful city, as more than ever indulged themselves in chasing whatever they had coveted but never been able to acquire. Asmodeus was a master at loosening inhibitions, and under his reign, the Atlantians cheated, raped, stole and murdered. Even the rulers and those that served as their tools for erasing such impurity from Atlantis found themselves gripped by the influence of the fallen angel, and for the first time the city knew corruption, as those that should have been erased now found that bribes could save their lives, and those that were innocent could be eliminated to open the way for the authorities' desires.
From his perch above the city, Lucifer witnessed this and smiled contently as the undercurrents he had seen before now rose to the surface. Atlantis was now irrevocably tainted, and it was as though this manifested in the very appearance of the city. For the first time since its foundation, vagrants roamed the streets at night along with other characters out on dark errands, inflicting their unlocked potential for evil upon the world. Even so, Atlantis had only degraded to the point where it was like many other places where humans reigned - its facade of perfection was splintering, but this was not enough. Lucifer still saw humans tossed from the cliffs, he still saw how pretentious the fortunate were, and he felt the urge to punish them all stronger than ever.
Venturing out into the world again, Lucifer found another traveling fallen angel to the east, who harbored an even stronger ire within him towards humanity than Lucifer did. This angel was Amon, one of the most powerful of the fallen. Though handsome and kind, Amon had been cast out of His realm when he had tried to convince Him that Lucifer's very own punishment had been too harsh. Being accused by Him of the sin of anger and Amon had grown furious with the fate of the fallen angels, Amon himself had fallen, and his wrath had had plenty of time to seethe and grow since.
When Amon heard of Atlantis, he was enraged that such a place had existed, that people so easily turned their back on their neighbors for the sake of a happy few. The Atlantians disgusted him so that Amon grew determined to destroy it entirely, and like a brooding storm he rushed across Atlantis, letting his own fury infect any in his way. Wherever Amon caught even the faintest scent of conflict, he hunted it down like a bloodhound and rather than extinguish it, he fed the embers until they were blazing infernos of rage - and in the wake of Lucifer and Asmodeus' meddling, there were conflict aplenty. Everywhere in Atlantis violence resulted from even the most ridiculous argument, and soon the city-state was torn apart by civil war.
The Atlantian leaders, once so secure and pleased with the idyllic realm, tried desperately to restore peace and save their crumbling land, only to have the population turn their frustrations against them. Soon almost the entire governmental body of Atlantis had had their heads mounted on poles, and the authorities that had earned their place in the city by erasing the undesirable found themselves to be considered such. They joined the countless unfortunate souls in the ocean, until one day, Lucifer realized that there were no longer anyone being tossed from the cliffs.
Grinning in vengeful delight, Lucifer relished in the state of the once-great Atlantis. Where the streets had once been clean of litter and vagrancy, mobs of people now wandered homeless, their dwellings burned down in fits of fury and their wealth spent in efforts to gain an upper hand over their contenders for enforcement of their own desires. The sea was free of bodies except the long-dead ones at its bottom, and instead every street and alley was stained with blood spilled and never washed away, while corpses began to litter the dark corners of the city. Pride, lust and wrath all reinforced each other, unlocking the true potential of evil, which had been proven to exist in human and angel alike, beings of dirt and beings of fire. And indeed, Lucifer looked upon the burning Atlantis and knew that he, too, had released his own potential. Once an archangel, now a destroyer of human life and civilization.
But it was still not enough - Lucifer wanted more. Atlantis had scarred him so that he wanted it completely annihilated, so that no other place like it might ever sprout upon the Earth on which he was forced to be the idle observer for all eternity. So once more Lucifer set out to seek his brethren, and this time he found a fallen angel not far from Atlantis itself, residing deep at the bottom of the ocean - an angel that had allowed itself to truly corrupt, becoming a hideous monster in the place of the creature it had once been. This beast was Leviathan, and though it was still incorporeal, Lucifer felt that it was as different from him as sharks were from humans.
Having once desired only to gain everything his peers possessed, Leviathan had been banished for the sin of envy, and as it was told of Atlantis, this was the exact emotion that awakened in the monster's heart. For centuries it had avoided humans, those that could live in the world that was denied itself, and tried to ignore them, but Lucifer's tale was one that Leviathan could not ignore. Its invisible form rising from the ocean, the fourth fallen angel enveloped Atlantis like a veil of smoke, permeating every breath of the humans there and invoking their jealousy towards one another.
Needless to say, this was the final blow to Atlantis. Possessed by pride, lust, wrath and envy, the Atlantians tore their own land apart until no city remained. In the end, all that remained were a few surviving stragglers to stagger from the smoldering ruins of their city and venture into boats to escape this purgatory of their own making and seek shelter with other lands. But not even these could escape the hatred of Leviathan, and those that did not kill each other during the trip to the mainland were devoured by the creatures of the sea, stirred by the fallen angel as they were, easily manipulated to detest these humans who could walk the dry land that they were denied.
Finally, none were left, and Lucifer felt himself at peace knowing that Atlantis would soon crumble into the ocean and its name fade into myth, as the memory of humans was fickle indeed. Though still trapped in his sad state of inactivity and unlife, Lucifer finally felt content knowing that there was no place left on Earth that would mimic the wicked and tyrannical rule of His realm.
Of course, he inevitably came to look upon humanity again and came to resent it anew, and began whispering to the pride in mortals where he pleased - still not happy, but now at least content, knowing that even the most ardent and despicable thing that could be spewed from humanity could be destroyed... and that if a new Atlantis ever arose, there were plenty of other fallen angels cast into the sea of this world. Plenty indeed.
The distinct smell of burned bacon rose from the small kitchen as the young man yawned, his eyes ringed, and clothing ruffled from over work. He sighed as he forced himself to stand up and walked into the kitchen grumpily. The bacon long gone and his last supply of firewood simply vanishing with the bacon. Grabbing a piece of apple skin as he walked and stuffing it into his dirty mouth. He opened the wooden door that was beyond repair and grinned. His briefcase waited for him outside the small rundown building, picking it up, and whistling a tune as he walked.
As he walked the pavement beneath him steadily improved until it shined like the finest material and more birds called from the most beautiful trees. At the end of the pavement stood a small door carved into the mountain with a small hook hidden near the bottom. He stepped on the hook and watched as the door slid into the wall the stone screeching as it went. The sound was simply terrible and caused the young man to plug his ears. The sound ceased and he continued on his way making a long curve through the mountain lone torches guiding the way. At the end was a pitch dark room with no exits and stood silently in a corner looking around. He spotted the shiny object in the darkness and bent down picking up a metal stick. Stuffing it in his shirt trying to clean it as he walked to the opposite side of the room tracing his hands over the stone wall for a couple minutes before it bumped over a small circled hole. Chuckling, the man finished cleaning the stick and pushed it into the hole smiling merrily the whole time. There was a large flash of light as the door screeched open revealing a large cavern and an entire castle made of a lovely substance known as marble. There was no people, there was no currency, and there was no problems.
It was utopia in the man's eyes and not to mention a library stocked full of books. Of course those about the history of this place interested him the most and earned their position in his private study located in the tower of the castle. He knocked on the door half expecting someone to answer and waited. There was never anybody to answer the door... He sighed and pushed it open himself revealing a bare room with a piano in the corner that was cleaned recently. Unfortunately, when he found the place everything was covered in at least six layers of dust, and was simply atrocious. It took him three years to clean the place, he even disregarded his own health, and only stopping to eat. He didn't live in the castle just to the respect the old owners and because it felt so magical every time he entered the area. A small smile grew on his face as he walked, the old suits of armor that lined the walls offered little to none elegance. It was a thirty minute walk until he arrived at his private study bright line shining through a glass window. It seemed during their stay they managed to build a system that would supply the inside of the cavern with natural light. Nearly every room was burning with natural light due to the castle's design and made the place feel like heaven. Except for this room, the private study. He unlocked the door with the key he had found his first day and covered his eyes as the darkness greeted him. Walking over to the shutters and pulling them open before sitting down in a velvet cushioned chair.
He blinked a couple times and questioned the existence of the new object on his desk. It was a small orb that seemed to glow brightly even with the well lighted room. He stretched his arm out to pick it up but paused. Perhaps it was booby trapped? The man stood there and looked at it for a large amount of time. Why was it here? Why now? Where did it come from? He had no clue and he aimed to find out. Standing up the man nearly ran to his bookcase and pulled out a book carelessly allowing another to fall. It landed neatly on top of the orb pushing it off his desk and onto the ground. It shattered and with it a large amount of dust rose in the air. He blinked a few more times and was welcomed with the sight of another male. He was perhaps in his late forties and dressed in a black suit. The man chuckled and took off his sun glasses to look around. “Nice job you've done with the place.” He grinned, “didn't expect anyone to come back so soon.”
The young man rubbed his eyes in confusion and collapsed into his seat. “W-what?” His voice losing it's strength as every moment passed.
The other man chuckled, “Honestly, do you expect a demon such as myself to earn my humans? I just bait them with a tale of paradise and they come head over heels to me. Just like you, but you're different. You never looked for treasure and only read for days on end. Really, I let you live as long as I could, but unfortunately no. I can't allow that anymore.”
The young man's breathing got harder and harder as the other man talked. “Why. Why are you doing this to me?”
The demon smiled, “Naturally, this never happened. You see, you're still stuck in a coma, which I caused by the way, and you've been here ever since. A new life, a new home, and a new identity.”
The young man tried to process the un-relenting fury of information and gasped for breath. Crouching over in pain, “Please... stop. I beg of you.”
“Sorry, it's actually not the time I choose. It's the time your body chose and simply it's time. Just you and I within this Utopia created by both our minds to help you. You did the thinking and I did the creating. Pitiful lot that lived here before you. Honestly, I still thought you had a couple years left, but those doctors kept you drugged up like a pillow case. Shame, really.” The demon said while pulling out a small wooden pipe. “Now give up hope like the first people that lived here. I had a swell time ending their souls to create this one man wonderland for you. They insisted you must live on and of course in exchange I required their lives. The end, kasplat. Hell, I'll even show you.”
The demon shoved it's finger nail into the young mans head and time seemed to wrap as the world spun forever until it came to a stop. He was still at his desk but his breathing was completely fine and a lot more items covered the walls. Horns, badges, and colorful pieces of art. There was a knock on the door as another man entered the room, “It's dire. The demon is completely destroying our people's minds. They just can't hope to fend him off.”
The young man tried to talk but couldn't, he tried to scream until the demon appeared beside him laughing. Just sit back and watch it's like a movie.
The woman sitting at the desk frowned, “Why not just exile him? He's no big deal if he's gone.”
“The thing is, we don't know who it is. He just leaves the body and enters another perfectly imitating their actions.” The man replied.
“This is more dire than I thought, assemble the men, and we'll find out the hard way.” She turned her back to the man and eyed a piece of white stone resting in the book case. “This may be our last chance.”
“No, your last chance was long gone.” The man laughed while plunging his lethal claws through the woman, “Good bye.”
The woman cried out in pain as the claws emerged from the front of her chest, “No, this isn't over.” Coughing blood, “There is another, protected by our generation. He will surely stop your evil doings.”
“No, you're dead.” With that the demon finished off the women before turning around directly facing the young man and then walked away before exploding into light. The time reverted back to the current scene and his trouble breathing came back. “She was wrong, with you ends the legacy, and I'll be dining with no regret.” The demon laughed and took a step forward his claws extended.
The young man fell out of his chair, slamming his head into the bookcase, and cried while grabbing at his head. A small piece of stone falling into his hands, “I'm too young to die.” The man cried out.
With that the demon took the final step and stood over the man his weight finally reeling in the intended reaction. “Pitiful.”
With that the demon attacked, it's claws scratching down through the air, and in panic the man threw his hands up to hopefully stop the blow. Yet it did more, there was a large crack as the demon backed up in pain it's chest turning into the same substance as the orb. “What have you done?! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?” The demon screamed as the young man forced himself up and advanced slowly the stone in his hand awkwardly.
“I-i think I get it now... When you burst into light, it wasn't because the memory was over, it was because you were trapped in there. She casted something on you...” The young man quietly said.
“The wench trapped me in that orb for twenty years! TWENTY YEARS! All that time I had to watch you grow up and read those accursed books. You were five then and so small. I could have easily killed you, but the woman expected me to try and kill her.” His face contorted in laughter, “It's a shame. I would have killed you and then the deal would be done. All of those people could have been my dinner.” He laughed and clawed at his face as the material started to cover his entire body. “I will find a way to end you, even if it takes one idiot to break me free.”
The man smiled, the pain blocking his breathing gone, “Yet that one idiot defeated you and trapped you once again. Kind of ironic, no?” There was a scream from the halls and the man ran as fast as he could. The suits of armor lining the wall weren't actually suits of armor. One by one they melted into a small puddle before rearranging themselves into actual humans. The actual owners of the utopia he lived in.
Somebody tapped on his shoulder and he turned to see the women from the memory. “Thank you, hero. You have served us well and let these both be gifts to you. Goodbye, forever.” She kissed his cheek and then the tiles beneath his feet began to fall and along with them he fell. The world went black and the feeling of energy swept over his body, his eyelids shot open to see the white walls of a hospital room. There sat a girl exactly the same as the girl in her utopia in a chair along the wall and he smiled. “Hello.”
The girl looked up her face distraught from worry and cried. “Welcome back.” She whispered.
Outside, Peter watched as the ship's fluids were meticulously vacated and replaced by the station's lonesome rigger. Laura and Griff floated along to either side of him, explaining which plugs did what, and insisting that even though the spent mag-radiator fluid came out yellow, that wasn't where the bathroom water went. At some point the two of them started arguing about something way over Peter's head, and he started scanning the other ships in port. Most were abandoned and half-picked for scrap, but there was one anchored way out past the station -- a big one -- that seemed more or less undisturbed. Since Griff and Laura were busy, Peter drifted down to the Rigger and tapped him on the shoulder. “What's that ship’s name?”
“Which one?” Peter pointed, and the rigger labored to turn his thick suit about and follow. To his experienced eyes, there was nothing in the direction of Peter’s gesture. “What are you….” It dawned on the spaceman that the green traveler might be truly and incredibly stupid. “You don’t mean Eden?”
“Do I?” Peter scratched his head – or rather, his helmet, which drew the ire of everybody around him. Peter raised his hands, as if to ask, “What did I say?”
“The Eden was exactly what you’d expect it to be,” Laura began. Peter’s expression made it clear that he had no idea what he should expect it to be. “It was a garden. A perfect garden, self sustaining – they really don’t have this story on your planet?”
“Okay. Well, Eden is basically supposed to be paradise. The ship gets its name from an old folktale about the first humans. Anyway it was designed to be a sort of miniature planet. If it had worked out, we probably would have built a thousand more just like it, and moved our entire society into the artificial environments.”
“But it didn’t work out,” Peter concluded. She nodded. “What happened – was it the Vallions?”
“Yes,” Captain Lumford interrupted. Nobody knew precisely when he had come through the airlock, or how long he had been listening – they had all been watching the ship. But now that he had been noticed, Laura and Griff and the rest of the crew seemed to instinctively shrink away. Only Peter and the nameless rigger were undaunted – the latter going about his work, and the former staring inquisitively through his glass helmet at the Eden, his back to the rest of the crew.
“I thought they only attacked natural planets. What would they want with an artificial one?” Peter asked. Everyone was silent, until the Captain sighed audibly into his microphone.
“They didn’t invade, kid. They were already there.” He held up a hand, pausing to collect his thoughts. “The Eden was built in 1083, but its first mission didn’t happen until 1090. Up until then, it was a PR stunt – they’d fly it around to different systems to rally the humans around our common accomplishments. Eden even stopped a civil war on Centuri 9, just by showing up in orbit. No shit. Four years of violence just dissolved at the sheer marvel of it. You could take shuttles to the ship, even buy tickets to come aboard and see the gardens, eat the fruit, you know. Tourist stuff.”
This marked the longest Peter had ever heard the Captain speak without throwing something at a crewmember. His attention was rapt.
“Then finally it was time for the big leagues. The Eden received its first real crew – or rather, its first population. So much of the ship was automated, you only needed a few people to actually FLY the thing, even if it all went horribly wrong you’d need maybe ten, twenty people and the right equipment, and you could manage the whole ship. Everybody else was an ordinary – well, an EXTRAORDINARY person who just happened to be in the right place. The mission was exploration, research, data-gathering… but the purpose of it all was to find and communicate with alien life. All the technical garbage, all the flight discipline, that was all secondary to the interaction of our two societies – so it wouldn’t have made sense to send an Army ship. We didn’t want any potential life forms thinking we were a militaristic society – the first interaction had to be peaceful, had to show them exactly who we are and what we’re like.”
“So they sent normal people,” Peter nodded, understanding. “Like me.” He felt an instant connection with these travelers – thrust, just as he was, into a world of spacemen and stars and technology so incredible he couldn’t imagine ever understanding it. What it must have been like for them! At least Peter had people like Laura to help him adjust, to learn how to work the ship; and Griff, to tell him what sort of foods would give him the shits when they turned the gravity off. And as he put two and two together, he realized – tragically – that these innocent people, just like him, must have been the first to witness the horror of the Vallions. He was almost afraid to ask. “What happened to them?”
“Everyone has their theory,” Lumford remarked casually. “What we know for sure is that the Eden lost its course at some point in its journey. It was missing for years – and when it finally came back, it was carrying the Vallions. They docked right here – this very station – and they seized every single ship in port. Killed thousands. Then they vanished. The next time anybody saw the Vallions….”
“Cautar Four,” Peter realized, biting his lip. His home planet – the first battleground.
“You were, what, five? Six?” Peter held up fingers. “Eight years old when the planet fell. You couldn’t even comprehend the significance of that day…. On a single planet, over eleven trillion people killed. Less than 500,000 survivors – most of them children, like yourself. And in the same year, two more planets were lost to the Vallions.”
“And this is where it all started,” Peter’s face was a ghostly white, made to seem all the paler by the fluorescent bulbs in his helmet. For a while he just stared at the Eden, floating in the distance like a gravestone in space. “Where did they come from?”
“Nobody knows for sure,” Laura interrupted. The captain shot her a look and she fell silent.
“If you ask me,” he began – his voice thick with menacing, conspiratorial certainty – “they didn’t come from anywhere. We made them.” Peter’s brow wrinkled with confusion. “Those people we put on the Eden – ordinary people like you – they became the Vallions. They must have floated, lost, in that ship for years – never knowing they were going to make it back. How could they? The odds against it…. Space is big, kid. Twenty active crew, a million civilians, all lost in the void with no hope of return… can you imagine what that must have done to them?”
“Captain,” Laura tried to interject – Peter was looking faint – but the Captain continued without losing a beat.
“Imagine, if paradise became your prison? They must have lost hope – must have been driven mad by the prospect of it. The human mind…. It can overcome many problems, but not hopelessness. How long would you last – how long would any of us last – before you became a monster too?”
“Captain, please,” Laura begged. She was completely overcome with concern for Peter, who seemed almost catatonically lost in thought. Only now did Lumford break his narrative, to observe the newcomer and gauge his reaction.
Remarkably, though his body seemed to float lifeless in the vacuum, his voice was deliberate and calm. “The folk-tale…. How does it end?”
Lumford shot a glance at Laura, and she hung her head as she answered. “The humans are exiled from the Garden of Eden, and forbidden to return.” He motioned for her to continue, and she did so tediously. “Soon after that…. They began to kill one another, starting with a man named Cain. Before long, almost all of humanity is destroyed in a terrible flood.”
“Did they ever return to the garden?” Peter asked.
“Never.” This time, the Captain answered directly – with a strange level of concern in his voice.
Peter spun around to face the others. His eyes were almost shockingly bright, his features animated – not at all what the others expected to see. For the first time since he came aboard, he seemed not to be the least bit afraid. “We should go onboard,” he declared. It was subtle, but Laura thought she heard a change in his voice – not that it was deeper, but that it carried more weight and purpose than it ever had. She was shocked at his sudden stroke of courage, and aghast at his stupidly fearless suggestion. Her eyes turned to Griff, who was likewise stupefied, and then to Lumford.
The captain simply grinned. “Thought you’d never ask.”
General Guidelines For All:
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Banner Thanks To: Salvatrucha
At the very least, folks, comment on why you liked the one you voted for.
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If you insist, I suppose I could find the time to explain my vote. After some consideration, I placed my vote on Entry 4 in part because I thought it the most well-written of the entries, but to be honest I guess my final decision in this was determined by the fact that Entry 4 had the most engaging way of presenting its story.
Entry 1 only seemed to barely even make the reader get a sense of the society around which the story was suggested to revolve and instead seemed to focus almost entirely on the main character. I think the main problems I have with this entry would be that it seems to build upon a story which it does not suit to be shortened down, but rather be portrayed as a longer, more detailed story. As a story as short as this, I feel that Entry 1 does not engage the reader enough in just basically saying "main character in love, main character gets kicked out of society because it sires a child without permit, main character gets vengeful and torches society." That is basically all one can learn from the story, which is sad, somehow. With more detail it could possibly have been better, especially with some portrayal of more information about the society, but as it is, it just doesn't tell the reader enough.
Entry 2 then ironically goes in almost the opposite direction of Entry 1, telling little to nothing about the characters while at the same time presenting a decent overview of the society, but essentially it has the same problem as Entry 1 with seeming to be a long story that has been compressed into too few words. It manages to portray the society around which the story revolves rather well, and it aptly describes the emotions and motivations of the characters, yet it somehow feels like it leaves the reader unsatisfied, as though it is only a synopsis of a grander work. That, I would say, is its main drawback.
For some reason Entry 3 irritates me, and my first guess as to how and why this is would be the style it is written in. From a narrative point of view the entry seems somehow only halfway done, telling the reader a story centered around characters without really immersing the reader in the world or characters. In my opinion, too much occurs in the story where it is simply stated that it happens, while neglecting to give even a brief immersive comment as to how it happened, which I personally think is very important to any story, and is virtually expected on Advanced level of writing. To give an example from early in the entry, in the very first sentence, the main character smells bacon, but that is as far as the description of this goes. It describes a picture, a scene, rather than the scene as viewed through a character, wherein one could also mention the character's reaction to the smell, and so forth. Another example that comes to mind which is painfully under-described is during this piece: “No, your last chance was long gone.” The man laughed while plunging his lethal claws through the woman, “Good bye.” No emotion, no explanation of the manner in which it happened, only a basic statement of what occurred.
Besides, the grammar is a little faulty, I think, and the story of the entry seems... I don't know, uninteresting, somehow. The overall impression that the story is uninteresting might be a consequence of the other flaws, but for some reason it just doesn't catch my interest. That, and I think it has very limited relevance to the theme of this WOTM.
Entry 4, then, did a lot of the things right that I feel the others did wrong. It takes a clear course right from the beginning, focusing on the characters rather than the society - not so that the entry might neglect the society, but simply to use the characters as a means through which to portray everything else, thus combining facts with opinions and emotions the way it should be done. It does not at any particular point feel like the entry sacrifices the quality of its contents for the sake of decreasing the length. Entry 4 gives the impression that it is just the beginning, or at least part of the introduction, of a longer work, rather than a synopsis - the result of which I think preferable to the others in which too much story is crammed into too few words. My main concern about this entry is that it seems somewhat distanced from the theme of the WOTM, as I suppose that the utopia/dystopia of the entry would be Eden, but virtually no description of what made Eden a utopia/dystopia is offered, except that it was "basically supposed to be paradise". It focuses more on the story revolving around Eden than it does about what exactly made Eden so special, the result of which does not necessarily decrease the quality of the entry, but which does make its application as an entry for this WOTM questionable.
Right. Nobody asked me not to leave a review, so I'm gonna hit everyone.... if you want me to take something down, or change my tone, or be nicer, please come to me directly. I promise I won't bite your head off. Besides, I'm sure Dudel's tired of whining on mystery-peoples' behalf, so let's give him a break, huh? My goal in this is to help you guys, so if I'm not helping I need to know that from you, and any tips on how I can review better or more-helpful-ly are always appreciated.
Righto. On to heartless, cruel, drug-induced savagery. Did I mention I'm on painkillers? I'm on painkillers. This is probably gonna be really sub-par, unfocused and lacking punch and clarity, cuz my brain is pretty much everywhere but here right now. So, uh, feel free to take the opportunity and let loose a little discussion. What am I saying that's totally fucking bonkers? Where am I wrong about a piece? What about my reviews do you disagree with? If I've ever been wrong before (and that's NEVER been proven), I'm probably wrong about something now. I bet we could all benefit from some open discussion on these stories.
First of all -- this is almost-uniformly excellent writing. It's not grammatic "perfection," but "accuracy" that matters -- by which I mean that while there's a run-on, like, ONCE, it doesn't really do you any harm because it's part of the narrator's voice. Hard to say how much of it was deliberate and how much of it was just automatic, but frankly it's a point in your favor either way. Nice.
OKAY. So, you wasted no time getting to the tragedy, and to put this bluntly I think you probably should have. This is claustrophobic writing -- everything's tight, everything's right there in your face. So much of this story would love to grow.... Take the first sentence. "I’ve been forced to live my life in the shadow of a heaven now forgotten. I can still remember the day so clearly...."
Now, imagine, if you were say Stephen King, what would this sentence look like? Probably like a whole chapter, right?! I could give you the obligatory "Show don't tell" mantra, but you don't need it.... You've got a real knack for poetic language, now just focus it a little more, and let the emotions grow naturally into your piece.
....wow, sorry, that was appalling. I'm gonna go take a break, and maybe (probably) revisit #1 when I come back to do the rest. In the meantime, I guess I'll engage Dark Jack with a response....
I dunno if "longer, more detailed" is necessarily the right answer. Details aren't really what's lacking, at least not from where I sit, all the details (right down to the letter of the law) are spelled out. What it needs is room to breathe, I think... Action needs the counterpoint of inaction. The whole story is condensed, we certainly agree about that, and it would certainly benefit from being LONGER, but I would hesitate to prescribe even a single detail further. Just..... slow down, take a breath, tell the story patiently and let it open up when it needs to. Peripherals, symbols, maybe an interval between pathos and pathos, I dunno. It needs more room. What do other people think?I think the main problems I have with this entry would be that it seems to build upon a story which it does not suit to be shortened down, but rather be portrayed as a longer, more detailed story. As a story as short as this, I feel that Entry 1 does not engage the reader enough in just basically saying "main character in love, main character gets kicked out of society because it sires a child without permit, main character gets vengeful and torches society." That is basically all one can learn from the story, which is sad, somehow.
as goes the second amendment, so go the rest
I think our readers might need a little refresher on what Utopian fiction is supposed to do.
Specifically this one sentence:
Wiki: Utopain and Dystopian FictionThe utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures.
We do that, typically, by focusing on characters and how they interact with said social and political structures.
Arguably, Entry #1 is Dystopian, as well, which explains quite a lot all on it's own. The purposed Utopia could very well be our authors nightmare world.
That's why I love the genre!
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Hello Good Sir or Madam, here are some links that you might find helpful as you continue to use RPGuild, a couple of which even written by myself.
So seeing as I dearly wanted to write for this topic but never found the time, I thought I might as well review the entries instead. I apologize in advance if I am not clear in what I am trying to say; it has been forever since I have written anything, let alone a critique, so do not hesitate to ask me to clarify or expand on anything. As expected, these are my opinions so take them as you may. On to the bloodbath!
I was instantly intrigued by your opening sentence and I had great expectations for the piece because of it. Perhaps that is what hurt you in the long run because I feel the piece fell short and flat. To have such an impressive start with a certain harmony of poetic language, intrigue, and an easy nature, I found it was confusing that your writing style quickly diminished and fell into a lot of elementary mistakes. The sentences became longer and more complex, but not in a natural flow. It seems as if you knew what you wanted to say, had snippets of sentences in mind but could not string them together in such a way that was pleasant to read, or even in a focused manner. There were a lot of really decent ideas put forth that showed a lot of promise but the writing lacked a definite style and a definite focus.
The first paragraph, save the opening sentence, was an odd mix of reflection and action. This is not an uncommon thing done by authors, but I do not think you fully grasped the method of it. You would get started on an internal dialogue and then include a bit of action then return to the internal narration. This was awkward and lacked a set rhythm that made it easy for your reader to get behind. Writing should come across effortless, and unfortunately, it did not.
You also set yourself up multiple times for possible sophisticated rhetoric that would have elevated the piece, but you never actually ended up going in the right direction. It was as if you had an idea and were distracted by another. I do not know if I am explaining that clearly, but for example, your second sentence begins withand then you start the next sentence with“I can still remember the day...”When you reference the same thing like this, using the same vocabulary nonetheless, the sentences tend to flow better with a parallel sentence structure. You should have written, “I can still remember the day so clearly when I felt the heavy hands on my shoulders as I was forced backward out of my own home. I can still remember the day starting off as any other as I...” This sounds more like internal dialogue of a reflective narrator and it lessens the blow of the cliché I wish you had left out. When days start out as any other day, I know the writer is trying to foreshadow but it too lazy to be original about it.“The day...”
Next, diamonds are not fragile. If I am not looking too hard for something that is not there, the diamond was supposed to be a symbol of the marriage and a show of love from the narrator to his wife. The fragility was commenting on what was to come as well as their relationship. This is all fine and would work except for the fact that diamonds are not fragile. Symbolism can do wonders for a piece of work, but they have to be done correctly otherwise they reveal how hard the writer is actually working and the rest of the piece is undermined. A flower or paper knickknack should have been chosen to represent their relationship, not a diamond. Diamonds are lasting, hard, cold, and lavish, all characteristics that your characters later on did not exemplify. Be careful with how you set up metaphors and symbols so that they do not distract from the real reason behind them.
One of the most blatant mistakes of this piece was the contradicting sentence that would set the rest of the piece on one track only to be derailed and opposed later on.This is all fine and well but you later have the narrator remark that he did not understand why he was taken in while this suggests he knows he has done something that would cause his death. You cannot play around with what your character knows and what they do not. It has to be established and it cannot waver under any circumstances.“I knew the day would come where I would never see her again, I expected death, but I did not expect a lonely chapter of life.”
The other thing I noticed about the first paragraph is me being a little finicky to be honest, but it wasn’t just in this paragraph that you chose to ignore basic workings of the world (Not the right words but I’m not sure what else to call it) so that you could progress the plot without much effort so I thought I might touch upon it. I know this was probably done for the sake of word count as well as avoiding sounding verbose, but instead it came off as someone who does not fully understand connotations of words, and used nonsensical statements.This sentence has quite a lot wrong with it, so bear with me for the moment. Besides what I mentioned before, comes the obvious question, how does he know that she will be awake? It seems like something odd to remark on and does not serve another purpose. It is distracting to the reader because it leaves questions unanswered without actually serving a purpose. If perhaps you were introducing some intimate connection between the two, where they have become so comfortable with one another that their daily routines is predictable but welcomed then this would be fine, but that would have to be expounded upon which it was not. Also, you give us her location in relative terms to the narrator but having no prior description of the house layout, “to my left” means absolutely nothing to me. Unless you have already described location and positions of characters or their settings and it becomes important for later on, do not include it. It is a cheap and ineffective way to offer the reader “description.” Also, in the third paragraph, first sentence you say,“I understood the fragility of the stone, and knew she would be awake so that I could give it to her immediately. I reached my home and opened the door to see her standing in the kitchen to my left.”Pitch cannot be excited, tone can. Be careful when using synonyms as they often have different allowable adjectives and connotations. (I admit this is extremely fussy, but the point it makes is one I thought others might benefit from)“...she asked in an exited pitch...”
The next paragraph was okay, a little on the cliché side, and makes the reader see their love as giddy and puppy love as opposed to the close connection you depict later on. I understand what you were trying to establish with the set up, but the character reactions do not match the relationship later on. Characters are people, and people are predictable. They act certain ways in certain situations. Do not let yourself get caught up in the wanted emotion of a piece and then sacrifice character integrity because of it.
When writing science fiction where new terminology, especially technology, has to be introduced, never put it in quotation marks, especially those whose names explain themselves. It only draws attention to them and pulls the reader back into the mindset that, oh yah, this is a fake reality. Your narrator does not know that the silence capsules are not in the reader’s reality. This was not a big deal, and you handled it better than others have, but it does separate good science fiction and fantasy writers from bad ones.
The next little bit was not bad, but it was predictable and nothing unique. The situation has been written a thousand times before and unfortunately you did not offer anything fresh to it. I found it forgettable and I started to gloss over it without missing much. As a writer, you need to ensure that you are able to tell a story, no matter how used, and be able to have the reader walk away with a unique experience. I found that I did not do this with the middle of your piece. It was not until the scene with the judge did I get even more frustrated. Writers, new ones in particular, often do not understand how to write antagonistic characters. You are so ready to show the dystopian society in this scene that you make it completely unbelievable. Any normal person being accused of unknown crimes would not plead not guilty before asking what they were being charged with, no matter how much “respect to the authority of this state” was in jeopardy. Asking for an explanation is not rude, and in fact a natural response.
The last two specific notes I have for you was on your word choice and another confusing piece of detail.To start with, the word choice of breed is a terrible one. Breed is cold, scientific, and distant. This couple truly wants a child, they see this act of creating one not as “breeding” (which only conjures up images of dogs and racehorses), it is an intimate and personal act. Then you have the narrator question whether his wife had “gone against the doctors” which is completely ridiculous question to ask. He would have to be present after all in order to impregnate her, unless there is some sort of artificial insemination, but because there was no prior note of this, the reader cannot assume there is. This is a fake reality; you cannot leave that sort of thing up to implication. But say that you were not talking about this either. The only other logical explanation would be you trying to hint that perhaps she was having an affair. This too, however, wouldn’t make sense because the narrator would then have to focus on the betrayal, making the rest of his actions not have an actual motive, so I think it’s safe to assume you weren’t trying to say this either. This question was just an overall bad thing to include, it is trying to distance the narrator from the crime but that is ridiculous because it takes two to make a baby.“I had given her the necklace in order to comfort her woes about our inability to breed. Had she gone against the doctor’s word? These thoughts filled my mind with every waking minute as I stayed staring off at my past home in the distance.”
Overall, I suppose the piece was not that bad, but it was highly unfocused and you ended up contradicting yourself multiple times. Your writing style and voice is weak, but there is something there, something that cannot be said about many writers. You have a lot of potential, this piece in fact has a lot of potential, you just need to steer away from the cliché storyline, verbal clichés, and try to focus your writing. Decide what scenes, what details need to be included and which ones do not.
I just wanted say that I was really and truly impressed with this piece. I was a little skeptical at first when I saw that it was going to be a religious entry but it was not at all what I was expecting. You created an internal dialogue that was convincing and believable right off the bat. It was effortless without being bland. I never once questioned the believability of the narrator, nor did I find him under-characterized. It is really easy for writers to think that in order to characterize their characters they have to describe them and use adjectives to get them across. This is a perfect example about how actions speak louder than words. I never needed to know that Lucifer was bitter and cruel because you showed me he was bitter and cruel through his acts against Atlantis. I wanted to congratulate you on this; I was impressed with the intricacy of this technique and your ability to implement it.
One of my favorite things about this entry was the metaphor between Heaven and Atlantis. It was absolutely perfect. They were both one another and yet separate entities and I do not think I could offer enough praise for the genius of it. It gave the archangel believable motivation while also fitting the utopian/ dystopian theme.
The only problem I saw, and it really is just a personal opinion, was just the use of “Bringer of Light” as another name for Lucifer. I get it, and the juxtaposition and irony that the name brings is great, I just think you used it as another name when you should have just left it as the side not when you first introduced it. Like I said, that just a little thing that really does not matter, I just remember stopping when you repeated it and thought it was a little weird.
Oh and then there was one sentence that I think you cheated yourself on a little bit.There was enough motive to have him want to destroy the town without having to say that Atlantis scarred him. Atlantis did not throw him out, Heaven did. Perhaps you were trying to show that Lucifer was at a place he failed to see the difference anymore, but it would have been such a fleeting comment that most of your readers would miss it. I just think you happened to choose the wrong word.“Atlantis had scarred him so that he wanted it completely annihilated, so that no other place like it might ever sprout upon the Earth on which he was forced to be the idle observer for all eternity.”
There was not anything that really stuck out to me as a screaming problem or confusing. I think you created a perfect balance with this piece between action and time. I do not think stretching it out anymore of this would have added anything or shortening it up. It was a good balance and it read beautifully. I suppose I wished you had gone through all of the seven sins as archangels but I understand that it would have been even more repetitive, but I do think there was room to include them. Perhaps gluttony as a failed attempt where it affects a few people, but ultimately the city corrects itself. It was fine without the rest but I do think it would have added something to include the other three sins.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with this entry and with the writing. I would continue to analyze it, but I do not feel I would have anything else to say but how much I enjoyed it. It really was everything that a short story should be in terms of rhythm and balance. You have an easiness about your writing that was very pleasant to read. I have to admit once I saw it was a religious entry I skipped it until the end thinking it would be riddled with clichés and either religious damnation or praise, something that most people do very poorly. You did neither, and just took two preexisting stories and made it into something unique and original. I'm sorry I can't offer something more substantial than this, I just couldn't find much wrong with the piece.
That being said, I did find Entry 4 a little more interesting. While your piece was an entire story and had a magical realism touch to it, I am a sucker for science fiction and so I went with the other piece. Your entry was a close second and lost not on merit or writing ability but based on content and storyline. For me it came down to which storyline I liked better.
I found this piece boarding on completely unreadable. The grammar was atrocious and you often didn’t even have correct subject-verb agreement. I can only assume that English is not your first language based on how the piece sounds, but perhaps not. The following are sentences where you didn’t have a main verb or that you would have a sentence that begot a result clause and then just stopped.
There is no main verb here. It is literally a description without an ending. Perhaps you just forgot the “was” between bacon and long. Maybe you forgot to finish your thought.The bacon long gone and his last supply of firewood simply vanishing with the bacon.
You are missing a subject and your main verbs are in the wrong tense.His briefcase waited for him outside the small rundown building, picking it up, and whistling a tune as he walked.
Missing a subject.At the end was a pitch dark room with no exits and stood silently in a corner looking around.
Missing your main verb for the second clause. Once again the sentence is cut off.Stuffing it in his shirt trying to clean it as he walked to the opposite side of the room tracing his hands over the stone wall for a couple minutes before it bumped over a small circled hole.
And the sad thing is that this is in just the first TWO paragraphs. Perhaps later on you’ve pulled an Ayn Rand and are purposely missing verbs (in her case the correct pronoun), and I just never made my way to it, but I highly doubt it. This is a perfect case of someone who thinks that “advanced” writing just means a lot of writing. I’m sorry to say I will not be able to critique this entry because it seems a little silly to fix concept problems when you do not have the fundamentals of writing down. If English does happen not to be your first language, there is no shame in asking a friend whose it is to proof read your work. I will be the first to admit I have pretty horrible grammar myself, but there's a difference between incorrect comma use and missing verbs and subjects. These mistakes are not abstract, they are essential and because it is so riddled with blaring mistakes, it becomes unreadable. For this reason, I have disqualified this piece for the running of my vote.
This one stood out to me much more than the others because it was not only science fiction but it also was a lot more open ended of a piece. Instead of portraying a short story, the piece was just a snippet out of a larger piece. It was also interestingly from a point of view of curiosity and inquisition as opposed to the others of oppression and bitterness. I really enjoyed the piece that could have easily been seen as a fluff story but held the promise of much deeper thematic nature then that.
It took me a little longer then I would have liked to realize it was a science fiction piece and the ships weren’t boats but space ships. I feel that you could have hinted at the idea that this was a universal reality instead of a planetary one a little more clearly and earlier on. Also, I was left wondering whether or not Peter was human or another humanoid species. It also begs the question of what his ship mates are. I think a few sentences here and there would have added an immense amount of depth to the piece which would have made the characters a little more tangible.
I did feel that the entry was almost an introduction of sorts to a larger and more grandiose story of a fallen Utopia. This was really interesting and exciting without having to be filled with action. You allowed the reader’s mind to wander and predict without being too ambiguous.
I love the fact that the Vallions were both the victims and the enemy. It made them a more tangible group, more reliable and realistic. I think you summed up their tragedy perfectly in the line:In fact, that was what sold me on your piece. With that one sentence you unlocked a whole mess of philosophical questions, different avenues the stories could take, and you did it all in 50 words.“Imagine, if paradise became your prison? They must have lost hope – must have been driven mad by the prospect of it. The human mind…. It can overcome many problems, but not hopelessness. How long would you last – how long would any of us last – before you became a monster too?”
In the short entry (relatively speaking of course. You could have drug it out much longer and I am thrilled you didn’t) you were able to create multiple different characters with different personalities without once having to describe their personality directly. You made a story of intrigue and mystery with a highly deep background and you did it in a simplistic manner. You had a strong voice and are obviously a very talented writer.
I did end up giving this piece my vote for its intrigue and writing voice. I would like to not that entry two came in a close second with the major deciding factor being the subgenre as well as the style. Both had very high writing capabilities and merit, but I did prefer this entry. Congratulations on a wonderfully written piece! I only wish I knew the rest of the story!
I wanted to extend my full congratulations and commendations to all of the authors of these pieces for a strong set of entries. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing these pieces and would have no qualm about answering or expanding on anything I said so please do not hesitate to ask or even just comment on my critique.
TL;DR: I picked entry four followed closely by entry two.
I wanted to apologize to anyone I was in the middle of an RP with for my abrupt leave from the guild. I was going back to school, which normally isn’t a problem, but my dorm has been without power and I’ve been moving all of my things in between class to another dorm so I’ve been a bit busy. I’m typing up as many responses as I can tonight and tomorrow if you are still interested in continuing. This was totally unusual and I can’t see it happening again but I’m so sorry for disappearing like that!
"We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts." Ray Bradbury
I don't have too much to add since I've been away from RPGuild for a few days... but I would like to say that a story can add so much with a title.
A title is the first impression. A title tells your reader what you want them to know far before they get to your hook... in fact, your story's title should be a hook in and of itself. I can not emphasize enough how important a title is, folks.
Now, you don't really need a title, but... it really helps.
RPGuild's Official Contests
Hello Good Sir or Madam, here are some links that you might find helpful as you continue to use RPGuild, a couple of which even written by myself.
It's no lie. Titles are like tees. If you tee up your golf ball the right way, you drive it five hundred yards down the center of the fairway. Tee it up wrong, you slice. Don't tee it up at all, well, hope you weren't planning on using your driver, cuz you won't be hitting anything.
THAT SAID, don't count on your title for too much, especially if you're considering "going pro." I understand publishers like to keep control of pretty much everything that goes on the cover of a book, other than your name. That means that if they're paying the bill, odds are they're gonna call the book whatever the hell they feel like calling it. So, srs writers should learn to write something that doesn't need their specific title to be good.... and really, that's a good habit to keep anyway, even for an RP forum contest. Titles are great for "hooks," and especially with poetic pieces they're capable of lending a lot of meaning as well (like that one poem a few contests ago, where the title of the poem was longer than the poem). Still, it's my opinion that if you need your title, you're not writing well enough. To me it's like wrapping paper on a present.... yes, it can make your present look better under the christmas tree, but the last thing you want is for the person who unwraps to be disappointed by the gift, or for a reader to be built up by the title and let down by the story.
I'm working on them, I swear. I don't know if I'll finish before the timer runs out, because I'm distracted and on narcotics and working on some other stuff and trying to RP all at the same time. But I won't forget.Originally Posted by nobody at all
as goes the second amendment, so go the rest
Worry less about publishers and worry more about the thing on the paper that the publishers will look at. In fact, the last thing anyone should be worrying about is getting published. Focus, first, on the actual skill you are trying to sell.
That Said: Publishers are still gonna wanna know your title. It's part of your audition, in fact. The title sticking, or not, isn't the issue. I have things that went from WOTW with one title then ended up on another site with a different title and then dA with a third and final title.
I don't care if people start calling things "Untitled #7." Just... put a title. O.O
Also: Publishers will want a cover page, which (by format) requires a title.
You need a spaceholder, sure. My point is just that if excellence is a race, you should worry more about your engine than your paint job, no matter what level you're driving at. The fact that the NASCAR cars are covered in whatever the sponsor feels like putting in there is secondary to the truth that the engine matters a whole helluva lot more than the paint ever did.
as goes the second amendment, so go the rest