February 2016 - Grand Fiction Challenge - Scores!


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    February 2016 - Grand Fiction Challenge - Scores!

    Cran mrmustard615 TKent bazz cargo bookmasta amsawtell total
    Like Snuffing Out a Candle
    by InkwellMachine
    19.5 15 18.5 19 18 17.5 17.92
    The Place
    by Terry D
    18.5 14 19 18 16 17 17.08
    Fighting Back
    by M. Cull
    19 17 16.5 17 14.5 17 16.83
    Kimari's Heart
    by Allysan
    19 18 13 15 16 17.5 16.42
    The Goat Farm
    by jenthepen
    18.5 18 11.5 16 17 17.5 16.42
    Desperate Times
    by Joshybo
    19 14 15 17 17 16 16.33
    The Coward's Way Out
    by HaperCole
    18 16 16.5 16 14 16.5 16.17
    Musiques Nocturnes
    by Pluralized
    19 15.5 10 19 17 16.5 16.17
    Morning Glory
    by sleepwriter
    19 17 14 18 13 14.5 15.92
    Dead by Dawn
    by Institute Man
    17.5 16 13.5 15 12 18 15.33
    Infitialis Navitas
    by Shrody
    16 14.5 10 17 17 13 14.58
    The Crossing
    by midnightpoet
    18 14 11 17 12.5 14 14.42
    Countdown to Oblivion
    by rcallaci
    16 17.5 10 15 12 13 13.92
    The Case of the Angry Wife
    by mrmustard615
    - - - - - - JE
    Impossible Cat and the Skunk of Freedom
    by bazz cargo
    - - - - - - JE
    Dawn
    by Cran
    - - - - - - JE



    Ladies and Gentlemen, lets give a special congratulations to our Winners!

    In 1st place, we have Like Snuffing Out a Candle by InkwellMachine

    In 2nd, The Place by Terry D.

    and in 3rd, is Fighting Back by M. Cull

    Our People's Choice Award, after the tie breaker, goes to The Place, by Terry D. Congratulations everybody! All members are now welcome to 'like' any entries they would like, and without further adieu, the Scores!!!


    Cran's Scores:
    Overall –
    As expected, some high quality stories on offer in this invitational challenge, and no, I could not tell who wrote which, although I could guess at one or two. The critical benchmark was set higher for most of the entries, looking more at self-consistency, plausibility and logic, and imaginative scenarios and storytelling, over the usual basic SPaG issues.

    Because of the difficulties in copy/paste translations between Word or similar documents and the forum post and PM software, I ignored any instances of compound pars or missed par breaks as possible software glitches. I was able to confirm this by comparing my own original with the posted version.

    I was also able to confirm, once again, that the writer’s internal editor still misses what become obvious only after the work is independently presented, thus reinforcing the value of good outside editors in the main.

    Congratulations, and thank you, to everyone who participated in this second annual grand fiction challenge. I’m not normally one for name-calling, but you are champions!



    [*]“The coward's way out”
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 4.9
    Effect: 8.2
    Overall: 18


    Review
    A science fiction tale with echoes from Sunrise on Mercury, Solaris, and other similar stories, where an isolated crew are condemned to roasting death unless they first kill each other or themselves. Common to these is the suggestion, or outright discovery, of the local alien influence able to exploit just the right weaknesses to bring about the unfolding tragedy. Engineers destroying something critical generally feature in there somewhere.

    As far as such stories go, and considering the word limit, this one is well told, with only a couple of minor questionable bits that would possibly be missed by many readers.



    handsome in a Neanderthal sort of way[O1] .
    Bullet through the brain[O2] , nice and quick.’
    ‘Oh! I … I never knew that[O3] .’
    What’ll you do when the temperature hits 412 degrees? [O4]



    [O1]Really? Low, sloping forehead, prominent brow ridges and lower jaw features, big nose, and hairy?
    [O2]As dialog, it would be better as a period and new sentence.
    [O3]If Valletta was the commander or two IC, it’s more likely that she would have known what is on her team’s personality and security files; in operational situations, as this appears to be, lives depend on those in charge knowing these things.
    [O4]Put more clothes on. USAF human heat endurance tests found that trained pilots could endure up to 400F naked and up to 500F heavily clothed – the 1986 Guinness Book of Records did not report for how long, and the website is ignoring the record due to the damage caused to overheating of the brain. The point is, Valletta is right, and there are solutions to insulating against extreme heat, and even using the exchange of heat to produce ice





    [*] “Countdown to Oblivion”

    Spelling/Grammar: 3.5
    Tone/Voice: 4.3
    Effect: 8.2
    Overall: 16


    Review
    In an unusual departure from protocol, it appears that a ship’s captain is giving the first sergeant’s pre-battle speech to a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears marine cadets who have been slow-dosed with some future version of PCP. That, or a hopped up sergeant has done away with the captain and taken over the ship.

    A bunch of hypocritical aliens decided to pacify humanity by force, which might have worked if they hadn’t made the mistake of telling us that, not only were we not alone, we had family out there. The guardian aliens then made an even worse error: they demanded to be treated like the gods of old.

    Their careful research apparently never turned up our consistent revolts and successful overthrowing of the gods of old, especially of those who demanded sacrificial tributes. Well, if they missed that, they probably also missed the Trojan horse incident. Checkmate.

    Quite a few SPaG misses.


    “Now, now, my little snot-nosed cadets, there’s no need yet to piss your undershorts[O1] .
    plopped myself into the captains [O2] chair.
    posing as their confident [O3] and protector,
    turning each and everyone [O4] to ash and dust.
    led to miscommunication’s [O5] between
    kind of Diaspora[O6] . They created Operation Genesis. The “Humania[O7] ” spread their seed
    But it is now “Humanity’s[O8] ” sacred duty
    who dared to do, [O9] Us--- harm.
    “Captain [O10] we’re approaching the guardian’s [O11] carrier fleet.
    30 [O12] minutes,” snapped [O13] his first officer.
    “Cadets, Humanity’ [O14] will forever
    May you forever drift and float in the dreams where the gods and fairies dwell[O15]
    We’ll [O16] always prevail.
    make us and our planet[O17] , die a
    in time, it is we[O18] , who will burn our
    Long live[O19] !




    [O1]Why does the captain talk like a sergeant? Or, what is a sergeant doing sitting in the Captain’s chair?
    [O2]Captain’s
    [O3]confidant or confidante, unless someone is French.
    [O4]Either just everyone, or each and every one – the phrase each and every is specific.
    [O5]No apostrophe here
    [O6]Why is this capped? No reason that I can see.
    [O7]Why is this in quotes?
    [O8]Again, why is this in quotes?
    [O9]No commas or dashes here; use the ellipses to denote a … thoughtful … pause.
    [O10]Comma after Captain
    [O11]Apostrophe after s as you refer to guardians in the plural – they.
    [O12]Thirty – better to spell these things out.
    [O13]That’s an awful of lot of snapped. Snapped is usually short and sharp, like coming to attention when a senior officer enters the room, or a quick, “Sir! Yes, Sir!” to acknowledge an order.
    [O14]No apostrophe here
    [O15]I wonder how much appeal ‘forever and drift and float’ would have to a lot of young adventurers and heroes just starting out.
    [O16]Something like this deserves the emphasis of We will …
    [O17]No comma here
    [O18]No comma here
    [O19]The exclamation should follow Humana, not live


    [*] “The Place”


    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 4.9
    Effect: 8.7
    Overall: 18.5


    Review
    A straightforward urban tale, where Death (or a made-up facsimile) makes a cameo appearance as the leader of a (death metal?) band. It is reminiscent of some Dangerous Visions (Harlan Ellison ed.) or JG Ballard. It is a simple but timeless tale of bad influence, lost love, and falling off the wagon. Well written but missing some edge, so fairly standard fare for the type.


    Pot mostly – will a contact high fuck-up my eighteen? – but[O1] , there’s booze in the air too



    [O1]You wanted to drop in a bracketed question without the brackets. This is a monologue, a character talking directly to the reader. Therefore, But begins a new sentence.






    [*] “The Crossing”
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.6
    Tone/Voice: 4.7
    Effect: 8.7
    Overall: 18


    Review
    Snippets of information put this story of resistance members escaping an unnamed regime somewhere in the Caucasus where Europe, Asia and the Middle East meet. Spies, betrayal, and the girl come together in familiar style with a few issues but nothing outstanding or new for the reader.


    [QUOTE ] He was tightly bound in a hardback[O1] , uncushioned chair.
    near the false ceiling[O2] .
    He spoke with a thick, guttural accent.[O3]
    and were active of [O4] the opposition.
    made the road slick, and It [O5] was slow going
    but the regime must be stopped[O6] ..
    Emil pulled a luger [O7] from his jacket.
    “I gained his confidence[O8] ,
    “I-i[O9] can’t believe it, we were all comrades together.”
    “Let’s leave this scum for the vultures [O10] and ride to freedom.” [/QUOTE]


    [O1]This phrase makes him into a book – tightly bound in a hardback. No doubt you meant hard-backed, but there are better ways to describe cheap kitchen or diner chairs.
    [O2]How did he know it was a false ceiling, and why should it matter?
    [O3]So, you’re suggesting he’s some sort East European foreigner in whatever place this supposed to be happening. Does this matter at all?
    [O4]More likely in, but other prepositions are possible, just not of by itself.
    [O5]Not capped - it.
    [O6]Not extra period
    [O7]What happened to the silenced automatic?
    [O8]She’s saying that she acted like a traitor as well? Otherwise, there is no need for her to gain his confidence; it would be the other way around. Gaining others’ confidence is necessary to the outsider, the spy, the traitor, not to someone already inside and loyal.
    [O9]Capped - I
    [O10]Vultures? Dimitri, Emil, Katrina, a guttural foreigner? So, somewhere in the Caucasus highlands between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Choice of regimes, but which is freedom? Georgia, perhaps? Or Armenia? Or Turkey and join the refugees?


    [*] “THE CASE OF THE ANGRY WIFE”
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 4.8
    Effect: 8.8
    Overall: 18.5


    Review
    A light Dragnet parody. A disturbed housewife, a dead husband who was getting some dishwashing liquid finger jobs on the side, and a dog’s suspected affair with Lassie. A few smiles and a few frowns punctuate the brief journey from she-dun-it to justice served.


    I was working the night shift … past my dinnertime[O1] , but
    Central Booking where I and my partner[O2] , Jim Sherman,
    “I believe it came from the suspect[O3] .”
    “Yes[O4] , Ma’am.”
    “He was murdered by Mrs. Bickerstaff, Ma’am.”[O5]



    [O1]So? You were on the night shift; what does dinnertime mean on the night shift?
    [O2]Reverse order – my partner, Jim Sherman, and I etc
    [O3]The blood came from the victim, not the suspect.
    [O4]Cops don’t answer questions, they ask them. A court decides if it’s murder; until then, it’s alleged. It doesn’t matter if it happened in the middle of a crowd and the suspect confessed. Due process.
    [O5]Even in parody, this is criminally stupid from a cop. It’s called prejudicing the witness. The stock answer to “who did it? How?” is “that’s what we are investigating” or “ – trying to ascertain”. A court decides if it’s murder; until then, it’s alleged. It doesn’t matter if it happened in the middle of a crowd and the suspect confessed. Due process.


    [*] “Kimari's Heart”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 5
    Effect: 9.1
    Overall: 19


    Review
    Adultery, and murderous revenge when a native village is exterminated in a pre-dawn raid. A romantic tragedy, perhaps, but like many romantic tragedies, it is driven not by some all-powerful love, but by stupidity and selfish desire. The players are generic and could have been slotted into any setting in any historical period.

    Despite this, the writing is among the best of the collection, and the writer shows tremendous promise if some stronger or deeper ideas are pursued.


    love and marry, but before long, [O1] her husband died
    she forgave him of [O2] his betrayal.



    [O1]Wasted – but her husband died etc, is sufficient here.
    [O2]Hmm … well, yes, but no; it hangs awkwardly. It would have been better to end the sentence at forgave him. But if you must keep ‘his betrayal’ then ‘for’ would be a better preposition, or no preposition at all – she forgave him his betrayal.



    [*] “Like Snuffing Out a Candle”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 5
    Effect: 9.6
    Overall: 19.5


    Review
    A top-tier story, one of the stand-outs of the collection, has a legend hunter committing cold-blooded murder, and probable conspiracy to native American genocide, just to lure a beautiful but deadly god of justice. Shifting between entries in a personal journal and unfolding events, we are given a tour of a type of madness dressed as ambition.

    The combination of writing, idea and approach all coming together make this a real chance for the win.


    A thousands [O1] gods and creatures dead
    Those fucking red-skinned Pasaw’ri cunts[O2] .



    [O1]A thousand or Thousands of
    [O2]Not necessary; nothing to suggest this in character.


    [*] “Morning Glory”

    Spelling/Grammar: 5
    Tone/Voice: 4.7
    Effect: 9.2
    Overall: 19


    Review
    Silence of the FM/AMs: jogging has never been more dangerous. This is one of those stories. Very well written and executed, only mildly let down by the finish, but it lacks something. I don’t know; perhaps the interviewer was two-dimensional, perhaps the mad murderer was too predictable, or perhaps it was the implausibility of an patently insane person facing execution. Something didn’t ring the bell.


    “Please, call me George.”




    [*] “The Goat Farm”


    Spelling/Grammar: 5
    Tone/Voice: 4.7
    Effect: 8.8
    Overall: 18.5


    Review
    A standard tale of often in-bred backwoods cannibals relocated to the (Yorkshire) moors. A couple on a driving holiday, tired, probably lost, pick the wrong farm to visit for directions. Despite being well written and presented, the overall feeling is that this has been done too many times before. Done to death, perhaps?


    The peat moor [O1] stretched away to the sky in every direction as the car followed the narrow track across the featureless landscape.



    [O1]This is a bit of an odd one, because the phrase is more often used in the plural – peat moors, or just the moors - when describing the boggy landscape, and in the singular –peat moor, peat-moor, or just moor - when referring to the organic mud, unless it is referring to a recognised grouse sanctuary.


    [*] “Impossible Cat and The Skunk of Freedom”

    Spelling/Grammar: 3.5
    Tone/Voice: 4.3
    Effect: 7.7
    Overall: 15.5


    Review
    It’s not clear whether this pair are costumed vigilantes or criminals, whether they were searching for evidence or just there to rob the place, but the less than dynamic duo find more than they expected in the private basement of their target’s merchant bank. The stakes always change when bodies in bags get in the way.

    SPaG issues hurt a story already struggling to be something more than a funny title.


    other call center employees of the Merchant & Commercial Bank started to have farting computers[O1] .
    a young woman[O2] , wearing goggles,
    two minutes of Muzak [O3] the female
    The skunk [O4] of Freedom.
    one clear Nitrile [O5] glove, then placed her hand on the palm scanner[O6] , it read
    She used a USB cable to connect the two. Then [O7] held up the “gun[O8] ” and “fired” it silently, several times.
    full of concentrate [O9] skunk juice
    lets [O10] try the next room.'
    I did find a away [O11] to plant dozens of air fresheners round [O12] the building
    I use ultrasound[O13] .'
    The office yielded a hidden safe, a drawer and a door. Using Kitty's magic gun they opened them all [O14] and stole everything
    They opened the bag. There was[O15] body. It was a young woman[O16] , she was nude, had[O17] been tortured and strangled.



    [O1]This will make headlines in Obstetrics Journal Monthly – bigger news than when Mary had a little lamb, or when old Macdonald had a farm. Even ignoring the likelihood that the call centre workers were more likely to be employees of an agency based in India or the Philippines or some such country, this could have been worded better.
    [O2]No space before the comma.
    [O3]This generic term should not be capped.
    [O4]As this is a title, Skunk should be capped; The, possibly not.
    [O5]Nitrile is generic, not a brand name, so shouldn’t be capped.
    [O6]Not a comma. Period and new sentence would be best, but a semi-colon would do.
    [O7]This might have been a comma, but without it, you need a personal noun or pronoun either before or after Then.
    [O8]The quotes are pointless here; you’ve already mentioned the gun twice. The quotes are also pointless at fired.
    [O9]Concentrated, or concentrate of.
    [O10]Let’s = let us. Lets = rents out.
    [O11]find a way – a away is poor grammar anyway; it would be an away.
    [O12]‘round or around – round is a shape.
    [O13]Surface penetrating echolocation at a distance exists, but is nowhere near that good yet, especially in a hand-held. So, this is an extrapolation of current technologies.
    [O14]Except the door, apparently. Did they really use the echolocator to open these things, or just to find them?
    [O15]Was a body.
    [O16]Semi colon or period new sentence.
    [O17]And had, etc. or drop had been to leave tortured etc.


    [*] “Dead by Dawn”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.8
    Tone/Voice: 4.7
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 17.5


    Review
    Another science fiction aliens want our planet story clearly illustrates that advanced technology does not mean superior intelligence. This one might be hinting at the reason for crop circles, and perhaps even what went wrong on Venus.

    It also explains that, if our armed defences might fall short, our irresistible cuteness will save the day. That, and the old common cold virus, works every time.

    Most disturbing is that, in tens of thousands of years of studying and changing this planet, the little aliens never worked out that this is a world dominated by microbial life – whether the measure is number of species, total biomass, or habitat range, indigenous microbes will be the death of any invader from another planet - even a return to the early Hadean days, or periodic mass extinctions or ice ages, cannot change that.

    Some minor SPaG issues, and some questionable understanding of human physiology and planets, don’t help the aliens at all.


    Murna [O1] pulls me aside
    that violates all of the [O2] quarantine regs.”
    my first terraform [O3] mission.
    have been at work on this planet for tens of thousands [O4] of its years.
    As we are all suiting up to transfer down from the ship[O5] Murna, warns me again.
    “It had bettered [O6] be.
    The plants are taller than me, and the planet’s setting sun creates an eerie twilight[O7] .
    transmute energy into matter … to make our food[O8] .
    makes it resemble our young[O9] .
    the Battenfroid [O10] knocking down its plants
    The big wheels run over the creature’s legs with a sickening crunch[O11] .
    it screams in pain[O12] .
    I know that this creature is dying[O13] .
    I am a being like it[O14] . The fetid air hits my lungs as the creatures [O15] eyes
    Then it’s gone[O16] .
    I start coughing before we leave the planet’s shadow[O17] .



    [O1]Did daddy misspell Myrna on the birth certificate? No, wait. Ah, I see later that Murna is an alien.
    [O2]I’m reasonably confident that there are plenty of quarantine regs that don’t mention exotic fauna at all. So there go three words that could have been better used somewhere else.
    [O3]This turns out to be somewhat misleading as the story progresses.
    [O4]That’s a bit extreme – nature can build a planet from scratch in tens of thousands of years – it would be uneconomic to select one that would take more than one thousand to terraform. Much simpler then to genetically modify or just vaccinate the colonists.
    [O5]The comma should be after ship, not after Murna.
    [O6]better
    [O7]Wait, what? The planet has grassy plants and evolved bipeds, and you want to set off global vulcanism? What sort of screwy terraforming system are your people running here?
    [O8]It gets worse – you can transmute energy into matter to make food. Then you have the technology to build planets in much less than the time you’ve wasted here in your plans to destroy the indigenous life. No one in those tens of thousands of years pointed out that this is an unnecessary crime and an incredible waste of time?
    [O9]And it’s driving around the farm at twilight … right. Looking for crop circles, I guess.
    [O10]Ah well, no wonder. A species naming itself after, or worse, employing, a Montana siding product is capable of any crime.
    [O11]Huh? Is this guy farming on concrete, or have brittle bone disease, or something? Leg and foot fractures from tractor wheels tend to happen on very hard surfaces, much less so on cultivated soils. That is, unless this is happening many decades ago – pre-World War II at least – before tractors had pneumatic tyres. Then you might get leg fractures on soft soil.
    [O12]Oddly enough, this doesn’t happen as often as you might think when it’s a fracture. The pain from a fracture comes later when the internal fluid pressure (or swelling) becomes intolerable. Immediate pain tends to come from muscle and tendon tears or joint damage – sprains and dislocations, for instance.
    [O13]Unlikely from leg injuries unless a major artery was severed, and how could you tell without monitoring vital signs and understanding them, anyway?
    [O14]You’re participating in the destruction of another planet’s habitat. You’re a monster by any definition. Again, for any sort environment suit to appear monstrous, this would have to be set many decades back.
    [O15]creature's
    [O16]Fainted, most likely.
    [O17]Serves you right, too. You should have read or listened to War of the Worlds before messing with Earth.


    [*] “Desperate Times”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 4.9
    Effect: 9.2
    Overall: 19


    Review
    So, Firefly’s Adlai Niski (sp?) – Earth That Was historian, philosopher, torturer and cannibal, goes supernatural in this well-written piece of nastiness. Had to happen, I suppose, just as it has to happen that the villain gets the good lines and the victim is … well, fodder for something.

    A few “not really” moments, but overall it seems to fit the mold.


    “We are not so different, you and I[O1] .”
    Certainly, given our preference, we would build only the sturdiest homes—partake of only the finest delicacies[O2] .
    like smoke, reverberating [O3] throughout the room. The light of the candles on the tabletop rattled [O4] and twisted



    [O1]It’s true! He’s channelling Adlai Niska from Firefly!
    [O2]Common, perhaps, but not so universal as suggested – more often the view of those who wish to have the choices than of those who do.
    [O3]How does smoke reverberate?
    [O4]How does light rattle?


    [*]Dawn[O1]


    Review
    A return to the Underworld, picking up where the also unsuccessful Santa+Black Box CoF entry left off. A bit of whimsy without the bright imagination of, say, a Pratchett or Asprin or Anthony or Adams.

    Old Nick, in his once-a-year role as Saint Nick, needs a Christmas miracle, or failing that, a deus ex machina courtesy of Invention, the child of Necessity* – a way to test if the saying, where there’s life, there’s hope, can also work the other way. If not, humanity would be dead by dawn.

    Some missed fixes and one error were picked up too late. A rushed ending didn’t help.

    *Necessity, naturally, is a woman of many needs.


    The words emerged from a dark [O2] cowl
    All Hope Abandon Ye Who Enter Here[O3] .
    You can’t take it with you, you know?” He said [O4] to
    Time, already disconnected from that moment just before the extinction of civilisation on Earth, twisted into that peculiar spiralling dimension that [O5] usually requires the dedicated inhalation or ingestion of certain plant extracts to achieve.




    [O1]Oops – forgot to change the title to Life when the ending changed.
    [O2]Could do something better than repeating dark here.
    [O3]This phrase is often misquoted as Abandon All Hope etc, or worse, Abandon Hope All etc, which removes the ambiguity in the original – is it hope which abandons all, or all who abandon hope? Although the common interpretation is the latter – that all who enter abandon hope - grammatically, it is the former, that hope – and therefore life - abandons all who enter. Of course, there were some famous tourists who managed to defy that rule.
    [O4]Should have been asked of, or similar enquiry.
    [O5]Three times that in the one sentence is really pushing it. Basically, the whole sentence should have been re-written. Time, already disconnected from the moment just before the extinction of civilisation on Earth, twisted into that peculiar spiralling dimension usually achieved by the dedicated inhalation or ingestion of certain plant extracts.


    [*]Infitialis Navitas[O1]

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.5
    Tone/Voice: 4
    Effect: 7.5
    Overall: 16


    Review
    Displaying influences from Matrix, Inception, Firefly, and inversely, Blade Runner, this dystopian space fiction scenario trips over its own premise by paragraph four, and gets further bogged down in other confusions. A space station with sliding glass exit doors and no airlocks uses humans for illegal experiments and as a source of free – but expensive to grow and maintain - labor considered too dangerous for cheap androids or robots.

    Anyway, it all turns out to be a ruse, an incepted dream offering the blue pill that ends up in the workspace of a Niski wannabe for the purpose of discussing data arising from certain experiments either not accessible in the usual ways, or just for the fun of it.



    were a [O2] standard
    Human life lost its value ... Energy needed for maintaining a human body wasn't cheap, and androids? Small portion of electricity, and the newer ones even had chips for self preservation … all they cared about was free labor[O3] .
    He expected to go alone, even though he was never outside the station, very surprised to see another man in the space suit waiting for him. They always announced two of the "volunteers", but Anderson didn't give it much of a thought, he just wanted to do the bastard's job, and to return to his warm cell. [O4]
    the old, obsolete [O5] suit, he caught the view of a meteor passing by, through the glass exit door. If there's even a slight change [O6] of a meteor shower, they're fucked, probably dead by dawn. He never heard the case of letting someone in during the shower as it would damage all the machines and rarely valuable people. Thinking about the prognosis, he realized he wouldn't mind dying in a meteor dance, chopped to pieces. Anything to escape this hellhole. He wondered whose suit he got, but managed to find only initials: V.G.A.
    [O7]
    what would happen if the doors prematurely closed, cutting the cord. Would he drift into the abyss of the space[O8] ?
    stabilize a wormhole so it would become transversable[O9] . Why train the professionals?
    Nortinghton[O10] ."
    he asked with disgust[O11] .
    "Please give them what they want[O12] . You might be a free man."
    good reason now[O13] .
    Few[O14] minutes after
    Tag[O15] on a man's



    [O1]Negative Energy, or No Get Up and Go.
    [O2]were standard – a standard suggests they were a flag, or begs the question, “a standard what?”
    [O3]Contradictory statements which collapse the logic behind everything. It’s not free labor when the energy needed for maintaining a human body wasn’t cheap; it is, by definition, expensive labor. Androids on the other hand are cheap to run, easy to construct, easier to program, and therefore more logically the expendable units. The premise for the story falls over at this point.
    [O4]A lot of confusion in here. Why would he expect to go alone when they always announced two volunteers. Who is the bastard, and why is there only one bastard in Anderson’s mind?
    [O5]On a first look, this is a tautology – old = obsolete by our market-driven demand for new things. Digging deeper into the story as given so far, however, how would Anderson know if the suit was obsolete? If human life had no value – was expendable – why would Anderson think that any resources were wasted to design and manufacture a more functional suit for humans? What date was the suit meant to be up to?
    [O6]Chance, more likely, not change, although it’s just possible the reference is to a change of direction or composition of an expected meteor shower. If so, it should have been a slight change to the meteor shower.
    [O7]Some more confusion for the reader of SF here. The dead by dawn throwaway reference is meaningless and unnecessary – what is dawn on a space station? Sunrise happens every ninety minutes or so in a low Earth-orbiting station, and in even less time in a rotating station out of Earth’s shadow. How is letting people or androids or anything into the station during a meteor shower going to make any difference to the safety of the machines? Or for the rarely valuable humans who didn’t exist, or weren’t mentioned, only two paragraphs earlier? And then there is the improbable catching a view through a glass (??) exit door of a meteor passing by. Ignoring for the moment that they’re fucked by his own reckoning, a meteor large enough to be seen and identified by visuals is not travelling very fast relative to the station, but is highly likely to have associated micrometeoric material – a shower – in its wake. Now, the only way a passing meteor is going to be identifiable through a glass exit door is if the meteor is moving directly towards or directly away from the door. If the former, then everyone is fucked, whether or not the glass door is open or closed. If the latter, then the station itself is providing screen against the trailing shower, so to be killed by it would mean the station is destroyed in the process. Back to basics. Who in their right mind designs a station with glass exit doors? And no safety air locks? Finally, since when did suits only have initials on them? This is a lot of disbelief to suspend just to make this part of the story work – and, in the context of the larger story, none of it is necessary.
    [O8]An odd way to run an EVA. Tethers are usually secured to the outer immediately after exiting if the doors are going to be closed. Premature closing means no safety standards, so why are they bothering with tethers which would have to be released anyway?
    [O9]Traversable – transversable means able to be transversed or turned ninety degrees on itself, to become its own cross-section.
    [O10]Is Northinghton in some later mentions.
    [O11]Disgust? He was amused just seconds before. He’s already told us that dangerous and illegal experiments caused irreparable brain damage to his fellow inmates.
    [O12]Alarm bells! These are not the words of a man bent on revenge.
    [O13]So much for disgust, huh?
    [O14]A few etc.
    [O15]Need an article here, probably The tag etc


    [*]Musiques Nocturnes [O1] (Language)

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.8
    Tone/Voice: 5
    Effect: 9.2
    Overall: 19


    Review
    Shifting between second and third person points of view, an American tale of defiance against self and the cold hand of death in an alpine valley. With not much to like about the only character, the story relies on the strength of its writing and presentation to carry the reader. It’s a testament to the writer that it works. A few missed SPaG errors in passing.


    fur and food, water and warmth. You’ve got neither[O2] .
    So [O3] that death wish thing, that self-destructive tendency your girl said you always had.
    His heart stopped for awhile[O4] .
    Why did he have to walk so long[O5] ; he should’ve listened
    snuffed out like a cheap candle. [O6]
    he’s dragging one leg behind him[O7] .



    [O1]Musics of the Night
    [O2]Neither references two things; you’ve listed four, therefore, it should be you’ve gone none.
    [O3]So etc, makes this an unfinished sentence. It should have been dropped, or replaced with It’s.
    [O4]Either stopped for a while, or stopped awhile, although that’s a bit poetic for the rest of the piece.
    [O5]This is a why question. It should end here with a ? and He should begin the next sentence.
    [O6]Coincidence, or inspired reference?
    [O7]That’s one thing I could never get about zombies that do the whole leg dragging bit. If the leg is unusable, it means they should be hopping from place to place. But too often they don’t; instead, they put their weight on that dragged leg while they make the next step. So Ricardo is going to hop his way out of the valley of Death, yeah? Or maybe he will get tired of that and look around for some dead wood to make a splint or crutch to help him get along.


    [*] “Fighting Back”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.8
    Tone/Voice: 5
    Effect: 9.2
    Overall: 19


    Review
    Strong echoes here from Gears of War and Starship Troopers franchises, and for the oldies or watchers of old and mostly B-Grade Sci-Fi, the award-winning effects inspiration for the bugs of the Fallout series, the original simply titled, Them!. Yes, it’s another bug hunt, sir.

    Seriously outnumbered, a small but no less motley crew of armed humans face impossible odds to survive another uprising of giant mutant insectoids. Where’s that giant can of Raid when you need it, right?

    For its type, this comic book snippet is right on the money, with only a few minor nits getting in the hair gel.



    a volley of acid-laced spines to scream [O1] by
    quadruple-barrel[O2] shotgun.
    the horse-sized insectoid … crashed down[O3] .
    a machine gun with armor-piercing [O4] rounds.
    shockwave blasted across them[O5] .
    “we're [O6] still leading on kills.”
    But if they didn’t use it, Corny would probably die[O7] .
    We can’t move Corny[O8] , and
    “BRING IT ON[O9] !!!”



    [O1]Spines can scream?
    [O2]By this time, anyone would describe it as a quad-barrel, I think. People understand quad = four in these situations.
    [O3]“Is this another bug hunt, sir?”
    [O4]Really necessary, or a waste of expensive ammo? Armor-piercing rounds do less internal damage because they tend to stay in shape and just punch a small hole through the target – harder to hit and damage vital organs that way. If shotgun pellets can kill a spitter, hollow-points or RIP rounds would be my ammo of choice.
    [O5]Around, through, or over them … across the land, battlefield, or area. But not across them.
    [O6]Capital W – We’re
    [O7]From what? Acid burn to his arm? A shredded tricep won’t kill him – incapacitate the arm, yes, but not end his life, at least not if someone knows how to apply a pressure pad and tourniquet, and strap the arm to his body.
    [O8]Why not? Shouldn’t move, perhaps, because you have to stay and protect the civilians, but not can’t move.
    [O9]Ooh, a picket fence; he must be mad.

    mrmustard615's scores:
    THE COWARD’S WAY OUT

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL: 16

    A scary story about a planet about to be devoured by a star. Not bad. I thought it did well in the scare factor. I’m not sure cowardly would be the best way of committing suicide to escape a worse fate. Maybe I’d snivel too under those circumstances, but that’s just IMO.
    I found no nits in SPaG. I think maybe it hit a bump when it became obvious you were talking about a star, but overall a good solid entry.


    COUNTDOWN TO OBLIVION

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4.5/5
    EFFECT 8/10
    TOTAL: 17.5

    Wow. I’d say it is a slightly cynical view of the human race. My only argument would be why would the guardians destroy any cities if their intentions were essentially good or at least with the intention for their own self preservation and nothing more? In any event, I really enjoyed the entry.

    I found no SPaG issues to speak of. The story flowed well for the most part. I was able to follow it, if not perfectly. Again, I liked the concept of defending the ‘human’ way of life in the cynical sense so to speak. Good entry.


    THE PLACE

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 5/10
    TOTAL 14

    I have to admit the entry was a little too vulgar for my tastes. Language indeed .
    So basically I’m reading this as someone who was on the wagon and more or less falls off it with some pressure from his friends. Travis does seem like an evil dude.
    I found no SpaG issues to speak of and I liked the idea of you writing in first person present. It wasn’t perfect, but I followed the story fairly well. Not bad all in all.


    THE CROSSING

    SPaG 3/5
    TONE/VOICE 5/5
    EFFECT 6/10
    TOTAL 14


    It’s not a bad story. I might have given it a better score if I didn’t have a feeling this type of story had been done before. I’m going to surmise that this is some sort of Russian type spy story.

    There are some formatting issues which really hurt your score on SPaG. Despite that, I thought the story flowed well. Again, my biggest complaint was that this is something I’ve read or seen so many times. Still, it’s a good effort.


    THE CASE OF THE ANGRY WIFE

    (staff entry)


    KIMARI’S HEART

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 9/10
    TOTAL 18

    I really liked this. The idea of writing this with a tribe of sorts as a setting (I originally thought African until I saw the references to tomahawks and black feathers and realized it was likely Native American) was very original to me.

    I couldn’t find any issues with SPaG. The switch to when the enemy attacks seems to interrupt the flow a little but otherwise the story stayed consistent.

    Again, a beautiful, if sad, story. I really enjoyed this.


    LIKE SNUFFING OUT A CANDLE

    SPaG 4/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL: 15

    This story obviously seems to be set in the old west. It was an interesting mix of a western backdrop and the supernatural. I liked the concept.

    I saw a couple SPaG errors: Ben pat the handle of his holstered revolver (should be patted).

    Also, (Big ol’ Ben Beale. The man who killed a hundred gods. The oldest godslayer in the West.) commas instead of periods?

    And (They could have said something.Anything). Commas should have been used instead of periods. The story had a decent flow to it, if not perfect.

    Again, it was a decent entry, very imaginative.


    MORNING GLORY

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 5/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL: 17

    An interview with a serial killer, creepy. A good twist based on Silence of the Lambs I think. It’s always interesting to get into the mind of a serial killer. It was quite intriguing.
    I couldn’t find any SPaG issues to speak of and it flowed well. I did sense the parallel to Silence of the Lambs as mentioned before, but overall a good solid story. I liked it.







    THE GOAT FARM

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 5/5
    EFFECT 8/10
    TOTAL 18

    At first I thought it was going to be a lighthearted romp at a local inn. I love the switch from the lighthearted and quirky mood to the murders/ cannibalism take. It makes the story quite sinister. I loved the way you used a humorous approach and turned it into a twisted horror.

    I found no SPaG issues to speak of. I thought the story flowed very well. Even with the turn at the end, it stayed consistent and plausible. A very interesting entry. I liked it a lot.


    IMPOSSIBLE CAT AND THE SKUNK OF FREEDOM

    SPaG 4.5/5
    TONE/VOICE 5/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL 16.5

    I like the originality of the piece. A comic take on a superhero story of sorts. It’s like Batman and Robin on catnip

    I only found one real SPaG issue. Lets should have been spelled let’s. As warped as the story was, it flowed quite smoothly. I have to admit I’m not all that comfortable with fart jokes but that is really a personal thing; it doesn’t take away from the story itself. Again, a decent and funny take on the superhero genre. Nice save putting the prompt right at the end.




    DEAD BY DAWN

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL 16

    And you put the prompt right in the title you clever one.

    This is an interesting take on a colonization of a distant planet unlike ours. I found the Darth Vader like costumes rather interesting. No doubt the creatures would have been terrified of the humans (I’m assuming?). One question; are the creatures really dangerous despite their looks, or is it just propaganda to justify destroying them ultimately?

    I couldn’t find any SPaG issues and it flowed reasonably well. A very interesting story. Well done.


    DESPERATE TIMES

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 5/10
    TOTAL: 14

    A strange tale of sacrifice while, well written, didn’t strike me as something I would find enjoyable, but you can write that off to a personal preference. I see the allusions to dawn (and dusk) and I assume the sacrifice is supposed to indicate death, but I don’t quite see the combination.

    I found no SPaG issues to speak of . The tone was reasonably flowing. I took off there because of the criticism of not being able to follow the prompts. Again, very well written. It just wasn’t my style I guess.




    DAWN

    SPaG 4.5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL 15.5

    Hmm, looks like a take on the Christmas CoF from 2014. I also liked the Pandora reference. It never grows old, does it? I like the clever idea of Santa and Grim visiting Hell.

    I would have put All Hope Abandon Ye Who Enter Here either in single quotes or Italics. I’m also not sure about the colon between ‘from the mist’ and ‘without warning.’ Also spiralling should be spiraling, otherwise the SPaG looks fine. It also seems a little choppy but consistent.

    Overall, it is an enjoyable and imaginative entry. Great job.


    INFANTALIS NAVITAS

    SPaG 3.5/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL 14.5

    It sounds like a futuristic nightmare with some Twilight Zone influences. I like it. I wish I could give you better marks in the more technical areas.

    There were a few SPaG issues. Idiotis I’m guessing is a formatting issue, but I think you should have had it in past tense anyway judging from the paragraph as a whole.

    They didn't care whether were you black or white (I added in whether, could have also been if)

    highly illegal experiments. Illegal on Earth. I would have separated with a comma.

    God dammed- god dam, god damn or god damned

    chopped to pieces. Anything to escape this hellhole. Again comma instead of a period.

    Fucking laser Potty mouth

    While I liked the story I did find it a little uneven, possibly because of the Twilight Zonish angle. It’s hard to stay consistent on those types of stories. Take it from one who knows

    Again, it was an entertaining and interesting story.




    MUSIQUES NOCTURNES

    SPaG 4/5
    TONE/VOICE 4/5
    EFFECT 7.5/10
    TOTAL 15.5

    I liked the concept of a man on the lam or at least that’s what I picked up from it. It sounds like a desperate man resorting to desperate means which has put him in his dire situation. Intriguing concept.

    I did find a few SPaG issues, mostly in punctuation.

    I guess that s*** was real wasn’t it. (should have been a question mark.)

    Because here it comes. You’re dying here (choppy, I would have used a semi-colon here)

    To feel emotion again, connection. Awareness. (Comma between connection and awareness)

    As far as tone, I’m assuming the switch from the narrator to “he” is the same person. I see what you’re doing but it interrupts the flow. Also, the choppiness of a few of the sentences breaks the flow a little. But overall, it was a story that made me feel some pity for the man. Nice story.

    FIGHTING BACK

    SPaG 5/5
    TONE/VOICE 5/5
    EFFECT 7/10
    TOTAL 17

    This one is obviously a planetary invasion of the metasects. All I can say is I’m glad it’s Birmingham that’s being invaded. That means I’m safe and sound in Baltimore. I like your Quardomatic weapon too. I haven’t seen the movie to be honest but it seems to have something of a Starship Troopers vibe to it- sort of like space teenagers trying to save the world.

    I couldn’t find any SPaG issues to speak of. I thought the flow was very good. Overall, it was a solid futuristic story. Nice entry.




    TKent's scores:
    Story: The Coward’s Way Out
    SPAG: 4.5
    TONE/VOICE: 3.5
    EFFECT: 8.5
    TOTAL: 16.5
    Review: A clean and technically sound sci-fi story about the final moments shared by Valleta & Harris as they face immediate death from a rising sun due to a sabotaged heat shield. The story picks up just after all of their comrades have committed suicide (either by their own hand or with assistance) rather than face death by the sun. The question of whether Valleta & Harris will commit suicide like their comrades or continue to fight against the odds is nicely intertwined with the question of which is the coward’s way out? Is it braver not to give up, or to choose suicide bravely? This story was well-constructed and flowed nicely. My main wish was that I had connected more with Valleta’s character—gone deeper into her thought process, background, etc. I didn’t feel like I really got to know her so I didn’t feel a strong desire to root for her. I actually felt like Harris’s character was better developed. Still, overall, a solid story.

    The author does a nice, efficient job with descriptions like this one:

    He was a heavyset man, handsome in a Neanderthal sort of way. Valletta, however, had always been put off by his mouth, which had a tendency to twist upwards into a childish smirk even in repose.

    Story: Countdown to Oblivion
    SPAG: 3
    TONE/VOICE: 3
    EFFECT: 4
    TOTAL: 10
    Review: In order to defeat “The Guardians,” a captain gives his young cadets some sort of drug that turns them into killing machines. Although this story had an interesting premise, it was a tough one for me. Paragraphs 4 through 10 (the bulk of the story) came across as pure back story dump. Yet it was so long, I felt like it was the story, until I was jerked back into the action in paragraph 11. Also, if those middle paragraphs were supposed to actually be the journal entry, then I would also suggest that the author mark it in some way, perhaps italics, and better phrase it so that it sounded like what someone might say naturally in a journal entry. There were just enough technical issues to distract (SpaG, tense change, POV change).

    Story: The Place
    SPAG: 4.5
    TONE/VOICE: 5
    EFFECT: 9.5
    TOTAL: 19
    Review: A man with 18 months clean and sober, is taken to “The Place” (an old haunt) after a break-up with his girlfriend. Will he or won’t he succumb to temptation? I really enjoyed this story. For me, it consistently hit all of the marks. Clean, technically sound writing. Great pacing. A very distinct voice. Setting and character nicely developed. Inner conflict. A nice story arc. And a satisfying finish with the MC seeing the skeletal face of the DBD guitarist (although I was rooting for the MC to stay clean!). The author’s descriptive skills and deep point of view writing-style were probably what made it stand out for me. All my senses were engaged—I was there, being crushed by the crowd and the music, smelling the smells, feeling the energy. Back story was parsed out nicely in bits and pieces of dialog and inner monologue as needed along the way. Nice job!

    Some of my favorite descriptions:

    I feel guilty just breathing the air in this obscene shit-hole. But damn, it smells… comfortable. Pot mostly – will a contact high fuck-up my eighteen? – but, there’s booze in the air too and that nose-burning, industrial strength, cat-piss stench of somebody burning crystal close by.

    The lead guitarist stands motionless except for his hands, which move in a relentless blur. His head is bent, a black cowl of hair covering his face. Tattooed runes cover every visible inch of his naked torso.

    Nice finish:

    He’s grinning too. A permanent, lip-less sneer framed by ivory planes of ancient bone beneath eye sockets filled with empty... hungry... darkness. I’m the only one who can see him.

    Story: The Crossing
    SPAG: 3
    TONE/VOICE: 3
    EFFECT: 5
    TOTAL: 11
    Review: A man is broken out of the gulag by his friends, Emil and Katrina, and taken across the border to safety. Except his friend Emil is actually a traitor. The story line had promise, but I actually think that there wasn’t enough foreshadowing or something. The reveal that Emil was a traitor and Katrina a love interest felt like it came out of nowhere for me. So it lost some of the impact. Also, there were just enough speed-bumps with this story that it disrupted the flow. The consistency felt a little bumpy. By way of example, there were stretches where I felt pronouns needed to be broken up by nouns, and others where nouns needed to be broken up by pronouns. I would suggest that in the editing process, the author assess the use of nouns/pronouns and try to make sure they are being used when needed, and that there isn’t too much repetition either way, such as with the use of “the man” below.

    The man stuck his face inches from Dimitri’s.
    “Well, you’d better tell me,” the man said, putting the cigarette close to Dimitri’s eye. “Because that’s the only way you’re getting out of this room alive.”
    The man slammed the door on his way out. Dimitri wasn’t a spy.

    Also, Katrina arrived in the story with no introduction for several sentences, so I stopped to back up and see if I’d missed her character along the way.

    Story: The Case of the Angry Wife
    SPAG: 4
    TONE/VOICE: 4
    EFFECT: 6
    TOTAL: 14
    Review: I smiled when I started reading this story. An emotionless, droning voice straight out of the old Dragnet show immediately sprang to mind and read me the rest of the story. I thought the writing and the tone were consistent throughout and it was cleanly written. I thought the jokes/humor worked well for the most part, but the overall story line fell just a little short of being fully satisfying. Not enough of a punch line effect at the end. But still an enjoyable read!

    Story: Kimari’s Heart
    SPAG: 4
    TONE/VOICE: 3
    EFFECT: 6
    TOTAL: 13
    Review: This is the story of Kimari, a lonely young widower who has an affair with the village chief. She is heartbroken when the chief makes fun of her attentions in order to avoid issues with his marriage. This story’s plot didn’t quite flow for me. I felt like the village massacre came out of nowhere with no foreshadowing, and I couldn’t quite decide its purpose in the story. I thought the voice/tone of the story had a great deal of potential that wasn’t developed. For example, I loved this line with “the fire of a millions suns” but the author didn’t use this kind of description enough.

    But as she drew closer, she saw the Chief’s wife standing nearby, glaring at Kimari with the fire of a million suns.

    I also didn’t really connect with Kimari enough to feel vested in her outcome. But that said, I did like the general “feel” of the story, and would encourage the author to further develop it.

    Story: Like Snuffing Out a Candle
    SPAG: 4.5
    TONE/VOICE: 4.5
    EFFECT: 9.5
    TOTAL: 18.5
    Review: A very interesting story of a god chaser obsessed with a particular god whom only shows herself when warriors are undeservedly killed. He ends up crossing a moral line to see her again and pays the ultimate price for his obsession. This was a very strong, well-written, well-plotted story. Smooth flow and the author did a great job alternating between the story and the flash back scenes and the big reveal was timed perfectly for me. A very unique plot and distinct story arc. A clear beginning, middle, end. Nice Job!

    Some of my favorite writing:

    And now? A collection of toppled adobe homes and pale, husk-dry corpses. He’d watched the raid happen, seen dozens of slit throats, women and children carried away screaming, adobe homes leveled for sport. And still, looking over the wreckage, it was hard for Roland to connect this ghost town to the settlement it had once been.

    I confess, I wept at her beauty. I wept at the grace with which she moved, the enormity of her presence. I wept at the incredible savagery of her feeding. Even after all the gods I’ve seen in my travels, all the wonders written into the pages of this journal, I fear I may never witness anything so beautiful again.

    Story: Morning Glory
    SPAG: 4
    TONE/VOICE: 3.5
    EFFECT: 6.5
    TOTAL: 14
    Review: A reporter interviews a serial killer, who hints that he is not done with his killing spree. This one was interesting and cleanly written. But for me, there just wasn’t enough of a story line for it to have a strong overall effect. I didn’t really see any real conflict between the reporter and the serial killer (other than her just being scared), and the hint at another murder in the middle and then the final comments going out the door. It certainly hinted that something else was going to happen, but it just wasn’t enough to get me properly vested in the situation. I did like the author’s writing style, though, and would have loved to have had a bit more plot.

    Story: The Goat Farm
    SPAG: 3.5
    TONE/VOICE: 3
    EFFECT: 5
    TOTAL: 11.5
    Review: A couple stop at a goat farm and end up smoked meat. For me, the main thing missing from this story was character development. I just didn’t get enough of a connection with Miriam or Colin. It felt more like someone telling me a story versus me being immersed in the story. I think the biggest improvement for me would have been to go deeper into Miriam’s point of view. Some inner dialog. Some physical cues as to what was going on emotionally, etc. Give me a reason to care

    Story: Impossible Cat and The Skunk of Freedom
    SPAG: 3
    TONE/VOICE: 4
    EFFECT: 7
    TOTAL: 14.5
    Review: This was a cute little story of a dynamic duo who break in to an office to steal a corrupt CEOs “take” and end up finding out he is more than corrupt—he is a murderer. I thought the author did a great job jumping right into the action on this one. This was a unique story with unique characters. The humor worked for the most part, especially the interesting “technology.” An enjoyable read, but didn’t quite have the impact I would have liked as far as the story line was concerned. I didn’t learn until the very end what they were up to, and it felt a bit like an afterthought.

    Story: Dead by Dawn
    SPAG: 3
    TONE/VOICE: 3.5
    EFFECT: 7
    TOTAL: 13.5
    Review: An alien race is prepping the earth for future colonization. And it was all going to work out great if the alien could have just resisted the adorable human. This was an interesting premise. I enjoyed hearing about the terraforming of this world for colonization, and the story had a definite arc, building to the ending. However, there was almost too much foreshadowing. The boss warned him so much about the fauna, that it was inevitable he would screw up in some way. Still an enjoyable read!

    Story: Desperate Times
    SPAG: 4
    TONE/VOICE: 4
    EFFECT: 7
    TOTAL: 15
    Review: This was an enjoyable read. A girl wakes up in the clutches of an evil being, who waxes philosophically about desperate times requiring desperate measures. I thought the author did a very good job with the setting and with pacing the mystery of what the heck the evil being was going on about. I did feel that the author missed a great opportunity to engage the reader in the narrator’s POV. I would have liked to know more about what the narrator was going through. I didn’t get the sense of fear, confusion, struggle that had to have been going on in her mind. So in the end, I just didn’t connect at a deep enough level with the narrator’s plight.

    By way of example, when I got to this sentence, I realized that I hadn’t actually been given enough cues that the narrator was struggling. This is an example of how I think the author needed to get us deeper inside the thoughts and feelings of the narrator.

    I gave up my struggle, the first few tears rolling down my cheeks. “No, please! Just tell me what you want!”

    Story: Dawn
    SPAG: 4
    TONE/VOICE: 4
    EFFECT: 7.5
    TOTAL: 15.5
    Review: Very creative story. Earth is being attacked by aliens so Saint Nick hopes to unleash the contents of Pandora’s Box to save the world. My only issue with the story line was that it took me two reads to understand it, and still not sure about every bit of it. I really liked the writing style of this author. Wonderful lines such as this one painting such a clear picture in my mind:

    The words emerged from a dark cowl in exactly the same way as the cowl had emerged from the mist: without warning.

    The humor was not overpowering--funny, but not over the top slapstick. Overall, an enjoyable read.
    I think there were probably things in this story that I didn’t get and probably should have. It didn’t, however, distract from the story. The only one that I really wished I’d gotten the meaning of was this key sentence that tied in the theme. Is there some fairytale or legend that I am missing here about Saint Nick’s twin?

    All Grim could later recall was staring forever at the label beneath a life-sized portrait of Nick’s pale twin, Mort per Aurora. Death by Dawn, he thought wryly.


    Story: Infitialis Navitas
    SPAG: 3
    TONE/VOICE: 3
    EFFECT: 4
    TOTAL: 10
    Review: This story had an interesting premise: a prisoner in a future society is supposedly being used for cheap labor in space, but really is being tricked into taking a pill to make him remember his involvement in illegal experiments. However, for me, the author didn’t quite pull this off technically. There wasn’t a smooth story arc, there were too many backstory dumps (see comments below), and there were just enough SPaG issues to make for a bumpy ride. There also wasn’t a very strong/clear relationship to the theme unless I missed it. I definitely wanted more out of such an interesting idea.
    I think that with such a short piece, it would have benefited the author to eliminate some of the complex backstory. The three paragraphs starting with “Human life lost its value…” and then the paragraph starting with “Space tourism…” were probably the biggest issues for me. I would suggest taking a close look at these and highlighting all of the info dump sentences. Then think about which facts are actually necessary to the story and find a way to weave some of it into dialog and action.

    Story: Musiques Nocturnes
    SPAG: 3
    TONE/VOICE: 3
    EFFECT: 4
    TOTAL: 10
    Review: A guy is freezing to death some place on a mountain after having a really rough year and has an inner monologue about the situation. This one was tough for me. Because the details were a bit vague and confusing, I didn’t really engage in the story line enough to empathize with the character. So in the end when he decides to keep fighting for survival, I didn’t have a vested interest in the decision. That said, I thought the tone was pretty consistent throughout, and there were some really great lines.

    Story: Fighting Back
    SPAG: 4
    TONE/VOICE: 4
    EFFECT: 8.5
    TOTAL: 16.5
    Review: I enjoyed this consistent, fast-paced story of humans battling to take back planet earth from killer insectoid invaders. The author did a very good job introducing and developing multiple characters here, which is not easy in such a short piece. I was rooting for them almost immediately. An example of a short description that conveyed a real sense of character is this one:

    Betty Oiler, 5’ 3” of fire-breathing, bug-killing zealotry.

    (although I might have probably spelled that out: five feet three inches of …”)

    The action worked for me—it didn’t come off as awkward or stilted at all. The author also paced the backstory nicely, giving us only what we needed when we needed it. No need to understand where these insectoids came from, that wasn’t the story.
    Not sure that there was any reason to call Lena out as “Helen ‘Lena’ Harrington” here when she’d already been introduced as Lena. Seeing this made me think there was an important purpose for providing the extra info, but never found it

    “Spitter!” Helen “Lena” Harrington shouted.

    And the only place I wasn’t perfectly in tune with the setting and action was in this spot when they show up at the “base of a ruined apartment” then James asks “How many are down there?” I stopped to try and visualize whether they were hearing someone from the basement or standing in front of a pile of rubble, etc. so I might do something to situate the reader more clearly in this scene.

    A few moments later the team found themselves standing at the base of a ruined apartment building.
    “Is that…Someone’s there, thank God! Help! Help us!”
    “Hello? How many are down there?” James shouted back.



    bazz cargo's scores:
    The coward's way out
    By anonymous

    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 8-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 16/20


    'If death was indeed to come today, then perhaps she would meet it blistered and burnt, sweating and gasping for air.

    But she would meet it fighting.'


    A good hook in. Well presented. Easy to read. Neat bit of Sci Fi. Loved the ending.

    Deep down and being extra nit picky, I didn't engage with the characters or their predicament. I feel you chose a rather 'documentary feel,' which put too much distance between me as a reader and your story's emotional core. As a set up it worked, but I would prefer seeing Valletta, calm on the outside, kicking and screaming on the inside, doing her imaginative best to avoid finding out whatever passes for the next life.

    * * *

    Countdown to Oblivion
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 7-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 15/20


    'With the coordinates of the seed planets and outposts we just obtained, in time, it is we, who will burn our path back to power. All will kneel before us. Long live! Faxamus Humana… '


    Easy to read. A neat slice of old fashioned space opera. In style it feels 1930-ish. A lot of data dumping and flag waving triumphalism. It made me feel nostalgic. I can see the possibility of a revival of sorts using our better understanding of technology. Clever use of a twist ending.

    * * *

    The Place
    By anonymous
    (Language, Drug Use)
    SpaG 5/5 – Competent manipulation of sentence structure, creative use of punctuation and effective paragraph composition.
    Tone and voice 5/5 – Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.
    Effect 8-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 18/20


    'He’s grinning too. A permanent, lip-less sneer framed by ivory planes of ancient bone beneath eye sockets filled with empty... hungry... darkness. I’m the only one who can see him.



    Damn, I love this band.'


    Aha! Deep down and dirty. I was there in the crowd, squished against the wall near the bogs. There is a case to study here, how you managed to be matter of fact and yet still carry an emotional signal. Very neat.

    * * *

    The Crossing
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 9-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 17/20


    '“They didn’t matter. The regime wanted those names at any cost. ” Together, they pushed Emil’s body off the side of the road. “Let’s leave this scum for the vultures and ride to freedom.” She held his hand and kissed him. '


    Hmmm.... A bit low key. A sort of soulful riff on the prompt. I can't help feeling there is a bigger story here. Maybe a trilogy. I like easy to read stuff, but this may be a little too simple in execution. Just as an exercise you might consider rewriting this in first person. I bet the typo wound you up.

    * * *

    THE CASE OF THE ANGRY WIFE
    By anonymous
    SpaG 5/5 – Competent manipulation of sentence structure, creative use of punctuation and effective paragraph composition.
    Tone and voice 5/5 – Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.
    Effect 8-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 18/20


    '“Yes, Clyde was sleeping with… Lassie! He was supposed to be mine, how could he?” The suspect began to cry.'


    It took me a while to get my eye in, probably because of so much serious stuff I have already read. I can see this as a radio play, even a series. It has the same feel as Dragnet. Good characters, nice sketches, dead pan silliness. Rocking.

    * * *

    Kimari's Heart
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 7-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 15/20


    'Kimari was alone. Though she was surrounded by her tribesmen, none of them belonged to her.'


    Kimari was alone. Though she was surrounded by her tribe, none of them belonged to her.

    Kimari was alone. Though she was surrounded by her tribe, she belonged to none of them.

    Curious how such a simple start leads to a complicated and passionate mix of humanity. I'm hoping the narrator's 'voice' is deliberately going for a native accent, it works. I like the way you have pitched it as a camp fire tale or possibly a fable. Layer under layer. Very neat.

    * * *

    Like Snuffing Out a Candle (content & language warning)
    By anonymous
    SpaG 5/5 – Competent manipulation of sentence structure, creative use of punctuation and effective paragraph composition.
    Tone and voice 5/5 – Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.
    Effect 9-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 19/20


    'Roland stared at Ben Beale from across the dying firelight. He watched the slow rise and fall of his chest, listened to the wheeze of his desert-parched breath. Big ol’ Ben Beale. The man who killed a hundred gods. The oldest godslayer in the West. All three-hundred pounds of him, sprawled out on a bedroll, snoring through the night, and still wearing his gunbelt.

    A warrior if Roland had ever seen one.'


    It is hard to tell what blend of genres from the little here. Western, Sci Fi? Fantasy? Spiritual? Whatever it is it is intriguing. Very nice sketch work. Excellent characterization. A few small edits, some expansion and this would worth putting into a magazine editor's slush pile.

    * * *

    Morning Glory (Language)
    By anonymous
    SpaG 5/5 – Competent manipulation of sentence structure, creative use of punctuation and effective paragraph composition.
    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 9-10 points.
    Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 18/20


    'For a reporter, there are two interviews that can boost your career, one with someone famous or one with someone infamous. Sharon Valdez was within feet of an individual so scrofulous that the devil himself would avoid him.'


    Psychology. Hunger for a story and the manipulative serial killer. How a bad neighbour can drive you crazy. A blend of pure Hollywood.
    Telling your story from one character to another can have advantages, it can also distance the action. How much more of George could we get by altering the 'chat' to a flashback?

    * * *

    The Goat Farm
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 5/5 – Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.
    Effect 7-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 16/20


    '“Would you want him?” Colin muttered, as he shoved the dressing table against the door, “Anyway, he was lucky to get the work.”

    They were still sitting on the bed, fully dressed, when dawn finally lit the room.

    “Well, we survived!” Colin grinned, “Maybe we should cut back on the horror movies.”'


    Judging by Tea and Bogs you are miss-spelling manoeuvred. Easy to read, competent and done with style, only it needed something to lift it out of its rut. A touch of Hot Fuzz perhaps?

    * * *

    Dead by Dawn
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 7-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 15/20


    'I’m already nervous about my first terraform mission. I’m afraid that I’ll screw up the aiming for the Core Tap and blow the planet up. I’m worried that the stronger gravity than I’m used to will leave me flopping around, helpless on the surface. I’m even worried about being attacked by previously unknown Flying Death Creatures. But here I am, with my boss reminding me not to bring any of the fauna home with me. '


    This is my favourite. The tension of the potential first big screw up. Great characters. Oddly enough the mistake of using the term 'Terraform' is not a mistake. It helps bond the 'reader/character.'

    * * *

    Desperate Times
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 5/5 – Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.
    Effect 8-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 17/20



    '“There are many creatures in this world, both seen and unseen, that rationalize existence in similar ways. To them, certain qualities, certain moments—the sparkle of a jewel or the golden glint of sunrise—contain more intrinsic value than the basic stuff of life.” The figure disappeared before bursting back into sight, hunched down, mere inches from my face. “Can you tell me why that is?”

    I gave up my struggle, the first few tears rolling down my cheeks. “No, please! Just tell me what you want!”

    “Scarcity,” he continued. “These rare items and transient moments tend to appear more valuable, given their limited quantity. However, when one's basic needs are in such short supply, this sentiment changes quickly. Certainly, given our preference, we would build only the sturdiest homes—partake of only the finest delicacies. Yet, in times of hardship, we all still seek shelter from the elements, do we not? And in the end, we all must eat. Wouldn't you agree?”'


    Just from this moment I can imagine a proper Bond villain, not some power hungry, money obsessed psycho with a cat. A real, IQ off the chart, sane as can be, philosophically challenging baddie. Sadly the rest was very well written but a bit stuck in a rut.

    * * *

    Dawn
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.
    Tone and voice 5/5 – Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.
    Effect 10-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 19/20


    '“Reincarnationists, expecting to go back to a new life. I don’t know why they bother with carting their old baggage around. You can’t take it with you, you know?”'



    '“We shall see if where’s there’s hope, there’s life.”'


    I wish I could write like this. I think the word count made it feel a bit choppy but the essence is so darkly humoured I was unwilling to finish reading. I may also be missing some of the allusions.

    * * *

    Infitialis Navitas
    By anonymous
    SpaG 4/5 – Grammatically flawless writing.

    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 9-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 17/20


    '"I'm sick of it. My conscience is not letting me."
    "I need to tell you something," Northinghton said after a short pause. "You are not a prisoner."

    Those words struck him like a bullet passing through his head. His migraine was already there, tightening his brain.'


    Easy read, good characterization, neat sketches, interesting puzzle, quite a full set of boxes ticked. One slight moment of clunkiness. Slave to the Machine, I think Fritz Lang would love this.

    * * *

    Musiques Nocturnes (Language)
    By anonymous
    SpaG 5/5 – Competent manipulation of sentence structure, creative use of punctuation and effective paragraph composition.

    Tone and voice 5/5 – Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.
    Effect 9-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 19/20


    'You’ve been in this stupor for so long, you probably won’t even know what it feels like to die. Maybe it’s like being ripped off the face of the earth by a giant hand, sharp claws and all. Maybe you’ll be thrown like a toy by this giant, into the furnace. Or maybe hell’s cold, and you’ll freeze forever. That’s the one that scares you, isn’t it?'


    The infernal voice that rides on my shoulder, telling me all the bad things I don't need to know. How stupid, vain and selfish I am, here in print for all to see. Within fiction I find a truth. Powerful stuff.

    * * *

    Fighting Back
    By anonymous
    SpaG 5/5 – Competent manipulation of sentence structure, creative use of punctuation and effective paragraph composition.
    Tone and voice 4/5 – Strong, interesting use of a particular tone.
    Effect 8-10 points. Originality, conceptual interest, effectiveness of imagery, emotional evocativeness and, of course, creative interpretation of the theme.
    Total = 17/20


    '“Get over here!” Betty screamed, her face cracked with a kind of insane enjoyment. She had her Oceana trained on the descending jumpers before any of the rest of the team spotted them. “Come to Mama Betty! AAHHHH!!!” A storm of steel-core tracers cut the sky, followed by the shuddering thumps of two dead jumpers on asphalt. '


    Total ass kicking adrenalin. At first I was slightly mislead by my own expectations, with the family aspect making me think I was reading an account of a VR game. Earth against the bugs. The gun based humour jarred slightly with the serious nature of the subject, and the slightly tongue in cheek, over the top, gung ho nature of the combatants added to my expectations being overturned. Clever and once my eye was in, fun.

    * * *

    General note:
    I knew this was going to be a tough assignment. It was way off the scale. Each and every one is worthy of a podium place. The placements will be random to say the least.
    If anyone wishes a more in depth discussion about my assessment, please contact me by PM.
    I had a ball reading them.




    bookmasta's scores:
    Author: Anonymous

    Title: The coward's way out

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): Based on a scale from 5

    Tone and Voice: Based on a scale of 3

    Effect: Based on a scale of 6

    Comments: An interesting story with a bit of a twist toward the end stemming from the hook at the beginning. It was enjoyable, but for the word limit given in challenge, this story didn’t really didn’t grip me as I thought it would. As far as grammar goes, excellent job on Spag. Within the actual structure of the prose, the storytelling is rather solid as well.


    Author: Countdown to Oblivion

    Title: Anonymous

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 3

    Effect: 4

    Comments: This entry has a bit of a science fiction feel to it’s entry written in a first person narration. However, for all the foreshadowing that goes into the actual writing, the characters and the plot don’t move much farther in their momentum than the ‘bomb doors opening.’ The story opens up a window to a tide of rising action that ends with no availing turnout. I also found the first person narration of the older sergeant to be somewhat hard to believe and as challenging to follow, which is why I give the tone and voice a score of a 3.



    Author: Anonymous

    Title: The Place

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4

    Effect: 7

    Comments: I really like this entry as a whole. From the first line it represent everything a story should have, a hook, rising and falling action, coupled with forward momentum of the characters together. The first person present tense isn’t one taken on by many, and I find this entry to tackle that challenge very well. Most powerful of the story is the realistic narration of a young adult protagonist.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: The Crossing

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 3

    Effect: 4.5

    Comments: The first and most problematic part of this story for me is within the writing. What I mean in particular is the use of was across a majority of the descriptive elements of the story. The entry is already written in third person past tense, but the use of was and were so often in the narrative turns the prose to passive third person past tense, which strips the effect of the writing for me. Otherwise, the story starts, begins, and ends rather well. Keep writing.


    Author: Anonymous

    Title: THE CASE OF THE ANGRY WIFE

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 2

    Effect: 3

    Comments: I’m not very familiar with the genre of murder and mystery, but there’s a few things about this entry that had me offput throughout the entirety of reading the submission. The first would be that the actual writing is more similar to play than an actual fictional story with all the dialogue. From the beginning with the introduction of the detective, it was hard for me to follow and equally challenging to stay immersed in the story.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Kimari's Heart

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4

    Effect: 7

    Comments: From the third person omniscient narration that begins with sort of a summary to Kimari’s village ending in ruins and her soul ascending to some sort of afterlife, this story is one of my favorites for the whole delivery of the story itself. Down to the fictional elements and the detail of the prose, it really is a well-rounded entry.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Like Snuffing Out a Candle

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 5

    Effect: 8

    Comments: This entry is deceptively awesome to me for all it tells in its limited use of words. Using the cut scenes to transition from one scene to another was brilliant to move the story and give it the effect it needed to develop toward the ending. Great job.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Morning Glory

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 3
    Effect: 5

    Comments: Trying to reveal the story of a murdering via the use of a reporter is interesting, but failed to hook my interest as a reader through it’s development. There’s not much to complain about in terms of prose. However, the heavy dialogue and lack of physical description leave me wishing for more.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: The Goat Farm

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4

    Effect: 8

    Comments: This story impressed me more for it’s ending than it’s beginning. The balance of prose with developed narration compliment each other nicely. From beginning to ending it was a satisfying entry to read. I’m impressed.


    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Impossible Cat and The Skunk of Freedom

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4

    Effect: 6.5

    Comments: Maybe it’s just the names of the characters, or rather their betrayal of their development together, but it was hard for me to find any real interest in the characters. The entry lacked the surprise to keep me wanting to continue reading.


    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Dead by Dawn

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 4

    Tone and Voice: 3

    Effect: 5

    Comments: I’ve seen so very many movies with characters cast in space that this outline feels like the vague outline of a script for one of the remakes of one of those aforementioned movies. However, I like the use of shorter and longer sentences together in the writing for their detailed entry together.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Desperate Times

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4

    Effect: 8

    Comments: This entry in effect is another one of my favorites for what it posses as a whole, from the descriptive elements of the protagonist waking up to her captor, to the ending and it’s outcome. I was immersed with reading the entry and entertained. Great work.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Dawn

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4

    Effect: 7

    Comments: This entry is different. From the involvement of Greek names Charon and Cerberus in Greek Mythology to Grim and Grim in his trek through the Realm of Death. The genre is hard for me to categorize except as post-apocalyptic. However, it was thoroughly well-written and equally as good of a read.


    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Infitialis Navitas

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4.5

    Effect: 7.5

    Comments: This science fiction realm of android and robots outpacing humans in value is interesting to me for a theme. The lone Anderson and the finality of his choice after what happens in the entry has progressed reaches a crescendo when he wakes again in the twist at the end. From the writing to the story, it was well worth reading. Thanks for entering.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Musiques Nocturnes

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 4.5

    Effect: 7.5

    Comments: What strikes me most of this entry is it’s composition. Out of all the entries, I feel as it has some of the palpable writing and definitions. In its outcome, it finishes to be a story that was very much worth reading like many of the others. In losing part of himself, Ricardo seaks find a new start for the rest of himself. Overall, great elements composed of a great entry.

    Author: Anonymous

    Title: Fighting Back

    Spelling and Grammar(SPaG): 5

    Tone and Voice: 3.5

    Effect: 6

    Comments: Interesting entry with solid writing and development. The only problem came in me trying to read through the many lines of dialogue and remain engaged as a reader. However, I like the take that the narrative follows and the story unfolds into from which it began. Thank you entering.



    amsawtell's scores:
    Title: The coward’s way out

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Overall: 16.5/20

    The characters are well-developed and interesting. Overall this reads smoothly and the dialogue is realistic. There’s only a few things that aren’t really explained in the story.

    How does Valletta know that Harris has a childish smirk in his sleep? This story tightly follows Valletta’s point-of-view so this implies one of two things--this crew sleeps in the same area (then why does it seem that Valletta is in a private bedroom when we meet her?) or that Valletta and Harris are former lovers--which seems most likely considering that she has a distaste for him.

    This pentobarbital dose that she has--was that in a drinking glass or a hypodermic needle?

    By the end of the story does Valleta also believe that Epsilon Caridea has malicious intent? At the very least the sun’s rays are personified at the end which is a departure from Valleta’s earlier sentiments.

    “Typical of him, to choose the noisiest way to end it . . .”
    Drop the ellipses. There’s not really a dropping off of thoughts we’re just not privy to them after that point--which is fine in the context of a story.

    Capitalize the first letter of each word that is not an article or a conjunction in a title.

    Title: Countdown to Oblivion

    SPaG: 3/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 6/10
    Overall: 13/20

    The ideas behind this story are interesting and engaging. The story is told well but needed some proof-reading before it was posted.

    Throughout the story the word “guardians” is not capitalized and that word is treated like that organization’s name. Because it’s a proper noun it should be capitalized.

    “I let out a hearty laugh when I saw the expression on their young tear-stained faces.”
    There needs to be a comma between young and tear-stained.

    “My jocularity and bravado with these young ones was a cruel facade.”
    “Facade” should be “façade.”

    “I was consumed with guilt for posing as there confident and protector.”
    Confident should be “confidant.”

    “Without warning they targeted fifteen of our most populated cities, turning each and everyone to ash and dust.”
    In this case “everyone” should be two words.

    “Our mistrust of each other led to miscommunication’s between governments and their armies.”
    Apostrophes are used for contractions or to show possession. In this case neither of these are occurring with the word “miscommunication.” Apostrophes also go after the plural “s.”

    “To rise once again from the ashes and lay waste to those who dared to do, Us harm.”
    The comma is unnecessary and the “us” shouldn’t be capitalized.

    “Cadets, Humanity’ will forever be in your debt.”
    The apostrophe doesn’t need to be at the end of “humanity.”

    “What came out of those bay doors were no longer the young innocents I just addressed . . .”
    There needs to be a “had” after “I.”

    “ . . . snapped his first officer.”
    There’s a point-of-view shift here.

    “ . . . but that was plenty of time to rein havoc.”
    In this case “rein” is spelled “reign.” “Rein” means to “check or guide.”

    “When they invaded they should have annihilated us, wiping out all traces of humanity rather than putting on a show of power by obliterating fifteen of our cities.”
    There are two clauses here and the comma isn’t strong enough to hold them together. Further “wiping” should be the firm past tense “wiped.”

    “They were making us toothless beasts, their goal was to break us and make us and our planet, die a slow agonizing death, while brainwashing our brightest to serve as their puppets.”
    This is a massive run-on sentence with weird commas.

    “Faxamus Humana . . .”
    Drop the ellipses.

    I question the veracity and integrity of this narrator. He says, “My jocularity and bravado with these young ones was a cruel façade. I’m not sure that this should be revealed quite so early.

    Title: The Place

    SPaG: 5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Overall: 17/20

    I have a hatred for the word “hipster.” It’s used well in this story and I really like the way this reads. I like that the end is ambiguous--I don’t know if the narrator actually dies or if he’s hallucinating.

    Title: The Crossing

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 6/10
    Overall: 14/20

    The tone of this adds a sense of believability and timelessness to this story. I’m not sure of the time period or the setting but the names make me think it’s eastern Europe.

    “’Liar,’ he said, quietly, as but a whisper.”
    The adjectival phrase could be better put. “As but” feels particularly clumsy. Perhaps “’Liar,’ he said, quietly, his voice but a whisper.”

    I had a sense that Dimitri was recently captured by his tormentors yet he’s already scarred. I also had trouble with Katrina knowing about Emil before he threatened Dimitri. She knew the regime’s feelings about those soldiers? It makes me suspect she’s a double agent as well.

    Title: THE CASE OF THE ANGRY WIFE

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Overall: 16.5/20

    This was really off-the-wall and actually fairly hilarious. It was difficult to judge this as it was hard to tell what was intentional for comedy and what was not.

    “I took her to Central Booking where I and my partner, Jim Sherman, proceeded to interview the suspect.”
    My partner and I.

    “’I believe it came from the suspect.’”
    Blood usually comes from victims.

    Title: Kimari’s Heart

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Overall: 17.5/20

    I felt truly bad for poor Kimari by the end of this story. This was well-written with a beautiful tenderness to it. This was a very human story that could have happened at any point within history without feeling out-of-place.

    “She pressed her hands uselessly over her own wound to staunch the flow of blood. As she drew her last labored breaths, she thought that it felt right to die this way; After all, she’d spent her whole life trying in vain to hold her heart together.”
    Kimari could be named at the beginning of this just for a little extra clarity. The “a” in after shouldn’t be capitalized.

    Title: Like Snuffing Out a Candle

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Overall: 17.5/20

    I like the weird west feel of this story. I like the voice and how it helps to slowly build this creepy feeling.

    “As he removed the pocket pistol from his jacket and start around the fire . . .”
    “Start” should be “started.”

    “A thousands gods and creatures because of Roland’s research, and when it finally comes time to dirty his own hands, it’s one of the very men who put them down.”
    “Thousands” should be “thousand” or the singular article needs to be dropped.
    Title: Morning Glory

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 6/10
    Overall: 14.5/20


    This was really well written. The character interactions are well done.

    I don’t believe that George Jones would be a serial killer. There are usually other events in a serial killer’s life that leads to murder. The logic and reasoning of the character as a serial killer is “sound” but there would have been other events, especially with how violent he is--think dead kittens and puppies when he’s a teenager.

    “’We already know the cops side of the story . . .’”
    There should be an apostrophe after “cops” as the story belongs to them.

    Title: The Goat Farm

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Overall: 17.5/20

    This was very creepy.

    “Goat farm” should be capitalized anywhere where it is used to refer to the actual place.

    Title: Impossible Cat and The Skunk of Freedom

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Overall: 15.5/20

    This felt clever, funny, and like the beginning of an interesting story-world. However, the ending of the story felt tacked-on to make it fit into the prompt. The thieves didn’t seem to have any other motive other than stealing everything in that vault. That was enough of a motive for this story.

    “A large dark hold all was on the floor to the disguised door that lead into the private, CEO’s parking bay.”
    There’s only one CEO to a company. This would read more clearly if private and CEO is switched and the comma is dropped.

    “There was body.”
    There needs to be an “a” before body.

    Title: Dead by Dawn

    SPaG: 5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Overall: 18/20

    The ideas behind this story are very human. The emotions come out very well and the characters are relatable. This was truly tragic and it feels as though Murna and the other terra-formers have lost an essential part of their humanity. Destroying other peoples and cultures to take over their planet seems terrible to me and as though it isn’t very human.

    Title: Desperate Times

    SPaG: 5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 6/10
    Overall: 16/20

    This was creepy and horrifying. I felt like the kidnapper/cultist was odd and strangely bookish though we never actually see him. I think it was his monologue.
    Title: Dawn

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Overall: 16.5/20

    This was a surreal journey that expertly mixed fairy tales and mythology with an apocalypse.

    “Grim asked as they weaved through crowds of abandoned luggage and piles of bewildered people.”
    “Weaved” should be “wove.”

    I feel like there’s a transition that was missing. I wasn’t sure who Nick was for a short while and had to go back and read again.

    Title: Infitialis Navitas

    SPaG: 3/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 6/10
    Overall: 13/20

    There’s something terrible about the ideas behind this story.

    “The damaged ones worked menial, repetitive jobs, while the intelligent ones were send on the repair missions.”
    “Send” should be “sent.”

    “Would he drift into the abyss of the space.”
    The second “the” needs to be dropped.

    “When they finally reached the laser, Anderson realized he didn’t know who his partner was, or could he even rely on him.”
    It should be “ . . . if he could even rely on him”

    “Few minutes after swallowing the pill, darkness started to dissolve as black spots danced before his eyes . . .”
    There should be an “a” before “few” and “dissolve” should be “resolve.”

    “When his vision cleared, feeling of an utter horror . . .”
    There should be an “a” before “feeling.”

    “He will never forget that name.”
    “Will” should be “would.”

    Title: Musiques Nocturnes

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Overall: 16.5/20

    This was sad. I don’t really know how this guy ended up where he is in the story but somehow, that doesn’t matter. This story is all about struggle and fighting against death--and in that sense this was well-done.

    There needs to be some way to differentiate the internal monologue from the external narration.

    Title: Fighting Back

    SPaG: 5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Overall: 17/20

    This covers a range of emotion and does so well. The beginning is fun and has a lot of interesting action while the ending is tragic. This reminded me of both “Starship Troopers” and “Ender’s Game.” The only question I have is would a married couple really be serving on the same squad?


    Let me know if there are any mistakes and I will try to fix them to the best of my ability!
    Last edited by kilroy214; March 1st, 2016 at 02:50 AM.
    “On the chest of a barmaid in Sale, were tattooed all the prices of ale. And on her behind, for the sake of the blind, was the same only written in braille"


    "Ambiguity is one of the greatest faults in a craft. It comes from vague ambitions. One may inspired by good ambitions, but the immediate concern of the craftsman is to know what he is capable of doing at present; and to do it."
    - Edward Johnston

  2. #2
    Congratulations to the winners! Very well-deserved victories. Thank you to the judges and organizers for your tremendous effort and time in putting together such a huge competition. The judges' scoring and feedback seemed right on-point in this one. I'm looking forward to next year already.

  3. #3
    The Prize Challenge awards have been forwarded to the winners. The winners and place-getters will be contacted via PM shortly to arrange the delivery of their prizes.

    Those with a keen eye for detail, and a decent memory, will notice that our winner of the panel assessment, and runner up of the People's Choice, was not on the original list of players for the prize. Inkwellmachine was a late Wild Card entry, and if he hadn't been so damn good, it wouldn't have mattered.

    Congratulations to Inks, Terry, M Cull, and everybody who got stuck in and made something great out of Dead by Dawn.


    We have achieved much, learned much, and will build on this success.

    Thank you for being a part of this fantastic challenge.
    Last edited by Cran; March 1st, 2016 at 03:59 AM.
    "I don't know ... I'm making it up as I go ..." - Dr I Jones

    Nature abhors perfection - cats abhor a vacuum!

    "Faith can move mountains - she's a big girl!" (unknown/graffiti)

    If I act like I own the place, it's because I did.





  4. #4

  5. #5
    This competition just proves what great talent we have here at WF! Well done, everyone! And thanks to the hosts and judges! I truly appreciate the feedback!

  6. #6
    Great competition! Congratulations guys! If I could hug you all, I would. I guess terms of endearment will do for now.

  7. #7
    WF Veteran InkwellMachine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    In your pocket, stealing your pocket lint.
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    Woah. Was not expecting this result.

    After I read The Place, I had this sort of internal sinking feeling--the one you get when your pride starts to leak out and your sad, pale writer-body begins to deflate. I voted for Terry in the initial reader's choice poll, 'cause I just thought he deserved the win all the way around. The Goat Farm was also pretty exceptional, which is quite a feat considering the competition. This is an amazing feeling. I believe it marks the first time I've ever received any kind of payment for my writing. How 'bout that?

    Thanks to all the mods and staff for working so hard to accommodate my wildcard entry. I did just sort of show up out of nowhere, didn't I? I promise I wasn't hiding in the bushes. The timing was just super convenient... deeepending on where you stand. Also, of course, a big thank you to all the judges and readers for taking the time to read and analyze my piece. I think the feedback is the part of these competitions I look forward to the most. Actually, it is without question the part I like the most.

    A while after entering the competition, I joined the content team on the site, so I had access to the parts of the forum where the staff organizes this sort of stuff. It takes a lot of effort and deliberation to make something like this happen, and these are all people with real occupations and lives outside the forum--the time they give us is donated free time. Incredibly impressive, incredibly selfless. Thank you so much.

    As an incidental PS, I do miss Fin. Kilroy is an absolutely brilliant replacement, of course, but I guess I grew an attachment to Fin's avatar. Is he still around?
    Last edited by InkwellMachine; March 1st, 2016 at 04:08 AM.
    "Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised." --John Steinbeck

  8. #8
    Congrats. There were some interesting takes on the prompt I didn't expect. That's always nice.

    "Life is a risk; so is writing. You have to love it." ~ Richard Matheson

  9. #9
    Member M. Cull's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    In this world. Most of the time.
    Posts
    83
    Well, this was a ton of fun. Thanks so much to all the judges for the time and effort they put into critiquing my piece and everyone else's. Writing forums is my very favorite, and this just goes to confirm why.

    For what it's worth, I actually have an answer for a question TKent asked, about the "Lena" reference in my story. You see, I chose to write Fighting Back in the same universe as a sci-fi novel I'm currently trying to get published, called Time to Play. Who knows, maybe in the future, when Time to Play is (finally) noticed, Fighting Back will be a fun little pseudoprequel of sorts. One of the two twins referenced in Fighting Back is actually the main character of Time to Play, which takes place approximately 25 years later. <Shameless plug:> if you know anyone who is a literary agent who might be interested in representing something of this nature, I'd be very interested in getting in touch! And my manuscript is ready to show! *does a little dance whilst grinning sheepishly* <end shameless plug>

    Anyway, I'm very glad you enjoyed it. Thanks very much for the chance to participate.

    (note: let it be known that I did write this entry in its entirety exclusively for this contest, and took nothing from any preexisting materials, beyond my own basic understanding of the setting).

  10. #10

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