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Tell Me Why Discussion
By Scott Roche
I love the tension between the different ideologies of your government, the disparity in value placed on soldiers and breeders. Yung can sneak right out of his camp with little difficulty, narratively, but it's so much harder to get into the incubator camp.

I was unconvinced by the concluding paragraph. Such a late-game shift in perspective came across ragged to me, and a little trite.

For me, a pleasure to read.
Yeah that last paragraph was a little tacked on. I originally ended it with the robots' conversation but that seemed too bleak. I had an attack of Spielberg I guess.
Tell me why...

no one comments on these stories?
I have theories...

Regarding "Tell Me Why: The Fiction", though, I think that bleak would absolutely have worked in this case. That's what threw me about the ending: everything up to that point is hopeless, anyway -- the ray of hope seems artificial. But it is what it is, and I ain't complaining 'bout being entertained.

edit: usually Andrew Clarke's in here with a thought or two. What gives?
So this is a good a place as any, what are your theories?

I mean, I'm not looking ot get blown here. I want some real feedback from everyone. If my stuff sucks it helps to know that. If it's mostly good and my ending is too Pollyanna (as it turns out is probably the case) then I need to know that too. I give thanks for the 3 or 4 folks who come in here and sing the praises.

I'd love it if the bigwigs on the board who are always asking for feedback on the latest strip/podcast/article would show us some love.
Theory the First is that each facet of interacting with fiction takes more time than you think it ought to. Writing, editing, reading, and critiquing all are somewhat daunting. The fiction on CHUD is significantly different from the news stories, so it takes a different kind of reader to even give it a shot. And then, to respond is another draw off someone's time, especially since we kind of pooh-pooh to simple "I liked it/didn't like it" responses, and ask for more meaningful interaction.

I'm happy as could be when I get a bit of thoughtful criticism, and I'm grateful for the time the reader has spent doing both the reading and the critiquing. My guess is that most CHUD readers don't have that kind of time to give away.

Theory the Second is that we're not as cool as the other kids on the block.
Both theories certainly have weight.
Got any other stories waiting in the wings?
I just subbed one yesterday and your 2025 story should go up any time. We all liked it and I sent Kirby the pull quotes from it for formatting.
That ended up sounding like I was fishing for info on "Funny Guns," but what I really meant to ask was if you, personally, had any other stories you were working on currently. Sorry 'bout that.

I'm afraid I didn't post in this thread because I just didn't think the story was very good. I found the style weak and so didn't bother finishing it when it was orginally posted.

But that's not very constructive and, as I was mentioned (nice to know i'm missed), I have read the rest now and shall try to form my criticisms coherently.

The beginning attempts to create a militaristic tone by using lots of militaristic jargon, but it uses it lazily and often incorrectly. 'Ballistics' is the study of projectiles, not an actual type of projectile, so having a 'ballistics proof' tent is not really what you meant. Equally a 'fireteam' only has a meaning in a combat zone, dealing, as it does, with 'firing' - a fireteam simply would not be a fireteam if it was on base dismantling tents, at least by my understanding. If you wanted a military word that merely denotes a particular number of men, perhaps 'squad' or 'platoon' would have worked. The 'i want to see asses and elbows' line is an unimaginative rip from 'Aliens' which is not going to fly on a website filled with sci-fi geeks. Also the actual line in the film is 'You know the drill: assholes and elbows' - adding 'i want to see' gives the line a decidely homosexual overtone that would be fine if it was deliberate. As you do nothing with it for the rest of the story i shall assume it was unintentional. The line from the film also has a better rhyming flow. Your alteration made the quote worse.

Now the incorrect usage could just be nitpicking, but it denotes a lazy attitude towards the details which undermines the tone you were trying to create. This failure - essentially lying to the reader and getting caught - is what turned me off the story in the first place.

The narrative voice can not decide whether it is omniscient or from the protagonist's point of view, veering between an observant, dispassionate 'overhead' view and giving the protagonist's opinion of things, using colloquialisms and expletives. It suggests the writer was not thinking about who was telling the story and changed viewpoint whenever the story needed some particular piece of information or attitude expressed. It suggests a writer not thinking things through.

Now, the final reveal of 'what was banned' actually contains the germ of a good idea - far too sappy for the hardened cynics on this site, i am sure, but effective nonetheless. Unfortunately it is set up ineffectively. He is making this difficult journey in order to see his wife one last time before he dies, yet there is no urgency in the journey, nor is the mystery of why he is making such a hard journey really brought to the reader's attention. The mystery is there, just about, for we do not know why he is making the journey until the end, but it does not drive the narrative.
making the journey much harder on him, for example by having the disease become increasingly debilitating thus giving him a ticking clock for reaching his destination, would make the reader ask why he is putting himself through hell during the last moments of his life, and what could be so important as to take such an undertaking. This, in turn, would make the reveal that much sweeter.

As it is he just trudges on, calmly and steadily, meandering into digressions about memories and other expositional baggage, making the narrative picaresque rather than urgent, and so diminishing the reveal. Just because he is a trained and professional soldier does not excuse this lack of drive.

And so that's why i didn't like the story. Perhaps you could regard it as a first draft, or take the very workable central conceit and put it in something else. I am aware that i have been too harsh on some other Chudstories so i have tried to make this as constructive as possible. I honestly hope that i have suceeded. Sorry Capt.
Hey Andrew! If you don't like it that's fine, as I said I appreciate the bad as well as the good.

You're right, I should have used bullet instead of ballistic, my bad. A fireteam according ot my research is a subset of a squad consisting of four men. It is possible that this is incorrect. If the "asses and elbows" line is a rip from Alien then it was unintentional. I like my line just as well. I'm not sure how any of this is "lying" to the reader though.

I can certainly tweak the POV. The change happened because I added the first part at the military camp after I wrote the central part of the story. I guess there are still seams showing.

I think you're right about the sense of urgency. I wanted to delay the reveal on what was banned. I'll take your suggestions on the disease acting as a clock to heart. I had to look up "picaresque" (shame on me) and I would prefer that the narrrative had more drive than that so thanks for pointing that out.

You have indeed succeeded in construction and for that I am grateful. I'd rather have 2 or 3 comments like yours than a hundred "That was cool dude."s.


Originally Posted by iandonnell

That ended up sounding like I was fishing for info on "Funny Guns," but what I really meant to ask was if you, personally, had any other stories you were working on currently. Sorry 'bout that.

Heh. No problem. I'm not working on anything new at the mo' but given yours and Andrew's spot-on suggestions I may need to revisit this one.

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