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Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

Hi all,

How about a group discussion / book club about the stories in V.37?
If interested, join in any time. Discuss any or all stories in the prescribed time frames below.

We'll start on April 1 (new quarter!).
Read one story every three days.
Post our thoughts/emotions/theories etc. And reply to others if you agree/disagree, etc. Then read/reread the next story in line and post appropriately. There's 14 stories, so we should have a month and a half to dig in.

Format: (Or for Matt, if there're any Matt's here)

April 1 - April 3: The Tiger and the Waif
April 4 - April 6: Sixers
April 7 - April 9: The Enfield Report
April 10 - April 12: The Widow's Might
April 13 - April 15: How to Steal the Plot Armor
April 16 - April 18: The Redemption of Brother Adalum
April 19 - April 21: The Argentum
April 22 - April 24: Soul Paper
April 25 - April 27: The Skin of My Mother
April 28 - April 30: Death of a Time Traveler
May 1 - May 3: The Battle of Donsai
May 4 - May 6: A Demon Hunter's Guide to Passover Seder
May 7 - May 9: Hemingway
May 10 - May 12: Half-Breed

 

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : March 18, 2022 3:24 pm
Yelena, David Hankins, DoctorJest and 3 people reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 

I enjoyed V.37 a fair bit--I certainly wouldn't object to going through a deliberate re-read of it.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : March 19, 2022 8:57 pm
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Platinum Member
 

That's a great idea Dustin. I will be there for the duration of the exercise. V37 is well worth studying.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1
HM-V38/Q4
HM-V39/Q2
Published Poetry
2012 Stars in Our Hearts Notions
Silver Ships

 
Posted : March 20, 2022 12:33 am
FolkLoremIpsum
(@folkloremipsum)
Bronze Member
 

Sounds great! A perfect springtime project.

Q3 V38 - F, Q 4 V38 - SHM
Q1 V39 - HM, Q2 V39 - P

 
Posted : March 21, 2022 12:34 am
storysinger reacted
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

April 1 - April 3: The Tiger and the Waif

This story by John M. Campbell led volume 37, and started with the letter (word) I. I myself couldn't help but smile to see a story in first person, and present no less, so I dove right in, only to quickly find anthropomorphism. Personally, I'm not a fan (and rarely find anything but human POVs in the volumes) but I wasn't about to skip the first story, so I pressed on.

The concept grabbed me, a highly intelligent, android cat who understands many languages, but can only speak one word, in a situation where someone is hurt and it must communicate this.

I also found the writing itself superior. Well put together sentences always float my boat. I will for sure seek out this author to read more of his work.

Overall, however, I found the plot predictable - for me. I rarely guess what's coming next. In fact, I'm not the type who even tries. Movies and stories, I just let them roll over me, but here I kept figuring out what was coming. I don't know if that's because I wasn't as connected to a cat POV, or because of the setup there were only a few ways it could play out.

The conclusion is a happily ever after ending, which I do like, and seemed a good springboard into the rest of the volume.

I like to try to guess why a story is chosen to go first, and it's always a guess. I was surprised by a non-human POV going first, although if you ask any ten-year-old if they've read the Warriors books they could probably tell you volumes - literally. So the popularity is there, but I might lean on the ending of this one. It was feel-good and I have to admit, I did.

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 1, 2022 9:41 am
storysinger reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 

I have a similar take on this to Dustin. I'm always a sucker for a cat, android or otherwise, but I did find that I knew where the story was going, and how it would end. There was also a small technical detail in there that I found odd--the term WiFi used to have a specific meaning, and still feels to me like one that may have a limited life as a term, so it felt slightly anachronous to me in conjunction in a world where an intelligent android cat is a reasonable possibility. But it's not the kind of detail that throws me out, it just makes me frown a moment, then shrug it off and keep on trucking.

There were one or two places, though, where I felt it could have gone somewhere didn't. It went where I was expecting it to, but didn't invariably follow exactly the path I was expecting. And while I did know where the story was going, I also generally felt glad that it went there, so it's a lot easier to forgive in that context. It definitely closes out with that feel-good moment, and I could definitely see that being a rationale for choosing it as the opening story.

Plus, as I mentioned, I'm a sucker for a cat, so I also think that hell yeah it's a cat is a great reason to pick it for the opening story too...

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : April 2, 2022 12:53 am
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Platinum Member
 

To tell the truth this is my third time reading this story. I've read this volume, cover to cover twice already. It is an enjoyable story, and I agree it's easy to project, or guess what is coming next. To me its target audience is middle-schoolers. C'mon now, nobody can find fault with a cute little kitty story.

On page 33, the beginning of the sixth paragraph has a typo, which is amazing to me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't it read, I understand what she's doing. Not what's she's doing.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1
HM-V38/Q4
HM-V39/Q2
Published Poetry
2012 Stars in Our Hearts Notions
Silver Ships

 
Posted : April 2, 2022 7:38 pm
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 
Posted by: @storysinger

On page 33, the beginning of the sixth paragraph has a typo, which is amazing to me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't it read, I understand what she's doing. Not what's she's doing.

Yeah, that's right--what's doubly weird is, I had to read it several times before my brain would even catch it as an error, perhaps because it spans a line break in the text.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : April 2, 2022 9:58 pm
storysinger reacted
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

April 4 - April 7: Sixers

Actually, I liked this story more the 2nd time...

Sixers are those with a physical manifestation of a sixth sense. Although the "powers" go beyond our actual senses, the name works in context.

The plot, or quest is simple enough. The MC, an aging, single woman with typical ailments needs to go 40 miles to check on her son who she hasn't heard from recently - through war-torn city/roads. Along the way she picks up some stray kids with unregistered senses. The interactions and secrets and concern for revelation provides loads of tension and keeps the pace quick.

Maybe that's why I liked it more this time, doing a more analytical read...

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 4, 2022 2:35 pm
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Platinum Member
 

This story fits the formula described by Algis Budry, among others. 

The character is named

Her problem and her heart's desire are revealed

She encounters one conflict after another on the way to her destination.

Even after reaching her destination, she suffers another letdown. Followed by joy at her son's words of love.

In the denoument a satisfactory conclusion is reached, and the MC goes happily on her way.

Lund has written a story that won the Golden Pen award. Well worth reading.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1
HM-V38/Q4
HM-V39/Q2
Published Poetry
2012 Stars in Our Hearts Notions
Silver Ships

 
Posted : April 4, 2022 7:00 pm
Wulf Moon reacted
FolkLoremIpsum
(@folkloremipsum)
Bronze Member
 

I absolutely loved how this protagonist plays up the "harmless older woman" vibes to keep dangerous parties from suspecting her. Her voice is so strong, with a sharp humor perfect for the dystopian setting.

Q3 V38 - F, Q 4 V38 - SHM
Q1 V39 - HM, Q2 V39 - P

 
Posted : April 5, 2022 3:44 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 

I liked this one more the second time too, but I'm still left with the sense that the story doesn't quite finish for me. I do like the way it's written, and I like the central character a great deal, but I always feel a little bit like I've been left hanging. That being said, I like the tone that's struck, including the ending.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : April 5, 2022 4:13 am
storysinger reacted
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

April 7 - April 9: The Enfield Report

Here's another I enjoyed more the 2nd time, but for a different reason. I liked this one a ton the first time, but knowing what was coming allowed me to really sink in to the bad guy's perspective. The writing was so great, precise, and I admired the usage of particular words at the right time to say multitudes. This is what I'm always striving to do. Use just the right word...

While I'll often think, "I wish I wrote that." (Obviously, it won, but even so) with this one I don't think I'd have been capable. Like, above my pay grade. But it makes me observe and respect it. Hopefully Christopher Bowthorpe will have more published work. I'd buy whatever had his name on it.

 

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 7, 2022 8:18 pm
storysinger reacted
FolkLoremIpsum
(@folkloremipsum)
Bronze Member
 

What a twist that was! I didn't see it coming at all. Nothing conveniently black and white here, yet the ending felt exactly right.

Q3 V38 - F, Q 4 V38 - SHM
Q1 V39 - HM, Q2 V39 - P

 
Posted : April 9, 2022 9:04 pm
storysinger reacted
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Silver Member
 

For Enfield Report it also was a more complicated story with a bittersweet (if that) ending. In some ways it reminded me of Mara's shadow. I did think that the start (diff POV) was unnecessary to the story.

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : April 10, 2022 2:50 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 

The Enfield Report gave me a real Silence of the Lambs in Space kind of vibe to the whole set up. I think that's why they had the opening, because the story dynamic relied on the lead not being really aware of the character's nature, and so you get a secondary character kind of playing as Clarice in the set-up, then the rest of the story continuing on. 

At first, I also felt like the opening seemed a little redundant--I'm not a fan of an opening with a single-scene character who's only there to reveal something the lead wouldn't be privy to. However, in this specific case, I got a real sense of tension thanks to knowing the nature of the character that the innocent lead had been thrown into the mix with--so while I might think there could be other ways to do it, in the end it won me over, because it definitely ratcheted up that sense of jeopardy (and jeopardy done well is critical to the effectiveness of horror-toned fiction).

It's one that I remember more vividly, and definitely one that I enjoyed more on a second read than the first time around.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : April 10, 2022 3:04 am
Yelena reacted
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

I tend to struggle with the "prologue" opening also. Doesn't stop me from always wanting to write them, but I usually strike them and try to work in the backstory because they get critiqued out. I wonder if Bowthorpe wrestled with that as well, or wrote a draft with backstory during the action. It feels right separated here, and that last line about locking his door until the day he died was awesome, and a cool trick to signify the departing of that character from the story.

So I'm torn on the prologue, but ultimately agree with the idea of one not fitting in a short story.

And, um, yeah, my Q2 kinda has one. I mentioned to a friend if I get a straight R (R for return!) I'll just cut the first page and resub. We'll see how that goes...

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 10, 2022 10:33 am
Yelena and DoctorJest reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 
Posted by: @axeminister

And, um, yeah, my Q2 kinda has one. I mentioned to a friend if I get a straight R (R for return!) I'll just cut the first page and resub. We'll see how that goes...

Aha! See, now you're using the prologue you're maybe going to cut to foreshadow one of your future submissions. Intuitive writer skills right there.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : April 10, 2022 8:22 pm
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

I'm playin chess, yo. 😎 

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 11, 2022 12:06 am
Wulf Moon and DoctorJest reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 

Catching up with April 10-12, The Widow's Might.

I enjoyed this one--it's not carrying the weight of some of the other stories, to be sure. The author's lean into the absurd means you're never really likely to get that, and it's never quite willing to dig into the dark of the actions taken on either side, which I think leaves it feeling a little light and airy, a little disposable when it's done. That same quality, though, let it feel like a breath of air after the much darker Enfield Report, and I was smiling pretty much the whole time I was reading it--which I suspect is exactly what the author was aiming for.

I really enjoy all the details and the styling in the story, too, as well as a few wonderful little turns of phrase that she uses. In the end, this is the kind of writer whose novel-length fiction I think I would probably enjoy a great deal.

(Side note: going to find out if I'm right about that too, having ordered the debut novel listed in her WotF anthology bio.)

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : April 11, 2022 5:36 am
Yelena reacted
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Moderator
 

Just wanted to commend the dignified analysis of these stories going on here. I see everyone treating them with respect, even if they don’t agree that certain elements worked in some. This is constructive, even as you’re deconstructing them. Well done. 😊

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Posted : April 12, 2022 5:34 pm
RETreasure, David Hankins, Dustin Adams and 1 people reacted
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

I'm late for the Widow's Might. Thought today was the 12th...

I myself didn't care for this one. The humor felt forced, multiple cliches (hand flew to her mouth. Mouth went dry etc), and without studying it for this, I believe this entire story would have happened exactly the same without the MC's involvement. She did nothing. No change or character growth. The secondary character prodded her into every action, including opening or assuming the local Widow's chapter.

The writing was fun, however. I looked up the PW review for The Brass Queen and found it mirrored my thoughts. Light on plot, heavy on atmosphere and lightheartedness. That sums this story up as well.

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 13, 2022 10:08 am
Yelena reacted
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

April 13 - April 15: How to Steal the Plot Armor

I didn't care for how this one started - story-wise, and probably would have stopped if not for this review, but as I read along, I began to connect with the MC (first person) and Sir Barm. As Dave would say, I developed a rooting interest in the character. I wanted him to get what he wanted.

This story covered a lot of ground. Initially it seemed to me it was trying really hard to be a sort of a very aware of itself fantasy / anti-fantasy, and the humor was forced like what a GM might say to get a chuckle from the group. But by the end it had a secret plot (pun not intended), some 4th wall breaking, a Machiavellian plot (same plot as before, just revealed to be Machiavellian) and I wouldn't wait for the MC to get what he wanted, which was clear from the very beginning (but not without some gloating, which -by the end- I loved him for).

I can't recall ever having a story change my mind like this one while reading it. So if you struggle with it early - keep going.

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 16, 2022 10:02 am
Yelena reacted
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
Topic starter
 

April 16 - April 18: The Redemption of Brother Adalum

Alright, here we go. Kate proves why she had 6(!) finalists. The story starts and you're well into it before you realize how many words or pages or time has gone by. You don't remember the start, it's always just been - this story. I believe this is the effect they say L. Ron had on readers, like the famous guy who missed his flight story.

This story starts with an internal struggle, then the external struggle about 1/3 in completely clashes with the internal struggle, and we are as tied up in emotional knots as the protagonist. Then the moral choice, the resolution, bittersweet, and whew... What a ride.

 

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : April 17, 2022 9:19 pm
Yelena reacted
FolkLoremIpsum
(@folkloremipsum)
Bronze Member
 

I think it's so cool how The Widow's Might ties in with the author's larger fictional universe. I agree that it was a nice breath of fresh air where it was positioned in the volume, as well.

How to Steal the Plot Armor made me feel like I'd just watched "The Prestige" or "The Sixth Sense," in that I wanted to read through it again after the twists landed. The writing style is a lot of fun.

The Redemption of Brother Adalum was gorgeous. I've been thinking about it for days. It felt so complete without ever getting clogged by overdescription. Monastic life was lightly sketched, letting what we know about that sort of thing fill in the gaps. Avoiding purple prose freed up the story to focus in on the protagonist's crisis, which was a humdinger!

 

Q3 V38 - F, Q 4 V38 - SHM
Q1 V39 - HM, Q2 V39 - P

 
Posted : April 20, 2022 3:29 am
Dustin Adams reacted
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