To read this story or to participate in this writing event, you only need a free account.
You can Login with Facebook or create regular account
To find out what this event is about click here

Johann Thorsson's picture


By Johann Thorsson in Teleport Us

How It Rates

Voting for this event has ended
Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.


Defiance tells the story of an alien, captured and turned by humans during their last days on a doomed Earth, and the effect they have on each other.


*NEW* Edited according to suggestions and resubmitted, now in its third version.


Blake Ervin's picture
Blake Ervin from United States is reading American Gods February 17, 2013 - 10:50pm


Just a few notes about this one. I rather enjoyed the section where the alien was interacting with the humans directly, and felt as though those were some of the strongest parts. The narration was well done at times, especially when the alien would use an awkward phrase to describe what he was encountering. However, my problems mainly stem from how much of the story is inside the head of the alien. There are periods where there is telling where showing could occur--such as when they are questioning the alien and it responds. This short story also reads as if it's a compressed version of a longer tale. Perhaps with other critiques, you could lengthen it, and form a rather sizeable short story from it. 

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake February 18, 2013 - 1:44am

Hey Blake,

Good points, thanks. I´ll try to present more of the interaction in the next version, instead of just "telling" over it. 

Thanks for reading, and commenting.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 18, 2013 - 9:22am

First person narratives can be tricky to write, and unfortunately as the previous poster said, you have fallen into the trap of show over tell in places  e.g. “I am looking through the wreckage of a train station”.  I agree with the previous comments that the section with the alien being questioned is the strongest, but you cover the important part in just one paragraph.  I’m not sure either why the alien started to help the humans, his motives are covered in just one line and self-preservation doesn’t seem to fit.  I may have missed it, but I couldn’t find a reason for the town being captured, or why the inhabitants are kept unaware.  There is promise here, and I don’t want to just concentrate on any negatives.  The world is well described, and there the idea behind the story is a good one.  It just needs a bit more work, and you’ll have a very solid story on your hands.

GG_Silverman's picture
GG_Silverman from Seattle February 20, 2013 - 9:28am

I felt this story was quite strong. Immediately immersive, wonderful descriptions, strong voice. I loved the end, it's especially chilling. Thumbs up!

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake February 20, 2013 - 11:18pm

Wow, thanks. Now I'm having second thoughts about the edits I'm making. Mostly changing the beginning, and fleshing out the interactions with the humans. Leaving the ending as it is, at least structurally.

Thanks again, you just did wonders for my confidence.

GG_Silverman's picture
GG_Silverman from Seattle February 20, 2013 - 11:34pm

No worries! Go with your gut. :)

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words February 22, 2013 - 2:41am

Good concept. I like the exploration of what an alien invasion would be like if, no matter what Wil Smith movies indicate, the aliens were vastly advanced in relation to us and thus we had no means of fighting back.

I'd recommend starting with the second paragraph. The first one is exposition and doesn't add anything the reader particularly needs or that we don't find out organically in the following paragraphs (it soon becomes evident, even without the first paragraph, that the protag is an alien, that its race has invaded, and that it's wandering around because, well, it can). That gets you right into the narrative of the dogs and the girl and the conflicts of the story.

Why does the protag refer to itself as "I" before it's cut off from the Collective? Wouldn't it refer to itself as 'we'? Also, why would the Collective wonder why it hadn't killed the girl yet? Wouldn't the Collective already know? Or is it more like ants and/or neural pathways: the message is sent out and back, but there's a delay--pheremonal scent paths for ants, nerves and ganglia and such for bodies? If that's the case, more set-up is required.

The protag doesn't seem to go through as much trauma as one might expect, cut off from the Collective. Although, hey, alien, so maybe that just happens. :-)

Some fine-tuning quibbles: There are some fragments that read awkwardly. Also, you repeat the information about needing to be in Defiance and that the aliens are sucking out the air. The first explanation, in the jail, was a good one. I liked that back-and-forth of dialogue. Another repetition is when the protag is wondering at not feeling anything when it sees its downed comrades (though, why would it? They're just expendable digits of the Collective, yes?). You mention it twice, pretty close together.

All that said, I like the story. The pacing was good. Fast.

PS (Post reading the comments above): I agree that you're strongest when you're writing narrative. The exposition slows things down too much. I also agree that the protag's motivations need to be developed more. More emphasis on the beauty it finds in things (even the prison) now that it's 'solo' maybe. Something, anyway, that gives it a reason to help. Otherwise, if it thinks of itself as a 'finger' or 'toe' why would it bother?



Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake February 23, 2013 - 4:23am

Hey Patrick,


Thanks for the review, I plan a third round of edits and this will definitely help.

Aaron Martin's picture
Aaron Martin from the Pacific Northwest is reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson February 23, 2013 - 12:41pm

Thumbs up! Your story was a joy to read. There's a beauty and a poetry in the way you describe the world as well as the thoughts/feelings of the narrator. I found interest in this character straight away. For instance, great job with the subtle references such as the following:

"...I wonder how she has survived so long and for a fleeting moment I admire her. The Collective is not fond of my admiration."

Suddenly we have empathy for the alien and the starving child in two simple, powerful lines.

Regarding the setting: desolate post-apocalyptic wastes (just like zombies, vamps, and an invasion by Mother Russia) are quickly getting stale, aren't they? But you gave us something different, a unique threat to our existence as a nation and a species - and the science was believable, although I admit I didn't exactly check the facts. Also, I especially liked the inventive fate of Cole and his followers.


If I were to critique anything, I'd like to see more of the war with the Collective. I'd also like to see some strife between the survivors. Unlike the Collective, these humans were brought up to be independent, red-blooded Freedom lovers who wouldn't welcome such a fate without a fight, or without feeling like they gave up their humanity. In short, I could see a lot of conflict brewing within the group as they considered being part of the Collective's zoo. 

That said, what a challenge to depict a story of this depth and breadth in 4000 words! I imagine we both went through a lot of painful trimming whilst preparing to submit for the contest. I think your short story has the potential to be expanded quite a bit, perhaps even to explore the strange, frightening concept of being part of some alien menagerie and realizing that your entire reality is a farce...

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 24, 2013 - 1:26pm

An interesting story.  The opening starts out strong, with the dogs and the young girl in the pink dress, and pulls your reader into Arretian's point of view very quickly.  I like the way you used his/its observations to describe the physical differences between the two species.  I am a little puzzled at the alien's lose of concern over the death of his own kind.

It would be nice to explore this a little more, perhaps a tie in with what he says about elders latter?  Perhaps there is some in-built reaction that goes along with losing connection to the Collective which can explain it?  Or maybe it has something to do with the way he initially defied the Collective.  There has to be something odd about him in the first place to break its will.

There were a few issues I spotted: 

Page 5: "What it your name?"

Page 8: ".. wil be altered znd monitored ..."

I know there were more, but I can't remember them right now.  If I had been reading on my laptop rather than my phone I could have taken better notes and pointed them out.  A few more read throughs should catch most of them though.

You could easily use this or an expanded version of this as the basis for a larger story in the same world.

Great Work and Keep At It!

Kristján Már Gunnarsson's picture
Kristján Már Gu... February 26, 2013 - 4:06am

I liked this one, a fresh take on the alien invasion trope.there's some storyworld issues, I'd think that aliens so advanced wouldn't be so easily knocked out or killed and  the aliens felt a bit too similar, with mouths and eyes and .two feet.
But the concept of the collective was intriguing and i think the reader should feel more disconnected when they cut out part of his brain. The first part should feel immensely alien as opposed to later parts that are individualistic.  A change of pronouns in the beginning perhaps, "we" instead of "I". The collective should feel more alien i think.

Robert Gislason's picture
Robert Gislason from Iceland is reading Ender's game February 27, 2013 - 1:04pm

Thanks for the story. It was a fun read being inside a alien head and looking at the world from its perspective.


I would want to know more about the collective perspective of the world. The alien seems to be thinking on his own right from the start and making its own decisions like not killing the girl. It would have been more believable if it had gone for the killing but been captured just before.

Then there is this decision of the humans to keep it alive. Why? It had already told them what they needed so I cant see the value of keeping it alive. Maybe missing some reason for it.

The strange friendliness of the alien was also missing a reason.
I am therefore having problem believing the characters. 

Overall I think it is well written and intresting concept. It could be a material for much bigger story. 

Who knows, maybe we are in Defiance already?

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake February 27, 2013 - 1:12pm

Thanks for reading the story, and reviewing.

You actually raise some interesting points I hadn't thought of, and fixing them will amek the story muck stronger. Like explaining the reason why the humans keep him alive, and a reason for the alien acting the way it does in the beginning.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time March 28, 2013 - 8:11pm

Don't have much to add. Awesome story. Love the angle of learning about us through the eye of them. Cool stuff. Good job!

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake March 29, 2013 - 6:33am

Hey, thanks.


Wendy Hammer's picture
Wendy Hammer from Indiana is reading One Night in Sixes March 29, 2013 - 12:28pm

I liked your story quite a bit.  The Collective to Individual shift was especially interesting.  I think you captured the way I'd imagine an alien from that kind of society to act and think.  Really, the whole premise was interesting and it made me think. Nicely done! 

Notes:  The fragment: "Not knowing to avoid us, and not learning from experience" is a little jarring. 

Loved the descriptions with the girl " . . . The Collective disapproves" was brilliant. 

This sentence is so important, but it is difficult to follow: "I am three times her size and she looks up at me with a mixture of curiosity and fear and as I look at her through the jumble of information my helmet displays I am gripped a sudden realization: I just made a choice of my own" 

I love that moment when the narrator realizes an indivdual choice has been made.  If you simplify the sentence it might have more punch.  Or, you could just fix the mechanics (I am gripped by a...etc.). 

Great!: "Casualties are a normal part of planetary acquisitions and are not investigated or avenged.  They simply are, and so to The Collective I no longer am."

I really like how you play with those ideas and emotions.  It sets up such a strong contrast to the humans. 

I also really liked how he explains his lack of name. 

The last sentence before the break hit hard. "I am unique now."  Nice! 

As you can see, these are mostly minor quibbles. I liked most of this story. 

I'm a little stuck on the ending. What do they gain from remembering? Did I miss what could be done? 

It could just be that I read too quickly or haven't had enough caffeine.  

Thumbs up! 


EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff March 30, 2013 - 1:16pm

I don't really have anything to critisize here, so I just wanted to say I really enjoyed the story and I hope you get it placed somewhere. Cheers.