Would love some feedback at the end of this on the whole thing, from anyone active on the discussion pages - whether you read them all, or a portion.
So far, I've seen a fair few stories that are obviously the start of something bigger, and I wonder if that is what most litreactors are doing. Whereas I'm very much about the short story form as a be-all and end all. (Which doesn't mean i won't contemplate something longer, but my submission, Xenophobe, was very much the end of that particular storyline.
Other questions include people doing SciFi - many for the first time, the preponderance of AI characters, and I guess the split between dystopia and utopias.
Finally - and maybe the dystopia swung this - the scarcity of pieces with humour or fun involved . Is the future really so bleak?!
All thoughts on this and other "whole competition" views gratefully welcome!
p.s. 500 comments on this discussion thread! (not me personally you understand!) - make that 502!
@Liam I just noticed that the thread had topped 500 and we still have a week left! If I remember correctly, the thread for Scare-Us topped out around 290 or so.
This challenge had definitely increased my interest in the site. I love the feedback so far. I'm getting to new stories as I can. Here's mine if anyone's interested: http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/chip-head
Hey Liam, I did notice that most of the stories are clearly dystopic. Which makes sense, considering that a utopian setting would definitionally involve no conflict, which makes for a desperately boring story. My story might me the most utopian I've seen.
Ah, the joy of a utopia is it very rarely is for everyone involved, and they collapse! I count mine amongst the utopia's, and I count only the setting at the start of yours. Anyone else want to pipe up for a Utopia? I'd suspect Last Dance and Call me Tim could be considered making the best of a bad (elderly) future, so I'm half inclined to include them, lets see if their authors agree!
I'm pretty sure my world would be considered a dystopia by most. Perversely, most people would consider actual interaction with relatives preferable to a fully virtual life.
Also, I envision the world the old man and Tim shares as anything but a perfect world. It needs to be an interesting world. But it's a world where you walk over the burning corpses of your own soldiers.
^Yeah it did not strike me as a happy place. Especially with an image of the "real world" at the back of the head, it's hard to embrace even the positive aspects of the alternative reality.
Can't believe a week and so many posts went by since the last time I checked this thread!
I reviewed what feels like a ridiculously low number of stories compared to the 159 produced (argh) but always tried to leave 'useful' and sincere feedbacks. I feel everybody is a bit under the weather, my story hasn't moved for few weeks now.
Planning to download a bunch of them to read while in the plane tomorrow. Already noticed several titles mentioned several times here. That's how I discovered AffirmNation that was a great read, thanks to @klahol's advice.
Hopefully more soon, before the month ends!
This is the first challenge I've participated in and it has been great fun. I've always been a fan of dystopia and post-apocalyptic fiction so this called to me. I knew immediately which direction I would want to go in. Utopia is interesting, but I apparently lean toward the gloomier side...that and I think that Utopia is much more personal and subjective for me. I like a touch more distance or something.
I've never written science-fiction before and I liked the challenge. I'm not entirely new to the genre because I've read it, but I've never tried my hand at it. I loved it. World-building is addictive and I liked the puzzle. I felt like a villain (mwa-ha-ha!) while I tried to create a world that would exploit workers in an insidious way. How can you make people so comfortable with it that they don't even realize it's going on? The plausible technology part was the most daunting. A half-assed idea and a little research helped me to convince myself that it could fly.
All in all, I really loved how this pushed me in new directions. I thought in different ways, set up fun problems for myself, and worked in a shorter form. As you can see from my reply, brevity isn't my strength. I've been working through the second draft of a novel and it was so good to work with something relatively short and sweet.
From the comments, it is pretty apparent that I need to expand it a bit, but I still want to keep it tight. That will be fun. I've received excellent feedback (well, except for my first downvote--someone who began by saying something about not knowing what the fuss was about). And yet, even the sour guy had some decent advice buried under the rest.
I agree with what so many have said before. Reading other stories has been so valuable. I got lots of great tips in this discussion (reading and otherwise). I've liked every story I've read that was mentioned here. I've appreciated every reader. Thanks to klahol, Nathalie, and others who have said nice things about AffirmNation.
I'm excited to stick around after the challenge.
Final note. Liam, I am now semi-obsessed with the idea of a comic dystopia. Hmmm. Could be fun.
Anyone out there who isn't working through them all, and isn't exclusively using the Random button, and who wants a reason to add (yet) another story, please add mine! http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/xenophobe
Ah yes, the reason bit... well, it's more likely to make you laugh than many of the dark imaginings here, it's generally been very well received, and heck... I've read and commented on oodles more than have read and commented on mine and would love it if you helped nudge this one along ... oh, and I did say "please". There, that should do it!
Kind regards, and thanks,
I only use the random button now but read Liam's Xenophone a few days ago. It's well worth a read :) http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/xenophobe
Cheers Fredrik! Don't forget to plug your own... never mind, I'll do it for you!
Well, we've only got about a week left of this thing so I suppose I'll beg for a couple more reviews. I have a busy week ahead but I hope to read a few more before it's all said and done.
I'll join in the groveling and begging for a second time for some more eyes on my work: Theotokos. I only have a half dozen reviews so far (fortunately all positive) but am willing to take a bashing if warranted so I can squeeze as much out of it as possible.
I am time limited but still slowly working through reading and commenting on other submissions, including those that commented on mine. If anyone is really in need of some more critiques feel free to PM me with your link. Otherwise, I'll just go through the postings above to see what captures my attention.
Sorry I've been absent from this forum for the most part but I am really enjoying the Teleport Us challenge and think there are some really good writers here who have awesome works that challenge and enlighten me. I can't wait to see where it goes from here.
I'm now employing the random button, though I've made a point of getting to anyone's who commented on mine, in addition to the ones that have reached out and grabbed me as I've browsed.
Liam, I may be one of the people you're talking about, though my issue is more my inexperience with shorts than an effort to shoehorn an excerpt into short story form...I am working on my second draft of a YA sci-fi, and I wanted to know more about some of my secondary characters. A friend in my writers' group had mentioned he sometimes used shorts to explore side plots and characters, and then this contest popped up.
I hadn't written a short in many years, and it shows.
My comments on Hiram Wakes are overall positive, but also say that it feels a bit compressed or rushed, and I agree. I don't know how much revision I'll do on this specific piece, but I'll use the feedback I've gotten to hone future efforts. Writing a polished, well-conceived short story is something I want to learn to do well.
But it's nice to get a sense of whether my worldbuilding and characters breathe, and overall I think that's a yes. (It's also fun to watch people guess who the non-human characters are. There are a couple of arguments to be made.)
Really enjoying reading everyone's work. I have two stories open on my desktop right now, The Space Bar and She Brings God Fire, Mere Mortals.
@Sarah - you're in good company, and I think the desire to know more means they are (very) good beginnings, but as a short story specialist (too lazy to attempt something longer!), I am intrigued by what people intended when they wrote their pieces. Killing off your protagonist is definitely the clearest signal I could think of that this particular story was over! But a number of stories almost deliberately leave things so open-ended you're just screaming for the next chapter to begin!
@Liam Finally made it to Xenophobe! Good job on that one!
For two months, now, this forum and the challenge has given me LitReactor OCD. I find myself checking my story for new reads every hour of every day. I am so grateful for all of you who have taken the time to read, thumb, and comment on my story and I love getting to know the community and getting new friends. It has been a privilege.
That said, damn, it's gonna be a relief when this challenge closes in a few days. Maybe I can start giving the kids and the family some attention for a change.
For about two weeks. Then it's time for The Choreography of Violence with John Skipp. *sigh* Damn. Here we go again.
I'm with you there Klahol. It's been a superb contest to be a part of, and I've learned a great deal. Trying to read and comment on every story has been time-consuming to say the least. I've not written much at all since my contest entry, and I'm looking forward to getting back to normality.
All 159 stories read and commented on. Couldn’t break it down to a top ten, but I’d highly recommend the following (still a few days left to read them if you haven’t already done so):
Call Me Tim
Ubi Cor Ibi Domu
Last Man On Mars
Of Flesh & Steel
She Brings God Fire, Mere Mortals
To The Dogs
One Tunguska Story
I had such high hopes for getting a lot of reading done here in in March, but life has snuck up on me (oh, and, well, I'll admit that there might have been a two-day Fringe marathon binge, too). Now I'm just trying to get to everyone who read mine and hope to throw in a handful of others before the end of the challenge.
@Adam Jenkins, oh wow, you are a reading/commenting MACHINE! (clearly, not human).
Well done! I raise a drink (the Sunkist on my desk) to you, good sir!
Well done Adam! Anyone else managed or expecting to manage the marathon task? Me, I've admitted defeat a while back, and have read maybe a quarter, but still, thats twice as many as have read Xenophobe
hint, hint... :)
@Liam I have about 23 left. If all goes well, I hope to finish those in the next few days! Well see if I make or not ; )
@Adam Congrats! and ARGH! You beat me too it ;)
@Adam Jenkins. Ethan is right. You're a machine. Maybe you're the non-human character of this story and we're all just minor characters. Then that would make everything I know about my world just a figment of my imagination. As long as I think I can do something, the possibilities are endless!
Damn, I just fell off my desk trying to jump like Trinity does in the Matrix. It didn't work. Crap, now my ankle hurts. Oh well. Back to reality. Thanks for being awesome and giving everyone a review.
I can vouch that your story is great too. http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/the-memory-remains
These are the stories that just won't get out of my head (jerks!):
An Incy Wincy Holocaust
It's not what it looks like
Mike and Mary
Big Bang, Inc.
If I'm a machine, can someone kindly please set my programming to writing now!
It was easy to want to continue reading. Had the quality been poor I would have given up weeks ago. I was very impressed with how good all the stories were. I found the contest from a random link I followed on Twitter, which I never do. Incredibly glad I did now. I've learned a lot from the comments on my story, but I've got far more out of reading the other entries.
Thanks for the story push Sam!
Well, I saw the notice about the close of ratings. I think this has been a great experience overall. Again, thanks to everyone who read and rated my story. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't do better, but this format now is less a mystery to me, so the next contest I'll show up for dressed correctly.
I'm hoping some prizes are handed out on a basis other than number of thumbs-ups... or am I mistaken?
Anyone care to check mine out if you have not? Drilling down to page seven of 32 is understandably daunting... http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/dog-star
Close of ratings? I thought we had a few more days?
Ohhh, just found the notice you were talking about! Don't scare me like that!
Hey @Adam Jenkins, the geek in me wants to know - what now if you click on the random button? It's supposed to not take you to a story you've read and rated, so if you've read them all...
(Liam would like to apologise if anytime in the next day or so the universe disappears in a puff of logic...)
I'm guessing the random button is done on the thumbs, as it took me back to my own submission (which obviously I haven't voted on).
Ha! Funny. I SO wanted to upvote my own piece. I may even have tried. It ignored me (as it should!)
I still try... one day it will work!
Hey guys. My story, Defiance, has been getting good reviews but could still use a few readers. After this is done I am definitely going to send it around to magazines and see if publishers want it.
Now, with the self-promotion out of the way, I'd like start by thanking those of you that already gave it a read and a review, and I'd like to mention two stories that stood out for me so far:
The Human Argument
And now... I'm gonna start abusing that random button. ;)
Final thoughts before I wander off for Easter!
A lot of stories are bumping against the 4000 word limit. I guess we all want to be novellists, but I'd recommend aiming at 3000, which gives you scope for overrun, without feeling like you're shortchanging some aspect. (Me, I am "trained" to write 2000 word pieces, so I had even more to play with than normal!)
Simple story that was well under 4000 and works in entirety - Last Dance
If you ARE going to write a novel, remember that this is a short story first and foremost. It has to deliver it's own arc. It is best therefore, to hold back a lot of the detail, to not therefore get every aspect of your story into that opening chapters, only the ones that are needed for the story. Do it right, and people want more, miss, and they need but don't necessarily want more!
A good one that I can see at novel length, but also works as short story : Higher Minds
If you're going to tell a story from the point of view of an AI, firstly, reconsider! Tell it from someone very close to the AI but human (A Singular Insect) OR make that AI as flawed a being as a human. Otherwise you get into the trap of trying to describe the thought process of something more intelligent than you as an author... tricky and very hard to pull off! AI does appear to be way more popular than actual honest to god Aliens, I guess nobody believes in E.T anymore!
Finally, Technology does not always need to be explained. Nor how we got from now to the world you describe. If you tell your story as if you were telling it to someone from the same world, then you don't need to go into detail, you just need to know yourself what these things do, and use them to colour your world. This avoids infodump and history lessons, (imagine breaking off a description of what you watched on TV last night, with an explanation of how a CRT works...) and even allows you to surprise the reader as you go along - The Gorund for example would have been ruined, if what a Gorund was was described the first time we meet him!
Thanks all, sorry I couldn't get to read them all, hope my comments on those stories I did read were helpful, and good luck with those mysterious prizes...
Liam (Author of Xenophobe)
@Johann Thorsson: Awww, thanks!
@Adam Jenkins: Congratulations! Excellent work. Have you considered a job in the slush pile field? :-)
Thanks so much for the mention!
I cannot believe that I missed your story! You were the first commenter on mine and I think that was before I figured out how to navigate around the site. It's not much of an excuse, but it's all I have.
I've now remedied that oversight and I'm glad I did. I liked your story a lot. It had a really cool perspective/narrator.
Well folks, April is all but upon us! A lot of talent out there. Is there time for one last shameless plug?http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/sapience
only 7 more to go! It will be nice to have time to write again!
And Done! For a while there, I didn't think I was going to make it all the way through! I'm not quite sure how many I read, a story disappeared on the last page before I got to it. Still, I've read everything still in the competition! YAYA
Excellent, congrats on finishing!
Any particular favourites that spring to mind? It would be interesting to compare lists.
Congrats ArlaneEnarla!! Thanks so much for taking on that beast of a task. I really appreciated your review and I know others do too. Thank you for making sure no one was left out. ~Sam
My Favorites, in no particular order:
That list is way too long and I'm not sure I could prune it more than that. If I'd been keeping a favorites list from the beginning this might have had this a little more organized. There were so many good stories!
As the end is almost upon us, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who read and commented on my story. This was the first time I'd ever posted a story for 'public' consumption, and the response has blown me away. That the majority of readers seem to like it has been gratifying to say the least. More important to me has been how useful the comments have been. It has been eye-opening yet confidence boosting.
I've also been impressed with the quality of stories on show, and have enjoyed reading through them all and learning from them.
Roll on next year!
So now that the contest is all but done, I've picked my top 3. If I could give 'me two thumbs up, I would. Without further ado, here's my picks:
#3 How to lose your heart, Escape a dying planet, and tell a joke on Mars by Tim Needles.
Love the long title. And it delivers.
#2 Diet or Die by Katie Woodzick
Great "non-human character."
#1 Implant by ArlaneEnalra
This one is solid! Great characters, great twists. Just awesome!
This contest surprised me with how many talented writers are out there. Nice job to everyone who submitted!
Whoops double post.
Triple post. Can I delete these some how???
@Joe P. Wow! I'm honored to have made your top 3! (and that multi-post thing can be annoying. I've done it more than once from my phone!)