So, i've posted my potential "Teleport Us" entry, IMAGINARY FRIENDS, in the workshop. Be brutal: http://litreactor.com/workshop/subs/all
Synopsis: An artificial intelligence called "the Queen" becomes the conscience of a generation of genetically engineered people through a network of androids. Adam thinks a conscience is an imaginary friend.
Hopefully it's worthy of being entered, we'll see.
I love deadlines.
C PAtrick Neagle, I don't mind the spoilers in the comments. Personally, I don't read the comments until i have read a story first. I don't want to go in with a biased opinion due to the previous comments.
Agreed with Essel. I go in assuming that the comments already have spoilers in them, therefore I don't bother till I've read the story first. I only read the comments after so I don't make my review overly repetative from others.
This is me, formally pushing my story The Sea Came (roughly 2800 words)
Synopsis Weather manipulation was meant to save humanity. Instead, it forced the vast lakes of inner earth to the surface, flooding the earth. Now, the night tide haunts those who have yet to die. Asra is one of them.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
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Regarding spoilers in comments, I think it is – if anything – a necessary evil. It can be tricky to give feedback while at the same time worrying about not giving anything away.
This is the first challenge/contest I've been involved with, and it's pretty amazing to see the range of ideas people have come up with, given the same starting conditions. Very cool. It's also great that people are giving recommendations on this thread. I'm a little worried that I won't get to read all the stories, and it would be a shame to miss a gem. :)
And on a related note, I'd like to mention my submission, Devils in the Detail. I'm not sure how many reads I was expecting, but probably more than the 9 I've had in the last 23 days. :/
Of course, some people might have set it down before getting to the end, and therefore don't feel right about trying to comment on it. But if you do get through it, I would be very interested in any thoughts you might have about it.
yo yo yooo. i've never really been involved in the litreactor community thing despite having read the magazine for about a year now. it's a really refreshing and cool experience, everyone's feedback has been great and i've read some phenomenal stories. will check out the gorund next seeing as everyone's raving about it.
I'd also recommend "his man stanley" by vernillat. it's a tight and engaging read. http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/his-man-stanley
(time for the shameless plug, i've edited my submission based on suggestions from the comments, any further feedback would be cool, positive or negative, whichever. cheers! http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/sunken-hearts )
Am I allowed to strongly suggest you read my story? eh? Well, I'm going to, b/c I want to know what you people think. Because I lurv you.
Oh, boy. Here is the shameless push for my story Regulated Acts of Violence. I would like to hear what you think; I think you're probably pretty nice, and if not I can take it.
I read back and give feed back!
Little synopsis: Will you stay in one city for your entire life or travel the world and risk a violent attack? This attack will be eagerly awaited, and very popular. Because you're not just a traveller you're a contestent on Upper Paneurica's favourite show Hijacked! But don't worry, there can only be one attack per season, the risk is very low and, hey, terrorism had to be regulated some way.
Wow, if I did my count right, I've just read/commented on my 60th story and I still have another 30 or so to read! They keep coming so fast it's hard to keep up. (I'm really glad we have a month after this one read and comment.)
I guess I'll get in on the forum promotion thing too:
Don't let the logo deceive you, this is decidedly dystopian ;)
Thanks, Essel and Dino. That's what I was going with. Dunno why I balk at just writing, "When I walk into a room even the plastic fruit goes bad. Spoilers Ahead," on every review I write, but, well, I do.
Here's another problem I'd like some feedback on: I'm having a very hard time pushing the Thumbs Down button. I'll happily push the Thumbs Up one when I'm quite fond of a story, but Thumbs Down? Tough to do. I don't mind being scathing in my critiques, because there's always things I like--and so far everyone has had really great concepts, even if they sometimes didn't come across as effectively as the author might want--but I really hate using the Thumbs Down button and I've been putting it off. Maybe if there was a Thumbs Sideways button?
Anyone else having this problem? And if so...how'd you deal with it?
Btw, to give my story thumbs up/thumbs down and (pretty please) comments, check out The Human Argument. Thank you muchly (and no, I don't use the word "muchly" in the story, although I do use "cartiginous," which I made up, too).
@C Patrick Neagle There have been one or two stories where there was something off about a story but I didn't feel comfortable giving it a down vote. In those cases, I commented on the story but decided not to vote either way. The few cases I did that involved stories where the writing was really good but there was something that I didn't like about the story itself. There was one case where the story had two comments and about five down votes. In that one, I didn't want to add to the carnge but I did want to give the author some idea of what I found off about the story.
That down-vote button can be touchy to hit.
@ArlaneEnarla: Yeah, that's kinda what I've been doing, too, but then I get to thinking, Well, if everybody did that, then every story would be: "100% of Readers like this story." Fine for workshopping, but Teleport Us is a "Challenge"--if not a "Competition"--and the Thumbs were presumably put there for a reason.
Congrats on that read/comment count. I'm working my way through the stories, but it's going to be well into March before I get to the last one.
I propose a five-point scale where you need to make a comment if you want to give the top or bottom score.
The scale goes from bad, pretty bad, neutral, pretty good, good.
I have three commentless thumbs down on my story and they really chafe me to no end. Very reluctant to give out thumbs down myself, and when I do, I make sure to add a comment indicating my choice. Sometimes i refrain from giving a thumb and add a comment about that too. There are some stories Ill give a thumb to pending an edit.
the main problem is that a lot of the stories could stand improvement. But the thumb down is just such a kick in the teeth. I am not a teeth-kicking kind of a guy so I have a problem using this tool.
I know what you mean @Klahol. That thumb down button is nasty to see and the blind ones are even worse. I like your idea, but there is something to say for anonymous ballots.
@C Patrick Neagle even if everyone followed that kind of policy, I'm pretty sure that someone would eventually find something they don't like about a story. If you're that close to a downvote, another reader will probably be over that threshold. Either way, hopefully the comments are useful ;)
I think the thumb vote kind of forces you to read a greater amount of the stories to see what really stands out. Unforgivable things like deviating from prompt or a nonsense structure are auto-down-votes.
You really have to compare just how well each element of the story comes together to form the whole. You can still use the star system, maybe just in yer head figure any story that isnt 3 stars or more is an auto-down vote, 4 or more for others may be more suitable.
A thumbs down with no reason can be frustrating. Comments at least mean that someone read and didn't like the story rather than just clicking a button.
On the other hand, the up/down does boil it down to having to make a choice. Unfortunately, everyone's threshold for "up" or "down" is going to be different.
Oh, and because everyone's doing it, I might as well re-pimp my story:
Using the up/down choice makes me think "was it more good than bad, or vice versa?" ... sort of 50/50. Some stories I read [and some I just couldn't get through] were below the halfway line [IMO], but I thought were getting enough down votes so that the point was made. I make comments if I made it through, but don't vote in those cases. If there were a story [and there hasn't been yet] that was getting a lot of Up's and I really didn't like it, I might cast a Down.
As far as the contest goes, I think people are getting points based on the number of up votes, and not just on the percentage [or so this seems to suggest, although the whole formula isn't clear]. I don't feel bad that some people [like me at the moment] will get low scores just because they couldn't generate many points.
It's hard when you see yourself on a back page in the list, though, and no mistake. :) I would have preferred a 5-star rating system. I would have cast a lot more votes, I think.
Devils in the Detail [hint, hint :) ]
I'm a little uncomfortable with all the self-promotion on this thread, so I'm going to be different. I hereby demand that nobody click on the link below, read my story, or leave a comment.
If you do so, I shall hunt you down with my particular set of skills (cooking, singing nursery rhymes and playing Lego Star Wars) and make you regret it (mainly by singing nursery rhymes at you).
On the other hand, there are four criminally under-read stories that I can recommend that you read and comment on:
Nootropic Software Blues
In Time (You & I)
Last Man On Mars
The Memory Remains (coincidentally, the author of this one shares my name - small world hey!)
Man, there are just so many great stories here! You people suffer from a severe case of talent!
You should check out Regulated Acts Of Violence. Solid story, effortlessly and engagingly told. I loved it.
Other current favorites:
Not plugging my own story. See how easy that was? You can do it, too.
My three favourite stories I've reviewed so far:
A Black Tie Affair: http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/a-black-tie-affair
Puss In Combat Boots: http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/puss-in-combat-boots
All worth a look.
If Klahol won't plug his own story, I'll do it for him.
Call Me Tim is great, easily one of my favourites. Go read it now!
How 'bout we steer the conversation in a different direction?
How about we discuss the non-human characters in the stories. So far i've read about a Slug-like alien, a man who transforms himself into a radioactive-risistant being with metallic skin and glowing eyes, and a creature from the sea that really made me think of shaggoths, but i'm a Lovecraft geek. There was also the Gorund, which made me think of A.L.F., haha.
One thing I noticed within the stories is how sometimes these technical terms get thrown at you and you either know about them or just accept them as being that sci element. In this format there's not alot of room for going into the technology for a whole chapter, but which stories do you think did this in a way that wasn't too over your head and not too simplistic? Which had that nice balance?
I confess in my story (still in workshop) I throw alot of terms out there and dont get into long winded explinations, er try not to.
And on the subject of Utopia/Dystopia, I've seen a future run my riligous fanatics, and another in which the sea overruns the earth. It's seems more typical for these worlds to always have an element of dystopia within their utopias, and dystopias seem more post-apocalyptic. Are there any that are straight Utopia?
I'm trying my hand at it Frank!!! But actually, it keeps leaning toward a Dystopia in disguise and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make the deadline.
as far as utopia/dystopia, I think you're always going to get more dystopias for a couple of reasons:
Ultimately I think what it comes down to for me is this: A piece of writing that described the life of a person in a dystopian society would feel like a story. It would have conflict and development and change. A piece of writing that decribed the life of a person in a utopian society would feel less like a story, as they would have less to react against.
Having said all this, I now want to challenge myself to write a purely utopian piece that feels like a satisfactory story.
I've got to add this one:
Agent Smith: "Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization."
Found it on Imbd.
I think the palindrome nailed it. A perfect heaven would be hell. Even 1984 could be described as Utopian depending on your perspective. Equilibrium (film) is a good example as well, where the majority of human agitation is obfuscated through mandatory alarm-clock administration of pharmaceuticals, but in the end it creates a world that's just as bad as the wars it was intended to prevent. Anyone who's ever waited in a doctor's office knows what torture perfect sterility can be.
The only Utopian sci-fi that springs to mind is Iain M Banks wonderful Culture novels. If you havent read those, drop what you have in your hands and run to a bookstore.
Being set in a true utopia, free of want and strife, the stories generally concern where this god-like Culture has to meddle with those poor unfortunate who do not live in a utopia, often through their cloak-and-dagger agency called Special Circumstances. Sometimes, though, Banks explores storylines regarding what living in a utopia would do to people.
Lovely, lovely, books. Do not miss them.
indeed, the Culture books are amazing, but you'll notice that the action in them mostly explores the peripheries, the parts where the utopia comes into contact with the dirty world.
Anybody read Herland by Charlotte Gilman? That's a utopia where only women exist, and the conflict comes when a couple of men are introduced to the society through sheer chance. It didn't really do it for me, but it's the one example of utopia I can recall.
The lack of conflict in Utopia is a problem, but I think the conflict could come from within the character. The quote from Milton's Paradise Lost springs to mind - "The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven".
World without men? Y - The Last Man (graphic novel) is a great science fiction story, but about as dystopic as can possibly be. It's about a world where all the men (except for one) suddenly drop dead.
There was a short story by--I think--Ursula K LeGuin that explored the idea of the pure utopia. I forget the title, but everyone had everything they needed and all was well and all was at peace. EXCEPT [SPOILER] there was an innocent girl kept imprisoned and tortured in a small, dank room in one of the cities. Everyone in the society knew about her. They HAD to know about her, because without that knowledge of evil, there could be no appreciation for the good that the utopia represented. "The Lottery" explores a similar theme (or does if that's the interpretation you go with. There are so many possibilities).
Star Trek's Earth is also a utopian society, made so by (as far as I can tell) the invention of the replicator. If there is no longer any need to worry about resources, then a lot of world-spanning conflicts fizzle out and, in Gene Roddenbury's vision, free humans to do whatever they felt compelled to do, stripped of the need to work to get money to get the stuff or the food or the shelter. Frees them to explore the stars. Of course, most of the Star Trek stories took place elsewhere than on Earth. Out among those stars, where the conflicts were.
That said, there's no reason that good stories can't be set in a utopia. There's the idea of LeGuin's where there must be something bad in paradise. Or what many of our own stories explore: the idea that even in utopia there are dystopias--places where the vices of humanity gather to be indulged in, the unstated realization that humans NEED to break laws every once in a while, or else they'll go crazy (even if the law broken is speeding, or going Out the In door), a la Firefly.
Or, as in Star Trek, where the characters must venture away from the utopia to have their adventures.
Or the utopia is inside of a dystopia, such as that represented by The Capital in the Hunger Games.
Also, even in pure utopias where there are no dystopias and no Out There to go to, there are still conflicts--they just don't have to be operatic in scale. No matter how pleasant the society is, there will still be conflicts between people. The father will be hurt when the son doesn't take an interest in raising horses; the daughter will want to date a boy (or robot) her parents don't approve of; someone will always want power over someone else--even when all other needs and pleasures are provided.
But, yeah, this discussion makes me want to write a story in a pure utopia. Good call, @Frank Chapel.
I think the problem with utopias is that you can't have a society free of conflict without altering or controlling the nature of man(kind), and the equilibrium scenario always leaves a nasty aftertaste.
If anyone can bypass this issue, I would be very interested to read it.
To create an utopia, it seems you have to be willing to do very distopian things.
Does anyone know how to upload a revised version? ~Sam
My story (up in Teleport Us soon) takes place in a quasi post-scarcity world. It means that very few materials are hard to find, in short: you only need a monetary system for those few materials. It's a nearly utopian world, where people work on a voluntary base, because it's good for the community, and live pretty happily.
I imagine Utopia like a place where the fear of difference is overcome, and also binary reasoning. Or almost, in my case scenario. It's a place where conflict is always present in form of contructive discussion, but never violent (with due exceptions which do not just reside in that 'quasi', as you'll see). Violence shows up both as a vestige of the old scarcity society and as an inherent part of human nature that is difficult to improve.
Will it be just another dystopia?
Who knows... I 've got to unload the washing machine now, then I'll put my story up there.
It´s up! Matter over Mind
I´ll be soon reviewing the other stories too.
On the topic of non-humans, I struggled for a while trying to find a voice that didn't feel like a human masquerading as an alien (I gave up, and in the end went the easier route). Most of the stories I've read (here and in the wild) are like this, too. It's satisfying to read, but I keep thinking there should be a way. Anyone know of a book that achieves this?
Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore is the closest i know of. Thats a primitive human though.
When i thought about that my question was: How do u make the reader empathize with something non-human?
It seems most interpretations of an alien fall on aspects of human traits, though theyre amplified or nullified for the effect.
Like the hyper logical types who have no heart, the warrior types, the god-like human ideal. It seems like we cant think outside these different aspects of ourselves, even the xenomorph is our destructive shadow self existing only to procreate and destroy whatevers in the way.
The only thing really alien/nonhuman would, to me, be something perplexing, like a synasthetic, or a being with a logic so far beyond us when we hear it we go mad. Or maybe never grasp its meaning.
How would you "get inside" the mind of something truly alien? More importantly, how would you avoid descending into a Lovecraftian madness simply looking at something like that? There has to be a common context for interaction to work.
@ Frank Chapel: on a simple level, the way to get empathy for a non-human character is to give that chracter problems that the reader will recognise as human ones. Difficult task given that an alien, alternative species or even sentient object won't necessarily behave in human ways or have human thoughts, so why would he/she/it end up with a human problem? Bit of self promotion (and my brain's too tired to search for an example I've read), I attempted something a bit like this in my submission but the question of how a different species had human feeling and sexuality and even an attraction to a human wasn't one I compeltely convinced even myself of in the end.
On the dystopia/eutopia balance a lot's already been said so I'll just add one simple thing: dystopia will probably always be more prevalent because being miserable is easy. Shit day at work? Cool, go home and make your characters feel like that too and add another layer of 'This sucks' to their world! (Guilty, I've done it many times although in that frame of mind I generally write garbage) That's just one of many examples of how unhapiness as a default setting is easy and discomfort is actually a comfort zone if it becomes learned behaviour. Not that everyone who writes is unhappy but writing with those kinds of people is often an easy way of setting your characters up with a problem and seeing how they work it out.
Plus if you start with a eutopia it's often the temptation to reveal how under the surface there are always problems with it and by the end of the story you're right back to thinking you've actually got a dystopia to deal with.
The Le Guin story is called "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," and it's totally brilliant. A New Wave piece with shades of Jackson's "The Lottery," but completely imaginative and poignant.
@Samalamawama, To edit your article, go to your entry's page. Towards the top left, you should see an "edit" option. Click on it, delete your previous entry and upload the new.
For me the title was tricky - is this normal?
I loved this challenge (my first). In my story (click for link) I went with first-person exposition style, which I wasn't wholly comfortable with at first (I prefer third-person with dialogue and more show than tell), but on second revision I was happier. I went with Utopia, I think, although that might be a matter of opinion :) - please read and comment your thoughts; I love to hear them (the more critical, the better).
My main character is a software process so I was going to go with 'Malware' as a title but my son pointed-out that's a cartoon character (from Ben 10, for those with kids), so I had to rethink (his words!). In the end I'm not sure if I aimed too high on technical lanuage (I'm a techy so techy language feels natural), but my wife assures me it's okay.
All in all, a great challenge - and I learned I love deadlines, who knew!?! (and how weird).
My luck. I hoped to have regular working week this week, so I could write the short story for this competition. But then I got this huge work related deadline, I delivered my part today, but my work mate over estimated his capabilities, and I should help him to finish his part by Thursday 2 p.m., so I have to work tomorrow.
Could I get the exact time when the competition closes, and the timezone! Better yet, PM me! I really need to optimize my hours for the next 48 hours!
I have been using this awesome new method to plan my story, I am doing awesome! But, I might not have time to finish it up :/
Thanks anyway! And I will submit the story to the workshop anyway :)
Hey, everyone please check out my submission Lightning Bug. I'll be reading and rating all of yours! Any feedback would be great. It's a bit dark, and a quick read. What are you waiting for?! Click: Lightning Bug
I just wrapped up my first draft. Feeling confident. In the first half, at least. The 2nd half may fall prey to my love of the schmaltzy.
I'm new to LR and I was curious about the process. I recently posted my Transport Us story and have been reading some of the other entries but it seems like there isn't a great deal of readership in some of the stories, is that just because it's early on? I'm not sure what to expect but I've really been enjoying the stories.
@Tim Needles Readership is sometimes spotty. Me, I've set myself a goal of getting through all of the stories. If you see a story that looks like it as a low reader count or looks interesting, READ IT ;) Just be sure to make a comment!
A bit late in the competition?
Here's some inspiration. Mars dust will melt you.