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Flaminia Ferina's picture

Matter over Mind

By Flaminia Ferina in Teleport Us

How It Rates

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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.


Unia East is a pretty happy place. Most goods are up for grabs and shares, for almost everybody. Clara is a mutant who can be strong, or mesmerized, or digesting, or sad at will. Her job is to deal with the nostalgic primitives who want to bring back war and hate. She is ace at that, but now she has trouble. Also, she would rather be an organic human. 2600 words. EDIT: minor clarification at page 1.


Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb February 25, 2013 - 2:43pm

Hi Flaminia Ferina,

I'm willing to give this a thumbs up as you've got some ideas here that grabbed my attention, I was willing to read it all in one sitting and I've written an LBL already as things jumped at me, so I think that merits a success mark. That said I think the structuring needs a lot more work and I'm going to dare suggest that this story should be a little longer. Not every story needs to use the full word count allowed I know, but I really feel like this is one that does. You certainly have enough ideas here to fill even more words than 4000, potentially.

'The symptoms are screaming, though. And they are vocal with the tongues of clusterfuck.'

I love that line, I wish I'd written it, I can't wait to find an excuse to say 'That's vocal with the tongues of clusterfuck' at work now! So as it's put me in cursing mode, I'm going to quote a friend of mine who once read some sci fi of my own. His first response was 'I like this but you've presented so much information at once most readers will just say fuck it.' Perhaps I didn't quite believe him, because he then told me to make a list of every concept, person and piece of background I'd introduced in the first three pages and then challenged me to convince myself it wouldn't be a 'mindfuck' if I were reading the same thing in someone else's writing. I've got the same problem with your story as my friend had with mine.

There's lots of good stuff here, but so much of it and presented so quickly that I felt like I was reading an early draft (and here I risk getting cursed at if this is Draft 10 and you were finally thinking you'd cracked it.) Try what I once did: make that list and then try taking some non-essentials out and drawing out what's left (your decision what to keep, I've kept my LBL free from saying 'cut this' because at times I'm not sure which story you really wanted to tell, and that's up to you not me.)

Clara as the narrator always had my attention but I think the voice she's talking with varies a little too much. One moment she's very on the ball and concise and comes up with the snappy, witty lines when they're needed and the next she's lost in reflection and very word-heavy descriptions. Refine her a little more and she'll be even better as the first person narrator. You've done quite well in places burying the 'I' though, I thought.

Few other nitpicks but I'll leave that to the LBL. Before you read it, there's one line I've had a bit of a humorous guess about that might be wrong. Feel free to laugh and tell me if it is.

Hope this helps, -C.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff February 26, 2013 - 3:20am

hell I always forget ther's a reply button. I meant to reply to you Chacron, with the comment below 

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff February 26, 2013 - 3:18am

Hi Chacron, pleased to meet you.

Your review is very useful in fact. Thank you. It is especially good for me to hear that you felt like reading the whole story in one time. I'll take it as an encouragement, since it means that I'm getting smart at grabbing a reader's attention, at least. I'll try to capitalize on that.

And you hit the nail right on its head when you say there's too much information for such a short story. It's my first take at sci-fi, and I might have come to the conclusion that it could be one of my genres of choice, and also that, since I've been spending so much time creating a new world, I might as well write a novel placed there. Or a trilogy. Or a saga.

So, I came up with so much research that I just started to think larger format. At that point, it became difficult to cram all the things I knew about my world and my characters in the short story format. Also, you create worlds. It takes time to fill all the plotholes as you go. So, yes, your critique is spot-on. I'm glad you liked the story despite all its flaws.

I think this latter paragraph also explains why Clara's voice is so wobbly. Too much information, too little space, and she was like: Hell, I've told you so much of my shit, now you've got to make me live! -- I've got to work on voice in general, anyway.

That, and I'm a slow writer.

The kittens, yes, it's exactly what you came up with, in a way. I mean, I thought kittens so universally represent cuteness and all things warm and cozy in the world, that the reader just couldn't miss what Clara meant. It's a bingo!

I'll take some time to muse over your LBL notes, they are well thought out.

Do you need a review to your story? I'll be very happy to return the favor. It's problably not gonna happen today, cause I really need a day out of this bloody house, but tomorrow will do.


Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things March 6, 2013 - 6:12pm

Hi Cristi,

I enjoyed your literary voice here. I agree with Chacron that the character sort of jumped around a bit, but I honestly feel like this was her responses to the numerous plotlines you had, rather than an inconsistent character (like watching a movie play in double-time). Even though I thought your story was a little tough to follow at times, the voice was interesting enough that I kept reading.

I think that, even if you were to do absolutely no editing to the content of your story, you could significantly increase the ease of reading by breaking up your paragraphs. It's your story; if you want one-sentence paragraphs, then do so! Keep each paragraph break as a separation between main points, and it should significantly slow down the pace of the story, even though you've neither added nor subtracted a single word.

There were some great lines, including the one quoted by Chacron above, and the "No one cries when a primitive dies," bit felt like it was pulled straight from the future. It rhymes well and sounds rehersed, which means it probably is rehersed, which means that it's probably a common insult, which implies the problems which would spawn such an insult. It adds a lot of backstory without specifically having to tell me about it, which was great.

I agree that this feels like a first draft, but a good first draft, and one that would certainly convince me to read a second. Well done.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 7, 2013 - 5:00am

Hi Nathan, thank you for reading and commenting.

If I get it right, you suggest shorter paragraphs, and more of them. Same content.
I can definitely try that while still in the challenge. You don't mean vertical space between scenes, right? Well, great advice. I'll work a fix asap.

I'm glad you liked the story despite its unfulfilled complexity and yes, you're right about the primitives sentence: it's meant to sound like a slogan.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland March 6, 2013 - 9:49pm

I had a really dificult time following this story, actually so much so that I'm not even sure what happened. Your M.C. is pregnant with a hybrid of some sort. I didn't catch what happened with the scars. It may be that I wasn't paying close enough attention but I think that's because I got lost early on and had trouble following it, and the harder I tried to make sense the farther I got behind.

All that said, I did keep reading because for the most part I liked the M.C. I agree with Chicron and Nathan about the waivering voice, There was also a time when she mentioned how she didn't like feeling out of control or something to that extent. I'd like you to show us a scene earlier that lets us see how she is usually on top of her shit and controls things and is rarely on the other end, so that when this happens you don't have to tell us how things have kind of flipped. We will already know and appreciate the drama the scene creates more.

You have some really great lines in here. I really liked the ones the two above commented on as well as these:

They make me such a nazi. I move away, covered in lame insults. 

Love both of these sentences!

I throw a puke in a flower bed and decide I'll go on foot.

I love this one too. But I might just have her go instead of decide to go. "decide" may fit with your narative. But I feel like it reads stronger like this. "I throw a puke in a flower bed. I'll go on foot."


I really think my problem stems from so much happening too fast and I'm a slow reader as is and dense sometimes. The problem could be mine and not yours, so just take note that this reader was confused and weigh it against the general feedback of others to get a good measuring stick on how many things need to be cleared up.

Despite being utterly confused I didn't walk away disatisfied and would love to read the next version. You get a soft thumbs up from me. I may even come back to this one and do an lbl after I read several more if time permits. If you have any more specefic questions about my confusion, I'll try to pin point some things. Let me know. Thanks.


Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 7, 2013 - 5:29am

Thank you for reading and commenting, JR.

Well, it's not a problem of you being a slow reader. I know it's really too much stuff for such a limited word count. I'd like as much people as possible getting to read my stories. If this piece were to remain a standalone, then I would take a lot of stuff away and try make it essential and readable. Now it's already part of a larger project, but I have to let it rest as is for a while as I'm outlining the rest.

I'm glad you didn't close the file dissatisfied. All your observations are very useful and I'll keep them rolling in my head. Your LBL would be much appreciated. If you have the time and want, of course.

Matt Hebert's picture
Matt Hebert from Vermont, originally, now in Dublin March 7, 2013 - 6:26am

I was in the confused reader camp, too. It took me a couple of attempts to get any traction with it. [Of course, I might not be the target demographic for this story, as I think it stems from a culture I'm not a part of.] But I'm glad I did, because Clara is an interesting character and there's a lot in this world that was engaging. Well done.

I think a lot more clarity would come with just a simple comb-through. For readers like me who can't keep up so well with the slang and the leaps from sentence to sentence, things like this will slow us up needlessly:

Barfing my toes off as now as I write this message.

It's a little thing and the first one I came to, but these contribute to my stumbling along. These will naturally get picked up as you go back over it, though.

I had to work to find a plot to follow, but I think you addressed this in your replies above. The ending coming around again to the issues of the opening does help give a sense of completeness, but I couldn't really feel much about it as an ending. I'd be interested in reading the story you pull out of the threads you have laced in here, though. It should be a winner. Thanks for posting this one.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 11, 2013 - 6:51am

Thanks for reading and commenting, Matt!

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations March 7, 2013 - 8:42am

Hi Cristi,

I like, so a(nother!) positive vote goes in!

One issue is the language, it seems to oscillate between a fairly profane and "now" voice, and a futuristic voice of unfamiliar words and "simplified" verbs etc. I'm not entirely sure if you should tone it down or up... but mainly if there's anything you can do to make it more consistant, then it won't be quite such a distraction! 

Another is a better awareness of the exact nature of the protagonist, Clara. I read it as a human with alien spliced in, but the way she describes Kian suggests more. As does use of words like "brood" and "spawn". Also, what is Kian, if not an obso, but an "organic human"? 

And the ending - is more like a chapter ending. I could easily see it as that - the opening of a whole novel, but for a short story, we need at the least, her reaction to the message, to complete it.

Minor :

I'd make it a fusion garbage plant (think back to the future...) fission requires elements heavier than Iron, and no sci-fi will change that!

I'd also make the "syntax" less obviously emails, less traditional (e.g.) "Dear Brood services".

Cutting someone's arm off with a laser wouldn't kill them - or at least not immediately... (Not that I have tried)

Thanks for the writing!



Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 11, 2013 - 6:59am

Hi Liam,

Kian is a third type, the organic, 'bio' human. Obsos can be organic (non mutant) too, but their main characteristic would be a kind of nostalgia for the old culture of hate. And yes, there is more to Clara, but I couldn't find a way to show it in this slice. In short, she is a second-generation mutant.

Thanks for your vote and advice.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 10, 2013 - 2:15pm

I'm another confused reader.  The idea is interesting, but I could only understand what was going on by looking at your blurb.  Without the hints you added there, I doubt very much that I would have figured out what little I have.  For me, the story spent too much time inside your Clara's head and not enough time in the outside world.

It felt like peeking at her internal mental dialog; that everything fit into her stream of consciousness in a somewhat fractured manner.  Sentences like: "Barfing my toes off as now as I write this message." and phrases like "a self-induced expulsion would assumably lead to a malignant counteracting process." kept throwing me off.  The first one needs an edit and the second one is convoluted enough that I have no clue what it's meant to convey.

There are also a number of places where you drop words either by mistake or deliberately.  (An issue I keep running into in my own writing) Such as "Plant is pretty for a garbage ...".  It feels awkward without "The" infront of "plant".

I get the feeling that this was meant to be a very dark world.  A place where unmodified humans act and are treated little better than wild animals.  The world and your concept have potential, just need a few more rounds through the editing mill.

Still, Good Job and Keep at it!

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 11, 2013 - 7:01am

Thank you Arlane, I'll see to it.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 11, 2013 - 4:31am

I'm not sure I understood much of this at all, but it was fun to read.  Clara's voice is a little varied at times, but there's something appealling about her as a character.  I was lost completely by some of the phrases, but in the end I just let it flow over me and just went along for the ride.  There are some good concepts here, I was particularly taken by having complete control over your own emotions etc.  I just think you need to simplify your language a little, allow the reader in a little more on what is going on, though you don't have to spell everything out.  It's a balancing act - I like the first person perspective here, but as ArlaneEnalra pointed out, maybe more time in the world rather than her head would make it easier. 

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 11, 2013 - 7:09am

Thanks for reading and commenting, Adam.

Yes, the mental trip was just an easy start for me to get into Clara's world. Hopefully I will be able to show that world in the next drafts. I'm sorry for the confusion, but I'm also glad there's some fun to be found in it.