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Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture

One Tunguska Story

By Michael.Eric.Snyder 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.

Description

This story was inspired by the Lykov family. 

Just let there be a forest and there's sure to be a forest spirit. 
(Russian Proverb)

Comments

Adam Soandso's picture
Adam Soandso from the streets of rage is reading graffiti on the bathroom wall March 1, 2013 - 12:05am

Really great descriptions in this. Some lines that just stay with you. "Empty boots on a bridge" and such.

My only issues are mostly with the setting, as it was pretty vague in terms of how it related to the criteria. I got that it was dystopian, but it felt little more than just a remote backwoods sort of family, less of a world or any remaining society to explore. So I would've liked it if there was a bit more at least hinted at to the world beyond this small place. I'd also probably stay away from very presently familiar sayings like "winter is coming." Just couldn't get past that without thinking of the obvious reference.

But still, thumbs up!

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 1, 2013 - 8:09am

Hi Adam, I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Your points are well taken on all counts! 

James England's picture
James England from Wilmington, North Carolina is reading Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins March 1, 2013 - 10:37am

Definitely a cool take on the inner workings of a boy living in seclusion with his sister, his ma, and his overbearing (to say lightly) father.  I like the details and the little observations and nuances.  While after reading the story, I found myself wishing it had gotten to the egg sooner, at the same time I wouldn't want to trade or sacrifice the character development because that was rather novel. (Thumps up)

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 1, 2013 - 5:59pm

Hi James! I'm very glad you enjoyed it! I feel this story has more room to breathe, so if I choose to expand it I'll keep your thoughts in mind about increasing/expanding the science fiction elements. 

Thank you!

ender.che.13's picture
ender.che.13 from Northwestern U.S. living in the southeast peach. is reading Ken Follett March 1, 2013 - 5:32pm

I loved the story, and your writing style is fantastic. The writing could use a little polish (i.e. a quick edit, maybe), but overrall it was excellent. I do have to agree strongly with the above statement about "Winter is coming." I know, it's cool, I think so too, but Georgie beat us to it, sad to say. Your vocabulary is great; I love your taste in words.

Ufortunately, though, I don't really see what any of this has to do with the theme of the contest. There's no society expressed beyond the cabin, and what few references there are to an external society seemed to me to point to a least a nominally normal-functioning one.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 1, 2013 - 6:07pm

Ender, I was so excited to read the first paragraph, and then crushed to read the second! :)

The dystopia is the cabin, is the occupents within, the dynamics there. I didn't read the contest rules, at least as how they relate to dystopia/utopia, as having population limits of any sort!

IMO, the Lykov family's existence couldn't have been more dystopic (although I'm well aware they may not have seen it that way).

I absolutely appreciate your kind words. What's most important of all is that you really enjoyed the story -- not whether it fits the rules here (although I think it does, or it wouldn't be here).

Thanks very much. I think I gave your story a thumbs up ages ago but didn't comment. I'll be returning the favor to anyone that comments here.

ender.che.13's picture
ender.che.13 from Northwestern U.S. living in the southeast peach. is reading Ken Follett March 1, 2013 - 6:11pm

Okay. I was really iffy on my vote -really- and I agree with your argument. I certainly don't think it stretches the guidelines anymore than mine does in that case.

Besides, I loved the story. So screw it.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 1, 2013 - 6:27pm

Awesome! I demand a re-count!  :)

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 1, 2013 - 6:35pm

Did you change your vote? Didn't know you could do that!

ender.che.13's picture
ender.che.13 from Northwestern U.S. living in the southeast peach. is reading Ken Follett March 1, 2013 - 6:39pm

I did. You convinced me.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things March 2, 2013 - 10:16am

Hi Michael,

I read your story and thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing style was very poetic in places, and your vocabulary is impressive. In some places, I thought it may have been overwritten a bit and escaped your control, resulting in some awkward sentences, but overall it expressed a fairly impressive control over the language and a strong voice.

I have the same concern over whether or not this adequately fits the utopian/dystopian themes of the contest, or whether their was actually a scientifically-plausible sci-fi technology at work here (as the egg, to me, seemed to be so alien as to almost be magical, without any scientific background it it at all). Just as well, while I understand your comment about dystopias not necessarily having a set number of participants, I think that the word typically does apply to societies and communities, and not to families. It would be an easy fix to describe why the family is living in seclusion as having something to do with the outside world actually being unstable in some way.

That being said, I don't necessarily believe it to be my duty to enforce the contest rules, and I'll let the higher-ups decide whether or not your story counts. I'll simply evaluate it as a well-written story.

I agree with James that it probably wasn't exactly short-story material, at least for not as short of a story as this one. It felt more like a first chapter, and the egg almost felt like a sidenote to the interesting dynamics of the family itself.

Overall, I'll give it a thumbs-up, and let others sort out whether or not it fits with the contest criteria.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 2, 2013 - 3:10pm

Hi Nate! Thanks so much for choosing to read this story! Again, like I said to Ender, what’s most important to me is that you enjoy it, regardless of how this story fits within the challenge’s parameters. So, you thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m pleased as punch! :)

For what its worth, to anyone who may have similar concerns, here’s where I’m coming from:

Online Merriam Webster: dystopia: an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and fearful lives

SPOILER-ISH:

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding the technology, here are my thoughts:

My understanding is that we’re probably just a few years away from cloning a Wooly Mammoth. Essentially, what happens in the story is a type of cloning. The real leap here is the rapidity with which it happens (and the new sentience exhibited). Currently, we’re growing ears and bladders... slowly. But it won’t be long before nanotechnology and the health sciences merge, probably within the next few decades, and the sky’s the limit there.

One of my favorite “novels” is The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil. Of course, he wouldn’t call it a novel, but it’s a great read!

Looking forward to your story!

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland March 3, 2013 - 2:04pm

O.k. I have to admit I had to Google Tunguska. And I think I had a better grasp of the story before I did that. But I’m a title person and I believe the title should strongly represent the story as a whole.
 

Now that I know what Tunguska is I wonder when is the setting of this story? Is it in the early 1900’s after the meteorite hit in Russia? Or is the title solely a metaphor. It works as one but I can’t help but take it literal for some reason.
 

If it is indeed then your title alone clears up any problem readers have finding a dystopia/utopia. I kind of imagine this family being one of few who survived the crash that cleared out nearly 80 million trees. Living in the woods at the edge of the fallout.
 

I actually look at this as more of a potential utopia anyway. Some entity is taking out bad people and replacing them with good people. Sounds utopic to me.
 

I’d also imagine that it wasn’t a meteor at all rather an alien (not necessarily from another planet but maybe from another time) aircraft, and it brought the future technology of the egg along with it.
 

I could just be reaching to make a connection, because the title is a perfectly good one if I’m wrong, because what I read about the incident works perfectly as a metaphor for your story. I was just wondering if maybe that is what you were going for.
 

All that said. I like this story a lot. You’re M.C. is fleshed out well and the narrative is fluid and literary. I did find my interest waver a bit in the body of the story, were it became a little repetitive and seemed to be more about the language then the story. Which I suppose is O.K. if it is for the sake of character development, but I found the redundancy I little tasking and was impatient for you to get back to the egg. The life of your story.
 

Also, there was one scene when that tripped me up a bit. When “Burn” is telling the story if his and his twins birth, you opt. not to use quote marks, and all them he’s, and I’s had me stumped for a minute. At first I thought the boy was telling us that his Father was telling him about when his father was born, not when Burn was born. And then I thought, huh, His father had a sister named Purty too. Or maybe Purty isn’t Burn’s sister but his Aunt. Or the first Purty died and the Father named his daughter after his sister. It could had just been poor reading on my part but I wasn’t sure who was talking about who so I had to read the section a few times. Maybe it could be a bit clearer.
 

So aside from the afore mentioned nit picks, and that’s all they are really, I had to dig deep to find something I could offer advice for on this one because for the most part you really nailed it. Great job, Michael,
 

--Jonathan--
P.S. if you want a specefic example of when I started to fall out of the story, p.m. me. Or ask in a comment here and I'll scan back over it for you.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 3, 2013 - 5:57pm

Hey there Jonathan, great comments! I enjoyed your insights regarding the title especially. I'll revisit the birth story after I've distanced myself from this one and it feels like a semi-fresh read.

I would be interested to know where you felt it was getting a bit redundant. Just a quick mention. I don't want to take up much of your tie. Just give me a start and end point if you can.

Anyway, so thanks! Glad you liked it.  

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland March 3, 2013 - 9:13pm

Sure thing Michael,

The section that starts on page seven.

Purty and I share the same bed but the mattress is thankfully very wide, so in the mornings I can meet my need without jostling her awake. I wonder sometimes if Purty has similar needs, but on occasion she leaves the bed and I imagine her seeking similar release, or worse. I try not to think about the worse, for there’s nothing I can do. Then I roll almost out of bed and drain my bladder into the pail, quiet as I can, push it back under the bed and just lie there enjoying the solitude. 

I feel like you can get the action of the last sentence in with the telling of the first sentence without repeating it, up until ..."Then I roll.." You already told me he does this in the morning so I assumed he already had.

The next hour or so under the covers is my most private time...

Again, here I'd assume what you just described to be "most private time" relieving oneself, but I suppose a child lying under the blanket without fear while the tyranicall father sleeps is his most valuable or enjoyable time, I guess private works. I'm more leniant with first person narators because I have to think would that character say that, and I believe it here.

Today, though, is different. I’m conscious of Purty missing, of me in an otherwise empty bed, of extra air under the blankets, the lack of Purty’s heat cool against my skin like a stethoscope. The absence of our intent to sleep as long as Papa sleeps, a habit in which we both unite and delight at the silent, undetectable rebellion against him, is marked by our synchronized breaths ending, the snuffles and snorts, the effortful sighs to fend away the day just beginning. These moments of ineluctable joy, when we’re ever so slightly aware of our awakening, yet empowered by a trick of the mind to remain deliberately unconscious, comfortably mired within the fantasy of never-ending sleep, recalling perhaps our womb-like companionship, every one of these moments is missing; today is different.

While alot of the language here is beutiful, especially .."recalling perhahps our womb-like companionship..." (I love that line) I feel like this passage says the exact same thing just different ways, atleast three times. And repeats some of what was established in the afore mentioned passages. So for the section as a hole, I think you can create the relationship you are painting for the siblings, the sense of fear, and the releif created when the father oversleeps, to get to your point of action (Sister isn't here, where is she?) In just a couple of paragraphs. You could pack a quick emotional punch and get us back to the looming question of the egg. The way it is now, This section felt a bit long for me while I wanted to get back to the action.

Keep in mind, this could just be my prefrence as a reader, and I am just one person, so if you like it the way it is, by all means keep it, the words you use are great, I just personally felt like you could get in the same message and themes with alot less words to move the story along at a more favorable pace (for me) haha.

Thanks,

Jonathan

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 4, 2013 - 4:39am

Jonathan, do you teach? You have the soul of a teacher. You're a giver if there ever was one. Thanks so much. You gave me exactly what I was hoping for, and more. 

Oh, and yeah, you're exactly write. It is redundant. Clear eyes were needed to see that for me.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day March 3, 2013 - 3:16pm

Hi Michael,

 

Nice work, thumbs up. See attached LBL for commentary.

Best,

 

Nick

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 3, 2013 - 6:56pm

Great LBL Nick! The editing suggestions are much appreciated, and much needed.

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon March 4, 2013 - 4:25am

This story was absolutely fantastic. The level of prose is on par with anything I'd expect from a top selling novel. Feels like you've written quite a few novels in your day.

I will concur with those who say it's not very dystopic. But there is absolutely no way on earth I could give this story anything but a thumbs up.

The title had me waiting for a multi-megaton explosion throughout. But no matter. 

I wish I could have the text flow like yours. Well done.  

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 4, 2013 - 4:37am

klahol, you're a workshop guy, right? 

THANK YOU

Your words came at the right time. It's been rough going in there. I love this story more than ever, and I have a hunch I'm going to expand upon it. 

Again, thank you. You are too kind. Thumbs up for both of us, and that's all that matters.  

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon March 4, 2013 - 5:24am

Whoa, are you ever welcome. When I read your story just now i thought to myself, well, there's the different between a real writer and an aspiring one right there. (As in you write like a true author)

I'm kind of pleased with my story, it has a nice structure, its on brief, it attempts some POV-shuffling moves and it's... ok. What it lacks is life, personality. Just... life. Your story has it in spades. 

You should absolutely expand on the story. I'll be happy to read it. It's going to be a great book. 

 

Rob Pearce's picture
Rob Pearce from Cambridge, England is reading Lots of unpublished stuff and short story collections March 5, 2013 - 4:42am

I'm afraid I found this a bit too affected - too self-consciously arty in its descriptiveness - and simultaneously too hesitant to actually say or show any of what it was trying to do. As such it failed to grab me.

The plot, from what I could figure out, is quite small and hidden behind the effort to create layers of depth.

The dystopia... I read your justification but it doesn't convince me. They have a hard life, and the father is a swine (although I know this mostly from the extreme effort to tell me - in indirect ways, admittedly, but it's still more told than shown - through reports of his past actions). However, this combination does not make a dystopia, just an isolated family with a hard life.

The non-human character... makes an all-too-brief appearance at the very very end. Up until then the egg is a device, a bit of technology, not a character.

The believable technology... isn't very believable, and isn't well defined either.

I see some people feel it's "not short-story material". I'm not sure. I don't see it as too big a story for the short form, but your style is too slow and too flowery for the short form (and for my tastes, which may be biasing these observations).

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 5, 2013 - 7:29am

Great comments.  Thanks for taking the time to provide them. 

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works March 11, 2013 - 9:24am

This is a very well written story. There are parts that are too heavily indirect, and parts that maybe repeat themselves unnecessarily, I agree with that.

There were two things that really bothered me. One is that its not a dystopia, as others have mentioned, there is no exploration of society just its remnants--the family. The second thing is the voice, while it is praise worthy, I'm not so sure it's believable for a boy who has been living in seclusion under his fathers boot for his entire life. How does he know a technical term like "keloid"? Why do his introspective thoughts seem to be from someone entirely outside the environment that we are told is his whole world?

If this were the tale of the same boy told from the perspective of the boy he became after the egg took over it'd be more believable for me. The egg itself was also kind of a deus ex machina, I still think the boy hallucinated the ending.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 12, 2013 - 8:39am

Frank, thanks for popping in. I like your idea about perspective, in particular. Take care!

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce March 12, 2013 - 2:03pm

Hi Michael,

I really enjoyed your story. At times the prose was quite dense, but overall I enjoyed your writing style and the way you describe things -- I felt like I was in the scenes themselves, and I think this shows a lot of skill with your world building.

I'm leaning on the side of this not being dystopian fiction. Though, dystopia is Greek for "bad place", so it could always be argued you've taken it in the literal sense and not in the way the literary community has interpreted the genre. I think one of the best ways to define a genre is to look at the classics in the genre, rather than at a dictionary definition. In this case, I'd say books like 1984, Brave New World, Sir Thomas Moore's Utopia, Farenheit 451, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Dispossessed and newer novels like the Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood are the classics. Even the Hunger Games trilogy is a good example. I think the common dystopian elements in these novels are a society that tries to create a perfect place, a perfect existence, but usually at a horrific price (like freedom) to its inhabitants. The common dystopian elements of society and freedom aren't really clear in your story.

That being said, the lack of a strong dystopian element didn't detract from my enjoyment of your story. Thumbs up from me for the entertainment and quality writing!

If you have a chance, do you mind popping over and checking out my story? (Sorry to pimp it out so gracelessly on your page!)

Jess http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/gravidism

dufrescm's picture
dufrescm from Wisconsin is reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep March 13, 2013 - 11:01am

Michael - 

 

I really enjoyed this! At times, some of the phrasing caused me to trip up a bit and I had to re-read a few sentences to make sense of them, but on the whole, it was well done. I really liked the way the family dynamic unfolded as the story progressed, and how the egg was a catalyst, but not really a "player" until the family drama had been more or less resolved.

 

I didn't much care for the ending because I wanted to know more about the egg and "what happens next!".  That's not such a bad thing :)

 

On the whole, a big thumbs up from me!

 

--Christa

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 27, 2013 - 1:07am

Very good. I think your style of writing is of a very high quality, it sucked me in and kept me going. It's a slow burner, but it still flows well. For those saying that it isn't dystopian, I could barely disagree more. This is a society of four people, and it really doesn't get much more dystopian. I agree that we are told that the father is a monster rather than shown, the only example I can see being the birth of Burn, and his actions did save both mother and child. It's a tough call to see whether it fits the rest of the criteria - the non-human character is either a moving egg or a cameo clone. I can buy the tech just about. But these are side issues for me. The story works, is a wonderful read, and I enjoyed it greatly.

Juice Ica's picture
Juice Ica from Rhode Island is reading The Twelve by Justin Cronin & Beautiful Creatures March 28, 2013 - 12:02pm

Beautiful story. I love how you write and I disagree in regard to the utopia/dystopia thing. This felt very dystopic to me. It seemed like a horrible, thankless existance and therefore met the cirteria. But as someone else said, its not my job to deal with that. Other minds deal with that. My mind thought, wow, this is a soul with some serious writing chops. Nicely done, I would say if you ever expanded this into something longer I would totally read it.  Great job!

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 30, 2013 - 1:50pm

Very well polished! That was definitely a wow to read. You have done an amazing job of saying just enough to give your reader the an idea of what is going on, but not so much that they have the whole picture. With stuff like the baptism, that knack makes the story so much darker without pulling the reader into the middle of a nightmare. Excellently done!