Author Topic: Pseudopod 74: Tumble  (Read 9736 times)


  • Lochage
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    • Ankor Sabat
Reply #25 on: July 29, 2010, 10:08:12 PM
I got into this story more and more as it went along, but I think it got muddled in more than a few places and, in others, it lapsed into purple language so that meaning became needlessly obfuscated.

First, this story I think displays the "horse before the cart" (not a typo) syndrome displayed by other fantasy stories ("The Exhibition" is a good example - so is "Bones of the Earth" by Le Guin for a non PP example).  What I mean by that is: the story gets caught up in its world, in its little nuances, in being immersive... and totally forgets about its plot.  The plot to this story was very, very simple - but almost impossible to discern.  A little more directness would have helped (for example, I didn't realize he'd killed Mother Beet until almost the end).  Secondly, the character's motivations are completely omitted - making his actions seem confusing.  Fantasy stories like this need to jump on a strong plot as swiftly as possible to keep the reader grounded - otherwise we just get vague conversation, followed by vague description that just leaves us scratching our heads and wondering what the heck is going on?!  In my opinion, anyway.

Secondly, this story indulges in some language that not only is pointless, but also is a hindrance to meaning.  For example: "Washed with bile on my lost hope."  It might sound impressive and poetic, but ultimately does not do anything.  It doesn't make an image, it doesn't contribute to the narrative - heck, it doesn't even help establish a voice.  I am not a fan of such language, I feel like it's immature.  The sort of thing scribbled in a junior-high notebook.

Thirdly, for all its lapses into nuance, the story never concretely establishes the rules it's playing by.  Why the head comes alive, why the narrator dies, why he goes to Hell etc. etc.  All of that comes out of the blue.  It would have been better, probably, to just have the narrator get killed rather than lapsing into a another branch of fictional mythology that further confuses the reader (listener).  Likewise the narrator's conversation with the little devil seemed superfluous - what was the point of that again?

Overall, this story did a decent enough job building a world - but failed to rope it tightly together with a coherent plot.  In a novel, this can work - and even be effective.  But a short does not have the luxury of lengthy worldbuilding and slow immersion (ie. it should "put the cart before the horse" see?).

Finally, having the narrator confront Daniel in a bar was positively groan-worthy.  Seems like every, single fantasy story ever written has to have a bar, inn or tavern in it where - for some inexplicable reason - everyone meets.

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